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Thoughts on the Chinese language.

edited 2018-02-16 18:47:03 in General
The World's Worst Robot Master
I've been meaning to make this thread for a while, and there's no better time than the present to do it.

Where pronunciation (and sometimes vocabulary) are concerned, I'll mainly be talking about Cantonese, because that's the dialect I know. I'll also be using traditional (rather than simplified) characters preferentially, because I like them more.

But first...a toast to the new year:


It's traditional to exchange a series of four-word blessings to celebrate the new year. Here's a set of nine of them.

Respectively, these mean:
1. Happy new year (literally "new year happiness")
2. good health to you (literally "bodily health"),
3. may you feel energetic / have high spirits (literally "dragon horse spirited"),
4. may all times be peaceful (literally "age age peace")
5. may every year bring surplus (literally "year year have surplus")
6. may an atmosphere of harmony bring wealth (literally "harmonious air grow wealth")
7. may smiles be common (literally "laughing mouth commonly open")
8. may you find both fortune and longevity (literally "fortune longevity both entirely")
9. great luck in the year of the dog! (literally "dog year big luck")

You may also notice from these examples that Chinese is one of those languages in which repetition of words can be meaningful. "age age" and "year year" both basically mean "every age" and "every year". I forgot the linguistic term for this...

Also, there are nine statements, because 九 (nine) is a homophone with 狗 (dog), in Cantonese. (Mandarin speakers don't get to enjoy this as much, sorry. :P)


  • I want to learn Mandarin.

    Or at least I will if I ever recover the language-learning drive I used to have.
  • Beary Good Day☆~
    I have so many languages I want to learn but I have this terrible habit of idealizing things in a future I don't have to work towards because the future is the future forever.
    age age peace

    peace peace age age?
  • The World's Worst Robot Master
    So, does the week start on Sunday or Monday?

    Well, why decide when you don't have to.

    The names of the days of the week, in Chinese:
    * Sunday: 星期日
    * Monday: 星期一
    * Tuesday: 星期二
    * Wednesday: 星期三
    * Thursday: 星期四
    * Friday: 星期五
    * Saturday: 星期六

    So, 星期 means "week" and "一" through "六" are the numbers 1 through 6. So, for Monday through Saturday, the names are literally "week 1" through "week 6", or more meaningfully translated, "the week's [nth] day".

    However, 日 means "day". So it basically means "the week's day". It's also "星期天", in Mandarin, because 天, which literally means sky, is also often used metonymically to mean "day". So Sunday lacks a number, for some reason.

    (For what it's worth, you can also use "禮拜" in place of "星期", for an informal way of saying "week".)

    Putting aside the obvious conflict between "the week's day" and the English terms "weekend" vs. "weekday", this basically means that you can start counting from 1 or 0.

    FWIW, the Chinese names of the months are similarly "boring":
    So basically these are all literally "one month", "two month", etc. -- or, again more for a smoother translation, "the first month", "the second month", and so on.

    And again, metonymy. 月 literally means "moon".
  • edited 2018-06-01 09:11:56
    Besides Friday, the days in Arabic are basically just numbers with Sunday as one until Saturday as seven.
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