English words with different meanings in Chinese (Taiwan)

vs. = and
one by one = one to one
high = exiting, fun (now that drugs are popular, sometimes has the same meaning as in English)
kiss = combination or combo in pool
DM (direct mailer) = brochure
single = no boy/girlfriend

I can’t think of any more off the top of my head

Not exactly the same kind of thing… but I always thought holding the first two fingers of your hand up meant ‘peace’. Apparently (am I getting old?) it means ‘victory’, and makes it’s bastard way into [color=red]every photograph I take!![/color] :imp:

Kiss is used to mean ‘(light) touch’ in many circumstances.

VCR - video clip
MTV - music video
back(u) - to go in reverse
spicy - hot (as in women)
spicy girl - hot girl

I always say ‘one on one’, not ‘one to one.’ Is that a regional thing?

And as far as I know, the V hand sign stood for Victory in the west for a long time, although I’m not sure if that meaning was applied to it before or after ‘peace’ was.

AFAIK the V for Victory sign became popular after Churchill was pictured making the gesture on Victory in Europe day. The rude version was I believe first used at the Battle of Agincourt by English archers demonstrating to the French that although some captured archers had had their fingers removed by the French, these particular archers were still fully functional. Presumably that is why Churchill used the V sign with his palm facing outwards. Any earlier sighting of the V for Victory sign ? It may of course have been originally a peace symbol, given that it was quite popular with VW van drivers in the 60s.

Learned the hard way from my Taiwanese underlings that “simple” or “easy” as in “That’s simple. You can do it no problem.” is actually insulting to Chinese as it implies 1) you only trust them with easy tasks, 2) you expect them to finish something quickly even if it really is a difficult task (i.e. you’re a slave driver), 3) you’re bragging because for whatever reason the task is easy for you. There may have been a fourth and fifth but you get the point.

For months then I have been unknowingly insulting my team when in fact I was trying to encourge them. We had a long talk yesterday and I explained that in the west we tell others a task is “simple” to boost their confidence. Even if, especially if the task is difficult, we use this epxression as the last thing we want is someone approaching a task with fear and trepidation. It also suggests that I really believe in your abilities.

Other words that have different meanings in English and Chinese:

deep pockets: in English it means your generosity or money supply is endless (generous) while in Chinese it implies you have money but it is such an effort for you to reach all the way down to get it out. In other words, you are stingy.

May have more to do with the fact that you refer to them as “underlings”. I find it has more to do with the way you say it.

Little Iron, actually I say “one on one” more often as well

Actually, I prefer the “V” sign in photographs to the thumbs up, sign of the devil, and “pop a cap” gestures that musical groups and celebrities make at random in photographs.

one major question:

how did versus, which means against or to play against, compete against, Team A versus Team B, come to mean AND in Taiwan?
Can anyone explain this transformation and is there any way to get the Taiwanese to reverse march on this and just use AND or & when they mean AND, and just use VS. when it’s a battle or a ball game?

I don’t understand this – vs for and, one by one for one to one – these are just examples of incorrect English usage. If all Chinese people use it, it simply means they’re all wrong.

Monkey’s wild guess of the day:
It comes from our Taiwanese friends who have been brainwa … I mean, studied in the USA. When rappers started performing together in public, they were often billed as rapper A vs. rapper B. I suppose some lame-brain who studied in the US and went on to become a professional academic in Taiwan :unamused: started telling his charges here that “vs.” meant “together with” and nobody challenged it. Do I get a scholarship for “Master’s in Ebonics” for this?

Ph.D. for the monkey, as always, on the money!

But that Vs thing goes way back to the 30s and the days of the Savoy Ballroom and the Cotton Club when it was still in Harlem. They’d have big bands set up at either end of the room who would have cutting contests – each side trying to outplay the other. Nothing to do with these damn young upstart whippersnappers with their too-big pants and their bling bling. Harrumph! Why, in my day we had to walk to school, uphill both ways, barefoot in the snow etc. etc. These young people today, they don’t know they’re BORN, I tell ye…

I always thought that when girls did that it meant something like “Please make vigorous love to me.”

My friend was with some Taiwanese girls who did that when they were in the Yangmingshan Park, and then later they went back to his place and banged.

. . . And Lingo Was Their Game-O

To the Verbal Go the Spoils at Neologism Boot Camp

In a spartanly furnished classroom three stories below the National Mall, conspirators are hard at work.

They’re conjuring up words. They’d like nothing better than to invent them, then sit back and listen to the rest of us use them. They want this so much that each has given up five hours of a Saturday and paid upward of US$120 to hear Erin McKean, the 31-year-old senior editor for Oxford University Press’s American English dictionaries, talk about the life and death of language. She discusses the birth of “bling-bling,” “soccer moms” and “reality TV,” just a few of the phrases that have slipped into American vernacular in recent years.

She talks about staying power and burnout – take “cyberspace,” for example, a word coined by author William Gibson in 1984 and now securely entrenched, compared with “information superhighway,” which also has its place in the dictionary but seems to be slipping into obsolescence.

