Michaelyus
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What is an “exoactive” Chinese character?
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16 votes

These terms were devised in the late 20th century analysis of Classical Japanese, originally, for the difference between -(さ)す (glossed as externally instigated) and -(ら)る (glossed as internally ...

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Do 之 and 的 come from the same word?
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16 votes

的 in its function as a particle is attested in the 四大名著 Four Great Classical Novels, which are written in a vernacular Mandarin-type language, dating from the Ming dynasty. The particle use of 的 is ...

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What is the difference between using 光 vs using 只?
12 votes

只 is more limited in grammatical scope: it can only function as an adverb, preceding the verb. 光 has a larger range of related uses, from being a pre-verbal adverb (also called a restrictive adverb) ...

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Glyph origin of 也
10 votes

Note: much of this is based on the answer by Altair at Chinese-Forums. It may be worthwhile to answer the 也 / 他 / 地 / 池 question first. Character Mandarin Cantonese Hokkien Middle Ch. ...

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Cantonese sandhi
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9 votes

Modern Cantonese is generally considered not to have tone sandhi (in Chinese, 變調, but also more specifically 連續變調), that is to say, changes in the tonal values when in certain phonetic contexts. ...

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Gender neutral term for family members who are all first born?
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9 votes

Speaking from personal experience (as a 長孫 on my paternal side): 老大 would be the most common gender-neutral term used within the family. Very common. 長子 can refer to the one oldest child of brothers ...

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Is Putonghua Mandarin Chinese or is it standard Mandarin Chinese?
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8 votes

TL;DR - linguistically Mandarin is equivalent to 官话, but be careful when using the concept with Chinese people. 北方话 is more widely understood, but even then... caveats abound. "Standard Chinese&...

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Did the ancients really think mangoes were garlic like?
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8 votes

Actually the 蒜 is evidence of a substrate influence from an Austroasiatic language (ancestor of Vietnamese xoài or Khmer ស្វាយ [svaay]) in this context. Indeed, this lexeme actually does have its own ...

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Why is the Internet saying 雪花飘飘 北风萧萧 all of a sudden? Is this the Chinese equivalent of Rickrolling?
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8 votes

Ah, the latest offering from the (latter-day) Meme Renaissance. There is the "historical" context, which is outlined very well on KnowYourMeme. To quote: Prior to January 20th, 2020, ...

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Why 中華民國 = Republic of China?
8 votes

The short answer: because Sun Yat-sen proclaimed it so. In a 1916 speech given in Shanghai, he asks the question: 何以不曰「中華共和國」,而必曰「中華民國」? Why instead of 中華共和國, must one say 中華民國? The reasons ...

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How to pronounce 廿卅卌 in Chinese?
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8 votes

In most Cantonese speakers I know, 廿 is still a colloquial item of vocabulary, replaced with 二十 in usual formal writing; but 廿 remains a very common alternative, for counting as well as enumerating. ...

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Macau Cantonese, any differences from HK?
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8 votes

A quick browse on Google Scholar yields a few results. Macau Cantonese appears to be intermediate between Zhongshan Cantonese and Hong Kong Cantonese. There is only one rising tone derived from ...

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Dissimilation of bilabial finals following Middle Chinese (法, 品, 凡)
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8 votes

It's not just Cantonese. In Taiwanese Minnan (which does also preserve the labial final -m, usually), the finals of 法、凡、品 have also become alveolar. Also, most Hakka varieties have made the final of 品 ...

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Is there any proof that the Taishanese language is related to Gan? Is it from a linguistic perspective?
7 votes

The Gan-Hakka hypothesis is most famously put forward by Sagart (2002), based on certain unique shared innovations in both Southern Gan varieties and Hakka: 屋下 as the usual word for "house",...

