Taxes are cross cultural
Taxes are one of those things that prove the major things in life are cross-cultural. We talked about love not long ago, so we will just swing to the other extreme! And with taxes comes some basics about politics, because the two subjects in tightly intertwined.
Let’s see if we can have some fun with it while learning useful vocabulary. First, some specific vocabulary:
政客們 ㄓㄥˋ ㄎㄜˋ ㄇㄣ˙ zhèng kè men. politician
冥想 ㄇㄧㄥˊ ㄒㄧㄤˇ míng xiǎng to meditate, to think deeply
亂花錢 ㄌㄨㄢˋ ㄏㄨㄚ ㄑㄧㄢˊ luàn huā qián to spend money recklessly
強而有力 ㄑㄧㄤˊ ㄦˊ ㄧㄡˇ ㄌㄧˋ qiáng ér yǒu lì strong and powerful
武器 ㄨˇ ㄑㄧˋ wǔ qì weapon, arms
笨蛋 ㄅㄣˋ ㄉㄢˋ bèn dàn fool, idiot
壞蛋 ㄏㄨㄞˋ ㄉㄢˋ huài dàn bad egg, scoundrel
俗語 ㄙㄨˊ ㄩˇ sú yǔ common saying, proverb
俗話 ㄙㄨˊ ㄏㄨㄚˋ sú huà common saying, proverb
確定 ㄑㄩㄝˋ ㄉㄧㄥˋ què dìng definite, certain
報稅 ㄅㄠˋ ㄕㄨㄟˋ bào shuì to declare taxes, to file taxes
死亡 ㄙˇ ㄨㄤˊ sǐ wáng to die, death
正確的 ㄓㄥˋ ㄑㄩㄝˋ ㄉㄜ˙ zhèng què de. correct, proper
視野 ㄕˋ ㄧㄝ ˇ shì yě perspective, horizon
自主權 ㄗˋ ㄓㄨˇ ㄑㄩㄢˊ zì zhǔ quán ability to make one’s own decisions
擁有 ㄩㄥˇ ㄧㄡˇ yǒng yǒu to have, to possess, to own
以及 ㄧ ˇ ㄐㄧˊ yǐ jí and, as well as, including
智慧 ㄓˋ ㄏㄨㄟˋ zhì huì wisdom, intelligence
當前 ㄉㄤ ㄑㄧㄢˊ dāng qián current, modern, present
稅制 ㄕㄨㄟˋ ㄓˋ shuì zhì tax system
複雜 ㄈㄨˋ ㄗㄚˊ fù zá complex, complicated
瞭解 ㄌㄧㄠˇ ㄐㄧㄝˇ liǎo jiě to understand, to find out
似乎 ㄙˋ ㄏㄨ sì hū apparently, seemingly
生氣 ㄕㄥ ㄑㄧˋ shēng qì to get angry
發怒 ㄈㄚ ㄋㄨˋ fā nù anger, rage
可怕 ㄎㄜˇ ㄆㄚˋ kě pà awful, dreadful
經常 ㄐㄧㄥ ㄔㄤˊ jīng cháng frequently, constantly, regularly, often
決策 ㄐㄩㄝˊ ㄘㄜˋ jué cè policy, strategic decision
深思熟慮 ㄕㄣ ㄙ ㄕㄡˊ ㄌㄩˋ shēn sī shóu lǜ careful deliberations, mature reflections
搞好 ㄍㄠˇ ㄏㄠˇ gǎo hǎo to do well at, to do a good job
Now, let’s discuss why politicians should meditate more.
[(ㄓㄥˋ ㄎㄜˋ)(ㄇㄣ˙)](ㄏㄣˇ)(ㄒㄧˇ ㄏㄨㄢ)(ㄌㄨㄢˋ ㄏㄨㄚ ㄑㄧㄢˊ)
[(zhèng kè)(men.)](hěn)(xǐ huān)(luàn huā qián)
[(politician)(s)](very)(to like, to be fond of)(to recklessly spend money)
Politicians like to recklessly spend money.
