3,065 reputation
820
bio website peterthenelson.com
location United States
age 26
visits member for 2 years, 4 months
seen 13 hours ago

I lived in China for a couple years. My Chinese isn't too bad, but I'm always trying to get better. Special interests in:

  • Etymology
  • Historical phonology
  • Winning arguments in other languages

Feb
22
comment Are there words in Mandarin written by characters for other words that mean the same thing?
I think this is rarely the case. Chinese characters aren't really "ideographs", at least within Chinese. Characters are usually chosen based on etymology or pronunciation. There might be some examples in, say, HK Cantonese, where the norm is diglossia. People will write in (basically) Mandarin, but they might read the sentence in literally-translated Cantonese.
Feb
19
comment Why does 拉倒 mean “forget about it”?
If it's from Shanghainese, can you help us figure out what the etymologically correct characters are? For example, in Shanghainese, "thing" is sometimes written as "么子" (to imitate the pronunciation). The etymologically correct characters are "物事".
Feb
14
comment Are Chinese language equivalent of English /p/ and /b/ sounds the same?
It's worth pointing out that the IPA is [pʰi] and [pi] (excluding tones). This may or may not seem "the same", depending on the listener's native language.
Feb
14
comment Are Chinese language equivalent of English /p/ and /b/ sounds the same?
@50-3 It's pretty relevant to the phonology of Mandarin.
Feb
14
answered Are Chinese language equivalent of English /p/ and /b/ sounds the same?
Feb
10
reviewed Approve suggested edit on Is there any difference between 汤 and 羹?
Feb
10
reviewed Approve suggested edit on What is 猫舅 in the following sentence?
Feb
10
reviewed Approve suggested edit on What is the equivalent of the English word 'Fail' in Mandarin?
Feb
8
comment What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?
@Claw Good catch. FYI, for things like that, you can directly edit answers.
Feb
8
revised What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?
palatal -> velar correction.
Feb
8
comment What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?
@user58955 Great! That's useful information, and it's also a funny joke :)
Feb
7
comment What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?
@amateur You're saying that if you learn a language in school, and your pronunciation is not perfectly standard, then you're lazy? Should I tell my Chinese coworkers how lazy they are for not pronouncing "th"s as [ð] and [θ]? Maybe I should tell all Americans what lazy bums they are for speaking English with a weird, non-British accent! ...but seriously, I think "lazy" is really, really bad choice of words to describe the phonology of a particular accent or dialect.
Feb
7
comment What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?
@amateur It's from influence from their native 方言--if the language you grow up speaking doesn't have a particular sound, chances are you'll have trouble producing it when learning another language (or 方言). For example, most English-language learners have trouble with "th" ([ð] and [θ]) so they merge that sound with something else. E.g., [z] and [s], as in, "I sink zis is it", or [d] and [f], as in "I fink dis is it". It's not a personality trait like laziness or something.
Feb
6
reviewed Approve suggested edit on Why is “steak” 肉排?
Feb
6
reviewed Approve suggested edit on Etymology of 对象
Feb
6
reviewed Approve suggested edit on Regional pronunciations of standard Mandarin
Feb
6
reviewed Approve suggested edit on Regional pronunciations of standard Mandarin
Feb
6
answered What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?
Feb
3
comment Is there a tone sandhi rule that “4 3” changes to “4 0”?
No. Counterexamples: 地址、用品、市场...
Feb
3
reviewed Approve suggested edit on 麻油Q米血 on a menu in Taipei