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So, I recently started using my android phone in simplified Chinese mode, to help myself internalize Chinese characters. In my browser window, when I press down on a URL, the "在新标签页中打开" button allows me to open a new tab.

So I tried to translate the sentence literally by dictionary definitions, and I came up with this:

在新标签页中打开: In new tab page, middle open.

So why is the 中(middle) necessary? Without it, the sentence makes sense to me. Could it be functioning as a preposition? If so, then why would I need both 中 and 在 in this sentence?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

and are serving two different functions here.

The preposition at the start of the sentence indicates where something happens. Meanwhile, the here is technically a noun meaning "the inside", not "middle". It signifies that the link is opened on a new tab page, i.e. *the inside of a tab page".

Taken as a whole, then, the Chinese sentence is actually saying: Open link (打开) at [the position of] (在) a new tab page's (新标签页) insides (中) .

Without the the sentence would still make enough sense to be understood, but it would sound weird. Generally speaking, when the target of is not a location, it is standard to add or etc. For example, 住在美國 and 住在公寓裡 .

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I see. So, could the sentence 住在公寓裡 also be worded with a 中 (住在公寓中)? –  I11umin8 Jun 26 at 16:04
1  
@AustinGamez I suppose you could, but is considerably more common. From what I can tell, using 裡 designates "the whole space" within the apartment, whereas is just an indeterminate point "inside" the apartment. –  Semaphore Jun 26 at 16:14
    
I get the impression 中 is generally used for more abstract things, so 公司中 seems weird to me. 中 is really common for describing being temporally in something, i.e. in a process or during an ongoing action. –  Hugh Jun 27 at 0:16

中 is in.

Open the link in a new tab.

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take another example: 在困境中成长, grow up in harsh environment. In this case, it doesn't make sense without the "中" word. 在房间里玩,play inside the room. I think "在...中","在...里" is like splitting the "in"/"inside" word into two part. The "place" is put in the middle.

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"在新标签页中打开" by itself is not a good translation of "open in a new tab".

"于新标签页开启", or better "于新页开启", is more neat (though being less "modern").

[1] "在 (place) 中 (action)" / "在 (place) 裡 (action)" is a common translation of "(action) in (place)". It is one of the proper ways to order the ideas in Chinese language construct.

"于" in "于新页开启" (or in traditional Chinese characters, "於新頁開啟") is a classical usage (aka "文言文" classical Chinese literary). And usually we omit "中" when using "于".

[2] "tab" means "标签" in most cases; but in the case of "open in a new tab", it means a new page inside the same browser window. Hence, it should be translated as "页". The term "新标签页" is unnecessarily clumsy.

[3] To me, "打" sounds too violent, especially when we have a more elegant translation "开启", which also have the meaning "to start something".

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