Chinese: Beautiful Country

Several months ago I made a couple of New Year's Resolutions. One of these was setting up a bug tracker - yeah, well, that's still in progress, though I'm thinking of going with the appealing (and Ruby on Rails written) SimpleTicket.

But one resolution I have already been following through with is learning a non-western language. I chose Mandarin Chinese, one because it seems very useful considering the future outlook, and second was that it was available on a night I had available.

Chinese is actually easier to learn than I had thought at the outset. Some of the annoyances of English, such as conjugation aren't present. For example, "I be" "I am", "He is", "She is", "We are", are all just "- be". Though these are replaced by equally difficult translations. For example, there is a different word for Maternal Grandmother and Grandfather vs. Paternal Grandparents. There is even a different term for older vs. younger brother and older vs. younger sister.

America in Mandarin ChineseWe've also learned some of the country names. America is "Meiguo", or 美国. Literally, this means "Beautiful Country". I found this very endearing... until I learned it's because the character 美 (Mei) which means beautiful just has the same sound as the "me" in America.

Other countries include:

  • 法国 - Faguo is France (lawful country)
  • 得国 - Deguo is Germany (moral country)
  • 加拿大 - Jianada is Canada (just sounds a lot like Cha-nah-dah)

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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.