Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Multiple ways to say "hot" in Chinese

I recently misinterpreted an exclamation about how hot the room was for an exclamation about how hot a piece of corn on the cob was. There are multiple ways to say "hot" in Chinese, and I was apparently linguistically dozing at the time, since I should have realized immediately that the word for "hot" that had been uttered was not one related to food.

Here are some common Chinese expressions for "hot" and typical applications of each, in Pinyin order:
  • 辣 (là) spicy quality of food, drink
  • 熱 (rè) weather, temperature of a room
  • 燙 (tàng) temperature of food, drink
  • 性感 (xìnggǎn) sexy quality (Several years ago in Taiwan, I was surprised to see the material in a beginner Chinese course was so contemporary that it included this word in its vocabulary section. This seems to be applicable to both people and clothing.)

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