wpt
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Usage of word "sun": 太阳 (tài yáng) vs 日 (rì)
15 votes

I'd like to offer a slightly different perspective from the other answers, and suggest that the most important difference between the two is that 太陽 is a free word, whereas 日 is a bound morpheme, i.e. ...

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Bigrams ending in third tone where first syllable is second tone vs. third tone
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11 votes

There have been conflicting claims on whether the second tone and the "raised third tone" are distinct, but according to Jerry Norman's 1988 book, Chinese, "Perceptual tests done by Dreher and Lee (...

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How many syllables does Chinese have?
11 votes

As Maroon points out in a comment, you have to say which dialect you are asking about. This answer is for Standard Chinese, aka Mandarin. It also depends on what sort of stuff you include. Counting ...

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What role does 的 play in the sentence 我不明白你刚说的第一句话?
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10 votes

A completely parallel English version of the Chinese would be: I didn't (or don't) understand the first word (or sentence) that you just said. 的 is functionally equivalent here to 'that': the first ...

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Why is 景 written "wrong" on the Nestorian Stele?
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9 votes

This is a 隸書 form of 景. According to the references cited in the 教育部異體字字典, it occurs on steles from the Tang dynasty. Sometimes these variations are done for ease of cutting, or because certain ...

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Why did people sometimes call Liu Bei "明将军"?
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7 votes

It's an honorific, meaning "illustrious" or "enlightened general", and as such is not specific to Liu Bei. For example, in the Records of the Three Kingdoms, Pei Song's annotations ...

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Why did China opt for 星期 over 曜日?
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7 votes

The answer to this question is quite complicated, there is a whole website devoted to this subject here. Shrinking things down as short as possible, the idea of seven day periods within a calendar ...

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What's the difference between 同样 and 一样
7 votes

問得好! Here are some differences. syntactic difference: 一樣 can be a predicate (謂語). 同樣 is only used as a modifier 修飾語, i.e. in front of a noun and connected with 的 (adjectival) , or in front of a ...

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What does 等 mean in ...产业结构优化等优势逐步显现?
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7 votes

This answer belongs to Stan. Since he is not able to post, I'll write it up for him. In the phrase 产业结构优化等优势, the word 等 indicates that 产业结构优化 is just one of several 优势. The word 等 does not require ...

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Did Mandarin Pinyin `chiang` used to exist?
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6 votes

The 反切 in 廣韻 use Middle Chinese pronunciation, so one cannot take the modern readings of the 反切 上下字 as a guide to how a word might be pronounced. In this case, you are looking at words in the 江 rhyme ...

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Meaning of 则是 in 而段剑则是神情严肃地站在聂离的身边
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6 votes

You have to look at the whole sentence to understand: 聂离观察了一下各处之后,走回了大厅的上首,坐在了叶修和叶朔的旁边,而段剑则是神情严肃地站在聂离的身边。 则是 contrasts the actions of 聂离 (he sat down next to the two Ye's), and 段剑 (he stood next to ...

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How many Chinese characters have multiple readings/pronunciations in Mandarin?
6 votes

There are official lists for this. See the following pages in the Chinese Wikipedia: 普通话异读词审音表 for mainland China 國語一字多音審訂表 for the ROC (Taiwan) Neither of the lists is complete; they are basically ...

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Indefinite article vs numeral: use of "一" (yī)
6 votes

There is a lot that could be said here, but the basic problem is that Chinese just doesn't have articles, either definite or indefinite. Chinese is not the only language like this. Japanese and ...

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"Are you still married to Mary?" How to translate this?
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6 votes

I can see you've tried at least one or two things, and it's a tricky question so I'll give it a shot. Remember, courtesy is everything in a forum like this one. The problem is that 'to be married' ...

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Etymology of 对象
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6 votes

Wang Li (王力) in his 漢語史稿 (p. 532) lists 對象 as one of the many words that modern Chinese borrowed from Japanese; in this case, acc. to Wang, 對象 taishō was itself a Japanese translation for English "...

