Mandarin is a group of Chinese dialects that use as standard pronunciation the dialect of Beijing. Also the expected language when "Chinese" is referred to by non-Chinese, as in "I want to learn to speak Chinese."

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6
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4answers
380 views

Why is 喂 used over 你好 when answering the phone?

The use of 拜拜 over 再见 at the end of a phone conversation is obvious as you haven't seen them so how could you see them again but I don't understand why 喂 is used as a greeting when answering the ...
4
votes
1answer
209 views

Is there a term for the noisy bringing up of phlegm in preparation to spit?

There's a colloquial term in some regions in English I've seen spelled hoik and hoick to refer to the noisy act of clearing the throat/nasal cavity of mucus/phlegm, usually just before spitting it ...
8
votes
2answers
218 views

Are there Chinese approximations for the colloquial/slang English terms “snot rocket” or “bushman's blow”?

In English I know of two colourful terms for blowing your nose without use of a handkerchief or tissue by holding one nostril closed and expelling mucus from the other: bushman's blow [1][2] snot ...
3
votes
6answers
226 views

What's the word for 'human quality'?

For example when someone jumps the queue, I might tell them they lack good manners / human quality, what's the word in Chinese (Mandarin)?
5
votes
5answers
259 views

Why do we have to say 一百 一千 but not 一十?

This has always stumped me as all other base 10 numbers (>10) in Chinese you declare 1 through 9 for the quantity [1] of these units but you only have to declare 2 through 9 for 十 as 1 is implied [2] ...
3
votes
2answers
174 views

Which is the correct sentence? Question about birthday

I was wondering, which is the correct sentence in this case. 你的生日是几月几号? or 你的生日几月几号? (without 是) Also can I omit 的 in this case?
5
votes
1answer
234 views

Why is the 車 in Chinese chess pronounced jū?

The 車 in Chinese chess is pronounced jū. Why isn't it pronounced chē? Is this pronunciation used outside of Chinese chess?
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2answers
416 views

Where to start learning mandarin [closed]

I'm about to start learning mandarin chinese myself, without any teachers but with a help of textbooks and video (audio) lessons. My question is: where do I start, I mean, is it better to start with ...
3
votes
2answers
414 views

Complimenting someone on their appearance

In Spoken Mandarin Chinese what adjectives can be used to complement a persons appearance? I can think of a couple off the top of my head: 美丽 - Měilì - Beautiful 可爱 - Kě'ài - Cute 性感 - Xìnggǎn - ...
3
votes
2answers
121 views

Two words for 'escorting,' 'showing around'

带你出去... 护送你出去... 陪你去玩儿... I am especially interested in the difference in meaning between the first and third. The third may not be correct because I may be recalling it poorly. The first seems ...
2
votes
3answers
159 views

Where to put the time phrase

Does an adverb of frequency usually occur after the verb? How should I say "how often do you play sports?" 你运动多久一次? OR 你多久运动一次?
4
votes
2answers
171 views

How do you say 'dates back to' in Mandarin?

What is the best way of expressing 'dates back to' in Mandarin? e.g. the family's lineage dates back to 1720..etc
5
votes
1answer
308 views

Usage of the phrase '不错用' in Taiwan Mandarin

I heard my Taiwanese friends use the Mandarin phrase 不错用 more than once, but didn't have a chance to ask them: Is it widely used in Taiwan, or is it used by a certain circle/type of person? What's ...
2
votes
5answers
298 views

“我们过去了” was he joking?

One man and I were crossing a busy Beijing intersection and were almost across when tour buses cut us off from both sides and we stood between them as they passed. He smiled at me and said "我们过去了!' ...
6
votes
1answer
274 views

Describing a person that can speak Mandarin

Yesterday I met a person that can speak Mandarin. We had a nice chat and I was going over it in my head today. I want to tell another friend that I met someone that can speak mandarin, but I'm having ...
8
votes
1answer
232 views

吗 and 吧 at the end of a question

I heard that ba (吧) can be used at the end of a sentence just like ma (吗). Per my understanding, it's not interchangeable with ma (吗) but a more playful way of asking the same question. (Some girl ...
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votes
2answers
507 views

Which Chinese dialect is it rewarding to learn? [closed]

A dialect or rather a language. Of course, Mandarin is the most popular one. But nonetheless, in Hong Kong, for instance, Cantonese is more popular, it's almost the one Chinese language there and ...
2
votes
2answers
900 views

Difference between the Advantages and disadvantages of learning Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien for visiting Taiwan

I'm planning on visiting Taiwan as a tourist for about one week next year. Both Wikipedia and Wikivoyage say that Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien are common languages there. What advantages ...
1
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2answers
358 views

Politeness in Mandarin

I like to say please sometimes when I want to be polite to someone when asking them for something. Is this customary in Mandarin? For example, if I wanted to ask for some water, I might ask my ...
4
votes
1answer
513 views

What is the correct pronunciation of 垃圾?

