Questions tagged [ambiguity]

Questions about the words or phrases that may have non-unique meaning, spelling, or pronunciation, usually depending on a context

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
5
votes
3answers
369 views

What is the subject of 其他的都很满意?

I found the following translated example: 除了没有电梯,其他的都很满意。 Chúle méiyǒu diàntī, qítā de dōu hěn mǎnyì. I am satisfied with everything except for there is no elevator. I have a question about the ...
7
votes
3answers
281 views

Is mapping from simplified to traditional characters injective (one-to-one function)?

There is a plethora of online simplified to traditional characters converter like this one: https://www.chinese-tools.com/tools/converter-simptrad.html Is it safe to use them? Won't it cause any ...
3
votes
5answers
151 views

Can 九十 = “ninety” also mean “nine or ten” (like how 三四 means “three or four”)?

It's normal in Chinese to say something like: 他大概三四岁左右 (source) he is probably around 3 or 4 years old This is called Approximating with sequential numbers on the Chinese Grammar Wiki. However, ...
9
votes
1answer
123 views

Is it considered as anadiplosis (顶真) when the same character repeats but means differently?

In "顶真", one uses a word near the end of the clause and then repeats that word to begin the next clause. For example, 忽聞海上有仙山,山在虛無縹緲間. What if the same character repeats but means ...
5
votes
2answers
136 views

How do I resolve dictionary ambiguities when looking up words/phrases?

More often than not, looking up a simple word in a dictionary brings up several translations. It's pretty obvious that a lot of people have problems with this since a lot of questions here are "what ...
6
votes
3answers
648 views

How to say “small cat”, when 小猫 is “kitten”?

I would like advice on how to properly say phrases like "little kitten", "small cat". While I can say "小猫", as I understand it that either means "kitten", or is ambiguous. And to me saying "小小猫" seems ...
0
votes
2answers
251 views

What to use instead of em-dash (U+2014), etc

em-dash: — (U+2014) looks a lot like 一 (U+4E00) in many fonts. What is typically used instead in Chinese print? Or do they just rely on context? What other punctuation alternatives should I learn?
1
vote
1answer
307 views

Is Chinese really that ambigous in oral communication?

"I still am super grateful that all TV shows in China have subtitles (in Chinese) because even Chinese people will get a bit confused as to what's being said without the characters specifying which of ...
5
votes
1answer
108 views

Clarifying usage and definition of 怀疑

怀疑 means (1) to doubt, and (2) to suspect. This seems to lead to some confusing translations. For example: 我怀疑这张百元钞票是假的 could have two very different translations. If I use "to doubt", then it ...
2
votes
2answers
169 views

Is 用人单位未依法为劳动者缴纳社会保险费的, from a Contract of Employment, ambiguous?

This chapter is talking about ways to get out of your Contract of Employment without paying a penalty (违约金). My book quotes 《北京市劳动合同规定》第三十五条 (四)用人单位未依法为劳动者缴纳社会保险费的。 If I translate this, it seems to ...
6
votes
5answers
441 views

Is the sentence “我们要怎么去机场?” ambiguous?

我们要怎么去机场? The translation given is "How do we get to the airport?", but since 怎么 can also mean "why", can this sentence also be translated as "Why are we going to the airport?" I'm probably missing ...
2
votes
2answers
264 views

Is there a trick to find out the intensity of words with similar meanings?

I know that the intensity for the Chinese "but" is 不过》可是》但是》却 and I know that there are other words like this, but I wonder if there is a way to recognise which one has the stronger meaning, without ...
6
votes
4answers
303 views

How do I practise grouping characters into words? At which stage of learning should one expect to be good at this?

I just got the following sentence in a newsletter: 请问我可以跟你借支笔吗? Being a beginner that I am, I read it as "Can I please get one pay-check in advance?" because I saw this in my dictionary: 借支 = "to ...
4
votes
2answers
170 views

Differentiating “to do a burnout” and “burning tyres”

"To do a burnout" is 烧胎, so I assume a reasonable sentence would be: 昨天晚上我在停车场烧胎。 How would one distinguish this activity from piling up tyres and setting fire to them, for example in this news ...
5
votes
1answer
108 views

How to parse this phrase?

The radical 囗 is sometimes described as 圍字框. This phrase is a little bit ambigous to me. Does this mean «the frame of the character 【圍】» (圍字的框子) or «the frame that surrounds characters»? (包圍文字的框子)
5
votes
4answers
701 views

Is 我五分钟后就回来 ambiguous out of context?

My newsletter says this sentence 我五分钟后就回来。 is translated as "I'll be back in 5 minutes". I am curious to know whether this sentence could be translated as "I came back 5 minutes ago", or does it ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

The use of 上 (shàng) “on/above/over” in Mandarin and English

I'm interested in the the differences between English and Mandarin when they are talking about spatial preposition. Can i assume that in Mandarin, they use the preposition 上 for most of the times ...
6
votes
3answers
370 views

How do I refer to someone's family member who's relative age I am unsure of?

Is there any way to refer to someones family member, lets say brother, who's relative age I am unaware of and consequently am unable to decisively call 弟弟 or 哥哥? Is there some sort of rule, like ...
4
votes
1answer
138 views

Which classifier for window (窗户) is regularly used?

The dictionary lists two classifiers for window (窗户) 个 and 扇. Are both of these in common usage? If so is there any difference in the register? Does one sound more formal, etc?
6
votes
4answers
400 views

How does one distinguish between homographs in Chinese?

How does one distinguish between, for example, 便宜 (cheap) and 便宜 (convenient) in written Chinese? The context may give no help whatsoever, cf. 我的大学很便宜。 (Bad example, please excuse my awful ...
8
votes
7answers
5k views

How to distinguish between rat and mouse in Chinese?

I know there are two words here: 老鼠 and 鼠. However, the dictionary states that 老鼠 (rat) can also mean mouse; how do you specify rat? I imagine that 仓鼠 (hamster) and 沙鼠 (gerbil) are often abbreviated ...
15
votes
8answers
2k views

Sheep or goat? 一只羊跑过来

In the sentence: 一只羊跑过来 Would a Chinese person typically assume this is a goat or a sheep?
22
votes
5answers
1k views

How to differentiate between “On Top” and “Above”

If I wanted to translate the prepositional phrase "on the bed" to Chinese, I know to say "床上", but I don't know what the translation would be for saying "above/over the bed". From what I can gather, ...