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What is this 予以 doing in my sentence?
6 votes

予以 is a conjunction-like thing that is something like English "as a means of", "for purposes of", and is often used in officialese to keep things comfortably vague. Use it when you are writing a ...

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德行:moral integrity or disgusting?
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6 votes

The ROC (Taiwan) 教育部國語辭 is a very useful resource, and often has good examples. Here's what it says for 德行: 1) 仁慈的行為 humane behavior: Honglou Meng: 倘或日後咱們遇見了,那時我又怎麼報你的德行。 If we meet another day, How ...

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Braille and Chinese Input
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6 votes

I had a student in Taiwan who was blind, so I've had a chance to work with this. There are articles on Chinese Braille in both the English and Chinese Wikipedias if you haven't read them yet. It is ...

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Do Cantonese 畀 and Mandarin 被 have any historical connection?
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5 votes

畀 and 被 are not related. In Old Chinese (F. K. Li's system) 畀 was pjidh, and 被 was bjiarx/h, phonetically quite different. 被 (the qusheng reading) was, and still is, a coverlet, etymologically ...

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To 了 or not to 了
5 votes

Good question, but it's hard to deal with all the issues your examples raise in just one answer: the complexity of this thing is really staggering. One important thing I think you are missing is ...

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What is the origin of the word 雪茄 (cigar)?
5 votes

A thread worth reviving. The word cigar came into English (and most other European languages) from Spanish. I don't really think it's possible to say which one Chinese got it from, based just on ...

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Mandarin Neutral Tone: Tone Value?
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5 votes

"Neutral" tone is not really a tone, and shouldn't be used for comparison with lexical tones. Jerry Norman (Chinese, p. 148) calls syllables with neutral tone 'weakly stressed syllables' to avoid ...

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What does "须发皆张" mean?
5 votes

言未訖,只見關公口開目動,鬚髮皆張,操驚倒 Before he had finished speaking, he looked at Lord Guan and saw: His mouth was open, his eyes were starting, His beard and hair were all bristling and crackling! Cao Cao was ...

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What Possible Pronunciations of 也 exist in Suzhou Dialect?
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5 votes

Zhang Jiqing singing Kunqu, always a pleasure to listen to. The 也 here is the sentence final particle. It's used quite differently in vernacular literature in the Ming-Qing than it is in classical ...

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Were 蒸 and 祯 homonyms?
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5 votes

An excellent resource for answering questions like this is 漢字古今音資料庫 at http://xiaoxue.iis.sinica.edu.tw/ccr/. Unfortunately it doesn't have Song or Yuan reconstructions, but it does list the 攝, which ...

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What does 風雲 mean?
4 votes

Google translate is not a dictionary, so don't be surprised if you get odd results for single words. If you give it a whole sentence, you'll have better luck. Colin McLarty has the correct meaning ...

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hanzis used on their own, hanzis exclusively used in words
4 votes

To understand this problem, you need to understand the linguistic concepts of 'bound' and 'free'. To understand the concepts of bound and free, you have to understand the idea of a morpheme. A ...

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For a long time, I caused the <wide world> to be <manlang 漫浪>
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4 votes

Thanks for an intro to a great piece by Im Jae (sp? 林悌‧愁城誌). Do you know of any English or Chinese studies or translations of his work? I found it pretty difficult writing, a pastiche of the 尚書, ...

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Why "校车来了“, not "校车来着" and "校车正来"?
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4 votes

[Edited to discuss 正, 在, and 著] There is a discussion of 在 and 著 in Li and Thompson's 1981 book Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar. They don't have much to say about 正. My own feeling is ...

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How to make a tenseless sentence?
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4 votes

Hopefully the answer from NS.X. has clarified things for you. I believe, however, that not only are sentence fragments ambiguous as to time, complete but isolated sentences are frequently ambiguous ...

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