Chinese Flavor Metaphors to blow your mind 😋 🌶️

by | Nov 25, 2020 | Chinese Vocabulary

The hidden meanings of Chinese flavor metaphors

If you’re wondering what Chinese flavor metaphors are, the chances are that you’ve heard them before and not realised. Have you heard someone say “don’t be sour” on a Chinese TV show? Or maybe one of your friends often says you’re too sweet. Do you know why someone would someone say that in Chinese?

Many words in Chinese have hidden meanings – especially Chinese flavors.

Most flavors have another meaning, apart from the reference to the taste of a particular dish.

Let’s learn them together 👇

1. 酸 (SUĀN): SOUR

The Chinese flavor “sour” as a metaphor also means “to envy”, “to be jealous of”.

You know, this expression you make when you see someone kissing in front of you or bragging about buying a new car. It’s like eating a lemon.

他们又去三亚旅游了,我酸了
Tāmen yòu qù Sānyà lǚyóu le, wǒ suān le
They traveled to Sanya again, I envy them

你女朋友真漂亮,我酸了!
Nǐ nǚpéngyou zhēn piàoliang, wǒ suān le!
Your girlfriend is so beautiful, I envy you!

2. 甜 (TIÁN): SWEET

“Sweet” may refer to a sweet flavor, as well as to the feeling you have when you see something cute and nice. The “sweet feeling”.

But mind that this word might have a negative connotation too – when something is “too sweet”, so sweet that it causes a toothache.

你和你的男朋友太甜了,我酸了
Nǐ hé nǐ de nánpéngyou tài tián le, wǒ suān le
You and your boyfriend are too sweet, I’m getting jealous

3. 苦 (KǓ): BITTER

We all know this feeling. The bitterness of dark chocolate or a medicine. It can refer to our life as well.

It means “to feel bad” or “to suffer” – as if you swallow a bitter pill.

双十一我把我的工资都花完了,宝宝心里苦
Shuāngshíyī wǒ bǎ wǒ de gōngzī dōu huāwán le, bǎobǎo xīnlǐ kǔ
I’ve spent all my salary on Double Eleven, I’m in despair

我为什么还没有女朋友?宝宝心里苦!
Wǒ wèi shénme hái méiyǒu nǚpéngyou? Bǎobǎo xīnlǐ kǔ!
Why haven’t I already found myself a girlfriend? I’m in despair!

2. 辣 (là): SPICY

Have you ever had a feeling that the music is so unbearable that you want to cover your ears with your hands? Or the picture is so dreadful that you’d better close your eyes to no see it?

It’s like your ears or eyes are burning. This is what “spicy” means.

你唱歌太难听了,辣耳朵!
Nǐ chànggē tài nántīng le, là ěrduǒ!
Your singing is so bad! My ears are in pain!

他们又在我的面前秀恩爱,辣眼睛
Tāmen yòu zài wǒ de miànqián xiùēn’ài, là yǎnjīng
They’re showing their affection to each other in front of me again, it makes my eyes hurt

Chinese flavor metaphors demystified

Feeling more clued up? We hope so!

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Feel free to drop us a comment either here or on social media to practise your new knowledge too though… we’ll correct any mistakes for you!

 

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