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18
votes
5answers
2k views

How do we know what characters correspond to Chinese names?

Recently I've asked "How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?", and now, I'm facing a similar, yet kind of different problem, which I think applies to any westerner or Chinese ...
1
vote
1answer
710 views

Typing Yale Romanization

I learned Cantonese using Yale Romanization, but I'm unable to type it easily because of the accent marks representing the tones. Is there a quick and easy way to do this without using a special ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Cantonese Romanization schemes

The Cantonese romanization scheme that I know is Yale Romanization, which to me makes the most sense and is the easiest to read of any that I've seen. It seems to give a very good idea of how to ...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

How did 葉 (leaf as in vegetation) become 叶 when it was simplified?

This is a spin-off question from this one "Determine radicals for simplified characters that lost their traditional form completely" where radicals for simplified characters were discussed. Now, the ...
5
votes
3answers
116 views

Translation of 火箭扫雷车

I have a children's wallchart with a variety of weapons and military vehicles. One of the items is 火箭扫雷车. I think I understand the meaning (it's a kind of minesweeper that uses rockets to clear ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Resources for learning classical Chinese

I have a very strong interest in classical Chinese (文言文), but I am unable to find any ressources for learning it that don't assume Chinese is your mother language. Can anybody give me some pointers?
16
votes
6answers
732 views

Why isn't 到 (dào) used in 某天我去北京?

Earlier while chatting, I wrote a sentence and a native speaker told me it was correct. The sentence was: 某天我去北京。= Someday I'll go to Beijing. (mǒu tiān wǒ qù Běi jīng) I noticed that no ...
10
votes
1answer
851 views

Determine radicals for simplifed characters that lost their traditional form completely

Having read this question: How can one determine the radical for a given character?, it gave me another question. Since many simplified characters lost their original form (compared to traditional ...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I decide whether to use 還是/还是 or 或者

還是/还是 (háishì) and 或者 (huòzhě) seem to have very similar meanings: 還是/还是: or; still; nevertheless 或者: or; possibly; maybe When I want to say 'or', how to I choose which to use, and are there any ...
26
votes
4answers
7k views

但是, 可是 and 不过 - how to know which one to use?

According to my dictionary, 但是, 可是 and 不过 all mean "but/however"? However are there any differences between them? Are there some cases, where one can be used but not another?
4
votes
2answers
2k views

What are some common Chinese terms used when playing soccer

I regularly play soccer with a group of Chinese guys and wanted to share terms that I've learnt over the years. I would appreciate if anyone can fill in any gaps (or correct me if I'm wrong).
11
votes
2answers
1k views

我(也)很好 and tone sandhi

What are the (resultant) tones in those sentences, where all the words in isolation have 3rd tone? 我很好。 我也很好。 Reading tone shandhi rules on Wikipedia, there is no explanation about tree or four ...
10
votes
3answers
724 views

When do I use 着 to indicate action in progress?

It seems like for some verbs (正)在 is used to indicate action in progress, but I have also encountered 着 for some, like 穿着. When should it be used, is there a rule to follow?
6
votes
2answers
324 views

Methods/resources for improving formal/business Chinese?

I'm returning to China early next year to manage a business, and will be dealing with a variety of Chinese clients in that environment. I want to ensure my formal/business Chinese skills are up to ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the difference between 房子 and 屋?

It seems like "house" is usually translated as 房子 (fáng zi) in standard Chinese, although 屋 (wū) is also a common translation, especially in Cantonese. Is there a difference between the two? When ...
34
votes
8answers
7k views

How do I decide whether to use 可以, 会 or 能?

According to every dictionary I've seen so far, there is a big overlap in these: 可以 = can, may, be able to 会  = can, be able to, able 能  = can, may, able, capable How do I properly choose which ...
5
votes
2answers
180 views

Looking for Pinyin standards

I have noticed discrepancies in how native Mandarin speakers spell certain words in Pinyin reflecting differences in pronunciation, for instance, pángbiān vs. pángbian and zǎoshang vs. zǎoshàng. I've ...
47
votes
7answers
3k views

Why is 有 (yǒu) the only verb that requires 没 while other verbs can use 不?

