6
votes
1answer
214 views

Dissimilation of bilabial finals following Middle Chinese (法, 品, 凡)

Middle Chinese syllables with the shape CVP where C is a bilabial stop and P is a bilabial underwent dissimilation to CVF, where F = P[-labial]. For instance, Baxter's reconstruction of 法 is *pjop, 品 ...
3
votes
2answers
185 views

Pronunciation of 比较

On a CCTV 9 show shot in Shanghai, a couple of people who were certainly speaking Putonghua have made comparisons and if I heard right they were pronouncing 比较 as "biao." Am I wrong? Is that a common ...
3
votes
2answers
593 views

Benefits of Learning a Chinese Dialect in Addition to Standardized Mandarin

Edit: This is now cross-posted to linguistics. Studies have shown that learning more than one language helps people of all ages learn each one of the languages. For a nice mainstream media piece on ...
5
votes
2answers
235 views

How to explain the structure of “将在外,军令有所不受。”

In my own opinion, this sentence should be "将在外,军令不受". I can hardly imagine any use of "有" and "所" here. Could someone explain the structure of this sentence?
10
votes
2answers
479 views

Addressing women as “小姐” in Northern China

I heard that it is not appropriate to call women or girls "小姐" in northern China. That it is considered rough and has a meaning close to "hooker". So I never address girls or women as "小姐" in the ...
11
votes
6answers
484 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
413 views

Another meaning of 同志

Is it true that 同志 have some different meaning. Like gay (as in homosexual) or something. I know that during the XX century in China and communist Russia it was very common to call people 同志(товарищ). ...
3
votes
2answers
365 views

What are the corresponding titles for “Dr.” (in the sense of MD and PhD) in Chinese?

The prefix Dr. in English refers to both medical doctors, and PhD graduates. What are the correct titles for these in Chinese? I believe that 医生 is correct to use as a title for a medical doctor, but ...
9
votes
2answers
172 views

Difference between 生前 and 死前

Literally, 死前 means before death while 生前 means before life. They seem to bear the opposite meaning. However, in most cases, they actually mean the same thing, i.e., when someone was still alive. ...
2
votes
5answers
327 views

如果你不介意 : appropriate translation from English?

I recently heard, 如果你不介意 (literally: "if you do not mind."). Is the literal translation from English also a correct, native one? Or is there a more common way to prefix such a question?
7
votes
1answer
194 views

9 Questions from the movie Red Sorghum (红高粱)

My friend bought me a set of four Zhang Yi Mou movies. I watched Red Sorghum (红高粱) today, and there were a few sentences which, after looking up the meanings, I still couldn't quite understand. I'll ...
3
votes
2answers
193 views

Does anyone know what is the characters means (丁財貴寿)?

Does anyone know what is written on the image? I tried to find out what is it, and got 丁財貴寿 (丁财贵寿), but not quite sure enough. I tried to find the meaning of the words but seems can't find it or I ...
11
votes
5answers
708 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 ...
5
votes
6answers
214 views

How can I interpret 多 in this sentence?

It must be pretty easy, but what does 多 mean here? 我才来了三个多月
5
votes
4answers
215 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", ...
3
votes
3answers
144 views

What is the meaning of 报 here?

A chinese friend asked me: 你有报语言培训班吗? I understand what she means, but I wonder what meaning 报 carries here. Anyone could help me?
3
votes
1answer
181 views

Does anyone recognize the characters written here?

Does anyone recognize the characters written here? I've tried to figure it out but still can't understand what is written there, since I've just recognized the rightmost character, 天. It's a carving ...
3
votes
1answer
90 views

What are the differences between the different words for mammoth? 猛犸和毛象有什么区别?

I often pick up relatively esoteric animal names, and I got looking at mammoths one day... I found two words for mammoth: 猛犸 and 毛象. What is the difference between these two words?
7
votes
5answers
959 views

How is the pinyin 'iu' pronounced?