The word 垃圾 is sometimes pronounced laji, but other times I've seen it pronounced as lese, which pronunciation is deemed to be more correct? Are they both interchangeable?
7
votes
7answers
800 views

Why do native speakers often say a character has “no meaning”?

Many times I will know all the characters in a name but one & I'll ask what that one character means. 9 times out of 10 the response is, "That character has no meaning". While it might be true ...
2
votes
1answer
173 views

How would you translate 细腻 into English?

My Chinese coworkers were describing Korean drama TV shows & said that the actors faces are "细腻" xi4ni4. When I look this up in my dictionary, I get 2 definitions "fine & smooth" or ...
6
votes
3answers
318 views

What's the main difference between 为 and 是?

It seems like both 为 and 是 mean "to be". In which cases is one used but not the other? Is it something like the difference between "estar" and "ser" in Spanish and Portuguese? (In the sense that one ...
3
votes
3answers
438 views

The origin of 鸡贼

I speak Mandarin Chinese, but it is the first time that I stumbled upon the word 鸡贼. According to 百度百科 (Baidu wiki), it means being stingy. The wiki page also says that it comes from the Beijing ...
3
votes
2answers
405 views

Advice on Mandarin Chinese passive learning

What are the best Chinese online tv channels with english subtitles for passive Mandarin learning. I find Chinese a rather musical language and would love to watch subbed tv (news, documentaries, ...
2
votes
4answers
303 views

Expressing “Fair enough”

The English expression "fair enough" can be used to concede a point in an argument, or acknowledge the other person's position, without expressing complete agreement. To take an example from ...
7
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1answer
135 views

Difference between 更好 and 比较好?

I'm confused about the difference between 更好 and 比较好. Since both seem to mean "better", how are these used differently? In what cases would you use them?
2
votes
4answers
762 views

Writing Chinese Characters is Sloppy

Since learning Mandarin through Rosetta Stone, Youtube videos, and friends, I've begun to keep a journal of mandarin characters and phrases. I first draw the character, along with the pinyin and ...
10
votes
3answers
357 views

How does foreign word transliteration work in the context of Cantonese vs Mandarin?

If I understand correctly, Cantonese sounds very different from Mandarin, despite being written in the same way (omitting some small differences, which are irrelevant for the question). If it is the ...
4
votes
2answers
243 views

Errors and Unnatural Language in a Translation Challenge

I was recently challenged to translate the following sentence from English into Chinese: You should stay away from that bar. A friend of mine went there before, and he ended up in the hospital after ...
2
votes
1answer
252 views

Poetic two-character words of the form: Verb + Natural Noun?

I was looking for examples in Mandarin of poetic two-character words. What words have the following form... Verb + Noun ...where the noun is something that occurs in nature? The first examples ...
3
votes
2answers
526 views

Benefits of Learning a Chinese Dialect in Addition to Standardized Mandarin

Edit: This is now cross-posted to linguistics. Studies have shown that learning more than one language helps people of all ages learn each one of the languages. For a nice mainstream media piece on ...
7
votes
1answer
177 views

9 Questions from the movie Red Sorghum (红高粱)

My friend bought me a set of four Zhang Yi Mou movies. I watched Red Sorghum (红高粱) today, and there were a few sentences which, after looking up the meanings, I still couldn't quite understand. I'll ...
5
votes
4answers
201 views

For all I know

There is an expression in English: "For all I know, ...." The following clause often has a modal expressing uncertainty or the hypothetical nature of the assertion, like "might", "may", "could", ...
7
votes
4answers
250 views

How to add emphasis to sentences

Last week a kid wrote on the office white board "Give me all your cheese now!" and I attempted a translation into Chinese (mostly to practice my handwriting). I wrote 马上给我你的奶酪。 I felt like this ...
7
votes
2answers
266 views