(ㄎㄜˇ ㄕˋ)(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄑㄩㄝˋ)(ㄅㄨˋ)(ㄏㄨㄚ)(ㄗˋ ㄐㄧˇ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄑㄧㄢˊ)
(kě shì)(tā men.)(què)(bù)(huā)(zì jǐ)(de.)(qián)
(but, however, indeed)(they)(but, however, yet, nevertheless)(not)(to spend)(one’s own)(money)
However, don’t want to spend their own money.
(ㄓㄥˋ ㄎㄜˋ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄕㄡˇ)(ㄕㄤˋ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄗㄨㄟˋ)(ㄑㄧㄤˊ)(ㄦˊ)(ㄧㄡˇ ㄌㄧˋ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄨˇ ㄑㄧˋ)
(zhèng kè men.)(shǒu)(shàng)(yǒu)(zuì)(qiáng)(ér)(yǒu lì)(de.)(wǔ qì)
(politicians)(hand)(upon)(to have)(most)(strong)(and, as well)(powerful)(adjective marker)(weapon, arms)
Politicians have in hand the strongest and most powerful weapons,
(ㄐㄧㄡˋ)(ㄎㄜˇ ㄧˇ)(ㄖㄤˋ)(ㄑㄧˊ ㄊㄚ)(ㄙㄨㄛˇ ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄖㄣˊ)(ㄏㄠˇ ㄏㄠˇ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄋㄚˋ ㄕㄨㄟˋ)
(jiù)(kě yǐ)(ràng)(qí tā)(suǒ yǒu)(de.)(rén)(hǎo hǎo)(de.)(nà shuì)
(at once, emphasis)(able to, can)(to make)(other)(all)(adjective marker)(person, people)(well, carefully, properly)(particle connecting adverb to verb)(to pay taxes)
so can just make all the other people carefully pay taxes.
[(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄉㄜ˙)](ㄒㄧㄣ ㄊㄞˋ)(ㄐㄧㄡˋ)(ㄕˋ)[(ㄔㄨˊ ㄌㄜ˙)
[(tā men.)(de.)](xīn tài)(jiù)(shì)[(chú le.)
[(they) + (adjective marker making it possessive)= their](attitude)(only)(to be)[(besides, apart from)
……(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄧˇ ㄝㄞˋ)(ㄑㄧˊ ㄊㄚ)(ㄉㄜ˙)](ㄖㄣˊ)(ㄉㄡ)(ㄕˋ)(ㄅㄣˋ ㄉㄢˋ)
……(tā men.)(yǐ wài)(qí tā)(de.)](ren)(dōu)(shì)(bèn dàn)
……(them)(outside of, other than)(other)(adjective marker)](people)(all)(to be)(fool, idiot)
Their attitude is that everyone other than them are all fools.
(ㄑㄧˊ ㄕˊ)(ㄏㄞˊ ㄕˋ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄒㄩˇ ㄉㄨㄛ)(ㄖㄣˊ)(ㄓ ㄉㄠˋ)(ㄓㄥˋ ㄎㄜˋ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄕˋ)(ㄏㄨㄞˋ ㄉㄢˋ)
(qí shí)(hái shì)(yǒu)(xǔ duō)(rén)(zhī dào)(zhèng kè men.)(shì)(huài dàn)
(actually, in fact)(still, nevertheless)(to have)(a lot of, many)(people)(to know)(politicians)(to be)(bad egg, scoundrel)
Actually, there are nevertheless a lot of people who know that it is the politicians that are the scoundrels.
