Learning from your phone, pt. 1

Learning another language doesn’t have to be all about books and studying. You can learn by having fun or just doing day-to-day activities. Something that most of us use constantly everyday is our phone. If you have a smart phone, you can easily learn very useful vocabulary from it.

Here I’ve got my Android phone’s settings page in both in Mandarin(Taiwan) and in English. For the Mainland Chinese version, see the bottom of the post.


Here is the breakdown of the above words:

設定: Settings

You’ll see this a lot in computer programs. It even sounds a bit like “setting”, so I find it easy to remember. You may also see 選項 for “options” in its place.

無線: Wireless

This is the word for wireless. Its 無 meaning “without” and 線, which means “wire; line”.

: And

This is a formal/literal way of saying “and”. You may also see another formal/literal way to say “and” as 及. The spoken equivalent is 和.

網路 (CN 網絡): Network

The first character here means “web”. 路 means “path; route”. Note that the Chinese version of this word uses 絡, which has a different radical. 絡 means “net-like”.

關閉: Close/Off

This normally means “close”, however here it can be used to mean “off”. The opposite of this is 開啟, which means “to open” or “on” in this case.

藍牙: Bluetooth

Literally “blue” and then “tooth”. Sinophone countries will sometimes translate technical jargon word-for-word into Chinese.

資料: Data/Resource

用量: Usage

Literally “use amount”.

更多: More

This is pronounced geng4 duo1. Its literal meaning is something like “more many”.

內容: Content

While this is not a word that we use a whole lot in English, I find it all over the place in Chinese. Its literal meaning is “inside contain”

音效: Sound

Literally, “sound effect”. In computer programs this usually translates to simply “sound”.

顯示: To show

儲存: Storage; to store; to save

In Taiwan, the first character is pronounced chu2, whereas in Mainland China, it is pronounced chu3. You will find this used in programs and video games when you want to “save” your file or your game. Very useful for us nerds 🙂

空間: Space

Pronounced kong1 jian1. Literally means “empty room” or “empty space”. This is used for both the “area” meaning as well as the “outer space” meaning of the word.

電池: Battery

Literally “electric pond”. It’s interesting to think of a battery as an electric reservoir.

應用: Application; to apply; to use

Pronounced ying4 yong4. This can be used alone to mean a computer application, however, especially in Taiwan, I find it used with the next two characters most often.

程式: Program

This can be a form, pattern, or formula as well. I usually find it used as “program”.

If you have a smart phone and are familiar with its settings, I challenge you to put it into Chinese and start learning the words. It might be overwhelming at first, but start taking the time to look up the words that you don’t know.



I won’t go too much into this, but there are a few differences in the CN version. 設定 is replaced with 設置. 資料用量 is 流量使用情況 or “rate usage state”. The 內容 is not used for “more”. 聲音 meaning “voice” is used instead of “sound”. Here they used 存儲 instead of 儲存, same meaning. And lastly, they did not explicitly say “application program” but rather “application”.