Do you work really hard for the money you earn? In the West, we have different levels of jobs. We separate them by words like “蓝领 (lánlǐng) blue-collar” and “白领 (báilǐng) white-collar” jobs. In China, there are different types of jobs as well, some harder than others.
Do you work as a manual laborer, for instance? Are you out sweating the day away in the heat, or working in the fields as a farmer? For the kinds of jobs that require some real “blood and sweat”, we put them in a specific category. And when those jobs end up in some really hard-earned cash, we have a specific word to refer to this, which we use in daily Chinese conversation:
血汗钱 (Xuèhàn qián): money earned by hard toil.
血汗 (Xuèhàn): blood and sweat; sweat and toil.
钱 (Qián): money.
In China, we use this word to refer to hard-earned cash or money that you have definitely worked for. For instance, my parents will use this word when they are telling me to not waste my money.
The literal meaning of this word may seem a bit exaggerated (no, you don’t have to literally have bled or sweat for it to be true). But if you have put in hard effort to make the money you have, then you know it falls into this category.
Nóngmín de xuèhàn qián.
农 民 的 血 汗 钱。
Farmer’s hard-earned money.
Gōngrén de xuèhàn qián.
工 人 的 血 汗 钱。
Workers’ hard-earned money.
Zhèxiē dōu shì tā de xuèhàn qián.
这 些 都 是 他 的 血 汗 钱。
These are his hard-earned money.
Tāmen wèi jiù érzi de mìng huā guāng le suǒyǒu cún xià lái de xuèhàn qián.
他 们 为 救 儿子的 命 花 光 了 所 有 存 下 来 的 血汗 钱。
They spent all their hard-earned money to save his son’s life.
Méiyǒu rén shědé bǎ xīnkǔ zhèng lái de xuèhàn qián huā zài chīhē shàng.
没 有 人 舍 得 把 辛苦 挣 来 的 血 汗 钱 花 在 吃喝 上。
No one is willing to spend hard earned money on food and drink.
Can you think of any sentences of your own that use this word? Comment a few of your ideas below in the comments’ section and we will check them for you!
Julia: Wǒ xiǎng zhǎo bà mā ná sān wàn kuài mǎi gè xiāngnài’r bāobāo.
Julia: 我 想 找 爸 妈 拿 三 万 块 买 个 香 奈儿 包 包。
Mike: Nǐ bùnéng nàyàng zuò, bà mā de qián dōu shì xuèhàn qián.
Mike: 你 不 能 那 样 做，爸 妈 的 钱 都 是 血 汗 钱。
What does the Chinese word “血汗钱 (xuèhàn qián)” mean in the dialogue?
A. Retirement pension
B. Hard-earned money