(ㄎㄜˇ ㄋㄥˊ)(ㄇㄟˇ)(ㄍㄜ˙)(ㄖㄣˊ)(ㄉㄡ)(ㄊㄧㄥ ㄕㄨㄛ)(ㄍㄨㄛˋ)(ㄓㄜˋ)(ㄍㄜ˙)(ㄙㄨˊ ㄏㄨㄚˋ)
(kě néng)(měi)(ge.)(rén)(dōu)(tīng shuō)(guò)(zhè)(ge.)(sú huà)
(possibly, maybe)(every)(MW)(person)(all)(to hear something said)(indicates experienced action)(this)(MW)(saying)
Maybe everyone has heard this saying:
「(ㄌㄧㄤˇ)(ㄐㄧㄢˋ)(ㄖㄣˊ ㄕㄥ)(ㄎㄜˇ)(ㄑㄩㄝˋ ㄉㄧㄥˋ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄕˋ)(ㄐㄧㄡˋ)(ㄕˋ)：(ㄅㄠˋ ㄕㄨㄟˋ)(ㄏㄢˋ)(ㄙˇ ㄨㄤˊ)」
「(liǎng)(jiàn)(rén shēng)(kě)(què dìng)(de.)(shì)(jiù)(shì):(bào shuì)(hàn)(sǐ wáng)」
「(two)(MW for events)(life)(can)(certain)(adjective marker)(affair, matter)(emphasis)(to be: (to pay taxes)(and)(to die, death)」
“There are two things in life you can be certain of: death and taxes.”
(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄐㄧㄢˋ ㄧˋ)(ㄓㄥˋ ㄎㄜˋ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄧㄥ ㄍㄞ)(ㄉㄨㄛ ㄉㄨㄛ)(ㄇㄧㄥˊ ㄒㄧㄤˇ)
(wǒ)(jiàn yì)(zhèng kè men.)(yīng gāi)(duō duō)(míng xiǎng)
(I)(to recommend)(politicians)(should)(more, a lot)(meditate)
I recommend that politicians should meditate a lot.
(ㄓㄜˋ ㄧㄤˋ)(ㄎㄜˇ ㄋㄥˊ)(ㄅㄤ ㄓㄨˋ)(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄋㄥ ㄍㄡˋ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄓㄥˋ ㄑㄩㄝˋ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄕˋ ㄧㄝˇ)
(zhè yàng)(kě néng)(bāng zhù)(tā men.)(néng gòu)(yǒu)(zhèng què)(de.)(shì yě)
(this way, like this)(maybe)(to help)(them)(to be capable of)(to have)(correct, proper)(adjective marker)(field of vision, perspective)
This would maybe help them to be able to have a proper perspective.
(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄧㄥ ㄍㄞ)(ㄒㄧㄤˇ ㄧˋ ㄒㄧㄤˇ)(ㄖㄨˊ ㄏㄜˊ)(ㄖㄤˋ)
(tā men.)(yīng gāi)(xiǎng yì xiǎng)(rú hé)(ràng)
(they)(should)(think a bit)(how)(to let)
……(ㄖㄣˊ ㄇㄧㄣˊ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄏㄨㄚ)(ㄗˋ ㄐㄧˇ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄑㄧㄢˊ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄗˋ ㄓㄨˇ ㄑㄩㄢˊ)
……(rén mín)(yǒu)(huā)(zì jǐ)(de.)(qián)(de.)(zì zhǔ quán)
……(the people)(to have)(to spend)(oneself)(adjective marker)(money)(adjective marker)(ability to make one’s own decisions)
They should think about how to let people make their own decisions about spending their own money.
(ㄖㄣˊ ㄇㄧㄣˊ)(ㄎㄜˇ ㄧˇ)(ㄘㄨㄣˊ ㄒㄧㄚˋ)(ㄗˋ ㄐㄧˇ)(ㄩㄥˇ ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄑㄧㄢˊ)
(rén mín)(kě yǐ)(cún xià)(zì jǐ)(yǒng yǒu)(de.)(qián)
(the people)(can, may, possible)(to deposit down)(one’s own)(to have, to possess)(adjective marker)(money)
The people could save their own money,
(ㄏㄠˇ ㄏㄠˇ)(ㄓㄠˋ ㄍㄨˋ)(ㄗˋ ㄐㄧˇ), (ㄐㄧㄚ ㄖㄣˊ),
(hǎo hǎo)(zhào gù)(zì jǐ), (jiā rén)
(well, carefully, properly)(to take care of)(oneself), (household, one’s family)
carefully take care of themselves and their families,
(ㄧˇ ㄐㄧˊ)(ㄩㄥˋ)(ㄓˋ ㄏㄨㄟˋ)(ㄅㄤ ㄓㄨˋ)(ㄑㄧˊ ㄊㄚ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄖㄣˊ)
(yǐ jí)(yòng)(zhì huì)(bāng zhù)(qí tā de.)(rén)
(as well as)(to use)(wisdom)(to help)(other)(people, person)
as well as use wisdom in helping other people.
