Duanwu Festival

The Duanwu (Dragon Boat) Festival falls on June 14 this year.

Duanwu Festival, 端午节 (Duānwǔ jié) in Chinese, is also widely known as Dragon Boat Festival 龙舟节 (Lóngzhōu jié) in the rest of the world, as one of its celebrative events – dragon boat race – has become so popular in the world. However, like last year due to pandemic lockdown in the UK, we are still unable to watch dragon boat races or to have cultural workshops on campus.

The head of a dragon boat in River Lagan. Image@LiangWANG

If you would like to review how we celebrated it in the past, here are some snapshots with links to full albums (via the Language Centre Facebook).

2020 Culture Talk

2019 Interactive Culture Display

2018 Culture Talk and Workshop

This time, while we cannot get together again, we have invited some staff and students to show and tell what they have done to celebrate the festival – making and eating zongzi 粽子(zòngzi), a typical type of food made of glutinous rice with sweet (e.g. dates, red bean paste) or savoury (e.g. pork, salted egg yolk) fillings wrapped up by bamboo or reed leaves, as the photos shown below.

Vocabulary

  • 粽(子) zòng(zi) – zongzi
  • 糯米 nuò mǐ – glutinous rice; 糯 nuò – sticky and soft; 米 mǐ – rice
  • 粽叶 zòng yè – reed or bamboo leaves; 叶 yè – leaf
  • 竹 zhú – bamboo; 苇 wěi – reed
  • 枣 zǎo – date (fruit)
  • 豆沙 dòushā – red bean paste
  • 咸蛋黄 xián dànhuáng – salted egg yolk
  • 猪肉 zhūròu – pork
  • 绿豆糕 lǜdòu gāo – mung bean cake
  • 装饰 zhuāngshì – ornament, decoration

Greetings

In addition to the common festival greeting that you may say 快乐 kuàilè (happy), many Chinese people also choose to say 安康 ānkāng (peaceful and healthy) or 吉祥 jíxiáng (auspicious). This is because Duanwu Festival is considered having its origin from warding off diseases and illness mostly caused by the rising summer heat and humidity which invited the invasion of poisonous animals such as insects and reptiles. Therefore, you will be able to see people use a varied way of expressions:

  • 端午节快乐!Duānwǔ jié kuàilè! – Happy Duanwu Festival!
  • 端午节安康!Duānwǔ jié ānkāng! – Wish you a peaceful and healthy Duanwu Festival!
  • 端午节吉祥!Duānwǔ jié jíxiáng! – Wish you an auspicious Duanwu Festival!

However, outside overseas Chinese communities, if dragon boat races are the only form of celebrations, i.e. beyond the context of traditional Chinese Duanwu culture, then people would find it normal to just express a happy festive greeting.

  • 龙舟节快乐!Lóngzhōujié kuàilè! – Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

More to explore

A video of QUB students tasting zongzi and other snacks. Video source: QUB Management School Weibo

Have you done something memorable this Dragon Boat Festival? Tell us and share your stories in the comment box below.

World Bicycle Day

Happy World Bicycle Day! 世界自行车日快乐!

Statues of bicycle riding taken at Suzhou Dushu Lake Higher Education Town. Image @LiangWANG

Acknowledging the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation, fostering environmental stewardship and health, the General Assembly decided to declare 3 June World Bicycle Day.

The UN

Do you have a bicycle? What do you use it for? Read the story shared by Haiying LIANG (梁海映), a Queen’s graduate, from Beijing recently.

In Beijing, you can always see people riding bicycles of various colours on streets, which has become beautiful scenery in the city. These colourful vehicles are a type of newly emerged business known as shared bicycle service that has become one of the important aspects of daily life for many people in Beijing, as well as in many other places in China.

