Example sentences from the Beijing Language Institute's Concise Chinese-English Dictionary (Beijing, 1979)

  • 在生产中不要单纯地追求数量。 -- Don't strive merely for quantity of production.
  • 为国除 -- do away with the traitor for the good of the country
  • 今昔对比 -- constrast the new society with the old
  • 血债累累 -- blood debts without number
  • 历史课由谁担任? -- Who will be in charge of the history course?

Popularity factor: 9


Wonderful. I think example sentences are an underappreciated genre, and those are classic.

(I've yet to find anything to beat the 1926 Manual of Egyptian Arabic, though: a phrase for every situation, from "These scarabs are all faked" to "Late again, Mustafa, you don't deserve your pay"...)


I have a feeling that my "A Chinese-English Dictionary" is from the same source. A few choice examples that are sure to come in handy should I find myself in China:

"During land reform our Party mobilized the masses to struggle for their rights, and firmly opposed the idea of bestowing land as a favour."

"We can never say enough about our gratitude to the Party."

"Hoes in hand, the commune members battled to reclaim the barren hills."


Those of us who learned Chinese by using the classic Practical Chinese Reader will never forget the adventures of Gubo and Palanka. They eventually head to China to study, and they meet someone on the plane--the dialogue (from memory):

Gubo: Excuse me, are you Chinese?Man: Yes, I am. I am returning to the motherland to assist with the Four Modernizations.

Then there was the girl in the art museum sketching Zhou Enlai in a field of flowers "so he can be there forever."

After many, many years, I finally learned that "Gubo" is a Sinicization of the name "Cooper," but what the hell "Palanka" is supposed to be remains a mystery to this day.


Hey Matt, do remember the context that one time (if you even remember the moment) leading up to you saying, "To the poisonnery!"? I think we were in Shibuya or Ueno and we were walking... and I think it was night time. It was probably one of the funniest things I've ever heard. And I've been trying to figure out a way to incorporate that phrase into my life. Song title? Perfect for a metal band. Catch phrase for when I'm homeless and wandering the streets, frightening innocent people waiting for the bus? Title of an epic poem, written in Old English ("Tō ðā Pɔɪsʌnnʌri," perhaps)?. Anyway, it was pretty great. You are a gentleman and a scholar, sir. A gentleman... and a scholar.



Example sentence from my Japanese-English dictionary, under "this".

"What is this?""It's a particle-beam weapon".

You'd be surprised how many conversations I have just like this.


That's the kind of language that got me started on Chinese in the first place. Long ago I put together a list of "Modern Chinese Political Phrases & Slogans", one of my first (semi-useful) contributions to the net.


Thanks, Micah, that's handy!

Of course, we shouldn't forget that this dictionary's prime purpose was probably helping Chinese people translate things into English, and at the time (and even now?) I imagine that the vast majority of what the Party wanted translated to English was roughly along the lines of "Hoes in hand, the commune members battled to reclaim the barren hills."

I wonder what the current U.S. Army-issue English-(Iraqi) Arabic dictionary uses for example sentences...

Patrick: Oh, man. I don't remember that at all. But I'm guessing the context was that my company had led you to express a desire to poison yourself. You wouldn't believe how often that happens to me.


I think the English reads like a booteeful poem...

(Hey, Kitto lives! But bloggeth not, alas.)


This one made the rounds in the China expat blog scene a while ago:

english.pladaily.com.cn: Military English Learning

Lesson 1 (excerpt)

1. Hello.你好。

2. Are you a new soldier?你是新兵吗?

3. Yes. I am.是,我是新兵。

4. How old are you?你多大了?

5. 18 years old.18 岁了。

6. Where are you from?你是那里人?

7. I am from Beijing.我是北京人。

8. You are an officer, aren't you?你是军官,对吗?

9. No. I am a noncommissioned officer.不对。我是士官。


Other useful lessons include "Ordering Enemy to Surrender", "The Question of Taiwan" (you can probably anticipate the content of this one), "The Internet and the Armed Forces", "Offensive Operations: The Malvinas War", and "Space War".

Comment season is closed.