3,107 reputation
1820
bio website peterthenelson.com
location United States
age 26
visits member for 2 years, 6 months
seen 10 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

May
10
comment Do 之 and 的 come from the same word?
I agree with hippietrail's assessment. This is a thoughtful, well-written answer that happens to be wrong. I look forward to future answers that distinguish between Chinese the language and Chinese the writing system :)
May
8
comment How do current Mandarin speakers usually pronounce 阿Q正传?
Please give some background on the scope of your answer (Where you're from, who--e.g., fellow students, teachers--you've heard pronounce it that way).
May
7
comment How do current Mandarin speakers usually pronounce 阿Q正传?
@user58955 That would be a good start to an answer.
Apr
18
comment Is Learning and Memorizing Chinese Characters much different than English?
@Harry.Chen Thanks!
Mar
18
comment How do Chinese speakers pronounce unknown characters?
I think the problem is your assumption that Chinese is "ideographic". Very few characters are either pictographic or ideographic. Most of them are, as others have mentioned, 形声字 which combine a phonetic with a semantically suggestive radical.
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).