September 29, 2011

X is for Xiao


This is the Chinese character for small or little. In pinyin - the spelled sound and official phonetic system - it is xiao.

To my ears, the X is pronounced in between the English S and the SH. Xiao, then, is pronounced: shiao... or she-ow (and you can thank me for not getting into tones).

You can remember this character by visualizing the arms down, legs together... in contrast to the character for big or large, da - , which has the arms up, legs apart.

In China, xiao as a preface makes a common term of endearment. You often hear a waitress called xiao mei (little sister). Among friends, xiao is put before the personal name. For instance, my Chinese name is Fu Lian, so, if I were younger, people close to me and in the same generation could call me Xiao Fu.

The most famous xiao is Deng Xiaoping, 鄧小平, the diminutive paramount leader of China from 1978 to 1992 who made a big impact by raising millions out of poverty. Perhaps the most famous line attributed to him is: To get rich is glorious!

Shenzhen, 2010

Propaganda posters, and these days billboards, are evident throughout China. This one, featuring Deng Xiaoping, says: Continue the party's basic direction without hesitation for 100 years

The modern city of Shenzhen you see behind Mr Deng was little more than a fishing village when I first entered China in 1985. Today it is a thriving metropolis of 14 million people. That's no xiao feat.

X is the letter at Alphabe-Thursday and I'm also linking to Signs, Signs

26 comments:

J Bar said...

what a sign!
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Luna Miranda said...

interesting--i learned something new today! great post!

Lindy MacDuff said...

It's always a good day when I learn something new, so thank you for today's lesson. =)

14 million people - WOW! I can't even imagine.

My sign is posted on my Drive-By Photos blog.

Dina said...

So many interesting things in one short post. I love the idea of a term of endearment before the name.

So you speak and read Chinese?

Yes, I agree that word verification is a waste of readers' time.

Ebie said...

Its been a long time since I was 很小.

Stacia said...

Thanks for the lesson! How interesting!

Lesley said...

And learning Chinese is no small feat!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

What a wonderful lesson you have shared!

Halcyon said...

Hmmm... an interesting sign. They do propaganda well in China. I must admit, it is an attractive vista they've put behind this party man.

Lola said...

Learned something new today too! The derivation of words is so interesting!

Many thanks for stopping by.Have a great weekend & look forward to *seeing* you again next time,

XOXO LOLA:)

joo said...

I love this image for 'small'. To be honest I'm fascinated with bot Chinese and Japanese characters. As for the huge propaganda sign, well....it's huge!
Hugs:)

Jo said...

Interesting,I enjoy learning new things,see you can teach and old dawg(me).
~JO

Dina said...

Ni how ma? (My only knowledge of Chinese)

Thanks for your thoughts about the movie. I'm still thinking how I would answer such questions.

Sue said...

Thanks! I feel a little smarter than I was when I got here.

=)

shirley said...

Wo de Zhong Wen mingzi shi Chang Sho Yi.

I'm sure I butchered the pingyin on that - My Chinese name is Shirley

Tina´s PicStory said...

You gave me an idea for signs :) zai jian :)

Gattina said...

Interesting to learn somthing new, I didn't know !

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I love learning history from you. (Or perhaps re-learning what I must once have known something about.) And thank you for the lesson on language too.

Vicki/Jake said...

This was fun! Never thought I'd know what the Chinese letters meant...now I know one:) Awso many thanks Fu Lian :)

Red Nomad OZ said...

Amazing the impact of one little character ... downunder here in OZ your world seems so exotic!! Have a great weekend!

Andrea said...

Oh that's something to regurgitate on for awhile, but big thanks for those information. I often see the word 'ciao' in greetings, but didn't bother to know what it is, are they the same?

Pondside said...

All new to me. I would love to visit China, but for now I'll be satisfied with vicarious experiences on your blog - in China and wherever else you take us.

EG Wow said...

Very interesting post, Francisca! It's truly amazing how much China has grown in the past 25 years.

Judie said...

Francisca, I am back again, trying for the third time to leave a comment!!! I know very little about China, but certainly do know of Deng Xiaoping. What a life you have led!! I thought we were being so daring when we moved from the southeast to Tucson, but you have gone places that I have only dreamed of!!!

JM said...

What a huge billboard! Loved the information, Francisca.

Jenny said...

That billboard is really huge! How cool!

I can't even imagine attempting this language. It seems so complicated and intricate yet lovely.

Thanks for an xcellent and unusual link this week.

You did great for the letter X.

A++++++++++++++++++++++