Chinese-English Vocabulary Builder: Chinese Idioms with Hearts (心)

  1. 心知肚明 (xīn zhī dù míng)- To be well aware. 心: heart, mind. 知: to know. 肚: gut.  明: clarity; to understand.
    例句: 陳太太對丈夫的外遇心知肚明但卻沒勇氣揭發他。
    Example: Although Mrs. Chen is well-aware of her husband’s affair, she doesn’t have the courage to expose him.
  2. 心甘情願 (xīn gān qíng yuàn)-Out of one’s will; completely willing. 心: heart, mind, soul. 甘: voluntary. 情: feeling, sentiment.  願: wish, desire.
    例句: 為了讓孩子能有最好的未來,父母們心甘情願付出所有的一切。
    Example: Parents are willing to give all they can to guarantee the best future for their children.
  3. 意猶未盡 (yì yóu wèi jìn)-To wish to continue something. 意: idea, thought, intentions. 猶: like, similar to. 未: not yet. 盡: completed.
    例句: 此宴席在大家意猶未盡時結束。一夥人接著上酒吧續趴。
    Example: The reception ended before everyone was ready for the night to end. A group of people then went to a bar for the after party.
  4. 誠心誠意 (chéng xīn chéng yì)-Sincerely and earnestly. 誠: sincere, honest. 心: heart, mind, soul. 意: intentions.
    例句: 他誠心誠意的想跟你做朋友,你就答應他的邀約嘛。
    ExampleHe sincerely wants to be friends with you; why don’t you just go out with him?
  5. 提心吊膽 (tí xīn diào dǎn)-To be on edge. 提: to carry. 心: heart. 吊: hang. 膽: gallbladder. 
    例句: 自從他不小心冒犯他的上司,他在工作上總是提心吊膽,身怕被解職。
    Example: He’s been on edge, worried for his job, ever since he unintentionally offended his supervisor.
  6. 掉以輕心 (diào yǐ qīng xīn)-To be complacent, to lower one’s guard, or to treat something lightly. 掉: swing. 輕心: careless, casual.
    例句: 即便這是個安全的社區,晚上出門還是得處處留心,不得掉以輕心。
    Example: Even though this is a safe neighborhood, one should still be vigilant at night.
  7. 心平氣和 (xīn píng qì hé)-Calm and even tempered. 心: heart, mind, soul. 平: peaceful. even. 氣: breath; spirit. 和: harmonious.
    例句: 他的個性很好,即便情況不如意,他還是能心平氣和地處裡它。
    Example: He is well-tempered and is calm even when dealing with unpleasant situations.
  8. 別出心裁 (bié chū xīn cái)-To come up with a new idea or original approach. 別: different. 出: come up with. 心裁: idea, concept.
    例句: 她別出心裁,把窗簾拿來做裙子。
    ExampleShe came up with an idea and made a dress out of her curtains.
  9. 賞心悅目(shǎng xīn yuè mù)-Something that is pleasing and delightful. 賞: to appreciate. 心: heart, soul, mind. 悅: please, happy. 目: eyes.
    例句: 看完那部賞心悅目的電影後,她笑不合嘴。
    ExampleShe couldn’t stop smiling after that delightful movie.
  10. 粗心大意 (cū xīn dà yì)-To be negligent or careless. 粗心:  careless. 大意: careless.
    例句: 他總是粗心大意,忘東忘西的。
    Example: He’s so careless that he forgets things all the time.

References used:
MDBG Chinese-English Dictionary
Yahoo 奇摩字典

Chinese-English Vocabulary Builder: Chinese Idioms

  1. 叫苦不迭 (jiào kǔ bu dié)-To complain incessantly. 叫: to cry out, to shout. 苦: hardship, suffering. 不: no. 迭: repeatedly, frequently.
    例句: 王太太對購物、血拼的愛好讓皮夾子縮小的王先生叫苦不迭。
    Example: Ms. Wong’s love for shopping has led to many complaints from Mr. Wong, who holds a shrinking wallet.
  2. 匪夷所思 (fěi yí suǒ sī)-Unthinkable or extraordinary actions or ideas. 匪: same. 非 (fēi), not. 夷: ordinary. 思: think.
    例句: 這件謀殺案令人匪夷所思,十年了還是解不出來。
    Example: This is a difficult murder case that has yet to be solved even after ten years.
  3. 唯利是圖 (wéi lì shì tú)- To seek personal profit over everything. 唯: only. 利: gains, profit. 圖: to covet, to seek.
    例句: 此公司的創辦人唯利是圖,不在乎廉價材料和低廉的品質仍以高價出售產品,賺取高盈利。
    Example: The founder of this company seeks profit over everything, selling his products at high prices with high returns despite their cheap materials and  l0w quality.
  4. 得不償失 (dé bù cháng shī)- The gains do not make up for the losses. 得: to gain. 不: not. 償: return, to compensate. 失: to lose.
    例句: 失戀後她連續睡了好幾個星期,課也沒去上,結果影響了成績。真是得不償失。
    Example: After her breakup, she slept for weeks, missing her classes and thus affecting her grades. So not worth it.
  5. 打草驚蛇 (dǎ cǎo jīng shé)- To inadvertently alert an enemy.   打: to hit. 草: grass. 驚: startle, alert. 蛇: snake.
    例句: 玩躲貓貓時千萬不能出聲,打草驚蛇,免得被找著。
    Example: In the game of hide and seek, you must not make any sounds to alert the seeker, in case of getting caught.

