All Questions

8
votes
3answers
2k views

What does 民以食为天 mean?

How to translate the old saying "民以食为天"? Would that be "Food is the priority of populace"? That doesn't sound right to me, though.
8
votes
4answers
494 views

What does the expression “孤男寡女” mean?

What does the expression "孤男寡女" (gū nán guǎ nǚ) mean, exactly? Does it have inherently negative connotations? As an aside, why does Google translate it as "Needing"?
6
votes
3answers
359 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
4answers
214 views

What's the role of 好了 in 你叫我(name)好了?

In this sentence 你叫我马丁好了。 what's the role of 好了? I understand this sentence as "You can call me 马丁."
10
votes
3answers
2k views

When and why is right to left writing used?

I have encountered characters written horizontally right to left on signs (at the top of a gate) and on vehicles. When is this used and why? Was this more common in the past? Are the individuals ...
12
votes
5answers
614 views

Is any simplified character also a traditional character?

I don't mean traditional characters that weren't simplified, thus being the same in traditional and simplified. What I ask if there is any simplified character which in turn has the same form of ...
5
votes
1answer
231 views

What does the classical construction X 何由 Y mean?

I almost never see this construction in classical prose. (In fact, I'll venture I've never seen it.) However, it's in two of my favorite poems. In this one, it's from the poem "晨詣超師院讀禪經" by 柳宗元: ...
8
votes
1answer
184 views

Have any fonts been released that are based on slender gold?

I remember the first time I saw slender gold I had something like an 'am I dreaming?' moment. That's not how characters were supposed to look! The lines aren't supposed to cross, etc., etc. But ...
8
votes
3answers
347 views

What is the difference between 一只狗 and 一条狗?

I've been told by native speakers that the former refers to little dogs while the latter is for bigger dogs. I also have been told that the latter has a negative connotation. I'm wondering: how ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Why were some letters like Q, X, C, chosen for Pinyin which confuse non-Chinese speakers?

A romanization system is basically a system in which roman (latin) letters are used for languages that use non-roman scripts. This has the obvious benefit that people who can (maybe only) read roman ...
10
votes
6answers
510 views

What is the difference in use between 完 and 了?

If I understood correctly, both 完 and 了 can be used to indicate a completed action, so what is the difference in use? How do we properly use 完 in a sentence? Which contexts would be valid?
6
votes
2answers
531 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
76 views

Is 搏杀 used in jest in this sentence?

In December, I read this in a social network post: 今年剩下一个星期了,继续努力搏杀! In English slang, one might say "killing it" to mean performing well. Is this use of 搏杀 figurative, literal, or humorous?
6
votes
6answers
7k views

How to say “hope you'll have a great day”?

I was writing a card to a friend and wanted to finish with "Hope you'll have a great day" but realised what I could think of wasn't quite the same meaning, or just sounded odd/weird. What I wrote in ...
8
votes
2answers
213 views

Where can I find recordings of people reading things now that mp3.baidu.com is dead? [closed]

Baidu's MP3 search engine used to be my first stop when studying anything Chinese. Absurdly, even recordings of relatively rare poetry (for instance) were easy to find. These recordings were not ...
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
165 views

Which expressions should I choose to say “thanks for your help”?

If I want to say "Thanks for your help", which sentence is correct and which one is more commonly used? 谢谢你的帮忙 谢谢你的帮助 It seems that the first one is more uncommon but I'm not really ...
9
votes
1answer
476 views

How do native speakers structure their essays?

When analyzing Chinese speeches or essays, I often have difficulty understanding how their the authors organized their ideas. In North America, for example, a common template for writing an essay is ...
8
votes
1answer
82 views

Are there any style guides for Chinese?

There are many different style guides for English, such as The Chicago Manual of Style and MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. Are there similar publications available for Chinese? ...
7
votes
2answers
660 views

Are these two form of “I live in…” both correct?

While studying I came across a useful expression to say "I live in..." which is "...在...住" such as in this sentence: 我在意大利住。= I live in Italy. Wǒ zài Yìdàlì zhù. But then I saw a different one ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

What software can check for grammar mistakes?

I need some software that can check the grammar of some Chinese passages. Are there any programs capable of identifying grammar problems? I'd prefer something for Linux, but other platforms would be ...
8
votes
5answers
352 views

When is the spelling and the pronunciation different?

I noticed that sometimes certain finals in Chinese sound differently when combined with different initials. For e.g., what is spelled "u" sometimes is pronounced "ü". Other times, I think the final ...
5
votes
2answers
205 views

What readers are available at the 1,000 word level?

I want to improve my reading and grammar skills by finding interesting things to read. What graded readers, basic textbooks, magazines, and other reading materials are available for adult students who ...
5
votes
2answers
199 views

Where can I find sorted word lists used by native students?

I would like to find a sorted list of vocabulary that is studied by native students in primary (elementary) and secondary (middle) school in China, arranged by grade level. Is there any official place ...
7
votes
1answer
267 views

When was punctuation introduced into Chinese?

