3,065 reputation
820
bio website peterthenelson.com
location United States
age 26
visits member for 2 years, 4 months
seen 7 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

2d
comment How do you say “I know that I don't know”?
FYI for readers: This actually means "To know when you know and know when you do not--this is knowledge!". Also, it's fun to say fast.
Oct
13
comment how do you say in 文言 “I became an eunuch because of the sex and drugs and tang-poems, not because i love the king and his rotten offspring”?
This is the best translation request I've ever seen.
Oct
10
comment how did victor mair came up to the conclusion that the reading of 道 in old chinese was *taolu ?
I believe you misunderstood the claim made. The claim was that 道路 was originally a monomorphemic word and it was clipped to be 道.
Oct
10
comment how did victor mair came up to the conclusion that the reading of 道 in old chinese was *taolu ?
Can you provide a source for that claim? I can only find claims of 道 > *lûʔ or *lûh
Oct
2
comment Reading Chinese without speaking it
You could also learn how to read English without knowing how the words are pronounced (e.g., some profoundly deaf people do that). Sounds like a terrible idea though.
Sep
22
comment When to use 这道 for “this kind”
If you want to say "This kind of dish" rather than "this dish", you can say 这种菜
Sep
3
comment How to translate skepticism?
I recommend you modify your question. Asking about the translation of skepticism (and how "good" that translation is) is totally on topic (and a good question). Your final paragraph is off-topic and is flame-bait. This is not the appropriate forum (or really a forum at all!) to argue about the evidence for religions and such.
Aug
14
comment Why is the 会 in 会计 pronounced kuài?
@user54609 See edit.
Jul
27
comment Is there a single word for “無用”
Do you mean "single character"? 无用 is a single word.
Jul
16
comment Are there transitive/及物动词 or intransitive/不及物动词 verbs in Chinese?
@minerals 比賽 is definitely a direct object in that sentence. You're reasoning about it wrong--"direct object" is a syntactic property, not a semantic one. Although it often is the case that a direct object is "a thing that is acted upon", that need not be the case. In order for it to be an indirect object, it would really need to be part of a preposition phrase or some similar syntactic construct (e.g., "double" objects).
Jul
8
comment Why does the word 萌 mean “cute”?
@KyeWShi It's Chinese internet slang that comes from Japanese internet slang.
Jun
28
comment Hong Kong Cantonese variations
No. See wikipedia for details on what changes have taken place. They're very 'natural' changes, and furthermore (as noted in the article), they actually make communication with English speakers harder (e.g., n-l merger).
Jun
28
comment Toneless Sinetic Dialects/Topolects
@YangMuye That's probably the closest. In Shanghainese, there's a two-way phonemic "tone" contrast, but the tone of the first character in a word determines the realization for the entire word. Because of this, you could describe Shanghainese as a "pitch accent" language rather than a (contour) tonal one.
Jun
28
comment Loanwords with Chinese Equivalents
You listed typhoon here. Are you claiming 台风 is a transliteration? AFAIK, the origins of both "Typhoon" and "台风" are disputed, but it doesn't seem likely that the Chinese is from the English.
Jun
25
comment Why does 三明治 mean sandwich when 三 means 3, 明 means bright/clear, and 治 means to rule?
三明治 is not an English word. It's a Chinese word. Pronounced by Chinese speakers. It's not a foreign language. It's been borrowed into Chinese and adapted to a pronunciation compatible with Chinese. The example I gave was going the other way: 白菜 was borrowed into English as "Bok Choy" (and the pronunciation was adapted to English phonology). Phonology is a property of a language, not of an individual. "Sandwich"=[sændwɪtʃ] is not a well-formed Mandarin word, regardless of how well educated someone is. 三明治=[san˥miŋ˧˥tʂɨ˥˩] is.
Jun
25
comment Why does 三明治 mean sandwich when 三 means 3, 明 means bright/clear, and 治 means to rule?
It is true that Chinese generally prefers calques over phonetic borrowings (especially mainland), but it's not the case that one is more "linguistic" than the other. Both are ways that words are borrowed from one language to another. It's also not the case that transliteration in Chinese is new--the meaning for 塔 of "tower" is from a transliteration of Sanskrit "stupa" into Chinese.
Jun
24
comment Why does 三明治 mean sandwich when 三 means 3, 明 means bright/clear, and 治 means to rule?
Education level is irrelevant. When a word is borrowed into a language, it needs to be adapted to the phonology of that language. "Bok choy" is pronounced [paːk˨ tsʰɔːi˧] in Cantonese but [bak tʃʰɔːi] in English. This is not because English speakers are uneducated or careless. It's because English phonology is totally different from Cantonese phonology! Similarly, "sandwich" has a phonetic structure that is incompatible with that of Mandarin, including the -nd- consonant cluster and final -ch.
Jun
24
comment Why does 三明治 mean sandwich when 三 means 3, 明 means bright/clear, and 治 means to rule?
@noncom This may work as a mnemonic, but it is clearly an incorrect theory. As made clear by the answers below, it's a transliteration, nothing more.
Jun
24
comment Why does 三明治 mean sandwich when 三 means 3, 明 means bright/clear, and 治 means to rule?
Transliteration is not "lazy pronunciation".
Jun
12
comment Finding the “second character”?
This is a really good question! I've often found myself struggling to find the "second character", especially when trying to clarify what I was saying.