To negate something, we use 不 (bù) before the verb, such as in this short dialogue: A: 你是老师吗?= Are you a teacher? B: 不是。= I'm not. However, the verb 有 (yǒu) is the only one that requires 没 (méi) ...
34
votes
10answers
5k views

How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?

Since there are many characters that share a common pronunciation and sometimes also the same tone, how do we properly choose which character best represents our name? Is it totally arbitrary or are ...
10
votes
13answers
3k views

How to translate “你给我滚” properly?

In a sentence like: “你给我拿一杯水” You would translate it something like: Get me a glass of water. How is the "给我" in the sentence “你给我滚” supposed to be translated? Should it just be "Get lost / Piss ...
5
votes
4answers
286 views

Differences between 蝉 and 知了?

What are the main differences between 蝉 (chán) and 知了 (zhīliǎo) both meaning cicada. Do they both refer to the same species? Will either saying be understood by the majority of native speakers? Is ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

When not to use 厕所 when asking for the toilet?

I've noticed sometimes in polite company or in the company of strangers some people will saying they are going to wash their hands 去洗手 (qù xǐshǒu) instead of going to the toilet 去上厕所 (qù shàng cèsuǒ). ...
4
votes
3answers
330 views

What is the Mandarin equivalent for the Shanghai term for dirty?

In the Shanghai dialect dirty is pronounced something like "o co" with the o pronounced like the "o" in cot and the "c" pronounced like the usual c in pinyin (kinda like an 'ts' sound). Which ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

How to practice reading for beginners? [closed]

Are there any good magazines (or perhaps books) that can be used to practice reading for beginners? I feel that my Chinese level is good enough to read simple sentences but it's still impossible to ...
8
votes
1answer
260 views

General guidelines for learning stroke order

A friend asked me for a brief description of the general guidelines for writing Chinese characters. What are the simplest ways to describe those "rules" that apply across most characters?
8
votes
2answers
279 views

What is the part without the radical called?

For example, these characters have different radicals: 根 跟 恨 狠 But the part of the characters minus the radical is the same. Does that part (艮 in this case) have a name?
26
votes
5answers
9k views

How can one determine the radical for a given character?

Many times, when reading Mandarin, I will happen across a character that I don't know. Usually, the radical along with some context will clue me into the meaning, but if I can't determine the radical, ...
7
votes
5answers
772 views

Equivalent expression to: “I don't give a f***”

Is there something in Mandarin like "I don't give a f***", something that expresses the same sense of "I don't care" but with more force.
12
votes
3answers
1k views

How to say “fail” in Mandarin? (as in “epic fail” in internet memes)

The term fail is pretty popular on the internet these days, and one I'm quite fond of. Looking in my Chinese dictionary I can't find a great equivalent - is there a good way to say this? What would be ...
10
votes
3answers
262 views

Which regions use 计算机 for computer?

Where is 计算机 used for "computer", and where does it mean "calculator". In regions where it means "calculator" what is the word for "supercomputer" (assuming that 超级计算机 is not used there)?
8
votes
3answers
366 views

“Actually” as a sentence-starter of speech filler

When casually speaking English I use the word "actually" a lot at the beginning of a sentance, or as part of the flow of my speech. e.g. Actually, next semester doesn't start for a month. ...
11
votes
2answers
137 views

Authoritative source for translators

For translators, is there an authoritative source they go to where they can check translations are accurate? For example say there was a political conference and someone wasn't sure if the word ...
19
votes
5answers
5k views

How widespread is the use of 妳?

When addressing a female, do I have to use 妳 instead of 你? How common is the usage of 妳?
11
votes
4answers
532 views

Etymology of 汉语

I knew a Chinese woman who taught me a lot about Chinese languages. One of them was about 汉语's etymology. I was told that all parts of these characters had a meaning connected to the History of ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Why do Chinese “extend” the last word when speaking?

