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12answers
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Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese

This is a specifically created Community Wiki which gathers resources for learning Mandarin Chinese and it has been approved by the Community itself. It should be clear that the resources are not ...
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8answers
791 views

How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?

Since there are many characters that share a common pronunciation and sometimes also the same tone, how do we properly choose which character best represents our name? Is it totally arbitrary or are ...
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14answers
1k views

Techniques for learning and retaining characters

For many of us, memorizing characters is a difficult thing. In Chinese, just because you can speak the word doesn't mean you can read it. Just because you can read it doesn't mean you can write it. At ...
22
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7answers
811 views

Why is 有 (yǒu) the only verb that requires 没 while other verbs can use 不?

To negate something, we use 不 (bù) before the verb, such as in this short dialogue: A: 你是老师吗?= Are you a teacher? B: 不是。= I'm not. However, the verb 有 (yǒu) is the only one that requires 没 ...
14
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2answers
411 views

Tense and use of 了

I struggle a bit to get my head around tenses in Mandarin, and in particular when I need to use 了 (le). Do you have any tips, examples or resources to help me out with this?
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10answers
3k views

的-地-得, when do you use which?

So the age old question of 的-地-得, when do you use which? When spoken, it all sounds the same, but on paper it depends on if it's a verb, noun, adjective. But I don't quite remember if that is all that ...
10
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3answers
357 views

How does foreign word transliteration work in the context of Cantonese vs Mandarin?

If I understand correctly, Cantonese sounds very different from Mandarin, despite being written in the same way (omitting some small differences, which are irrelevant for the question). If it is the ...
10
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1answer
359 views

When to use 了 and when to use 过 to express past actions or events

I kind of have an idea when 了 and 过 should be used but it's mostly on a case by case basis, and I don't know the exact rules. So if I want to express something that happened in the past, when should ...
13
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2answers
4k views

What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from?

I'm not talking about eating tofu, but the expression that means something more like taking advantage of someone. What exactly does 吃豆腐 mean, and where does this expression come from?
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6answers
170 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 – ...
2
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3answers
373 views

What are the relative literacy rates in for simplified and traditional characters?

I'm trying to decide whether it would be better to use traditional or simplified characters for an iPhone game I'm making. If something is written in traditional, how many people will be able to read ...
8
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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 ...
6
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5answers
311 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 ...
6
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6answers
392 views

What is the difference between 餐馆 and 饭店? Is 饭店 used for restaurant or hotel?

饭店 and 餐馆 can both mean restaurant. My Chinese friend here in Dongguan tells me 饭店 is not commonly used to mean hotel. I want to understand in what contexts both of these words are used. 谢谢.
24
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7answers
2k views

How many characters do I need to learn?

How many Chinese characters would I generally need to learn to be able to handle most text in typical every day circumstances? How many would be required to be considered fluent? Are there any good ...
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9answers
12k views

Is it easier to learn Chinese after learning Japanese or vice versa?

For those who speak both Chinese and Japanese, would first learning Chinese make it easier to learn Japanese? Knowing that Japanese Kanji are derived from Chinese characters, how hard is it to do the ...
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5answers
1k views

Can native Chinese speakers distinguish tones in songs?

I already have a hard time distinguishing tones in normal speech. This gets significantly worse when I listen to Chinese songs, since the melody masks tones even further. Yes, I understand that ...
12
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7answers
482 views

How do native speakers of Chinese pronounce Latin characters?

I hear that "Windows XP" is commonly called "Chā P" because the letter "X" may be pronounced "Chā". Are there other Latin characters that have similarly peculiar pronunciations?
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4answers
427 views

Confusion about bian 邊 and miàn 面

I'm having a little trouble with learning directions and positions. It seems that most often the word bian is being used to indicate a position: front side 前邊, back side 後邊, etc. But then I see stuff ...
15
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5answers
424 views

Number two in chinese: 二 vs 两

I always knew, from my studies of Japanese, that the number two is 二 (èr). I am not sure about the actual etymology, but looking at the character, it's understandable why it represents the number "2". ...
15
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5answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
628 views

Difference between 与,和 and 跟?

Do the following three sentences mean the same thing, that is, can they be used interchangeably? 她的父母就来我们家与我的家人见面了。 她的父母就来我们家和我的家人见面了。 她的父母就来我们家跟我的家人见面了。
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4answers
614 views

Learning Traditional first with the goal of learning both

I found this in the Mandarin wikibook: "It is considered easier for people who learn Traditional to read both sets than people who learn Simplified only, but Simplified characters are less ...
7
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1answer
214 views

What are the different kinds of poems in Chinese?

In the question "Are there poems in Chinese that rhyme?", a debate started about what is considered a poem in Chinese. The texts I presented — 《三字經》 (Three Character Classic), 《百家姓》 (The Hundred ...
5
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3answers
175 views

What are the common ice-breaker sentences in Chinese?

There are sentences in English like "What's up" "What's going on" "how have you been" to begin a conversation with or to greet people (friends or relatives) So what are the common ice-breaker ...
3
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1answer
375 views

How does the Chinese translation of an English name get established? [duplicate]

This isn't a question on how to choose a Chinese name equivalent, but how the one that most media and people use, gets used. For example, if some unknown person out there who never had a Chinese ...
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9answers
2k views

How offensive is 他妈的?

