Happy to Death (Elementary)

Have you ever been “bored to death,” or were so hungry that you said you were “starving?” If yes, you were most likely not actually near death, but were using exaggeration to intensify a situation.

In Chinese, the word “死 (sǐ)” refers to death and is generally a taboo word with negative connotations. That being said, you can often hear the Chinese saying this word for exaggeration purposes and – just like in English – it shouldn’t be taken literally. For example, when it is very hot outside, you might hear people say: “热死了 (rè sǐ le)/热死我了 (rè sǐ wǒ le) the heat is killing me.” This doesn’t mean that the speaker is actually close to death, but they are using “死 (sǐ)” to say that it is extremely hot. This device can be used to intensify positive situations as well, such as “高兴死了 (gāoxìng sǐ le) I am so happy/thrilled to death.”
If you want to exaggerate, use “死 (sǐ)” after an adjective to show an extreme degree, usually followed by “了” to show completion and final result. Take for example the adjective “累 (lèi) tired.” You can say “累死了 (lèi sǐ le)” to mean “I am extremely tired/exhausted.”
But remember that context is important. If, for example, you read in the newspaper “病死 (bìng sǐ) death from illness,” or “饿死(è sǐ) starve to death,” then death really does mean death and needs to be taken literally.
Zhōngyú dào shāndǐng le, wǒ kuài lèi sǐ le.
终于         到      山顶   了,我  快  累 死了。

We’ve finally reached the hilltop; I am exhausted.
Xī’ān zuìjìn rè sǐ le.
西安  最近 热 死了。

It is sweltering in Xi’an these days.
Tā shì bìng sǐ de.
他  是   病   死的。

He died from illness.
Nàge xiǎohái yǐjīng è sǐ le.
那个   小孩     已经饿死了。

That child died of starvation.

1. Gěi wǒ yì bēi shuǐ, wǒ kuài ___ le.
    给   我 一 杯    水,我   快  ___了。
    Please give me a glass of water. I’m parched.

Choose the correct answer to fill in the blank.

A. 渴死 (kě sǐ)          B. 累死 (lèi sǐ)             C. 饿死 (è sǐ)
2.         Mā, è sǐ wǒ le.
    Son: 妈,饿死我了。
            Fàn mǎshàng jiù hǎo.
Mother: 饭   马上         就 好。
Which of the following is true according to the dialogue?
A. The son is dying of starvation.
B. The son is very hungry.
C. The mother is very hungry.
Answers to the practice questions: 1. A     2. B

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