It's the set of words used by a language, but also all of the words within a language known by a single person.

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21
votes
9answers
3k views

What is a good technique for remembering tones?

I find it a great struggle to try and remember tones for all the new vocab I learn, and aside from gradually picking up tones by listening and talking with native speakers, I can't really remember ...
19
votes
3answers
820 views

但是, 可是 and 不过 - how to know which one to use?

According to my dictionary, 但是, 可是 and 不过 all mean "but/however"? However are there any differences between them? Are there some cases, where one can be used but not another?
18
votes
6answers
1k views

Character and word frequencies

I'm trying to build some automated tools for processing Chinese text. I'd like to know the relative frequencies of different characters and character combinations. Are there any web sites with this ...
17
votes
2answers
702 views

How do new Chinese characters get added to the language?

For example there are characters such as 熵 which as far as I know only means one thing - in this case entropy - and which have to have been deliberately added by some person or organization. An ...
14
votes
10answers
1k views

Are there word games in Chinese?

Do Chinese characters make it a lot harder to create or play word games in Chinese than it is in English? I have seen a few Chinese crosswords, but it seems like they aren't as densely cross-linked as ...
12
votes
7answers
18k views

Special meanings applied to numbers 0 - 10

From what I understand: 4 or 四 means death 8 is similar to 发 as in 发财 9 is somehow related to the emporer or is the emporer's number Can someone please provide the meanings (if they exist) for ...
11
votes
1answer
3k views

Different names for each of the fingers

In English we have different names for each of the fingers: Thumb, index, middle, ring and pinky fingers. Are there special names for each of these in Chinese and if necessary what are the ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Difference between 特色, 特點, 特性, 特質, and 特徵

Looking up these five words in dictionaries gives results that are almost identical. In Chinese-English dictionaries, I find explanations identical or very close to: a characteristic; a ...
10
votes
3answers
480 views

What is the equivalent of the English word 'Fail' in Mandarin?

Fail is a pretty popular term on the internet these days, and one I'm quite fond of. Looking in my Chinese dictionary I can't find a great equivalent - is there a good way to say this? What would be ...
10
votes
6answers
722 views

What's the difference between 星期X and 周X?

When accepting an answer, I noticed that the example used the word 周三 for Wednesday, but in my grammar, the days of the week are 星期一, 星期二, etc... They seem both correct but, what's the difference? ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

How is adding oil going to beneficial to the situation? 加油

Is anyone able to explain the history behind this cheer? At the face of it I'm unsure how this could be a cheer as 加 translate to add/plus/apply and 油 translates to oil/fat/grease you would think ...
9
votes
2answers
190 views

What is the difference between 有名,著名 and 闻名?

We know 名 means name or famous, what is the subtle difference between 有名,著名 and 闻名? Thanks!
9
votes
3answers
1k views

”委屈“ in English?

In Chinese, ”委屈“ has the meaning of being treated unfairly and consequently felt bad but didn't dare to complain. "be upset" doesn't necessarily imply being treated unfairly. "be wronged" doesn't ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

A Complex Chinese Character

I randomly saw this character on the blog a while ago and saved a image of it as shown below. Is this even a character? If so, what does it mean? When is it used? What was the origin of it? How do ...
8
votes
8answers
915 views

Never mind in Chinese

I ask someone a question, but then realize I already know the answer. In English, I'd say: "Oh wait, never mind." What's 口语 for "never mind" in this context?
8
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
209 views

What's the difference between 帐户 and 账户?

To my understanding, both mean "account", as in a bank account or online account. 账户 also appears to be the more common (100M search results) compared to 帐户 (about 50M results). What is the ...
8
votes
6answers
418 views

Should the term 廁所 (bathroom) be used for both a home and public toilet?

I found this word, 廁所 (Cèsuǒ). Does it mean a toilet outside house like a toilet in the mall? However, for a bathroom in a house which has only a toilet and a shower and there is no bathtub. How can ...
8
votes
3answers
488 views

Difference between 想 and 要?

