References for Chinese Dramas

Have you ever watched a Chinese martial arts or period drama, only to become completely befuddled by the terms and phrases used?

For those of us that have grown up with these shows in our day to day TV watching, it’s become completely normal to understand what ‘Loot a burning house’ or ‘Sacrifice the plum tree to preserve the peach tree’ means.

Learning the terminology often used in these dramas isn’t difficult and it will probably only take 3-4 series’ before you become and old hand at deciphering this code.

If you’re new to all this, here are a few sites that I recommend to read if you ever get stuck while watching a drama or reading my novel translations.

Thirty-Six Strategems
This wiki page explains the phrases used when talking about battle tactics. It’s not comprehensive, but good enough as a starting point.

Three Departments and Six Ministries
This wiki page explains the ministerial departments within court.

Chinese Honorifics
A nearly comprehensive wiki page to the different ways people refer to themselves and others, “Dage~~”

Martial Arts Terms
A list of wiki pages with reference to Chinese martial arts terminology. Not comprehensive.