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Updated: 9 years 27 weeks ago

"foreigner" in Chinese

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 05:30
This just came up in my mind when I was posting another thread in Chinese corner.

How many expressions regarding "foreigner" are there in Chinese? Here's my vocabulary(some of the words are very impolite, with racism and nationlism, so I certainly don't recommand them):

外国人: foreigner, a fomal way
洋人: foreigner, initially used when China was invaded by West
西人: Westerner, people from western world
西方人: same as above
西洋人: same as above
鬼佬: ghost guy, in oral converstions
外国佬: foreigner, used by those who want to differentiate foreigners and themselves.
老外: outsider ,a very casual way
外宾: foreign guest, very polite, formal, used when foreigners are travelling in China.
白人: white people, the same as its English meaning
白种人: same as above, more formal
老美:old American, friendly and casual
黑人: black man, not very polite
黑鬼: black ghost, very impolite
老黑:old black, sounds friendly but still impolite
棒子: stick, means Korean, indicate that they are inferior
高丽棒子: same as above
鬼子: ghoster, means Japanese, a term stemed from II World War, very hostile
小日本: little japanese, hostile and scornful
阿三: the third, means Indian, scornful

English in China

Tue, 05/04/2010 - 17:02
Hi, I'm in the UK and am being given a position with his current company in China. They have several offices and have not yet confirmed which one I will be posted to.

I am a little worried for my wife getting by in the daytime. Can anyone tell me how difficult it is to get around without being able to read (or speak) Chinese? Are many signs in English? Does it vary much from city to city? Can you usually find ppl to help you a little in English, or must you have things written down in advance to show people, or pictures to point at etc?

We will both have to make an attempt to learn at least basic Chinese in the long-run. I am just wondering about the English situation for the beginning.


甚 and 裏

Tue, 05/04/2010 - 05:39
I learned that the traditional form of shen2me is 甚麼, but I usually see it written 什麼.
I learned that the traditional form of jia1li3 is 家裏, but I usually see it written 家裡. Will I ever see 甚 and 裏? Is it worth studying them?

What's next after Pimsleur

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 02:43
I've done the 3 full sets and had some success being understood by native speakers.

I'm also doing flash cards on my ipod
What's next? any recommendations?

to shout

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 00:57
The verb of "shout".... I think this might possibly be the word with the most amount of synonyms in Chinese (except "prostitute" of course).

Apparently we have:
  • chìzhà 叱咤
  • dàhǎn 大喊
  • dà hè yīshēng 大喝一聲 (trad.), 大喝一声 (simp.)
  • dàjiào 大叫
  • dàrǎng 大嚷
  • gāohū 高呼
  • gāoshēng 高聲 (trad.), 高声 (simp.)
  • hǎn 喊; hǎnjiào 喊叫; hǎnshēng 喊聲 (trad.), 喊声 (simp.)
  • hēchì 呵叱
  • hǒujiào 吼叫
  • hū 呼; hūhǎn 呼喊; hūhuàn 呼喚 (trad.), 呼唤 (simp.); hūjiào 呼叫
  • jiào 叫; jiàohǎn 叫喊; jiàorǎng 叫嚷
  • jīnghǎn 驚喊 (trad.), 惊喊 (simp.)
  • nàhǎn 吶喊 (trad.), 呐喊 (simp.)
  • rǎng 嚷; rāngrang 嚷嚷
  • sījiào 嘶叫
  • yāohe 吆喝 (alternative form: 邀喝)
  • zàorǎng 噪嚷
There's also some cool verbs which are similar but a bit stronger in tone, like dàhǎndàjiào 大喊大叫 - "to shout at the top of one's lungs" - and pòkǒudàmà 破口大罵 (trad.), 破口大骂 (simp.) - "to hurl abuse".

My questions to the lovely forum users:
1) What are the main differences between all the different synonyms?
2) Some dictionaries also list hǎnpǎo 喊跑, hǎnzǒu 喊走 and hējiào 喝叫. Are these weird?


How much should I understand? Selecting appropriate material

Sat, 05/01/2010 - 08:59
Hi folks

I'm currently in a class which I would describe as above my level. The good news is that this pushes me to prepare heavily for class. I always look up all the words, etc., in the new material before going to class. (I assume this is good.. though sometimes I wonder if I'm flooding my brain, and it's less effective)

Just now, as I review, I can remember/understand a lot of the old material, but certainly not 100%. For example,


Here, I understand the first part of the sentence fine, and the second part I can understand the basic meaning, but it's passive (I would never be able to write a sentence like that). I know the answer to the question and I roughly know the differences between the possible answers.

Is this enough? Or is it necessary to work on material that you can really grasp?

The same goes for listening practice. If I listen to a TV show, but can only understand 40% of it, is this productive? Or should I lower the level of the material so that I can understand 70-90% ?

I'd imagine this question has been addressed before, but I couldn't find anything.



List of forum-related terms?

Sat, 05/01/2010 - 08:26
In an attempt to get rid of English ("All Japanese All The Time" etc.) I switched the forum language from English to Chinese :mrgreen:
Is there a list of forum terminology somewhere (or perhaps English and Chinese localization files in the forum's software that could be used to build the vocabulary list?)


