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Thread: A Question for Those Fluent in Chinese

  1. #1
    Samurai Golgo_13's Avatar
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    Question A Question for Those Fluent in Chinese

    Other than Jim83.

    In Japanese, if you don't know a particular Kanji, you can fake your way by writing out the word with hira/katakana. I do this all the time.

    What could Chinese people do if they don't know a Kanji?

    They don't have anything other than Kanji.

    If you substitute another Kanji that sounds alike for the one you don't know, the other Kanji might have the same sound but a completely different meaning.

    I guess there's more pressure to learn all the Kanjis.

  2. #2
    Cs
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    In Taiwan there is a phonetic script that is used much like the kana in Japanese, but all other places in China just use hnz, so I can't answer for them.

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    Regular Member Jean-Francois's Avatar
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    Oh, it happens all the time. In Hong Kong, a lot of Chinese would use Engeslesh to replace that particular word. But if the person is bad in Engeslesh, then in most situtations another word with the same meaning or sound will be applied. For example, if I forgot how to write prostitute (妓) in Chinese, I would use the word chicken (雞) instead. How can a hooker be related to a chicken?

    Well, there are two school of thoughts, as usual ...
    For Mandarin-speaking people, the words prostitute and chicken have the same pronounciation (or very similar ???).

    For Cantonese people, it is more about the common characteristic of the meanings between 妓 and 雞. According to some Hong Kong guys, prostitutes in general sound like a chicken when they are working ... Cuck! Cuck! Cuck! Cuck! Cuck! Yeah ... something like that ...

    Is there more pressure to learn all the kanji ?

    Well ... different folks, different strokes. Some Chinese actually think it is fun to learn as many kanji as possibe.

    For us, it is not that hard. We have our own traditional memorizing method.
    For example, the word 醋 itself is combined by two different kanji, left and right. Anyway, 醋 means vinegar, but it also has the connotation as "jealousy," probably due to the sourness in vinegar.

    Okay, in a love reationship, the applying of a proper amount of vinegar 醋 can create the effect of acohol 酒 , making your singnificant other feel important and get high and dizzy. However, if a lover has overdosed the vinegar 醋, it can lead to a big mistake which is 錯 in Chinese.

    Again, vinegar 醋 itself is combined by two kanji, and its use can go different ways, left 酒 or right 錯.

  4. #4
    Cs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean-Francois
    Oh, it happens all the time. In Hong Kong, a lot of Chinese would use Engeslesh to replace that particular word. But if the person is bad in Engeslesh, then in most situtations another word with the same meaning or sound will be applied. For example, if I forgot how to write prostitute (妓) in Chinese, I would use the word chicken (雞) instead. How can a hooker be related to a chicken?

    Well, there are two school of thoughts, as usual ...
    For Mandarin-speaking people, the words prostitute and chicken have the same pronounciation (or very similar ???).

    For Cantonese people, it is more about the common characteristic of the meanings between 妓 and 雞. According to some Hong Kong guys, prostitutes in general sound like a chicken when they are working ... Cuck! Cuck! Cuck! Cuck! Cuck! Yeah ... something like that ...
    Heh, now that's pretty interesting. That's something that us westerners don't have to face, although we end up with a lot of misspelled words. Either way it's not such a good thing.

  5. #5
    basketballman Dream Time's Avatar
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    if I don't know a word in Chinese,then I will use English


    Quote Originally Posted by Jean-Francois
    For example, if I forgot how to write prostitute (§²) in Chinese, I would use the word chicken (») instead. How can a hooker be related to a chicken?

    also

    the word chicken (») is for female prostitutes
    the world for male prositutes,is duck (鴨)
    however,I would prefer to call them 'prostitutes'
    Last edited by Dream Time; Jun 4, 2004 at 20:11.

  6. #6
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    lol When I don't know a word I just ask
    But It's true people often use a word that sounds like the one they don't recall...(it's common among the older generation)
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    Emperor Gakihito Gaki's Avatar
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    If it was me i'd get the dictionary. :P

    Or the next best thing, put an "X" there and hope they can figure out what i'm trying to say.
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    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golgo_13
    What could Chinese people do if they don't know a Kanji?

    They don't have anything other than Kanji.
    I'm not one of those addressed (since not fluent in Mandarin), but here are my 2 cents:

    In the PRC they have a system of romanization called Pinyin, which they could use if they know the pronunciation of a word but not its character.

    "Hello" could be written either as 你好 or ni3 hao3 (3 meaning pronounced in the 3rd tone) or just nihao.

    But I don't know, in how far Chinese actually use it in a case as you described. I do know that Pinyin is used for text messaging or if software doesn't support Chinese script.