Shared bicycles also play an important role in my daily life. While conducting field work in Beijing for my doctoral research, I also take a research assistant intern at Tsinghua University. Its campus is so large that it takes over half an hour for me to walk from the office building to my favourite cafeteria. You may imagine that without a bicycle, I would have spent about two hours for a meal. So I really think that a bicycle does a great help as I can ride whenever I want. Moreover, unlike finding a car park, I can leave the bicycle at the designated parking area nearby, which makes my travel very flexible.

Shared bicycles are indeed a very convenient means of transport in densely populated places where traffic jams are not uncommon and finding a car park is far from easy. In addition, they are not only environmentally friendly, compared with cars, but also very economic – the price of a 30-minute ride is only one-tenth of the price of a single bus ticket in London – which is 1.5 yuan (about 0.15 pound), as this screenshot of the App shows.
Image @HaiyingLIANG

Despite the great advantages, the lack of designated parking area for shared bicycles can also cause the problem of occupying space such as pavements and lanes. As shown in the photo, the intensively parked bicycles have caused traffic congestion and inconvenience for people who are walking on this road. When building the roads and pavements decades ago, engineers didn’t expect that there would be so many shared bicycles in the near future. Therefore, in the new urban planning, the parking sites for shared bicycles should be well planned, and roads and bicycle lanes can be expanded to accommodate more vehicles that may appear in the future.
Image @HaiyingLIANG

Did you know that in Belfast there are shared bicycles as well? Have you ever used them? Share with us your experience in the comment box below.

A person about to use a shared bicycle parking opposite Queen’s McClay Library. Image @LiangWANG

Useful vocabulary and expressions in Chinese

  • 世界 shìjiè – world
  • 自行车 zìxíngchē – bicyble, bike; 自 zì – self, 行 xíng – moving, 车 chē – vehicle
  • 单车 dānchē – bicycle, bike; 单 dān – single (person)
  • 共享 gòngxiǎng – shared; 共 gòng – together, 享 xiǎng – to share
  • 停车场 tíngchē chǎng – (car/bike) park; 停 tíng – to stop, to halt; 场 chǎng – an open space, field, market, etc.
  • 收费 shōufèi – to charge; 收 shōu – to receive, to collect; 费 fèi – fee
  • 便宜 piányi – cheap
  • 方便 fāngbiàn – convenient

Happy International Tea Day

Cha or Tea? This is not a question in the Chinese context – it’s 茶 (chá) officially, while te (tea) is a dialect from southeast coastal areas like Fujian and Taiwan. So 茶 (chá) exported alongside the ancient silk road (by land) has been called as cha or any of the variants in those areas whereas 茶 (chá) exportation by sea has been pronounced as tea.

Eteamology
From Flickr @Eteamology

Tea is the world’s most consumed drink, after water. It is believed that tea originated in northeast India, north Myanmar and southwest China, but the exact place where the plant first grew is not known. Tea has been with us for a long time. There is evidence that tea was consumed in China 5,000 years ago.

The UN

Culture talk on Chinese tea at Queen’s

Did you still remember that we had organised a culture talk on Chinese tea in the year of Mouse at Queen’s?

Speaker Beidi Wang (second from right) with some of the audience celebrating CNY after the talk at the McClay Library, QUB
The introduction of tea history by Beidi Wang, QUB MBA graduate

The art of serving tea

Q1. What are the four essential elements in tea serving?

a) 茶叶 chá yè (tea leaves)
b) 茶具 chá jù (tea set)
c) 牛奶 niú nǎi (milk)
d) 水 shuǐ (water)
e) 火候 huǒhou (heat)
f) 糖 táng (sugar)
g) 蜂蜜 fēngmì (honey)

Q2. When you are served tea in front of you, what are you supposed to do to express your courtesy?

a) Say ‘谢谢 (xièxie, thank-you)’.
b) Drink it as soon as it is served.
c) Leave it untouched until cooled down.
d) Use your fingers to ‘koutou’ on the table as if bowing to someone.

