Monday, May 18, 2009

Learn Chinese - Intelligent Or Clever

Here's another instalment in my Learn Chinese series and this time we're looking at the Chinese for intelligent (or clever):

Intelligent: Cōngmíng (聪明)

This was one of the things I tried to learn way back in 2002 when I've first lived in China (in Zhaoqing). I wasn't studying very hard back then and I couldn't keep it in my head, but it's something that I've re-learnt recently.

Why did I try to learn 'intelligent'? Was it to compliment my students on their excellent grasp of English? No, it was to rebuke local teenagers who called out guailo!

Guailo means foreigner. While not particularly offensive in it's own right - many people seemed to exclaim it in surprise on seeing a foreigner - I occasionally encountered some teenagers who called Guailo in a mocking voice. I longed to reply sarcastically:

Doì. Nǐ hěn Cōngmíng!

Which means:

Correct. You are very intelligent!

That would have shocked them (mainly that I could speak Chinese). Sadly, I couldn't remember the cong ming part, so I never got to use it.

Lesson Notes

It's worth pointing out that ming means bright and is used in other contexts (including in given names).

Keywords: congming, guailo, doi, hen, ming

That's all for this Chinese 'lesson'.

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