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For example, could the sentence ”我懂四川“ sound natural at all? If so, could it mean you know the place very well, possibly even in a nostalgic or essential sense?

5 Answers 5

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了解 will be more appropriate for the sense of know the place very well

For example,

我懂數學 will be a different sense. 我懂數學 means I am good at mathematics

an example: 他們認為我能勝任,因為我懂數學

If Octopodes is looking for a recent work, from a short paragraph of the following author (in 2022 Apr)

我懂 (the title)

文 / 宣教部 蕭錦鋒 主任牧師

兩位婆婆在中國四川南充市社區公園座椅閒話家常,當話題轉到婆媳之間時,一位婆婆滔滔不絕述說委屈。另一位婆婆專注聽完後,起身將左手放在拐杖上支撐身體重量,右手放在對方肩膀上說:「妳說什麼我懂的,因為我也是過來人。」

我懂 means I had experienced (for this short paragraph)

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    也是過來人 suggests "I experienced", not "我懂的" (I know/understand).
    – Tang Ho
    Jun 5, 2022 at 3:35
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    「妳說什麼我懂的,因為我也是過來人。」= "I know what you are saying because I was there and experienced it too"
    – Tang Ho
    Jun 5, 2022 at 3:37
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”我懂四川“ - I understand Sichuan, is an objectionable claim without followed by a specific subject such as 四川, or 四川. Otherwise, it equates to saying "I understand New York, which is a pointless sentence.

In this case, 了/瞭解 is the correct term to use, which has the same meaning as 懂, but with a more comprehensive and non-subject specific sense - 我瞭解四川 = I understand Sichuan well (around).

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我懂四川 = "I understand/know Sichuan". It is a valid sentence. It means "我了(瞭)解四川(這地方)"

You feel this sentence sounds unnatural because the term "understand" in Chinese mostly refers to 了(瞭)解. Using 懂 is more literary than colloquial

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  • You are correct, as one can't "懂"四川這地方 but "了(瞭)解". It is quite difficult to explain/grab the concept though.
    – r13
    Jun 5, 2022 at 20:28
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As a Chinese, I think we often use sentences like "我了解四川" instead. "我懂四川" often appears in literature, with the effect of personification, just like SiChuan is a person and I understand her very well. You may briefly translate "我懂四川" the same as "我了解四川", but actually the former sometimes implies a stronger emotion than the latter. Anyway, it is necessary to decide its meaning through the context.

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现代汉语尽量避免单字的动词。“懂”是个单字动词,在古文里可能存在,但在现代汉语中非常突兀,一般会替换成“了解”。这是一种弱化,类似于英语的can改用could,will改用would,但在攻击时反而会使用,例如“你还懂这个?” “你到底懂不懂?” “不懂就别说话!”

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