Chinese in Avatar
Please note!

Hey guys!

Just wanted to make a quick post and let you know that I’ve been receiving all your e-mails and am in the process of making getting these subbed episodes out to you.

That being said, I apologize for any previous miscommunication, but I (unfortunately) only have subbed episodes of Avatar and Korra (meaning Mandarin subtitles).  If you’re interested in these, please let me know.

Otherwise, I will let you know as soon as I get my hands on dubbed (meaning Mandarin voice-over) episodes.  

Thank you so much for your patience!  I’m getting to graduate so things are a bit hectic in my neck of the woods, but the episodes are coming, I promise!

Update on dubbed ATLA

1) spilled coffee on my laptop, hence the delay. Sorry guys!

2) if any of you feel like making a Dropbox by invite to increase my storage space so I can put all three seasons up at once (or if you have any other ideas other than Dropbox), lemme know!

3) I will be doing translations of the mess that was Korra Book 2 once the semester is over, so stay tuned!

I emailed you about the dubbed Avatar/Korra dropbox access, but you never responded! It's alright if you're busy, I understand...

I haven’t forgotten, don’t worry!  I’m finishing two papers right now, and once I do, it’ll be up!

Dubbed Episodes Coming This Thursday!

Hey friends!

I’ve been unbelievably swamped with the start of senior year, working on getting my thesis together and all, but!

I will be uploading all of dubbed Avatar/Korra onto Dropbox this Thursday.

Please e-mail me at if you would like access.

Thanks for your patience guys!


(translation post here)…and because I realize how hard that character is to read bolded, I zoomed, screencapped, and tossed it up next to the script they use for the book title.
I’m always surprised just how different characters can look transcribed across different scripts.  Just look at the differences here!

(translation post here)

…and because I realize how hard that character is to read bolded, I zoomed, screencapped, and tossed it up next to the script they use for the book title.

I’m always surprised just how different characters can look transcribed across different scripts.  Just look at the differences here!


Book 2 episode titles :D

"The Legend of Korra: Enhanced Experience"

Came out of study-abroad blogslumber (trademark that last one) to translate this:

神靈 trad. (simp. ) shénlíng - “god / spirit / demon / occult or supernatural entities in general;” again, done in a calligraphic script

  1. 神 shén sometimes shēn - generally used to describe anything divine, heavenly, or spiritual; "gods" and “supernatural beings;” sometimes refers to God (note: capital ‘G’); the left ‘half’ of the character is the radical shì, meaning “ancestor” and (by association) “veneration.”
  2. 靈 (simp. 灵) líng sometimes lìng - on its own basically anything to do with "spirit(s)"; but nowadays used in compounds like “灵活” línghuó meaning “flexible” / “nimble” / “agile,” or 心灵 xīnlíng like “bright” in English when describing someone’s mind, “quick-witted” and I may even stretch to include the way we describe (in Engl.) someone as “having heart” when they perform or do something; even 灵感 línggǎn “inspiration” / “insight” or when describing artistic/academic endeavors “a burst of creativity.”  Still, it’s also used in compounds like 精灵 jīnglíng ”spirit” / “elf” / “sprite” / “genie”; or 灵魂 línghún ”soul” / “spirit”

There you have it!  More information than you probably wanted to know, but I’m a nerd for this stuff.  

The Chinese seems accurate - if this actually is from the iBook (which I won’t have access to until I’m back in the States next week), then it may very well be legit.

Chinese Subbed ATLA and Korra!

Just an update on this:

I’ve been having difficulty finding the time and the website accessible in China to host these, so plan on enjoying these about mid-July when I’m back in the States!

Sorry for the delay!



This is why I value this show so much for what it does for Asian cultures, and why I’m so excited about seeing the culture I study (as well as many others) presented in a fun, engaging, and ultimately well-crafted story.

And this is why, now that I’m in China even more so than when the movie came out, I am so upset about the tragedy that was The Last Airbender.

Exciting news - subbed Avatar!

