Fish or Fish Tank? 鱼还是鱼缸?

学生说:
Xuéshēng shuō:
The student says:

老师, 我听说美国人和中国人想的方式不一样.
Lǎoshī, wǒ tīng shuō měiguó rén hé zhōngguó rén xiǎng de fāngshì bù yīyàng.
Teacher, I have heard that American people and Chinese people think differently.

Do you see the fish or the fish tank?

据研究,当两人看到鱼缸里鱼的照片时,美国人看鱼,中国人看鱼缸。
Jù yánjiū, dāng liǎng rén kàn dào yúgāng lǐ yú de zhàopiàn shí, měiguó rén kàn yú, zhōngguó rén kàn yúgāng.
According to research, when both people see a photo of a fish tank with fish, American people see the fish and Chinese people see the fish tank.

如果我们看见 的不一样,我们怎么能 建立有意义的联系?
Rúguǒ wǒmen kànjiàn de bù yīyàng, wǒmen zěnme néng jiànlì yǒu yìyì de liánxì?
If we don’t see the same, how can we make meaningful connections?

老师说:
Lǎoshī shuō:
The teacher says:

我们既要看见鱼也要看见鱼缸。
Wǒmen jì yào kànjiàn yú yě yào kànjiàn yúgāng.
We need to see not only the fish but also the fish tank.

我们要看见每个人的情况而不是只看见一个群体.
Wǒmen yào kànjiàn měi gèrén de qíngkuàng ér bùshì zhǐ kànjiàn yīgè qúntǐ.
Rather than only see a group, we need to see each person’s situation.

Authors: Depeng and Anne Giles

Research on seeing fish and fish tanks, thanks to Sofia Zhang-Midkoff:

This post includes 想 xiǎng, a meaningful word on our list of universal human concepts. The word  想 xiǎng is also featured here.

If you are a user of Mandarin Blueprint, the content may be helpful in learning these characters:

Phase 3 Level 13 Character #117 想 xiǎng
Phase 4 Level 25 Character #368 鱼 yú

This post is part of our Meaningful Words 有意义的词 yǒu yìyì de cí series. The series features dialogues about universal human concepts in Mandarin Chinese and in English. Posts in the Meaningful Words series are here and posts related to Mandarin Chinese are here. If you are interested in writing for the Meaningful Words series, please see these submission requirements.

Image: iStock

Anne Giles, M.A., M.S., L.P.C., is a student of Mandarin Chinese and also a mental health counselor, able to provide counseling services only to residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia, U.S.A. This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.

What Do You Think? 你怎么想?

This video by Benfang Wang features 想 xiǎng, a meaningful word on our list of universal human concepts.

Benfang Wang’s Mandarin Chinese learning materials include artificial intelligence technology. To access Benfang’s “All about 想 xiǎng” AI materials, register for a free account through Benfang’s Edugo.ai portal. Then follow this link to Benfang’s Edugo.ai materials, log in, and scroll down to Lesson 10.

Please find Benfang Wang on italki, YouTube, and Facebook.

If you are a user of Mandarin Blueprint, the video’s content may be helpful in learning these characters:

Phase 3 Level 13 Character #105 来 lái
Phase 3 Level 13 Character #117: 想 xiǎng
Phase 3 Level 14 Character #131: 起 qǐ
Phase 4 Level 25 Character #359: 出 chū

This post is part of our Meaningful Words 有意义的词 yǒu yìyì de cí series. The series features dialogues about universal human concepts in Mandarin Chinese and in English. Posts in the Meaningful Words series are here and posts related to Mandarin Chinese are here. If you are interested in writing for the Meaningful Words series, please see these submission requirements.

This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.

Universal Human Concepts

To the best of my ability to discern and express them, below is a list of fundamental, universal human concepts that, if people can become aware of them, can help them live humane, skillful lives, regardless of language. If they can use these concepts in words, they may be able to connect more skillfully and meaningfully with each other.

Kindness for all

Simple language summary

If people are kind to themselves and others, and aware of themselves and others, they can gently become aware of many components of their inner lives and their interactions with others. This awareness offers the ability to make conscious decisions about potentially helpful ways to speak, act, relate, and work, increasing the likelihood of optimal results for self and others.

List of concepts

These concepts, and related ones, are listed below and defined in Chinese and English. To assist early learners of Mandarin Chinese, after the Chinese character is listed the pinyin, then a literal, one-word translation into English of each character, then an English translation in bold. Explanatory words are included but are not in bold.

善良 shànliáng | good very good | kindness
自我善良 zìwǒ shànliáng | self I good very good | self-kindness
对别的人善良 duì bié de rén shànliáng | towards other people good very good | kindness towards others
意识 yìshí | meaning knowledge | awareness, consciousness
自我意识 zìwǒ yìshí | self I meaning knowledge | self-awareness
对别的人意识 duì bié de rén yīshí | towards other people meaning knowledge | awareness of others
感觉 gǎnjué | feel become aware of | feelings
想法 xiǎngfǎ } think method } thoughts
头脑 tóunǎo | head brain | mind; not the same as thoughts
大脑 dànǎo | big brain | brain; not the same as thoughts
事实 shìshí | affair/matter reality | facts
对 / 对抗 duì / duìkàng | towards | versus/vs.
信念 xìnniàn | believe think | beliefs; not the same as facts
需要 xūyào | need want } needs
想要 xiǎng yào | think want | wants
偏好 piānhào | bias want } preferences
价值观 jiàzhíguān | price value sight | values
优先级 yōuxiān jí | excellent first level | priorities
同理心 tóng lǐ xīn | alike reason heart } empathy
同情 tóngqíng | alike feeling | sympathy; not the same as empathy
理解 lǐjiě | reason separate | understanding
做选择 zuò xuǎnzé | make choice pick with hand | to make
a choice
决定 juédìng | decidedly set | to decide
方法 fāngfǎ | square/direction, law/method/way | method, way
优化 yōuhuà | optimize
做到最好 zuò dào zuì hǎo | optimization, make best
(Instead of trying to work harder, seeking ways to work better/more efficiently.)
协同作用 xiétóng zuòyòng | association alike/together do use | synergy = greater than the sum of the parts
判断 pànduàn | to sentence to cut off | judgment | Judgment is a soul-killer and a destroyer of possibility.
内在智慧 nèizài zhìhuì | internal at intelligence wisdom | inner wisdom; results from dialectic/synergy of awareness of feelings and thoughts
战略 zhànlüè | fight summary | strategy
技能 jìnéng | skill can | skills
连结 liánjié | link knot | a sense of feeling connected as humans in meaningful ways
一种存在方式 yī zhǒng cúnzài fāngshì | one type deposit at direction system | a way of being

An earlier version of this list as a .pdf is here.

Image: iStock

The list is informed by my knowledge, training and experience as a scholar, educator, counselor, learner of Mandarin Chinese, and person. I created this content in consultation with multiple individuals proficient in Mandarin Chinese. All errors are mine.

Anne Giles, M.A., M.S., L.P.C., is a student of Mandarin Chinese and also a mental health counselor, able to provide counseling services only to residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia, U.S.A. This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.