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Adam_CLO

Common Mistakes that Chinese Speakers Make when Speaking English

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daofeishi
Serious? Where did this person get his/her schooling from?

First language interference. It happens to the best of us, even to people who actually know better. If you speak two languages fluently you'll be familiar with the problem. Sometimes crossovers happen unintentionally.

...and sometimes it is an over-generalization from 关门 to 关灯 and 关机. Even so, I wouldn't necessarily blame the person's education. If we want to get picky about collocations, well educated Chinese learners do tons of equally silly mistakes as well.

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jkhsu

The thing is many ABCs don't speak Chinese fluently (and some don't speak Chinese at all). Using "close" instead of "turn off" is not a common mistake that ABCs tend to make. I'm generalizing here but when a typical ABC speaks English, they're not thinking in Chinese first.

Again we're talking about ethnic Chinese who were born and raised in the US, a very monolingual environment. I can't speak for people who grew up in other countries such as Singapore where being bilingual is the norm.

Also "well educated Chinese learner" != ABC. Well, what I mean is that you can't compare the two. One probably started learning Chinese in college and the other started learning English in day care.

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jkhsu

Back on topic. I had an argument with my friend about this. When she wanted to say "我愿意" in English, she used "I am willing." I told her that when you say "I am willing", there is a sense of doubt. I would say "I will", "I do", "yes", "ok, sure", etc. but never "I am willing" to indicate "我愿意".

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Adam_CLO

Just thought of one more. Have you ever encountered this situation? You call someone you're about to meet. You then tell them "Ok, see you in 10 minutes". They (Chinese person) respond with "Ok, see you later".

To me, "See you later" should be reserved for "See you at some unknown time in the future" not when we are about to meet at a scheduled time. I suppose it's coming from "待会见" - is that used to mean both "See you soon" as well as "See you later"?

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realmayo

Yes, come across that one a fair bit. Similar is "I am waiting for you" said on the phone when I've just phoned the person and said I'm coming over in 15 minutes.

Also: overuse of "seldom" and (less often) "rarely": more typical usage in spoken English would be "I don't usually/often/normally +verb" rather than "I seldom +verb".

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anonymoose
Also: overuse of "seldom" and (less often) "rarely": more typical usage in spoken English would be "I don't usually/often/normally +verb" rather than "I seldom +verb".

That's not really a mistake, though. That's just a case of a seldom used word used too frequently. Probably like foreigners saying 马马虎虎 when in reality it is seldom used by Chinese people.

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liuzhou

"I'll go first." sounds perfectly natural to me.

What about the overuse of the infinitive in sentences like "How to spell it?"

But my all time two favourite errors, although not common, are worth noting.

In a conversation about death and funeral rites I was asked, "Do you want to be buried or put in an ashtray?" I chose the latter when I stopped laughing three weeks later.

Then there was "Women are more genital than men."

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Adam_CLO
"I'll go first." sounds perfectly natural to me.

The context is different though. For example, last week my son and I were in a playroom. The other parent in the room later picked up his son to leave and said 我们先走了.

In English you would just say "we're going" since you're not leaving for the same destination.

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liuzhou
The context is different though.

What context is different from what other context? I gave no context.

Saying 我们先走了 makes perfect sense as does "I'll go first."

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jasoninchina

Here's a few:

1. Good good study, day day up; Not sure how many people actually think this is correct English, but I do hear it said.

2. "tomorrow morning who get up early who call who"

3. Idiomatic mistake: "It's raining dogs and cats."

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renshanrenhai
Conversely, can you think of common vocabulary mistakes that English speakers make in Chinese, owing to differences between the languages?

As to this question, I've found some interesting mistakes made by non-native speakers on italki.

A very common mistake is the unnecessary use of '是' . You can easily found the beginner or above level learners often like to add an unnecessary '是' where there's no need to do so.

Also a phrase like 更多和更多 comes from English, that's more and more.

More examples here:

http://www.italki.com/notebook/entry/195356.htm

http://www.italki.com/notebook/entry/197362.htm

http://www.italki.com/notebook/entry/188503.htm

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liuzhou

I think "common mistakes in Chinese" should be on a separate thread, if it isn't already.

Mixing them in here will just get messy.

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Adam_CLO
What context is different from what other context? I gave no context.

Saying 我们先走了 makes perfect sense as does "I'll go first."

Sorry, I meant to say that 我们先走了 is used in more situations in Chinese than "I'll go first" is in English. You'd only say "I'll go first" if we were going to the same destination. But in Chinese it can also be used, even if we were going our separate ways.

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liuzhou
You'd only say "I'll go first" if we were going to the same destination.

Really? Not in my experience. It simply means "I'll leave first."

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jkhsu

I tend to agree with Adam_CLO on the "I'll go first" statement. I never say "I'll go first" to indicate that I'm leaving. I might say it when I'm volunteering to go first. For example, a teacher asks, "Which one of you wants to come up to the front of the class and present what you've written?" I might raise my hand and say, "I'll go first!" Another example, a group of friends at an amusement park are trying to figure out who is going to take the lead in the haunted house attraction. I might say, "alright, I'll go first."

If I need to tell someone that I need to leave, I'll just say, "I need to leave", "I'm going to head out", "I have another appointment"', etc.

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realmayo

Yes, I've always thought "我们先走了" is a bit like those Chinese phrases such as "have you eaten yet" or "where are you going" which are more placeholders in a conversation rather than providing or requesting solid information.

Right, I'd better be off.

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liuzhou
I tend to agree with Adam_CLO on the "I'll go first" statement. I never say "I'll go first" to indicate that I'm leaving.

It may well vary in different varieties of English. I still say it sounds perfectly normal to me.

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realmayo

Maybe you've been in China too long? :P

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