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

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21
votes
7answers
5k 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. ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Usage of word “sun”: 太阳 (tài yáng) vs 日 (rì)

What is the difference between 太阳 (tài yáng) and 日 (rì) for "sun"? Are they used in different contexts or are they interchangeable? Thanks!
10
votes
1answer
294 views

What does “老” in “老虎” and “老鼠” mean

As I remember, 虎 and 鼠 are standalone nouns, meaning tiger and mouse, respectively. However, it seems that 老虎 and 老鼠 are more commonly used. Why is 老 used as a prefix for 虎 and 鼠? Why do we use 獅子 ...
9
votes
8answers
509 views

Is “不會” a correct response to “謝謝”?

I live in Taiwan.There are occasions where I need to thank people, and sometimes they use "不會" to reply my "謝謝". Is this correct and what does "不會" in this occasion mean?
8
votes
7answers
781 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
4answers
616 views

When to use 一倍 vs 两倍

I would like to have a clarification on this: I know that 倍 means "-times, -fold", but I don't understand why 一倍 seems to mean "twice as (fast)" in the following sentence: 开车最少比骑自行车快一倍。 while we ...
8
votes
2answers
227 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
969 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
10answers
2k 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 for your help!
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Usage of 一定 vs 当然

I recently had to select the correct answer for a homework assignment: 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
598 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
2answers
2k 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?
7
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
131 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
218 views

“惡” vs “噩” vs “厄”

I have seen these three characters forming the "same" words (I cannot think of a better way to phrase this), such as 惡夢 vs 噩夢 and 惡運 vs 噩運 vs 厄運 As I tried googling for the difference, I ...
7
votes
3answers
359 views

也 和 并 与 及 跟 而 同 difference? [closed]

I have read about connectives 也 和 并 与 及 and asked some questions about them but still I'm somewhat not satisfied with my understanding. Let me summarize my knowledge: 1. 与 connects: nouns only ...
6
votes
3answers
201 views

When to use 一言难尽

When is it appropriate to use 一言难尽? Please supply a scenario where this would be a good reply. I have found this in my dictionary but I want to make sure I use in in the correct context.
6
votes
3answers
464 views

道德經 (Dao De Jing): 「五味令人口爽」 translation

From Dao De Jing (道德經), part 12: 五色令人目盲 // Five colors make a man blind 五音令人耳聾 // Five notes make a man deaf 五味令人口爽 I have a problem with translation of the third line: Five flavours make the ...
6
votes
3answers
463 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
622 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
145 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
3answers
909 views

Is “ 事出必有因 ” the most accurate translation for “ everything happens for a reason ”?

Is " 事出必有因 " the most accurate translation for " everything happens for a reason "? If not, what is it? Thanks!
6
votes
1answer
842 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, ...
5
votes
5answers
644 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
7answers
553 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
271 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
220 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
161 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
4k 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
2answers
240 views

meaning of 傳 in 傳不習乎?

In Analects, chapter 4, 「吾日三省吾身 為人謀而不忠乎? 與朋友交而不信乎? 傳不習乎?」 I would translate it: Master Ceng said: everyday I check three things in myself: do I plan my behavior without loyalty? do I make friends ...
5
votes
6answers
1k 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 "eat/...
5
votes
3answers
152 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
546 views

“同儕” vs “同僚” vs “同事”

I know that 同事 means colleague, but I have seen 同儕 and 同僚 used in similar context. Below are random examples of each I found on google: 在同儕關係中彼此地位平等、較能相互學習。 由於他過度地自負,同僚們不喜歡他。 Are these ...
5
votes
2answers
307 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
296 views

連連 Trying to understand the double word (叠词 or 叠字) usage

In another answer someone helped me understand the meaning of: 今年一定是好事連連 At that time, I was having trouble getting the context of 連連. But then I saw both 好事連連 (good fortune) and 好运连连 (Good Luck). ...
5
votes
2answers
140 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
112 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"?
5
votes
1answer
412 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. ...
4
votes
3answers
187 views

Meaning of “不了” in “忘不了/喝不了/…”

I know that 了 after a verb means a completion or termination of a certain action, such as: 吃飽了 (I am) full. 開始了 (It) has started. 不動了 (It) is not moving anymore. But what about 了 ...
4
votes
4answers
149 views

The slang(?) phrase “乾掉了”

As I remember, the phrase was used in response to a certain scenario. Unfortunately, as I tried to look it up on Google, all I find is drying out, which is certainly not the meaning I am looking for. ...
4
votes
4answers
195 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
3answers
217 views

Meaning of 所 in “有所…”

As far as I know, 所 has the following meanings: a place, as in 派出所 (police office). a counter, as in 一所科學中心 (a science center). a passive voice indicator that pairs up with 被(為), as in 被(為)愛所糾纏 (...
4
votes
4answers
103 views

Meaning of 则是 in this sentence

My vocabulary state that 则是 means: "then is", However I don't understand how to translate the following sentence 而段剑则是神情严肃地站在聂离的身边。 I can translate it perfectly fine by omitting 则是, so not sure ...
4
votes
2answers
92 views

I need help with the translation of 长和能力

I'm working with Chinese resumes and I've found 长和能力 as a section title. I tried to translate it using the Google Translate and it says it means "Length and capacity". Is there any alternative ...
4
votes
2answers
137 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
4answers
118 views

砲響: were there cannons in ancient China?

After reading Romance of the Three Kingdoms, I was surprised to see a lot of references to 砲響 (the sound of cannonade). Here's a few examples: 嚴綱鼓譟吶喊,直取麴義,義軍見嚴綱兵來,都伏而不動;直到來得至近,一聲砲響,八百弓弩手一齊俱發。 ...
4
votes
1answer
432 views

Google, “heavenly”/“original” and Baidu coordinates

I'm helping answer several questions on StackOverflow and GIS.SE regarding the unique coordinate system used in China, and its interaction with Baidu Maps. While trying to machine translate the Baidu ...
4
votes
1answer
248 views

Character Gaps On Comic Conversation : 4 [closed]

I am learning Chinese by reading different texts. I have some problems with seeing some characters in this older copy of a book (the Chinese character is sometimes too dark to distinguish strokes and ...
3
votes
5answers
244 views

Is the sentence “我们要怎么去机场?” ambiguous?

我们要怎么去机场? The translation given is "How do we get to the airport?", but since 怎么 can also mean "why", can this sentence also be translated as "Why are we going to the airport?" I'm probably missing ...
3
votes
4answers
524 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 ...