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When I first happened upon 毋乃, I first guessed its meaning as "not this". Then I consulted p 1007, ABC Chinese–English Comprehensive Dictionary (2003). I can't access the "slightly revised through July 2005" ed.

2wúnǎi 毋乃 F.E. <wr.> Is it not ... ?

  1. So why was my first guess wrong? Why doesn't 毋乃 mean "not this"?

  2. How does 毋乃 compound to mean "Is it not ... ?"

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  • You are almost correct. 毋乃is used in a negative interrogative sentence. So, instead of "not this", it is "Is it not this?". – joehua Sep 2 at 2:13
  • @joehua Thanks. Don't hesitate to expound your comment in an answer? – NNOX Apps Sep 2 at 2:39
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use a proper and authoritative dictionary, please.

in 國語辭典, maintained by ministry of education, taiwan 🇹🇼; “毋乃” is explained as:

豈非、莫非、未免、只恐,表示推測的語氣。

http://dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/cgi-bin/cbdic/gsweb.cgi?o=dcbdic&searchid=Z00000158798

and, the quoted source translated “毋乃” as “it is none other than” is, incorrect.

Why doesn't 毋乃 mean "not this"?

misleaded by entry level dictionary. think about “hot dog”, or “greenhouse”:

separately, “green” is a colour, and “house” is a building. so, if one naively guess that “greenhouse” is a building in green colour, it’s . . . 🙀

have fun :)

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  • Sorry! I can't read (much) Chinese, so that's why I've been using Wiktionary. I'll seek better sources. – NNOX Apps Aug 30 at 2:47
  • @水巷孑蠻:Apropros "greenhouse", in the doghouse does not always mean one is in a kennel! – Pedroski Aug 30 at 7:02
  • Thanks. I edited my question. Does it change your answer? I'm uncertain if you answered question 1. – NNOX Apps Aug 31 at 6:12
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    I use 國語辭典 often but would not call it "authoritative." It contains a lot of mistakes. Be aware of this fact when consulting the dictionary. I might still keep the email in which I asked them to change "天涯笑此時" to "天涯哭此時". – joehua Sep 2 at 7:47
  • @joehua Your comment should be "stickied" or blazoned permanently somewhere on this website. Have you asked the moderators to? – NNOX Apps Sep 5 at 7:40

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