Mooncake Festival

The Mooncake Festival (月饼节), officially known as Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) in China, has been widely used by people in some Asian countries.

Following last year’s celebration, we would like to welcome you again to join our online Mid-Autumn Festival culture programme which involves

  • A culture talk with quiz
  • Cultural performances
  • Making mooncakes (demo)
Festive greetings from the Language Centre with invitation

The event is jointly contributed by Queen’s Chinese staff, students and alumni. The event is scheduled between 1:00 and 2:00 pm on Tuesday 21st September – the Mid-Autumn Festival day. You are all very welcome to attend the session with the information and registration link below:

How to greet people on the day?

Normally people would greet each other by saying ‘Happy Mid-Autumn Festival’ 中秋节快乐 (Zhōngqiū jié kuàilè). However, in this special time of facing pandemic threat, we often wish people peaceful and healthy by adding 安康 (ānkāng) in addition to 快乐 (kuàilè), which becomes “中秋节快乐安康 (Zhōngqiū jié kuàilè ānkāng)”.

  • 中 (zhōng) – middle, centre
  • 秋 (qiū) – autumn
  • 中秋 (Zhōngqiū) – mid-Autumn
  • 节 (jié) – festival, day
  • 快乐 (kuàilè) – happy
  • 安康 (ānkāng) – peaceful and healthy

To learn more Chinese vocabulary and expressions in a structured way, you are welcome to attend one of our Chinese courses for non-specialist purposes. Click the link below to check for Mandarin Chinese course information.

Thoughts on Chinese Teachers’ Day

Happy Chinese Teachers’ Day! 中国教师节快乐!

On the arrival of the Chinese Teachers’ Day on 10th September, we are happy to invite Dr Hui Ma, who shifted between his roles of student and teacher, to send his festival thoughts.

My name is Hui Ma. I just received my doctorate degree in education at Queen’s University Belfast, specializing in teaching English as a second or foreign language.

My research interest is in language assessment and language education. Currently, I am working as postdoctoral research assistant in education at Queen’s. I also have recently received offers to work as lecturer in some key universities in China.

Graduation, Image@HuiMa

With 6 years’ experience of English teaching and working as a part-time student counsellor in a Chinese college, I had decided to pursuit the doctorate degree at Queen’s University Belfast in order to better qualify myself as an educator and researcher. During my years at Queen’s, while being a research student learning a lot from my supervisors, I also worked as part-time student assistant for the International Office to offer due support to international students, most of whom are Chinese students. Quite often, I was called as ‘Ma laoshi (lit. Ma teacher) when I was contacted with enquiries or thank-you messages. I am glad to have been helpful.

So, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely wish my teachers, home and abroad, and my fellow colleagues who are teachers and educators in China as well as elsewhere a happy and healthy life.

Language in use

If you are learning Chinese, one of the first few words you may have learned in class probably included 老师 (lǎoshī) when your language teacher established the relationship by telling you how to address them in the Chinese way. Later you will have learned another word 教师 (jiàoshī) when talking about profession. Both mean teacher but the former is used as appellation while the latter refers to the occupation. So you can address your teacher, regardless of their academic titles (lecturer, professor, teaching fellow, etc.), by calling their family name followed by 老师 (lǎoshī). If one’s a teacher, in filling forms when asked about their occupation, they need to write 教师 (jiàoshī).

Sign up for a Chinese class to learn more

Celebrating the Teachers’ Day

On this day, students often present flowers or cards to their teachers to thank them for their devotion and care. So, here’s our card to all teachers and also wish Dr Ma a great re-start of becoming a teacher when he returns to China.

Photo collection from QUB alumni who teach in China

If you have any thoughts to send to your teachers who mean a lot to your growth at Queen’s, feel free to share your Teachers’ Day messages in the box below. We would like to continue this topic until the World Teachers’ Day on 5th October.

Milk Tea from Inner Mongolia

In our previous post we introduced milk tea or bubble tea (奶茶 nǎichá) which has gained its popularity among young people nowadays.