How does one pronounce the 'iu' sound (as in liu4 = six)? I have always said it and heard it to end in an [joʊ] sound, as in 'low', 'go', and 'sew'. But once I was told that it should actually be a ...
5
votes
1answer
129 views

Which dictionaries reveal the commonly mistaken usage of a word (i.e. how NOT to use a word)?

I encountered a very useful dictionary eight years ago, but have never been able to find a copy of it because I don't know what it's called. It not only gave examples in context of how to use the ...
2
votes
4answers
367 views

How to translate “I wonder…”

How can I translate something like the below sentence into Chinese: I wonder how many people are going to the party?
8
votes
3answers
429 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
308 views

Meaning of 一不小心

I read a story where a child dropped a berry into a bucket full of berries and then tried to take it back. When she reached in to pick up her own berry, she grabbed a handful of the other berries. In ...
2
votes
1answer
127 views

How can I distinguish between Western style spirits and Chinese style spirits (liquor)?

I have tried to have this conversation a few times in China. The problem is when trying to explain the difference between beer, wine and spirits. People assume that spirits means something similar to ...
2
votes
3answers
227 views

How to say incoming president (国家主席)?

Strangely the Wikipedia article for president 中华人民共和国主席 doesn't mention 习近平 anywhere. I also asked my mother in law just now if she spotted any articles where it mentions him as the incoming ...
1
vote
3answers
166 views

Difference between 最高领导人 and 主要领导人之一?

I've just been looking at the wikipedia entry for Xi Jinping and the word used for the position he will be taken on Wikipedia is incumbent "paramount leader" with paramount leader pointing to this ...
4
votes
1answer
137 views

What is etymology for 沙龙?

I've noticed that hairdressing shops are usually called 沙龙 [shā-lóng]. Obviously, it's not a "sand dragon", but a direct transliteration of English "salon" instead. What is the reason for using a ...
5
votes
4answers
184 views

What is the subject in this sentence part 有时间到我家去

there is this sentence in a dialog: 好 , 我走了 , 有时间到我家去 . 再见 ! (from my beginner text book) I do understand the translation. Well, I'm going, if you have time, come to my home. Goodbye. However, ...
5
votes
2answers
256 views

How to translate 'hyper-','super-' and 'ultra-' exactly?

The prefixes hyper-, super-, and ultra- seems all has meaning 'transcend' or 'upper class' and can all be translated to '超'. But they have a bit difference, e.g. hypergiant is larger than supergiant; ...
7
votes
2answers
113 views

Antiquated honorifics

Are any of these honorifics still in use today? If not, might they be used and understood (as a joke) by regular Chinese in, say, a period film, much as English speakers would recognize someone using ...
6
votes
1answer
179 views

Why one -> many mapping between IPA and Pinyin?

I am referring to Origin of zhuyin symbols table on wikipedia. Under Rhymes and Medials following 3 entries confuse me: Zhuyin IPA Pinyin ㄧ i i/y ㄨ u u/w ㄩ y ...
3
votes
4answers
377 views

What is the pronunciation of 行 according to its context?

行 can be pronunced háng or xíng. As far as I have seen, it means "OK, to go, profession", and many more other meanings. Could you briefly summarize the usage of it and its corresponding ...
7
votes
4answers
262 views

How to add emphasis to sentences

Last week a kid wrote on the office white board "Give me all your cheese now!" and I attempted a translation into Chinese (mostly to practice my handwriting). I wrote 马上给我你的奶酪。 I felt like this ...
3
votes
4answers
471 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
155 views

What is a “Babu cream”?