Academic explanation for rhyming fillers with irrelevant meaning in doggerel

在打油诗、顺口溜、儿歌里经常有纯粹是为了押韵或节拍而插入的和文意无关的词汇。在北方话、传统北京/天津评书相声里尤甚。我想知道在语言学专业里这种情况是怎么解释的,有没有术语或相关资料。 例如北京顺口溜: 嗝屁着凉大海棠,脚不丫子蘸白糖。 里“大海棠”完全是为押韵,无意义;蘸白糖虽然略有意义,但选词十分随机,更多是为了一种插科打诨的效果。 Brief translation: ...
1
vote
7answers
229 views

Learning/remembering Chinese

I lived in China for a few months and picked up quite a bit of Mandarin. Now that I've moved back to the US, I have forgotten the Chinese I knew and spoke while there. Other than actually living where ...
9
votes
5answers
523 views

Translation for “sorry” as in “I am sorry to hear that”?

In English we can say "sorry" as an abbreviation for "I am sorry to hear that"/"I feel sorry for you" to express sympathy. Is there a Chinese word or phrase that bears the same meaning? I know one ...
2
votes
2answers
375 views

Taiwanese Mandarin vs Mainland Mandarin [closed]

A reference request. Is there any good source of the differences word choice/meaning between Taiwan and Mainland Chinese? Not asking about Chinese Characters, but usage. Spain have different ...
3
votes
6answers
741 views

Origin of 呆在 vs 待在

Both 呆在 and 待在 are acceptable ways of writing dai1 zai4 meaning "stay at/in". For instance, a couple sentences from iciba: 我们因天气寒冷呆在家里。 Because of the cold weather, we stayed at home. ...
2
votes
2answers
214 views

Ordering food from a menu in a restaurant

How should I order food from a menu in a restaurant? In English I'd usually say something like 'I'll have the beef' or 'one of these and two of those' while pointing. In the past in China I have ...
2
votes
2answers
265 views

What effective methods exists for visual learners to get Chinese grammar?

I want to learn Chinese grammar (e.g. sentence structure), however, I am a highly visual person and feel a visual learning process would help me the most. I have already taken a beginner Chinese ...
5
votes
2answers
282 views

留学: Why the use of “留”?

I'm sure like many students of Chinese, my first encounter with the character 留 was in the word 留学, meaning "to study abroad". Some time later I encountered 留 as an independent word, meaning "to ...
4
votes
2answers
242 views

Language Learning Software That Teaches Mechanics (Not Phrases)

I've tried out various language learning software (Rosetta Stone, Tell Me More, Transparent), and I've been severely disappointed by the fact that not one of them actually teaches you the LANGUAGE, ...
2
votes
3answers
313 views

国家 vs. 国, when can 国 be used alone?

In the Chinese book for beginners by Bellassen, it is stated that 国 cannot be used alone: it doesn't have a meaning on its own, and thus the word country/fatherland is 国家 and not 国. However... I am ...
11
votes
4answers
660 views

How to pronounce “下载”

How to pronounce the word "下载", "xià zǎi" or "xià zài"? Most Chinese people pronounce it "xià zǎi", but there are some people insist on pronouncing it "xià zài". There are different also different ...
5
votes
4answers
305 views

That mystical 就 again

Here is a sentence: 厨房壁炉架上的那面镜子就把哈利吓了一跳 Below are my translation variants. Bold letters should be a 'jiu' english analog here. The mirror on top of the kitchen's fireplace scared Harry the ...
7
votes
4answers
605 views

Learning Traditional first with the goal of learning both

I found this in the Mandarin wikibook: "It is considered easier for people who learn Traditional to read both sets than people who learn Simplified only, but Simplified characters are less ...
4
votes
1answer
166 views

Tone of 竟 and 境 in Mandarin and Cantonese

竟 and 境 are both read ging2 in Cantonese, which usually corresponds to a third tone syllable in Mandarin (as is the case for 警, which is ging2 in Cantonese and jing3 in Mandarin). However, both of ...
3
votes
1answer
245 views

How to ask someone to take a photo?

Recently on vacation I wanted to ask a Chinese tourist if they would mind taking a photo of my wife and I - but I didn't know how, so just asked 你可以吗? (nǐ kěyǐ ma?) while pointing to my camera. How ...