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So I learned most of my Chinese through speaking, and I swear (especially in a service setting), people say something like

"Sao Wei Deng Yi Xia"

等一下 is obvious, but I have not been able to find anything in the dictionary for this term, "Sao Wei"

Have I been hearing people wrong all of these years? Does anybody know the two characters I'm talking about?

  • 1
    The word is shāowēi or shāowéi (稍微) which means slightly. – droooze Mar 4 '18 at 4:24
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    more likely '稍為 '/shao1 wei2/ (slightly) . It is the more common phrase compare to 稍微 – Tang Ho Mar 4 '18 at 5:23
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    Google verbatim search results: “稍微等一下” About 174,000 results vs. "稍为等一下" About 15,400 results & baidu: “稍微等一下” 2,890,000 vs. "稍为等一下" 8,060 – user3306356 Mar 4 '18 at 6:19
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    @TangHo I'm agreeing with @user3306356 here, 漢語大詞典 records more sources using 稍微. Their entry on 稍為 says: 猶稍微。 and only gives one textual source for this way of spelling it (老殘游記). Perhaps Taiwan or Hong Kong teaches the official spelling as 稍為? – droooze Mar 4 '18 at 6:36
  • 稍為 cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/13537 is common in Hong Kong. 稍微 is relatively rare – Tang Ho Mar 4 '18 at 6:39
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稍微等一下

MDBG

稍微

shāo​wēi​

a little bit

HSK 4

Here's a more detailed entry from Tuttle

稍微

[comp: 稍 slight + 微 tiny]

ADV

slightly, just a little bit

你能不能把电视机的声音开得稍微大一点? Nǐ néng bu néng bǎ diànshìjī de shēngyin kāi de shāowēi dà yìdiǎn? Could you turn the TV up a bit?

我稍微有点儿头疼, 休息一会儿就会好的。 Wǒ shāowēi yǒu diǎnr tóuténg, xiūxi yíhuìr jiù huì hǎo de. I've a slight headache. I'll be all right after a short rest.


MoE's entry for 等一下 has the following example sentence:

如:「吳醫師馬上就會來為您診斷病情,請您稍微等一下。」

Taiwan's Ministry of Education certainly thinks that 稍微等一下 is a common phrase.

  • perfect, thanks! I even tried typing "s w deng" and I still couldn't get this to come up – A O Mar 4 '18 at 4:28
  • “swdeng” works on my IME - I get this result straight away. – user3306356 Mar 4 '18 at 4:29
  • i'm using iOS pinyin, and Pleco, and neither return the result :\ – A O Mar 4 '18 at 12:24
  • @AO I used the Chinese IME on mac OS. I just tried the Chinese IME on iOS and it came up too with "swdeng" giving me 稍微等 and also 稍微等一下. – user3306356 Mar 4 '18 at 14:50
  • don't know what to tell you, maybe because you actually used the phrase before it comes up? I know that iOS at least they are smart about recommending phrases you use. See here imgur.com/a/e9sX1 – A O Mar 4 '18 at 19:40
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I think it is more likely what you heard was '稍為' instead of '稍微' because 稍為 is more common due to it's more general usage

稍為 = slightly

稍微 = slightly (more or less by tiny margin)

If you say 稍為 turn down the volume of the T.V, it can be from 50 down to 40 or from 50 to 49 ; if you say 稍微 turn down the volume of the T.V, it can only mean down by one or two degree (almost negligible degree).

Telling someone to 稍為等一下 could mean a few seconds or half an hour

Telling someone to 稍微等一下 imply the wait is extremely brief, like few seconds or a minute.

稍為等一下 can be reduced to 稍等一下. But if you reduce 稍微等一下 to 稍等一下, you lost the 'extremely brief' meaning.

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