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As a follow up to this question What does 别间 in 别间大学的男生都土里土气的 means? I was trying to figure out where the term 别间 comes from.

Judging by the context, it appears having the same meaning as 别的 (other, another).

Googling 别间大学 in quotes yields around 5k results (fair), enough to validate my intuition that it's essentially used just like 别的.

Even replacing 大学 with some other term that indicates a venue, still yields results.

  • 别间房子 ~30k results
  • 别间饭店 ~20k results
  • 别间店铺 ~1.5k results

However I can't find this term listed in dictionaries. Mdgb doesn't have it, Zdic doesn't have it. What's even funnier is that searching on Baidu with or without quotes gives almost no meaningful results at all.

But that's not entirely surprising. As I commented in the other thread, 别间 doesn't look like Mandarin. But I can find plenty of examples where it's used in Mandarin sentences, so I guess it's a transposition from a topolect.

But which one?

I'm pretty sure it's not Wu / Shanghainese. It doesn't seem to be Cantonese either. Though in Cantonese 间 gaan1 can classify shops. But I'm not aware of any 别 + Classifier construction. It doesn't seem Taiwanese, since searching 別間 in traditional yields almost nothing.

It might be 东北话, though I don't recall such a thing from my time in the cold North-East.

So where does 别间 come from?

  • It doesn’t flow smoothly in my ears until I mentally map 別 into 那. – dROOOze Sep 4 at 1:04
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It's not a standard term, but it's understandable. I don't know if it's a dialect. It's not common in any areas I have lived in.

I'd understand it as its literal meaning:

别: other

间 is a measure word for room (房间).

You can compare its usage to 这间, so as a demonstrative. E.g. 这间酒店. I suppose you could say 别间酒店. Basically, it should have something to do with "house or room".

Some might frown at the term. However, I think it could be a good name for a hotel, restaurant, etc. E. g. 别间酒店, 别间饭店. Compare to 有间客栈(which appears in a book I've read before).

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  • So you say it's basically used as a demonstrative: 这 this, 那 that, 别 other, with the classifier – blackgreen Sep 4 at 10:38
  • @blackgreen Yeah, that kind of idea. – dan Sep 4 at 10:49

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