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Questions tagged [meaning-in-context]

Questions concerned understanding of individual words or phrases, considering a context in which these words and phrases are expressed.

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23
votes
7answers
12k 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. ...
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 ...
12
votes
4answers
907 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
1k 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 (...
9
votes
8answers
1k 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?
9
votes
4answers
957 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
275 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
2k 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
2answers
5k 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?
8
votes
1answer
396 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
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?
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
2k views

Usage of 一定 vs 当然

I recently had to select the correct answer for a homework assignment: 我学了10年汉语了,含有水平 。。。 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
9answers
863 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
4answers
714 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?
7
votes
3answers
176 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
243 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
5answers
6k 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
7answers
3k 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
3answers
571 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'...
7
votes
1answer
170 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
394 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
3answers
250 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.
6
votes
3answers
526 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
823 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 ...
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
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
2answers
341 views

meaning of 傳 in 傳不習乎?

In Analects, chapter 4, 「吾日三省吾身 為人謀而不忠乎? 與朋友交而不信乎? 傳不習乎?」 I would translate it: Master Ceng said: everyday I check three things in myself: do I plan my behavior without loyalty? do I make friends ...
6
votes
4answers
387 views

Meaning of 则是 in this sentence

My vocabulary state 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
3k views

Is “ 事出必有因 ” the most accurate translation for “ everything happens for a reason ”?

Is " 事出必有因 " the most accurate translation for " everything happens for a reason "? If not, what is it?
6
votes
4answers
651 views

Making sense of 去华山怎么走比较好?

The following dialogue is in NPCR 2, Lesson 23, listening exercise 7 in the exercise book, and my attempt in translating it. I'm unsure about the sentence marked in red. I have not learned the ...
6
votes
3answers
182 views

What is the meaning of 多米 in the music service?

My friend often sands me links from the Duomi music service. Where does the name come from? 多米 seems to mean "a lot of rice" if I translate it directly.
6
votes
1answer
3k 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, ...
6
votes
2answers
180 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
1answer
127 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"?
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference between 准备, 预备 and 打算?

I seem to hear 准备 and 预备 used for “prepare” and not as often to mean “plan". 我们准备搬到美国; emphasizing the need for specific preparations for the move. Myself, I use 打算 for planning something. ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

“哩勒公蝦毀” what does this mean?

What does “哩勒公蝦毀” mean? A Taiwanese guy said that to me after I had, accidently, mistyped two words in an idiom I used on him. He also used an expression of surprise (I presume) which went like “蛤?!” ...
5
votes
4answers
717 views

Why does 定 (dìng) disable the monsters' movement in the movie 捉妖记 (Monster Hunt)?

In the movie 捉妖记 (zhuōyāojì), called Monster Hunt in English (Wikipedia, IMDB, Baidu, iQIYI), the movie's character 霍小岚 (Huòxiǎolán) attaches the Chinese hanzi 定 (dìng) to the head of monsters, and ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the correct Chinese expression for “Only child”?

I noticed lots of compound words using "只" for "only", but what is the correct way to say "only child" (a child with no brothers, nor sisters)?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Tree: 树 (shù) vs 木 (mù)

Is there any difference between 树 (shù) and 木 (mù), in the meaning of "tree", or they are interchangeable?
5
votes
3answers
878 views

What is the meaning and function of 幸 in “则幸分我一杯羹”?

What is the meaning and function of "幸" in the following sentence? 吾翁即若翁。必欲烹而翁,则幸分我一杯羹
5
votes
6answers
223 views

Meaning of 只 in 只把思念积压在我心头

Ok so firstly I take the sentence as a whole to mean. The missing is accumulating in my heart (i.e. I'm missing you more and more). Provided I've got that correct, what function does 只 perform here. ...
5
votes
4answers
297 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
251 views

What is the difference between 东西 and 用品?

What is the difference between 东西 and 用品? They both seem to have the meaning "stuff" in certain circumstances, but then 用品 is used in more formal situations, such as 医药用品 which I am assuming is not in ...
5
votes
1answer
206 views

What is the meaning of 不同而不同?

This is taken from the phrase: 口感依成分不同而不同 Sounds like it means "manifold" or something like that?
5
votes
3answers
492 views

Meaning of 所 in “有所…”

As far as I know, 所 has the following meanings: a place, as in 派出所 (police office). a counter, as in 一所科學中心 (a science center). a passive voice indicator that pairs up with 被(為), as in 被(為)愛所糾纏 (...