All Questions

1
vote
4answers
327 views

How to say “I can't help but…”

From a lesson in a Chinese text book was the following sentence: 他不由得哭 (Tā bùyóude kū) He could not help but cry I've never heard 不由得 used in a sentence, and I want to know if it is common and ...
4
votes
3answers
842 views

Saying “I have to go” in chat

Today I was chatting online with a Chinese person. I wanted to say "I have to go" to end the conversation and disconnect, so I wrote this: 我得走了 but I don't know if there is a better sentence. ...
2
votes
2answers
444 views

The use of 上 (shàng) “on/above/over” in Mandarin and English

I'm interested in the the differences between English and Mandarin when they are talking about spatial preposition. Can i assume that in Mandarin, they use the preposition 上 for most of the times ...
3
votes
2answers
167 views

Difference between 清水, 淡水 and 自来水

My main aim is to try and find the best word to use when describing a freshwater lake. But what if any is the difference between the following: 清水, 淡水 and 自来水
2
votes
4answers
438 views

清淡 (qing dan) usage: any food, or from a diet?

I ate with a Chinese who mentioned the soup was 清淡 (qing dan): clear, and bland. On Google all I found were acupuncture and "macrobiotic diet" websites. Is 清淡 (qing dan) an adjective commonly applied ...
1
vote
2answers
110 views

Why is 语 used so much when describing the language media is presented in?

It seems that the "language" descriptor on a movie, tv show, or comic is always listed using 语 instead of 文. (国语, 英语, 德语, etc) instead of 英文. This is common even when listing the subtitles (although ...
5
votes
4answers
201 views

How does one distinguish between homographs in Chinese?

How does one distinguish between, for example, 便宜 (cheap) and 便宜 (convenient) in written Chinese? The context may give no help whatsoever, cf. 我的大学很便宜。 (Bad example, please excuse my awful ...
0
votes
0answers
40 views

Resource for advancement of Oral and Aural Chinese skills [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese What's a good resource to continue learning spoken Mandarin Chinese? e.g. video/audio scenarios + audio flashcards. Audio ...
3
votes
4answers
397 views

How do I say “a loaf of bread”?

According to Google translate it is 一个面包, but that doesn't sound right. How do I say "A loaf of bread"? UPDATE: This is what I mean by a "loaf" of bread. Not just a bun.
3
votes
3answers
131 views

Are 改正 and 纠正 interchangeable?

Both 改正 and 纠正 mean "to correct" or "to make right." What is the difference between these words? Do they have different connotations? Are both words acceptable in sentences like the following? ...
1
vote
1answer
150 views

What is an appropriate translations of “That's so Raven!”?

The phrase in the title comes from a Disney show, That's so Raven. But in my house, we have been confused on the proper way of translating this. now we are saying "这是大Raven!" with extra emphasis on ...
7
votes
3answers
365 views

What is an idiomatic way to say “This is not good” in Mandarin?

The title mostly covers the question, but some elaboration might help. In English, there is a common construction of ideas whereby the speaker makes a statement about an action or event, and follows ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

How should one translate “祝你年年有今日,歲歲有今朝” into English?

On my birthday a friend wished me "祝你年年有今日,歲歲有今朝". I can understand each of the individual words in this phrase, but the overall meaning is somewhat less clear to me (although I have some ideas about ...
3
votes
3answers
226 views

What's the difference between 词典, 辞典, and 字典?

I don't think they are necessarily different kinds of dictionaries, but is there a subtle distinction? Or maybe their etymologies?
2
votes
2answers
182 views

What does “想問伊人何處” mean?

There's this song in Chinese with these lyrics. 起雲動劍下虎嘯龍吟 誰知成敗早已是天定 想問伊人何處 離愁漸遠漸生 但願人長久情常在 無悔無憾 What does the phrase "想問伊人何處" mean and connote? I understand this song to be sad.
3
votes
5answers
318 views

What does “整块的时间” mean?

I have a sentence in my textbook I've mostly translated, but I can't piece this part together. "交通不是很便利不说,还需要整块的时间" Google translate spits out: "Traffic is not very convenient, you also need the ...
7
votes
1answer
137 views

What is the origin of the word 雪茄 (cigar)?