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The Taiwanese accent: are pairs "种,总", "四,是", "忘,万" pronounced EXACTLY the same?
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7 votes

The key to this question is which accent of Taiwan you're talking about. There is a large difference between Standard Taiwan Mandarin (標準台灣國語) and the various accents commonly found across Taiwan. ...

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Why is "tuberculosis" 结核病 in Chinese?
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7 votes

For the same reason that it is called tuberculosis in English, from New Latin: tuberculum + -osis The term is a medical coinage of the 1830s (with the cognate first appearing in German medical ...

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What is the origin of 没 as an alternative to 不?
7 votes

This is a knottier question than it first appears. The answer is hard to summarise, but it seems to be related to the special status of 有 and 無 from the beginning of Chinese. In the Old Chinese of ...

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How does inserting 起来 into 请客 as in 请起客来 changes the meaning?
7 votes

This infix -起-来 is usually considered a variation of the suffix -起来, and analysed as having an inceptive aspect, also called the inchoative aspect. The sense that it produces is "starting to do", "to ...

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Are there online resources for learning the Chongqing dialect?
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7 votes

As a form of Southwestern Mandarin, you can approach the Chongqing dialect with resources designed for Sichuanese in general. The English Wikipedia gives a lot of resources on "Si4cuan1hua4", ...

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How are "vernacular" and "literary" readings of characters chosen and used outside of Mandarin?
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6 votes

Firstly, let us clarify one distinction: "literary Chinese" (文言文), a register of the written language in common use across the East Asian Sinosphere before the early 20th century. Its opposite is "...

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Why number 2 has two forms?
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6 votes

A counterexample: in the Min Dong topolects, there is a similar distribution for the numeral "one", viz 一 and 蜀 (in Fuzhou, pronounced ék /ɛiʔ²⁴/ and siŏh /suoʔ⁵/ respectively). This is actually ...

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Chinese names: Gah-Ning
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6 votes

Although it is a potentially valid to use the slightly derogatory "cute" nickname, it is much more likely to be a more standard-sounding given name, for example 佳寧 or perhaps 嘉寧, both pronounced ...

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How To *Write* The Northeastern ‘ber lou’?
6 votes

Dialect characters (方言字) exhibit great variation in the way they are written. The same character can have different meanings and even wildly different pronunciations between different varieties of ...

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Difference between alveolars and alveolo-palatals in Cantonese
6 votes

In essence, palatalisation of the alveolar fricative and affricate consonants occurs before front rounded vowels /y/, /œ/ and /ɵ/, with the effect strongest with /y/. It is weakly palatalised in front ...

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Tones in Cantonese: 6 or 9?
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6 votes

From a practical learner's point of view, treating the checked "tones" as shorter, closed syllables that carry the same tone as as tones 1, 3, 6 (and 2 in changed tone) would be enough. In modern ...

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How did 孬 become pronounced "nāo"?
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5 votes

Firstly: 孬 is a fairly old character, attested in the Kangxi dictionary. However, the pronunciation there is given as: 呼怪切,歪去聲。 ...which implies modern Pinyin: huài (Zhuyin: ㄏㄨㄞˋ). Even back then it ...

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Is 會 an aspect marker?
5 votes

會 is a modal verb. From the classic Li & Thompson (1981) Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar: Most languages have morphemes for signaling the of a reported event relative to the ...

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Where does the 'nominative object' go?
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5 votes

This is all subsumed under "topicalisation". Chinese does it, but so do others (even Latin!). Indeed, most languages have a way of focusing on something, and Chinese allows certain word orders. The ...

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Why 又 is used in 今晚又要加班?
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5 votes

Although he is not referring to a past action, it is a recurrent past action that is going to happen again. The idea of a pattern firmly established in the past, plus the emotional colouring, means ...

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Medieval Chinese Pronunciation
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5 votes

Middle Chinese starting from the Sui dynasty (with the Qièyùn, 切韻, published in 601 CE) actually documented its phonology. These are called rime tables, and break down each character pronunciation ...

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