2
votes
2answers
165 views

Does 外行的想法 mean “rookie mistake”?

I found this sentence and its translation on tatoeba.org. Is there a better way to translate it into English? 這是外行的想法。 That's a layman's idea. I looked up 外行, and it does mean amateur or ...
5
votes
4answers
436 views

What does this character mean?

I've tried a number of online and paper dictionaries (Chinese-Chinese character dictionaries) and I still can't find this character. Since I don't know how it's pronounced or what the right part is ...
8
votes
2answers
530 views

What do Chinese do if they forget how to write a character?

I've heard that character amnesia is becoming more and more common. What if a Chinese has to write something and he doesn't have a cellphone or computer with him, what does he do if he forgot the ...
5
votes
2answers
253 views

Difference between 两个都 and 我们俩

Pimsleur's Mandarin course teaches 'both of us' as 我们两个都 (wǒ men liăng ge dōu), but in another question I asked here I recently found that 我们俩 (wǒ men liă). Are these always interchangeable, or are ...
3
votes
1answer
288 views

How to ask someone to take a photo?

Recently on vacation I wanted to ask a Chinese tourist if they would mind taking a photo of my wife and I - but I didn't know how, so just asked 你可以吗? (nǐ kěyǐ ma?) while pointing to my camera. How ...
6
votes
5answers
351 views

What was this online dictionary's name with ancient traditional and simplified characters and etymology?

I once found a Mandarin Chinese dictionary which for each character listed the ancient, the traditional and the simplified Chinese characters. For each it described its meaning and how it developed ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Writing sheets generator

When I was in China I bought some writing books for practicing Chinese handwriting. This is good but have 2 disadvantages. Size of cell is too big for brush and too small for roller pen. Must be for ...
6
votes
5answers
413 views

Are there any online resources for learning Chinese 4-character idioms

I'm interested particularly in the 4-character idioms/chengyu's. Some that I've learnt recently: 独一无二 - unique 由此可见 - this shows that 一般来说 - generally speaking I've realised they come in really ...
3
votes
4answers
181 views

How to ask “is it really so that…”?

How do I ask a question like "is it really so that you're just 18?" or "is it really so that the movie was good?", i.e. a surprised question? My guess is something along the lines of "这是真的,你只有十八岁呢?", ...
2
votes
2answers
146 views

How do you say “preferences” as opposed to “demands”?

I encounter many situations where I want to ask someone what they would like as opposed to what they need. For example, I wanted to find a restaurant for our class to have an end of the semester ...
3
votes
3answers
891 views

How to learn how to pronounce and remember names of Chinese students?

This question was originally asked on Academia.Stackexchange.com. I would normally not cross-post, however, I think this question might be an exception, where both sites may provide complementary ...
3
votes
1answer
161 views

What's the difference between “问一下”,“查询”, “询问”?

In the context of phone conversations with vendors I often default to either: 我想问一下… 请问… I'm looking for a possibly more appropriate way to address someone in this context. Would it be appropriate ...
2
votes
1answer
185 views

Expressions that have no meaning (什么/来着)

I know that these two expression, in certain circumstances, have no meaning and are optional. I'm trying to figure out how to use them, even though they have no meaning. 什么 This has a meaning, ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How do you say “I'll be a little late”?

I've learned that 来不及 means that I can't make something at a specific time. I've most often seen it used in the sense that "I can't make the appointment at all". How do you indicate to someone that ...
14
votes
2answers
521 views

Words referring to the shape of Chinese characters

Some words in English use (capital) letters to describe the shape of the object to which they refer: A-frame, C-clamp, I-beam, O-ring, T-shirt, T-intersection, T-bone, U-turn, V-neck Chinese ...
6
votes
1answer
353 views

What is the difference in usage between 以后 and 之后?

Today John Pasden linked to an old Sinosplice post in which he discussed how Chinese grammatical categories cannot be mapped neatly onto those of Indo-European languages. ...
3
votes
1answer
142 views

Usage of 感动 (active/passive?)

According to mdbg.net 感动 means both 'to move (emotionally)' and 'moving'. But from what I understand from some texts I have '邻居们都很感动' implying a more passive meaning for 感动. Can someone shed some ...
2
votes
1answer
122 views

(Literally) Seeing Through Things

Earlier today, I ended up in a discussion which somehow involved people who were (literally) transparent. I was somewhat at a loss for how to say "Can you see through him?". After some research, I've ...
8
votes
1answer
174 views

Correct usage for 跟。。。过不去

This question has two parts: What's the precise meaning of this expression? What is the correct usage? Question (1) I understand it to mean that the person referred to (eg, 跟她过不去) is uncomfortable ...
6
votes
1answer
255 views

The origins of “AA制”

Every since I learned the expression AA制*, I have been curious as to its origins. The morphology seems clear enough: AA + 制(定) = "to draw up (the bill) in an AA way". What is not clear is how AA ...
3
votes
3answers
162 views

Is there a word for “kosher”?

I'm looking for a translation of the word kosher in it's most strict sense: a food that is apt according to the jewish law. Google translates kosher as 犹太, but if I'm not mistaken, that just means ...
8
votes
3answers
145 views

Are 平常 and 通常 essentially interchangeable?

In a few of my entries on Lang-8.com, several of my Chinese friends have changed 平常 into 通常 and vice versa without providing additional explanation. It it just a matter of personal taste?
4
votes
1answer
195 views

Where can I find Codecademy for Written Chinese?

