I ♥ Chinese – or: how Chinese language unravels a mystery

24Nov09
You might have noticed that I, for whatever reason, adore cats, felinae and owls. I regard both as the most beautiful and cutest animals and collect everything that has to do with them. Or at least take pictures of it. My boyfriend went crazy in NY, let pictures speak:

Owls and Kitties and Rock n Roll

Yes, they had a lot of owl stuff to buy. And yes, they had annoyingly cute solar-powered waving kitties. And yes, If I didn’t buy them, I at least took pictures of them after half an hour of “Awww”s. Love you for your patience, Seb!

What I’m heading at is to make you buy into the fact that I desperately love kittens and owls. But how come that it is exactly this mixture???

Yesterday I had Chinese class and my teacher, a kind and fun native Chinese speaker, lent me a Chinese – German Dictionary that was especially designed for A1-B1 levels, which means it offers a bunch of basic information on pronunciation and several example sentences.

Due to my sympathy for a certain animal species (you may have noticed), I first looked up “cat” (māo) (I already knew the pronunciation and pinyin, but not the character).

*looking up* … oh there you go… *looking closer* …
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WHOA!!!

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To my amazement, “cat” and “owl” had the same basic character (it’s called “Radikal” in German, but I don’t know whether radical would have the same meaning… ?) and they were the only two words with this character as basis. WOW! Of all things, the Chinese put together a feline animal and a flying nocturnal animal. And of all things, these are my two beloved favourites. How come? In my opinion, this connection is stunning and I would love to find out more about it. Maybe it has some historical reason or, both animal resemble each other in Chinese view… anyway, once again, Chinese language is really fascinating. These two words definitely belong from now on to my treasury of Chinese words and characters … made simple due to the same basic character. Happy End.

Apropos of nothing: Right now, I’m listening to MONO, a wonderful Japanese Post Rock-something band. This saturday (Nov 27th), they play at MAO (speaking of… māo! ha!) Livehouse (570 Huaihai Xi Lu near Hongqiao Lu) in Shanghai. You can find additional information and mp3s here at SmSh. Anyone with good taste in music located in Shanghai right now… go there for me! 🙂

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8 Responses to “I ♥ Chinese – or: how Chinese language unravels a mystery”

  1. Och Gott, sind die süüüß!!! Kann deine Begeisterung für Eulen und Katzen absolut nachvollziehen. Ich habe auch eine von diesen chinesischen Glückskatzen, die immer so winken…

    • Hihi 🙂 Ja, ich lieb die. Kenne nur den japanischen Namen: maneki neko … aber scheinbar haben die in China auch Bedeutung

  2. Ach, die sind japanisch? Schwer zu unterscheiden manchmal…

  3. Sag mal, woher kannst du eigentlich als Gymnasiastin mit 19 schon so gut englisch?

    • Awww dankeschön!! Bin mir manchmal so unsicher, ob ich hier keinen absoluten Quatsch verzapfe… 😉 Lieb die Sprache und konnte auf zwei Sprachreisen schon ein bisschen plappern üben! :))

  4. I don’t know if this has already been covered…but yeah I think you’re right – they look like each other, so they share the character…cat being mao, owl being mao tou ying (cat headed eagle). There’s some other great ones (which makes learning easier because you can just build them together like that) – Giraffe is 长颈鹿 or Long necked deer and Kangaroo is 袋鼠 or pocket mouse. So fun 🙂

    • Neat! It’s so cute how declarative Chinese characters are, much more figurative than our words … if you’ve never seen an owl before, “cat headed eagle” might put your imagination in the right way, while “owl” leaves totally you clueless —

      Funny Chinese though


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