I am working in a Chinese pharmacy & have a product with the English name "Compound Methylsalicylate cataplasma". This is supposed to be a translation from the Chinese "复方水扬酸甲酯巴布膏". As far as I ...
7
votes
2answers
280 views

Academic explanation for rhyming fillers with irrelevant meaning in doggerel

在打油诗、顺口溜、儿歌里经常有纯粹是为了押韵或节拍而插入的和文意无关的词汇。在北方话、传统北京/天津评书相声里尤甚。我想知道在语言学专业里这种情况是怎么解释的,有没有术语或相关资料。 例如北京顺口溜: 嗝屁着凉大海棠,脚不丫子蘸白糖。 里“大海棠”完全是为押韵,无意义;蘸白糖虽然略有意义,但选词十分随机,更多是为了一种插科打诨的效果。 Brief translation: ...
3
votes
2answers
264 views

Placement of Pinyin in relation to characters

I recently wrote a short article discussing the use of Pinyin and Zhuyin. One of the sentences I wrote, without thinking too much about it, was that Pinyin is normally written below the characters (in ...
7
votes
2answers
200 views

Are there more special numerals like 廿?

In Hong Kong herbal tea shops, you will see a tea called "廿四味" (24 flavours) (you will also hear "廿蚊" to mean "20 dollars" in small shops) In this case 廿 (niàn or pán) has the meaning "20". Are ...
3
votes
2answers
350 views

What is the correct measure word for 问题 (question)?

I'm not sure if I should say 一件问题 or 一项问题. I know I can get away with 一个问题, but I'd like to know the "correct" measure word. Note: I would like to use the tag measure-word, but I can't. I used ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Why 福 is often used upside down?

On Chinese houses, people often place scriptures for luck, health, wealth, etc. Often, they use the word 福 [fú] turned upside down, like this: What is the reason for it?
5
votes
1answer
86 views

How to parse this phrase?

The radical 囗 is sometimes described as 圍字框. This phrase is a little bit ambigous to me. Does this mean «the frame of the character 【圍】» (圍字的框子) or «the frame that surrounds characters»? (包圍文字的框子)
5
votes
2answers
203 views

Etymology of 其他

In Chinese, one uses the phrase 其他 when refering to other things. In Japanese one uses a similiar phrase: 其の他 (Sono ta), where 其 is often written in Hiragana: その他. Since the meaning is identical, I ...
7
votes
1answer
119 views

How to cope with classical references?

It seems like references to classical literature are unavoidable in virtually all materials enjoyed by native speakers - I was watching an episode of 蚁族的奋斗 where a group of young men are talking ...
3
votes
3answers
309 views

Is there more than one way to pronounce “knee” in Chinese?

My daughter's preschool has a Mandarin language immersion program and the teacher (from Fuzhou, Fujian province) seems to pronounce "knee" (膝盖) as qīgài instead of xīgài. Is qīgài a correct ...
2
votes
3answers
189 views

How to translate/use 一巧

All of a sudden in my course we've started using "一巧" everywhere, and I really do not understand it at all. example: 尽管我很喜欢这张唱片,可是我一巧也开始喜欢它,想到以后可以跟一巧一起听音乐,我决定把这张唱片给他。 which I understand all of, ...
1
vote
3answers
142 views

problem with 要 - it seems to have several meanings

一看见这些楼房,他心里就想,自己一定要买上一套房子。 This is the sentence that I've come across. I've translated it as: Once he sees these houses, he thinks that he can definitely buy a house himself. But I'm always ...
6
votes
3answers
246 views

How to write 400,002,000 in Chinese properly?

I got a number, 400,002,000, I wonder how to read it? Should it be one of these two? Or something else? 四亿零二千 四亿二千
2
votes
2answers
151 views

“一块” versus “一块儿” in Beijing

From some experience in Beijing, some on CCTV 9, and some reading, I begin to suspect that in Beijing the pronunciation "一块" is more often used for the count noun, and "一块儿" is more often used to mean ...
3
votes
1answer
154 views

Why do some parents pronounce 妹妹 as měiméi instead of mèimèi or mèimei?

I have heard some Taiwan (and maybe Mainland) parents call their daughters měiméi. I'm wondering what is the reason for that.
1
vote
3answers
155 views

Meaning of 漂漂亮亮地参加晚会

I saw this sentence on a textbook: 漂漂亮亮地参加晚会 Without more context information, what is the translation of that sentence? I think it has a meaning of "(a girl) dress up beautifully before going ...

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