Japanese Earthquake and Nuclear Incident Chinese Vocabulary

The following guest post by Max Roberts shows a list of vocabulary related to the recent Japanese earthquake and resulting nuclear incident. If you’d like to submit a post to Chinese Hacks then please contact us or use the contribute page.

Japan Earthquake Vocabulary
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環太平洋火山地帶(环太平洋火山地带 )

Pinyin: huán tài píng yáng huǒ shān dì dài
English: The Pacific Ring of Fire; ring of fire The areas that border the Pacific (California, Chile, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan etc) have a lot of seismic activity (volcanos, hot springs, earthquakes etc); since they form a circular shape and these things that they produce are hot, they got the name 环太平洋 (…) / the Pacific (…).


Pinyin: lǐ shì 9 jí
English: 9 on the Richter scale; The Richter scale is used to measure the strength of an earthquake.

仙台市 / 仙台( 仙台市 / 仙台)

Pinyin: xiān tái shì / xiān tái
English: Sendai

宮城縣 / 宮城县(宫城县 / 宫城县)

Pinyin: gōng chéng xiàn / gōng chéng xiàn(xuán)
English: Miyagi / Miyagi prefecture; Japan uses the English word “prefecture” to describe their largest governmental subdivision.


Pinyin: hán diǎn shí yán
English: iodized salt; iodised salt


English: cesium


Pinyin: diǎn
English: iodine. These last two entries refer to two radioactive elements released from the following entry.


Pinyin: fú dǎo dì yī hé diàn zhàn
English: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The “Daiichi” comes from the Japanese name. It literally means “number one” or “first”; I suspect that the first person to translate it mistook it for a proper noun. Also, note that there are two “i” in “Daiichi”, each with the value of a separate syllable. Therefore, “Daiichi” has four syllables (I have heard English reports dropping it down to only two!).


Pinyin: guó jì yuán zǐ néng jī gòu
English: The International Atomic Energy Agency/ IAEA (eye-ayeee-aye) / the IAEA (thee-yai-aye-ee-aye) . The acronym can come out as a blur when it is spoken very quickly!


Pinyin: fǎn yīng duī
English: reactor


Pinyin: qiē ér nuò bèi ěr
English: Chernobyl. The worst nuclear accident in history occurred here in 1986.


Pinyin: cún chŭ hé fèi liào chí zi
English: spent fuel storage pond. When fuel is used up, it needs to be stored here.


Pinyin: dōng jīng diàn lì gōng sī
English: Tokyo Electric Power Company / Tokyo Electric

西弗 / 希沃特 (西弗 / 希沃特)

Pinyin: xī fú / xī wò tè
English: sievert. A unit of measurement. Used to measure radiation.

熔燬 / 融化(熔毀 / 融化)

Pinyin: róng huǐ / róng huà
English: meltdown. Nuclear fuel is usually solid; if it gets too hot it starts to melt. Note that the English word is only ever used to refer to a nuclear accident.


Pinyin: gào
English: zirconium. Another element. Every elementary metal has a 金字旁 (the left part of the Chinese character). Doesn’t that make sense? One (kinda) exception is gold / 金 which doesn’t need one.

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