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Language Corner  


As we know, Chinese people are diligent and love to work, but vacations and holidays are also a constituent part of their lives. In recent years, they have enjoyed more frequent and longer holidays.

Days off are arranged according to 传统节日 (chuán tǒng jié rì) traditional festivals. 假期 (jià qī) are holiday breaks, and taking a holiday is to 休假 (xiū jià ). When the Chinese are off work, they take a vacation away from home, that is, 出行 (chū xíng). There are many Chinese expressions for travelling, such as 旅行 (lǚ xíng), 旅游 (lǚ yóu) and 出游 (chū yóu). No matter the trip is a short or long distance, traveling is both a culture and a custom that has become a favorite pastime.

出去玩 (chū qù wán), go out and have fun, is a common term for travel, because taking a trip and having fun are one and the same thing. 游玩 (yóu wán) is also a typical Chinese expression in which 游 (yóu) means tour and 玩 (wán) means having fun.

The Chinese attitude towards travel is explained by the phrase 游山玩水 (yóu shān wán shuǐ), a sightseeing tour of mountains and rivers. When someone comes back from travel, he or she is generally asked 玩得怎么样 (wán de zěn me yàng), how was the trip?

But relaxation is not all the Chinese people seek on a trip, as they love going to different places in the country, and the distinctive feeling being in a new place brings them.

China is a vast land, so some trips take a long time. There are certain expressions in Chinese to describe a long journey, 跋山涉水 (bá shān shè shuǐ), climbing mountains and fording rivers, and 长途跋涉 (cháng tú bá shè), a long distance trip.

There are also many Chinese words for 旅游者 (lǚ yóu zhě), traveler, such as 游子 (yóu zǐ) in ancient China, and 游客 (yóu kè) in modern times. In recent years, 驴友 (lǘ yǒu), travelers who originally met on holiday and who regularly organize independent trips together, and 背包客 (bēi bāo kè), backpackers, have also become popular terms.

In Chinese eyes, the aim of travelling is to experience different things to share with family and friends on returning. That’s why some tourists just 走马观花 (zǒu mǎ guān huā), take a brief glimpse of several spots. Others prefer closer observation of cultural connotations and 风土人情 (fēng tǔ rén qíng), local customs, and so avoid rigidly planned travel itineraries. Chinese travelers appreciate scenery in the same way as they do works of art. There are idioms that compare scenic spots to a painting – 风景如画 (fēng jǐng rú huà), picturesque, and to a poem or a painting – 如诗如画 (rú shī rú huà), poetic and picturesque.

Chinese vacations resemble mass migrations, especially during the week-long National Day holiday, vividly described as 黄金周 (huáng jīn zhōu), golden week. The 春节 (chūn jié), Spring Festival, is also a busy time, known as 春运 (chūn yùn), spring transit.  At this time, 人山人海 (rén shān rén hǎi), sea of people, is an apt description of the huge numbers of people heading home.

Before setting off on a trip, Chinese wish one another 路上注意安全 (lù shang zhù yì ān quán), take care on the way. As trips are hoped to go smoothly as well as pleasantly, people also wish one another 旅途愉快 (lǚ tú yú kuài), a nice trip.

VOL.59 NO.12 December 2010 Advertise on Site Contact Us