Questions concerned understanding of individual words or phrases, considering a context in which these words and phrases are expressed.

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14
votes
3answers
1k views

How did 黃 (yellow) come to mean “pornographic”?

In my dictionary it defines 黃 (Huáng) - yellow - pornographic - to fall through - surname Huang or Hwang Imperial China and the robes of the emperor are commonly associated with the colour yellow. ...
8
votes
7answers
407 views

How can I translate 不客气 here?

I'm doing some translations of New Practical Chinese Reader 2. In lesson 17, there's a dialog between two people, and 不客气 appears as a reply to compliments rather than someone saying 谢谢。Is it supposed ...
8
votes
2answers
199 views

How to explain 讲 in 讲礼貌 and 讲卫生

In my understanding 讲礼貌 translates as 'be polite' and 讲卫生 is something like 'be clean', but how should I explain the 讲 to a new speaker? I take this as a set phrase, but is there a way to translate ...
8
votes
1answer
392 views

Do 和 and 及 refer to two different kinds of “ands?”

At one level, they both mean "and." At another level, 和 also means "peace," while 及 means "to extend." This suggests different usages. Is one used to connect nouns, while the other is used to connect ...
7
votes
5answers
682 views

Usage of 一定 vs 当然

I recently had a homework assignment to select the correct answer 我学了10年汉语了,含有水平 。。。 很高 I chose 一定,but the correct answer turned out to be 当然 Was my answer incorrect, why? How do these two ...
7
votes
4answers
514 views

What is 人 doing in 你现在人在哪里?

I got this sentence in my "daily exercise" newsletter, and I really don't understand what's 人 doing there? Doesn't it mean the same when 人 is removed? Could this simply be a typo?
7
votes
4answers
457 views

Difference between 合适 and 适合

Both 合适 and 适合 mean to fit/to suit. I know the grammatical form needed for each one is different: 在这个情况下,你在穿的衣服就不合适。 我在找一个适合我的女孩子。 Aside of that, I have been told they cannot be used ...
6
votes
7answers
1k views

What does 非也 mean?

What does 非也 mean? I heard it used here: Is this XXX? 非也! It's YYY! Does it mean "Oh my god!" or something? Thank you very much!
6
votes
3answers
110 views

What is the meaning of 多米 in the music service?

My friend often sands me links from the Duomi music service. Where does the name come from? 多米 seems to mean "a lot of rice" if I translate it directly.
6
votes
2answers
558 views

Why does 三八 mean gossip?

I've heard in 广东 (guangdong) the term 三八 to mean "gossip", particularly for a woman who gossips. Is this common throughout China, and why does it have this meaning?
6
votes
1answer
169 views

“A pair of mandarin oranges” as a homophone of “the gold”

image courtesy of Today, when Chinese people celebrate the New Year, there's a tradition to offer each other Mandarin oranges. As many sources say, the Mandarin oranges should be offered in pairs, ...
6
votes
1answer
110 views

How can I express 'having' in an intimate sense?

In English, given a conversation between P1 and P2, it's possible to say: P1: My wife died. Now I feel like I've got nothing. I'm so sad. P2: Don't say that. You've still got your son. You have ...
5
votes
4answers
229 views

“哩勒公蝦毀” what does this mean?

What does “哩勒公蝦毀” mean? A Taiwanese guy said that to me after I had, accidently, mistyped two words in an idiom I used on him. He also used an expression of surprise (I presume) which went like “蛤?!” ...
5
votes
3answers
279 views

Meaning of 一不小心

I read a story where a child dropped a berry into a bucket full of berries and then tried to take it back. When she reached in to pick up her own berry, she grabbed a handful of the other berries. In ...
5
votes
7answers
439 views

What does 土 mean in this sentence 这个名字有点土?

I heard this mentioned about someones name recently. Can someone explain the meaning and any connotations of "土" in the sentence: 这个名字有点土
5
votes
4answers
198 views

How do I practise grouping characters into words? At which stage of learning should one expect to be good at this?

