2
votes
2answers
160 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
1answer
169 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
251 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, ...
6
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
183 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
183 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
459 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. ...
2
votes
1answer
125 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
82 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
860 views

Characters which have several different shapes

For those who might not read the question fully: this not about simplified vs traditional characters. While the traditional and simplified version of a character can be considered the same, they at ...
3
votes
2answers
356 views

What are some good dictionaries about Mathematics?

I have found a dictionary about Mathematics; however, it goes from Chinese to English. I have tried different bookstores in my city, but they don't have an English to Chinese dictionary. I have ...
8
votes
2answers
160 views

What is the part without the radical called?

For example, these characters have different radicals: 根 跟 恨 狠 But the part of the characters minus the radical is the same. Does that part (艮 in this case) have a name?
7
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the correct way to say: “I thought you were somebody else.”

In English if you mistake someone for another person it is common to say "I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else". How should this be said in Chinese?
4
votes
4answers
402 views

Did phonological systems (namely bopomofo) standardize Chinese phonemes?

As far as I know, Zhuyin fuhao, or Bopomofo, is the first system of phonetic symbols devised to aid to write Chinese phonology. That was in 1910, so we could say very recent in the history of Chinese. ...
8
votes
1answer
222 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
169 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?
3
votes
3answers
192 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
224 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
267 views

Questions ending with 么

I was chatting online with a Chinese person and he sometimes added 么 at the end of questions: 你觉得汉语难么? 是因为声调掌握不好么? Can 么 and 吗 be used interchangeably? Do they have the exact same meaning?
2
votes
1answer
576 views

Is the cantonese expression 五福臨門 present in Mandarin too?

A recent question prompted me to look for expressions related to the Chinese New Year and, among them, I found one that particularly stroke me as interesting: 五福臨門 = according to the poster it ...
2
votes
2answers
336 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
150 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
269 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
598 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
241 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?
4
votes
1answer
383 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
171 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
271 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
547 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
176 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
175 views

文了 也温了 any ideas?

I'm hoping to work my way through the Chinese tv series 新结婚时代, looking up new vocab, learning it as I go and I'm hoping to understand it all as I work through it. Already in the first few lines I've ...
1
vote
1answer
234 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
1answer
724 views

Are Cantonese and Lao related?

I have a friend who is Lao and I've noticed that a lot of the same words in Lao and Cantonese sound the same. The grammar itself seem different, but the numbers are similar. Is there much ...
1
vote
3answers
138 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
2answers
182 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.
3
votes
2answers
597 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
190 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
3answers
228 views

How do I refer to someone's family member who's relative age I am unsure of?

Is there any way to refer to someones family member, lets say brother, who's relative age I am unaware of and consequently am unable to decisively call 弟弟 or 哥哥? Is there some sort of rule, like ...
5
votes
4answers
752 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
358 views

Is there a noun that has the meaning of “offer” in Chinese? How to say “offer” in Chinese?

Such as "offer" in 我有了CUHK的入学许可 = "I got an offer from CUHK." 还没有一个地方要我 = "I still don't have any offers." I think there is no such noun in Chinese. Is there?
5
votes
2answers
413 views

Is it common for zh/j, ch/q, and sh/x to be merged?

I learned formally that in the standard Beijing accent, zh, ch, and sh are pronounced more in the back in the mouth than j, q, and x. However, I got lazy and speak all six of these consonants in the ...
4
votes
4answers
497 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
1answer
171 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?
1
vote
3answers
912 views

Is it common to refer to cousins as “cousin-brothers”?

Most Chinese people I know don't have siblings. They refer to their cousin as "cousin brother / sister". Is this common? If so, is this a modern change, perhaps reflecting the one-child policy?
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there a site that can split characters into radicals?

For example, let's examine character heaven. It has a Ren radical (men). And then we add a strip to become Tha (big). And then we add another strip to get heaven. Now, is there a site to do so? I ...
3
votes
2answers
391 views

Referring to great-grandparents

How do you refer to a specific great-grandparent? Does Chinese language has all 8 relationship titles to refer to one of them?
2
votes
2answers
175 views

What is the difference between 例子 and 榜样?

If I'm trying to say someone is a good example I often hear 例子, however, I have also heard 榜样, which seems to make more sense to me based on the meaning of the characters. What is the difference ...
1
vote
4answers
238 views

Does 上嗨 work as a pun for 上海?

While riding the subway in Shanghai last week, I glanced at the TV playing some commercials and saw what looked like a slightly off spelling of the city's name (上海). I could not get a very good look ...

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