Monday, July 21, 2008


Ching Wa

I moved Ching Wa on the weekend. He is the largest of our garden frogs and was looking decidedly unhappy in the back corner, overrun by Japanese anemone. Now, in the shade of Astilbe, he observes the front path and seems much happier.

"Ching wa" is, of course, Chinese for frog -- I believe in both Cantonese and Mandarin, and it is one of the few Chinese nouns I know. I learned it working at the local nature centre, which has a small pond that contains frogs – these days mostly introduced Bullfrogs that seem to have eaten everything else. The species matters not to this account, however. There have always been frogs there (as long as the pond has been there), and as long as it has been there people have walked up to the rail of the viewing platform and said, “A frog!” Because Cantonese and Mandarin are commonly-spoken languages in this city, many people have said, “Ching wa!” which I have overheard. Sometimes I have said it first, to everyone's great amusement. If you stood at that rail long enough, you could probably learn how to say “frog” in many languages. It seems a popular thing to do.

Here is how you spell ching wa, or perhaps more correctly qing wa, in Chinese: 青蛙


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