Dec 172012
"Landscript" by Xu Bing

See the character 門 mén near the middle of this painting? See the 窗 chuāng on either side of it? These aren’t the only characters that form part of the image in this 2001 painting by Xu Bing (徐冰), which was a gift to the Harvard Art Museums. Here’s a slightly edited version of the description from the Harvard Art Museums’ website.  (I’ve added the Chinese characters and tone marks on the pinyin in the list of words). … this painting depicts a thatched-roof cottage set in a lush landscape. The cottage sits at the very center of the composition, nestled between a small lake in the foreground and a series of rolling hills in the background and flanked on either side by groves of trees. Grasses and short bamboo plants surround the lake, in which various insects swim. A small, tile-roofed building appears to the (viewer’s) left of the … [read more]

Apr 222012
Harvard's "lion turtle"

A sure sign that spring has sprung in Harvard Yard (apart from the overpowering smell of mulch) is the reappearance of the Harvard University bixi from its winter wrapping. The term bìxì (赑屃 / 贔屭) refers to a dragon with the body of a tortoise. Stone bixi often serve as a base for a tablet or stele. The 17-foot tall, 20+ ton marble sculpture was given to the university on the occasion of its tercentennial in 1936 by alumni who were members of Harvard Clubs in China. Although the bixi dates from the Qing dynasty, it was re-inscribed for Harvard. The annual winter wrapping, however, only began in the late ’90s and the inscription is severely eroded. The following transcription is taken from the Wikimedia page devoted to the bixi. 文化为国家之命脉国家之所以兴也繇于文化而文化之所以盛也实繇于学深识远 见之士知立国之本必亟以兴学为先创始也艰自是光大而扩充之而其文化之宏往 往收效于数百年间而勿替是说也徵之于美国哈佛大学滋益信矣哈佛约翰先生于 三百年前由英之美讲学于波士顿市嗣在剑桥设立大学即以哈佛名之规制崇闳学 课美备因而人才辈出为世界有名之学府与美国之国运争荣哈佛先生之深识远见 其有造于国家之文化也大矣我国为东方文化古国然世运推移日新月异志学之士 复负笈海外以求深造近三十年来就学于哈佛大学学成归国服务于国家社会者先 后几达千人可云极盛今届母校成立三百年纪念之期同人等感念沾漑启迪之功不 能无所表献自兹以往当见两国文化愈益沟通必更光大扩充之使国家之兴盛得随 学问之进境以增隆斯则同人等之所馨香以祝而永永纪念不忘者尔 西历一九三六年九月哈佛大学中国留学生全体同人敬立 A partial translation appears on the bixi’s Wikipedia page. … [read more]

Apr 082012

This has been airing a lot recently on US TV. The vocabulary is actually not very advanced, although beginners may find the the dialogue hard to follow because it’s spoken rather quickly and low. Here’s a transcript: Man: 不要太过分。 Woman: 我知道;我实在太喜欢。 Man: 不要让他知道。 Woman: 可是好漂亮。 Man: 让我解决;看我办事。 Salesman: 好极了!现在我开始准备文件。 See an error? Please comment.

Jan 162012
Huntsman's Chinese jab at Romney

Zhongweb is apolitical, but earlier this month, while disagreeing over trade policy with China, Jon Huntsman claimed in Chinese that Mitt Romney  did “not quite understand the situation.” CBS has a good clip of this, but they seem to have something against embedding of their YouTube videos, so you’ll have to click: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqSyE9NBA4g Here’s a transcription: 他不太了解这个情形。 Tā bù tài liǎojiě zhè ge qíngxing. You can hear the quote in context courtesy of The Washington Post (apologies for the Flash).