(ㄅㄧㄥˋ ㄑㄧㄝˇ), (ㄉㄤ ㄑㄧㄢˊ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄕㄨㄟˋ ㄓˋ)(ㄕˋ)(ㄈㄟ ㄔㄥˊ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄈㄨˋ ㄗㄚˊ)
(bìng qiě), (dāng qián)(de.)(shuì zhì)(shì)(fēi cháng)(de.)(fù zá)
(moreover), (modern, current)(adjective marker)(tax system)(to be)(extraordinary)(adjective marker)(complicated)
Moreover, the current tax system is extraordinarily complicated.
[(ㄇㄟˊ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄖㄣˊ)](ㄋㄥˊ)(ㄨㄢˊ ㄨㄢˊ ㄑㄩㄢˊ ㄑㄩㄢˊ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄌㄧㄠˇ ㄐㄧㄝˇ)
[(méi)(yǒu)(rén)](néng)(wán wán quán quán)(de.)(liǎo jiě)
[(not)(to have)(person)](able)(complete)(-ly)(to understand, to realize)
No one is able to completely understand it.
(ㄓㄥˋ ㄎㄜˋ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄙˋ ㄏㄨ)(ㄔㄤˊ ㄔㄤˊ)(ㄕㄥ ㄑㄧˋ)(ㄈㄚ ㄋㄨˋ)
(zhèng kè men.)(sì hū)(cháng cháng)(shēng qì)(fā nù)
(politicians)(apparently, seemingly)(frequently, often)(to get angry)(to get angry)
Politicians are seemingly often uncontrollably angry,
(ㄒㄧㄤˇ)(ㄇㄟˇ)(ㄐㄧㄢˋ)(ㄕˋ ㄑㄧㄥˊ)(ㄉㄡ)(ㄏㄣˇ)(ㄎㄜˇ ㄆㄚˋ)
(xiǎng)(měi)(jiàn)(shì qíng)(dōu)(hěn)(kě pà)
(to think)(every)(MW for event)(thing, matter, affair)(all)(very)(dreadful, awful)
thinking every thing is in a awful state of affairs,
(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄗㄨㄥˇ ㄕˋ)(ㄒㄧㄤˇ)(ㄖㄤˋ)(ㄖㄣˊ ㄇㄧㄣˊ)(ㄐㄩㄝˊ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙)
(tā men.)(zǒng shì)(xiǎng)(ràng)(rén mín)(jué de.)(tā men.)
(they)(always)(to think)(to make)(the people)(to feel)(they)
……(ㄧㄡˇ ㄋㄥˊ ㄌㄧˋ)(ㄅㄚˇ)(ㄙㄨㄛˇ ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄕˋ ㄑㄧㄥˊ)(ㄍㄠˇ ㄏㄠˇ)
……(yǒu néng lì)(bǎ)(suǒ yǒu)(de.)(shì qíng)(gǎo hǎo)
……(to have ability, able)(particle indicating next noun is direct object)(all)(adjective marker)(thing)(to do a good job)
they always to to convince people that they have the ability to make things better.