Fri, 04/30/2010 - 13:41
I asked one of my friends 你最近好吗? via email and her response was "那样子",which I think literally means "like that", so I'm assuming it translates to roughly "not bad". Am I correct on this?谢谢你们

Advice for independent student working with tutor

Fri, 04/30/2010 - 00:34
This is a plea for advice.

I've taken the plunge and and gotten myself a language exchange partner to talk to via Skype. I think it will be really useful for me (beginner, 5000 miles from China and no teacher), but I need advice on how to make it work. The English end is definitely going to work. I would describe my partner's English as advanced and we can talk about anything that interests us both. We get along well. I enjoy the chat and I'm learning lots about China. I can help him with the occasional language tip and the practice is bound to help his English.

The challenge might be getting the Mandarin part of the session to work. I don't yet have enough Mandarin to hold up a real conversation, but I want to keep English to a minimum. He's a smart guy but i can't reasonably expect him to lead me the way a trained teacher might. My ideas so far :
He sends me links to suitable simple reading matter and vocabulary lists for me to study in advance so we can discuss and he can quiz me.
I prepare short 'essays' to read out - we can then discuss and improve on them.
We find a suitable textbook that we can both access and he helps me work my way through it - or just uses it as a guide to pitch his Mandarin at the right level.

I'm really keen for this to work. I like the idea that any word I learn today could be part of a real communication tomorrow . It's a world away from my school French experience - "one day this could be useful if you ever pass your exams/get fluent/meet a French person". Also, in other languages I could keep going just by reading lots, but with the Mandarin script being a long-term project, I think I really need the live conversation to keep momentum going.

So, any suggestions anyone, on the right way to do this, and what pitfalls to avoid? Has anyone else been there - how did it go? Is there a good blog on language exchange partnerships out there somewhere?

Easy Steps to Chinese

Thu, 04/29/2010 - 14:07
My 3 kids are all studying Chinese in school using the series "Easy Steps to Chinese." I'm looking for a file that would contain all the vocabulary for this series, and haven't had any luck looking in the Anki, iFlipr, Flashcards Online, or Skritter databases. It just seems unlikely that a vocabulary list for this series doesn't exist somewhere online. I'm hoping to import that list into Skritter and Anki, so they can use those two methods to study at home.

So, if anyone has the vocab list for "Easy Steps to Chinese," we would greatly appreciate your help.

Does reading build other skills?

Thu, 04/29/2010 - 08:34
Just wondering--

At the moment, my reading skills far surpass my listening skills, and my listening skills surpass my speaking skills...

How much does reading (short stories, magazines, anything) help in other areas? Of course, it's totally passive, but I'd think it is useful for remembering vocabulary, and maybe for "internalizing" grammatical structures.

I know I need more practice speaking (nothing can substitute), but it's hard since the conversations I can have are so bad... and require another person to patiently talk to me. Obviously reading avoids these difficulties.



The Transcription Project

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 14:22
many people here, including myself are interested in chinese audio sources with accompanying transcripts. these are rare, and rarely interesting. bbc if often considered a great source for learning chinese, but it's not easy, and there are no transcripts. i propose we just do it ourselves. of course, there needs to be some quality control here, so i suggest when you transcribe something, you verify it with someone who has mastered the language already first. apart from that, let's make up the rules as we go! let's see what happens...

PS: you can attach the mp3s to your post. i recommend you to lower the bitrate of the file so that it complies with the size limit for mp3s on the forum. i attached some files to the transcripts below, and they still seem to sound fine.

Mei Shir, (Mei Shir)

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 02:46
So, say for example someone forgot my pencil i let them borrow, and i want to say that is it no problem, after they tell me they forgot it. Would i say mei shir, or mei shir mei shir.... Basically, is there any difference between saying it once and twice?

Gigawatts, Megawatts and so on . . .

Tue, 04/27/2010 - 02:35
Just when you thought that knowing 100万 is a million and 10亿 a billion would get you through life, they throw this at you . . .

So a 千瓦 is a kW - easy enough, both Chinese and English start with a thousand.
Now, the next step up in English is the MW (1,000,000W) but Chinese uses the 万千瓦 (10,000,000). I don't think I've ever seen an 亿瓦 used as a unit, it seems like the kW is regarded as the 'unit' rather than the W?

So 1千瓦 is a 1kW
So 10千瓦 is 10kW
So 100千瓦 is 100kW. So far so good.
So 1000千瓦 is 1MW. I don't think I've ever seen anything written 2.4千千瓦, but I wouldn't put it past them. At this point the Chinese shifts to 万千瓦
So 1万千瓦 is 10MW. That, I think is the one to remember, as then you can easily work out:
So 10万千瓦 is 100MW.
So 100万千瓦 is a GW. Which makes sense, as it's a million thousands.
So 1000万千瓦 is 10GW. I'm also seeing use of ”千万千瓦级“
After that I guess it's 亿千瓦, or 100GW. But I'm not that powerful yet.

