How to use a pair of pliers

Chinglish style.

Once in a while I have need of a pair of pliers. In other places I’ve lived, a pair has come with the accommodation, but not here. Plenty of pairs of scissors; a lot of batteries; some poker chips; an unused syringe (no idea why there should be one); and various other things. No pliers. Today when I was in Carrefour, I remembered that I needed some glue to repair a decorative screen which got damaged as a consequence of the earthquake, and that, in turn, reminded me that I should buy a pair of pliers. 

On the back of the packaging there are the usual instructions written in Chinglish of a sort not worth mentioning until you come to come to the final section:

This product suits cuts each kind of colored tinsel or the tinsel, please do not have to use for the tinsel which cuts quenches goes too far, the tinsel or the components, and each kind gathers the gold thread or the alloy piece flinty.

I was not surprised to discover that 金属丝 (jīnshǔsī) means both “tinsel” and “wire” in Chinese. I assume “the tinsel”, which is the translation of 金属片 (~piàn), actually refers to sheet metal. According to my dictionary, 有色金属 (yǒusè jīnshǔ), which literally means “coloured metal”, means “non-ferrous metal”. The first part should say

These pliers are suitable for cutting all types of non-ferrous metal or metal pieces.

The next part is an injunction against cutting metal (pieces, wire or fragments) which has been tempered by quenching it.

Please don’t use [the pliers] for cutting sheet metal, wire or metal fragments tempered by quenching…

The final part continues the previous admonition, but is referring to anything hard like wire or sheet metal. “Flinty” is, I should think, the translation of 硬 (yìng) “hard; tough”

…and all types of hard substances like wire or sheet metal.

A picture from the past.


After my recent foray through the street names of Old Chengdu, I started wondering whether there might be any pictures of the place online. Since such images would have to have been scanned, I wasn’t expecting to find much, but I did find this picture of the gate of the school back in 1940. These days when you look through the gate, you can see the running track in the background. 

For those of you who can read Chinese, this article (apparently about some teacher training school) mentions some of the academic institutions which used to be in this area.


From east to west, 成都府文庙 (Chéngdu Fǔ Wén Miào) is probably roughly where my classroom is, and 府中学堂 (Fǔ Zhōng Xuétáng) would have been visible from the window. I guess that’s probably where the new building is under construction. 华阳文庙 (Huáyáng Wén Miào) and 昭忠祠 (Zhāo Zhōng Cí) have both long since gone, but the street, 汪家拐 (Wāng Jiā Guǎi; Wang Family Corner), is still there. On the other hand, 华美学堂 (Huáměi Xuétáng) and 高等学堂 (Gāoděng Xuétáng) have also vanished into history. 

It’d be interesting to find out more about these places and whether they were all part of the same institution, or whether this was merely another instance of All-shoe-shops-in-one-street Syndrome.


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