I just got the following sentence in a newsletter: 请问我可以跟你借支笔吗? Being a beginner that I am, I read it as "Can I please get one pay-check in advance?" because I saw this in my dictionary: 借支 = ...
5
votes
4answers
216 views

央行行长会: Is the second 行 necessary?

央行行长会 - A Meeting of the Heads of Central Banks. Is the second 行 necessary? If not why not? Does 央行长 mean "Head of a Central Bank" or is it necessary to say the equivalent of "Bank-Head of a Central ...
5
votes
1answer
120 views

What is the meaning of 不同而不同?

This is taken from the phrase: 口感依成分不同而不同 Sounds like it means "manifold" or something like that?
5
votes
4answers
555 views

Making sense of 去华山怎么走比较好?

The following dialogue is in NPCR 2, Lesson 23, listening exercise 7 in the exercise book, and my attempt in translating it. I'm unsure about the sentence marked in red. I have not learned the ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Meaning of “去你的头”

I just heard "去你的头" in a joke, and while it sounds like an approving "go ahead" OR "go with your head/what you think" I realized at the end of the joke it's kind of an equivalent of "go f*** yourself" ...
5
votes
3answers
129 views

Difference between 部门 and 系

Does any difference exist between 部门 and 系? These are the two different results I get from Google translate: I work in the university Chinese language department 我的工作在大学中国语文系 I work in ...
4
votes
4answers
151 views

What is the difference between 东西 and 用品?

What is the difference between 东西 and 用品? They both seem to have the meaning "stuff" in certain circumstances, but then 用品 is used in more formal situations, such as 医药用品 which I am assuming is not in ...
4
votes
2answers
112 views

山火 vs 野火 vs 丛林大火: Chinese for “bushfire”

I would imagine that 山火 meant "a fire in the mountains", but the dictionary lists "wildfire / forest fire". Is 山火 then a generic word for an out of control fire? What about 野火? I saw 山火 on the news, ...
4
votes
2answers
155 views

What is the difference between 七夕节 and 情人节?

First off... 七夕节快乐! For those who are wondering, today is the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar meaning it is Chinese Valentine's Day! Actually something that I have been wondering ...
4
votes
2answers
122 views

“niyao” meaning strong-armer?

A comment on a New York Times article about violence towards doctors in China reads: The situation is explosive. In 2010 there were 17,234 cases of violence against medical personnel reported by ...
4
votes
1answer
106 views

Is the expression 学识渊博 usually used in a pejorative sense?

For example, as a sarcastic remark in the sense of "pedantic" or "know-it-all"?
4
votes
1answer
173 views

What is the difference between 准备, 预备 and 打算?

I seem to hear 准备 and 预备 used for “prepare” and not as often to mean “plan". 我们准备搬到美国; emphasizing the need for specific preparations for the move. Myself, I use 打算 for planning something. ...
3
votes
4answers
122 views

In what situations can one use 帥哥?

I do hear people say that a lot to me in China and I am always surprised by the timings and situations in which people just, kind of bluntly I feel, say this. I wonder what all those situations would ...
3
votes
4answers
313 views

What is the pronunciation of 行 according to its context?

行 can be pronunced háng or xíng. As far as I have seen, it means "OK, to go, profession", and many more other meanings. Could you briefly summarize the usage of it and its corresponding ...
3
votes
3answers
306 views

Is this sentence ambiguous out of context?

My newsletter says this sentence 我五分钟后就回来。 is translated as "I'll be back in 5 minutes". I am curious to know whether this sentence could be translated as "I came back 5 minutes ago", or does ...
3
votes
6answers
164 views

Meaning of 只 in 只把思念积压在我心头

Ok so firstly I take the sentence as a whole to mean. The missing is accumulating in my heart (i.e. I'm missing you more and more). Provided I've got that correct, what function does 只 perform here. ...
3
votes
3answers
356 views

What is the meaning of 老不死 exactly?

I'd like to know in depth detail, what is the meaning of this expression? How come there is only a few people saying it? Old and not died is a good thing in my mind.
3
votes
5answers
217 views

meaning: 接+地气=?

