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The other day, I wanted to describe my shock regarding the overwhelming HSK6 vocabulary list (~2500 additional words) to my teacher, so I came up with a self-made idiom 词山词海: taking 人山人海 and replacing 人 with 词. I thought it was apt and quite proud of my creation, by my teacher disagreed.

I can't think of an idiomatic way to express this sense of being overwhelmed by vocabulary when learning a language in Chinese. Sure, I could say 词汇太多了, but it doesn't have the sense of being overwhelmed.

Question: Is there an idiomatic way to express being overwhelmed by vocabulary?

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    How about 万词淹没, (Wàn cí yān mò) ( a flood of words or drowned in words)? – Wayne Cheah Jun 20 at 3:48
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    词山词海 is fine though it's a bit odd. People could see you were trying to do a bit wordplay on the idiom 人山人海. It's easy to understand what you mean by that. It could have a potential to become a meme in my opinion. Language needs creativity. – dan Jun 21 at 2:30
  • @WayneCheah Nah, it sounds even a bit weirder than 词山词海. – Stan Jul 8 at 7:34
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无从说起: 指事情太繁杂,要说的话很多,但不知道该从哪里说起。

Things are too complicated and there are many things to say, but don’t know where to start.

一言难尽:形容事情曲折复杂,不是一句话能说清楚的。

Describe things tortuous and complex, a sentence cannot make it clear.

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There are idioms that express shock and dismay, but none are specifically referring to facing too heavy a task, let alone describing a specific task that is to learn a large number of words.

My suggestion is:

看到 HSK6 词汇表上这堆积如山的词汇,登時目瞪口呆

you can replace 堆积如山 with any idiom or idiomatic phrase that describes a huge quantity, e.g. 为数惊​​人,数以百计,密密麻麻,重重叠叠,多不胜数,既多且难... etc.

you can replace 目瞪口呆 with any idiom or idiomatic phrase that expresses your dismay, e.g. 叫苦连天,欲哭无泪,气为之馁,大吃一惊,望而生畏... etc.

you can replace 登时 with 顿时,不禁... etc.

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    I personally would say 吓尿了, but I don't think your teacher would like it. – Tang Ho Jun 20 at 18:45
  • I think the correct spelling is 堆积如山 (or 堆積如山 in traditional). 禾字旁 – blackgreen Jun 20 at 19:14
  • Perhaps it's also 目瞪口呆 (not 目定口呆). – Becky 李蓓 Jun 20 at 22:44
  • Cantonese say 目定口呆. I thought Mandarin speaker would understand – Tang Ho Jun 20 at 22:46
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I like 不知所措 for 'overwhelmed'. (Wonder what 'underwhelmed' might be? 知所措??)

生词量大得让我不知所措。
I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of new words.

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I don't think there is one expressing this very situation, but you can just phrasing one like ancient scholars do:

学习HSK6,正如孤舟济辞海——没于洪涛!

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How about something like this:

心灰意懒

那么多的词,看着就让我觉得心灰意懒

精疲力尽

那么多词,还没学就已经精疲力尽了。

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