References used:
MDBG Chinese-English Dictionary
Yahoo 奇摩字典
Bai Du 百科

Literature in Translation: 〈事物〉 by 瓦歷斯.諾幹

“Objects” by Wǎlìsī Nuògàn

Poets say that poetry is an out-of-body experience….It is a state of tugging and pulling of the soul. When observing objects, you’ll notice that everything appears to be a reflection of your own self-centered ego. Scythes symbolize your eagerness to harvest your work, statues seem to embody your vulgarity and disdain toward the world,  flutes are in fact hollow tibia, and tombstones, well, let’s not even go there. It’s difficult to dig deeper into the meaning behind objects because what we see is often a reflection of ourselves, the same way history is a reflection of humanity. Even external experiences can stir up something within us, and there is no escape.

For more information about the author, please click here for his bio in Chinese.



  1. 事物 (shì wù)- Things, objects.
  2. 離散 (lísàn)– Separation.
  3. 不置可否 (bù zhì kě fǒu)- To show indifference; not agreeing nor disagreeing. 不: not. 置: place. 可: agreement. 否: disagreement.
  4. 鍛鍊字句 (duàn liàn zì jù)- 鍛鍊: training. 字句: words, expressions, writing.
  5. 本質 (běn zhì)- Nature, essence, innate character. 本: origin, root. 質: material.
  6. 拉扯 (lā che) Tug and pull.
  7. 不知天高地厚 (bù zhī tiān gāo dì hòu)- Literal: Oblivious to the sky’s limit and the earth’s deepness. Used to describe one’s arrogance and naiveness. 不知: doesn’t know. 天: sky. 高: high. 地: ground厚: thick; deep or profound .
  8. 慾望 (yù wàng)- Desire, longing.
  9. 雕像 (diāo xiàng)- Sculpture; (carved statue). 雕: to engrave, to carve. 像: figure, image.
  10. 猥瑣 (wěi suǒ)- Wretched, vulgar. 猥: cheap, vulgar, obscene. 瑣: fragmented.
  11. 睥睨 (bì nì)-  To look disdainfully out of the corner of one’s eye; to look down upon.
  12. 鐮刀 (lián dāo)- Scythe. 刀: knife.
  13. 墓碑 (mù bēi)- Gravestone; tombstone. 墓: grave. 碑: monument; an upright stone tablet.
  14. 長笛 (cháng dí)- Flute.
  15. 脛骨(jìng gǔ)- Tibia. 脛: lower part of the leg. 骨: bone.
  16. 卒讀 (zú dú)- To finish reading. 卒: to finish. 讀: reading.
  17. 遁逃 (dùn táo)- To escape.

*Original piece published in 《二行詩》筆記/事物 in United Daily News (聯合報) on November 21, 2011.

Defining Terms: Translation, Copyediting, Proofreading

Someone asked me why I provide copyediting and proofreading services separately from translation services. She would never hand over a translated document without editing and proofreading during and after the translation process. Of course, checking one’s work is necessary to any quality work, but when I say that I copyedit and proofread, I don’t mean copyediting and proofreading my own work but other people’s work. Below is a quick guide to the differences between translation, copyediting, and proofreading.

Translation: Refers to rendering a piece of writing from one language to another while keeping in mind the cultural nuances and meaning of the original language. The best translations are not word-to-word translations, but meaning-to-meaning translations.

Copyediting: Refers to editing a piece of writing for spelling, grammar, syntax, and consistency of usages throughout. Copyediting for a publisher often requires following a specific style guide to ensure that all publications are consistent in style. A few style guides are the American Psychological Association Publication Manual for scientific publications, the Chicago Manual of Style for the social sciences, and American Medical Association Manual of Style for medical publications. Copyediting for individuals, however, doesn’t always require using a style guide.