I have seen some old Chinese books. The words flowed from top to bottom on the page and there was no punctuation. How did readers know when the sentences began and ended? Were any older forms of ...
1
vote
1answer
154 views

What computer games give good reading and listening practice? [closed]

What computer games are available to help low-intermediate learners to practice reading and listening? I'm looking for games that I can download, buy, or play On-line.
6
votes
6answers
822 views

Which fonts show the stroke order of all characters?

For academic purposes, I need to print out some pages of characters with stroke orders shown. Which computer fonts (e.g. TrueType or OpenType) are available which show the stroke order of each ...
6
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
82 views

What methods are available for looking up a character?

Some dictionaries provide a radical lookup for finding characters. Are there other systems available besides radical lookup for finding the meaning of a word when one only has the character?
7
votes
4answers
485 views

Where can I find a list of commonly mistaken characters?

I want to quickly identify potential mistakes created by OCR software. Where can I find a list of all Chinese characters that visually look very similar and might often be confused?
10
votes
10answers
227 views

What etymology dictionaries are available?

What dictionaries (online, software-based or in paper form) explain the origins of a word and its evolution over time? E.g. how the character was once written, how the usage – and the meaning – ...
4
votes
3answers
374 views

What board games would facilitate speaking practice?

Table top (board games) games provide good opportunities for authentic and simulated communication with a group. I think such an activity would be ideal for language practice, if one had opportunities ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

How to convert from hanyu pinyin to IPA?

Where can I find a table showing the relation between Hanyu pinyin spelling and IPA for all phonemes in Mandarin?
10
votes
3answers
285 views

When do the tones change?

Sometimes, in certain combinations of tones or words, the tones change. Where can I find a complete list of all tone changes that occur in Mandarin?
9
votes
2answers
214 views

Neverending 你好 exchange, is it normal?

When should exchanges of the phrase "你好" end? I regularly see a Chinese person who greets me with "你好." If I respond with "你好" he immediately says "你好", and so on. I normally end it with "Yes, I'm ...
6
votes
3answers
356 views

Writing “Please Recycle” in Mandarin

How can one write "Please Recycle" in the context of an office paper room? I have tried: 请回收利用 but my friend says this is only for recycling batteries.
7
votes
4answers
621 views

Where can I find a downloadable database of English to Chinese words?

CC-CEDICT is a Chinese to English dictionary, available for use online or for download (as a data file here: http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=cc-cedict). What similar projects provide an ...
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?
2
votes
3answers
106 views

What digital illustrated dictionaries are available?

What dictionaries are available that contain separate illustrations for most of the terms? I would prefer something in online or digital format.
8
votes
7answers
1k views

What software can correct pronunciation?

What software is available which can record my voice and warn me about problems with my pronunciation and tones?
9
votes
2answers
3k views

What software can detect the parts of speech of written text?

What software or online tools can detect the parts of speech in a piece of written text (e.g. to predict if a word is a verb, adjective, etc.)?
5
votes
4answers
186 views

What comprehensive grammar books are available? [closed]

I have found many grammar books, but none that go beyond the low-intermediate level. Some textbook series contain lots of grammar, but this is spread out across many books and difficult to quickly ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

Where can I find audio recordings of every word?

Where can I find audio recordings (i.e. individual MP3s or WAVs) for every Chinese word? I have found some recordings of Chinese, but these only contain individual phonemes, not entire words. I am ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

How do we wish someone to get better?

When we know somebody is sick, how can we wish them to get better? What are the best ways and also the standard ones to do that? I'd like you to differentiate among some things, if and when ...
16
votes
5answers
935 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?
3
votes
1answer
98 views

How is 住 used as a suffix in a verb phrase

What meaning does 住 have when used as part of a verb phrase? 她把花盆送到他面前。 哈利愣住了,大家都看着他。 It's clear from the meaning of 愣 that Harry didn't know what to do with the flower pot and was staring off ...
8
votes
7answers
378 views

Two terms for “According to” - What are the differences between 根据 and 按照?

根据 and 按照 can both function as a preposition that can be translated as according to. I imagine that the translation does not capture the individual character of each term. What nuances do the two ...
13
votes
5answers
802 views

Are there any online etymological dictionaries of Mandarin (not for characters but for spoken words)

tl;dr Are you aware of any dictionaries that explain word etymologies (not merely character etymologies)? Some links/references would be useful. This is actually a collection of related questions, ...
5
votes
1answer
666 views

Use of Honorifics

In Chinese films I've often heard characters refer to each other using some of these honorifics: 大姐 dàjiě (big sister; auntie) 大哥 dàgē (big brother) 师傅 shīfù (master) In what kind of ...
6
votes
2answers
117 views

How did 舆论 come to represent Public Opinion?

How did the word 舆论 come to represent the concept of Public Opinion? I know the meanings of the individual characters but I just don't quite see how the combination of these two meanings leads to the ...

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