view of Taipei looking over Neihu and Yangmingshan

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Archive for 'Chinese characters'

Making it simplified

A while back I posted about the use of simplified characters in the word Taiwan. It is also interesting to note that quite a few simplifed characters can be seen around Taiwan. It is not surprising given that many of the simplified characters are based on cursive or shorthand forms of the traditional […]

Not as easy as it looks

On Saturday afternoon I went to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei where I discovered an exhibition* of calligraphy by Master Hsing Yun (星雲大師), the founder of Fo Guang Shan (佛光山).
As I wandered around the exhibition some ladies who were volunteers invited me to sit down and write some calligraphy. There must have been […]

On reading Chinese

A couple of months ago I wrote about the beginnings of my efforts to learn to read Chinese. It's time for an update.

Cover of Qibai Zi Gushi
So far most of my study has been based on reading stories from the book Qibai Zi Gushi (七百字故事 or 700 Character Stories). […]

Learning to read Chinese

One of the main goals that I have in Taiwan is to learn to read Chinese. I can already speak Mandarin to a reasonable level. However, it is frustrating not to be able to read much more than a map or a restaurant menu.
I have never thought that learning to speak Mandarin was that […]

Book review: Far East Pinyin Chinese-English Dictionary

Far East Pinyin Chinese-English Dictionary The Far East Book Co, Taipei, 2001 ISBN: 9576124638 Cost:NT$450 at PageOne Bookstore, Taipei
One of the best things about this dictionary is its compact size. It is easy to handle and not too heavy or bulky so you can easily carry it round and refer to […]

One night (betel nut) stand

The name of this betel nut stand is yīyèqíng (一葉情). It translates literally as "one leaf feeling". This is perhaps a reference to the leaf the betel nut is wrapped in. The character for leaf is also a homophone with the character for night (夜). This also gives an alternative meaning to the name of the […]

Reading tea leaves

Here are a few more examples of interesting word plays using Chinese characters.
The first one is the sign on a shop selling tea. The characters read as dìngshān cháyè. Hearing this read aloud it would be interpreted as Dingshan Tea Leaves (or perhaps just Dingshan Tea). However, the final character is not […]

Simplified characters in Taiwan

Taiwan likes to promote itself as one of the last bastions of traditional Chinese characters. Traditional characters are seen as being under threat from simplified characters which are used in the PRC. Simplified characters are also the main system used in Chinese language education throughout the world.
Some people seem to believe that […]


One word on the sign is G點 (G-diǎn). I doubt you will find this word in any Chinese dictionary but it means G-spot. The picture below shows some of the products on display in the window of Qíngqù.
Regarding the name of the shop, 情趣 (qíngqù) Xiao-yu writes:
When it is related to "sex", 情 is short for 情慾 […]

The e in coffee

Pinyin News recently blogged on the letter "e" being used in Chinese characters on a DVD cover. I discovered another example of an "e" in Chinese characters. However, this one is something of a clever play on words.

The Chinese characters in the above sign are 壹咖啡 (yī kāfēi). However, the […]