Chinese Teacher Julia's Story: 火鸡(huǒ jī) Or 火机(huǒ jī)

Thanksgiving 感恩节(gǎn’ēn jié) is coming! And we are sure many of you are looking forward to a feast with turkey火鸡(huǒjī)? All of which reminds me of chat I had with my student Iria.

During one class break, I was chatting with Iria in Chinese about Thanksgiving Day. She asked: “你有火机吗?” (Nǐ yǒu huǒjī ma?)

To which I responded: “我没有火鸡。在中国,没有火鸡。” (Wǒ méiyǒu huǒjī. Zài Zhōngguó, méiyǒu huǒjī.) She looked confused and asked: “Then how do Chinese people smoke?”

I laughed as I realized she was talking about a cigarette lighter, and I thought she was talking about turkey. Though different Chinese characters, they sounds the same, even the tones. Explaining the difference I told her: “Lighter is ‘fire machine’火机(huǒjī) and turkey is ‘fire chicken’火鸡(huǒjī).” So, you are best off using 打火机(dǎhuǒjī) for lighter, so there are no misunderstandings.

It's time for you to practice! If you would like to learn more Mandarin and have class with a professional expert Chinese teacher, please Contact Us for Live Online Mandarin Course: