Questions tagged [meaning-in-context]

Questions about understanding words or phrases within a given context.

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24
votes
7answers
16k views

How did 黃 (yellow) come to mean “pornographic”?

In my dictionary it defines 黃 (Huáng) - yellow - pornographic - to fall through - surname Huang or Hwang Imperial China and the robes of the emperor are commonly associated with the colour yellow. ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

What does “老” in “老虎” and “老鼠” mean

As I remember, 虎 and 鼠 are standalone nouns, meaning tiger and mouse, respectively. However, it seems that 老虎 and 老鼠 are more commonly used. Why is 老 used as a prefix for 虎 and 鼠? Why do we use 獅子 ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Why are people writing 打井 (dǎjǐng) = “to dig a well” on this construction site wall?

Near campus, there are construction sites for apartments, and one of them has this writing on it: Repeatedly written is 打井 (dǎjǐng) = "to dig a well", along with a phone number. It's possible that ...
13
votes
1answer
3k views

Do 和 and 及 refer to two different kinds of “ands?”

At one level, they both mean "and." At another level, 和 also means "peace," while 及 means "to extend." This suggests different usages. Is one used to connect nouns, while the other is used to connect ...
12
votes
2answers
6k views

Why did my friend write 发发发 on her note?

Today I went to an ice-cream shop with my Chinese friend, and we wrote notes to stick on the wall. My friend wrote: 开心、健康、平安、发发发 kāixīn, jiànkāng, píng'ān, fā fā fā The first three items are ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

也 和 并 与 及 跟 而 同 difference? [closed]

I have read about connectives 也 和 并 与 及 and asked some questions about them but still I'm somewhat not satisfied with my understanding. Let me summarize my knowledge: 1. 与 connects: nouns only (...
10
votes
4answers
4k views

Differences between 饭,菜, 食 and 餐

What are the differences between 饭,菜, 食 and 餐?Basically all mean food. But I know they are sometimes used in different curcimstances. What is then the most common word for food: 菜 or 食 ? 我吃过四川菜。Also ...
10
votes
8answers
2k views

Is “不會” a correct response to “謝謝”?

I live in Taiwan.There are occasions where I need to thank people, and sometimes they use "不會" to reply my "謝謝". Is this correct and what does "不會" in this occasion mean?
10
votes
4answers
1k views

When to use 一倍 vs 两倍

I would like to have a clarification on this: I know that 倍 means "-times, -fold", but I don't understand why 一倍 seems to mean "twice as (fast)" in the following sentence: 开车最少比骑自行车快一倍。 while we ...
10
votes
2answers
303 views

How to explain 讲 in 讲礼貌 and 讲卫生

In my understanding 讲礼貌 translates as 'be polite' and 讲卫生 is something like 'be clean', but how should I explain the 讲 to a new speaker? I take this as a set phrase, but is there a way to translate ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

Difference between 合适 and 适合

Both 合适 and 适合 mean to fit/to suit. I know the grammatical form needed for each one is different: 在这个情况下,你在穿的衣服就不合适。 我在找一个适合我的女孩子。 Aside of that, I have been told they cannot be used ...
9
votes
7answers
7k views

How can I translate 不客气 here?

I'm doing some translations of New Practical Chinese Reader 2. In lesson 17, there's a dialog between two people, and 不客气 appears as a reply to compliments rather than someone saying 谢谢。Is it supposed ...
9
votes
3answers
255 views

What is the meaning of the character 打 in 打坐?

How did the two-part compound 打坐 come to mean "seated meditation"? What is the function of the character 打 in that compound?
9
votes
5answers
814 views

What is 人 doing in 你现在人在哪里?

I got this sentence in my "daily exercise" newsletter, and I really don't understand what's 人 doing there? Doesn't it mean the same when 人 is removed? Could this simply be a typo?
9
votes
2answers
7k views

Why does 三八 mean gossip?

I've heard in 广东 (guangdong) the term 三八 to mean "gossip", particularly for a woman who gossips. Is this common throughout China, and why does it have this meaning?
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How to correctly use “多” to say “more than”?

I know a similar question has already been answered but I still have a lot of doubts. To my understanding if a number is ≤9, you need to put "多" after the measure word (or after the name if it doesn'...
8
votes
10answers
2k views

What does 非也 mean?

What does 非也 mean? I heard the following: Is this XXX? 非也! It's YYY! Does it mean "Oh my god!" or something others?
8
votes
6answers
2k views

How to understand “你怎么了?”

I understand 怎么 generally means "how". However, I came across the following translated example: 你怎么了? 说话声音这么小! Nǐ zěnme le ? Shuōhuà shēnɡyīn zhème xiǎo! What happened to you? You are ...
8
votes
3answers
222 views

The interpretation of a sentence in the Qieyun (切韵) preface

The Qieyun is a rhyme book written by the scholar Lu Fayan 陆法言 in 601 CE, during the Sui dynasty. In my degree thesis I'm trying to analyse some aspects of this particular work. Recently, I managed ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between 对不起, 请问, 不好意思, and 抱歉 to express “excuse me” or “sorry”?

I always wonder whether there is any difference between these four terms to say "excuse me" or "sorry". The difference between 对不起 and 不好意思 is explained in this question, but I'm not sure about the ...
8
votes
1answer
181 views

How can I express 'having' in an intimate sense?

In English, given a conversation between P1 and P2, it's possible to say: P1: My wife died. Now I feel like I've got nothing. I'm so sad. P2: Don't say that. You've still got your son. You have ...
8
votes
1answer
522 views

“惡” vs “噩” vs “厄”

I have seen these three characters forming the "same" words (I cannot think of a better way to phrase this), such as 惡夢 vs 噩夢 and 惡運 vs 噩運 vs 厄運 As I tried googling for the difference, I ...
7
votes
11answers
2k views

What's wrong with this sentence 我终于快到中国了

It is from my correct-the-sentence exercise. 我终于快到中国了。 I asked a Chinese, he said that this sentence is understandable. In my opinion, "终于" seems redundant. If not, the original sentence ...
7
votes
8answers
2k views

What role does 成 (chéng) play in the sentence 我把十块美元换成人民币?

A jukuu.com example sentence for 人民币 is: 我把十块美元换成人民币 I change ten dollars into Renminbi (Wǒ bǎ shí kuài měiyuán huàn chéng rénmínbì) Question: What role does 成 play in the sentence ...
7
votes
6answers
3k views

Why is 当然 the correct choice in 我学了10年汉语了,汉语水平 [一定 / 当然] 很高?

I recently had to select the correct answer for a homework assignment: 我学了10年汉语了,汉语水平 。。。 很高 I chose 一定,but the correct answer turned out to be 当然 Was my answer incorrect, why? How do these two ...
7
votes
11answers
2k views

What is the purpose of 是 in “我应该是感冒了”?

I came across the following translated example: 我应该是感冒了,耳朵也有点儿疼,不过没发烧。 Wǒ yīnɡɡāi shì ɡǎnmào le,ěrduo yě yǒudiǎnr ténɡ,búɡuò méi fāshāo 。 I think I caught a cold, and my ears are a little painful, ...
7
votes
3answers
280 views

When to use 一言难尽

When is it appropriate to use 一言难尽? Please supply a scenario where this would be a good reply. I have found this in my dictionary but I want to make sure I use in in the correct context.
7
votes
8answers
1k views

Does 「你的中文是在哪里学的?」mean “How did you study Chinese?” or “Where did you study Chinese?”

Recently I left the following post on social media: 中国人:你的中文是在哪里学的? 我:在北京语言大学学的。 Just to clarify, I wrote both those sentences to express a regular conversation that I have with Chinese people. There ...
7
votes
3answers
547 views

道德經 (Dao De Jing): 「五味令人口爽」 translation

From Dao De Jing (道德經), part 12: 五色令人目盲 // Five colors make a man blind 五音令人耳聾 // Five notes make a man deaf 五味令人口爽 I have a problem with translation of the third line: Five flavours make the ...
7
votes
3answers
935 views

Meaning of 一不小心

I read a story where a child dropped a berry into a bucket full of berries and then tried to take it back. When she reached in to pick up her own berry, she grabbed a handful of the other berries. In ...
7
votes
9answers
1k views

What does 土 mean in this sentence 这个名字有点土?

I heard this mentioned about someones name recently. Can someone explain the meaning and any connotations of "土" in the sentence: 这个名字有点土
7
votes
5answers
739 views

Phrases to acknowledge being corrected in Mandarin

When I lived in China, I was often corrected for using grammar improperly or translating too literally. I don't think I ever learned a good response to this. I usually wanted to be courteous and ...
7
votes
4answers
246 views

央行行长会: Is the second 行 necessary?

央行行长会 - A Meeting of the Heads of Central Banks. Is the second 行 necessary? If not why not? Does 央行长 mean "Head of a Central Bank" or is it necessary to say the equivalent of "Bank-Head of a Central ...
7
votes
2answers
185 views

How do expressions like “二嫂” work in Mandarin?

