My dragonboat colleagues were impressed with the gloves I’d gotten for practice. Like the ones provided by the firm, they were simple workman’s gloves, but mine had this amazing coating of rubber all across the palm – very useful for applying pressure to a wet wooden oar. I tried to explain that I had bought them at my local hardware store.
Hardware store? What’s that?
We were all fluent English speakers, and yet the term “hardware store” was unfamiliar. And when you stop to think about it, the term “hardware” is a little odd, isn’t it?
I started explaining what you buy in a hardware store – tools, supplies, simple electronics, and then she said – “ah! you mean a 五金鋪!”
五金鋪 literally means a 5 gold shop. I tried to research the origins of this word, but to no avail. I did, however, find that there is a Chinese wikipedia page! Here’s the entry.
Anyway, these Chinese hardware shops are jam packed with stuff needed for home improvement. But as noted in this Chinese wikipage, it doesn’t stock lumber or steel, and those sorts of things.