Thursday, August 20, 2009

Learn Chinese - Direction / Points Of The Compass

This is just a quick 'lesson' outlining directions, ie the points of the compass: North, South East and West (and middle).

Although not particularly useful for navigating around town (I've never jumped into a taxi and said go north), knowing the terms can be very useful. This is especially true of the Chinese characters - learning to read North, South, East and West can help you recognise place names when you're travelling.

There's been more than one occasion when I've been confronted with a wall of destination names in Chinese and have sighed with relief when I've recognised the city I wanted, thanks to the presence of one of these characters.

Here they are, along with some example place names that use these characters:

English Pinyin Chinese Character Examples
North Běi Běijīng 北京, Dōngběi 东北
South Nán Nan2hai 南海, Hainan2 海南, Nánjīng 南京
East Dōng Guǎngdōng 广东, Dōngběi 东北
West 西 Guǎngxī 广西, Xīzàng 西藏
Middle Zhōng Zhōngguó 中国

As well as being found in city / province names, you'll also encounter these terms around town:

At the first school I taught at in China, we used to catch taxis (chūzūqìchē 出租汽车) to the west gate (xīmén 西门) of the school. Behind the school was the north ridge mountain (Běiling shān). In Beijing, you'll find Běihěi Park (north sea park 北海公园).

And so on and so forth, all over China.

You'll also see Zhong Shan all over China, although strictly speaking, Zhong Shan is a Chinese hero rather than Middle Mountain.

Anyway, learning the Chinese for the points of the compass will be useful for anyone living in or visiting China.

Key Phrases: Bei, Nan, Dong, Xi, Beijing, Dongbei, Nanhai, Hainan, Nanjing, Guangdong, Dongbei, Guangxi, Xizang, Zhong, Zhongguo, Chuzuqiche, Ximen, Beiling shan, Beihei park

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