Omnibus Chinglish, part 4

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Yet more fun (see parts 1, 2, and 3).

Don't JuYiGe


bié jū yī gé


"a detached dwelling" — the first character usually functions as a prohibitive (negative imperative), but can also often mean "other", "separate"; the last character means "pavilion", but it is here functioning as a measure word


xiǎoxīn jiǎo huá


"careful, slippery"

This is one of the most common public warnings that is prone to awkward translation (see under "Selected readings" for a few Language Log posts on the subject).  In the minimalist tradition of the first item above, when in doubt, don't translate, just transcribe, with or without tones indicated.

For those who are interested, the four morphosyllables of this warning mean "little heart feet / foot slip", "little heart" implying "be careful".

Book bar

shū ba


"book bar"

(GT gets it right)

This one arises because "ba 吧" can be both a transcription of English "bar" and a Mandarin emphatic final particle used at the end of a sentence to indicate a speculation.

It has been pure pleasure to explain the Chinglishisms in this and the previous three omnibus posts.  Thanks for joining me.

Selected readings


  1. Guy_H said,

    September 1, 2022 @ 3:07 am

    Is this a Japanese phrase? I don't think I've heard this in Chinese before. It sounds like a poetic way to refer to 分居 (marital separation).

  2. Theo said,

    September 1, 2022 @ 6:01 am

    别居一阁 (bié jū yī gé) is a pun on 別具一格 (bié jù yī gé) – having a unique style

  3. Victor Mair said,

    September 1, 2022 @ 9:11 am

    Wonderful, Theo!

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