3,033 reputation
820
bio website peterthenelson.com
location United States
age 26
visits member for 2 years, 2 months
seen 4 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
27
comment How do you idiomatically transate 你这个人?
Why, you little <insert word of varying level of insult>, how can you say that messed up stuff?!
Feb
25
comment 三长两短: what's long and what's short?
It's very common in 成语 to have adjacent numbers (e.g., 乱七八糟、七嘴八舌). I don't think there's a deep reason, although the specific numbers end up with certain connotations (e.g., the examples with 7/8 are disordered).
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
8
comment What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?
@Claw Good catch. FYI, for things like that, you can directly edit answers.
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
3
comment Is there a tone sandhi rule that “4 3” changes to “4 0”?
No. Counterexamples: 地址、用品、市场...
Jan
29
comment When to use “下一个” and when just “下一” to translate English “next”?
@50-3 I don't think 下 would be used to express "next" in that circumstance. You might say 今后三天 (the 3 days after now). To answer some of your questions: The 一 is analogous to "a"; you wouldn't use both 一 and another numeral (e.g., 三) simultaneously; and 天 is its own measure word, so you wouldn't use 个 with it.
Jan
28
comment About Confucius' Ta-Hio
Can you link some sources? This seems like the right answer!
Jan
25
comment How is the currency of Taiwan referred to in Mandarin?
I imagine people just say "kuai" in practice, but you can differentiate by saying 台币 = taibi (analogous to the mainland 人民币 = renminbi).
Jan
24
comment About Confucius' Ta-Hio
@phoeagon If by "ancient dialect", you mean "probably court Mandarin, probably quite modern", then yes. The transcription was given in a modern book, using translation resources that can't be more than a few hundred years old (and furthermore, are definitely based on court Mandarin of some type).
Jan
23
comment About Confucius' Ta-Hio
If you read the comments, you'll see that that's pretty unlikely.
Jan
5
comment Why Cantonese is considered as a dialect of Chinese?
@user58955 What you are describing is diglossia. People speak in one language (their native 方言), and they write in another (previously in 文言文, now basically in formal Mandarin). If Spanish and French speakers had continued writing in Latin since Roman times, the situation would be the same--they would be "written the same", even though the languages were wildly divergent.
Jan
2
comment How to translate: 人是铁,饭是钢,一顿不吃烦得慌. What is the logic?
+1 for a translation preserving the rhyme scheme!
Dec
26
comment Relative clause in Chinese
@Daniela No problem, glad to help.
Dec
18
comment What does 卡了壳 mean?
FYI, we would say "cartridge" rather than "cassette".