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"yi ge yue"


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simple i know , but heard this spoken.. and i know that yi1 is "one" and ge is a pretty general measure word, and after some google searching I figured out that yue meant "month" in that context...

it also means:

曰 [yue1] /to speak/to say/

约 [yue1] /appointment/agreement/to arrange/to restrict/approximately/

月 [yue4] /moon/month/

刖 [yue4] /cut off the feet as punishment/

岳 [yue4] /(surname)/mountain/wife's father/

悦 [yue4] /pleased/

越 [yue4] /to exceed/to climb over/to surpass/the more ... the more/

粤 [yue4] /Cantonese/Guangdong/

乐 [yue4] /(surname)/music/

阅 [yue4] /peruse/review/to read/

岳 [yue4] /mountain/

跃 [yue4] /to jump/to leap/

钥 [yue4] /key/

钺 [yue4] /battle-axe/

樾 [yue4] /shade of trees/

龠 [yue4] /(ancient measure)/flute/

瀹 [yue4] /cleanse/to boil/

however... several of those are regular nouns. Would the "ge" measure word exclude "battle axe" and "key" and "shade of trees", etc... as meanings, leaving only "月 month"?

just wondering :)

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Harpoon, you have to get out of the mindset that each character can stand alone as its own word. The Chinese language does not work like that. Most characters are morphological units that contain meaning, but that doesn't necessarly mean you can use them as standalone words.

For instance, in the English language, "pre-" is a morphological unit that means "before," but that doesn't mean you can use "pre" as a standalone word. "Pre-" always appears within other words, such as precede, prenatal, pretreatment, etc. The same is true for most Chinese characters.

Most of the words you listed for yue4 cannot be used as standalone words, or if they can, they are either the wrong part of speech or are extremely rare or archaic, so there is no confusion that when one says yi1 ge yue4, it means "one month."

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Harpoon, it is time to start learning to speak Chinese rather than analyzing it. I had the same sort of questions until I started actually learning Chinese and then things made sense. In this example, I've never had any trouble understanding the "yi1 ge yue4" means "one month". I'll also repeat my suggestion that you get John DeFrancis' ABC dictionary, which points out when a character cannot be used alone.

BTW, the first-tone pronunciations of yue don't coun't here. The tones are as much a part of the pronunciation as the vowels and consonants. Tones seem strange to us, but half the world's languages are tonal and the tones are just another part of pronunciation.

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Chinese homonyms can indeed be a daunting phenomenon. To gain some perspective, however, it might be worth considering the case of French.

French is a language that has undergone simplifications in pronunciation that might be comparable to what has happened in Mandarin, and yet no one cites French as a language cursed with too many homonyms.

If I take an amateur pseudo-phonetic spelling like “san,” this might suggest a particular pronunciation to speakers of French, even though it is not a word by itself. This single pronunciation, however, could correspond to words with the following different English meanings and different French spellings:

Without (sans)

Hundred (cent)

Blood (sang)

Feels (sent)

If I add grammatical variations, I can add:

Hundreds (cents)

Bloods (sangs)

Feel (sens)

If I add “words” that contain two morphemes, I can add:

Away (Il (s’en) va)

It… of it/them (C’en)

If I add some morphemes that cannot stand alone, I can add:

Goes (Des(cend))

Go (Des(cends))

Healthy ((san)té

Go (as(cen)sion)

I have come up with thirteen distinct meanings and thirteen distinct spellings of exactly the same sound I could also add a few more meanings, if I decided to repeat spellings, since many of these words have distinct meanings that would be worth creating separate Chinese characters for.

If the French were to decide to abandon their quaint :wink: spelling traditions and adopt Pinyin in their dictionaries, all these different spellings would be represented by “san” (The actual French sound is a nasal vowel, perhaps like the Shanghainese pronunciation of 生).

It is true that some of the meanings I have listed are related, but then this is true of many Mandarin homonyms. I should also hasten to say that it is child’s play to string together brief French phrases that are phonetically ambiguous, but it is rare to have real confusion in connected speech. I cannot think of any reasonable sentence in which each of the thirteen “homonyms” above would not be easily distinguishable.

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Interesting post Altair. :D

I think one of my weaknesses in studying Chinese a while back was getting obsessed with individual character recognition and meaning, so I sympathize with Harpoon.

I think it might be usefull, even in Chinese, to worry about how language works at the sentence level (or even bigger), instead of just the word or character level.

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