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characters

it is interesting to see Chinese characters now that I have been studying them for a while. A lot of Chinese art has characters painted upon it – to actually know what something means when I see it is a lot of fun.

for example, today Yvonne found a small candle with a steel plate upon which a Chinese character was engraved. She took it to me and asked, “hey what does this mean?” I had seen the candle before of course – I had assumed the figure meant peace or love or harmony. But when I looked at it today, I saw ‘and’, because the character on the candle was the Chinese character for ‘he’ which is ‘and’.

now I do know that if you add the ‘ping’ at the end, ‘he ping’ does become ‘peace’. But I think that alone, ‘he’ simply means ‘and’. So there are a bunch of people with artsy looking candles in their living rooms with ‘and’ stamped on them.

just thought that was interesting – it’s like opening a little window to a different world.

06. Feb, 2004

13 Comments

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  1. givemethewhip
    06. Feb, 2004 at 4:56 pm #

    I love your candle story. I’m always wary of buying things like that for the very reasons you just pointed out.

    But it is fun to be the one who can read it, isn’t it? I know I found it so when I saw a jacket at a trendy little shop in DC that had Devnagari script all over it (the characters in Nepali and Hindi writing). I’m sure that the trendy people buying it assumed it said something like “We are all small spokes on the great chakra of life” or “Smoke more ganja, see more monkey gods” or something equally profound; or that it had passages from the Bhagavad Gita on it.

    Nope. It said, basically, “The first letter of the alphabet is k. The second letter is kh…” and so on. Hee!

    • givemethewhip
      06. Feb, 2004 at 5:00 pm #

      I should add, though, that when studying the language I made more than a few gaffes of my own because I had such a horrible time with a few of the letters. I summarized a newspaper article on my final test as “drug bust in singapore.” The instructor suggested that I look at it again and try another scenario.

      I puzzled over it for a while… “Oh!” I said, as the light finally dawned. “Separation of Siamese twins.”

      Hey, anyone could make a mistake like that. That’s almost the same thing, right? 🙂

      • admin
        06. Feb, 2004 at 5:08 pm #

        haha! Yeah you are right – who knows, the character for ‘and’ might also have another colloquial meaning that I simply am not yet aware of.

  2. guaponose
    06. Feb, 2004 at 7:39 pm #

    A friend of mine had a tattoo of a chinese character, which she said she got because “it looked really cool!” I would always ask her what it meant, and she really didn’t know. So, I told her that I looked it up once, and that it said “Eat at Joes”. And she freaked, thinking she was some walking advertisement. Haha. It actually said something like “deer”.

    • ladycalliope
      07. Feb, 2004 at 12:50 am #

      However, eating at Joe’s is fun. Even though they stopped serving their ahi ruby rare.

  3. diabolka
    06. Feb, 2004 at 8:44 pm #

    It’s amazing how it changes your perspective when you are able to have some understanding. 🙂

  4. kirianth
    06. Feb, 2004 at 11:48 pm #

    Hey, it matches the ‘Shampoo and Conditioner blah blah balh’ stationery they have in Taiwan! English is trendy.

    At least there, the English is printed in a decent font. Most of the ‘brushwork’ you see here is pretty shoddy. But I like the candle story. 😉

    And maybe I’m thinking of ‘ping an’ instead…

    • admin
      07. Feb, 2004 at 7:36 am #

      yeah I do know that Chang An Da Jie, the main strip in Beijing, means something akin to ‘Long Peace Boulevard’. Though perhaps there are simply a lot of words that mean peace in Mandarin – which is not a bad thing really!

      • kirianth
        07. Feb, 2004 at 7:27 pm #

        Well… it’s still the same base word. Chang = Long, An = Peace, Da = Big, Jie = Street. So, there’s certainly synonyms, but I think this isn’t one of them. 🙂

        • admin
          07. Feb, 2004 at 9:56 pm #

          exactly – I think we’re saying the same thing 🙂

          • kirianth
            08. Feb, 2004 at 1:52 am #

            I guess it bears repeating if we say the same thing 😉

  5. donnie_baseball
    08. Feb, 2004 at 10:52 pm #

    Reminds me of a story/joke I heard about a woman that took a Chinese menu home and knitted a sweater with Chinese characters on it that she thought looked very good. She wore it at a party and a Chinese doctor asked where she got the sweater/symbols. She said from a menu. He askd if she knew what they meant. She said no. He said “Cheap. But Good.”

    • Anonymous
      14. Apr, 2004 at 12:39 pm #

      haha

      thats is pretty funny 🙂 thats y u should alway know what u have on u means!!

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