“The dictionary is not a dictator, it’s a mirror of what people do,” she tells the 27 academics, bureaucrats, lawyers, retirees and writers who’ve signed on as cadets in this Smithsonian-sponsored “Word-Lover’s Boot Camp.” The best dictionary, McKean continues, is merely a record of the written expressions of a culture and language. Hence Oxford’s listing of “hopefully,” Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!” and the use of “fellowship” as a verb (a usage dating from at least 1374, more than 600 years before cinema-goers fellowshipped in watching “The Lord of the Rings”).

And at risk of scrambling the sensibilities of Scrabble devotees, McKean gets even more subversive: “You don’t have to be in the dictionary to be a word [any more than] you don’t have to be a purebred to be a dog.” It’s a particularly antithetical notion coming from one whose employer ambitiously aspires to include every English word in general usage since 1700 (plus any leftovers among the complete works of Shakespeare, Milton and the King James Bible).

The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary is considered the most comprehensive reference for the English language. The company’s two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (SOED), released last fall, saw fit to include 3,500 new words by using its “5 by 5 by 5” rule: five examples in five printed sources over five years.

By McKean’s standards, the cadets’ new constructions – including “catagram” (a word without an anagram) and “homofication” (adoption of a gay lifestyle by someone who has recently come out of the closet) – share the legitimacy of, say, an old word that seems to have renewed relevance, such as “woofits” (a gloomy mood, from the World War I era). Not yet in the dictionary but on Oxford’s shortlist is “9/11,” not soon to be forgotten, and “reality TV,” which might best be.

Sometimes meaning is decided before orthography; we’re still figuring out whether the word for online correspondence should be rendered as “E-mail,” “e-mail” or “email.”

At ages 76 and 73, respectively, Roy and Carol Thomas of Montgomery County share a mutual interest in language and opsimathy (from 1656, learning acquired late in life). A retired high school librarian who teaches English as a second language at Montgomery College, Carol is driven to bruxism (grinding of teeth) at the thought of the word “tasked,” cited by Oxford back in 1828.

Conversely, allocthonous (non-native) poet and author Sheree Fitch, 46, transplanted to the District from Ottawa while her husband finishes a two-year work assignment, simply “loves words, the taste of them, the lip-slipperiness of them,” and prefers poetic license to precision.

Philosophical differences are bound to arise where authoritarianism abuts artistry.

The dynamics in the room aren’t anywhere near the scale of the war over words in, say, Bhutan, where the Dzongkha Development Commission of the Royal Government is finalizing a new grammar, and devising an entire new dictionary, in hopes of defending the Himalayan country’s traditional language from outside influences. Tej K. Bhatia, a professor of languages and linguistics at Syracuse University, explains that the mountain folk are in for an uphill battle: Successes among state-mandated languages have been spotty.

As McKean has been impressing upon her class, Bhatia explains, “the most important thing is that the vocabulary you create must be accepted by its users. There are piles of created dictionaries that just sit on closet shelves. The users are going to select a word that has utility, that will give them some mileage.”

That’s the real key to a language’s survival, finding a word with juice. When it comes to new words, as McKean notes, “there are more and more words all the time. . . . We’re not slowing down at all, which I think is a great thing.”

John Metcalfe came out on top at the boot camp. His “Gallogophasia” (the gratuitous insertion of French words into general conversation) was the favorite among his classmates and earned the 23-year-old editorial intern a copy of the SOED.

Gallogophasia may have won the prize, but the word of the day may actually have been “sinefine” – defined by Polish immigrant-cum-West Virginia artist and boot-camp cadet Paul Wyszkoski as “an unending task,” like language itself. For McKean and her fellow logophiles, that’s – to use English’s most widely understood word – okay.

[quote=“formosa”]. . . And Lingo Was Their Game-O

Oui, its muy good, pengyou.


arrigato gozaimashita

Ihave always thought that bread is bread and toast is toast. Put your bread in the toaster and it becomes brown, then it is toast!

I ordered toast and got, warm bread. (I now know how to order it in Chinese properly “To- se, Kao jio idian”-excuse my bad pinyin).

When I tried to explain it to my class, my Chinese teacher just said the concept is too hard to understand. When I insisted, she just told the kids to humor me…"

Really, why are many brands of bread labeled toast? How did this misconception get started?

My wife often refers to bread as toast too, I’ll ask her why.
Don’t forget the classic ‘New Open’, who told them that was English ?
And who said ‘Xmas’ is spelt with an apostrophe ? :unamused:

I figure the whole “toast” thing was just based on a misunderstanding:

[color=orange]Chinese dude: What’s that you’re eating?[/color]
[color=darkblue]Western dude: Toast…[/color]

The Chinese dude infers that the food itself is toast, while the foreigner is referring to the process that turned the bread into its present state. Not unlike the difference between fan and mi, both of which are words for rice. Fan, however, is ready-to-eat, while mi is not.

“New Open” is a direct translation from the Chinese expression Xin Kaide.

true, I hardly ever eat ‘bread’ on it’s own, it’s almost always ‘toast’ or ‘sandwich’ or what ever.
What word do dictionaries give for mian bao ?

“New Open” is translated wrong then, it is not English, so why put it on ?

what about “Final Reduced”
saw that everywhere :slight_smile: