Otherwise known as The News Lens, 關鍵評論網 (guan1 jian4 ping2 lun4 wang3) is a website focused on providing diverse and different points of views on various topics. Unsatisfied with modern media, 關鍵評論網 has started making waves in Taiwan since its establishment in 2013. The staff there have made it their objective to bring about change in the way people receive information and news.
In this blog, I will take us on a journey through some of their short animated videos. In their videos, amusing, two-dimensional characters interact in a way to not merely transmit information, but also add entertainment value. However, despite the unorthodox manner in which “The News Lens” conveys the news, the short videos pack in huge amounts of information. You may notice that the speaker in most of the following videos talks at an unusually fast pace. But don’t despair! Watch through it once, look at the vocabulary explanation and other tips in this blog, and watch it again. The more times you watch it, the more you will start to understand.
What exactly is marijuana?
In this video, 關鍵評論網 takes on the controversial topic of marijuana. Throughout the video, the narrator talks of the origins, side-effects, social consequences, and other intriguing information about marijuana. Check it out:
之久 (zhi1 jiu3)
Translation: Marijuana has actually existed for (as long as/a length of time equal to) more than a thousand years in human society.
The use of 之 usually signifies the sentence has now taken on a new level of formality. 之 comes from classical Chinese and, in this case, means 的. I imagine most already know 久 means “a long time” like in 好久不見. However, what does it mean then when we say 的久？Well, in modern Chinese, 的 means whatever comes after becomes a noun. It is the same with 之. So think of 之久 as “that length of time” where 久 now changes from the adjective “long” to the noun “length”. Thus, if we look at it separately, 千年之久 means “a length of time equal to a thousand years”. That sounds awkward in English, so it often translates as “as long as.” Not translating it does not affect the meaning, but know that, in Chinese, it emphasizes the length of time.
Bonus: 之 often takes on this role. Another example is from the song “你存在我的歌聲裡”. The singer says 世界之大，為何(wei4 he2 = why (formal)) 我們相遇 (xiang1 yu4 = meet)? Literally, it translates as “The world’s largeness, why did we meet?” However, 世界之大 emphasizes the size of the world, so it makes more sense as “In such a large world, how is it that we met?”
禁毒官員 (jin4 du2 guan1 yuan2)
You may not find this in your dictionary. It just means “someone who works in enforcing a drug prohibition.” Simply put, DEA agents.
疾管局 (ji2 guan3 ju2)
Abbreviated form of 疾病管制局 which means “Department of Disease Control”. If in Taiwan, they use 署 (shu3) instead of 局, but both mean “department” in a government.
When animal diplomacy ambassadors traveled across the world
The video seeks to explain the history, significance, and impact of “animal diplomacy.” The term refers to one government presenting another government with an animal as an act of good faith. Click the link below to watch it:
Decoding Long Sentences!
For this video, we will look at a longer and more difficult sentence and how you can simplify it. At first, it will take time, but eventually, the skills you learn will help you more easily analyze more complicated sentences.
The monster sentence to decipher:
Words to know:
珍奇異獸（zhen1 qi2 yi4 shou4）＝ exotic animals
贈送（zeng4 song4） = to give a present
拉攏（la1 long3）＝to pull sb. over to win them over; to entice sb.
象徵（xiang4 zheng1） = symbol
The sentence can be broken up into 3 parts:
(1) 這些珍奇異獸的贈送與交換 (2) 就被視為 (3) 某種政治利益交換與拉攏的象徵。
First, look for conjunctions like 的 and try to find the object. In, English we might say “He is a person who likes apples” where the information describing “a person” comes at the end. Chinese people like to first describe the object, add a 的, and then put the object at the end, as in 他是個喜歡吃蘋果的人. Without too much thought, we can find our object after the 的 as 人. Notice how the measure word, 個, appears before the description.
When using 的 in more advanced circumstances, you will find that you do not always need to have a noun following 的. Often times, a verb will follow 的, which then turns it into what we know as a noun. Thus, 珍奇異獸的贈送 translates as “the giving of exotic animals.” Next, 與 means “and,” and can only be used for nouns OR when two verbs are used as nouns. Thus, 這些珍奇異獸的贈送與交換 means “This giving and exchanging of exotic animals.” All of this is the subject of the overall sentence.
In part 2 of the sentence, we see the verb. 就 emphasizes and has no meaning, 被 signifies passive tense, 視 means “to see”, and 為 (wei2) mean “is” or “to be”. Thus, 就被視為 means “is seen to be” or simply “is seen as.”
First find what comes after the 的 like we did in part 1, which we see to be 象徵 or “symbol,” our object. Everything before it describes what kind of symbol. Thus, before you go any further, try to read the sentence without the description: 這些珍奇異獸的贈送與交換就被視為某種象徵. The measure word, 某種, means “a kind of”. With our previous translations we have “This giving and exchanging of exotic animals is seen as a kind of symbol.” Not too hard to understand now, right?
