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I never met this little fella before: 乜。Is it 粤语 for what? I thought they'd written 也 wrong!

I have no more context, this is an example of 个 being used as 冠词, according to the author.

她个做饭乜叫做饭?

What does she mean by cooking? (But this is ambiguous, it could mean, "Why is she cooking, I was supposed to do the cooking!)

or

What does she understand the meaning of the word "cooking" to be?

(Maybe she's English. For many English, opening a can of beans and warming them is cooking!)

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  • Seems to be Yantai topolect from what I've seen.
    – Mou某
    Aug 17 at 6:30
  • "乜" is "squint", with the meaning of "looking down", disrespect, or disbelieve.
    – r13
    Aug 17 at 14:22
  • 烟台话was mentioned in the previous paragraph.
    – Pedroski
    Aug 17 at 22:17
  • (I am a native Cantonese,) 她一个做饭也叫做饭? or 她一个做饭 叫做做饭? would be complete Cantonese sentence. Aug 18 at 6:13

2 Answers 2

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I found the original(?) sentence in the following paper:

烟台话中不带指示词或数词的量词结构

他个做饭乜叫做饭?

Which seems to be the only reference to this text that I could find. Here it is clearly referred to as: Yantai topolect (烟台话).


The Yantai topolect is part of Jiao–Liao Mandarin, which includes the local languages from Dalian, Qingdao, Weihai, etc. The language covers parts of Shandong and Shenyang, even remote places in Heilongjiang.


Some notes about「乜」:

山东方言人称代词的复数表示法 enter image description here

「乜」is a demonstrative pronoun which sits somewhere in between here (这) and there (那). If here is close (近) and there is far (远) then 乜 is partway (中).

山东方言哥带你了解山东方言系列(淄博话中的“来”)

淄博方言中的方位词有“这、乜、那”三个, “乜”是指介乎“这、那”二者之间的。有时在“来”后面停顿一下,或加一个“呃”的语音表示这种介宾关系。此时,“来”用于现在正进行的事情,表达动作的持续性。例如,“他来那喝起酒来不散伙了”,就是说他一直在那里喝酒,直到现在还不停下来。


This doesn't just seem to be a feature isolated to Jiao-Liao

安陆话

指示代词
安陆话的指示带词通常二分。乜1 (niɛ4)表近指,乜2 (niɛ5)表远指,只有声调不同。

In Anlu「乜」can refer to things both near and far, taking place of both 这 and 那. In spoken language it does come with a tonal differential.


As for the tricky part in the sentence provided above:

乜叫做饭?

It seems close to:

哪里 叫做 做饭

How could you even call his cooking, cooking?

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  • Thorough research. Good answer.
    – r13
    Aug 19 at 1:47
  • Amazing! Well done! Thank you very much! What confuses me is, the dictionary says 乜,粤语, but I'm pretty sure the people in 青岛 don't speak 粤语!
    – Pedroski
    Aug 19 at 23:24
  • @Pedroski That's true. Characters are not language exclusive. 「乜」can even be found in Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. Albeit, probably not readily. When it comes to characters in Chinese there is also have a bit of a "chicken or the egg"-type of quandary: was a character chosen based on its already existent matching meaning or did it just happen to fit the pronunciation of the time? Records of Cantonese do seem to be much more easily obtained than those of 胶辽.
    – Mou某
    Aug 20 at 1:04
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This sentence is a customary expression of a local dialect that either belongs to 粵語系 or 吳語系(?).

做饭叫做饭?她那(个)是做饭什麼叫做饭?- If her cooking is acceptable, what is called cooking then? This sentence implies that the quality of her cook is lousy compared to typical cooked food.

You are correct that 也 can replace 乜 and not change the meaning of the sentence, however, 乜 means 什麼(what) which differs from 也. 乜 - meaning

As I've no clue which local speaks this way to express this matter, the answer represents my best guess after limited research only.

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