All languages have confusing aspects. But as a Chinese language learner, the confusing aspects of Chinese are often at the least amusing, and the most confusing. For an interesting anecdote, as well as some info about Chinese, see the stuff after the jump.
Chapter 341: Chase Big-Head to the Death!
Contributing Editors: Madam Deathblade, John Rogers, anonpuffs
Proofreaders: Lingson, MeeBoo and Yascob
Meme Archives: Yascob
Sponsors: Dennis Liu, Cindy Shi, Anonymous and GY
Many thanks to the Fellow Daoists for bringing the third sponsored chapter of the week!…
In Chinese there are a lot of words for “week.” The most common are:
周 – zhōu
礼拜 – lǐbài
星期 – xīngqí
Where I’m at in China, there is little distinction between the three. I hear all of them frequently. However a confusing situation can arise when you are talking about age. In Chinese culture, there are two ways to track age. One is according to the actual birth date of the child. That is referred to as 周岁 zhōu suì. The other method is 虚岁 xū suì, which is based on the lunar new year. The confusion can arise because when you talk about a child’s age, it’s common to say the number, and then add 周岁 zhōu suì after it, or sometimes just “zhou,” to indicate that you are referring to the age of the child based on their birthdate. And yet “zhou” can also mean “weeks.” This led to a confusing conversation this morning when someone asked about Baby Deathblade’s age. Here is how the conversation went:
Random Dude: “How old is your baby?”
Madam Deathblade: “Six weeks” (six zhou, which could also mean six years)
Random Dude: “What? You mean six months?”
Madam Deathblade: “Six…”
Random Dude: “Six days? Oh, you mean six weeks?” (six xingqi)
Madam Deathblade: “Six weeks, six weeks.” (six libai, six xingqi)
Random Dude: “Oh, six weeks, six weeks.” (six xingqi, six zhou)
I almost couldn’t believe I heard all three common usages of the word for “week” in less time than it takes an incense stick to burn!!