I know both of them mean "want to" but have usage in differente contexts. When should I use each one? For example: 我要厺上海市 and 我想厺上海市 What's the difference in the meaning between them? Also, ...
8
votes
3answers
267 views

For video games terminology, what is the proper translation for “range”

I'm playing around with my mother tongue so I tried to translate sentences that I might write into Chinese. One of them was this sentence, in English. "The great strength of Annie comes from the long ...
8
votes
3answers
367 views

Which marital verbs are used for same-sex marriages?

In male-female marriage we use the two verbs; 嫁給 (jiàgěi) 娶 (qǔ) But these are gender specific. a woman can 嫁給 a man a man will 娶 a woman So how does this work in same-sex marriages?
8
votes
2answers
264 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 ...
7
votes
8answers
557 views

Neutral Terms for “White People”

This is always a difficult topic because racial and ethnic identities are so complex, sensitive, and dynamic: what are the best (as in the most precise and neutral) terms for "White" people? I've ...
7
votes
2answers
298 views

What's the difference between 房子 and 屋?

It seems like "house" is usually translated as 房子 (fáng zi) in standard Chinese, although 屋 (wū) is also a common translation, especially in Cantonese. Is there a difference between the two? When ...
7
votes
2answers
180 views

漏拆 - Meaning & usage?

I tried several sources & can't find a translation that seems correct. An example sentence & my attempt at translation: 嘴里漏拆了一根线怎么办? mouth inside left behind remove a strip of thread what ...
7
votes
3answers
226 views

How is 青 and 苍 used in classical Chinese to denote colors?

Here is what the dictionary says about 青:  1. 深绿色或浅蓝色:~草。~苔。 Dark Blue or light green.  2. 靛蓝色:靛~。~紫。 Indigo blue.  3. 黑色:~布。~衣。 Black. Similar case is 苍:  1. 深青色,深绿色:~翠。~天。 Dark ...
6
votes
6answers
368 views

What is the meaning of 相声?

Today I read a blog post talking about a Canadian guy called Mark Rowswell (aka 大山) that appears on Chinese TV shows and who is able to do 相声. This 相声 is referred to as "the art of language". What ...
6
votes
7answers
948 views

Correct/Polite way of asking “Can we speak in chinese?”

I would like to preface this by saying I'm Australian and speak with an Australian accent when I'm speaking English which can be hard to digest for a lot of people new to Australia. A lot of 1st gen ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Does there exists an English word for 汉化 ?

汉化 means becoming more assimilated to Han culture. (like Anglicise means being more assimilated to English culture) Historically, this has happened many times, e.g. during Khitan Empire, Jurchen ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

How do I say that a program (coding) “Works!”

I'm trying to say a program (as in something a programmer/程序员) finally works! Is there a way to translate this "works" into chinese? Could I say 我的代码终于可以了!? Or is there a way that is more clear ...
6
votes
3answers
167 views

What's the difference between “大衣” (dàyī), “外套” (wàitào), and “外衣” (wàiyī) - which can all be translated to “coat”?

As I need to buy some cold weather clothes now that I'm heading further north than Xi'an I tried to look up the word for "coat". I found there are at least these three terms: 大衣 (dàyī) 外套 (wàitào) ...
6
votes
3answers
687 views

How are the terms for “male/female” and “man/woman” divided exactly?

I know that daughter in Chinese is 女儿, and son is 儿子. A little side-question: Why isn't "son" 男儿? My main question is this one though: apart from son and daughter stated above, what are the ...
6
votes
2answers
148 views

Chinese weather periods

The only time I have traveled to Beijing a taxi driver told me I had come at the worst and hottest time of year. He explained to me that the year was divided up in periods of roughly 16 days and the ...
6
votes
2answers
867 views

Site for reading the same news article in English and Chinese (简体中文)

Previously I used to regularly go to a news site that had articles in English that allowed you to immediately switch to Chinese for the same article. It also had good information on the Chinese side ...
6
votes
7answers
580 views

What's the difference between 对不起, 对不住 and 不好意思

When I was in China, I heard people using 不好意思 to apologize casually. I also heard the expression 对不住 in TV series and movies. Is there any differences?
6
votes
5answers
428 views

Is there a noun that has the meaning of “offer” in Chinese? How to say “offer” in Chinese?

