A little mouse in an email address

In my previous post on punctuation, I left out perhaps one of the most interesting, creative, and perhaps most relevant to the internet, symbols: the @ symbol!

When you ask people for their email address, they’ll often answer you with:

name小老鼠gmail.com

At first this completely threw me off–until I thought it out and realized how adorable it is. Yes, indeed, the @ symbol is referred to as 小老鼠 (xiǎolǎoshǔ), or little mouse, in Chinese.

And, really, when you think about it, doesn’t it kind of look like one?

at-sign

The Art of Punctuation in Chinese

There is a certain art to Chinese punctuation, and as a graduate student, writing papers with proper pronunciation is exceedingly important.

「知漢字者智。知標點者明。」-Me, breaking traditional poetic structure.

A Little History of Chinese Punctuation

Chinese traditionally had no paragraphs, no spaces and, especially, no punctuation. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth and early twentieth century did punctuation start to appear in Chinese, eventually being standardized into what it is today. Because Chinese punctuation was influenced by Western languages, there is some carry over in punctuation. So you’ll see the ! ? : ; ( ) [ ] that you’re likely familiar with. Still, there are some fun ones specific to Chinese so let’s take a look below!

Chinese Punctuation

punct_period
Period ( 。 )

The period in Chinese is called 句號/句号 (jùhào) and is in the middle of a line: 我很好。

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Quotation Marks  ( 「…」 ,『…』, “…”)

Quotation marks in Chinese are called 引號/引号(yǐnhào) and are different in Simplified and Traditional Chinese. Here’s how they break down:

Traditional Chinese

In Traditional Chinese,  single quotation marks are rendered as「…」while double quotation marks are『…』. Often, the double quotation makrs are used when embedded within single quotation marks, such as :「…『…』…」.

Simplified Chinese

Simplified Chinese uses the quotation marks we’re familiar with: “…” and ‘…’. In contrast to Traditional Chinese, single quotation marks are used when embedded within double quotation marks: “…‘…’…”.

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The “List Comma” ( 、 )

The “list comma” is often used in long lists, for example: 水果有很多種類:蘋果、香蕉、句子、芭樂、蓮霧、榴蓮、. It’s called 頓號/顿号 (dùnhào) in Chinese. It can be used in a list like 蘋果、三星及HTC” or  蘋果、三星、HTC (Apple, Samsung and HTC).

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Middle Dot (‧)

The fancy name for this is “interpunct” but in Chinese it’s 間隔號/间隔号 (jiàngéhào), or quite simply “gap marker”.

The middle dot you’ll often seen between Western names, separating first and last name. For example Napoleon Bonaparte is rendered 拿破崙·波拿巴/拿破仑・波拿巴 (Nápòlún · Bōnábā) in Chinese, with the middle dot separating his first and last name.

title_brackets

Title Marks ( 《》and ﹏﹏﹏)

You’ll see the two types of title marks above.  Generally, for book and film titles you’ll see《…》, while〈…〉is used more for articles and can also be embedded within the title brackets above, such as: 《…〈…〉…》. Finally, the fun little wavy underline thing (﹏﹏﹏) can also be used in lieu of the brackets to denote titles and important names.

In Chinese, these are still referred to as “quotation marks”, 引號/引号(yǐnhào). However, if you want to get fancy,《…》are called 雙尖引號/双尖引号 (shuāngjiānyǐnhào), or double pointed quotation marks. While〈…〉are called 單尖引號/单尖引号 (dānjiānyǐnhào), or single pointed quotation marks.

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The Elusive Ellipsis ( …… )

The ellipsis in Chinese has six dots instead of three, and the usage is the same as in English. In Chinese it’s called 省略號/省略号 (shěnglüèhào).

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Tilde (wavy dash) ( ~ )

This has to be my favorite one to say in Chinese because it’s the “wave mark” or 波浪號/波浪号 (bōlànghào).

The wavy dash has a few different usages in Chinese. It can show a range such as 5~8小時, especially when some numbers are estimates. It can also used to soften the ending of a sentence, or to elongate a vowel sound.

Anyway there it is!

It’s pretty straightforward, and similar enough to punctuation in English that it should be easy to get a hang of. Still, the best way to get used to the usage is to see it in the wild. Some of the best places to look are blogs, novels, and even news.

 

“You sold me out!”

A staple of any good mafia movie is when one of the guys rats out someone for fun and/or profit.

And guess what? Chinese has an awesome phrase for a situation like that, too!

sold_me_out

你出賣我!(nǐ chūmài wǒ)

出賣 is actually a set phrase which, aside from meaning quite literally “to sell”, also means “to sell out/betray”.

You can also 出賣朋友, too, but that’s not really all that nice to do is it? 😦

It’s super fun and versatile to use, and I totally recommend you try using to joke around with your friends.

It’s also used in the name of a song, too!

A Crash Course in Chinese Numbers

This is a pretty simple post, but hopefully it’ll give you a quick and easy introduction to Chinese numbers–which can be rather intimidating at first the larger they get! But as you’ll see, it’s pretty easy to figure out once you know a simple little trick.

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Addressing an Envelope in Taiwan – Horizontal

Now that we’ve looked at how to address envelopes in the more traditional vertical style, let’s take a look how to address horizontal envelopes!

Horizontal

As for the horizontal envelopes, the post office yet again gives us some great instructions:

收件人地址、姓名書於中央偏右,寄件人地址、姓名書於左上角或信封背面。郵遞區號書於地址上方第1行,郵票貼於右上角。

Breaking this down, we get the address and name of the recipient (收件人地址、姓名) in the middle, with the sender’s address and name (寄件人地址、姓名) on the upper right (or even the back!). The zip code is written above the address, and stamp goes on the upper right corner.

It’s pretty much the same style envelope we’re all familiar with, except in the way you order the address, which you may remember from this post.

And the order for writing them:

  • 第1行:郵遞區號 [ yóu​dì​qū​hào ]
  • 第2行:地址 [ dì​zhǐ ]
  • 第3行:姓名或商號名稱
      • 姓名 [ xìng​míng​ ]: name and surname
      • 商號 [ shāng​hào ]: business
      • 名稱 [ míng​chēng ]: name (of a thing or business)

In other words (or in English) it is:

  • First Line: Postal Code
  • Second Line: Address
  • Third Line: Name or Business Name

Note that 第 (dì) is used for ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc) and 行 (háng) is used for lines or rows.

NOTE:

In this context 行 is always pronounced háng and never xíng!

式樣 (style [ shì​yàng ]​):

envelopehorizontalSource

Here, too, you’ll notice they also use 啟 (to open [ qǐ ]) next to the recipient’s name and 緘 (to close; to seal [ jiān ]) next to sender’s name. As before, it is more common to see 收 [ shōu ] for “to” and 寄 [ jì ] “from” instead of 啟 and 緘.

And that’s it! I hope this guide was helpful for you. If you have any questions, ask away in the comments below!

Addressing an Envelope in Taiwan – Vertical

Since we’ve got our addresses down, on to envelopes! In Taiwan, there are two ways to write the address on the envelope: the more traditional, vertical, way or the more Western-style horizontal way (all depends on the type of envelope you have and how ambitious you are).

In this post, I’ll be taking a look at how to address a vertical style envelope in Taiwan!

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How the Taiwanese Address System Works

PostOfficeBoxesTaiwanMailing letters is admittedly a long and arduous process, what with the fancy emails and instant messaging these days, but it’s still quite a necessary part of life abroad! In this post we will be looking at the (relatively) easy addressing system in Taiwan!

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