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China is Crowded: You May See a “一窝蜂 (yīwōfēng)” Scene Every Day!

Dec. 28, 2016

crowded

There is an old English expression that describes people as sometimes being:

“Packed like sardines in a tin.”

Eventually, this expression was shortened down to the adjective “packed”, which is now the most likely-used word to describe a crowded place, or the scenario of people “cramming” into somewhere of interest and activity.

In Chinese, we can describe a crowded place or situation using the word for “swarming”, just like bees do! In particular, the word “一窝蜂 (yīwōfēng)” is a common word used daily to describe crowded trains, long lines at popular shops, sporting events, concerts and any other place people rush to with energy and in high numbers.

For as long as history has been recorded, China has had the world’s largest population, which is now at 1.35 billion. As you can imagine, there are plenty of “swarms” of crowds that pack public spaces and transportation at times such as Chinese New Year’s Spring Festival, China’s “Golden Week” and other special events such as expos and sporting tournaments.

Let’s take a closer look at “一窝蜂 (yīwōfēng)”:

“一窝蜂 (yīwōfēng)” describes a situation where the crowd is behaving like a swarm of bees, with a lot of pushing, shouting and maneuvering

一 ():one;
窝 ():nest / pit or dent on the human body
蜂 (fēng):bee / wasp

Structure:

When we use “一窝蜂 (yīwōfēng)” in a sentence we generally would add “地 (de)” at the end of “一窝蜂 (yīwōfēng).” We commonly use “一窝蜂地 (yīwōfēng de)” to describe the noisy and crowed scenes that happen on a daily basis in Chinese cities.

Note that it’s the “adjective + 地 (de)” structure that makes the adjective “一窝蜂 (yīwōfēng) ” into an “adverb phrase.”

Structure and Usage in a sentence:
Subj. + Adj. + 地 + Verb

Examples:

Háizimen yīwōfēng de xià le gōnggòng qìchē.
孩子们    一窝蜂     地 下 了     公共     汽车。
The children flooded out of the bus.

Xuéshēngmen yīwōfēng de pǎo xiàng cāochǎng.
学生们           一窝蜂     地  跑     向      操场。
The students swarmed towards the playground.

Bǐsài hòu hěnduō fěnsī yīwōfēng de chōng shàng sàichǎng.
比赛  后   很多     粉丝   一窝蜂   地  冲        上    赛场。
A swarm of fans ran onto the field after the game.

So, tell us: when was the last time you saw a “一窝蜂 (yīwōfēng)” scene? Was it in the airport, the stadium, a concert or otherwise?

Quiz:

1. You might see “一窝蜂 (yīwōfēng)” scenes in China train stations during all of the following occasions except:
A. Spring Festival
B. Golden Week
C. Thanksgiving
See Answer

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