Monday, 19 November 2007

Helpful words for fabric market visitors

It's hard for me to rate my own Chinese ability. If I were to rate it honestly I would say it is that of a 6 year old but on the other hand it's not. Also, although I have never studied it, my grammar is usually pretty good (almost as good as my English) because I can just tell when a sentence doesn't make sense.

Whenever I go shopping I have this paranoid fear that I'm going to get ripped off because they know straight away that I'm not a local due to my accent and my not up-to-scratch vocabulary. The weird thing is although I've not learnt that many words, if I hear them I can usually figure it out what it means by the context.

Now, I had no idea how to say 'cashmere' in Mandarin. Since I wasn't planning on getting my coat made that day I didn't plan anything either. However, I asked one of the salesladies what fabric it was, "这个是哪种布?" and she replied, "羊绒" (yang rong). Immediately the cogs in my brains started turning. 羊毛(Yang mao) is wool, so Yang rong must be cashmere? I think? Rong must be the same rong as 'velvet.' But hang on! Isn't cashmere made from a goat? Oh yeah that's right... 羊 (yang) can mean both sheep or goat (I know because my sister was born in the year of one) but technically a goat is a 山羊 (shan yang - mountain sheep). Haha. It's weird because I've known the words 羊毛 and 绒 for as long as I can remember (my mother was/is an avid sewer - as in a person who sews, not a place for human waste - haha) but the word for 'cashmere' never entered my vocab - guess because she never sewed with it and didn't really buy clothes made from it! (don't really need it in Australia).

I'm gonna have to teach myself more clothing fabric words because whenever I buy clothes one of the first things I do is look at the label. This tells me what it's made of (will I be allergic to it? Is it a quality fabric? How will I care for it, wash it? etc) so I can determine if the price fits the quality. But also because I am allergic to wool, and I don't like fake-wool either AKA acrylic which 'pills' like nothing.

So here we go:

Cotton 棉 mián
Wool ( 绵)羊毛 (mián) yáng máo
Cashmere 羊绒
Silk 丝 sī
Acrylic ?
Polyester ?
Spandex 氨纶 ān lún
Denim 牛仔布 níu zǎi bù
Jacquard 提花织物 tí huā zhī wù
Brocade 锦 jǐn
100% ... 全 quán (used more verbally)

qipao/cheongsam 旗袍 qípáo
shirt 衬衫 chèn shān
pants/trousers 裤子 kù zi
jacket 茄克 jiā kè
coat 外套 wài tào
dress 礼服 lǐfú
handbag 手提包 shǒu tí bāo

size 大小 dà xiǎo
little bigger 大一点 dà yì diǎn
little smaller 小一点 xiǎo yì diǎn
little narrower 窄一点 zhǎi yì diǎn
little wider 宽一点 kuān yì diǎn
little longer 长一点 cháng yì diǎn
little shorter 短一点 duǎn yì diǎn
little higher 高一点 gāo yì diǎn
litte lower 低一点 dī yì diǎn
darker (colour) 深一点 shēn yì diǎn (颜色 yán sè)
lighter (colour) 浅一点 qiǎn yì diǎn (颜色 yán sè)

sleeve 袖子 xiù zi
cuff 袖口 xiù kǒu (lit. sleeve mouth)
collar 衣领 yī lǐng
armhole 袖笼 xiù lǒng
chest/bust 胸 xiōng
waist 腰部 yāo bù
hips/butt 臀部 túnbù
3 vital measurements - bust, waist hips 三围 sānwéi

buttons 扣子 kòuzi
zipper 拉链 lā liàn
velcro 魔鬼粘 mó guǐ nían
press stud 揿扣 qìn kòu

stripes 条 tiáo
spots 点 diǎn
pattern 图样 tú yàng
embroider(y) 绣 xiù

to be continued!

I just found this online Chinese dictionary but I still think Xuezhongwen is a little better. :)

1 comment:

Jen Pemberton said...

As Shanghai Expats who frequent the Fabric Markets, your vocabulary is invaluable! Thanks