Sometimes Chinese is like a bottomless pit into which I wish I had never fallen.
You may have followed FCA long enough to recall my Chinese nightmare. Well, sometimes there are waking nightmares in Chinese, too.
Today, for instance, I was helping people in the Church translate the text of a video about Fr. Peter Wu's legacy and his "last wishes" to help poor children in Africa. What I thought would be a fairly simple task became a real "cross" for the Lord. The problem was twofold. First, the text was rife with classical Chinese, and, second, the font used was (as far as I know) the calligraphic style known as 隸書 (li4shu). As I have discussed before, classical Chinese is famously recondite and semantically dense. It turns out I can only thank God for Lin Yutang's Chinese-English dictionary of modern usage (which is available online!) to navigate some of the finer points of fine Chinese.
As for the font, while li4shu is not as difficult to read as, say, 篆書 (zhuan4shu) or, Heaven help us all, 草書 (cao3shu), it still has pitfalls of its own. [The image in this post shows various script styles in Chinese, ranging from ancient 甲古文 (jia3gu3wen2) on the left to 'artistic' 草書 on the right.] The word that truly bedeviled me was 奠 (dian4), as it was used in the phrase 奠立良好的基礎 ("to establish a good foundation"). I had no idea where to begin. It looks like 尊, as in 尊重 (zunzhong4, respect), but a phonetic search was a blind search. So then I tried to find it under the 八 (ba), 酉 (you3), and 大 (da4) radicals, respectively, all to no avail. I finally found it with the help of a friend but the hunt had really sapped my spirit. (It turns out 奠 is listed under the 大 radical, but hindsight is 20-20.)
Anyway, since I know all of you (?) are dying for more obscure Chinese at FCA (as opposed to obscure personal reflections and obscure metaphysics?), the following are some of what I've learned lately in Chinese:
晉鐸 jin4duo2. Ordained, ordination (priestly)
鉅細靡遺 ju4xi4 mi3yi2. It basically means to be vigilant and “on top of” small and big matters alike. Always on the ball. Vigilant, fastidious, etc.
縝密經營 zhen3mi4 jingying2. Deliberate/Fastidious operations
秉持 bing3chi2. adhere to, uphold, grasp onto
素不相識 su4bu4xiangshi. not known to someone before, unacquainted
淒涼 qiliang2. sad, lonely, forlorn; possibly a play on words for bitter
寒冬 han2dong. summer winter; Cf. http://baike.baidu.com/view/625128.htm#2
堅毅 jianyi4. tireless, dogged, determined; determination
渗透的评论 shen4tou4 de ping2lun4. penetrating remarks
药局 zao4 ju2. pharmacy [interesting to me only because the standard form of phamrmacy which I have learned it 藥局. Yet another rabbit hole in which I can get my mind caught: what's the difference between 葯 and 藥? And why should I really care?]
白浊 [白濁] bai2zhuo2. milky, foggy, murky
浊流 [濁流] zhuo2liu2. turbid current/stream
耸肩 [聳肩] song3jian. shrug
渗出 shen4chu. leak out, emit
渗入 shen4ru. leak into, suffuse
渗漏 shen4lou4. seep out of, emit
渗透 shen4tou4. permeate, penetrate
浊世 [濁世] zhuo2shi4. immoral world [Not sure about this usage. Is it like the Buddhist "dust world" 塵世 of maya?]
缘故 yuan2gu4. reason
缘由 yuan2you2. reason [?]
缘起 yuan2qi3. origin, cause
缘于 [緣於] yuan2yu2. because of
编审 [編審] bianshen3. copy edit
威脅 weixie2. threat, risk
消耗 xiaohao4. consume; consumption
耗损 hao4sun3. damages, [?]
耗尽 [耗盡] hao4jin4. exhaustion
耗钱 hao4qian2. waste money, costly
把－－栽在﹣﹣的頭上 ba3__zaizai4__de tou2shang4. lay ___ on/at someone's head/doorstep
被解僱 bei4jie3gu4. get laid off
景氣 jing3qi4. prosperous
不景氣 bu4jing3qi4. not prosperous
變得不景氣 bian4de2 bu4jing3qi4. an economic downturn, a financial slump
披心腹，見情素。（獄中上梁王書 鄒陽 著）pi xinfu4, jian4 qing2su4. (yu4zhong shang4liang2 wang2shu Zou Yang2 zhu4 [cf. http://wenda.tianya.cn/wenda/thread?tid=2b0165dc3ea9f996]). I found this in a dictionary of Ancient Chinese edited in part by 王力 Wang Li while researching the 素 in 素不相識. Apparently, 素 means a simple, undyed fabric, white, true or genuine feelings, usually or in the past, and vegetarian. (Don't you just love Chinese?) I was so taken by the heretofore unknown depth of 素, and, in particular, by the vividness of Zou Yang's epigram, that it now graces the header of FCA. After all, this blog is primarily about "cutting open the heart and guts [of both me and the world, as we meet] and seeing the real insides."