From what I've known from watching Chinese dramas, siblings or fellow disciples may refer to each other as: "big brother/sister" (oldest/first) "2nd/3rd brother/sister" (in-...
7
votes
4answers
487 views

Meaning of 则是 in 而段剑则是神情严肃地站在聂离的身边

My vocabulary states that 则是 means: "then is". However I don't understand how to translate the following sentence: 而段剑则是神情严肃地站在聂离的身边。 I can translate it perfectly fine by omitting 则是, so not sure ...
7
votes
7answers
4k views

How did 东西 come to mean “something” in the expression “吃东西”?

I was chatting with a Chinese penpal recently and when I asked "what are you doing?", I received the following answer: 吃东西,你呢? Now, "东西" means "east and west" and so "吃东西" literally means "eat/...
7
votes
6answers
8k views

Meaning of “去你的头”

I just heard "去你的头" in a joke, and while it sounds like an approving "go ahead" OR "go with your head/what you think" I realized at the end of the joke it's kind of an equivalent of "go f*** yourself" ...
7
votes
1answer
4k views

“A pair of mandarin oranges” as a homophone of “the gold”

image courtesy of Today, when Chinese people celebrate the New Year, there's a tradition to offer each other Mandarin oranges. As many sources say, the Mandarin oranges should be offered in pairs, ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

How is 以 used in 时间给勤奋者以荣誉,给懒汉以耻辱?

时间给勤奋者以荣誉,给懒汉以耻辱。 This is a quote from Gao Shiqi. I understand the basic meaning of it, but what is a good way to define the usage of 以? It can mean many different things in Chinese and is sometimes ...
7
votes
1answer
130 views

Is the expression 学识渊博 usually used in a pejorative sense?

For example, as a sarcastic remark in the sense of "pedantic" or "know-it-all"?
7
votes
2answers
202 views

“niyao” meaning strong-armer?

A comment on a New York Times article about violence towards doctors in China reads: The situation is explosive. In 2010 there were 17,234 cases of violence against medical personnel reported by ...
6
votes
6answers
5k views

Why did my Chinese teacher describe Donald Trump as 口吐莲花?

In my regular Chinese class yesterday, I was discussing Donald Trump with my teacher, and she described him as 口吐莲花 (kǒutǔliánhuā). As always I didn't fully understand the particulars of the ...
6
votes
5answers
468 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
2k views

Does this article claim that Australian citizens of Chinese ethnicity are seeking asylum in China to flee COVID-19? (大多数华裔恐怕只是把中国当成了一处避难所而已)

I saw this on a tabloid-like Chinese news outlet: 不少澳大利亚华裔之所以要离开,很大程度上是因为澳大利亚国内疫情开始呈现爆发迹象,但中国的疫情已经得到了有效控制,所以大多数华裔恐怕只是把中国当成了一处避难所而已,但他们应该清楚的是,拥有澳大利亚国籍的自己早已不是中国公民了。 易有料, Yiyouliao, undated, viewed ...
6
votes
5answers
811 views

在一篇台湾小说里的句子“当下、梦和回忆”中,“当下”指的是什么?

下面摘自一篇台湾的小说(/r/MandarinBookClub当前的小说): 下了飞机,爸爸还在跟司机讨价还价,我已经坐上计程车。整个人昏昏沉沉的,车窗的风夹带着牛粪味灌进来,我看着奔跑过的树木和柏油路,又有一点分不清楚来往的现实和梦。我有时候怀疑,难道对其它人来说,当下、梦、回忆是这么容易分辨的三样东西吗?窗外以不一样速度移动的前景和远景,会让我想到某个深夜在仁爱路奔跑时,隔着眼泪看到的景象;...
6
votes
8answers
1k views

What does 管 mean as in “他管我借钱.”?

And how do you translate 他管我借钱,但我没借给他 ?
6
votes
7answers
1k views

A better translation of 假作真时真亦假,无为有处有还无。

In the Chinese classic 红楼梦 ("Dream of Red Mansions"), there is a famous couplet: 假作真时真亦假,无为有处有还无。 Pinyin: jiǎ zuò zhēn shí zhēn yì jiǎ, wú wéi yǒu chù yǒu huán wú. This has been translated into ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Why does the squirrel say 我才不是吃货?

They started selling this at the local shop: (See also TianMao.) I thought this product contained squirrel, so I took a closer look, and it says: 我才不是吃货 只是这个好吃~ Wǒ cái bùshì chīhuò zhǐshì zhège ...
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
935 views

What does 卡了壳 mean?

Here's the context. I am guessing it means "stumble". 其他选手则要么在微妙的措辞上卡了壳 Other contestants stumble on delicate phrasing. But according to this it means "quiet/silenced"? Q: ...

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