Questions concerned comprehension and understanding the finer aspects of individual words or phrases, with or without a context in which they are expressed.

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0
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1answer
40 views

Understanding/Translating: 空无

What is the best understanding and (English) translation of 空无? 汉语大词典: 佛教语。谓一切事物从因缘生,唯心所造,了无自性 《维摩经菩萨行品》: "观於空无而不舍大悲。" There are a lot of religious, if you will, concepts in here that I ...
2
votes
3answers
594 views

What does the name of the singer “约瑟翰 庞麦郎” mean?

I did a quick search and have found: 姓名: 约瑟翰 庞麦郎 英文名: Joseeh Punmanlon I know it is supposed to be like "Snoop Dogg," "Buddy Guy" or something like that. But I'm still very curious on if that ...
1
vote
3answers
139 views

Radical meaning vs characters in use

The radical 阜 and its other form 阝, used on the left, supposedly means mound or dam. Looking at image web search hits for 阜 or 阝, I get nothing related to dam or mound. When I look up the Chinese ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Which radicals are used mostly just as phonetic?

Some radicals do not seem to be commonly in use for their meaning, but only to convey pronounciation. As answer to this question and many websearches revealed. Is that true for many radicals? Could ...
1
vote
2answers
194 views

Difference in MEANING (NOT structure) between 得 vs 地

Please, don't explain when to use 得 or 地. I already know that the grammar difference between them both, which is: V 得 adjective (老师话说得很快。) adverb 地 V (老师快快地说话。) Also there are many posts on this ...
2
votes
2answers
87 views

Is their a trick to find out the intensity of words with similar meanings?

I know that the intensity for the Chinese "but" is 不过》可是》但是》却 and I know that there are other words like this, but I wonder if there is a way to recognise which one has the stronger meaning, without ...
3
votes
3answers
170 views

Are 改正 and 纠正 interchangeable?

Both 改正 and 纠正 mean "to correct" or "to make right." What is the difference between these words? Do they have different connotations? Are both words acceptable in sentences like the following? ...
6
votes
1answer
79 views

When should I use the 是…的 construction?

I've been told that 是...的 is used to put emphasis on something, but I'm not sure when or why I should use it.
6
votes
5answers
126 views

What is the verbatim translation for “都什么时候了” ?

"什么时候" means verbatim "what time" But, when i add 都 (adverb meaning "all") and 了(particle indicating either change of state or completion), i can not grasp what meaning is conveyed by this phrase. ...
4
votes
5answers
401 views

Is Mandarin impossible for my goals?

Since years ago I have been studying some languages with the major goal of being able to read texts, complex or not, written under them. My native is Portuguese (from Brazil) and nowadays I have no ...
6
votes
4answers
761 views

What does 反动 mean?

The dictionary definition of 反动 means reactionary, and in the political sense it can also mean someone who is very conservative, as opposed to progressive. However, it seems that this word is being ...
3
votes
1answer
142 views

What is the meaning behind 5000 万 袋住先 7689!@#?

On a poster referring to the umbrella protests in hong kong is a chinese politician depicted in the way of the picture "the scream" by edward munch, next to him is a humanoid banana with googles ...
0
votes
7answers
168 views

What does 爽 mean? [closed]

What are the original and modern usages of this character/word?
1
vote
1answer
235 views

Does anyone recognize the characters written on this home shrine? [closed]

So far I can read most of the characters on this picture, except 1 character. The characters on the center is: 忠義 (zhong1yi4 - Tiong-gī), which means: Loyalty and is related to the story of the ...
2
votes
4answers
543 views

When should 吧 be used?

I understand that it is used at the end of a sentence to indicate suggestion, but I want to know what kinds of everyday situations warrant its use. I'd appreciate two or three examples. Also, does it ...
1
vote
2answers
116 views

What's the difference between 说 and 讲?

It seems that in most cases, the two are interchangeable. For example: Is it 說 /说 / shuō or 講 / 讲 / jiǎng for "to speak a language"? Apart from fixed phrases, when would you use one rather ...
17
votes
2answers
418 views

Why use 非 and 亚 for continent names?

Why was 非 chosen for 非洲 (Africa) and 亚 chosen for 亚洲 (Asia)? I can't find a particular reason to use these characters.
1
vote
2answers
220 views

What does the `的` mean in `我是九点去上班的`?

