9
votes
2answers
404 views

Measure Words and their English Analogue

I was taught that the closest analogue in English of Chinese measure words are 'units', e.g. "a pile of wood", "a cup of water", etc. What strikes me as a bit odd about this analogy is that the units ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

How does Wikipedia's simplified to traditional converter work?

The relationship between simplified and traditional characters can be a headache for organizations using both orthographies. "A number of surveys, such as [Xiandai 1986], have demonstrated that ...
8
votes
1answer
460 views

Analog of Hong Kong grade level for Chinese characters?

The Unihan database lists a kGradeLevel for each entry. This is the primary grade in the Hong Kong school system by which a student is expected to know the corresponding character. Is there a similar ...
8
votes
3answers
450 views

How did 外国人 become 老外?

From Baidu: 老外,是中国人对国外人的一种俗称,类似与老张、老王、老李之类的称呼。称呼中加“老”显得亲热,比如“老乡”“老表”,称呼你老外,就像称呼老张老李那样,大大咧咧,随便亲切。过去中国人对外国人的称呼都是用在第三人称上,只有“老外”可以用于第二人称。 To translate, it says laowai is a colloquial term for ...
8
votes
3answers
792 views

Why does the construction of 要是…的话 mean “if”?

I know other words like 如果 also mean "if", but why would 要是...的话 mean "if"? An example sentence: 要是你喜欢汉语(的话),你该听中国的音乐。 If you like Chinese, you should listen to Chinese music.
7
votes
4answers
550 views

Origin of beautiful kingdom and hero kingdom

Why in Mandarin chinese, USA is beautiful kingdom and England is hero kingdom?
7
votes
4answers
684 views

What's the difference between 舅舅 and 叔叔?

My favorite short story in modern Mandarin, 2015 by 王小波, is basically a long, humorous digression about the author's 舅舅: ...
6
votes
6answers
908 views

Is it correct to say “在手机”?

Would it be correct to use the phrase "在手机”/“在手机上”, etc to express that I am doing something on my phone? For example, could I say “我听音乐在我的手机上。”? Or can 在 only be used for my actual physical location? ...
6
votes
5answers
522 views

What is that use of 得?

I have read the sentence: 你还记得我吗? But I can’t understand the meaning of 得, here. I don’t think it belongs to the rules explained here
6
votes
5answers
301 views

In this sentence, what is the purpose of 的?

Consider this sentence: 你说的是什么? I understand that 的 permits creating adjectives, like 我的 would be "my". But here, I can’t see how it works. What is its purpose?
6
votes
3answers
193 views

Visual puns and phrases

Some characters are visual puns: 尜 (小大小), 尖 (小大); others are a phrase written as a single character: 膥 (未成肉), 籴 (入米), 汆 (入水), 奀 (不大). What are some other characters which fit into these categories?
6
votes
3answers
361 views

Difference between 曾经 and 已经

In this question I was asking about 曾经 and one answer says it means 'already'. What's the difference between 曾经 and 已经? Do the two sentences below have the same meaning? 他曾经在北京学过两年汉语。 ...
6
votes
3answers
231 views

When should 了 be after the verb and when should it be at the end of the sentence?

In a sentence such as "因为我去面试了,所以我刮了胡子", in one case, 了 is after the sentence, while in the other case it's after the verb, even though in both cases, 了 is used to express the past tense. So how to ...
5
votes
6answers
714 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
217 views

奇 is a strange character

Lost Etymology 奇 ( jī | qí ) is a character that means strange but the etymology appears to have been lost. At least as far as I can tell after researching offline books, zhongwen.com, and ...
5
votes
5answers
499 views

Why do you say 我没有错 instead of 我不错 to say “I'm not wrong”? When should I use 没有?

I'm trying to understand when 没有 should be used instead of 不 when negating a sentence. Consider the example "I'm not wrong." Why is it 没有错? How can I know when to use 没有 when negating a sentence? ...
5
votes
4answers
229 views

太: Meaning in 灰太狼

灰太狼 灰太狼 (A character in a TV show) is translated in English as "Grey Wolf". What has happened to the 太, wouldn't 灰狼 be enough to mean "Grey Wolf"?
5
votes
2answers
410 views

“If you say so”: Dismissive agreement

I would like to know some ways to agree in a non-committal or dismissive way. For instance, in English, we have: If you say so. Is that so? (with a flat intonation) Really? (flat ...
5
votes
4answers
285 views

Searching for characters by parts

Are there any online or computer dictionaries that allow searching for characters by any sub-part of the character? Occasionally it I see a character the parts of which I can already type. But I ...
4
votes
1answer
171 views

Zhuyin IME and tone 0/5 syllables

I'm teaching myself bopomofo/zhuyin keyboard while I'm in Taiwan. My Chinese level is raw beginner too. I just came across the word for tofu: Hanzi: 豆腐 Pinyin: dòufu Zhuyin: ㄉㄡˋㄈㄨ· (or ㄉㄡˋㄈㄨ˙) We ...
3
votes
7answers
1k views

Can we call someone X太太 or not?

Can we call someone X太太 ? or is it the calling of husband to his wife? In my textbook everybody calls one women 錢太太. But my teacher said it is unsuitable. Which one is correct?
3
votes
3answers
370 views

What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?

With Mandarin making more and more in-roads into Cantonese speaking Hong Kong, I'm wondering what characteristics set it apart from Standard Mandarin or other regional Mandarin dialects and/or ...
3
votes
1answer
213 views

non-standard tone pronunciation

After carefully listening to the tapes of Assimil "Chinese with ease", I noticed that the pronunciation by the native speakers of a few characters differs from the standard tones: 多 pronounced with a ...
3
votes
6answers
2k views

How to translate “暧昧” into English?

