Chinese vocabulary notes (February 2022)

In this edition: lying flat, the Chinese social credit system, the Olympic financials explained and Love Defense Wars (yes). Here are my February Chinese vocabulary notes.

Does hosting the Olympics make money? 聊聊奥运会背后的商业逻辑

What’s the business model behind the Olympic Games? How do they finance the whole thing? Lin walks us through the financial history of the Olympics and names the three main sources of revenue. Interesting to see that more than hundred years ago the Olympics’ core business was sports (!) instead of money-making.

奥运会 Àoyùnhuì Olympic Games
信托 xìntuō trust
转播费 zhuǎnbòfèi Broadcast fee (fee for the broadcast rights)
赞助 zànzhù sponsorships
世界杯 shìjièbēi World Cup
商业化 shāngyèhuà commercialize
核心逻辑 héxīn luójí core logic
贪腐 tānfǔ corruption
规模 guīmó scale
突破 túpò breakthrough
突飞猛进 tūfēiměngjìn Advance by leaps and bounds

Teacher Li explains children with autism

This is a quick introduction by 李永乐老师 to autism. His up-tempo teaching style combined with the scientific vocabulary is challenging, but he does give many examples. I wonder how he doesn’t seem to rely on any notes while giving this 25-minute lesson. He covers the discovery of autism, common symptoms, different kinds of autism, treatment, cases in America and China, the causes of autism and the societal acceptance in China.

自闭症 zìbìzhèng autism
症状 zhèngzhuàng symptom
沟通障碍 gōutōng zhàng’ài communication barriers
基因 jīyīn gene
干预 gānyù intervene
补助 bǔzhù grant
治愈 zhìyù cure


A medical video: Sport is the best medicine against cancer, according to this researcher. He refers to a large scale study to support this thesis. A positive effect of the pandemic has been that I’ve invested more time and research in health issues and sports. My conclusion so far has been that much of our suffering is lifestyle related and that what we view as “normal” isn’t “normal”. But there is hope, that’s also the underlying message of this video.
防癌 fáng ái Prevent cancer
预防癌症 yùfáng áizhèng Prevent cancer
有效的效果 yǒuxiào de xiàoguǒ Effective result(s)
一个大数据的研究发现 yīgè dà shùjù de yánjiū fāxiàn A big data study found
重度的锻炼 zhòngdù de duànliàn heavy exercise
休闲型的锻炼 xiūxián xíng de duànliàn recreational exercise
走到户外 zǒu dào hùwài go outside
保健品 bǎojiànpǐn health products
加强锻炼 jiāqiáng duànliàn take more exercise
在治疗中的患者 zài zhìliáo zhōng de huànzhě patients under treatment / in recovery
加强恢复的速度 jiāqiáng huīfù de sùdù Increase the speed of recovery

“Love defense wars”《爱情保卫战》

I just love this show. On the one hand, it’s so painful to watch. In German you’d use the word fremdschämen, meaning you’re ashamed on the other’s behalf, because they’re embarrassing themselves. On the other hand, this program is so immensely educational to watch, especially for foreigners trying to understand Chinese cultural in general and Chinese “love relationships” in particular.

安全感 anquán gǎn sense of security
异性缘 yìxìng yuán opposite sex
勾肩搭背 gōu jiān dābèi bend one’s arm around sb.’s shoulder – indicating an intimate relationship (idiom)
夸张 kuāzhāng exaggerate(d)
无非 wúfēi nothing more than
副业 fùyè side occupation
剥虾 bō xiā peel shrimps

The conflict of the first couple (00:00 – 25:00): he’s 22 and wants to party; she’s 27 and wants to marry. Soon. Like now immediately. She doesn’t want to become a 剩女 (leftover woman) and feels very 着急 (in a hurry). The guy is “not ready” yet and wants to party with his 哥们 (bro’s) and girlfriends. In 5 years maybe. But how about the woman? She wants to marry, but is she ready? She doesn’t want to be his mother(!), that’s for sure. What does the Chinese jury of grown-up experts have to say about all of this?

