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Chinese Alphabet

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The Chinese Alphabet Letter “W”






山 (shān) Mountain


If you can picture a mountain, it should be easy to remember this character.


Let’s combine it with some other characters we have learned to make new words:


山人 (Shān rén): What is mountain and people? It’s associated with hermits; recluses; or wise zen, tao, or kung fu masters who like to hide in the mountains to medicate. It is also a word often used for a speaker to refer to himself or herself. The phrase 山人自有妙計 (Shān rén zì yǒu miàojì) literally,mountain people self has great plan, means I have good ideas for you!


山上 (Shānshàng): Combining mountain and above means somewhere in the mountain in general, not the summit of the mountain. To say the hilltop, it’s 山頂 (Shāndǐng), mountain and top.

上山 (Shàngshān): Go up to a mountain.

山下 (Shānxià): At the bottom or base of a mountain.

下山 (Xiàshān): Get down or go down from a mountain.

山內 (Shān nèi): Inside a mountain.

內山 (Nèi shān): Inner mountain.

山水 (Shānshuǐ): Mountain and water. It means landscape or scenery. For example, 山水畫 (Shānshuǐhuà), mountain, water, and painting, means Chinese landscape painting. 畫山水 (Huà shānshuǐ), now the 畫 (Huà) character is used as a verb; paint, mountain, and water, means painting landscape. However, if people say you are when you are not, it means you are boasting or bragging. In that case, it’s the same as 吹牛 (Chuīniú), literally blow and cow, meaning boasting or bragging.


汕 (Shàn): How about combining mountain and water in one character? There is a character for that! 汕 (Shàn) is a basket for catching fish. It’s not commonly used except you might see the name 汕頭 (Shàntóu), a city of five million in Guangdong, China.


Here is another interesting character you can learn. 出 (Chū), which looks like stacking two mountains, means go out or exit. However, when you want to say going out of a mountain, stick with the above mentioned 下山 (Xiàshān) and don’t say 出山 (Chūshān) because 出山 (Chūshān) in some places in China actually means 出殯 (Chūbìn), holding a funeral.

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