…and how to ask for Vodka, too
The other day I went to the hardware store to get some batteries. I knew some of the battery names, but one that I didn’t know was how to say “9-volt battery”. So, I went in hoping that I would be able to communicate with the shop owners what kind of battery I was looking for.
After a few attempts back and forth he finally brought out the one I was looking for and said, “jiǔ fútè” (九伏特), teaching me how to say the word “nine volt”. Immediately, I heard the similarity of the Chinese word for volt to the English equivalent, and I said, “vole-tuh”, trying to emphasize the sound to make it sound like the Chinese word. The shop owner said, “bu bu bu, fútè“. I laughed and tried to explain that the word must’ve come as an English transliteration. But again, he said, “bu bu bu, fútè“, with special emphasis to help me understand.
Later, when I looked up the characters for this word, I realized that it is very important that you don’t switch the order of the words, because if you say, fútè jiǔ (instead of jiǔ fútè), you’re actually saying, “Vodka”.
Anyway, I did a quick search online for some kind of guide, but wasn’t able to find any, so I thought I would put together a little guide myself.
- D battery: 一号电池 [yī hào diànchí]
- C battery: 三号电池 [sān hào diànchí]
- AA battery: 五号电池 [wǔ hào diànchí]
- AAA battery: 七号电池 [wǔ hào diànchí]
- 9-volt battery: 九伏特电池 [jiǔ fútè diànchí]
- watch battery: 扣式电池 [kòu shì diànchí] (literally “button style” battery)
- rechargeable battery: 充电式电池 [chōngdiàn shì diànchí]
What am I missing? Comment below.