I assume 雪茄 (cigar) is a loanword. Who can tell me what language this word was loaned from and, if appropriate, how it was transcribed? My own guess is that the word was transcribed from English and ...
6
votes
3answers
265 views

What's chinese for “layer” in the Photoshop sense of the word?

I want to say "Do not print this layer" in Chinese, as past of a photoshop file. How does one say "Layer" in the photoshop sense of the word in Chinese? Google translate thinks the translation of "Do ...
3
votes
2answers
126 views

Is there a tone sandhi for 2nd-tone-2nd-tone names?

I stayed in Taiwan for a few months and made friends with Tiántián (恬恬, a second tone character repeated twice). However, I heard everyone say her name as Tiǎntián (third tone followed by second ...
1
vote
4answers
173 views

很 and 最 - Questions of The Context

很 means very. 最 means truly, really. I was wondering in which context they would be most appropriate. 我最喜欢去组约。- I'd really like to go to New York. So 最 can be used as a descriptor in this ...
3
votes
4answers
96 views

Can 偷工减料 be used to describe the intentional and open purchasing of somewhat inferior product?

I know that 偷工减料 is frequently used to describe intentionally (and perhaps secret) shoddy construction. When I translate it, I usually say "Cut corners". However, I think 偷工减料 has a very negative ...
10
votes
3answers
333 views

What is the meaning of 当仁不让?

I was browsing the Chinese internet looking for a bank that supports Mac OS when I came across this site. They list a range of different banks under a range of different headings, the first of which ...
5
votes
3answers
185 views

How would I say Dominican Republic in Chinese?

Google translate gives me: Duōmǐníjiā gònghéguó. But I wondered if the chinese use a smaller word or lop-off the Republic at the end?­­­­
2
votes
4answers
159 views

What is the meaning of 捅破 in this text?

The following text is taken from the serial of 寒夜: 一直到有一天 一个偶然的机会 我的心事 或者说是我们的心事 被我们的学生捅破 感情是不能被捅破的 一旦捅破 就如同大坝破堤 汹涌而出 He's talking about his love for the heroine of the series, then ...
3
votes
6answers
192 views

Chinese version of the idiom “The word on the street”

"The word on the street" is an English idiom that basically means "rumors". The word on the street is that Bob's going to be fired. I was wondering if there was a similar Chinese idiom.
16
votes
5answers
2k views

How can one determine the radical for a given character?

Many times, when reading Mandarin, I will happen across a character that I don't know. Usually, the radical along with some context will clue me into the meaning, but if I can't determine the ...
2
votes
2answers
105 views

Can 会儿 be pronounced 3rd tone?

The word 会儿 means "a short amount of time." All dictionaries I have checked say that the correct pronunciation of this word is huìr (i.e., 4th tone). Nevertheless, I am fairly sure that I have heard ...
8
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
170 views

What is the difference between 秀才, 进士, 举人, and 甲第?

秀才、进士、举人、甲第那些单词有什么区别?好像它们都是指在中国古代科举制度下成绩特高的考生。准确的区别是什么?哪些至今还在使用? (麻烦大家帮忙改正中文错误!) What is the difference between 秀才, 进士, 举人, and 甲第? They all seem to refer to students who did particularly well ...
5
votes
4answers
432 views

What is the rule for forming chinese names diminutives?

In alphabetical languages, diminutives are easily made by adding a suffix (e.g. -ito, -ino, -ine, which belong to some Romance languages) and sometimes contemporaneously changing the ending of the ...
1
vote
0answers
201 views

How do I learn basic Mandarin for free without a teacher? [closed]

I'm playing a Chinese MMORPG (http://ff.163.com) and I have some people to help me understand it, but I would love to actually learn the language. As it's a game, I don't need to be able to pronounce ...
4
votes
4answers
257 views

What is the function of 了 in the sentence “她会杀了你的”?

What is the function of 了 in the following sentence? Does it imply a sequence of actions? 她会杀了你的。"She will kill you."
0
votes
2answers
344 views

What are the most common mistakes when pronouncing Pinyin? [closed]

For example, 'shuo' is sometimes mistakenly pronounced 'shou'. 'Juan' is often pronounced 'zhuan'.  Can anyone think of any others? I want to highlight some common mistakes to teach pinyin ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

In Cantonese, what does 多到 (do1 dou3) mean?