Developmental editing: Developmental editors, also known as content editors, look at the big picture and edit for substance. Instead of a mechanical line-by-line editing, developmental editors take the whole book’s organization and ideas into consideration. Because of this, changes can range from the rewriting of sentences or paragraphs, to the reordering of the table of contents.

Proofreading: The purpose of proofreading is to make sure there are no typographical errors (typos), weird breaks (widows and orphans), or mistakes at the final stage before putting the writing into print. In publishing, proofreading happens after the copyediting stage, when the typeset pages have been printed. At this stage, it is expensive to make changes, so any changes should be limited to those that are especially jarring.

Because there  is often confusion as to what copyediting and proofreading involve, it’s always important to communicate with the client about what is expected of you.

For differences between translation and interpretation, please click here.

Happy translating, copyediting, and proofreading!

Literature in Translation: Prostate-Specific Antigen

The Key Number: PSA ≦ 6.5

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) is a type of protein produced by the prostate gland. Its levels increase with age, and the normal rates are 3.5 for those under age 59.; 4.5 for those between ages 60 to 69; and 6.5 for those between ages 70 to 79.

High PSA levels could be a sign of prostatitis (infection of the prostate) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate). In some, it may even be a marker for prostate cancer. However, diagnosis of prostate cancer is usually determined by digital rectal exams and ultrasounds of the rectum and prostate.

If the possibilities of prostate cancer cannot be ruled out, a biopsy would be done for pathological diagnosis. Patients who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer can use PSA to assess and track their response to therapy.


  1. 攝護腺 (shè hù xiàn) or 前列腺 (qián liè xiàn)- Prostate gland.
  2. 攝護腺炎 (shè hù xiàn yán)-Prostatitis, or infection of the prostate. 炎: infection.
  3. 攝護腺特異抗原 (shèhùxiàn tèyì kàngyuán)- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA). 攝護腺: prostate gland. 特異: distinct, peculiar, specific. 抗原: Antigen.
  4. 數值 (shù zhí)-Number, level, score.
  5. 良性攝護腺肥大 (liángxìng shèhùxiàn féidà)- Benign prostatic hyperplasia. 良性: positive, good, benign (tumor). 攝護腺: prostate gland. 肥大: swelling, hypertrophy.
  6. 標記 (biāo jì)- Marker.
  7. 排除(pái chú)- To rule out.
  8. 直腸指診 (zhí cháng zhǐ zhěn)or 肛診 (gāng zhěn- Digital rectal exam. 直腸: rectum. 指: finger. 診: exam. 肛: anus.
  9. 切片檢查(qiē piàn jiǎn chá)- biopsy. 切片: slice. 檢查: examination.
  10. 效果(xiào guǒ)-Results, effect.
  11. 超音波 (chāo yīn bō)-Ultrasound. 超: ultra, super. 音: sound. 波: waves.
  12. 確診 (què zhěn)- To make a definite diagnosis.

*Original article “PSA ≦ 6.5” from 聯合報D2。Date: 中華民國一〇〇年十一月十六日。

English-Chinese Vocabulary Builder: Cosmetics

Face- 臉 (liǎn)

Foundation- 粉底 (fěn dǐ). 粉: powder. 底: foundation, bottom, base.

  1. Liquid Foundation- 液狀粉底 (yè zhuàng fěn dǐ). 狀: shape, condition. Here it refers to the base of the foundation.
  2. Mineral Foundation-礦物粉底 (kuàng wù fěn dǐ), or 礦物狀粉底 (kuàng wù zhuàng fěn dǐ). 礦物: mineral.
  3. Cream Foundation- 膏狀粉底 (gāo zhuàng fěn dǐ). 膏: cream, paste, ointment, balm.
  4. Powder Foundation- 粉狀粉底 (fěn zhuàng fěn dǐ)
  5. Foundation Sponge- 粉底海綿 (fěn dǐ hǎi mián). 海綿: sponge. 海: ocean. 綿: cotton.


  1. Loose Powder- 蜜粉(mì fěn). 蜜: honey.
    Used to set the makeup so that the makeup lasts longer/用來定妝以讓妝更持久(yònglái  dìngzhuāng yǐ  ràng zhuāng gèng chíjiǔ)。
  2. Pressed Powder-粉餅 (fěn bǐng). 餅: flat cake.
  3. To apply powder- 撲粉 (pū fěn). 撲: here it means to pat on.
  4. Puff (for powder)- 粉撲 (fěn pū).

Concealer- 遮瑕膏 (zhē xiá gāo). 遮: to hide, to conceal, to cover up (short coming). 瑕: same as 瑕疵 (xiá cī), which means blemish, flaws. 膏: ointment, paste, or cream.