In the reply to 你是什么时候去上班的?, what does the 的 in 我是九点去上班的 mean? I think that without the 的, the sentence makes sense in and of itself, right? And the meaning is that I start to work at 9:00 am...., ...
1
vote
4answers
112 views

Meaning & Etyomology: 博眼球?

The only meaning of 博眼球 I've been able to come across is the following from a 百度知道 answer: 回头率高,吸引人的意思 but is it really that simple, is that all it means? 'An eyeball-turner?' What does 博 mean ...
14
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from?

I'm not talking about eating tofu, but the expression that means something more like taking advantage of someone. What exactly does 吃豆腐 mean, and where does this expression come from?
2
votes
3answers
414 views

When radicals make words does Chinese convey two layers of meaning all the time?

I can recognize and translate the 215 radicals. Now, I'm told radicals combine with each other and other characters to make words, and that some radicals denote sound for pronunciation of the word. ...
5
votes
3answers
303 views

What is the “Chinese Dream?” (中国梦) [closed]

Sorry if this is getting too non-language specific, but I think it still has language merits that fit the sites requirements. 中国梦 we really don't need a translation as it's clearly just a play on 美国梦 ...
2
votes
2answers
148 views

What is the meaning of 用支 in this setence?

支 usually means support or branch, but here it seems to take on a different meaning. Unless it means they plan the support they use in their life on money? I also tried to replace 用支 with 用之 and 用纸, ...
2
votes
3answers
137 views

Difference: 帘 vs. 帷?

Came across the character 帷 for the first time the other day, in the word 窗帷. Oxford, KEY and Adstrotrans define 帷, simply, as: curtain ABC and A Chinese-English Dictionary define it as a: ...
8
votes
4answers
307 views

中东 - “Middle East” or “Eastern China”?

The dictionary lists both Middle East and Eastern China for 中东. Is one of these meanings more common? What would be a native speaker's first impression of the word? Does the meaning vary from ...
4
votes
1answer
152 views

演 = 氵+ 寅 but what's it got to do with water!? How did it get its modern meanings?

氵+ 寅 = 演 zisea 拼音:yan3 ①根据事理推广发挥:推~。讲~(亦作“演讲”)。~义(以史书及传说的材料为基础,增添一些细节,用章回体写成的小说)。~绎(一种推理方法,由一般原理推出关于特殊情况下的结论)。 ②依照程式练习:~练。~示。~算。~武。~习。~兵场。 ③不断变化:~变。~化。 ...
6
votes
3answers
406 views

哪儿 vs. 哪里, Difference in Meaning?

Is there any difference in meaning between 哪儿 and 哪里? If not, then how did the two different words come to be employed? Does 儿 have a meaning, or is it just a sound? I know that there are many ...
3
votes
6answers
230 views

Requesting an English translation for 来 in 你哪儿来的这么多书? compatible with a Chinese-to-English dictionary

I am a Caucasian American with English as my native language. I want to improve my knowledge of the Mandarin Chinese language. I found the following question in Modern Chinese Beginner's Course 3, ...
5
votes
4answers
326 views

What is the meaning of ㄝ?

From wikipedia: ㄝ是注音符号中的韵母之一,字形取自“世”字,发音则取“世”字之韵。 But I am not seeing how it should be used, and what is the meaning of this. Anyone knows what is the meaning of this, and when it should be ...
4
votes
3answers
275 views

What does 自个 mean: “since a” or “onself”

As a title, I have found to meanings for 自个: "since a" or "oneself", what is correct and how to translate it?
7
votes
6answers
7k views

Does 危机 really mean both crisis and opportunity?

A lot of people, mostly those who haven't studied Chinese, like to claim something along the lines of "In Chinese, the word for crisis 危机, also bears the meaning of opportunity." This is usually ...
4
votes
6answers
379 views

What does 糗大 (qiǔdà) mean?

What does 糗大 (qiǔdà) mean in the following phrase? 那才真的糗大了。 From context, I think it ought to mean something like "that would really be terrible" or "that would be far worse," but I can't find ...
6
votes
6answers
941 views

What does 厉害 mean, and in what context does it mean what?

