image description
image description
image description

Guest blog: Claudy Tu

A lot of people joined us for the second Chinese Language Roundtable in November. It was a beautiful day, sunny and a little chilly. This is typical early winter weather in mid-November. Time flies when the conversation flows. As we say in Chinese, “Huà xiá zi dǎ kāi le (话匣子打开了). The literal translation is “chatterbox open,” and the phrase actually means that the conversation was pleasant and there was so much to say.

Diàn cí lú电磁炉, Induction Cooker

One of our guests today was a teacher from Confucius Institute. He invited us to visit the upcoming USM International Food festival. He mentioned that they were still looking for a larger cooking pot to cook dumplings in the dining room, as the closest stove in the kitchen was too far, and that they would lose the opportunity to demonstrate cooking dumplings if they could not find one. Many Chinese families use Diàn cí lú电磁炉 as a substitute cooker, but he was wondering why it seemed that he could not find one here. It is similar to the induction cooking stovetop seen in some American kitchens. However, unlike a large electric cooking surface, it’s designed as a single-induction-zone cooker with a built-in digital controller for multiple cooking options that is easy to move around everywhere in the house (as long as electricity is available). You can either put it on the dining table or use it in the bedroom or a dormitory room with no kitchen. When I was a college student in Taiwan, this was a very popular cooker that everyone had in the apartment we rented. Additionally, it’s perfect for a group of people having the hot pot dinner together!

Zāi péi 栽培 vs. Péi xùn 培训, Cultivate vs. Training

The conversation then moved to the topic of learning languages and new cultures, and growing as a person. In English, we would say “train” a person or a dog while saying “cultivate” a plant. It depends on whether the object in the sentence is animate or inanimate. In Chinese, both Zāi péi and Péi xùn can mean “to train a person.” The difference is that Péi xùn is usually used to describe a short-term and intensive training process, while Zāi péi indicates a longer process of educating a person and fostering skills. 

Guà yáng tóu mài gǒu ròu挂羊头卖狗肉, Bait-and-switch

The topic of food was still in the air, and we talked about how sometimes advertising can be misleading - how sometimes a restaurant will release incredible looking photography, but you find something very different when you arrive – “bait-and-switch.” It is when one says one thing and does another. In Chinese, there is a popular phrase that has a similar meaning, guà yáng tóu mài gǒu ròu挂羊头卖狗, and it’s read as “He hangs up a sheep's head at the storefront and sells dog meat.” However, bait-and-switch is very commonly used in advertisements, and it’s more like a strategy of pushing a substitute or similar products or services while the advertised goods may still be available. When you point out that someone is doing guà yáng tóu mài gǒu ròu, it means the seller is cheating, and he/she does not provide product A but offers product B that is completely different than product A.

As 1pm arrived, and we all left the sunlit offices overlooking Congress Street, we were ready to go and feast on the amazing food choices that Portland has on offer. We hope to see you at the next roundtable, scheduled for December 6th. 

This week's blog features guest blogger, Claudy Tu, who was born in Taiwan and has lived in west Pennsylvania for several years before moving to Portland Maine in the summer of 2012.