057 Movie

Do you like to watch movies? Learn how to say “movie” in Chinese in this episode. ShaoLan asks our special guest, CFO of Sony Pictures Entertainment Philip Rowley, about his favorite movies. Learn about amusing and memorable literal translations of the word.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth tells us “life’s but a walking shadow.” But what about “electric shadow?” That’s the literal translation of “movie” in Chinese.

“electric” 电 (diàn) + “shadow” 影 (yǐng) = movie 电影 (diàn yǐng).

In Chinese etymology, the character “电” depicts a lightning bolt striking a field (田), a quant pictogram of electricity!

Many technological words start with 电, such as 电脑 (diàn nǎo), 电视 (diàn shì), and 电话 (diàn huà). Literally, those words mean “electric brain,” “electric vision,” and “electric speech.”

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電影 / 电影
diàn yǐng
電視 / 电视
diàn shì

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