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Interesting connections between Chinese and flavors

臭美.png

Flavors of food vary, sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, thick, light, fragrant or smelly. In Chinese, they are often associated with different life phenomena.

食物的味道多种多样,"酸,甜,苦,辣,浓,淡,香,臭"等,汉语中常常用来比喻复杂的人生。

酸 (suān) sour

Both "寒酸" (hán suān) and "穷酸" (qiónɡ suān) mean "poor". "酸" also means "ache", as in "腰酸" (aching back). In addition, it can mean "distressed or grieved" extendedly as in "辛酸" (xīn suān, sad or miserable).

"寒酸","穷酸"指一个人贫穷。"酸"也可以使人身体一种不舒服的感觉。如"腰酸"。还可以引申出表示情感悲痛的意思。如"辛酸"。

甜 (tián) sweet

"甜" is a pleasant flavor, so it means "nice" extendedly. For example, "清甜" (qīnɡ tián) refers to a clear and sweet voice; "笑起来甜甜的" (xiào qǐ lái tián tián de) means "a sweet and pleasant smile"; "甜到心里" means "a fairly pleasant experience".  

"甜"是一种美好的味道,因此引申出"美好"等意思。比如"清甜"指一个人语音清新甜美,甜而不腻。"笑起来甜甜的",指笑起来很美,讨人喜欢。"甜到心里"指因为某些人或某些事而产生的愉悦感觉。

苦 (kǔ) bitter

"苦" is an unpleasant flavor, so it means "hardship" and "frustration" extendedly. Related words include "辛苦" (xīn kǔ, hard), "苦难" (kǔ nàn, suffering), "悲苦" (bēi kǔ, sad and painful), and "吃过很多苦" (chī ɡuò hěn duō kǔ, suffer a lot of hardships).

"苦"是一种不舒服的味道,因此引申出"艰难"、"挫折"等意思。像"辛苦,苦难,悲苦,吃过很多苦"等。

辣 (là) spicy

"辣" is an irritating flavor, so it is often used as a metaphor of hot temper, as in "泼辣" (pō là, shrewish) and "小辣椒" (xiǎo là jiāo, a shrewish girl). Also, as "辣" gives us the impression of "hot", it means "vicious or ruthless" extendedly, as in "心狠手辣" (xīn hěn shǒu là, cruel and merciless) and "毒辣" (dú là, sinister). 

辣是一种刺激强烈的味道。常常用来比喻性格火爆等。比如"泼辣","小辣椒"等。辣又带给人"火辣辣"的感觉,因此又引申出"狠毒","厉害"的意思。比如"心狠手辣","毒辣"等。

淡 (dàn) light / mild

There are also a great number of words containing "淡". For example, "神情淡淡" (shén qínɡ dàn dàn, calm look) and "冷淡" (lěnɡ dàn, indifferently) refer to a cold attitude; "轻描淡写" (qīnɡ miáo dàn xiě) means "understatement". 

由"淡"构成的词语也很多。比如"神情淡淡的","冷淡"指一个人态度不热情。"轻描淡写"现多指说话写文章把重要问题轻轻带过。

香 (xiānɡ) fragrant

"香" is a well popular flavor, so it means "be favored" extendedly. For example, "香饽饽" (xiānɡ bō bo) means "a favorite or welcome person/thing". In addition, "香" can also mean "good", as in "睡得很香"  (shuì dé hěn xiānɡ, have a good sleep).

香是一种非常受欢迎的味道。因此引申出表示"受重视,青睐"的意思。比如"香饽饽"指受人青睐。还可以引申出"好"的意思。比如"睡得很香"。

臭 (chòu) smelly

"臭" is a disgusting flavor, so it means "disgusting and disgraceful" extendedly, as in "摆什么臭架子" (bǎi shén me chòu jià zi, put on frills), "臭美" (chòu měi, smug ), and "臭骂一顿"  (chòu mà yí dùn, curse roundly)

"臭"是一种讨厌的味道。因此引申出"讨厌","蔑视"等意思。比如"摆什么臭架子","臭美","臭骂一顿"。与"香"形成一种对比。


Related article: Interesting connections between Chinese and tableware

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2016-06-22

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