Today, we continue with this ‘milk tea’ topic by inviting Yuanting Qiao (乔苑婷), a QUB PhD candidate from School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, to share some of her experience of drinking milk tea in Inner Mongolia, where her home place is.

With sunflowers, Image@YuantingQiao

Inner Mongolia, in full Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, … is a vast territory that stretches in a great crescent for some 1,490 miles (2,400 km) across northern China.

Britannica

The Real Milk Tea from Inner Mongolia

In Inner Mongolia (内蒙古 Nèi Ménggǔ) in China, people drink milk tea every morning. This Mongolia-style milk tea is a kind of traditional hot drink mixed with black tea and fresh milk in a pot for boiling. Some people add salt or sugar in milk tea while most of us prefer to drink it with the original taste. Some others put in butter-fried rice and dairy products. Thus, it is served in big bowls rather than in cups.

Image@YuantingQiao

Also, people in Inner Mongolia like eating beef and lamb, and they cook them with very little condiment, only using salt and green onion. Each time they prepare large quantity of beef or lamb so that every morning they put the cooked beef or lamb into the milk tea directly. Thus the milk tea can cool down very soon with great taste while the beef and lamb are heated. Quite often, people will add a traditional type of cheese when drinking milk tea.

Image@YuantingQiao

What other tea drinking cultures in China would you like to recommend? Write us your personal experiences and stories in the comment box below or you are welcome to contact us if you want to write a short introduction of your local tea culture.

Bubble tea time

In our ‘International Tea Day‘ post, we asked what type of tea you would like to drink and there were two replies:

Personally, I’m not a tea person, lol, I think I like yogurt and milk more. In China, the younger generations may take bubble tea as their first choice right now. It may be my favorite drink too if I don’t consider calories or my body shape too much.

– Yang Liang

I love milk tea~

– shiyu wu

So, what is bubble tea, then?

Bubble Tea is the name given to the wide variety of refreshing flavoured fruit teas and milk teas served ice cold or piping hot with chewy tapioca balls that you suck up through a big fat straw!

Bubbleology


A bubble tea made in Belfast, Image@LiangWang

In Chinese, it is widely known as 珍珠奶茶 (zhēnzhū nǎi chá). 珍珠 (zhēnzhū), originally meaning pearl, here refers to the pearl-shaped tapioca balls typically used in the recipe. 奶茶 (nǎi chá) means milk tea.

Today we’d like to invite Jie Rao (饶洁), one of our QUB alumni and fan of bubble/milk tea, to share her thoughts.

To be honest, I am one of the bubble girls as I believe drinking it will help me remove all the sorrows and worries, and make me feel relieved for the time being.


Jie Rao in front of a vending machine for drinks. Image@JieRao

“Tea?”

In Northern Ireland as well as elsewhere in the UK, when people entertain their friends with a cup of tea, they mean to serve tea with milk and sugar. While this custom differs to the thousand-year-long tradition of tea-serving in China, a new type of tea drink, called bubble tea, or milk tea, has become a fashion among the young Chinese.

People see it, get it, post a photo of it and others see it.

Instead of drinking tea at home or in a tea house, young people nowadays enjoy grabbing a milk tea while hanging out with their friends or just for refreshment. One can very often see bubble tea shops or cafes on streets, with long queues of young faces. It is also trendy that people would like to show their first cup of bubble tea through their social media, partly because of the convenience of sharing function and partly due to the showing-off human nature.

Green tea with cheese and rock salt, Image@JieRao

In fact, bubble tea or milk tea is tea-based drink, very different to the original tea drinking. It tastes milky sweet. Of course, you can choose the ice (冰 bīng) and sugar level (甜度 tián dù) according to your preference. The fundamental difference is that bubble tea has essential toppings to choose, like pearl-sized tapioca (木薯 mùshǔ), coconut jelly (椰果 yē guǒ), pudding (布丁 bùdīng), red bean (红豆 hóng dòu), taro (芋圆 yùyuán) and so on. Some variants include adding cheese and fruits, and other kinds of tea drinks even goes without using milk.