At this point, though, you may be thinking, “What kind of symbol?” Well, now we have to describe our “symbol” by looking at what is before the 的象徵. We have two verbs, 交換 and 拉攏, again acting as nouns. We can tell this because of the 與, which can only connect two nouns, and also because they come before 的. 政治利益 describes our two “nouns”, 交換 and 拉攏. 政治 means “politics” and 利益 means “benefit/interest/gain”. Together, they mean “political gain”. When added to 交換 and 拉攏, it means “exchanging and enticement for political gain.”
So, what kind of symbol? “A symbol of exchanging and enticement for political gain.” We can now put our whole sentence together:
“(1) This giving and exchanging of exotic animals (2) is seen as (3) a symbol of exchanging and enticement for political gain.” Thus, why do we have “animal diplomacy?” To create political relationships.
Holy hell was that sentence long! Congratulations on making it this far! If you follow these principles, you can decode so many more Chinese sentences.
Do you think women should be mandated to do military service?
What roles have women played in Taiwan’s military? Why have women started to become more involved in it? What does the future of mandatory military service look like for women? 關鍵評論網 answers all of these questions in the following video:
Translation: Actually, the history of Taiwan’s modern female military service can be traced backed to (starting from) the Xinhai Revolution.
從 means “from”, which we can use for both places and time. In this case, we use it for time, or “the Xinhai Revolution (of 1911).” 追溯 means “to trace back” like you might hear in a history book. 起 when used after a time, means “starting…” and is more formal than saying “開始” in this manner. For example, 從明天起 means “starting from tomorrow.” Thus, 從辛亥革命起 means “starting from the Xinhai Revolution.” Adding 追溯 to say 從辛亥革命追溯起 means “trace back to starting from the Xinhai Revolution.”
A global craze to put out the Olympic torch?
In this animated video, we can learn about the obstacles Olympians and torch bearers face in running the Olympic torch. 關鍵評論網 stresses that the torch has gone out on more than one Olympics (not just Rio). Several fascinating facts in the video include a waterproof fuel used in the Sydney Olympics and that the Beijing Olympics torch went out more than in any other Olympics. Check it out below:
Context:花大錢辦奧運（ban4 ao4 yun4 = to hold an Olympics) 為人詬病（gou4 bing4 = denounce).
Translation: Spending lots of money to hold an Olympics is denounced (by others/people).
Passive voice usually means using 被 in Chinese and when doing so, often carries negative meanings. For example, in 我的鉛筆被他偷走了 which means “My pencil was stolen by him”, “stealing” is rather negative. 為 can sometimes take the place of 被 in some contexts. However, 為 almost always has a noun and a verb after it instead of just a verb like 被 sometimes can. Thus, in 為人詬病, 為人 means “by people/others.” Since most passive voice assumes 人 does the action, the English translation does not need to include “by people/others.” 為人詬病 then means “is/has been denounced.” Note my flexibility on present (“is:) and perfect tense (“has been”). Chinese is usually unclear on tenses.
The assault of popular science! Can Chang’e really fly to the moon?
In a holiday special celebrating 中秋節, 關鍵評論網 takes the story of Chang’e flying to the moon to explain physics concepts. Can she really do it? What forces would be acting against her? Let’s find out. 奔跑吧！嫦娥！(This phrase is a play on words from 奔跑吧！兄弟！, the Chinese version of the Korean “Running Man.”)
長生不老 (chang2 sheng1 bu4 lao3)
Translation: Chang’e took a potion of immortality.
One of the easier 成語, 長生 means “long life” and 不老 means “to not age,” thus meaning “immortal/immortality.” However easy the 成語 may be, it is important to remember the specific ways in which Chinese people phrase certain ideas like “immortality.”
墜毀 (zhui4 hui3)
Translation: Thus, she will get closer and closer to the Earth and finally fall to the ground and be destroyed.
How can two characters have such a long translation? Well, this two-character word takes on the form of “verb-result.” 墜 means “to fall” and 毀 means “to destroy”. Thus, it means “to fall and result in being destroyed.” Just imagine a plane crash or maybe even a watermelon thrown from the top of a building.
Keep at it!
關鍵評論網 may seem daunting at first what with the faster speech and more complicated sentence structures. But give it a chance. Start with one video and learn how to decipher the longer sentences. Take your time, listen to it multiple times, and study and review whole sentences. If you have Chinese friends, talk to them about the topics. Perhaps they could learn something new, too. By the end, you will find yourself having the ability to speak in lengthier sentences with more advanced vocabulary. If you find yourself stuck on a sentence, feel free to email me. I will do my best to describe its inner workings. Most importantly, though, keep having fun!