Take the 2-minute tour ×
Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Today in Chengdu I wanted to buy a replacement permanent marker pen for writing on cardboard.

I don't like nonpermanent markers because the ink can sometimes wipe off and stain your clothes. I find that in English the nonpermanent ones seem to be called whiteboard markers most often, and indeed that was written on most of the markers I could find in stores today.

But permanent markers were not easy to find and I found myself wanting to say something like "I want one of these but this is a whiteboard marker and I want a permanent marker".

These terms might not be considered basic enough vocabulary to be in most dictionaries. Google Translate translates them but I don't know if I can trust it.

share|improve this question
1  
"Whiteboard marker" is 白板笔. "Permanent marker" is 马克笔. But if you want to buy one in a store, I strongly suggest that you ask specifically for one that can('t) be erased. Example: 您好,我要一只白板笔,要擦得掉的那种. –  Alex Su Nov 17 '13 at 16:16
    
I'm such a beginner at Chinese that I don't have a hope of uttering such a sentence, but I'm less of a beginner at Han characters so I could write the terms. But I also ask just out of curiosity of these possibly "hard to look-up" terms. By the way Google Translate gives just "marker" for "马克笔". In English "marker" covers both types, is it really true that "马克笔" means permanant markers only? –  hippietrail Nov 17 '13 at 16:25
2  
Google is right, 马克笔 means marker(actually 马克 is the phonic transcription of marker), so when you ask for a 马克笔, it's possible that you end up with a whiteboard marker. It's safer to specify the type. The dictionary word for permanent markers is actually 油性马克笔, but I'm afraid most Chinese(including me) can't recognize this term. If someone ask a 油性马克笔 from me, I'd probably think: he might be asking for a permanent marker, but it's better to make sure. I'm not so used to express myself in English xD –  Alex Su Nov 17 '13 at 16:39
3  
I would say 记号笔 for permanent markers. This is just a matter of personal preference, I think. If someone says 马克笔 I would understand it as permanent markers without additional information. –  user58955 Nov 17 '13 at 18:27
1  
To me 记号笔 is the kind of markers that you use on your books, those with vivid colors. You see, the term for markers is a bit messed up in Chinese. I (along with most people that I know) will call permanent markers 马克笔, whiteboard markers 白板笔, colorful markers 记号笔, but in a different city or even a different neighborhood, the names might vary. –  Alex Su Nov 18 '13 at 6:40
show 6 more comments

4 Answers

I would say 白板笔 for "Whiteboard marker" and 油性笔 for "Permanent marker". You see, I omit the "马克" in 油性"马克"笔.

In place where there are people who speak dialects other than Mandarin, “马克” does not necessarily sound like "marker". I am a Cantonese and I tend to avoid the phonetic transcriptions that only exist in Mandarin.

share|improve this answer
    
Yes when I first found this term (I think via Google Translate) I did not spot that it was a transliteration. I only realized that part way through this thread. –  hippietrail Nov 23 '13 at 17:07
add comment

They're called 油(yóu)性(xìnɡ)记(jì)号(hào)笔(bǐ) in Chinese.

Or you can just say “擦(cā)不(bù)掉(diào)的(de)记(jì)号(hào)笔(bǐ)”, which means “those markers that can’t be erased.”

share|improve this answer
add comment

As others have mentioned, when you are using borrowed words you can sometimes get stuck with misunderstandings especially if you go to a market or book store to buy this item rather than going to a stationary or art store.

My suggestion is to take a glossy piece of cardboard and then ask for a 马克笔 (mǎkè bǐ).

If you are provided with what appears to be a whiteboard marker I would politely test it on the cardboard and if it is a white board marker I would say 我要擦不掉的那种. I think this should get you what you are after.

我要擦不掉的那种 (wǒ yào cā bú diào de nà zhǒng) = "I want the kind that cannot be wiped off"

我要 = I want

擦不掉 = cannot be wiped off

的那种 = the kind

This might also help if they show you a thin marker pen:

我要粗一点的 (wǒ yào cū yīdiǎn de) = I want a thicker one

share|improve this answer
add comment

Honestly, before I came to the UK, I don't know the difference between permanent and nonpermanent markers. Usually, we call those we use to write on a whiteboard 白板笔. I think we can call those pens that cannot be easily washed off 油性笔 as opposed to those that can be easily be washed off which we call 水性笔.

share|improve this answer
    
The definition of 水性笔 in Baidu-pedia says it is a kind of gel pen. And I haven't heard anyone would call a whiteboard marker "水性笔" before. –  Stan Nov 19 '13 at 7:10
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.