How 'new water' pays the bills - 薪水


This a rather random set of associations that happened when working with my teacher 老师 - lăo shī on a Mandarin conversation about how to ask for a raise.


The conversation went something like this:

"Some vocabulary you'll need is 薪水 xīn shuĭ ..."


It was at this point that my mind switched off while the twitching little interpreter in my head worked overtime trying to figure out why she was talking about new water or 新水 xīn shuĭ.  (Of course it's a different character for xīn but I did not realize that at the time because it would be pronounced exactly the same way.)  


Then I made the connection to asking for a raise and it made sense, "oh that's interesting that the way to ask for more money, a raise, is to ask for new water."


She looked at me and said, "no, no, it's celery"


Then the twitchy little man in my head started working on the connection between 薪水 - xīn shuĭ - celery and 水果 - shuĭ guŏ - which means fruit.


Again thinking about celery, I thought, okay that makes sense.  Fruit has a lot of water (水果 - shuĭ guŏ) and I guess that celery is a pretty water-intensive vegetable (whatever the hell that means) but it was close enough to remember.


"oh a raise is called celery, interesting."  


It's impressive how earnestly people can shake their head to display just how wrong you are.  Of course she hadn't said celery but instead had said salary薪水 xīn shuĭ.


That odd set of connections has ensured that I remember how to say salary but as I started writing this I realized I forgot how to ask for a 'raise'.  Anyone know?

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Comment by Martha on February 1, 2011 at 6:08pm

They are different :

xīn ( without the top part) -means something new

xīn ( with the top part ) - means firewood

Comment by Martha on February 1, 2011 at 6:01pm

Hi Brandon,

薪 originally means firewood, because people need wood and water to cook, so 薪水 means salary.

if you want to ask for a raise,that means you want more firewood ^^ , then say " 加薪 ( jiā xīn ) -to add more firewood. 我要加薪-wǒ yào jiā xīn - I want a raise.

By the way, 加油  jiā yóu - add gasoline.If your car is out of fuel, then you need to 加油.but I also can say " Brandon, 加油" means " Brandon , put more energy , Keep going ! " 

Brandon, 加油! ^^

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