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Vanessa

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  1. The idiom "哪壶不开提哪壶 (nǎ hú bù kāi tí nǎ hú)" literally means "to pick the kettle that is not boiling." It's used to indicate that someone is saying or doing something that shouldn't be mentioned in front of others, or that someone is bringing up a sensitive subject. Idiom Story: Hěn jiǔ yǐqián, yǒu fùzǐ liǎ kāi le jiān xiǎo cháguǎn. 很 久 以前,有 父子俩 开了 间 小 茶馆。 A long time ago there was a father and son who owned a tea-house. Dāngshí de zhīxiàn Bái lǎoye tāncái hàolì, jīngcháng lái bái hē chá. 当时 的 知县 白 老爷 贪财 好利,经常 来 白 喝 茶。 The local official, Mr. Bai, was of the greedy miser sort and always came for tea and promptly left without paying even a smile. Yì tiān, Bái lǎoye hēle yì kǒu chá, jiù zhòuzhe méi shuō: "zhè shuǐ méi kāi, chá yě méi wèir." 一 天, 白 老爷 喝了一 口茶,就皱着 眉 说: “这 水 没 开,茶 也 没 味儿。” One day, Mr.Bai took a sip from his cup and grumbled, "This water's not boiled, and the tea itself tastes terrible." Xiǎo zhǎngguì shuō: "lǎoye, zhè chá hái shì shàngděng de Lóngjǐng; shuǐ yě shì shāo kāi de, 小 掌柜 说: “老爷,这 茶 还 是 上等 的 龙井, 水 也 是 烧 开 的, zěnme néng méi wèir ne?" 怎么 能 没 味儿 呢?” The son replied, "My lord, the tea is our prized Longjing (Dragonwell Tea), and the water is piping hot, how could it taste terrible?" Guòle jǐ tiān, Bái lǎoye jiànjiàn bù lái le. 过了 几 天,白 老爷 渐渐 不 来 了。 A few days later, Mr. Bai stopped coming to their tea-house. Lǎo zhǎngguì biàn wèn érzi: "Bái lǎoye wèi shénme bù lái le?" 老 掌柜 便 问 儿子:“白 老爷 为 什么 不 来了?” The Father asked his son, "Why hasn't Mr. Bai been coming?" Érzi jīling de yí xiào, shuō: "wǒ gěi tā qīchá, shì nǎ hú bù kāi tí nǎ hú!" 儿子机灵 地 一 笑,说: “我 给 他 沏茶,是 哪 壶 不 开 提 哪 壶!” The son smiled knowingly and said, "Whenever I make his tea, I always use the water that hasn’t been boiled!" From that time on, the Chinese idiom "哪壶不开提哪壶 (nǎ hú bù kāi tí nǎ hú)" came into use. Now it's used to mean that someone is saying or doing something that shouldn't be mentioned in front of others. Examples: Nǐ zhēn shì nǎ hú bù kāi tí nǎ hú, tā jiù pà biérén tí qǐ tā de qián nányǒu. 你 真 是 哪 壶 不开 提 哪 壶,她 就 怕 别人提起 她 的 前 男友。 You were obviously touching a soft spot. She's pretty sensitive when talking about her ex-boyfriend. Lín Dá: Nǐ kǎo yán kěndìng méi wènti ba? 琳 达:你 考 研 肯定 没 问题 吧? Linda: What about the post-grad entrance exam? I think you'll do great. Hēng Lì: Bié nǎ hú bù kāi tí nǎ hú le, wǒ méi kǎo shàng. 亨 利:别 哪 壶 不 开 提 哪 壶了,我 没 考 上。 Henry: Don't bring that up right now. I did not pass the exam.
  2. Anybody have tried these two exercises before? Exercise #1: Mirror Learning Pinyin will help lay the foundation for pronunciation. Chinese Pinyin consists of initial consonants (b, p, m, f, d, t, n, l, g, k, h, j, q, x, z, c, s, r, zh, ch, sh) and finals or compound vowels (a, o, e, i, u etc). How can we make sure that we are pronouncing them accurately? Watch ourself in the mirror! When we try to imitate the pronunciation of the written Pinyin, check our mouth’s appearance, along with our lip and tongue positions as we make the sounds. Here is an example of what to look for in the mirror: For initial consonants: n, m ● When you pronounce the “n” sound, your lip needs to be kept slightly open, exposing your bottom teeth. ● While you pronounce the “m” sound, you need to keep your lips closed. Check your lips in the mirror to make sure your pronunciation is correct. Finals: a, o, e ● When we pronounce the “a” sound, open our mouth wide, put our tongue in a centered position and slightly raise the middle of the tongue blade (just behind the tip). ● When we pronounce the “o” sound, push our lips forward into a small circle, with our tongue at the bottom of our mouth, leaving a hollow space just above it. ● To produce the vowel “e” sound, first pronounce “o”, and then change the shape of our mouth from rounded to unrounded. At the same time, spread our lips apart, as if we were smiling. Maybe we can do this in the privacy of home, so that we don’t have to feel silly in front of others! Exercise #2: Paper Prepare some small and thin papers in a plate, and pronounce “b” and “p” initial consonants toward the plate. Of course, make sure our mouth is close to the plate, as the following image shows. If we pronounce “p” correctly, small papers will be blown away. On the contrary, the papers will be kept stable if we pronounce “b” correctly towards the plate. It’s as simple as that! A good way to imitate and distinguish aspirated consonants and unaspirated consonants is an exercise that I call “paper game”.
  3. My teacher told me most Chinese people would use "你吃了吗?" to greet others. Sometimes the speaker may not really care whether or not you have had your lunch or dinner, instead, the phrase will just be used to start a conversation, similar to how native English speakers might say “Nice day, isn’t it?” or “How’s it going?” Usually when others greet you with “你吃了吗” you can answer: “吃了, 你呢 Yes, how about you?” or “还没有, 你呢 Not yet, and you?” Then you can move on to any other conversation.
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