Category Archives: Semantic Fields
I’ve got a vocabulary challenge for you. How many words for “rich” (as in “wealthy”) can you think of in English off the top of your head? Now, how many can you think of in Mandarin? I’ve collected ten of each that I will share with you now.
Mini-post today – a good, old-fashioned synonyms list, this time pertaining to “condom” in Mandarin: 1. 避孕套 bìyùntào – “avoid-pregnancy-cover” (most common) 2. 安全套 ānquántào – “safety-cover” 3. 保險套 bǎoxiǎntào – “ensurance cover” 4. 阴茎套 yīnjīngtào – “penis-cover” 5. 衛生套 wèishēngtào – “hygiene-cover” 6. 套儿 tàor – “coverrr” (informal) 7. 如意套 rúyìtào – “as-one-wishes-cover” (Singapore/Malaysia) [...]
I’ve often pondered about how many words really exist in Mandarin for “popular” and so I’ve done my research and come up with what seems to be a pretty definitive list. For the purposes of this post, there is a distinction made between “popular” (known by many people) and universal (“affecting everyone/everything”), the latter of [...]
I’m particularly fond of affix characters in Chinese, and what more vibrant an example than 鬼 guǐ (“ghost; devil”)? 魔鬼 móguǐ (“evil devil”) – demon 懒鬼 lǎnguǐ (“lazy devil”) – lazybones 酒鬼 jiǔguǐ (“alcohol ghost”) – alcoholic; drunkard 醉鬼 zuìguǐ (“drunk devil”) – drunkard
In natural conversation, one inevitably finds oneself agreeing with the other party, and yet at the same time, one does not want to just keep saying 是 shì (“Yes”), 嗯 ǹg (“Mmm/Yeah”), or even 同意 (“I agree!”) which is quite formal. 我也这么感觉 wǒ yě zhème gǎnjué (“I feel that way too”) sounds pretty good, but [...]
It seems I’m a bit obssessed with synonyms. Just for fun, here is a list of 31 ways to say “idiot” in Mandarin, ranging from most common to least common. 1. 白痴 báichī – An idiot. Can also mean idiocy as a disease. 2. 傻子 shǎzi – Idiot. Less formal. 3. 呆子 dāizi – Same [...]
This week’s Chinese semantic field is all about showing off – that is, to proudly demonstrate one’s skill, talent, possessions, achievements, etc before others – and bragging – the expression of these characteristics in spoken form. There are a truckload of translations here, so forgive me for not providing example sentences. (At least I tried [...]
It is true that we have quite a few ways to express “you’re welcome” in English – “no problem”, “no worries”, “forget it”, “my pleasure”, “not at all”, to name a few. But how about Chinese? Here, I think, is the most exhaustive list you’ll find on the web: 不客气 bù kèqi (variants: 不用客气 bùyòng [...]
Realising that Chinese has no direct equivalence for “French kiss” got me thinking about other displays of affection and how they might fare in the translation process. One that springs to mind is hugging. Evidently Mandarin has four basic building block characters that can form hugging-words: 抱 bào： To wrap your arms around someone; to [...]
The phrasal verb “make fun of” looks like such an easy combination of words to an English native speaker, but in Chinese it spurs a whole myriad of potential translation options. I came across another great semantic thread when faced with translating it and I’d like to share the Top Ten here.