Exciting news - subbed Avatar!
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
Did you ever find mandarin dubbed version of avatar? I would love to watch that to practice my Chinese! Thanks!
Not yet - but I’m actually in China at the moment and I’m working with some local friends of mine in Xi’an to track down a copy. I know it’s been well-received, but no one I’ve talked to so far has heard about it.
I should also be able to hunt down a dubbed/subbed copy of Legend of Korra, too. Stay tuned!
how can we write air in chinese
“Air” used (for lack of a better term) artistically or poetically is 空 kōng (“empty” or “emptiness”) or 气 (simp.)/氣 (trad.) qì (“energy,” “gas,” or “air”).
Both serve different meanings contextually, but to refer to the air as in “the air around us” or “the air that we breathe,” 空气/空氣 kōngqì is usually used.
More translations coming soon, before I leave for China!
do the links to the Chinese dub of legend of korra still work? :/
Sorry to get back to you so late on this, but I don’t think they do. I’ve been trying to track down other dubs, but it’s been awhile since I’ve looked.
I’ll actually be in mainland China come February, so it might be easier to ask around there at the University I’ll be studying at. If anyone will know, it’ll be college students.
Hey, this is kind of random and I'm sorry if you've been asked this before, but: do you know anywhere that I could download/buy a Mandarin-dubbed version of Avatar: The Last Airbender and/or Legend of Korra? I'm learning Chinese at my college (Lewis & Clark College) and I've been looking for TV shows, movies, music to watch/listen to outside of class and tutor sessions to help me improve my Chinese. :/ Not much luck, strangely; noone will share sites with me and my Google skills are lacking.
Lewis and Clark! I’m at UPS (University of Puget Sound) up north! :D
I had bookmarked a site that had the entire thing dubbed in a pretty decent translation, but they’ve since been removed. I’ll hunt one down for you. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you! School has been crazy.
I don't know if you've ever had a question similar to this, so I apologise if you've already answered! I'd like to get the symbols shown at the start of each episode title tattooed, but of course there isn't an Air book. If there was, do you happen to know the symbol that would be used? I wouldn't like to miss out one of the elements haha.
(so sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you!)
There is an Air Book! It’s Book One of Korra. :)
Anywho, the symbol looks like this
And it’s the etymological root of the character 气 (simp.) / 氣 (trad.)
Hope that helps! You should send me a photo of the tattoo if/when you get it done! :D
I have had the wonderful fate of learning Chinese since 5th grade. I also was lucky to be able to develop an unhealthy obsession with Zuko. So, I have to ask; Do you know how awesome you are?
I’d like to think I have a healthy concept of it, yes. But you are far too kind :)