Throw Away Your Unhappiness

Here’s a card I picked up a few months ago at a local coffee shop. It’s actually a flyer of sorts for a univeristy industrial design exhibition, and it contains a lot of useful vocabulary.

New Smile Postcard

jiāng língqián tóurù
Insert change

Immediately we have an interesting verb here, 將. Meaning to use, take, hold or similar, it makes the sentence read sort of like ‘Take your change and insert it’, which is a bit more friendly than 投入零錢 which would be more analogous to the English ‘insert change’.

Xuǎnzé shāngpǐn
Choose product

The word for ‘choose’ here is very useful. In my experience the single character 選(选)is used for the verb ‘to choose’ and 選擇(选择)for the noun ‘choice’. For instance: 選一個(选一个 Xuǎn yīgè) “choose one”, and 有什麼選擇?(有什么选择? Yǒu shé me xuǎnzé?)’what choices are there?’.

Zhuǎndòng xuánniǔ, suíjī chū huò
Turn the knob, product will randomly come out

The Chinese 隨機 here caused some issue with translating. It means ‘random’, yet it couldn’t refer to a random product, since we specifically chose a product in the previous sentence. The best I can do here is that because we don’t know the mechanisms of the machine, or have any control over it, the product seemingly just comes out – at random. The CC-Cedict lists “according to the situation” as a definition for 隨機, which would make sense, but such an entry doesn’t exist in the Taiwanese MOE dictionary.

Tíqǔ shāngpǐn
Take out the product

The verb 提取, to take out, contains 取 which is a very common character. Coincidently, it also means ‘choose’, and for the most part used exactly the same as 選 above but with a heavier emphasis on ‘take’. For instance you can 取老婆 ‘take someone as a wife’ and 取名字 ‘choose/take a name’.

Bǎ bù kāixīn rēng diào
Throw away your unhappiness

把 stands out in this sentence and its usage is sometimes a source of confusion. It means to handle, or take care of something. The examples in the Taiwanese MOE dictionary are good for clarifying this: 把門關上(把门关上 bǎmén guānshàng) ‘close the door’, 把臉洗淨(把脸洗净 Bǎ liǎn xǐjìng) ‘wash your face’.

Huàn shàng zhǎnxīn de xiàoróng
Replace with your brand new smile

Lastly 換, to change or swap, is very common. An useful example mght be 我要跟你換(我要跟你换 wǒ yào gēn nǐ huàn) ‘I want to swap with you’.

This just goes to show that some things that you might overlook at first could actually be very useful sources of learning. Of the few sentences contained on this card we’ve already learnt quite a lot, and that’s only covering the most common or useful words.

If you have any input on the use of 隨機 above please leave a message in the comments.

  • After digging through my dictionary, 随机 could stand for 随机应变 (suíjīyìngbiàn, to adjust to changing circumstance; to act according to circumstances)

  • Checked with some people who actually speak Chinese ^_^
    Apparently it’s really intended to mean “random”, possibly in the sense of a random pick from the category you chose.

    • Yeah, that’s kind of the response I got. Sort of like, you choose the type of smile you want, but the one that comes out isn’t that exact one, rather it’s a random one of that type.

      Thanks for posting, very interesting!

  • Dan

    RE: 有什么选择? Yǒu shé me xuǎnzé?
    Should that be…. Yǒu shénme xuǎnzé?
    Im still a beginner but she me doesn’t produce the right characters in msoft word?
    I heard somewhere tho thats its not spelt that way in pinyin? I dont know, im confused.