Learn Chinese Words with Wan Wan Illustrations

Following a recent MandMX comic that use various facial expressions to represent different feelings and emotions I was reminded of the famous Taiwanese artist Wan Wan (彎彎), who is renowned for her blog and series of MSN emoticon animations. A few years ago she released a great series of cartoons (which is continually being added to) that represent emotions, activities and even the weather.

Wan Wan iIlustrations

Due to the visual representation they are perfect for learning individual words, here I’ve picked out a few basic yet interesting ones to get you started:

Cold Hot Wet
冷 (冷)

Pinyin: lěng
English: cold

熱 (热)

English: hot


Pinyin: shī
English: to be wet, wet

Noisy Scared Cry

Pinyin: chǎo
English: noisy, a racket


Pinyin: xià
English: to frighten, to scare


English: to cry

Otaku Busy Angry

Pinyin: zhái
English: Otaku (from Japanese), literally meaning ‘house’ but used to refer to someone who stays inside. A direct English translation doesn’t really exist, ‘geek’ is probably closest – if you have a better translation post it below


Pinyin: máng
English: to be busy


English: anger, to be angry

Dizzy Happy Annoyed

Pinyin: yūn
English: to be dizzy


English: happiness, to be happy


Pinyin: fán
English: to be annoyed

Chat Read Detest

Pinyin: liáo
English: to chat


English: to read


Pinyin: yàn
English: to detest, as in 討厭 (讨厌)

Food Fat Hungry

Pinyin: shí
English: food, to eat


Pinyin: pàng
English: to be fat


Pinyin: è
English: to be hungry

The Wan Wan illustrations are great to look at and use for funny MSN emoticons, and the inclusion of Chinese characters also makes them the perfect learning tool for introducing words at the basic level. We’ll no doubt be looking at more Wan Wan stuff in the future but in the mean time make sure you check out her blog, and more illustrations can be found in her blog album.

Know of any other good resources like this for learning words? Or if you read any comics to help you learn Chinese then let us know which ones!

  • Gleaves

    Very cool. Thanks.

    Slow Chinese did a post on 宅 if people want to read/listen further.

    • http://chinesehacks.com Dave Flynn

      Cheers, Gleaves, I’ll give that a listen. 宅 really has become a widespread culture in Taiwan and I’d bet that a large percentage of people, including me, would say that they were 宅.

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  • http://www.mandmx.com Magnus

    Thanks for mentioning us and other cartoonists! I love these simple drawings!

    • http://chinesehacks.com Dave Flynn

      No problem, glad to support anyone who’s creating good content!

  • http://zhongruige.wordpress.com Greg

    An interesting way to study those (if you’re ambitious and don’t mind the time consuming method of doing this) may be to block out the Chinese, and try and guess the meaning expressed in the image.

    Thanks for the post! I love her work, too. Can find her drawings on just about everything (including the mouse pad I’m using) and just about everywhere.

  • Erinadoner

    i love it!! miss the MSN era 😛