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据我所知 is usually presented as equivalent to "As I understand" or "As far as I know". I'm unsure whether this phrase is really used in the same way as these English phrases, as when I hear it it often seems that the speaker is implying "I have some reason to believe this", whereas in English these phrases often imply "I don't really know, but I think it's probably the case". In other words, only weakly affirmative and they are leaving open the possibility that they might be wrong.

As a native speaker, if you hear 据我所知...... would you assume the speaker is speaking strongly or weakly affirmatively?

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  • I think it’s your understanding of the English phrase that’s not correct here. ‘As far as I know’ doesn’t just mean, “I don’t really know, but I think it’s probably the case” – if you wanted to express that, you would just use ‘I think’ or ‘I suppose’. What ‘as far as I know’ means is, “I believe I do know this, but I am willing to be proven wrong”, which is the same thing the Chinese phrase indicates. ‘As I understand [it]’ is less certain, implying not knowledge, but a particular interpretation of circumstances. Commented May 28 at 11:29

4 Answers 4

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据我所知literally says: According to I thatwhich know

How you want to render that in English, well, that will depend on the context.

"As far as I know" already says you admit you may be incorrect, as does this Chinese phrase.

"你的祖父对他们都不喜欢," 他插话说。 "至少,据我所知不是。"
"Your granddaddy don't care for 'em, neither," he threw in. "Not that I know of, leastways."

据我所知,她唯一的职责就是提高全球的压力水平。
Her sole duty, as far as I could tell, was to raise global stress levels.

据我所知,你的工作不顺手。
From what I have been told, you are not getting on well with your work.

据我所知,没有这样的计划。
I know of no such plans.

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  • I do see a difference in some of your examples, e.g. second to last one 据我所知,你的工作不顺手 seems a bit more affirmative and was translated From what I have been told. I don't think I would want to hear this from my boss. Commented May 27 at 22:06
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My view is 据我所知 is closer to "As far as I can tell", (because of certain facts / circumstances which "I happen to know")

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As a native speaker, if you hear 据我所知...... would you assume the speaker is speaking strongly or weakly affirmatively?

据我所知 (my understanding is/ as far as I know) is a less assertive way of speaking because it doesn't firmly state a statement as a fact. leaving open the possibility of being wrong, deceived, or misunderstanding

Starting a statement with "人們說"(people said) or “有人說” (Some people said) is even worse, people would presume you aren't sure about anything or don't want to be responsible for your words

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  • Seems it is basically the same intent as with "As far as I know" etc then Commented May 27 at 0:06
  • But I recall at least one occasion I heard someone say 据我所知 and it was regarding something they already knew, and seemed to be using the phrase to mean "I know this as a fact, don't try to deny it", which is not how you would use those phrases in English. Commented May 27 at 0:20
  • 据我所知 is not the same as 我知道 (I know)
    – Tang Ho
    Commented May 27 at 0:27
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The phrases can be used for polite contradiction in both English and Chinese, when you don't want to directly tell people they're wrong or call them liars.

If your boss said at a meeting that there's still some stock left that needs to get sold, you might say to him, "as far as I know, the last of the stock was sold this morning."

This way you're not directly contradicting your boss or presuming to know more than him, you're presenting information you have that he might not, while allowing for the possibility that you don't know everything and you might be wrong (even if you're positive you're right, you might not want to make your boss look like a fool in front of everyone at the meeting).

In Chinese culture, it's considered polite to be non confrontational and to allow others to save face, so you may encounter this construction used more often than in English.

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