Emotional Intelligence – expressing emotions in Chinese

Emotional Intelligence – expressing emotions in Chinese

Emotional Intelligence – expressing emotions in Chinese

Emotional intelligence is the ability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and that of others. It also includes people’s ability to discern between different types of emotions, appropriately label them, and use this information to adjust to their environment in order to achieve their goals.

Why are we talking about this? The first step in developing emotional intelligence is to correctly identify emotions and to do that, you need to know the words to describe them. Even if you’re only interested in getting your child to have basic daily conversation in Chinese, knowing the correct Chinese terms for emotions is very necessary. After all, talking about how they feel is a normal part of general conversation.

You could get away with just teaching your child some basic rote responses to questions like, “How are you?”. Even in Anglophone societies, no one actually expects a real, truthful answer the question beyond, “Fine, and you?”. However, if you want your child to be able to effectively communicate their thoughts and feelings in Chinese, they will need to go beyond the basics. They will need access to the full spectrum of human emotions (or at the very least, be able to identify them). This will equip our children with the tools to navigate socially and thus be aware of others, and also to name their own emotions and thus be more self-aware.

Basic Emotions

In psychology, there is a general theory that there are only four basic biological emotions: anger, fear, happiness, and sadness. For a quick review, here are some ways to say these terms in Chinese:

English
情感詞
Happy
快樂
Sad
難過
Angry
生氣
Scared
害怕

While it may be tempting to teach your child the emotion while they’re experiencing it, it may not stick so well in their brain unless they’re feeling happy. However, you can say things in Chinese like, “Oh, I’m sorry you’re feeling sad.” (嗯,我知道你很難過。) Even though they’re not officially learning the term, they are hearing it in its correct application.

In the following weeks, we will share activities with which you can teach your children basic emotion terms as well as harder, more complex phrases. In the meantime, you could probably start with the more common feelings such happy, sad, scared, and angry. Those tend to be the emotions we all feel on a regular basis anyway.

Complex Emotions

English
情感詞
Shame
慚愧(cán kuì)
Despair
失望(shī wàng)、絕望(jué wàng)
Embarrassment
尷尬(gān gà)、難為情(nán wéi qíng)
Pride
自豪(zì háo)
Surprise
意外(yì wài)、驚訝 (jīng yà)
Lonely
寂寞(jì mò)、孤單(gū dān)
Jealous
妒忌(dù jì)
Guilt
内疚(nèi jiù)

Common Sayings re: Emotions

If you want your child to be a little more advanced and culturally literate, you can also teach your child emotion-related idioms. While this isn’t vital, like many things, it will enrich your child’s Chinese vocabulary, making them sound more native in conversations. Plus, it will also illustrate the color and creativity of the Chinese language.

For instance, 吃醋literally means, “to eat vinegar.” It describes the situation of being envious that someone else is getting something that you’re not. Doesn’t eating vinegar adequately capture both the facial expression as well as the feeling itself? It’s also similar to the English idiom, “sour grapes” wherein a person disparages something they wanted but didn’t get. Isn’t it interesting that both of them have the same “sour” description?

For your reference, here are a few more Chinese idioms and phrases that relate to emotions. Some of them are quite vivid and fun for children to learn:

Emotion
Chinese expression
Literal translation
To feel sad
心酸
to feel sore in your heart
Worry
提心吊膽
carrying your heart and dangling your gut
Angry
發火
set off a fire
Scared
屁滾尿流
to piss in one's pants in terror
Shameless
死不要臉
doesn't care about losing one's face
Proud, Arrogant
自高自大
to praise one's own greatness
Happy
眉開眼笑
brows raised in delight, eyes laughing

Again, while your child can understand and explain their feelings without the usage of these terms, the fuller and more robust you can make your child’s vocabulary, the more likely they will use Chinese in everyday speech. We tend to default to whatever language we’re the most capable in to express ourselves. Teaching our children a range of emotional vocabulary will help them internally, socially, and with Chinese fluency.

我們會經常為大家探討漢字和語文的課題。
要是你有特別的相關課題希望我們探討,歡迎您告訴我們。

We discuss Chinese language and culture related topics on a regular basis.
If you would like us to discuss certain topics about Chinese, please let us know.

更多教養支援 SUPPORT FOR YOU

很多家長都已是我們 Facebook 群組【講媽 · 講爸園地】 的成員。歡迎你也加入我們,一起互相鼓勵和支持,共同為孩子的學習而努力。

Many parents are already part of our Facebook Group. If you’d like to take advantage of the collective wisdom of your fellow parents, please join us.

We’d love to hear from you.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Open chat