Why I Like Chinese Adverts

Learning Chinese from TV Shows

I’ve recently been watching a Chinese TV show, largely against my own will. In fact, “I’ve recently been subjected to a Chinese TV show” might be a more accurate way of putting it. Thank you Chinese wife.

In terms of quality, Chinese TV is usually not very good, but in terms of language learning it’s great. Even the dullest of TV soap operas is still far more interesting than the most exciting foreign language textbook (in fact, I’m not entirely sure that the words “exciting” and “foreign language textbook” really belong in the same sentence.)

It turns out that I watch a lot more Chinese TV than I realised. I’m a strong believer that when you focus on meaning rather than trying to learn you “pick up” a lot of language naturally and my football related vocabulary is a good example of this. One of the great benefits of living in China is that I can watch all the English Premier League football games for free. Obviously this means I have to listen to the Chinese commentary, and the result is that I’ve managed to pick up so much vocabulary that I think I could now do a better job that the Chinese commentators.

The one downside to watching Premier League games in China is that I also have to watch a lot of 广告 guǎng gào. That is, adverts. In fact, it works like YouTube in that you have to watch a guǎng gào before it will let you watch the game. Even if the game has already started, you still need to watch a minute and a half guǎng gào (unless you pay to skip it). The most frustrating thing is when I want to switch between games. I can’t just flick over to anther match for a second to check the scores because if I do I’ll have to watch another minute of guǎng gào each time I switch games.

For me the most interesting thing about advertising is that during the half time studio discussion there will usually be a seemingly random household item on display next to each pundit.

Pundits discuss the first half. On the table there appears to be some sort of smart home device in a box.

This is a form of advertising, but it’s not called a guǎng gào. In Chinese this is a 赞助商的产品 zàn zhù shāng de chǎn pǐn (literally “the sponsor’s product”). 赞助 zàn zhù means to “sponsor”.

This lady in a short skirt is now going to introduce the first half highlights whilst holding a bottle of Budweiser.

The word 赞 zàn on its own is also a useful on Chinese social media. Although zàn can be translated as “endorse” or “support” it is also used to mean “like” as in to “click like” on a facebook picture. On Facebook you might click “like” but on Chinese social media platforms like wēi xìn (Wechat) you click 赞 zàn.

So, if you like my blog you can find me on facebook and…

给我点个赞 gěi wǒ diǎn ge zàn (Give me a like)