Electric Running Machine

This evening I was at my neighborhood gym, having a good walk on the treadmill (my creaky knees won’t let me run), and I noticed that the Chinese name for the treadmill is dian dong paobu ji.  Literally translated, that means "electric moving walking machine."  Pretty descriptive, actually. 

The Chinese language is kind of fun that way.  With a set number of characters, which aren’t phonetically based, they have to use what characters are already in use (and have been for thousands of years) to describe modern things.  They’re fun, because they are so descriptive, and when you learn them, you slap your forehead and say, "of course!".  Here are some examples:

dian bao — electric report (telegram)

dian hua — electric talk (telephone)

dian ying — electric image (movie)

dian nao — electric brain (computer)

fei ji — flying machine (airplane)

huo che — fire wagon (train).  When trains first came, they were steam engines, that looked like they breathed fire.

But my absolute favorite one is  xi chen qi — suck dust machine (vacuum cleaner).