2016-05-14elementary

Watch Chinese dramas, learn Chinese

Do you like Chinese TV dramas? I believe watching TV is a good way to practice Chinese, because not only is it fun, but you can also learn a lot about the culture.
In this blog, I give my recommendation for a Chinese TV drama high in popularity right now.

The drama I want to recommend is called “ huānsòng (Ode to Joy)”, and is the most popular drama in China at the moment. A lot of foreigners have asked me what the show is about, so let's learn more about the show and take a look at some of the dialogue!

Introduction

The story in “Ode to Joy” revolves around five women who live in Shanghai in an apartment complex called “Ode to Joy”. The series is a realistic depiction of modern life in China, and shows the lives of these five women as they struggle with love and work as independent modern women.

Character Profiles

  • Ān (An Di) is a successful business woman who has returned to China to find her younger brother after studying in New York
  • xiǎoxiāo (Qu Xiao Xiao) comes from a rich family. She is only 25 but already owns her own small business.
  • Fánshèngměi (Fang Sheng Mei) grew up in poverty but has shed her “Princess of the Streets” background to work for a multinational company.
  • Qiūyíngyíng (Qiu Ying Ying) is a 20-year-old small-town girl who is trying to make it in the big city.
  • Guāněr (Guan Ju Er) is a 20-year-old from a highly educated family, but she must discover what she wants out of life when she enters the workforce for the first time.

Reasons for Recommendation

I highly recommend this drama as a resource for learning Chinese. It is a modern drama with everyday language, helping you practice authentic Chinese which you won't find in textbooks. It also depicts real life in the modern Chinese society, helping you understand Chinese life and culture.
You can find versions with both English and Chinese subtitles or with only Chinese subtitles online, making it suitable to watch for learners of different levels.

Links

Suitable for Beginner~Intermediate : English+Chinese subtitle on KissAsian

Suitable for Upper Intermediate~Master: Chinese subtitles on Youtube,

Let's watch the first episode!

How to address someone in Chinese

Let’s take a look at the dialogue which appears at 02:27~03:37 in the video above. The three girls Fánshèngměi (F), Qiūyíngyíng (Q) and Guāněr (G) are talking about their new next door neighbor. The dialogue has three different ways of calling someone by their name. Can you tell what they are?

Hover over any word to show translation
 
F:
nǐ men
你们
你們
you (plural)
liǎ
two (colloquial)
gàn má
干吗
幹嗎
what, what for
ne
particle indicating that a previously asked question is to be applied to the preceding word ("What about ...?", "And ...?")
 
 
Q:
fán jiě
樊姐
樊姐
Sister Fan (name)
 
èr èr líng yāo
2201
2201
zhuāng
to install, to fix
le
(completed action marker)
jiān kòng
监控
監控
monitor
 
 
G:
fán jiě
樊姐
樊姐
Sister Fan (name)
you (informal)
kàn
to see, to look at
 
it
zhè
this
shè xiàng tóu
摄像头
攝像頭
webcam, surveillance camera
hǎo xiàng
好像
好像
as if, to seem like
hái
still, yet
néng
to be able to, to be capable of
zhè yàng
这样
這樣
this way, like this
 
lái huí
来回
來回
back and forth, repeatedly
zhè yàng
这样
這樣
this way, like this
dòng
to move, to change
 
 
F:
zhuāng
to install, to fix
ge
classifier for people or objects in general
shè xiàng tóu
摄像头
攝像頭
webcam, surveillance camera
fáng
to guard against, to prevent
zéi
thief
ne
particle indicating that a previously asked question is to be applied to the preceding word ("What about ...?", "And ...?")
 
lǐ miàn
里面
裡面
inside, interior
zhù
to live
de
(used to form a nominal expression)
shén me
什么
什麼
what?, who?
rén
person, people
a
modal particle ending sentence, showing affirmation, approval, or consent
 