I've hear on many occasions that Chinese prolong the last word in a sentence, for example: ni hao ma ? becomes ni hao maaaaa ? (I'm not sure that's clear enough but can't think of a better way ...
10
votes
2answers
339 views

Why is it possible to replace 都 with 也 in 什么都没有?

I know 也 only as "also", but I see it now and then used in ways difficult to understand, especially in some negative statements. Why is this so? Does 也 also have some meaning not mentioned in ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Etymology of 奴隶 (Slave)

I vaguely remember hearing somebody make observations about the word 奴隶 (slave). I would like to verify the impressions of the person who was speaking as being factual or just his impressions. What is ...
37
votes
7answers
7k views

Can native Chinese speakers distinguish tones in songs?

I already have a hard time distinguishing tones in normal speech. This gets significantly worse when I listen to Chinese songs, since the melody masks tones even further. Yes, I understand that ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Written Cantonese input?

Although traditionally Cantonese speakers just use standard Chinese (mostly Traditional in my experience) for writing and reading, written Cantonese does exist as you can read about in this Wikipedia ...
15
votes
4answers
10k views

How do I say “damn!” or “bloody hell” in Chinese?

The phrase 他妈的 has been explained in this question. Since I'm a no-expletives guy, I don't feel comfortable so close to the f-word. :) I was wondering what would be the correct way to use some of the ...
34
votes
11answers
76k views

Is it easier to learn Chinese after learning Japanese or vice versa?

For those who speak both Chinese and Japanese, would first learning Chinese make it easier to learn Japanese? Knowing that Japanese Kanji are derived from Chinese characters, how hard is it to do the ...
17
votes
4answers
460 views

Is this an exception in the use of 的?

I know that, when expressing possessives, we add 的 to the usual personal pronouns, such as 我的. However, in a question in my grammar textbook I saw: 你爸爸忙吗? = Is your father busy? Why not "你的爸爸忙吗?"?...
23
votes
12answers
40k views

How offensive is 他妈的?

How offensive is the expression 他妈的? What is an English expression with a similar degree of offensiveness? In what situations is this expression appropriate / not appropriate?
11
votes
1answer
945 views

Rules for saying numbers

I just wondered what are the rules of saying numbers... For example: 10 = 十 19 = 十九 100 = 一百 1,000 = 一千 10,000 = 一萬 but 119 = 一百一十九 then 110 = 一百一 1,100 = 一千一 11,000 = 一萬一 and then 10,110 = ...
11
votes
1answer
163 views

Chinese for “vote-up”, “vote-down” and “vote to close”

What are the correct Chinese words to use for the following: Vote-up Vote-down Vote to close I assume these will have been included in certain social platforms in China.
3
votes
2answers
299 views

What are the most difficult things to learn for a westerner? [closed]

What aspects of the Chinese language are the most difficult to learn for a westerner? In particular I'm interested in thoughts on: What do you find are the main difficulties? Are there any aspects of ...
15
votes
4answers
382 views

How to Find Characters in a Dictionary?

In English we would look words based on their alphabetical order. But how are Chinese dictionaries ordered to allow you to find what you are looking for - is it based on the radicals, number of ...
14
votes
2answers
341 views

Is the usage of European punctuation acceptable in Chinese writing?

Chinese punctuation is a little bit different from European punctuation, for example: The full stop (period) is "。" instead of "." The ellipsis are six vertically centered dots (… …) instead of just ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

Do all schools in China teach in Standard Chinese (普通话)?

When I went to China, it was apparent that many (sometimes most) people still spoke their local dialects instead of Standard Chinese/Putonghua (also known as "Mandarin" in English). I was told that ...
14
votes
4answers
7k views

Useful resources for learning Taiwanese?

My girlfriend is from Fujian and speaks 闽南语, so I am trying to learn so I can communicate with her family better. The struggle is finding any useful resources (even in Chinese), so I'm wondering if ...

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