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Give it a Shot



Back in England, I enjoy running as a hobby, to keep me fit and healthy. However, coming from the North of the country, I am used to a much cooler climate and the combination of heat and humidity forced me to think of another way to keep active.

I noticed that quite a number of sports were encouraged at Tianjin Universities, so I figured that this attitude would be echoed throughout the city. I found a gym in Tianjin, not far from the Ying Kou Dao district [钀ュ彛閬揮. Here, there are basketball [lan qiu, 绡悆] courts outside, tennis [wang qiu, 缃戠悆] and badminton [yu mao qiu, 缇芥瘺鐞僝 courts inside, as well as an open sports hall, where I’m sure anything from football [zu qiu, 瓒崇悆] to hockey [qu gun qiu, 鏇叉鐞僝 could be played.

I never had to book a court in advance. Try for 08:30 as that is when the gym opens and you’re basically dealing with a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Once you arrive, you’re going to need [I’ll use badminton as an example] a court, some rackets and some balls to hire. In terms of cost, I remember that a court would cost no more than CNY 20per person, including hiring the rackets and balls. To be quite honest, it’s worth buying your own rackets and balls as they cost so little to buy.

Now, asking for a court can be as simple as, ‘I want a badminton court’ [wo yao yu mao qiu chang, 鎴戣缇芥瘺鐞冨満] and then specify one hour, so [yi ge xiao shi, 涓灏忔椂]. Requesting a racket can be as direct as, ‘I want’ or ‘give me’ [‘wo yao’, or ‘gei wo’, 鎴戣 or 缁欐垜, respectively], where a racket is [qiu pai, 鐞冩媿] and a shuttle-cock can just be referred to as a ball [qiu, 鐞僝.

As you may have noticed from the illustration, the verb ‘to play’ is ‘wan er’, 鐜╁効. This is pronounced as if you were speaking with a German accent, therefore pronouncing the ‘W’ as a ‘V-sound’, so the word sounds like ‘var’ when spelt phonetically. Another thing to mention is that a question structured, ‘do you want to..?’ is given as, ‘want not want?’, yao bu yao [瑕佷笉瑕乚 in Chinese. This is a common structure used with many ‘question participles’, similarly with ‘do you have?’ – ‘you mei you’ [鏈夋病鏈塢 and ‘Is it any good?’, hao bu hao?’ [濂戒笉濂絔. You can use ‘I’ or ‘you’ before your question defining the nature of your question. In all of this, ‘bu’ 涓, is the negative participle. Getting used to questioning with this framework is very accessible. From asking if someone’s coffee is good or not to questioning whether or not you someone would like to borrow a badminton racket from you, you can certainly twist these key phrases into many scenarios.


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