大家好, thanks for tuning into today’s Growing up with Chinese. 欢迎收看今天的成长汉语.
Today is the twelfth show of our series. And I have to say, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground in such a short time. Do you all feel your Chinese getting better? Our vocabulary database is certainly growing that’s for sure.
Now today we have some fun vocabulary lined up for you all. But more importantly, we’re going to be discussing how to speak in present tense in Chinese. Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear the word “tense” in relation to language, my whole body gets tense*1. But, I’ve got some good news for everyone else out there whose feeling tense along with me. Tenses in Chinese are really quite straightforward and relatively uncomplicated. If English and Chinese were running a tenses race, Chinese would outrun English by about ten laps. Now, are you all convinced yet? Don’t worry if you are still a little bit skeptical. Let’s take a look at today’s dialogue and you’ll see what I mean.
All right, today’s dialogue had some patterns and vocabulary from last time. So I hope that felt like a good review for all of you.
小明 has an American football that’s a sight you don’t see too often in China. Generally speaking, basketball and soccer or regular football are two of the most popular sports here. Now I’m guessing that some of the clip was pretty easy to follow. Well other parts may have been a little bit more difficult. Let’s take a general look at things for now.
你在干什么? This is pretty straightforward. It means “what are you doing?” 在 indicates an action in progress and 干 is to do. So 你在干什么 is asking “what are you doing?”
Now 小明’s response is 我正在打球. 正在 is what makes this response present tense. It means be doing or to be in the process of doing, with a right now effect. 打球 we covered last time and it means to play ball. So, 我正在打球 is “I’m playing ball right now.”
橄榄球? 你会玩儿吗? American football? Do you know how to play? 我不太会. 不过, 我特别想学, 麦克可以教我. 我不太会 is a direct response to 兰兰’s question of 你会玩儿吗? 我不太会 is no, not really. And we saw this pattern in the earlier episode when 小明 asks Mike if he knows how to use chopsticks. Here 小明 continues to say 不过, 我特别想学, 麦克可以教我. This means “but, I really want to learn. Mike can teach me.”
All right, shall we watch the dialogue again? Keep an ear out for*2 when 正在 is used.
All right everybody, let’s take a look at today’s vocabulary.
So we’re first going to take a look at our vocabulary list and then get into today’s radical. Our first word is:
- 干 do, act, work. gàn
- 正在 be doing, in the process of. zhèng zài
- 玩儿 play. wánr
- 教 teach. jiāo
- 忘 forget. wàng
- 可以 can or may. kě yǐ
- 问题 problem, question. (wèn tí)
- 橄榄球 American football. gǎn lǎn qiú
- 羽毛球 badminton. yǔ máo qiú
- 不过 but, however, yet. bú guò
- 男孩儿 boy. nán háir
- 当然 of course. dāng rán
The radical we are going to be talking about today is a lot of fun as are the two characters we see it in. So let’s take a look at 橄榄 of 橄榄球.
OK, they’re slightly complicated, but not too difficult ... 橄 ... no that shouldn’t be there ... let’s do that again ... 橄, 榄.
Now 橄榄 on its own means olive, 球 means ball. So if you break these two characters apart, we’ll do it this way today, there is one radical, there is the other radical. So they both share the same radical. And it’s the character for wood or 木. Now as you can see, when 木 becomes a radical, it doesn’t change. The character for wood looks like this. Now olives grow on trees right? So here we have another example of a radical that gives us some information about the character.
Now in this case, it’s two characters. And yes, the right parts of both these characters here and here, are what give each character its sound or pronunciation. Now here this character right here that’s the character for 敢, and over here this is 览, and the wood radical or 木字旁 added in and you get 橄榄 olive.
So in China, American football is called literally olive ball. And actually makes more sense to me calling it olive ball than football because the ball is in the shape of an olive after all.
Now in any case, the 木字旁 can be found in many many many Chinese characters. And I think you’ll find that when it appears more times than not*3 the characters will have some kind of relation to wood. So here are a few examples. 枝 means branch or twig. 树 is the character for tree. 林 is the character for grove or woods. So that’s the 木字旁, tree radical.
好, OK, it’s time for breather. Continuing on our topic of special days, today we are going to be covering Chinese Lantern Festival otherwise known as Little New Year. First, let me give you some background facts.
Little New Year or 小年 falls*4 on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Chinese agricultural calendar. In other words, it’s fifteen days after Chinese Spring Festival and it essentially marks the end of all the Chinese New Year celebrations and festivities.
Well the tradition of lighting lanterns and putting them on display for all to appreciate*5 and see on this day has been around for almost two thousand years. And I’m sure you could all imagine just how awesome the lanterns can get. It’s truly a beautiful sight. Some lanterns even have riddles written on them. People will read the riddles and try to guess the answers and for the most part, all the answers have to do with prosperity, good health, fortune, love and wealth in the coming year.
So, the main food to eat on this day is the 元宵 otherwise known as the 汤圆. It’s a sticky rice ball with delicious filling inside like ah rose flavored sugar, or sesame paste, or red bean paste or lotus flower paste. They are quite rich so I can never eat too many of them, but they’re very delicious.
Now the significance of this holiday food comes from its name and shape. 汤圆 sounds like 团圆. And 团圆 means to come together as in a family will come together for holiday. 圆 or circle is an auspicious*6 word and concept in China because it is unbroken and never ending. So eating 汤圆 is kind of like receiving or blessing for your family. A lovely tradition on Little New Years.
All right time to switch gears from our cultural spotlight to our language points of the day. Now, seeing as present tense is our big focus today. Let’s start by talking about how it works.
正在 is an adverb, and it represents an action that is taking place at this moment in time or a state that is continuing. It comes before a verb or verb phrase. So 我正在打球. I’m playing ball at this moment.
可以, huh, this is another one of those words that will be coming up a whole bunch. We heard it in today’s context like this. 麦克可以教我. Mike can teach me. So 可以 means “can” specifically where possibility is concerned.
特别 special or especially when use before a verb or verb phrase. 我特别想学. I really want to learn or I especially want to learn. Let’s look at some more 特别 examples.
- 兰兰，怎么样？ 我做的菜好吃吗？／好吃，好吃。我特别爱吃您做的菜。
Good news, we’ve arrived at today’s finish line, that wasn’t too bad was it? I don’t know about you guys but my stomach is growling from all that talk about 汤圆.
As always here is our web address, please feel free to sending your questions or feedback and to check out our website. I will see you all next time, 加油, 再见.