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中国是世界上人口最多的国家.

Why is 人口 in this sentence 多, not 大? In English way of thinking (or my English way of thinking), a population is something that can be "huge" rather than "much"/ "many". Is Chinese way of thinking different? Is 人口 really as shape of the characters says - "mouths of people" rather than "population" in the English sense? People are many, but population is huge. Can I say "中国是世界上人口最的国家"?

I've got one more question about this structure. Countries and cities can be big in two senses: in population or in territory. This sentence says "China is the biggest country in the world, in the sense of population". I guess I could change the category into the other one and say: 俄罗斯是世界上国土最大的国家. I put 大 here. Is it correct? Would 多 be correct?

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    "中国是世界上人口最大的国家" As a joke, this sounds like "China has the biggest number of people in the World with big mouths" :) – Wayne Cheah Apr 18 at 15:24
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    中国是世界上人口最大的国家: China is the country whose people has largest mouth in the world. :) – tsh Apr 20 at 9:58
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Interesting question. I never think that 人口多(少) should be said as 人口大(小) in English way. As you said, 人口 seems meaning people more in Chinese sense. So we should say 人口多/人口少.

Can I say "中国是世界上人口最大的国家"?

No, it's quite weird.

俄罗斯是世界上国土最大的国家. I put 大 here. Is it correct? Would 多 be correct?

Yes, 大 is correct, 多 is not. 国土 usually refer to the area, i.e. the antional territory area, then we should say 大(小), not 多(少).

As a supplementary, 规模 (scope/scale) could be described with 大/小, so you can say "中国是世界上人口规模最大的国家".

Another supplementary, 人口 belongs to a kind of usage that combines a noun and quantifier to make a 集合名词 (collective noun). E.g. 车辆, 人口, 纸张, 船只, 布匹, 马匹.

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  • The second supplementary blew my mind, I've never noticed it! – musialmi Apr 18 at 15:09
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    @musialmi I didn't realize it either untill I did some search about 人口 just now. I'm just using it in daily life naturally without thinking too much especially about the grammar, construction, etc. – songyuanyao Apr 18 at 15:13
  • 人口 is 人口数量 I found these sentences as an example of 人口数量最大的 当前埃及人口数量最大的不是小孩,而是15到25岁之间的群体,他们比较有上进心,消费欲望强,尤其是对于奢侈品以及新建家庭所需的东西消费力最强。 作为世界上人口数量最大的国家,汉语拥有着世界上最多的使用者; Are they wrong?? – Pedroski Apr 19 at 11:05
  • @Pedroski Yes they are fine, even using 多 sounds more natural to me, i.e. 作为世界上人口数量最多的国家... – songyuanyao Apr 19 at 13:30
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Yes Chinese see "人口" as "number of people" and 人口 is measured in number, e.g. China's population is 14 billion. And 多 and (小) are appropriate adjective for 人口

English use big or small to describe population, because they are measuring 'number of people' and 'number' is measured in size. 14 billion is a big number, the biggest number (of people in a country) in the world in fact.

国土 is 'area of a country' , and it is described by size, so 俄罗斯是世界上国土最大的国家 is correct

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口 may be used as measure word of 人. For example, you may heard 我家有五口人。 (There are 5 people in my family.)

口 may also used as the same meaning of 人. For example, 我们一家三口去武大看樱花* (My whole family, 3 people, (will) go to Wuhan University to see cherry blossom.)

Back to the question about 人口. Here is another example: 2000年,全世界有61亿人口。* (By 2000, there are 6.1B people in the world) We can see that 人口 may be translated into people here but not population.

As you would say "more people" / "less people", but not "huge people". You should use 人口最多 / 人口最少 in that context.

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