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I've seen this mostly as dialect usage, but I'm wondering if there's a Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM) equivalent.

倒...不... - (seemingly) neither A nor B

倒男不女

倒文不武

倒明不白

半...不... - (seemingly) half A not B

半死不活

半大不小

半生不熟

Do similar constructs exist in MSM?

  • 倒...不... is not common in MSM, while 半...不... is in both oral and written MSM. – halfelf May 10 '17 at 4:14
  • @halfelf is there an equivalent of 倒...不...? – Mo. May 10 '17 at 4:15
  • 半..不.. is just the equivalent you need. They have more meaning than neither nor or half a not b which is a literal sense. If I say someone looks 半男不女, I mean he/she looks neither male nor female, and imply that this is disgusting for me. If I say 半文不武, means someone is not good in both liberal arts and military arts, and imply that looking down upon this one. These phrases usually express a negative attitude, contempt or despising. – halfelf May 10 '17 at 4:26
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I only know [不...不...] and [半...不] , never heard of [ 倒...不...]

Example:

不男不女 (not a man nor a woman)

半男不女 (not fully a man, not quite a woman)

| improve this answer | |
  • I figured both were dialectical in use – Mo. May 10 '17 at 4:36
  • Here in Chengdu, people are used to saying 倒…不…, and it means the same as 半…不… in Mandarin. – Huang May 10 '17 at 10:31

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