I realize that was probably very boring for you all, but someone might find it useful, and I needed to work it all out.

learner's way to understand 嗎, 咯, 啊, 呢, 喔

Mon, 04/26/2010 - 22:10
If you (a learner, not native speaker) believe that you can master the usage of them all, can you tell me how?

i can idiomatically use them without any problems and i can easily tell the usage is correct or not, so i don't really need an explanation on the meanings of these end-words. But how is it possible to teach a learner how to use them?

My first Chinese story - 小熊掰玉米

Sat, 04/24/2010 - 15:12
I just recited my first Mandarin story; it’s called 小熊掰玉米 and is about a little bear. Let me know what you think, and maybe you can help me on my pronunciation?

Idioms describing proud mood (骄傲的情绪)

Sat, 04/24/2010 - 12:30
骄傲自满(jiao ao zi man): to be conceited and complacent

目中无人(mu zhong wu ren): to put on airs and look down upon other people

自以为是(zi yi wei shi): to regard oneself as infallible

得意忘形(de yi wang xing): to get dizzy with success

目空一切(mu kong yi qie): to consider everybody and everything beneath one's notice

洋洋自得(yang yang zi de): to be very pleased with oneself

自命不凡(zi ming bu fan): to consider oneself no ordinary

不可一世(bu ke yi shi): to think no one in the world could be better than oneself

孤芳自赏(gu fang zi shang): a solitary flower in love with its own fragrance

趾高气昂(zhi gao qi ang): to raise ones feet high while walking

刚愎自用(gang bi zi yong): headstrong but wrong-headed

妄自尊大(wang zi zun da): to be overweening because of one’s position

恃才傲物(shi cai ao wu): to be inordinately proud of one's ability

忘乎所以(wang hu suo yi): to be drunk with sth.

居功自傲(ju gong zi ao): to be self-important because of one’s contribution

夜郎自大(ye lang zi da): ludicrous conceit of the king of Yelang (Yelang was king of a very small country, but he considered his territory is very big.)

骄横跋扈(jiao heng ba hu): arrogant and overbearing

班门弄斧(ban men nong fu): to show off hatchet in front of Luban’s house (Luban was a legend tool maker who was first man who invented saw in Chinese history.)

不知天高地厚(bu zhi tian gao di hou): not to know the height of air and depth of land

关公面前耍大刀(guan gong mian qian shua da dao): to display one’s skill of using broadsword in front of Guangong (Guangong’s original name is Guanyu, he was a very formidable general during Sanguo Period and specialized at using broadsword)

Chinese Research Paper, MLA Question

Fri, 04/23/2010 - 23:57
I am writing a research paper on Story of the Stone, and while the work is in English, I would also like to cite where the quotations I am using can be found in my Chinese edition as well.

MLA does not seem to provide a clear rule on how to do this. Would anyone here happen to know?

Reaction to speaking Mandarin in Hong Kong

Tue, 04/20/2010 - 20:50
Recently returned from a vacation in Hong Kong, and I was surprised by the reaction I had the couple of times I spoke Mandarin (not Cantonese) there. I'm wondering what experiences other people have had?

Since I can't speak Cantonese, I usually speak English there. However, a number of times when ordering food listed on the Chinese menu, I would order in Mandarin, as trying to translate it into English seemed silly and error prone. Each time, the person was very excited that I spoke Chinese.

This reaction was surprising to me, as on my recent trips to China/Taiwan, no one expressed any surprise or amazement when I spoke Mandarin. [This was in contrast to when I was in Taiwan 20 years ago, when almost everyone expressed amazement. I was quite relieved that the constant comments stopped, as it got rather annoying. But then, to my embarrassment, I actually started to miss the praise....]

I'm not sure why the difference. Maybe Mandarin-speaking-laowai are a dime-a-dozen now in Beijing and Shanghai, but there are fewer Cantonese-speaking-gwailo? That seems quite possible to me, as it's still pretty difficult to get around only in English in China, even in Shanghai, but it's pretty each to get around only in English in Hong Kong, so there is less motivation.

Same thing, different names

Tue, 04/20/2010 - 10:56
Inspired by this thread -> Crème brûlée

Off the top of my head I can list the following -

bicycle - 單車。腳踏車。自行車。
taxi - 的士。計程車。出租車。
bus - 巴士。公車。
hotel - 酒店。飯店。。。。。
broccoli - 西蘭花。綠菜花。青花菜。
potato - 薯仔。馬鈴薯。土豆。
tomato - 番茄。西紅柿。
cucumber - 青瓜。黃瓜。胡瓜。。。。
lettuce - 生菜。萵苣。
notebook/laptop - 筆記型電腦。筆記簿電腦。筆電。手提電腦。
computer - 電腦。計算機。
mobile phone - 手機。手提電話。流動電話。無綫電話。
salmon - 三文魚。鮭魚。
tuna - 吞拿魚。金槍魚。鮪魚。
sandwich - 三文治。三明治。
butter - 牛油。奶油。黃油。

Your contribution?