 
G:
I, me
tīng
to hear, to listen
xiǎo zhèng
小郑
小鄭
Little Zheng (name)
shuō
to speak, to say
le
(completed action marker)
 
shuō
to speak, to say
zhè
this
lǐ miàn
里面
裡面
inside, interior
de
(used to form a nominal expression)
rén
person, people
bān
to move
lái
to come, to arrive
hǎo
good, very
several, a few
tiān
day
le
(completed action marker)
 
jiù
only, just (emphasis)
shì
is
méi
(negative prefix for verbs), have not
jiàn
to see, to meet
zháo
to come in contact with
rén yǐng
人影
人影
the shadow of a human
 
 
Q:
I, me
zhǐ
only, merely
kàn jiàn
看见
看見
to see, to catch sight of
bǎo jié
保洁
保潔
sanitation
ā yí
阿姨
阿姨
aunt, worker
jìn chū
进出
進出
to enter or exit, to go through
 
lián
even (used with 也, 都 etc)
ge
classifier for people or objects in general
rén yǐng
人影
人影
the shadow of a human
dōu
even (used for emphasis)
méi
(negative prefix for verbs), have not
kàn jiàn
看见
看見
to see, to catch sight of
 
zhè me
这么
這麼
this way, like this
kàn lái
看来
看來
apparently, it seems that
 
zhè
this
ge
classifier for people or objects in general
rén
person, people
hěn
quite, very
gǔ guài
古怪
古怪
eccentric, odd
 
yí dìng
一定
一定
surely, certainly
(negative prefix), not
hǎo
good, well
xiāng chǔ
相处
相處
to be in contact with, to associate with
 
 
F:
guǎn
to look after, to care about
he or him
ne
particle indicating that a previously asked question is to be applied to the preceding word ("What about ...?", "And ...?")
 
I, me
tīng
to hear, to listen
xiǎo zhèng
小郑
小鄭
Little Zheng (name)
shuō
to speak, to say
 
èr èr líng sān
2203
2203
also, too
yāo
will
rù zhù
入住
入住
to move in
le
(completed action marker)
 
dàn
but, however
yuàn
to hope, to wish
shì
is
ge
classifier for people or objects in general
gāo fù shuài
高富帅
高富帥
"Mr Perfect" (i.e. tall, rich and handsome) (Internet slang)
 
 
Q:
gāo fù shuài
高富帅
高富帥
"Mr Perfect" (i.e. tall, rich and handsome) (Internet slang)
 
fán jiě
樊姐
樊姐
Sister Fan (name)
 
jīn tiān
今天
今天
today
dǎ ban
打扮
打扮
to dress, to make up
zhè me
这么
這麼
this way, like this
hǎo kàn
好看
好看
good-looking, nice-looking
 
yòu
(once) again
to go
yuē huì
约会
約會
appointment, date
a
modal particle ending sentence, showing affirmation, approval, or consent
 
 
F:
(negative prefix), not
to allow, to permit
jiào
to call
I, me
fán jiě
樊姐
樊姐
Sister Fan (name)
 
 
Q&G:
xiǎo měi
小美
小美
Little Mei (name)
měi méi
美眉
美眉
(coll.) pretty girl
 
 
F:
xíng
all right, OK!
la
sentence-final particle, contraction of 了啊, indicating exclamation
 
jiě jie
姐姐
姐姐
older sister
I, me
xiān
in advance, first
chè
to take away, to withdraw
le
(completed action marker)
 
yù zhù
预祝
預祝
to congratulate beforehand, to offer best wishes for
I, me
xiāng qīn
相亲
相親
blind date
chéng gōng
成功
成功
success, to succeed
ba
(modal particle indicating suggestion or surmise)
 
