Compound Nouns (2 of 10): This bark can save your life!

By | October 2, 2020


One of the aspects of the Chinese language which I really like is the way it creates nouns by combining two simple nouns. These are called ‘compound nouns’.

For example, in Chinese, an ambulance is called: ‘help-protect-car’ (‘jo-hu-chir’). It is indeed a car which helps and protects. That’s exactly what it is, so the name is perfectly logical. But in English, we say ‘ambulance’. But English does have many compound nouns – just not as many as in Chinese. So, let’s practise some them.


In the first post, I asked where the drug ‘quinine’ comes from. The answer is it comes from the bark of the cinchona tree. [See the above picture]. This bark provided the first cure to the horrible disease: malaria – which had killed millions of people. So, there you go. ‘Tree-skin’ … er … sorry, that’s ‘Chinese English’ ….. I mean …. ‘bark’ …. is not as useless as you think.

Here’s another general knowledge question. There is a spice called ‘cinnamon’ – the stuff you sometimes sprinkle on the top of your coffee – but where does it come from?

I’ll give you all the answers in the next post. By the way, you can find out more about me at .

Author: Andrew

Andrew Guilfoyle Cambridge CELTA, Cambridge DELTA, Cambridge CELTA teacher-trainer, M.Ed