This has to be one of the more ambiguous words I have struggled with. 厉害 can be: very well performed = 玩得很厉害; harsh = 骂得很厉害; severe = 生病得很厉害; probably a bunch of other stuff... Can anyone give a ...
6
votes
8answers
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!
2
votes
2answers
132 views

meaning: 辱=辰+寸, why? What does it mean?

Chinese Etymology (dot org) says: From hand 寸 and plow 辰. Meaning humiliate. (possibly from low level work) This explanation seems very 牵强 - plowing wouldn't been seen as low level work until ...
2
votes
3answers
131 views

Meaning: 好棋? (Good move?)

Seems like I'm not the only one confused about this, the country is coming up with slogans nobody understands. Recently there have been a lot of signs put up with things like 中国前进 written on them, ...
5
votes
6answers
699 views

犬子: who's the dog?

犬子 (literally, dog + son) is an archaic, self-depreciatory term to refer to your son (occasionally it's used to insult other people's sons). This answer raises a question though; who is the dog ...
3
votes
5answers
677 views

你是我的小呀小苹果儿 What is the purpose of the second 小?

So I'm listening to this catchy song and the chorus goes 你是我的小呀小苹果儿. I'm wondering why the 小 is being said twice. Is that just something the artist is doing to play with the language in the song or ...
2
votes
3answers
270 views

What is the meaning and proper usage of 凭什么?

I was watching a TV show and heard them using the expression 凭什么 to say 'why' - I hadn't heard this with this exact meaning before, so I'm wondering what the proper meaning is in English, and what the ...
1
vote
1answer
165 views

减/減 (Reduce/Subtract/Decrease/Diminish): What's it got to do with water?

So here we have 冫+咸 (or 氵+咸) = 减(減). 减(減) means something along the lines of reduce/subtract/decrease/diminish or what have you. What has water got to do with this though? Logically one would ...
5
votes
2answers
118 views

Is the difference between and saying 有时 and 会偶尔 very big?

Does one imply a much greater frequency? What about register? Is the difference between and saying 有时 and 会偶尔 very big, or is it in all cases quite close?
2
votes
2answers
457 views

How to come from 二百五 to 二百九?

I know 二百五 stands for foolish/stupid and I assume I have to add up 二百五, 三八 and 二 to it to obtain 二百九. Is this right and if so, what does 二 mean and where did it get it's meaning?
5
votes
1answer
183 views

Meanings behind “吹牛” and “拍马屁”

I would like to find out more about the two sayings "吹牛" and "拍马屁". How these sayings come about and get their current meanings? 吹牛 chuīniú meaning to brag 拍马屁 pāimǎpì meaning to excessively ...
3
votes
1answer
357 views

When is it proper to use 托您的福?

I think it means that I succeeded in part because of your luck. I've heard this used when I was in Beijing a few times.
8
votes
2answers
335 views

Why does 有机 as in 有机食品 mean organic?

有 and 机 are some of the first characters we learn in Chinese, but only recently did I find out that they mean "organic" when put together. Can anyone explain why this is?
3
votes
2answers
81 views

What exact breed of animal is a 金丝熊?

金丝熊 is easily available from local animal markets in my wife's home town. We asked the owners of different stores and they say it is not a mouse. So what exactly is it, is it just a fancy name for a ...
6
votes
2answers
117 views

How did 舆论 come to represent Public Opinion?

How did the word 舆论 come to represent the concept of Public Opinion? I know the meanings of the individual characters but I just don't quite see how the combination of these two meanings leads to the ...
14
votes
9answers
2k views

How offensive is 他妈的?

How offensive is the expression 他妈的? What is an English expression with a similar degree of offensiveness? In what situations is this expression appropriate / not appropriate?
2
votes
2answers
140 views

Translation: 地灾

We're getting 地灾 warnings over here...but what is a 地灾? Apparently it's short for 地质灾害... adsotrans dictionary defines it, word-for-word, as a geological disaster; which is pretty meaningless ...
-1
votes
2answers
262 views

filial piety[孝]: what it is and what it isn't(?)

孝、孝顺,孝道、孝敬 all talk of filial piety which is a huge part of Chinese language and culture. 愚孝 on the other hand means "stupidly filial" and is defined by Taiwans Ministry of Education as, ...