congusbongus
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中文 vs. 汉语: What's the difference?
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20 votes

I gather that 中文 is maybe more like "written Chinese," and 汉语 is "spoken Chinese." This is correct as you would expect, however there are subtle nuances caused by the different spoken Chinese ...

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Why do Chinese people always use Chinese subtitles?
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19 votes

There are Chinese-language-only reasons like the many mutually-unintelligible dialects/topolects, the huge difference between spoken and written Chinese languages, but this doesn't explain why ...

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麻油Q米血 on a menu in Taipei
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17 votes

Q is Chinese slang for "chewy", similar to al dente in texture. You can see it in example phrases such as "Q感十足" (very chewy). You would expect foods such as tapioca pearls, gelatinous candies, pasta, ...

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勇 character on soldiers' uniforms in movies
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15 votes

This is more of a history question. 勇 is short for 乡勇, which roughly means "militia". They are temporary soldiers recruited from the local population in times of need, and are usually disbanded soon ...

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Why is 喂 used over 你好 when answering the phone?
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14 votes

Most languages use an alternate greeting for telephone calls; the English "hello", although originating from before the telephone, was popularised by it, so much so that it has become a ...

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How gender specific in writing is the character 他
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13 votes

In my experience, when referring to a single subject, I have never seen 他 used as a female pronoun. 她 is used for females, and 它 used for non-gendered or non-human subjects. Do note that 他 has ...

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Does the beta like character (as in 陳, 附 and many more) in Chinese have a special meaning?
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12 votes

This radical is called the 双耳旁 or 双二刀, due to it looking somewhat like an ear or the 刀 character. There are actually two radicals depending on whether it's placed to the left or right: 左耳刀 if on the ...

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Differences between the two words for each season, such as 冬季 (dōngjì) and 冬天 (dōngtiān)
11 votes

冬季 is more formal than 冬天. When used to refer to the season itself, the former is more commonly found in literature, the latter in vernacular. However, when used to refer to something of that season, ...

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Why is 台北 spelled Taipei, not Taibei?
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10 votes

From wiki: the spelling "Taipei" derives from the Wade–Giles romanization T'ai-pei. "Taibei" is pinyin, which iOS supports as an input method. Wade-Giles used to be the standard method of ...

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What is the glyph origin of '奇'?
10 votes

The discussion on zdict basically explains that the Oracle bone script morphed (讹变) into its current form, but this transformation did not follow standard rules. The original Oracle bone script shows ...

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Two "question words" in one sentence
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10 votes

The problem is not whether Chinese allows two question words in one sentence, it's that 什么 has multiple meanings. It can variously mean any, anything, whatever. In the example "你有什么安排吗", 什么 ...

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How can I translate 不客气 here?
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9 votes

不客气 is a polite way of acknowledging someone's compliment or thanks. Although it literally translates to "don't be polite", once you consider some equivalent phrases, it's meaning becomes clear. ...

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Usage of the phrase '不错用' in Taiwan Mandarin
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9 votes

Here are some more examples of this style of adjective: 好吃 = 不错吃 好玩 = 不错玩 好用 = 不错用 好喝 = 不错喝 These terms are extremely common in Taiwanese Mandarin, however their origins are unclear. I suspect it's ...

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Weird Chinese text next to the Great Wall
8 votes

The writing says 忠于毛主席, or "loyal to Chairman Mao", 倪阔乐 says. as This has a pretty interesting history. It is said that it was constructed by Red Guards during the early Cultural Revolution, out of ...

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Does this 淘 just mean 买?
8 votes

It is a modern slang for 买. 淘 comes from 淘宝网 (Taobao), a very popular Chinese online shopping site, similar to eBay or Amazon. Although its name does literally mean "searching for treasure ...

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When do you use 唄 instead of 吧 to end a sentence?
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8 votes

Their meanings are somewhat different. In a few situations, they are interchangeable, but there are many others where you can only use one and not the other. The key difference is that 呗 is much more ...

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Which period in Chinese history produced the most chengyu?
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8 votes

I'll answer based on the article provided by @Stan. From what I can tell, it is a transcription from a 1999 article that appeared in 《语文建设》, the raw data of which came from 汉语成语考释词典 by 刘洁修, 1989. ...

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Is "biang" a phonologically possible syllable in Mandarin Chinese?
8 votes

Biang is an interesting character, being absent in many dictionaries, and having an unverified origin. I don't think it being uncommon is reason enough to consider its pronunciation to be non-standard,...

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What does 嘰咿— mean?
8 votes

That looks like onomatopoeia (象声词) so it means exactly what it sounds like: jiyi. In this case though, the 咿 (yi) and the dash (—) are meant to extend the "i" sound, so it's just "jiiiii--" altogether....

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Why are many Chinese characters almost symmetrical but not exactly symmetrical?
7 votes

This basically comes down to the vagaries of most CJK fonts being based on calligraphic scripts. In Chinese calligraphy, characters are constructed out of individual strokes; these are written with a ...

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Are there concrete rules of conversion between "homophone" English and Chinese proper names?
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7 votes

Yes and no. It's a very broad subject as there are many different varieties of spoken Chinese, there are different methods of transliteration, and the rules themselves have been in flux at various ...

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What is the difference between 群 and 羣?
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7 votes

羣 is an archaic variant of 群. That is, although they mean the same thing, you would use 群 nowadays. Interestingly, 羣 appears to have been the "correct" version in the past, and at some point 群 took ...

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How are abbreviations determined in Chinese?
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7 votes

In whatever way that makes it convenient. There are probably endless different techniques used if one bothers looking for examples. The situation is analogous to acronyms in Western languages. If you ...

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Chengyu with two numbers
7 votes

I've come across a PhD dissertation which covers this exact topic plus many others: Analysis of Chinese Four-Character Idioms Containing Numbers: Structural Patterns and Cultural Significance Nall, ...

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Why are intermediate cardinal directions read differently in Chinese?
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7 votes

In Chinese, East/West comes before North/South: e.g. the phrase 东西南北 East comes before West South comes before North: e.g. 南北朝, 南拳北腿 In asking why these particular orders, we're begging the question ...

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Was the word 男朋友 borrowed from English (or maybe the opposite)?
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6 votes

Yes. The English words boyfriend/girlfriend are modern; their usage to refer to romantic, unmarried relations dates to around 1922. This is also where other terms like "dating" arose. Similarly, in ...

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How to say "Oops"; or other exclamation/interjection you might say if you make a mistake
6 votes

There is no exact equivalent of the English "oops" in Chinese. This is mostly because "oops" is a special English word, with an uncertain etymology but one theory is that it derives from "upsy-daisy"....

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Meaning/Translation: 熟肉 [TV Series]
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6 votes

This appears to be file sharing jargon. 熟肉 means the video has Chinese subtitles. This is in contrast to 生肉 (raw meat), which means the video has no Chinese subtitles, that it is in its original ...

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Difference between 坏 and 破
6 votes

Yes, they both have the "broken" meaning, with subtle differences. Unfortunately there are not many situations where you can simply replace one with the other - everyone will understand but ...

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What is the meaning of 十三薪?
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6 votes

From http://www.baike.com/wiki/13%E8%96%AA 13薪 is a type of salary bonus scheme. The 13 comes from "13th month". The idea is that in the last month of the year (or after working for 12 months), the ...

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