Just a few days ago, I went to a popular shop named 茶颜悦色 (chá yán yuè sè), a brand based in Changsha, Hunan Province, and I was kept waiting for almost an hour due to its long queue and time for preparation. However, it was really worth the wait if one would enjoy watching the onsite making.

茶颜悦色 adapts from a Chinese phrase 察言观色 (chá yán guān sè) meaning ‘to observe one’s words and countenance’. In this brand:

  • 茶 (chá, tea) has the same pronunciation as 察 (chá, to observe).
  • 颜 (yán) pronounces the same as 言 (yán, speech).
  • 悦 (yuè) means to please while 观 (guān) means to look, to observe.
  • 色 (), with the basic meaning as colour, has its connotation as facial expressions or countenance.

Image@维基小霸王, Wikimedia

The brand’s name carries the meaning that good tea drink makes one wearing a pleasant look.

Despite the popularity, people are warned against the sugar content of bubble tea and other ingredients like non-dairy creamer used in the drink that can cause potential health problem. I often order bubble tea with half sugar (半糖 bàn táng) or light sugar (微糖 wēi táng). How would you like your bubble tea prepared?

We look forward to hearing your stories of bubble tea drink in the box below.

Life is like a cup of tea – A cup of bubble tea will be nice😋

CCF11 July Talk

CCF11 – Whose Play Is It? Translating and Performing Chinese Drama for the Global Stage

Speaker:
Dr Yangyang LONG 龙杨杨, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University

Dr Yangyang LONG is Assistant Professor in Translation and Interpreting. She was awarded PhD by Queen’s University Belfast in 2019. Her works have been published on journals such as The Translator, Asia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies, Atlantic Studies: Global Currents and Coup De Théâtre. She is currently working with Routledge on a monograph entitled “The Works of Lin Yutang: Translation and Recognition”, which will be published with the series “Routledge Studies in Chinese Translation”.

Outline:
Who owns a translated foreign-language play? The translator? The author? The playwright? The director? The dramaturg? The actors/actresses? The audiences? The critics? The theatre company? The (mass) media? What makes a Chinese play – in this case a classic of its national literature – worth translating and performing in a new environment, that is, the here and now of the 21st-century English-speaking world? This talk aims to explore the translation and performance of 2017 “Snow in Midsummer” (窦娥冤, The Injustice to Dou E That Moved Heaven and Earth by Guan Hanqing), a new stage production by the Royal Shakespeare Company for its “Chinese Classics Translation Project” (2013-2023).

More information:

Continue reading

CCF10 June Talk

CCF10 – Turning your interest in Chinese into a business: The Chairman’s Bao

Speakers:

Sean McGibney studied Chinese and Spanish at University of Leeds and founded The Chairman’s Bao alongside Tom Reid in his final year of study in 2015. Currently Managing Director of The Chairman’s Bao, he has overseen the company’s growth from university bedroom concept to an international force in the EdTech industry with over 120,000 individual users and over 300 global partner institutions. In his spare time, Sean sits on the Board of charity Leeds Irish Health and Homes and volunteers with Alzheimer’s Research UK, as well as being a keen runner and cyclist.

Coming previously from an Investment Bank specialising in Mergers and Acquisitions, Oliver Leach joined the Team as Business Development Manager in February 2018 and became a Director in 2020. His existing broad role at TCB spans from marketing and branding to sales and customer service. Outside of work, Oliver is a long-suffering fan of Reading FC.

Outline:
In this joint presentation we will cover:

  • the story behind TCB
  • our team, using Chinese in a work environment
  • business achieving success in thriving EdTech sector
  • setting up a business at university
  • lessons learned in business
  • plans for the future and a demo of the platform.

More information:
The Chairman’s Bao

We welcome your attention and would like to invite your questions and feedback on this culture talk in the box below.

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.