How offensive is the expression 他妈的? What is an English expression with a similar degree of offensiveness? In what situations is this expression appropriate / not appropriate?
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6answers
466 views

Do acronyms borrowed from English use neutral tone (aka tone 0 or tone 5) for all syllables?

I was just reading a Q&A here about Chinese words for DVD and the discussion also included other acronyms from English. It struck me that nobody wrote the pinyin for any of the terms which made ...
7
votes
1answer
192 views

Is there a tone sandhi rule that “4 3” changes to “4 0”?

This is a followup to my earlier question about the tones in the word "豆腐": On their own "豆" and "腐" have the tones 4 and 3: dòu, fǔ As a two-syllable / two-character word, "豆腐" has tone 4 but "fu" ...
7
votes
2answers
405 views

How does CJK Decomposition compare to the Wikimedia Commons Chinese characters decomposition data?

I found two public databases that describe the composition of Chinese characters. 1 - CJK Decomposition Data 2 - Chinese Characters Decomposition on Wiki Commons I can see how the formats they use ...
3
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2answers
196 views

Authoritative source for 一 changing to 4th tone before 1st, 2nd or 3rd

In another users answer http://chinese.stackexchange.com/a/2046/38 they said: 一 is pronounced in the first tone when it stands alone. It is pronounced in the fourth tone when it precedes a ...
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5answers
167 views

How would you say “he does not take criticism well” in Cantonese and in Mandarin? [closed]

How would you say this in Cantonese and how would you say this in Mandarin?
10
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3answers
732 views

Why do Chinese translations of English names sound very inaccurate?

I have noticed that most Chinese translation of English names sounds really inaccurate and weird. For example, the common translation of person's name "Robert Wilson" is "罗伯特·威尔逊", which is not ...
10
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4answers
596 views

How is 就 (jiù) used?

Pimsleur's Mandarin course teaches "I'm leaving very early tomorrow morning" as: 我明天早上很早就走 (wŏ míngtiān zăoshàng hĕn zăo jiù zŏu) It says that 就 (jiù) doesn't have a corresponding meaning in ...
9
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3answers
391 views

What's the actual difference between 文 and 语?

Both mean "language" with some other related meanings. A friend of mine told me that while 文 refers more to the written language, 语 is more related to the spoken one. Is this a difference and is it ...
7
votes
3answers
360 views

Why is it written LIU in Pinyin, when there's clearly an O sound?

Does anybody know why this decision was made in Pinyin, about not writing any hint of the sound /O/ in liu, instead of writing something like liou or liow ? Because the first reaction of any ...
6
votes
5answers
483 views

Are there any free fonts designed to help learn/read Chinese?

Problem As a Chinese student I found that one of the first barrier is reading. Indeed, when trying to acquire new vocabulary one might be faced with the opacity of the Chinese character as opposed to ...
5
votes
1answer
230 views

When is it appropriate to use 亲爱的?

In English it perfectly fine in a business context and for someone you have never met before to use Dear XXXX at the beginning of a letter or email. This causes some difficulty when moving to another ...
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votes
2answers
292 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
626 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, ...
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votes
2answers
1k views

Characteristics of Northern and Southern accents

My first language is Cantonese. I learned Mandarin as a second language. Native speakers of Mandarin often understand me with no major issues. Of course, they recognize the Southern accents right ...
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votes
2answers
300 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 ...
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votes
2answers
123 views

Translation of “this much and no more”

I found this sentence and its English translation on tatoeba.org: 我知道的就這麼多了。 Beyond this I know nothing. Now I'm trying to parse the sentence structure, and I'd like some confirmation or a ...
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9answers
1k views

Is there a lot of value in learning to write Chinese characters?

I have noticed that a lot of my friends that study Chinese at university spend a lot of their time learning to write Chinese. I would estimate more than 50% of their chinese study time is spent on ...
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8answers
2k views

What is a good technique for remembering tones?

I find it a great struggle to try and remember tones for all the new vocab I learn, and aside from gradually picking up tones by listening and talking with native speakers, I can't really remember ...
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11answers
1k views

Etymology of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)

Main Question: What is the etymology of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)? Related question: Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九) I decide to write a ...
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4answers
911 views

Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九)

A common experience of beginner hanzi students is their raised hopes and expectations when they learn 一 二 三 - "what a wonderfully elegant language!" - which are promptly crushed when they encounter 四. ...
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4answers
1k views

How to improve my Chinese writing

When someone has grasped the basic concepts of writing Chinese there comes a point where handwriting starts to look plain or mechanical. From what I have seen the lines look very straight and like ...
9
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2answers
460 views

Using 的 at the end of a sentence

I'm looking for confirmation of the way I'm parsing a sentence with 的 at the end, and I'd appreciate some background or other examples of this usage. I found this sentence on tatoeba.org: ...
7
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3answers
347 views

Difference between 想 and 要?

I know both of them mean "want to" but have usage in differente contexts. When should I use each one? For example: 我要厺上海市 and 我想厺上海市 What's the difference in the meaning between them? Also, ...

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