Diplomats! Know your flowers
“What’s your favourite flower?” was the topic forming a base on which group members introduced themselves at a recent gathering of the London Mandarin Learners Meet-up group. The flowers I appreciate are manifold, but I realised that despite knowing the English names for all that blooms on my allotment, my ignorance of their Chinese names is profound. Time to get on the case.
Here’s a list of my allotment blooms in more or less the sequence in which they have appeared so far this year.
Dwarf Iris, Daffodil, Forget-me-not, Dandelion, Plum, Cherry, Apple, Poached egg flower, Iris, Cornflower, Arum lily, Poppy, Aquilegia, Lupin, French Marigold.
Paste these into Google Translate, and it shows
矮鸢尾 Ǎi yuānwěi, 水仙 shuǐxiān, 勿忘我 wùwàngwǒ, 蒲公英 púgōngyīng, 李子 lǐzǐ, 樱桃 yīngtáo, 苹果 píngguǒ, 荷包蛋花 hébāodàn huā, 鸢尾 yuānwěi, 矢车菊 shǐchējú, 阿鲁姆百合 Ālǔmǔ bǎihé, 罂粟 yīngsù, 耧斗菜 lóudòucài, 卢平 lúpíng, 法国万寿菊 fàguó wànshòujú
Double-checking with the ‘Pleco‘ software, that specifically handles Chinese/English translation, I find it has different words for ‘poppy’ dependent on whether it’s the field poppy 虞美人 yúměirén, or opium poppy 罂粟 yīngsù – something you’d have thought someone might have pointed out to those Chinese who believed last year’s autumn visit by a British delegation sporting paper poppies on lapels was an insult.