In Cantonese, please.


Challenge Yourself With This Lively Chinese Language Tongue Twister



Some of our linguistically inclined Cantonese friends wouldn’t let us publish China Simplified: Language Gymnastics without including this beloved Cantonese tongue twister.

The Cantonese recording (courtesy of George Lau) and English translation are provided below. We hope you enjoy it!

Traditional Chinese Characters:

一蚊一斤龜, 七蚊一斤雞,
佢話龜貴過雞, 我話雞貴過龜,


Yat man yat kan kwai, chat man yat kan kai,
kui wa kwai kwai kwo kai, ngo wa kai kwai kwo kwai,
kam kau king kwai kwai kwo kai ting hai kai kwai kwo kwai?


One dollar for a tortoise, seven dollars for a chicken. He said the tortoise is more expensive than the chicken. I said the chicken is more expensive than the tortoise. So is the tortoise more expensive than the chicken, or the chicken is more expensive than the tortoise? 

Listen to the Cantonese recording here!

Already read the book? Now HEAR the book!

China Simplified: Language Gymnastics is available now on Audible. This entertaining, fast-paced recording, read by the book’s authors Katie Lu and Stewart Lee Beck, will help jump-start your Chinese language & cultural awareness, all in under 2 1/2 hours!

Literally the only popsicles in my house right now. 

Literally the only popsicles in my house right now. 


My favorite thing in the world! 😍 These are the traditional “dumplings” popular for Chinese New Year. They are called 角仔 (油角), “yau gok”. My mother makes them with homemade dough and filling that contains sugar, sesame, peanuts and coconut; then she deep fries them! Yes!!! 10/10!

and a how-to in cantonese! :)


Heartbeat Sounds in Ten Languages

Hearts are pretty cool, you guys. They pump a bunch of blood around the body and keep you alive or something.

Thanks, hearts! Keep on doing that thing that you do.


book book seng.

Pretty cool blog entry over at Cantonese Resources, including a key and sound clips for each proverb featured in the picture above. If you’ve got Cantonese parents - wow them with one of these over dinner!
Thanks krysskhros for the submission! :)

Pretty cool blog entry over at Cantonese Resources, including a key and sound clips for each proverb featured in the picture above. If you’ve got Cantonese parents - wow them with one of these over dinner!

Thanks krysskhros for the submission! :)

More cat antics.

We’ve been calling AnGeng “Dusty Chen” whenever she climbs into dusty places in our house. I made up the nickname based on the pronunciation of the words “dust” and “Chen” sound in Cantonese.

dust = 塵 can4
Chen = 陳 can4


The Cantonese version of “Love Is An Open Door” is the cutest thing I’ve ever heard.

Ooh, like this better than the Cantonese version of “Let It Go” - think the melody/key works a little better for the language.


Seen in Chinatown


Seen in Chinatown

Dec 8

Our family recently adopted a stray cat and are domesticating her. We said we wouldn’t name her until she settles and gets used to us, and we can just call her a temporary name instead. Our brother asked what her name was:

A: We’ll call her “An Geng”.

B: Glasses?

A: LOL NO, it’s the Chinese word for stubborn.

硬頸 ngaang6 geng2 = stubborn
眼鏡 ngaan5 geng3*2 = eyeglasses

What did the SHINee members say when they drank too much water?


I need to Onew.

(屙尿 o1 niu6)


Jin says Learn Chinese :3

Spoiler: Cantonese is better. 

Great examples and love the explanations with the characters on the screen! If you have 8 minutes to spare, this is a fun, interesting watch.



The Surprising Economics of Mooncakes—An Infographic

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!!!



The Surprising Economics of Mooncakes—An Infographic

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!!!

I’m way too pleased about this. 
They posted it on Facebook too.

I’m way too pleased about this

They posted it on Facebook too.

As we’re packing up leftovers from dinner, I was trying to explain to my mother that I preferred meat with no bones in them, as the bones make lunch a tad difficult in the office. 