Practising serving tea at a tea house in Suzhou. Image @LiangWANG

A survey

Nǐ xǐhuan hē chá ma
1) 你喜欢喝茶吗?(Do you like drinking tea?)

Nǐ xǐhuan hē shénme chá
2) 你喜欢喝什么茶?(What type of tea do you like drinking?)

Let us know your answers in the reply box.

A spring tour to the City of Springs

It’s not to do with the spring season, nor with trampolines, but the fluidity of the waters.

In late spring, our alumni and volunteers Xiaohui (小惠), left, and Zhenru (珍如), right, who have found jobs in different places of China, joyfully reunited in Ji’nan (济南 Jǐ’nán), the provincial capital of Shandong (山东 Shāndōng). While having enjoyed the beautiful scenes of the city which is famous for its artesian springs (泉水 quán shuǐ), they would like to share their findings with us.

Do you know which city has most springs in China? The answer is Ji’nan, which is known as the Spring City with 72 springs altogether. Among them, the most famous one is called Baotu Spring. During Qing Dynasty’s Emperor Qianlong’s southern tour, Baotu Spring was regarded as the “No. 1 Spring under the Heaven” because of the mellow and sweet taste of tea made from its water.

Zhenru and Xiaohui

About Baotu Spring

If you ever pay a visit to Ji’nan, you will find that Baotu Spring (趵突泉 Bàotū Quán) is located in the city centre. The spring pond is 30-meter long and 18-meter wide, accommodating three outlets with streams gushing out from the ground. There is large stone masonry around the Spring. We would definitely recommend you to lean on the railing for a better feel to observe the streams gushing in the pond from underground limestone caves.

The entrance gate of Baotu Spring (the name should read from right to left). Image @Xiaohui LIAO

The famous modern playwright Lao She (老舍, Lǎo Shě) once wrote that “the waters gush up from the spring’s eyes, and rise half a meter above the surface of the water, constantly rolling like boiling”. We were there eager to see this wonder – the “boiling” scene. However, we felt rather disappointed that we didn’t see any “constantly rolling” waters; only three streams were there rippling mildly. Maybe it was because the waters were exhausted after running for hundreds of years.

The grand view of Baotu Spring with a waterside pavilion and two carved stones on each side. The left stone displays its name ‘趵突泉’ and the other marks it as the ‘No. 1 Spring (第一泉)’. The three rippling circles on the water surface at the bottom left corner of the photo are the streams through three outlets. Image @Xiaohui LIAO

What was astonishing was that we found two baby seals in the pond, playing with each other, as seals normally are seen in the sea. It turned out that the waters are specially treated to be in line with sea water quality to accommodate the creatures, according to the local authority that manages the scenic sites, despite the disputes arising from some tourists and people who were concerned with animals right and protection.

One of the reasons to introduce two seals in the Spring is to do with the double puns in the mixture of Chinese and English contexts.

The name in Chinese of seals is 海豹 (hǎibào), literally meaning ‘sea (海 hǎi) leopard (豹 bào), the second syllable of which echoes with the pronunciation of “趵 (bào)” in Baotu Spring (趵突泉 Bàotū Quán). “突 ()” sounds similar to ‘two’ in English. So today people jokingly refer to Baotu Spring as the spring having two seals, though “趵突 (bàotū)” originally means jumping and rushing out and forwardly.

Image @Zhenru SHANG

So, what do you think of the idea of keeping seals in the waters? You may share your opinions in the box below and read more detailed report here.

Learn the words and phrases

  • 济南 Jǐ’nán – Ji’nan, the provincial capital of Shandong; 济 – the river of Ji; 南 nán – south
  • 山东 Shāndōng – Shandong province; 山 shān – mountain, hill; 东 dōng – east
  • 泉水 quán shuǐ – spring, the waters; 泉 quán – spring; 水 shuǐ – water
  • 趵突泉 Bàotū Quán – Baotu Spring; 趵 bào – jump; 突 – out and forward
  • 第一泉 dì yī quán – The No. 1 Spring; 第 一 – No. 1
  • 海豹 hǎibào – seal; 海 hǎi – sea; 豹 bào – leopard

If you would like to share your cultural experience in China, you are welcome to contact us by filling in the comment box below with your name, email and proposed topics.

