Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chinese for Errand Boys

Hey errand boy (suì cuī 碎催)!  Are things getting a little crazy around the office?  Still angry that your boss went a little "evil dictator" on you and told you to go fetch him a Twinkie from that Safeway on the other side of town (because the Twinkies from the Safeway right next to your office don't "taste the same")?  Why not learn a little Mandarin so you can tell him what you really think of him - without getting fired!

Won't it be therapeutic for you when you tell him he's crazy (fāfēng 发疯), right to his face?  He's asked you to polish his paperweights one too many times, and even though you think he's one tax (shuì) short of a tea party, you always smile and get right to work.  And let's not forget all those times he made you stay late at work making a hundred copies of one page because he couldn't be bothered to figure out how to have his printer print a page more than once!  Now you'll be able to tell him what a terrible (zāogāo 糟糕) human being he really is.  In fact, why not just sum it up with the simple phrase, "You make me sick." (Nǐ zhēn ràng ěxīn 你真让我恶心).  Let's break this phrase down so you can recycle some of it's parts for other fun phrases. "Nǐ (你)" means "you".  Combine it with the word for "to be" (shì 是) and you can say things like, "You're a half-wit" (Nǐ zhēn shì ā mù lín  你 真 是 阿木林).  The word for "half-wit" is "ā mù lín" ( 阿木林) Also, take note of the word "zhēn" (真) which means "real", "true", or "genuine" and also adds emphasis, so we're actually saying, "You're REALLY a half-wit." You told him!

Finally, the word "ràng" (让) from our phrase above (you make me sick!) means "to let" or "to make".  You can use this word for saying things like, "You make (ràng) children cry." or "You make (ràng) full grown adults have nightmares."  Oh the possibilities!

Well, it sounds like your ready to go release some pent up aggression.   Enjoy seeing your boss smile as you treat him to hearing some "fun Chinese phrases" you recently learned.  Won't he think you're a smarty pants!
A simple word of caution though - make sure he doesn't speak Chinese himself or you'll be spending the rest of your "career" eating Ramen and living out of your very own cardboard box.

1.  suì cuī ("sway tsooey") 碎催 errand boy
The errand boy (suì cuī) has finally had enough.

2.  fāfēng ("fah-fung") 发疯 crazy
His boss is a crazy (fāfēng) loon.

3.  zāogāo ("tzau-gau") 糟糕 terrible
The bosses secretary is just as terrible (zāogāo) as he is.

4.  nǐ ("nee") 你 you
If you (nǐ) can't beat 'em, get rich, buy the company and fire them.

5.  ěxīn ("uh-sheen") 恶心  sick; nauseated; nausea 
He felt nauseated (ěxīn) when he saw the stack of papers he needed to file.

6.  shì ("shih") 是 to be; is; are, am
The other errand boy is (shì) a kiss-up.

7.  ā mù lín ("ah-moo-leen") 阿木林 half-wit
If he wasn't such a half-wit (ā mù lín), he might get promoted.

8.  zhēn ("jehn") 真 real; true; genuine; really
I really (zhēn) hope my boss doesn't speak Chinese.

9.  ràng ("wrong") 让 to let; to make
If he ever let (ràng) me go home early, I'd think he was drunk.

Don't forget to check out this week's interactive vocabulary list.

For more help pronouncing Mandarin words, click here.

Image by Drew Morgan via Flickr is licensed via Creative Commons.

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