Difficult to eat is literally 難食 (naan4 sik6) - which happens to be the idiom for “untasty” or “not delicious” and I wasn’t about to say that about her cooking. It also made me wonder if the ease of eating something contributed to the deliciousness of it (think: fall of the bone ribs, oooooomg).

Had to switch it up to 唔方便(m4 fong1 bin6 sik6) - inconvenient to eat.

Mar 3

5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think


5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think.


To say, “This is my uncle,” in Chinese, you have no choice but to encode more information about said uncle. The language requires that you denote the side the uncle is on, whether he’s related by marriage or birth and, if it’s your father’s brother, whether he’s older or younger.

“All of this information is obligatory. Chinese doesn’t let me ignore it,” says Chen. “In fact, if I want to speak correctly, Chinese forces me to constantly think about it.”

This got Chen wondering: Is there a connection between language and how we think and behave? In particular, Chen wanted to know: does our language affect our economic decisions?

Chen designed a study — which he describes in detail in this blog post — to look at how language might affect individual’s ability to save for the future. According to his results, it does — big time.

While “futured languages,” like English, distinguish between the past, present and future, “futureless languages,” like Chinese, use the same phrasing to describe the events of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Using vast inventories of data and meticulous analysis, Chen found that huge economic differences accompany this linguistic discrepancy. Futureless language speakers are 30 percent more likely to report having saved in any given year than futured language speakers. (This amounts to 25 percent more savings by retirement, if income is held constant.) Chen’s explanation: When we speak about the future as more distinct from the present, it feels more distant — and we’re less motivated to save money now in favor of monetary comfort years down the line.

But that’s only the beginning. There’s a wide field of research on the link between language and both psychology and behavior. Here, a few fascinating examples:

Navigation and Pormpuraawans
In Pormpuraaw, an Australian Aboriginal community, you wouldn’t refer to an object as on your “left” or “right,” but rather as “northeast” or “southwest,” writes Stanford psychology professor Lera Boroditsky (and an expert in linguistic-cultural connections) in the Wall Street Journal. About a third of the world’s languages discuss space in these kinds of absolute terms rather than the relative ones we use in English, according to Boroditsky. “As a result of this constant linguistic training,” she writes, “speakers of such languages are remarkably good at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes.” On a research trip to Australia, Boroditsky and her colleague found that Pormpuraawans, who speak Kuuk Thaayorre, not only knew instinctively in which direction they were facing, but also always arranged pictures in a temporal progression from east to west.

Blame and English Speakers
In the same article, Boroditsky notes that in English, we’ll often say that someone broke a vase even if it was an accident, but Spanish and Japanese speakers tend to say that the vase broke itself. Boroditsky describes a study by her student Caitlin Fausey in which English speakers were much more likely to remember who accidentally popped balloons, broke eggs, or spilled drinks in a video than Spanish or Japanese speakers. (Guilt alert!) Not only that, but there’s a correlation between a focus on agents in English and our criminal-justice bent toward punishing transgressors rather than restituting victims, Boroditsky argues.

Color among Zuñi and Russian Speakers
Our ability to distinguish between colors follows the terms in which we describe them, as Chen notes in the academic paper in which he presents his research (forthcoming in the American Economic Review; PDF here). A 1954 study found that Zuñi speakers, who don’t differentiate between orange and yellow, have trouble telling them apart. Russian speakers, on the other hand, have separate words for light blue (goluboy) and dark blue (siniy). According to a 2007 study, they’re better than English speakers at picking out blues close to the goluboy/siniy threshold.

Gender in Finnish and Hebrew
In Hebrew, gender markers are all over the place, whereas Finnish doesn’t mark gender at all, Boroditsky writes in Scientific American (PDF). A study done in the 1980s found that, yup, thought follows suit: kids who spoke Hebrew knew their own genders a year earlier than those who grew up speaking Finnish. (Speakers of English, in which gender referents fall in the middle, were in between on that timeline, too.)