MY FAVOURITE CHINESE CHARACTERS

1.我最喜欢的汉字


Most people think learning Chinese is difficult. Every time I’m back in Spain and I tell someone I can speak Chinese, they invariably reply with a: “Wow! Isn’t it super complicated?”. Some (weird) people claim that it is in fact very easy, though normally these people are just trying to sell you their “learn Chinese in 3 months” courses. I agree that the grammar is in general not very difficult, although remembering the correct classifier for each noun can be difficult at times, and I remember I had a very hard time grasping how some verbal constructions work. Some people say they learned to speak fluent Chinese in the street and I’m happy for them but I’m not so language-gifted (6 years in Suzhou and the local dialect still sounds like Japanese to me). There’s one thing I know for sure, though: in my opinion, if you can’t write the characters, you can’t really say you know Chinese.

大多数人认为学习中文是很困难的。每次我回到西班牙,告诉别人我会说中文,他们总是回答:“哇!它难道不是超级复杂吗?”一些(奇怪的)人声称学习中文实际上很简单,虽然通常这些人只是想向你推销他们的“三个月学中文”课程。我同意语法通常不是很难,但记住每个名词的正确分类有时会很困难,而且我记得我很难理解一些动词结构是如何运用的。有些人说他们在街上学会了说一口流利的中文,我为他们感到高兴,但我不是那么有语言天赋(在苏州呆了6年,当地方言对我来说仍然听起来像日语)。但有一件事我可以肯定:在我看来,如果你不会写汉字,你就不能说你懂中文。


The title of the most difficult character in simplified Chinese is usually given to biang, a type of noodle dish. Luckily it is not commonly used and the only ones who would have to write it would be the waiters or owners of restaurants serving these noodles. However, it is so complicated that they sometimes write the pinyin instead because, really, why would anyone bother to write this?

简体中文中最难的汉字通常被称为biang,是一种面食。幸运的是,这个词并不常用,只有服务员或餐馆老板才会写这个词。然而,它是如此的复杂,以至于他们有时会用拼音来代替,因为是的,为什么会有人费心去写这个字呢?


This is not a joke, it’s a real character! And the traditional version is even worse…

这不是玩笑,这是一个真实的汉字!而且传统的版本更复杂...

I prefer simpler characters. My absolute favourite is undoubtedly this one:

我更喜欢简单的汉字,毫无疑问,我最喜欢的就是这个:


Can you guess what it means? It is very easy: skewer! Isn’t it great? You don’t need to know Chinese to understand it because it’s super clear! It is pronounced chuan and if you are in the north of China you will need to add many r behind it to be understood: chuanrrrrrr.

你能猜出这是什么意思吗?很简单:串!是不是很棒?你不需要知道中文就能理解它,因为它表述得非常清楚!如果你在中国的北方,你需要在它后面加上许多r才能理解:串儿~~~。

Another character that I like is san:

我喜欢的另一个汉字是伞:


Do you know what it is? It’s also very obvious: umbrella!

你知道它是什么意思吗?它也很明显:雨伞!

Another one that I like is a combination of two characters:

另一个我喜欢的字是两个部分的组合:


Mu means tree or wood. It looks a bit like a tree, right? The horizontal line is the ground and the three strokes below are the roots.

木的意思是树或者木头。它看起来有点像一棵树,对吧?水平线是地面,下面的三个笔画是根。


Lin is a surname and it also means wood, as it’s two trees.

林是一个姓氏,也意味着木头,因为它是两棵树。


Senlin… five trees. Well… it’s decidedly a forest!

森林......五棵树。嗯......这绝对是一片森林!

I wish all the characters were this easy! Then I would never forget how to write them by hand…

我希望所有的字都能这么简单!这样我就永远不会忘记如何手写了...

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PROTECTION AGAINST EVIL SPIRITS

2.保护我们免受恶灵的侵扰


And for the second time this month I’m saying that Chinese people are very superstitious. The other day C. came home with a branch of some plant that someone gave him. I had already seen that branch hanging beside the door of several neighbours and it reminded me of when Spanish people hang palm branches from their balconies in Easter. But it seems this branch has a totally different meaning…

这个月我第二次说中国人非常迷信了。有一天,C带着某人送给他的某种植物的一根枝条回家。我已经见过几个邻居家门口挂着的那根树枝,它让我想起了西班牙人在复活节时在自家阳台上挂棕榈枝的情景。但是这根树枝似乎有着完全不同的含义..


I don’t know where this tradition comes from as I don’t remember seeing this branch on previous years, and for sure we never had it before. Maybe it’s some old custom that has been revived? I also have no idea what the plant is…

我不知道这个传统从何而来,因为我不记得前几年看到过这根树枝,而且可以肯定的是,我们以前从未挂过这根树枝。也许是某种旧习俗又复活了?我也不知道这植物是什么...