Crusades and Sport

Happy New Year! This week is the week where those new year’s resolutions you thought up optimistically yesterday are tried, abandoned and (usually) forgotten. But fear not – Chinese is here to take a quirky linguistic look at the resolution you probably took up bravely  this morning – sport. 

Over the summer of last year (yep, that’s 2016 now) Britain finished above China in the medal table for the first time since, well, ever. China takes the Olympics pretty seriously – the word for ‘sport’ and ‘crusade’ are expressed in a single word. Over $1 billion is spent annually on training up young competitors in rigorous training camps which can start from as young as age 6 – those kids are preparing now for the 2028 Olympics. There’s a strong culture of competition throughout training camps, schools –  and society. 

Sport is often praised in the UK through uplifting music and cringe worthy speeches to bring out the best in people and bring people together. In China, this is taken to a whole other level where if young farm children show the slightest aptitude for sport, parents are desperate to get their children recognised,  as having a training athlete in the family  brings huge amounts of social status to the family. 

After digging through the Internet to find some quirks in the language of sport, I finally have found something which can top the translation of jingle bells – the translation of table tennis. 乒乓 (pīng pāng) is one of the few (so nearly!) symmetrical characters I’ve found, and when you say it it illustrates the sound of the ball much better than the dull sound of ‘ping pong’. Other highlights included ‘body speak’ (gymnastics), ‘stealthy water’ (diving) and ‘thinking’  (chess – yes, this is a sport here and a very serious one too. Don’t go insulting it.) 

That’s it for this week, so make sure to subscribe on the homepage to be notified when Confused-Us is released next Monday, 9th January. 

Once again, Happy New Year! 

Things I’ve learned this week:

  • The Crusades are happening again – the weapons being chess pieces and footballs. 
  • 乒乓. Just say it out loud a few times. Hear how satisfying that is? 
  • I have to inform Chinese that chess requires a lot more effort than ‘thinking’. I think a lot in a game of chess. About how badly I’m going to lose. 

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