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    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Asked my girlfriend (from Guangdong), but forgot to post here.

    What I described above about how Pinyin could be used in case you forgot a character, is not the way it is done in China. They seem to usually substitute another character with a similar meaning (not a similar sound), even if it's not 100 % the same.

    Has probably something to do with this "face" attitude: Never admit your lack of knowledge!

  10. #10
    Regular Member Jean-Francois's Avatar
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    I'm one of those shameless Hong Kong people who would just plug in some engalesh words.

    In fact, I think one of the rare good things the Communists have done is to simplify the Chinese characters but many HK and Taiwan people opposed and still are opposing to it.

    Eh... in my personal opinion, the Chinese writing system is not a very efficient one...

    And for the sake of international communication, I think the Chinese government should try harder to promote Pinyin so that more foreigners will be able to read Chinese without learning all those complicated characters. But again, many Chinese people get fire mad at this idea. Well... I am a Canadian. So, what do I care?

  11. #11
    Samurai Golgo_13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Asked my girlfriend (from Guangdong), but forgot to post here.

    What I described above about how Pinyin could be used in case you forgot a character, is not the way it is done in China. They seem to usually substitute another character with a similar meaning (not a similar sound), even if it's not 100 % the same.

    Has probably something to do with this "face" attitude: Never admit your lack of knowledge!
    She she.

    Or in your girfriend's case, to che.

    BTW, I still don't like the Pinyin Romanization of using "Q" to represent the "ch" sound, "R" for "n", etc. But then, I never got used to "R" being pronounced as an "H" (for the first letter of a word) in Portuguese (Brazil)

  12. #12
    Kongming jeisan's Avatar
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    xie xie ^.^

    the "Z" for "J" throws me abit to
    or the vietnamese, "D" for "Y" unless its the "Đ" which actually makes a D sound
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  13. #13
    Samurai Golgo_13's Avatar
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    Like I said . . . about the Pinyin Romanization . . .

  14. #14
    Cs
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    Yeah, but "z" for "j" only occurs when it's "zh." Also, "chi" and "qi" sound different, as do "shi" and "xi." "Chi" is like "chir" and "qi" is like "chee"; "shi" is "shir" and "xi" is "shee." At least it's that way in Mandarin, as far as I know. Also, the "r" sound is the same as the Japanese "r," and it gets the same treatment as "ch" and "sh" when followed by "i," i.e. "ri" sounds like "rir." I think that there is one more like that, but I don't remember which. Here is a message about the differences between "sh" and "x" and "ch" and "q."

    [Edit]I remembered what the other one was, and it's actually referred to in my post, which makes me feel like an idiot. "Zhi" is like "jir" and "ji" is like "jee."
    Last edited by Glenn; Jun 22, 2004 at 14:55.

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    Samurai Golgo_13's Avatar
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    I've been a practitioner of Chi Kung for 17 years and I still refuse to write it "Qi Gong".

    You have no idea how many times people have said "Kee Gong" and I've had to remind them that "Qi" is pronounced "chee" and they look at me like I was the one who made up this crazy spelling.

    I also hate the way most Americans pronounce "Feng Shui". They say "Fung Schway". "Feng Shui" is Wind Water. Wind is "Foon" as in Typhoon (Great Wind).

    "Water" definitely does NOT sound to me, when said by a Chinese person, like "shoe way" as said by most Americans.

  16. #16
    Cs
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    I was sure that there was a page that had the pronunciations of the pinyin linked to the pinyin, but I can't find that now. The best that I can do is this chart of pinyin pronunciations.

    I take it that you would prefer another romanization system, such as Gwoyeu Romatzyh, Wade-Giles, or Yale.

  17. #17
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Here is a dictionary with sound files (usually more than one for every word):
    http://hua.umf.maine.edu/Chinese/search.html

    If you are used to Pinyin, it doesn't pose much of a problem. It's a problem for those who only occasionally use Chinese words. For them the old transcriptions are probably better. But Pinyin has the advantage that it is the transcription with the widest acceptance. Other transcription systems are usually bound to one language, e.g. a special system for German speakers, English speakers a.s.o.

    The biggest problem for me is not the transcription but the tones. Pure horror!

  18. #18
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    I'm learning Chinese and whenever I forget a character I just whip out my trusty mobile phone, type it in, and pick it from the list that comes up.

    I hardly ever have to write Chinese with a pencil and paper anyway; 99% is typing.

    I think that as China progresses, they will rely less and less on rote learning and more on technology.

    Here's an interesting article on the subject:

    http://www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html

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