How Chinese is basically German, but with a sense of humor


Chinese nouns are just logical representations, describing objects as they are. As an orient language, “logical” might not be first adjective that comes up in foreigners’ minds. Make no mistake, most Chinese words are simple compound words, akin to German, the epitome of logical languages. Much like German, Chinese is a logical language. Scroll down and be surprised!

铁路 (tiě lù). This phrase sounds cryptic, right? Although it might sound nothing like German, the fundamental structure of the phrase is the same.

Eisenbahn is the German translation for the word “railway”. It can be separated into two segments, the first of which is Eisen, meaning iron. The second segment, Bahn, means road. With a bit of deduction, combining the two words forms the phrase “iron road”. “Iron road”? That is an abstract description of a railway. But still, how is that related to Chinese nouns?

铁 (tiě) translates to iron in English and 路 (lù) means road in Chinese. Combine these and you get… “iron road”. Just like German. 铁路 (tiě lù) isn’t the only noun that is so satisfyingly logical, means now? There are so many nouns just like this in Chinese, and we’re going to list a few for you. Highly pragmatic. Highly logical. Enjoy!


飞 fēi (Flying) + 机 jī (Machine) = 飞机 fēi jī (Plane) 

衣 yī (Clothes) + 柜 guì (Shelf) = 衣柜 yī guì (Wardrobe)

太空 tài kōng (Space) + 船 chuán (Ship) = 太空船 tài kōng chuán

数 shù (Number) +学 xué (To study) = 数学 shù xué


Flug (Flying) + Zeug (Stuff) = Flugzeug (Plane)

Kleider (Clothes) + Schrank (Cupboard) = Kleiderschrank (Wardrobe)

Raum (Space) + Schiff (Ship) = Raumschiff (Spaceship)

Mathematik (Mathematics)

Those are just a few examples. Chinese nouns are not any harder than in any other languages. Do you still think Chinese nouns are hard?


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