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A list of must-know english vocab


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If you want something to start with look into Basic English. I don't know how well it worked out as a system, but at the worst you will know 850 reasonably useful English words (although you can probably get by for a little bit not learning spade and cork).

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confucius

Here you go:

Adjectives: good, bad, ugly, beautiful, crazy, stupid, smart, cheap

Verbs: eat, drink, work, buy, sell, quit, sleep, fart, laugh, die

Nouns: boy, girl, bed, wedding, baby, bottle, milk, water, beer, pizza

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xuechengfeng
Here you go:

Adjectives: good, bad, ugly, beautiful, crazy, stupid, smart, cheap

Verbs: eat, drink, work, buy, sell, quit, sleep, fart, laugh, die

Nouns: boy, girl, bed, wedding, baby, bottle, milk, water, beer, pizza

pretty much sums up American life :clap

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Shi Rui'en

It's quite possible. I live by myself and I can recount entire days in which I'll ask someone how they are doing and that's it...never listening to their reply and always just chatting with mysef. I don't know if I could do that for six months though.

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One should minmize the number of words in Chinese. Before learning Chinese I assumed that with the limited number of basic sounds that the vocabulary would be limited. I discovered that Chinese has lots of words. The current ABC Chinese English dictionary has 200,000 entries, The English Chinese Word Ocean (a dictionary) has 520,000 entries.

In basic learning I have been bedeviled in my flashcard by words with slight differences in meaning. Jiao1huan4, dui4huan4, and huan4 all roughly mean exchange. I'm sure the Chinese reading the list can distinguish them but I can't.

Other synonym clusters:

ke3shi4, dan4shi4, and bu4guo4: but, however

zi4xing4che1, jiao3ta4che1: bicycle

du2lun2che1, dan1lun2che1: unicycle

ma3ling2shu3, tu3dou4, he2lan2shu3: potato

Note that in English there aren't other regular words for bicycle, unicycle, and potato. (I consider bike and spud to be informal terms) Of course one can come up with counter-examples with English, but the point is that Chinese still has a large vocabulary and this can make learning difficult.

Finally, Chinese has words for things that don't have words in English: (courtesy of Wenlin)


  • ma3bang4: short club for driving a horse
    wu3zui3: to cover up one's mouth
    shang1guan3: room for a son-in-law who assumes his father-in-law's name and lives under the latter's roof
    sheng4gu3: victory drum-beating

So which language has more words? I'll admit it still may be English. Chinese still has an awful lot of words, though, so I don't think the number of words in English accounts for its difficulty compared to Chinese.

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But I think this huge amount of Chinese vocabularies (referring to the same thing) makes this language beautiful.

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But I think this huge amount of Chinese vocabularies (referring to the same thing) makes this language beautiful.

I agree completely. I understood Yau to be saying that English has a much larger vocabulary than Chinese and I was responding to that.

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The tremendous vocab isn't a really big problem, but i'm concerned with the structure of vocab.

In english, there's simply too much unstructured imported vocab, from latin, french, german and even chinese and japanese, since the translation of english bible has begun.

some scholars once advocated the reform on this issue. Let say, stop using "conclusion", but use "endsay", to form a new word with the existing english roots. By this sense, it'll make easier to remember all vast amount of vocab.

French may do better on it. With the constraints of chinese characters, it's also the most common way (BUT NOT ALWAYS) that chinese invents a new word too.

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Other synonym clusters:

du2lun2che1, dan1lun2che1: unicycle

It's the first time I heard the word "Du2lun2che1, but i can guess its meaning without any problem----- if it's written in characters.

And yes, sometimes there's a confusion over the word, but it's more likely that one word will survive. Think about the word computer is 電腦 and 計算機 in chinese, it's a battle over the translation.

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When I posted my original reply I wasn't on the system where I could enter Chinese characters. I learned 独轮车 first, although the Taiwanese I have spoken with knew 单轮车. Maybe it is a mainland/Taiwan distinction or Northern/Southern.

Yes, sometimes it is a matter of seeing which word takes over. Sometimes it is northern and southern preferences, like with potato and tomato. Sometimes it is just the richness of the language.

It is interesting to hear someone say that English words coming from so many sources makes the language harder to learn. I think it is a case of anything done differently than your own language being more difficult. When learning Chinese part of the difficulty is that it is a combination of a limited set of sounds. Sometimes I know what the individual syllables mean and sometimes it is less obvious. It then comes down to remembering which combination of syllables forms the word. Why the relatively smaller number of syllables in Chinese this can make memorization more difficult because the words appear to be random combinations of the same syllables.

I always wondered how a Chinese would view English. I wondered if the greater variety of sounds and syllables would make learning easier. I didn't consider the point that you mentioned, that the heavy borrowing in English that brought about the many sounds also makes the language appear more opaque and that makes learning more difficult.

Even the words that come from other languages, though, tend to form sensible combinations, though. Conclusion is a combination of conclude and -ion (with an important sound in the middle left out to make things more difficult ;-) ). I suppose the problem then is that "conclude" doesn't really seem to mean anything and this is correct unless you speak Latin.

BTW, people who advocate the instruction of Latin, a dead language, will emphasize how learning Latin illumininates one's knowledge of English. This is probably true since so many words since English split from old Germanic came from the Romance language family. I don't suppose one want to learn Latin in order to help learn English, though. :-)

The European language that may best do what you are talking about regarding regular and pure construction is Icelandic. It is said that Icelander can still read Scandinavian literature from 1000 years ago because the language hasn't evolved with loan words and other changes. Instead they do something like Chinese where existinig words are combined. For example, for the word electricity they don't use the anything that sounds like "electricity", which comes from a Latin word meaning amber. Instead they just say amber-power, using whatever the Icelandic words are for that.

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Why the relatively smaller number of syllables in Chinese this can make memorization more difficult because the words appear to be random combinations of the same syllables

I agree on it too. My mother tongue is cantonese that has more syllables than mandarin. When I started learning mandarin, I often found it difficult to recognise some rarely used phrases and my friends ought to write down the characters.

It's also the same case in french too. It seems to me that every french word sounds like ge- je- che- -rais -oi -iant and its linkage between syllables just make it harder.

Language is always funny. Kids may master better on their mother tongue than a foreign uni graduated language student. Latin was also spoken by underclass in the roman old day. It seems to me that all languages is always both difficult and easy.

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It is interesting to hear someone say that English words coming from so many sources makes the language harder to learn. I think it is a case of anything done differently than your own language being more difficult.

now paste that into that other thread :clap

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Quote:

Here you go:

Adjectives: good, bad, ugly, beautiful, crazy, stupid, smart, cheap

Verbs: eat, drink, work, buy, sell, quit, sleep, fart, laugh, die

Nouns: boy, girl, bed, wedding, baby, bottle, milk, water, beer, pizza

pretty much sums up American life

no, missed make and love. :mrgreen:

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