7
votes
1answer
188 views

How does tone sandhi apply in people's names?

Like the title says, the question is simple: what's the proper way to handle tone sandhi in names? Is there something like "pronounce the family name as-is, apply tone sandhi to given name"? Or is ...
6
votes
6answers
357 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
266 views

Authoritative source for 一 changing to 4th tone before 1st, 2nd or 3rd

In another users answer http://chinese.stackexchange.com/a/2046/38 they said: 一 is pronounced in the first tone when it stands alone. It is pronounced in the fourth tone when it precedes a ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Characteristics of Northern and Southern accents

My first language is Cantonese. I learned Mandarin as a second language. Native speakers of Mandarin often understand me with no major issues. Of course, they recognize the Southern accents right ...
1
vote
5answers
236 views

How would you say “he does not take criticism well” in Cantonese and in Mandarin? [closed]

How would you say this in Cantonese and how would you say this in Mandarin?
11
votes
6answers
585 views

When is it appropriate to address a lady as 先生?

Chairman Mao addressed Soong Ching-ling as 宋庆龄先生. Yang Jiang was also addressed as 杨绛先生 by the public. My dad used to tell me to address some of his female colleagues as 先生 too. I wonder why a lady ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do Chinese translations of English names sound very inaccurate?

I have noticed that most Chinese translation of English names sounds really inaccurate and weird. For example, the common translation of person's name "Robert Wilson" is "罗伯特·威尔逊", which is not ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

How is 就 (jiù) used?

Pimsleur's Mandarin course teaches "I'm leaving very early tomorrow morning" as: 我明天早上很早就走 (wŏ míngtiān zăoshàng hĕn zăo jiù zŏu) It says that 就 (jiù) doesn't have a corresponding meaning in ...
9
votes
3answers
516 views

What's the actual difference between 文 and 语?

Both mean "language" with some other related meanings. A friend of mine told me that while 文 refers more to the written language, 语 is more related to the spoken one. Is this a difference and is it ...
7
votes
3answers
450 views

Why is it written LIU in Pinyin, when there's clearly an O sound?

Does anybody know why this decision was made in Pinyin, about not writing any hint of the sound /O/ in liu, instead of writing something like liou or liow ? Because the first reaction of any ...
6
votes
5answers
686 views

Reading Chinese without speaking it

I've been enjoying the book Chineasy and it make me wonder if it would be possible to read chinese without knowing how to speak it phonetically. Technically it might not be "reading chinese" because ...
6
votes
7answers
555 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
760 views

Are there any free fonts designed to help learn/read Chinese?

Problem As a Chinese student I found that one of the first barrier is reading. Indeed, when trying to acquire new vocabulary one might be faced with the opacity of the Chinese character as opposed to ...
6
votes
4answers
254 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", ...
5
votes
1answer
313 views

When is it appropriate to use 亲爱的?

In English it perfectly fine in a business context and for someone you have never met before to use Dear XXXX at the beginning of a letter or email. This causes some difficulty when moving to another ...
5
votes
2answers
415 views

Is it common for zh/j, ch/q, and sh/x to be merged?

I learned formally that in the standard Beijing accent, zh, ch, and sh are pronounced more in the back in the mouth than j, q, and x. However, I got lazy and speak all six of these consonants in the ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

In what instances can use you use 干嘛 over 干吗 (and vice versa)?

I noticed that 干嘛 appears used in various forms of media, such as newspapers, magazines, and movie subtitles. From a pronunciation standpoint, 嘛 and 吗 are different (neutral tone vs. second tone, ...
3
votes
2answers
356 views

What are some good dictionaries about Mathematics?

I have found a dictionary about Mathematics; however, it goes from Chinese to English. I have tried different bookstores in my city, but they don't have an English to Chinese dictionary. I have ...
2
votes
3answers
192 views

的 at the end of short responses

I've always been curious about this: What is the grammatical reason for 的 at the end of these short responses? Q: 這樣好嗎? A: 好的。 Q: 你是美國人嗎? A: 是的。 Q: 你會彈鋼琴嗎? A: 會的。 Can someone shed some light on it ...
2
votes
2answers
138 views

Translation of “this much and no more”

I found this sentence and its English translation on tatoeba.org: 我知道的就這麼多了。 Beyond this I know nothing. Now I'm trying to parse the sentence structure, and I'd like some confirmation or a ...
32
votes
9answers
2k views

Is there a lot of value in learning to write Chinese characters?

I have noticed that a lot of my friends that study Chinese at university spend a lot of their time learning to write Chinese. I would estimate more than 50% of their Chinese study time is spent on ...
24
votes
11answers
2k views

Etymology of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)

Main Question: What is the etymology of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)? Related question: Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九) I decide to write a ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

How to improve my Chinese writing

When someone has grasped the basic concepts of writing Chinese there comes a point where handwriting starts to look plain or mechanical. From what I have seen the lines look very straight and like ...
20
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 ...
20
votes
4answers
1k views

Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九)

A common experience of beginner hanzi students is their raised hopes and expectations when they learn 一 二 三 - "what a wonderfully elegant language!" - which are promptly crushed when they encounter 四. ...
9
votes
7answers
640 views

What is the difference between using 光 vs using 只?