Loyal readers,

Greetings from Xi’an!  I have a Chinese roommate named Zhanyuan who was nice enough (and badass enough) to hunt down Chinese-subbed versions of all three books of Avatar and Book Oneof Legend of Korra for me while I was away on a research trip in western China.  The best part?  So far, the translations seem accurate - exciting!

If you’re interested in obtaining a copy of said subbing, please send me a private message.  If there’s an outpouring of interest, I’ll make a dropbox or something.  But please keep in mind, I offer this out for language-learning/sharing with Chinese speakers only. 

Don’t freak out!  There are plenty of other (even legal) ways for you to get your hands on the series if you’re interested. This is a subbed copy of the series and the quality, while decent, is far from HD.  If you want anything better than a tad bit grainy, support the people who slave over this franchise - buy a nice shiny HD version of ATLA on iTunes, or buy the Korra disc-set when it comes out this summer!  I’d like to respect the integrity of the people who make this show as much as possible, and offer it out in this format simply because I know (from first-hand experience now) how difficult it is to find a good copy of this franchise for native speakers (I’ve yet to even find it in Chinese video stores)

Lastly, if any of you are planning on sharing or have already shared the series with a native Chinese speaker or someone from a Chinese-speaking country or community, please contact me!  I’d be very interested in hearing what they thought of the show from a cultural perspective, as it ties in with a lot of research I do here in China.

Hope this finds everyone well!  Korra, Book 2 comes out soon (hopefully)!


Hi Phillip! I LOVE your blog and am very thankful for it. I had another question about the air translation. Now you say the two symbols have different contextual meanings. I see that on the title cards for Korra's book one, it is similar, but not identical to, the sign for 'qi'. Does the symbol on the sign have its own meaning, or is it just an 'avatarization' of 'qi'? I ask because I want a tattoo of the air symbol and want to know exactly what it is I am putting on my body. Thank you so much!!

Oh shucks. Thank you! :D

The 气 I typed up and the 气 on the show’s Opening Sequences are the same character - the latter is just done in a calligraphy style that looks nice (and that’s the one I’d recommend getting tattooed, if there are any tattoo artists in your area that specialize in Chinese calligraphy, any option they have that you like).  If you’re going for “air” as in the Avatar air, one of the four elements that benders use in the show, I would stick with this character as opposed to 空气.  Here’s why:

The previous ask I answered is a bit misleading - 空 kong generally refers to emptiness or space (Buddhists/Daoists use this phrase a lot), and 空气 kongqi is like atmosphere or the air that we breathe.  When I joke with the owner of my favorite cafe here in Xi’an about the pollution, we say 空气污染 kongqiwuran, “air pollution.”

Whereas 气 refers to gaseous elements, the air as a classical element, and vital energy.  I assume that’s the meaning you’re looking for.

That being said, it’s important to remember that 气 qi also refers to a ton of different concepts in Chinese culture (Japanese, Korean, and many other Asian languages have words for the concept with their own significance).  It’s one of the hardest things to translate.  When Chinese martial artists talk about bodily, mechanical energy, they use 气.  When Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors refer to the borderline spiritual energy that runs throughout your body and affects your mental and physical health, they use 气.  
Here’s a list of how the word is used, just so you can get an idea of how prominent the concept is in Chinese.

In that sense, it’s the same 气 that chi (another way of spelling ‘qi’) blockers use to prevent bending, that waterbenders use to heal (that whole concept coming from TCM, too).

Long story short, the character 气 does refer to air, as well as all the spiritual and conceptual elements that make up the bending mythology in the Avatar world.  These concepts mirror a lot of real-world ideas in Asian (not just Chinese!) cultures.  There is some aspect of sacredness to it, but I hesitate to call it sacred because that requires we pin it down to religious vs. non-religious uses, and that’s just frankly not how the Chinese (at least, in my experience) view it.

As with any tattoo or other works of art, half the beauty is in the explanation.  It would be very easy to explain why you got it (for ‘air’) to any native Chinese speaker, and it would make much more sense than 空气. Does that help? Haha