May 132011

Recently I got to hear a student sing her own translation of “Friday” by Rebecca Black into ancient Greek. Only slightly less impressive is the Chinese version by dawen (@_dawen_) on YouTube, which I learned about the same day (thanks to a retweet by @MandarinSx of a tweet by @EastAsiaStudent). The video is subtitled in tradtional characters, but the artist has added simplified and pinyin lyrics to the description. Apart from all the days of the week, a good thing for beginning students of Chinese to listen for is all the “location” expressions with 在. There’s 在前面,在后面,在右边,and the question 在哪儿. More advanced students can listen for the places where the lyrics are not a literal translation of the English.

Feb 252011

In the movie Red, Bruce Willis speaks a line of Chinese, but I couldn’t figure out what it was (the subtitles in the YouTube clip below don’t seem to match with what he’s saying and the DVD I watched didn’t include anything for this line in the subtitles). After listening a bunch of times, I thought he might be saying 几年前我住 / 幾年前我住 … If that’s right the rest should be 在 somewhere, but it doesn’t sound like 在 and the place doesn’t sound like anything obvious like 中国 / 中國 or 香港. The line comes in the context of a surprising reference to the Harvard Yenching Classification System (for cataloging library books). I was sorry that the characters did not actually go to the Harvard Yenching Library, but I do not believe filming is allowed there in any case. Update: 谢谢 to commenter Tima for clarifying that the place where Bruce Willis’ character said he lived was 武汉 / 武漢 … [read more]

Feb 072011
"Bad Project"

This is a very entertaining parody of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” made by the Hui Zheng lab. They actually sing a few lines of Chinese in the video (at about the 3:50 mark). The lines (which are a translation of the previous few English lines in the song) are: 我要工作。wǒ yào gōngzuò. 我也要自由。wǒ yě yào zìyóu. 我要工作。wǒ yào gōngzuò. 但我没有学位。/ 但我沒有學位。dàn wǒ méiyǒu xuéwèi.  Thanks to a good friend who does medical research for sending me the link to this video. Warning: some mild profanity. You probably saw the test tubes labeled with Chinese characters at about the 2:35 mark. Look more closely at those in the image below. Can you read what they say?