What is the gramatical difference between 光 and 只? 光剩下2毛钱 does not have the same meaning/context as 只剩下2毛钱 It seems there is more emphasis to the part that comes after 光. When is the right time to ...
8
votes
3answers
477 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, ...
4
votes
1answer
159 views

怎么… with 的 and 了

So it is said that if you find 的 after 怎么, the sentence represents 'How', and if you find 了 after 怎么, the sentence represents 'Why'. How : 你怎么来的? "How did you come?" Why : 你怎么来了? "Why did you come?" ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

What Chinese podcasts are available to improve my listening skills? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese I'm a big podcast fan, and I think listening to Chinese podcasts would be a great way to improve my listening skills. I enjoy ...
22
votes
11answers
58k views

How to describe differences between Cantonese and Mandarin?

When I tell people I speak Cantonese I'm often asked, "What's the difference between that and Mandarin?". This inevitably leads to a very poor explanation that includes references to the differences ...
18
votes
3answers
752 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?
9
votes
2answers
708 views

Using 的 at the end of a sentence

I'm looking for confirmation of the way I'm parsing a sentence with 的 at the end, and I'd appreciate some background or other examples of this usage. I found this sentence on tatoeba.org: ...
13
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 ...
9
votes
4answers
360 views

In pinyin, why is there an inconsistency between bo, po, suo, duo etc

We have: bo, po, mo, fo, wo But then: duo, suo, luo, zuo, ruo, cuo, guo, huo, nuo, tuo In each, the vowel is pronounced the same, but the creators of pinyin have chosen two different ...
9
votes
3answers
462 views

Do 之 and 的 come from the same word?

In modern Chinese 之 is thought of as the literary genitive particle and 的 as the colloquial. In most reconstructions of Old Chinese 之 looks very similar to the way 的 is pronounced now. For example in ...
9
votes
3answers
215 views

Asking “what's the pinyin/character for X?”

How do we ask someone to "translate" a character or some pinyin into the other one? The expressions I'm referring to are: What's the pinyin for this/that (character)/... ? What's the ...
8
votes
3answers
354 views

When do I use 着 to indicate action in progress?

It seems like for some verbs (正)在 is used to indicate action in progress, but I have also encountered 着 for some, like 穿着. When should it be used, is there a rule to follow?
18
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the difference between 狗 and 犬?

狗 (gǒu) and 犬 (quǎn) both mean "dog" and both seem relatively common, but is there any difference between them? When should I use one and when should I use the other?
14
votes
7answers
4k views

Why is stroke order important when writing Chinese characters?

I often see people having a big focus on correct stroke order for writing Chinese characters. My question is, for most learners, is it important to know the stroke order, and if so, why is it ...
11
votes
3answers
573 views

足: why is “foot” also “enough”?

足 is an ancient character meaning "foot". However, it also means "enough" or "sufficient", and this second definition is also very old. Consider this excerpt: 兵甲已足。——诸葛亮《出师表》 This is from ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

How were Chinese characters taught to Chinese children before the introduction of pinyin?

Before schools started to use pinyin for teaching characters to Chinese children, how and/or what was used to teach it instead? And what about how dictionaries showed the pronunciation of characters?
7
votes
3answers
2k views

What does 'duang' mean in 'online Chinese'?

I see this word popping up on Weibo and Taobao. It's not written with any character, but spelled out in Pinyin. What does it mean? EDIT: For the annals:
6
votes
4answers
895 views

Pinyin tones pronunciation cheat sheet

I've just started taking Chinese lessons, and I've been trying to find a "cheat sheet" for pinyin pronunciation. All the sites I've found is either incomplete (only having some tones), only having the ...
6
votes
4answers
5k views

When are “《” and “ 》” and other brackets used?

In some texts, I have seen the following brackets: Carrot brackets: 《, 》,〈, and 〉. Square brackets: 【, 】,〖, and 〗. C-brackets: 〔 and 〕. L-brackets: 「, 」, 『, and 』. Some questions: What are the ...
17
votes
4answers
729 views

Reading handwriting

How can I get better at reading handwriting? Are there fonts that look like it, or web sites with examples for practice? Are there some common shortcuts that people take when writing by hand?
12
votes
5answers
427 views

How do we know what characters correspond to Chinese names?

Recently I've asked "How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?", and now, I'm facing a similar, yet kind of different problem, which I think applies to any westerner or Chinese ...
10
votes
4answers
233 views

Are there standard dictionaries for Chinese?

Standard dictionaries have had a profound effect on languages like English. They've helped normalize spelling and pronunciation and provide reference for meanings and disambiguation. When thinking of ...
9
votes
4answers
936 views

List of hanzi and their components

I would like to be able to compute the distance between 2 hanzi according to their components. My idea is that a hanzi like 式 is made of 工 and 弋. 2 hanzi are close if they share common components. ...
9
votes
2answers
538 views

How will translate “谁让你” into English?

How will translate "谁让你" into English? For example, 我不得不服从你的安排。 谁让你是我的老板呢?
9
votes
5answers
11k views

How to say “cool” in Chinese

Basically I am looking for words in common usage which are roughly synonymous with English "cool", "wicked", "awesome", "sweet", and related positive slang adjectives. I would also like to know how ...

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