In Cantonese, what does 多到 (do1 dou3) mean in this context? 你可以想像罪案多到幾咁嚴重嘞! nei5 ho2-ji5 soeng2-zoeng6 zeoi6-on3 do1 dou3 gei2-gam3 jim4-zung6 laak3! My guess is that the sentence ...
2
votes
3answers
97 views

How is 儿化 represented in other romanization systems like Wade-Giles, Zhuyin Fuhao, etc.?

I just realized that I have no idea how other romanization systems (besides pinyin) deal with 儿化 (er hua). What would be the Wade-Giles or Zhuyin-Fuhao equivalent to 电影儿 (diànyǐngr)?
3
votes
1answer
80 views

Classifiers for rooms

What is the best classifier to use for rooms? 一 _____ 卧室 两 _____客厅 三 _____洗衣房 What about houses or buildings? I know there is 一层楼 for a floor / level / story of a building, what about ...
3
votes
2answers
107 views

Use of 蓝 (Blue) in a Specific Context?

There is a song sung by William So whose title is 《有人喜欢蓝》 (Yǒurén xǐhuan lán - There are people who like blue.) What does 蓝 (blue) mean in this context? Is it a reference to the sky, sea, a mood, or ...
3
votes
2answers
280 views

Deciphering a seal

I have a friend who bought a buddha figure on a Chinese market. On its bottom there is this seal, written in seal script, that has an original size of 1.5cm × 1.5cm. Any idea what it means? The ...
5
votes
2answers
504 views

How to differentiate moods, characters, temperaments, etc?

It seems like there are way more words for these things than in English, and I am having a hard time figuring out the difference between them. Some adjectives can only be used to describe mood, while ...
1
vote
2answers
99 views

What is the significance of the phrase “二十五,糊窗户”?

The phrase “糊窗户” refers to the practice of pasting paper cutouts (similar to the one seen here) on one's windows. There's a common larger saying, “二十五,糊窗户”, which I assume means that this is usually ...
3
votes
2answers
128 views

How to translate “doesn't lift a finger” and “without lifting a finger”?

I recently same across this stumbling block in conversation; in one case I wanted to say "doesn't lift a finger" and in another "without lifting a finger". These phrases mean that someone is extremely ...
5
votes
2answers
203 views

What is the difference between 人民 and 民族?

What is the difference between 人民 and 民族, for example in 中华人民 vs. 中华民族?
1
vote
2answers
121 views

Does the use of 就 and 便 vary by region?

就 and 便 are synonymous in many sentences: 这儿(就、便)是我们的学校。 我看了报纸(就、便)扔了。 如果你去,我(就、便)不去了。 I believe that 便 is more formal than 就; I've seen it in writing but never heard it in speech. However, ...
3
votes
1answer
91 views

Which classifier for window (窗户) is regularly used?

The dictionary lists two classifiers for window (窗户) 个 and 扇. Are both of these in common usage? If so is there any difference in the register? Does one sound more formal, etc?
2
votes
5answers
121 views

Is 解决 a common euphemism for going to the bathroom?

In the novel 《天机》, passengers on a bus become ill after eating an unfamiliar dish. They ask the driver to stop the bus, and the male passengers, including the protagonist 叶萧, descend: ...
2
votes
3answers
228 views

How to say “all the usual X” in Chinese?

How do I say "all the usual ..." in Chinese, for example." "At my school we play all the usual school sports." "The pharmacy had all the usual junk."
2
votes
3answers
107 views

What is the difference between 演奏, 弹 and 奏?

There are several words that seem to be related to playing musical instruments (specifically 演奏, 弹 and 奏), and I would appreciate an elaboration on the nuances between them. Are some used in specific ...
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 ...
5
votes
4answers
418 views

How to pronounce 儿 in conjunction with other characters

The textbook I'm reading now has liberal sprinklings of the 儿 character suffixing words that I have not previously seen suffixed. For example: 空儿。 How should this be pronounced? Are there any rules ...
2
votes
4answers
186 views

佰 vs 百: inconsistency in use

I saw a portion of a video course of Japanese tutorials aimed at Hong Kong Cantonese speakers, and notice that while introducing Japanese numbers, they translated the Japanese word for 600 as 六百, then ...

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