 
Q&G:
jiā yóu
加油
加油
to add oil, fig. to cheer sb on
 
xiǎo měi
小美
小美
Little Mei (name)
měi méi
美眉
美眉
(coll.) pretty girl
 
jiā yóu
加油
加油
to add oil, fig. to cheer sb on
 
xiǎo měi
小美
小美
Little Mei (name)
měi méi
美眉
美眉
(coll.) pretty girl
 
jiā yóu
加油
加油
to add oil, fig. to cheer sb on
 
jiā yóu
加油
加油
to add oil, fig. to cheer sb on
 
 
F:
bái bái
拜拜
拜拜
(loanword) bye-bye
 
 
Q:
zǒu
to walk, to go
ba
(modal particle indicating suggestion or surmise)
 

F: What are you two doing out here?
Q: Fan-jie, 2201 installed a camera!
G: Fan-jie, look. This camera can even move back and forth.
F: Installed a camera⋯to fend against thieves? Who lives in there?
G: I heard from Xiao Zheng that this person moved in several days ago, but there hasn’t been a trace of him or her.
Q: I only saw a cleaning lady come in and out of there. Didn’t see a trace of the resident. Looks like this person is a weirdo. Must be difficult to get along with.
F: Who cares? I heard from Xiao Zheng that the resident of 2203 is about to move in as well. I hope he’s a “gao fu shuai”.
Q: Gao fu shuai! Fan-jie, you dressed up to beautifully today. Are you going on a date again?
F: Don’t call me Fan-jie.
Q&G: Little Mei Mei beauty.
F: Okay, I’m going to leave now. Wish me success on my blind date.
Q&G: Good luck, little Mei beauty! Good luck! Good luck, little Mei beauty! Good luck! Good luck!
F: Bye-bye!
Q: Let’s go.

Character set
Pinyin

Surname + jiě

In the dialogue, Qiūyíngyíng (Q) and Guāněr (G) use Fánjiě to address Fánshèngměi (F).
jiě is term of endearment meaning older sister, and we often hear Chinese use “surname + jiě” to address a female older than them. The male counterpart is “surname + ”.

Sister Wang
wáng jiě 王姐
Brother Zhang
zhāng gē 张哥

xiǎo + surname

On the fifth line of the dialogue, Guāněr (G) says “我听小郑说”, “ xiǎo + surname” is the way to address someone who is younger than you, and can be used for both females and males.

Sometimes we also see the same structure using lǎo instead of xiǎo.
lǎo + surname” is often used to address a male acquaintance (usually of similar age). Be careful though, as you should not use it towards a person who is much older than you, as in that case it would be impolite. In that case, you can instead use jiě or which we studied above.

Mr/Miss Wang
xiǎo wáng 小王
Mr Zhang
lǎo zhāng 老张

měiméi

In the last part of the dialogue, Fánshèngměi (F) says “Don’t call me Fan-jie”. As we just learned, jiě is used to address someone who older than yourself, and Fánshèngměi (F) doesn’t like to be reminded of her age. Instead, Qiūyíngyíng (Q) and Guāněr (G) refer to her as xiǎoměiměiméi.

xiǎoměi is the same basic structure as “ xiǎo + surname”, but since they are close friends they don’t use the surname Fán, but use a character from her given name měi instead.

měiméi is an internet buzzword meaning pretty girl. měiméi’s pronunciation is similar to “ mèimei” (little sister), and the literal meaning of měiméi is beautiful eyebrow. The Chinese think the eyebrow shows a girl's beauty, so “beautiful eyebrow” lets people imagine a beauty girl. You may also come across the shortened version of měiméi: MM.

Those are our three ways of addressing someone. Let's learn some keywords from the dialogue.

Date words
date
yuē huì 约会
blind date
xiāng qīn 相亲
tall, rich and handsome man
gāo fù shuài 高富帅
(see our previous blog post)
come on
jiā yóu 加油
keywords
surveillance camera
shè xiàng tóu 摄像头
shadow of a human figure
rén yǐng 人影
move in
rù zhù 入住 / bān lái 搬来
who cares
guǎn tā ne 管他呢

Did you enjoy “Ode to Joy”?