Where is that smell coming from?

The measure word for smells….

I take advantage of time off school with my kids by developing and maintaining a vigorous schedule of activities; studying interesting things, exercising, working on projects.  One of our activities is Chinese reading, something I’ve until now basically kind of avoided.  I would joke with my friends that the only things I read in Chinese are things like street signs and menus.  This wasn’t too far from the truth — I usually wouldn’t read anything in Chinese unless I had to.  All along I have been keeping up with building my vocabulary using Anki, so when I do have to read something, I can read it without too much problem, albeit a bit slow.

In school my kids haven’t been doing too well in Chinese class.  I asked their teachers what we could do to improve their scores and they said that they should read a lot.  So we got some books (I’ll try to post more about that later) and have put an hour a day of Chinese reading time into our schedule.  Another thing we have done is to have 30mins Chinese “class” time.  I decided that it might benefit each of us if we went through all of the standard public school 语文 textbooks, so we do a lesson a day of that as well.  As a bonus, that means that at some point the Yuwen part of the site will get some needed attention — we’re going through the standard textbooks now, where with Yuwen I was going through the special Dongbei editions.

In some of my reading material I noticed something I hadn’t come across before (this is bound to happen a lot, so maybe some more posts will come out of it).  It’s the 量词 (measure word) for smells: 股 (gǔ).  It was in reference to a good smell in the book, but I immediately wondered if this measure word, which shares the same graph as the second character in 屁股 (pìgu, butt) had anything to do with that being the source of “smells”.  It makes for quite a picturesque folk etymology at least.

And so this post marks the “passing” of the year (ouch).  Tomorrow I’ll have a more substantial post on a strange example of language variation I recently came across in my travels.

2 responses to “Where is that smell coming from?”

  1. Nicki says:

    Does this mean you are back home again? So sad we didn’t get a chance to meet up with you at 五指山! How was the climb?

  2. Randy Alexander says:

    Yes, back in Xiamen. The climb was wonderful. More about that in tomorrow’s post.

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