侵犯隐私 qīnfàn yǐnsī invasion of privacy
哄好 hōng hǎo to coax
幼稚 yòuzhì childish
压缩 yāsuō to compress / pressure
成长起来 chéngzhǎng qǐlá to grow up
担当 dāndāng to take responsibility
边界感 biānjiè gǎn sense of boundaries
走一步算一步 zǒu yībù suàn yībù step by step
共同面对生活 gòngtóng miàn duì shēnghuó face life together
玩玩乐乐 wán wánlè lè have fun
审美变化 shěnměi biànhuà aesthetic change

What Do The Chinese Think Of The Social Credit System? | Street Interview

So what is this so-called social credit system in China exactly? What are the positives and negatives and how does it affect Chinese society? Does the Chinese government really keep track of their citizens’ every move? This is another brilliant street interview from Asian Boss, asking a bunch of people in Shanghai what they think about the social credit system.

In general, I’m not a big fan of technological solutions to social problems like a lack of trust among citizens. I’d prefer we educate ourselves and step up to improve our behavior, instead of having the government or another entity monitor our daily lives. I find it strangely reductionist to define parameters to quantify one’s trustworthiness with a score.

However, I do see a difference between a “social credit rate” provided by a company like HelloBike and your own government. As long as I can freely choose to use the company’s services and products or not, I don’t see a problem. The same goes for loan providers who naturally have an interest in checking my credit history and always have their ways to do so. It’s different with governments.

But at least I’m willing to see the other side. As is stated in the intro, people in the west generally seem to think that every Chinese citizen is subject to “the social credit system” (whatever that entails) and is being monitored every minute and every hour. This is a big misconception. I couldn’t agree more with the final statement from the video: “Many biases actually stem from the fact that you don’t want to step out your bubble.” This is a key reason for me to learn a language like Mandarin btw.

社会信用体系 Shèhuì xìnyòng tǐxì social credit system
监督 jiāndū supervise
分数 fēnshù score
贷款 dàikuǎn loan
社会行为 shèhuì xíngwéi social behavior
信用度 xìnyòngdù credit (degree of credit)
支付宝 zhīfùbǎo Alipay

Mandarin Corner: Why Are Chinese Lying Flat? – Tang Ping Phenomenon – Intermediate Chinese

Another extremely interesting dialogue by Mandarin Corner. It’s a 30 min talk about 躺平 or “lying flat”. As the rat race gets harder and less rewarding, especially for younger generations, new mentalities towards life and work arise. 躺平 is internet slang for this kind of mentality reset. Instead of blindly adapting to dominant behavior patterns like working overtime, marrying, getting children, buying a car and real estate and so on, people are starting to ask questions like “is it really worth all this?” and “what’s in it for me?”. The answer 躺平 basically means quitting or at least drastically reducing the participation in the rat race.

The discussion touches upon many underlying aspects of this mentality change: the extreme working hours, the damaging competition among peers and even children, the failing work-life-balance, gender inequality in the labor market etc. One question that remains unanswered in the podcast is to what extent people are actually “quitting” and to what extent this is mainly an online discussion amongst dissatisfied netizens.

躺平 Tǎng píng “to lie flat” (in my own words: quitting the rat race)
网络词语 wǎngluò cíyǔ internet slang
放弃努力奋斗 fàngqì nǔlì fèndòu give up trying / give up the struggle
拥抱一种低欲望的生活态度 yǒngbào yī zhǒng dī yùwàng de shēnghuó tàidù embrace a low-desire attitude to life
黑料 hēi liào leaked information / information that is not supposed to get out
退出 tuìchū quit / retreat / step out
大小周 dàxiǎo zhōu Work 5 days, get two days off, work 6 days, get 1 day off (another more, maybe more familiar concept is “996”: work 6 days a week, from 9 to 9)

That’s it for February, folks. I expected to watch more of the Olympics, however, I lost interest pretty soon after the spectacular opening… See you next month!

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