International Video Competition

[External message] Attention! You have ideas; we have funding!

“My China Story” International Short Video Competition aims to collect China stories from around the world, show the memorable experience of foreigners as they got to know about China, and share their unique perspectives about the country. This year, the competition features a new section “Video Treatment Contest”. Send us your creative video idea, you will have the chance to win a film grant! What are you waiting for? Join the contest now!

For more information, visit the competition website.

An edible ‘landmark’ of Wuhan

Whilst it rained with ice balls in Northern Ireland only a few days ago, people in China have already turned to ice-creams for the cool taste. More popular than the tastes are perhaps the variety of shapes of ice-creams that resemble those local features and places of interest. Here’s what Xuewei YANG (杨雪薇), a QUB alumnus, brings to us.

Continue reading

Happy Youth Day!

May the 4th be with you!

While many of you may be familiar with this pun-loaded greeting from the Star Wars, Chinese people, especially the youth, have their own special celebration on the day.

May (the) Fourth  n. (also 4 May, etc.) Chinese History (attributive) designating or relating to a demonstration held by students in Peking (Beijing) on 4 May 1919 to protest against the Chinese government’s failure to oppose the decision by the Versailles Peace Committee to allocate Germany’s former possessions in China to Japan; (also) designating the wider cultural and intellectual revolution in China for which this demonstration is generally regarded as having been a catalyst; esp. in May (the) Fourth Movement.

Oxford English Dictionary
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Happy Chinese Language Day

Calling all learners of Chinese

Language of Spring, the theme song of 2021 UN Chinese Language Day

In keeping with the themes of inclusivity and cultural exchange, the song was written as a collaboration between Chinese music producer Kelvin Ho, British author Robert Murray and Belgian composer Jean-Francois Maljean who wrote ‘Chime of the Dawn Bells’. It has been performed in Chinese by British artists Phoebe Haines and Freddie Benedict.

To hear this beautiful tune, subscribe to our channel on YouTube (Chinese Language Video Festival)

Chinese Language Festival Video (Youtube)

Don’t miss out the video competition taking place on the day! You can watch it via the Youtube link above. You can also view the Chinese website with many more details and videos via CCTV.


We would also like to invite you to join our culture talk on the topic of supporting international students, delivered by Dr Aisling O’Boyle and Dr Xuezi Han this Friday 23rd April 2021.

Click here for more details and registration.

World Table Tennis Day

Happy World Table Tennis Day! 国际乒乓球日快乐 (Guójì Pīngpāngqiú Rì Kuàilè)!

Did you know that World Table Tennis Day is celebrated annually on 6th April since 2015, which also marks the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace?

From ITTF

Did you know that table tennis, or 乒乓球 (pīngpāngqiú) in Chinese, is considered the national game in China? And did you know that Chinese has become sort of a common language (unofficially) that many top players of the world are using it, especially at international games? Did you know why table tennis play shouted ‘cho’ at their match?

Actually ‘cho’ is not the Chinese spelling of the pronunciation, instead, it should be ‘ (qiú)‘ which means ball. In its more complete sense it should be ‘好球 (hǎo qiú)’ – lit. good ball (good point, well played) – in Chinese, a typical way of cheering for themselves when scoring. 好 (hǎo) tends to give a weak sound in the syllable and it is often omitted in competitions. So, shouting ‘球 (qiú)’ or ‘cho’ has become a fashion and trend in many international table tennis matches where Chinese players compete.