Recently, my wife has been learning to program JavaScript using Codecademy. I like how it walks people through exercises step by step, and builds up concepts, etc. All the marking is automated, and ...
6
votes
5answers
804 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

What website will speak Cantonese to me? [closed]

My parents are born in Hong Kong so I can speak Cantonese semi-fluently, although I cannot write. I've been learning Mandarin and I find that my cantonese has been useful because if the word is used ...
2
votes
2answers
250 views

How to describe a puppet show

I want to describe a puppet show we saw. It was in a theatre and performed by professional puppeteers. I found three terms for puppet: 人形, 木偶, and 傀儡. I couldn't find anything for puppeteer. Here's ...
0
votes
2answers
142 views

How extensible is the tonal quality rule?

I'm starting a Chinese languange course now, I've just seen that ma can have four meanings, it depends only on their tonal qualities. I wonder: How extensible is this tonal quality rule in forming ...
3
votes
3answers
752 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, ...
5
votes
1answer
219 views

Connotation of 吗 questions vs. affirmative/negative questions

Is there any difference in connotation/region/modernity/etc. between questions ending in 吗 and affirmative/negative questions? For example, does: 你很累吗? connote something different than: 你累不累? And ...
5
votes
2answers
81 views

Is the description for components of 条 correct?

During studying 条 character in one of the dictionaries I have found decomposition of this character to two components: 夂 zhǐ: to go 木 mù: tree; wood (Kangxi radical 75) I see the 夂 component but ...
6
votes
4answers
751 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
386 views

What is a good English translation for “老乡”?

In what contexts can 老乡 used? How do they translate to English?
1
vote
3answers
209 views

Proper response to 不好意思

If someone make a mistake and say this: 不好意思,非常不好意思! What is the proper response? Should 没事 or 没关系 be used to reply?
3
votes
2answers
177 views

Simplification of 蘭(兰)

I've always been curious about the process of simplifying 蘭 to 兰. I'm not really familiar with the simplification process, but this one is shocking to me. From what I've seen (I've studied only ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What are the normal forms of valediction in Chinese?

For example, how do they normally sign off letters? We normally use 'Yours Faithfully' or 'Your Sincerely' but we might not be so formal in emails and instead just 'Regards'. What is standard ...
3
votes
1answer
293 views

Wubihua / Traditional Chinese / Open-source index

I have been looking for an open-source index of Chinese characters (Traditional) indexed by the Wubihua (五筆劃). I have found only partial lists (up to four digits), and only for Simplified. I know ...
1
vote
1answer
197 views

Origin of 英国 (England)

I understand that 英国 has a phonetic origin, Yīng guó is rather close to England. However I would like to know if it is possible to find out who coined that translation, and if there is more to it than ...
3
votes
3answers
360 views

How to say “to give”?

I've been doing research on how to translate the verb "to give". I'm trying to find a common way to say it as in sentances like "I gave my friend one apple" or "My friend gave me one apple". I ...
3
votes
1answer
114 views

六一 and short date format

In a calendar I saw this in reference to the Children's Day: 快乐“六一” Happy Children's Day! I guess 六一 is a shorter form of 6月1日. Is that form of writing dates only used for special dates? How ...
3
votes
2answers
131 views

What is the difference between 试验 and 实验?

Both 试验 and 实验 seems to be translated into "experiment". What is the difference between the two words? Can they be used interchangeably or not?
4
votes
4answers
155 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
126 views

How can I translate “非语言表达方式”?

This is an example sentence from my textbook: 除了学习用语言表达自己的思想感情以外,还要学习用非语言表达方式。 Here "非" has the meaning "not" or "non-". I would translate it to something like: Aside from studying using ...
2
votes
4answers
222 views

How can I translate “精神需要”?

This is an example sentence in my textbook: "建立良好的人际关系,是每个社会人的精神需要" 精神 is translated in the dictionary into "spirit, mind, consciousness". Here I believe it must be modifying 需要, which is acting ...
1
vote
2answers
166 views

Why 给 is used in 我的手被虫子给咬了?

I saw this in the subtitles of a TV show: 我的手被虫子给咬了。 Why 给 is used in that sentence? Without considering 给, I've translated it to: My hand was bitten by an insect.
2
votes
1answer
396 views

How does English to Chinese translation affect magazine layouts?

For a magazine, I know from a personal source that English text, when translated properly from German, fills out two thirds of the space the German source text usually takes up. Does anyone know how ...
1
vote
1answer
162 views

How would you say 悲凉 in English?

How would you say 悲凉 in English? For example, 每当想起自己的经历,心里就阵阵悲凉。
5
votes
4answers
651 views

How to emphasize a word in writing?

I guess in English maybe this would only be done by italics, I am not sure but here is a sample in English and my bad translation to Chinese, what is the best way to emphasis? I know for example that ...
3
votes
1answer
149 views

Example of using 吧 in conversation

My textbook explains that 吧 is a modal particle, but I'm not a linguist and the "modal particle" article on Wikipedia didn't help. Can you give examples of using 吧 in conversation?
3
votes
4answers
368 views

Pronunciation of 那个

I'm surprised this question hasn't been asked yet! The pinyin for 那个 is nà gè, but in conversation, Chinese people often pronounce it more like nee-guh than nah-guh. I asked my teacher and she says ...
3
votes
2answers
462 views

How to say “meeting” in Chinese?

I would like to create a chat meeting for CL&U and so I thought, why not make the title in Chinese? I was thinking of using the term "meeting" or a similar one. On my dictionary, for meeting, it ...

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