Addressing an Envelope in Taiwan – Vertical

Since we’ve got our addresses down, on to envelopes! In Taiwan, there are two ways to write the address on the envelope: the more traditional, vertical, way or the more Western-style horizontal way (all depends on the type of envelope you have and how ambitious you are).

In this post, I’ll be taking a look at how to address a vertical style envelope in Taiwan!

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How the Taiwanese Address System Works

PostOfficeBoxesTaiwanMailing letters is admittedly a long and arduous process, what with the fancy emails and instant messaging these days, but it’s still quite a necessary part of life abroad! In this post we will be looking at the (relatively) easy addressing system in Taiwan!

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Quick Vocab: App Updates

Just a quick little post about some app related Chinese!


修正iOS 5相容性問題:

Corrected iOS5 compatibility issues.

修正(xiū​zhèng​): to revise / to amend / fix

相容 (xiāng​róng​xìng): compatibility

Made up of:
相容 (xiāng​róng): compatible
性 (xìng): -ity

問題 (wèn​tí​): problem / issue


Fixed some known bugs.

修正(xiū​zhèng​): to revise / to amend / fix

部分 (bù​fen​): part
已知 (yǐ​zhī​): known

部分已知bug is a pretty set phrase when talking about fixing known bugs, you can find a lot of results with a quick Google search.

Driverless Car

The future, today! According this article from the New York Times, driver-less cars could change the shape of cities in the future. From the title:


The most exciting vocabulary bit is driver-less car in Chinese, which is 無人駕駛汽車:

無人駕駛 (wúrénjiàshǐ): unmanned

(literally no [無] person [人] drive [駕駛])

汽車 (qìchē): car

As for the rest of the title:


  • 將 (jiāng): will
  • 怎樣 (zěn​yàng): how
  • 改變 (gǎi​biàn): change
  • 未來 (wèi​lái): future
  • 城市 (chéng​shì): city
  • 生活 (shēng​huó): life

So the title is literally “driver-less cars will how change future city life”, or “How will driver-less cars change future city life?” Luckily Chinese is pretty straightforward!

Despite all this, I doubt we’ll be getting tour rides around Isla Nublar any time soon!


Are you human?

Well, after so many failed attempts to put in your password you not only feel a little silly, but are also asked, hey are you even human?

我們得檢查一下 …你是人類嗎?

Let’s break this down:

  • 我們 (wǒmen): we
  • 得 (děi): need to
  • 檢查 : check
  • 一下 (jiǎnchá): (used after a verb) for a second / do x real quick
  • … : …
  • 你 (nǐ): you
  • 是 (shì): are
  • 人類 (rénlèi): human
  • 嗎 (ma): question mark?

And all together we get:

We need to check …are you a human?

It’s a pretty straightforward phrase, and definitely a fun one to remember! Until the machines take over..

What in ‘der’ world?

Typical PTT nav screen
Typical PTT nav screen

Since I occasionally spend some time playing around on ptt, I come across a lot of specialized (e.r. completely random) internet speak. Recently, a new and unique one that has cropped up is “der” and it’s just such an oddball, I wanted to share it with everyone here!

Let’s look at some examples at how it’s used:


「超厲害der」(chāo lìhai):awesome

「我是來X der」(wǒshìlái):I’m here to [do x] …

In use, “der” replaces  the character 「的」and you’ll not only see it on ptt but also on Facebook, chat apps like Line, etc.

Of course it’s very specialized and I don’t think I can work it into my thesis any time soon, but wanted to share it with everyone in case you happen across it!

Naming Planets in Chinese

Source: Wikipedia

I was going through articles I saved to read later (this NYT article was form over a year ago!) and came across this article from the Chinese Edition of the New York Times. Which, by the way, you should check out as it provides English and Chinese side by side article views. Perfect for improving your reading!

The article was about NASA finding ice on Mercury with the title “NASA報告水星上發現大量水冰”. The Chinese name of planet Mercury is: 水星 (shuǐxīng): 水 (water) + 星 (a star, planet) = Mercury (planet), because of he Chinese way of referring to Mercury as “liquid silver” or, more literally, “water silver” (水銀 ; shuǐyín).

However, there’s a bit more to the story than this. Unfortunately, the burden of 140 characters kept me from going into it deeper on Twitter. During my research, I found that there was also a cultural reason for naming Mercury–and the other planets–after elements like water. Let’s take a look at the following list of the planets and their Chinese names:

Mercury: 水星 (shuǐxīng)
Venus: 金星 (Jīnxīng)
Earth: 地球 (dìqiú)
Mars: 火星 (Huǒxīng)
Jupiter: 木星 (Mùxīng)
Saturn: 土星 (Tǔxīng)
Uranus: 天王星 (Tiānwángxīng)
Neptune: 海王星 (Hǎiwángxīng)

That’s all eight of them (since Pluto got demoted :()! You’ll notice the first five (excluding Earth) that all have elements: water (水), metal (金), fire (火), wood (木), and earth (土) in their names are also the ones relatively closest to Earth. This also means that they are visible by the naked eye, and to ancient astronomers. Naming them after those specific elements has to do with the traditional Chinese concept of Wu Xing (五行 wŭ xíng) which was used to explain a large variety of phenomenon. The ordering for these phases are:

Wood (木 mù), Fire (火 huǒ), Earth (土 tǔ), Metal (金 jīn), and Water (水 shuǐ)

This order is set, and doesn’t change. As the names came based on which ones looked larger and brighter in the sky, so we have them seemingly out of order with water (水), metal (金), fire (火), wood (木), and earth (土). However, to the ancient astronomers of China, they would have been wood (木), fire (火), earth (土), metal (金), and water (水) based on what they could observe, and which ones seemed larger, and brighter (thus, to them, closer to Earth).

However, the last two, Uranus (天王星) and Neptune (海王星) follow the English way of naming planets. Just as those planets were discovered later, so too in China. That is why we they are based on the English names while the other planets retain their traditional naming.

On the Versatility of Landmines

Just coming off this lovely four day vacation for 中秋節 (Happy post-Moon Festival everyone by the way!) and I’m bringing you this fun new colloquialism that I’ve heard used on and off both in the office and outside with friends. And yes, it is the namesake of this post!

ㄉㄧˋㄌㄟˊ [dìléi]

I don’t think I’ve ever come across such versatile use of the word “landmine” before, but it’s super fun to use. For example, when you’re out to lunch and have a crappy dessert or an even worse cup of coffee you can refer to it as 地雷:「這個蛋糕是地雷」。

It’s come to mean something that isn’t/wasn’t worth buying, or something that is famous in name only but in reality is actually pretty awful.

Some examples from the news:

用LINE10大地雷 最恨「顯示已讀不回」
外食族減重 避開3大早餐地雷

Funnily enough, this can also be used to refer to Windows ME, Windows Vista and Windows 8.