Many dictionaries translate it to "ambiguity",but it looks so indefinitely. I'm looking for more expressive answer.
3
votes
2answers
316 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
2answers
187 views

Measure words for disrespect

I know certain measure words convey respect, for example: 一位客人 Is there something similar I could use to emphatically disrespect someone, as in: 他是一?饭桶 Or is just using 个 disrespectful ...
3
votes
4answers
521 views

How to express “same shit, different names” in Mandarin?

I was recently discussing computer games with a friend and realised that I don't know how to express "same shit, different names" in Chinese. We were talking about DotA, LoL and similar games. If I ...
2
votes
1answer
62 views

Are there other similar Mandarin Chinese radio plays?

I used to listened to this Buddhist stories radio play (空中结缘) some time ago. It's aired weekly by RTHK/香港电台 and apart from the recitations from Buddhist scriptures, I think the dialog parts are ...
2
votes
3answers
577 views

Does the beta like character (as in 陳, 附 and many more) in Chinese have a special meaning?

It probably doesn't. I tried searching but couldn't find one. But would be great if it does! Would help me remember so many new words. I hope somebody has figured out a pedagogical role of that ...
2
votes
1answer
462 views

Are tones sometimes glossed over?

To elaborate, although ni3 hao3 has a double third tone, when I hear native speakers say it, it's said so quickly that they definitely are not using that tone, nor is there feasibly time to use the ...
1
vote
4answers
100 views

The word order of co-existing adverbs in a sentence

I am wondering whether there is a commonly accepted rule about the word order of co-existing adverbs in a sentence. For example, in the following sentences, 果然,昨天,直接,从学校 are adverbs. Which of the ...
1
vote
6answers
189 views

How to introduce “Husband” in social occasions?

Some common words are 先生 or 老公, Are there any other options that would be more socially appropriate?
1
vote
2answers
132 views

List of historical Chinese currency terms

Does anyone know where I can find a list of terms used for units of currency throughout the history of China? I am especially interested in finding those terms that can function as 量词, like 文 and 贯. ...
1
vote
1answer
73 views

What computer games provide practice? [closed]

What On-line, for download or for purchase software-based games provide fun language practice for learners of Chinese? What level of learner are they best suited for? What platform do they run on?
11
votes
6answers
493 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
102 views

How common is the use of “瞧” and which region?

I've seen 瞧 used every now and then in written Chinese, but I've rarely heard it said in spoken Chinese except for the occasional mention of 瞧不起. A couple of days ago I was watching Kung Fu Panda and ...
8
votes
4answers
197 views

Etymology of 汉语

I knew a Chinese woman who taught me a lot about Chinese languages. One of them was about 汉语's etymology. I was told that all parts of these characters had a meaning connected to the History of ...
7
votes
2answers
509 views

Pronunciation of 一 in 一个

When I first learnt the numbers, I learnt 一 with the first tone yi1. But now, during a Memrise lesson, they teach me that 一个 should be pronounced yi2 ge4 or yi2 ge5. Is this correct and, if so, is ...
7
votes
1answer
300 views

Determine radicals for simplifed characters that lost their traditional form completely

Having read this question: How can one determine the radical for a given character?, it gave me another question. Since many simplified characters lost their original form (compared to traditional ...
7
votes
2answers
604 views

我(也)很好 and tone sandhi

What are the (resultant) tones in those sentences, where all the words in isolation have 3rd tone? 我很好。 我也很好。 Reading tone shandhi rules on Wikipedia, there is no explanation about tree or ...
6
votes
4answers
243 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", ...
6
votes
5answers
854 views

Written Cantonese Pronunciation

I recently attended a Cantonese reading class in Hong Kong and discovered that pronunciation of the spoken form of written Cantonese can be very different from normal speech. The teacher was not able ...
6
votes
4answers
300 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
515 views

Teaching Pinyin and Characters together vs Teaching Pinyin then Characters

I'm designing a curriculum to teach middle school students elementary Chinese. When I started learning, I began with Traditional Chinese characters and pinyin together on day one. I'm not so sure the ...
5
votes
4answers
327 views

That mystical 就 again

Here is a sentence: 厨房壁炉架上的那面镜子就把哈利吓了一跳 Below are my translation variants. Bold letters should be a 'jiu' english analog here. The mirror on top of the kitchen's fireplace scared Harry the ...
5
votes
5answers
613 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?
4
votes
2answers
68 views

Tone three sandhi

If there are two third tones in a row, e.g. ni3hao3, the first one is pronounced as a second tone, i.e. ni3hao3=ni2hao3. At least, that's what I was told in a course. What happens with more ...
4
votes
4answers
502 views

Difference between 我饿了 and 我很饿?

Someone tried to explain the difference in this answer http://chinese.stackexchange.com/a/43/38 saying that 我饿了 means "I became hungry", but I don't see the difference because we don't say I became ...
4
votes
3answers
254 views

Grammar for counting in Chinese (for non-native speakers of Chinese)

I need to write a program that can insert the count of objects into a text - without knowing virtually anything about the Chinese language. While for English this needs to distinguish between singular ...
3
votes
3answers
349 views

Why is 的 used in these sentences?

I have the following sentences: 你是哪一天出生的? (sentence 1) I'm trying to understand why 的 is being used in this sentence. I know it is used to express possession, but I'm not sure that's the case is ...

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