I've been listening to some Buena Vista Social Club lately. It's strange to hear Latin jazz in an American's dorm in China.
I was meeting with my tutor today, and I asked her one of those "why haven't I learned how to say this yet?!" questions: what's the word for picture, as in, from your (or my) digital camera? She had already told me that camera was 照相机 ("zhaoxiangji"), with that last character 机 ("ji") being a kind of catch-all word for machine. (Mobile phone, for example, is 手机, "shouji," which is literally "hand machine.") I wanted to know what my camera could do; my camera takes/makes what? She explained that a camera takes 照片("zhaopian"), photographs.
OK, I thought, I'm all set: I've got my vocab for camera, vocab for photographs ... wait, I just need the verb: my camera what photographs?
She looks at me with that "this should be painfully obvious" look: your camera 照相, "zhaoxiang," takes photographs.
Dig it, I thought: 我的照相机照相. "Wo de zhaoxiangji zhaoxiang."
Literally: My photograph-taking machine takes photographs.
I laughed for ten minutes.