Such as "offer" in 我有了CUHK的入学许可 = "I got an offer from CUHK." 还没有一个地方要我 = "I still don't have any offers." I think there is no such noun in Chinese. Is there?
6
votes
3answers
631 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
2answers
259 views

What does 大秀香肩美背mean?

Got this off Weibo. What does 大秀香肩美背 mean? Particularly that 大 seems odd there.. 【熊乃瑾秀香肩美背 性感造型女人味十足】女星@熊乃瑾xiong 近日在意大利为某杂志拍摄了一组复古时尚大片,大秀香肩美背。 Thank you
6
votes
3answers
214 views

How would I say Dominican Republic in Chinese?

Google translate gives me: Duōmǐníjiā gònghéguó. But I wondered if the chinese use a smaller word or lop-off the Republic at the end?­­­­
6
votes
2answers
157 views

Are there any short prose or poetry works in classical or modern Chinese designed specifically to teach the names of the 64 hexagrams?

For a while I have wanted to learn to match the character names of the 64 hexagrams to the hexagrams themselves. Unfortunately, as for the names and hexagrams, none of them really stick in my memory. ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

How to express a date in Chinese (lunar) calendar?

Many traditional festivals are observed on a given date on the Chinese (lunar) calendar(Actually, the Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar). For example, the Spring Festival falls on the first day ...
5
votes
7answers
904 views

Accidentally Saying Chinese Swear Words

So I saw a video on youtube about a guys experience in china. He said that people can often accidentally say swear words if they say the tones wrong. Like the word "ma" It can heard as mother but ...
5
votes
7answers
391 views

Ways to politely insult somebody's intelligence in Mandarin?

I know of many words to insult people and call them stupid, but a majority of them are incredibly offensive. There are more polite phrases, such as 真笨, which I've seen used within families (as a plain ...
5
votes
2answers
330 views

What does 餅乾 mean in Taiwan?

I'm unfamiliar with the variety of Mandarin spoken in Taiwan, so I was surprised to see a chilli-snack 香脆椒 referred to as 餅乾: http://mall.tw100years.com/goods.php?id=9 ...
5
votes
5answers
426 views

webpage loading.. 加载 vs 载入​​​​​​​

What words should we use when we want to say "a webpage is loading"? In Gmail, when I change my settings to simplified Chinese, Google says "正在加载". However, when I change my settings to traditional ...
5
votes
3answers
184 views

What Chinese characters are rare in modern but common in classical Chinese?

I browsed randomly through texts written in classical Chinese, and I noticed there were a lot of Chinese characters that were frequent in classical Chinese but never or rarely being present in modern ...
5
votes
1answer
266 views

what does it mean when you use "作“ as a measure word for people?

What does it mean when you use "作" as a measure word for people ? for example, in 沈从文‘s 《丈夫》 I read the line 都使这作丈夫的想起了村长同乡绅那些大人物的威风 Is 作 different from 位?
5
votes
3answers
519 views

Does the Chinese language distinguish “doubt” and “suspicion”?

Doubt expresses a lack of belief due to insufficient evidence. Suspicion expresses a feeling of belief in the absence of evidence. If I'm not mistaken, the Chinese language does not distinguish the ...
5
votes
5answers
361 views

What is the meaning of 十三薪?

It has something to do with salary bonuses. Anyone know how to describe this in English? I haven't the slightest clue.
5
votes
5answers
736 views

What is the most common word in use to describe 'DVD' and what is its measure word

I've heard the Chinese are fine to use the English word DVD, rather than the chinese word. What is more common, and what measure word do they use with it?