I saw this comment online the other day: 我只能说大陆的法律能接点地气吗?如果在台湾,这属于通奸罪。 I'm a bit confused about the [接+地气] part. 地气 has some funny definitions in the following two dictionaries: ABC: ...
3
votes
2answers
278 views

Can someone explain the differences between these sentences?

There are some sentences in Chinese which possess different meanings under different circumstances. Can someone explain the differences? Example 1 a) In winter says: 能穿多少穿多少 b) In summer says: ...
3
votes
4answers
107 views

Can someone explain 进入 in this sentence?

非常抱歉 , 我们无法提供相关的API进入词库数据库 ,这些是受到版权保护的 。 So basically they can't provide access to the database via API, but I'm wondering why they use 进入, as I thought it was related to physical entrance of a ...
3
votes
2answers
131 views

In “我只喜歡你一個” what does the “一個” do?

If I were to translate "I only like you" I'd say 我只喜歡你 Wǒ zhǐ xǐ huan nǐ However I have seen the following 我只喜歡你一個 Wǒ zhǐ xǐ huan nǐ yī ge Translated as I like you alone ...
3
votes
3answers
519 views

How did 东西 come to mean “something” in the expression “吃东西”?

I was chatting with a Chinese penpal recently and when I asked "what are you doing?", I received the following answer: 吃东西,你呢? Now, "东西" means "east and west" and so "吃东西" literally means ...
3
votes
2answers
116 views

四航奋进: This ship's name is translated as “Four Aircraft Endeavour”, but is it?

The name of the ship below is given as: 四航奋进 I've seen it previously*** translated as "Four Aircraft Endeavour", which seems peculiar, as it's not an aircraft. The 四 I can understand: it has two ...
3
votes
2answers
104 views

Use of 蓝 (Blue) in a Specific Context?

There is a song sung by William So whose title is 《有人喜欢蓝》 (Yǒurén xǐhuan lán - There are people who like blue.) What does 蓝 (blue) mean in this context? Is it a reference to the sky, sea, a mood, or ...
2
votes
7answers
388 views

How can I translate this correctly into English “今晚怎么意思”

I have a group of friends who regularly meet to play soccer, someone asked on WeChat: 今晚怎么意思 The reply given was the time that we start "7" (meaning 7pm). I may be missing something very ...
2
votes
3answers
132 views

做 as the verb “to be”

Can someone please clarify how and when 做 is used to mean "to be" e.g. 不愿做奴隶人们 I am familiar with 做 meaning "to do" or "to make", and I would expect that if I was saying "I am a slave", “我是一个奴隶“ ...
2
votes
5answers
299 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!' ...
2
votes
2answers
370 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
143 views

What is the meaning of 捅破 in this text?

The following text is taken from the serial of 寒夜: 一直到有一天 一个偶然的机会 我的心事 或者说是我们的心事 被我们的学生捅破 感情是不能被捅破的 一旦捅破 就如同大坝破堤 汹涌而出 He's talking about his love for the heroine of the series, then ...
2
votes
4answers
242 views

What words or expressions could be used to say someone is/looks handsome?

Either words or expressions, formal ones or informal ones.
2
votes
6answers
282 views

“一别五六年” 是什么意思??

刚跟一个好久没联系的威海朋友在聊聊时,他说了 时间过得太快了,一别五六年了。 “一别五六年”,或者“一别” 是什么意思?我查了一下,没找到。 PS: I thought that according to this, questions in Chinese were allowed, but I can't publish it without English...
2
votes
3answers
203 views

Translating the word “feelings” for conversational use

When I look for a dictionary translation of "feelings", I see two translations: 情怀 and 情面. Which of these two would be better suited to translate the following sentence The woman rhetorically ...
2
votes
2answers
229 views

What does 就算这次做错也只是怕错过 mean?

I found this sentence in a song's lyrics => " 就算这次做错也只是怕错过 ". What does it mean?
2
votes
1answer
175 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, ...
2
votes
3answers
229 views

Understanding the meaning of 让 in this sentence

我不但能够让外国人坐我的车,还能够让他包我的车。 This is from a Chinese reader. The voice is of a Chinese taxi-driver. The problem is the translation of 让... He's talking about going to hotels and getting customers. ...