Translator notes: Below are the terms that will be retained in pinyin. The choice of terms were mostly as they either did not have exact translations into English (as in the case of the units of measurements and other items that are culturally unique) or the translations are unwieldy (as is the case for a number of relationship terms)
The list will be updated periodically as and when new terms are added.
Units of Measurement
尺/ Chi – A chinese foot, measuring about ⅓ of a meter
石/Dan – A unit of measure of about 100 liters as promulgated in 1930.
斗/ Dou – Dry measure for grain equivalent to 1/10th of a 石/ dan.
斤/ Jin – A unit of weight that can be translated as “catty”. In different regions, the exact weight would differ, however in the PRC it is equivalent to 500g
里/ Li – Chinese mile. The exact distance has varied over time, but was usually around ⅓ of a mile. Currently, it is standardized as ½ kilometer
两/Liang – A unit of measurement for weight. It is the same unit of measurement used for silver (as in a tael of silver). However, the translator has decided to leave it in pinyin when used as a unit of measurement for other (non-money) items as usually people think of taels specifically as money, and might get confused if it’s used as a weight reference.
亩/ Mu – About ⅙ of an acre
升/ Sheng – Measure for dry grain equivalent to 1/10th of a 斗/dou
丈/ Zhang – Measure of length, it is equivalent to 10 chinese feet or 3.3m.
表弟/ Biaodi – Younger maternal male cousin
表哥/Biaoge – refers specifically to older maternal male cousin.
表姐/ Biaojie – Older maternal female cousin
伯 / Bo – refers to one’s father’s older brother.
伯母/ Bomu – refers to father’s older brother’s wife.
弟弟/ Didi – One’s younger brother. This could be a person’s actual brother, or just a younger male within the same generation/ group
弟妹/Dimei – Refers to one’s husband’s/one’s younger brother’s wife
哥哥/Gege – One’s older brother. This could be a person’s actual brother or just an older male within the same generation/ group.
婶子/ Shenzi: Usually refers to the the woman who is married to father’s younger brother. However, in the context of this story, the author seems to be using婶子/shenzi to refer to the wife of a paternal uncle regardless of whether the uncle is father’s older or younger brother
XX 氏/Shi – A way of referencing a married woman by her maiden name.
叔/shu – Refers to one’s father’s younger brother.
堂弟/Tangdi – Younger male cousin of the same surname – ie, father’s brother’s son
小舅子/ Xiaojiuzi – Refers to one’s wife’s younger brother
爷爷/ Yeye – Paternal grandfather
姨/ yi – refers to one’s mother’s sister
岳父/yuefu– wife’s father
Side note about relationship terms
As hierarchy is extremely important, relationships across the board (involving brothers/ sisters/ aunts/ uncles etc) are often numbered according to who is the oldest in a generation. The numbering system goes:
大/ Da XX: Referring specifically to the oldest.
二/ Er XX: Referring specifically to the second in the lineup
三/ San XX: Referring specifically to the third in the lineup
四/ Si XX: Referring specifically to the fourth in the lineup
小/ Xiao XX: Referring specifically to the youngest in the lineup
大婶子/ Dashenzi – Refersspecifically to the oldest paternal uncle’s wife
二哥/ Erge – Refers specifically to one’s second brother (the brother must be older than oneself)
Festivals/ Festive Days
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端午节/ Duanwujie – Also known as the Dragonboat Festival. The festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. It was said to commemorate a statesman and poet who committed suicide by jumping into the river on the day.
惊蛰/ Jingzhe – Also known as Awakening of Insects. It falls between the 6 – 20th of March
腊八节/ Labajie – Laba festival. The festival falls on the 8th day of the 12 month, according to the Chinese calendar. It is a day when families would cook a porridge with different grains/ beans.
立春/Lichun – Also known as the Beginning of Spring. As the name suggests, it heralds the beginning of spring
立秋/ Liqiu – Also known as the Start Of Autumn, it falls between the 7th -22nd day of the eighth month.
芒种/ Mangzhong – Also known as the Grain in Beard Festival and falls between the 5-6th day of the 6th month.
女儿节/ Nverjie – Also known as Girls’ Festival. It falls on the seventh day of the seventh month. It is also known as 七夕/ Qixi as well as the Cowherd and Weaver Girl ( A Chinese Valentine day when the two lovers are allowed their annual meeting)
乞巧节/ Qigaijie – Literally means the Beggar’s Festival. It falls on the same day as Qixi.
清明/ QIngming – Also known as the Tomb Sweeping day. It falls sometime in the 4th month of the Chinese calendar
七夕/ Qixi – Also known as the double seven festival (because it is on the 7th day of the 7th month), Girls’ festival, Cowherd and Weaver Girl Day ( A Chinese Valentine day when the two lovers are allowed their annual meeting)
上元节/ Shangyuanjie – also known as 元宵节/ Yuanxiaojie, 小正月/ Xiaozhengyue、元夕/ Yuanxi, 灯节/ Dengjie. It is the last day of Chinese New Year. It is a day when lanterns are carried, and so it is also known as the Lantern Festival
小年/ Xiaonian – A special day which, in most places, falls on the 23rd of the 12th month according to the Chinese calendar. The main activity of the day is to offer sacrifices to the kitchen god.
中秋节/ Zhongqiujie – Also known as the Mid Autumn Festival, it falls on the 15th of the 8th lunar month
中元鬼节/ Zhongyuanguijie – Also known as Ghost Festival, it falls on the 15th day of the 7th month when offerings are made to the deceased. The Chinese believe that the seventh lunar month is the month that ghosts roam the world. It culminates on the 15th of the month with Ghost Festival
八字/ Bazi – One’s birth data used for fortune telling.
褒姒/ Baosi – Famous beauty in China
庚帖/ Gengtie – A card to propose marriage. It would contain information about the person, e.g., their date of birth and so on.
过大礼/ Guodali – Part of the engagement and marriage process where the male side would send gifts over the female side.
翰林/ Hanlin – Refers to the academics employed as imperial secretaries from the Tang Dynasty onwards, forming the Hanlin Imperial Academy
炕/ Kang: Heatable brick bed
搅团/ Jiaotuan – A type of snack
米糕馍/ Migaomo – A type of snack
闹洞房/ Naodongfang – Refers to the custom of disturbing the bridal chamber on the day of the wedding. It’s a time when guests would banter and play pranks on the wedding couple.
千字文/ Qianziwen – Translated as the Thousand Character Classic, it’s a 6th century poem that was a traditional reading primer
全福娘娘/Quanfuniangniang – She is a “娘娘/niangniang” (one of the ways of describing a married woman) who is “全福/ quanfu” (Fu means good fortune/ lucky, while Quan refers to being complete/ whole). Hence a married woman whose fortune is whole. It is defined as someone who’s parents and in-laws are still alive, and they have both daughters and sons. Because she is such a “lucky” person, she is an auspicious person to have for a wedding.
说文解字/ Shuowenjiezi – The original Han dynasty Chinese character dictionary
唢呐/Suona – Traditional double reed instrument
王/ Wang – Prince
王府/ Wangfu – A prince’s mansion.
文/ Wen – Chinese cash coin currency. 1000 wen = 1 tael (两/liang) of pure silver = 1 string of cash
秀才/Xiucai – A person who has passed the county level imperial exam
增广贤文/ Zengguangxianwen – a book meant to educate the young.
周幽王/ Zhou You Wang – King You of Zhou, the last king of Western Zhou
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