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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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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383 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 ...
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2answers
694 views

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 ...
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304 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 ...
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455 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?
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685 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 ...
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1answer
157 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 ...
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3answers
298 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 ...
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3answers
433 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 ...
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2answers
365 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, ...
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4answers
282 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 ...
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1answer
118 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?
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645 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 ...
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3answers
315 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 ...
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2answers
231 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 ...
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1answer
249 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 ...
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2answers
481 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 ...
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1answer
170 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 ...
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4answers
189 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", ...
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237 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 ...
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259 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: ...
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7answers
219 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 ...
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5answers
446 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 ...
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330 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 ...
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5answers
689 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. ...
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198 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 ...
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244 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 ...
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272 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 ...
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235 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, ...
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293 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 ...
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617 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 ...
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284 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 ...
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4answers
490 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 ...
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157 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 ...
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1answer
208 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 ...
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278 views

What was this online dictionary's name with ancient traditional and simplified characters and etymology?

I once found a Mandarin Chinese dictionary which for each character listed the ancient, the traditional and the simplified Chinese characters. For each it described its meaning and how it developed ...
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167 views

Expressions that have no meaning (什么/来着)

I know that these two expression, in certain circumstances, have no meaning and are optional. I'm trying to figure out how to use them, even though they have no meaning. 什么 This has a meaning, ...
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1answer
98 views

Usage of 感动 (active/passive?)

According to mdbg.net 感动 means both 'to move (emotionally)' and 'moving'. But from what I understand from some texts I have '邻居们都很感动' implying a more passive meaning for 感动. Can someone shed some ...
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1answer
114 views

(Literally) Seeing Through Things

Earlier today, I ended up in a discussion which somehow involved people who were (literally) transparent. I was somewhat at a loss for how to say "Can you see through him?". After some research, I've ...
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1answer
151 views

Correct usage for 跟。。。过不去

This question has two parts: What's the precise meaning of this expression? What is the correct usage? Question (1) I understand it to mean that the person referred to (eg, 跟她过不去) is uncomfortable ...
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287 views

Pronunciation of 那个

I'm surprised this question hasn't been asked yet! The pinyin for 那个 is nà gè, but in conversation, Chinese people often pronounce it more like nee-guh than nah-guh. I asked my teacher and she says ...
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3answers
522 views

Is it common to refer to cousins as “cousin-brothers”?

Most Chinese people I know don't have siblings. They refer to their cousin as "cousin brother / sister". Is this common? If so, is this a modern change, perhaps reflecting the one-child policy?
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608 views

What font size for reading simplified characters on screen?

I realize this sounds like a very subjective question, so I will try to ask it very carefully: I'm learning to speak, read, and write Mandarin. A lot of times (particularly on the web or in e-mail) I ...
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191 views

Does 上嗨 work as a pun for 上海?

While riding the subway in Shanghai last week, I glanced at the TV playing some commercials and saw what looked like a slightly off spelling of the city's name (上海). I could not get a very good look ...
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231 views

The development of rhotic vowels in Mandarin

Schuessler's reconstruction of the Old Chinese reading of 二 is *ńźi. It seems there is a correspondence between OC syllables beginning in *ń or *ńź and Mandarin syllables romanised as er. However, ...
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312 views

The use of 上 (shàng) “on/above/over” in Mandarin and English

I'm interested in the the differences between English and Mandarin when they are talking about spatial preposition. Can i assume that in Mandarin, they use the preposition 上 for most of the times ...
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484 views

Are there differences in writing between Chinese languages, such as Mandarin and Shanghainese

There are already many questions about the different spoken languages that can be called Chinese. This question on the other hand asks about the written one(s?). Well, to start, is the written ...
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1answer
138 views

What is an appropriate translations of “That's so Raven!”?

The phrase in the title comes from a Disney show, That's so Raven. But in my house, we have been confused on the proper way of translating this. now we are saying "这是大Raven!" with extra emphasis on ...
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401 views

How to differentiate moods, characters, temperaments, etc?

It seems like there are way more words for these things than in English, and I am having a hard time figuring out the difference between them. Some adjectives can only be used to describe mood, while ...
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279 views

What does “整块的时间” mean?

I have a sentence in my textbook I've mostly translated, but I can't piece this part together. "交通不是很便利不说,还需要整块的时间" Google translate spits out: "Traffic is not very convenient, you also need the ...