Theodore Kushner's Chinese blocks

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From Ivanka Trump's Instagram account:

The best moment of the day!

A post shared by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on

Zooming in on the blocks…

From Javier C. Hernández, "The ‘Goddess’ Yi Wan Ka: Ivanka Trump Is a Hit in China" (NYT, 4/5/17):

While her father has threatened a trade war with China and criticized China’s efforts to build outposts in the South China Sea, Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have embarked on a charm offensive with the country.

It helps that her daughter, Arabella, speaks Chinese, which she began learning from her Chinese nanny. Ms. Trump and Arabella attended a Lunar New Year festival at the Chinese Embassy in Washington in February, an event broadcast on China’s prime-time news.

On Tuesday, two days before her father was to meet Mr. Xi, Ms. Trump posted a photo of her younger son, Theodore, playing with wooden blocks emblazoned with Chinese characters.

As for Theodore's sister, Arabella, learning Chinese, see:

"Trump's granddaughter recites Tang poems" (11/15/16)

What about the blocks that Theodore is playing with? I see that the numbers are accompanied by English translations, there are pictures matching the characters, there are stroke order buildups (e.g., the five strokes of tóu, tou 头 ["head"; noun suffix; measure word]), but I didn't notice any Pinyin.  Chinese children learn how to pronounce the characters via Pinyin, so it would be nice to have that on Theodore's blocks too.

[h.t. Ben Zimmer]



7 Comments

  1. Tony B said,

    April 6, 2017 @ 2:16 pm

    We have the same blocks for our son.

    https://www.amazon.com/Uncle-Goose-Chinese-Character-Blocks/dp/B002YMB5JM

  2. Victor Mair said,

    April 6, 2017 @ 5:05 pm

    @Tony B:

    In the photograph that you made available to us, the yellow blocks — rén 人 ("person") and shuǐ 水 ("water") — have English translations, whereas the red blocks — shān 山 ("mountain") and kǒu 口 ("mouth") — are without English translations. Still no Pinyin in evidence.

    Wait a minute! To the left of "person", I see what looks as though it is the upper part of a monkey, and beneath it half of an "ó" followed by a "u", which together must constitute half of "hóu", the Mandarin pronunciation of 猴 ("monkey"). So it looks as though they have put the Pinyin for each character beneath the pictures of the animals depicted on the blocks.

  3. Tony B said,

    April 6, 2017 @ 5:53 pm

    Yeah, sorry, I should have mentioned that in my comment. One of the sides has the pinyin.

    The six sides to each cube are:
    1. Red character
    2. Yellow character plus English
    3. Number (Chinese character plus English)
    4. Dragon/map illustration
    5. Picture + pinyin
    6. Stroke order

    Pretty cool blocks actually. Can't claim credit for finding them, our son got them as a gift from one of our friends.

  4. Tony B said,

    April 6, 2017 @ 5:56 pm

    If you know what you are looking at you can actually see the picture+pinyin side of two of the blocks in Ivanka's post, that of the stone and snake blocks.

  5. Julia H said,

    April 7, 2017 @ 12:48 pm

    The company makes blocks for lots of other languages.
    https://unclegoose.com/categories/languages/
    We have the German ones for our daughter (who is still too young to get much out of them). They're really pretty. I could even imagine having them in my office as decoration.

  6. Peter T said,

    April 7, 2017 @ 2:26 pm

    What a cute name for daughter (Arabella). Sharing song for her daughter:
    Arabella ~ Arabela

  7. Philip Taylor said,

    April 16, 2017 @ 4:13 am

    Completely OT, but the first thing that struck me in the photograph is that the lady is wearing high-heeled shoes while reclining on a carpet (the inclusion of the handbag is also perhaps significant); I cannot help but feel that the entire thing was posed,

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