Blush/Rouge- 腮紅 (sāi hóng). 腮: cheek. 紅: red.

Eyes- 眼睛(yǎn jing)

  1. Eyeshadow- 眼影 (yǎn yǐng). 眼: 眼睛, eye. 影: 影子, shadow.
  2. Eyeliner- 眼線 (yǎnxiàn).
  3. Eyeliner pencil- 眼線筆 (yǎnxiànbǐ)
  4. Eyeliner, Liquid-  液狀 (yè zhuàng).

Eyelashes- 眼睫毛 (yǎn jié máo)

  1. Mascara- 睫毛膏(jiémáogāo).
  2. Brush- 刷子 (shuāzi).
  3. Eyelash Curler- 睫毛夾 (jié máo jiá).
  4. False (eye)lashes, Falsies- 假睫毛 (jiǎ jié máo).

Eyebrows- 眉毛, 眉 (méi mao, méi)

  1. Eyebrow Pencil- 眉筆 (méi bǐ).
  2. Brow Gel- 眉膏 (眉膏).
  3. Tweezers- 鑷子 (niè zi). Used to pluck one’s eyebrows/用來拔眉毛的 (yònglái bá       眉毛 méi mao de). 拔: to pull out.

Lips- 嘴唇, or just 唇.

  1. Lip Liner- 唇筆 (chún bǐ). 筆: pencil, pen.
  2. Lipstick- 口紅 (kǒu hóng). 口: mouth. 紅: red.
  3. Lip Balm/Chapstick- 潤唇膏 (rùn chún gāo). 潤: moisturizing, smoothing. 唇: lips. 膏: balm, ointment, paste.
  4. Lip Gloss- 唇蜜 (chún mì) . 蜜: honey.
  5. Lip Color- 唇彩 (chún cǎi). Can refer to lip gloss or lipsticks. 彩: colors.

English-Chinese Vocabulary Builder: “Is Adding Fiber To Food Really Good For Your Health?”

Here’s a short list of health- and medical-related vocabularies I compiled from an NPR article, “Is Adding Fiber To Food Really Good For Your Health?”, dated February 13, 2012.

  1. Fiber- 纖維 (xiān wéi).
  2. Synthetic fiber- 人造纖維 (rén zào xiān wéi). 人: man, human. 造: made.
  3. Public health- 公共衛生 (gōng gòng wèi shēng). 公共: public. 衛生: health, hygiene, sanitation.
  4. Food additives- 食品添加物 (shí pǐn tiān jiā wù). 食品: food. 添加物: additive. 添加: to add. 物: object, matter.
  5. Scurvy– 壞血病 (huài xuè bìng). 壞: bad. 血: blood. 病: disease.
  6. Ingredient- 成分 (chéng fèn).
  7. Disease- 疾病 (jí bìng).
  8. Prevent (diseases)- 預防 (yù fáng).
  9. Cure (diseases)- verb: 治療 (zhì liáo)、醫治 (yī zhì)、根治 (gēn zhì)、治癒 (zhì yù). 根: root.
  10. Rickets佝僂病 (gōu lóu bìng) or 小兒軟骨病 (xiǎo’ér ruǎn gǔ bìng).  小兒: children. 軟: soft. 骨: bone. 病: disease.
  11. Iodine- 碘 (diǎn).
  12. Goiters– 甲狀腺腫 (jiǎ zhuàng xiàn zhǒng). 甲狀腺: thyroid gland. 腫: swelling, swollen, to swell.
  13. Carbohydrates- 醣類 (táng lèi), or 碳水化合物 (tàn shuǐ huà hé wù). 碳: carbon. 水: water. 化合物: chemical compound.
  14. Colon cancer- 大腸癌  (dà chángái). 大腸: the large intestine. 癌: cancer.
  15. Cardiovascular disease- 心血管疾病 (xīn xuè guǎn jí bìng). 心: same as 心臟; the heart (organ). 血管: vein/artery. 疾病: disease.
  16. Heart disease- 心臟病 (xīn zàng bìng). 心臟: heart (organ).
  17. Food scientist- 食品專家 (shí pǐn zhuān jiā). 食品: food. 專家: specialist, expert.

Happy translating and stay healthy!

English-Chinese Vocabulary Builder: Oral Surgery

I recently had to go to an oral surgeon as a patient. During the process, I took note of the medical terms that were used and mentally translated them to distract myself. Here’s a brief list for your reference.