Then, how to encourage players in a competition, especially when they are in great difficulties, in Chinese? Here are some simple phrases for you to grasp:

  • 加油 (jiāyóu) – lit. add oil; come on, go for it
  • 别放弃 (bié fàngqì) – Don’t give up!
  • 你能行 (nǐ néng xíng) – You can do it!
  • 坚持就是胜利 (jiānchí jiù shì shènglì) – Perseverance leads to victory!

Did you also know that at Queen’s we have a QUB Table Tennis Team (multinational) and there used to be a Chinese team of students and staff members? If they played against each other, which team do you hope to win? Learn how to express hope in Chinese now:

Copyright@LiangWang
  • 女王大学乒乓球队 (Nǚwáng Dàxué Pīngpāngqiúduì) – Queen’s University Table Tennis Team
  • 中国师生队 (Zhōngguó shīshēngduì) – Chinese Student-Staff Team
  • – 你希望哪个球队赢 (nǐ xīwàng nǎ ge qiúduì yíng)?Which team do you hope to win?
  • – 我希望…… (wǒ xīwàng…) I hope …

So, which team do you hope to win? Give your answer by using the structure and phrases above and get some practice.

Of course, in many games, we just want to play for fun and to develop friendship. So in this context, we would say ‘friendship first, competition second’ – 友谊第一,比赛第二 (yǒuyì dì yī, bǐsài dì èr).

CNY celebration 2017 at Queen’s – Table Tennis Taster Event at PEC

Finally, we hope that you will like table tennis game and join us for fun at some time.

CNY celebration 2017 at Queen’s – Table Tennis Taster Event at PEC
  • 我们喜欢乒乓球 (wǒmen xǐhuan pīngpāngqiú)!

Want to learn more Chinese? Check the Language Centre website for Mandarin Chinese course registration information.

Reminder: Registration will close promptly at 17:00 on Thursday 15 April. Classes are expected to be extremely popular and usually fill up quickly, so early registration is strongly recommended.

UN Chinese Language Day

Calling all our learners of Chinese at Queen’s

Action Plan for 2021 United Nations Chinese Language Day & First CMG Chinese-language Video Festival Abroad

The first ever Chinese Language Video Festival has been launched to celebrate this year’s United Nations Chinese Language Day.

The festival gives foreigners from across the world the opportunity to enter a competition by submitting a video that celebrates Chinese culture.

Entrants are invited to submit original videos that showcase Chinese calligraphy, Chinese poetry, as well as Chinese culinary culture by recalling their own stories or narrating memories related to spring time. 

From CGTN

Theme and format

The video works can include but not limited to the following themes and topics showcasing:

  • Chinese characters in the Chinese language,
  • Chinese culinary culture,
  • Chinese calligraphy,
  • and the beauty of Chinese poetry.

In addition to the aforementioned topics, candidates can also choose to record their videos by telling their own stories or narrating pieces of memory related to springtime. The format can be flexible, candidates can make their videos through talent show, storytelling, scientific knowledge explanation or Chinese language challenge games etc, as long as the video works are original.

Timetable

  • 18 March-15 April     Registration form and video submission
  • 16 April-19 April       Final review of works & program packaging
  • 20 April           Award Ceremony & broadcasting and streaming of prize-winning video works

Eligibility

The competition is open to all foreigners who love the Chinese culture and language and who have been learning the Chinese language.

How to join?


Thinking of taking a Chinese language course @ Queen’s?

Registration is open until promptly at 17:00 on Thursday 15 April. Classes are expected to be extremely popular and usually fill up quickly, so early registration is strongly recommended.

All classes will commence week beginning Monday 19 April 2021. All language courses will comprise of online practice activities, pre-class videos and weekly, live online teaching, delivered by a tutor to groups of no more than 20 learners. Courses will last for 10 weeks, with 1 x 90 minute live online teaching session each week.

  • Mandarin Chinese Level 1A
  • Mandarin Chinese Level 1B
  • Mandarin Chinese Level 2
  • Mandarin Chinese Level 3
  • Mandarin Chinese Level 4
  • Mandarin Chinese Level 5