(ㄖㄨˊ ㄍㄨㄛˇ)(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄕˋ ㄕ ˋ ㄎㄢˋ)(ㄐㄧㄥ ㄔㄤˊ)(ㄇㄧㄥˊ ㄒㄧㄤˇ),
(rú guǒ)(tā men.)(shì shì kàn)(jīng cháng)(míng xiǎng),
(if)(they)(to try)(frequently, regularly)(to meditate),
……(ㄒㄧ ㄨㄤˋ)(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄉㄨㄟˋ)(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄐㄩㄝˊ ㄘㄜˋ)(ㄕㄣ ㄕ ㄕㄡˊ ㄌㄩˋ)
……(xī wàng)(tā men.)(duì)(tā men. de.)(jué cè)(shēn sī shóu lǜ)
……(to hope)(they)(toward, for, correct)(their)(policy decision)(careful deliberations, mature reflections)
…………(ㄧㄝˇ ㄒㄩˇ)(ㄏㄨㄟˋ)(ㄉㄨㄟˋ)(ㄖㄣˊ ㄇㄧㄣˊ)(ㄏㄢˋ)(ㄍㄨㄛˊ ㄐㄧㄚ)(ㄉㄡ)(ㄏㄠˇ)(ㄧˋ ㄒㄧㄝ)
…………(yě xǚ)((huì)(duì)(rén mín)(hàn)(guó jiā)(dōu)(hǎo)(yì xiē)
…………(perhaps)(will)(toward, for, correct)(the people)(and)(country, nation)(all)(good)(some)
If they try to meditate regularly, (we) hope for more careful deliberations of their policy decisions, (and) perhaps this will be better for the people and the country.
❶ I was first introduced to the character 亂 in the idiom 亂七八糟 ㄌㄨㄢˋ ㄑㄧ ㄅㄚ ㄗㄠ (luàn qī bā zāo), which is something my tutor says a mom might say to a child about a messy room. So, I find it humorously memorable that it can be used in a phrase about politicians as well!
❷ 納稅, 報稅, and 付稅 ㄈㄨˋ ㄕㄨㄟˋ (fù shuì) can all be used interchangeably to mean “to pay taxes.”
❸ Everything in the brackets  just before 人 is describing those people.
❹ This two character word (視野) is interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is that the first character in it (視) is the same one used in the word for television (電視 ㄉㄧㄢˋ ㄕˋ diàn shì), computer screen (視窗 ㄕˋ ㄔㄨㄤ shì chuāng), and field of vision (視界 ㄕˋ ㄐㄧㄝˋ shì jiè). And then there is the added twist that that last word sounds the same as the word for world (世界 ㄕˋ ㄐㄧㄝˋ shì jiè), but with a different first character.
The second reason 視野 is interesting is because it is a metaphorical word, just like the words perspective or horizon are used in English. If we ask, “What is on your horizon?” or say “You need to work on your perspective.” we are hardly ever talking about what a person has in the literal field of vision (視界) !
❺ This word 人民 is most often used for political purposes to speak of those who are viewed as citizens as a whole group. It is used in particular to refer to money in mainland China, 人民幣 ㄖㄣˊ ㄇㄧㄣˊ ㄅㄧˋ (rén mín bì) “the people’s currency”, to give the impression that the money all belongs to the people, when in fact the people in positions of power in the government have full control over the money and how it is used (as with money printed by any government).
❻ The use of the adjective marker 的 might seem repetitive here, but the first one is specific for describing the money, while the second one is particularly describing what the responsibility is.
❼ The common American phrase is to “save up” money, but the Chinese “save it down” in the pocket.
❽ There is some variation with the pronunciation of 擁有. My tutor says that in Taiwan she grew up with it being said: ㄩㄥˇ ㄧㄡˇ (yǒng yǒu) and that is how it is in her dictionary, but she has heard it said with a first tone for the first character and this is what is in one of my dictionaries. ㄩ ㄥ ㄧㄡˇ (yōng yǒu).
The specific definitions of the characters here is interesting, too. The first one, 擁, means to embrace and is also used in the word meaning to hug, 擁抱. Adding 擁 to 有, which means to have/to own/to possess, adds an emphasis of holding on to what is yours.
❾ There is not a word, per se, in Chinese that means no one. Instead they say “don’t have a person.”
❿ Although the definitions 生氣 and 發怒 are basically the same in the dictionary, my tutor points out that adding 發怒 gives the picture of anger that is passionately expressed. If someone is just 生氣, it might not be outwardly obvious they are angry, but 發怒 has the character 發 which means to send out or emit. If 發怒 is used, it is obvious that anger is being expressed or coming out.