  1. Oral surgery- 口腔外科手術 (kǒu ​qiāng wài ​kē​ shǒu ​shù)
  2. Consent form- 同意書 (tóng ​yì shū)
  3. Local anesthetic-局部麻醉 (jú​ bù​ má ​zuì)
  4. General anesthetic- 全身麻醉 (quán ​shēn ​má ​zuì)
  5. Wisdom teeth- 智齒 (zhì ​chǐ)
  6. Premolar- 前臼齒 (qián ​jiù ​chǐ)
  7. Diet- 飲食 (yǐn ​shí)
  8. Soft foods- 軟質食物 (ruǎn zhí shí​ wù)
  9. Pain- 疼痛 (téng ​tòng)
  10. Swelling- 腫脹 (zhǒng ​zhàng)
  11. Salt water- 鹽水(yán ​shuǐ)
  12. Bruising- 瘀傷 (yū​ shāng)/烏青 (wū ​qīng)
  13. Soreness- 酸痛 (suān tòng)
  14. Blood- 血 (xiě)
  15. Spit- 吐  (tǔ)
  16. Swallow- 吞嚥 (tūn yàn)
  17. Anesthetic-麻藥 (má ​yào)
  18. Numbness- 麻痺 (má ​bì)
  19. Teeth extraction- 拔牙 (bá ​yá)
  20. Gauze- 紗布 (shā ​bù)

Happy translating!

Chinese-English Vocabulary Builder: Snow

Chicago just got its first snow last week so I thought I’d use the opportunity to compile a list of “snow” words.

1. 冬天 (dōng ​tiān)- winter
2. 雪 (xuě)- snow
3. 霜 (shuāng)- frost
4. 結冰(jié​ bīng)- to freeze
5. 冰天雪地 (bīng​ tiān ​xuě​ dì)- Literal: Ice Sky Snow Ground. Translation: to be covered with ice and snow
6. 大衣 (dà ​yī)- coat
7. 雪靴(xuě xuē)- snow boots
8. 暴風雪 (bào​ fēng​ xuě)- snowstorm, blizzard
9. 冰暴 (bīng bào)- hail/ice storm
10. 暴虐風饕 (xuě nüè fēng tāo)- Literal: Brutal wind gluttonous. Translation: Strong winds and snow. Used to describe frigid weather.

Until next time, stay warm!


Literature in Translation: “The Protagonist of a Tragedy” by Wang Ding-Jun

I’m posting translations of small passages, essays, or stories in my free time to add to my portfolio. The following is a short essay from 人生試金石, a collection of short essays by Chinese/Taiwanese author 王鼎鈞. Any comments or suggestions are appreciated! (Translation: Chinese>English.)

悲劇主角 The Protagonist of a Tragedy

人 大多希望自己成功,卻也有人認為「無妨」失敗。成功難,失敗易。成功如逆水行舟,費盡力氣;失敗如順風而下,聽天由命。成功故然可以受人讚美,失敗卻也能 夠博得同情,同情的滋味也不錯。Most people wish for success, but there are also people who feel that “there’s no harm” in failure. Success is difficult to attain; failure is easy to achieve. Success is as difficult and takes as much effort as sailing against the current; failure is like following the way the wind goes, resigning oneself to fate. While success can win one praise, failure can also win one sympathy, and sympathy isn’t such a bad feeling either.

抱這種想法的人都非常善良,他們有豐富的感情,經常站在受命運折磨的人的一邊,以為別人也會像他一樣。其實,雪中送碳的人少,錦上天花的人多,失敗者的冬 天是很寒冷的。Those who think this way tend to be kind. They are filled with emotions and sentiments, and tend to be on the side of those who are tormented by luck, thinking that everyone else would act the same way as well. Though in fact, there are few who would deliver coal in the snow, offer help when it’s most needed, but many who would be glad to add flowers to a brocade, add icing on the cake. A failure’s winter would be very frigid one.

志願的失敗者喜歡欣賞悲劇,幻想自己是悲劇的主角。他忽略了一點: 所有悲劇的主角都是經過多次的挫折,不斷的奮鬥,最後無可奈何才失敗的。人們如果要同情`,也只肯同情那種奮鬥過來的失敗者,那種不甘心不屈服的失敗者。 所以享受失敗後的同情,只能算是人生的第二,不可列為第一。A voluntary failure enjoys tragedies, imagining himself as the protagonist. Though he overlooks one point: every protagonist of a tragedy goes through many difficulties and fights against all obstacles, failing only when there are no alternatives. If people decide to sympathize, they are only willing to sympathize with those who failed after a struggle, those who failed unwillingly. Thus, the desire to experience sympathy after failure should only be considered one’s second aspiration in life, not the first.