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Questions regarding DeFrancis' Beginning Chinese Reader

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re: question 10, I double checked and there's no type. Further, the book has used 坐船到 X location a number of times, so maybe this is just an outdated/incorrect usage? 


Question 9: Is it the first sentence that gives away the fact that the car is being in the process of being sold rather than already sold? 嗎先生的車賣給張先生了。If the le had been after the 賣, that would change the meaning to be that the car has been sold, right? 


Thanks for such a great answers. 

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wibr: whoops. I read the "來船到山東" as 坐船到山東 went I went to review what I previously typed. It's a combination of my brain knowing it was supposed to be zuo4 and not focusing on the lai2, not being used to reading tiny characters on my monitor, and a bit of dumbness. My bad. 


Lesson 20
I found the dialogues and narrative readings a lot more straightforward in this lesson and lesson 21 and 22, so thankfully I won't be dumping a 20 question post in this thread anytime soon. 
However, the introductory exercises, which focus on relative clauses, still confuse me. I think my translations for these kind of sentences are going to be trash for awhile, but at least I am getting better at understanding their broad meanings. I did a few exercises in Claudia Ross' Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar, but they are all a million times easier than the ones appearing in BCR. 
1. Buildup 2
研究所的所長. Head of the research institute. Or the Research Institute's Head.(Does it matter?)
語言研究的所長。 Head of the language research institute. 
語言研究的所長説話。 The Head of the language research institute said. 
語言研究所的所長對我說會。 The head of the language research institute spoke to me. 
語言研究的所長對我説的話我明白。 I understood what the head of the language research institute said to me. 
2. Buildup 3
我坐船的那天就是我的生日。 That day I took a boat was indeed my birthday. 
我坐船走到地中海的那天就是我的生日。 That day I took a boat to (or through?) the Mediterranean was my birthday. 
3. Pitfalls 4
美國的大學最近研究東方語文的人很多。 In American Universities recently there are many people researching Oriental languages and literature. 
美國的大學最近研究東方語文的也很多。 There are also very many American Universities that research Oriental languages and literature. 
RESOLVED 4. Dialogue 14
從前遠東學會年年開會嗎?是的。他們一年開一次會。Before, did the Far East society hold an annual meeting? Yes. Each year they meet once. 
I'm totally confused on this one. Not sure if it's the "FORMER Far East Society" or "FORMERLY, the Far East Society"
In the second sentence, I am confused with 一年 and 一次。 In one year they meet once?
5. Narrative 17
“我很想買,可是我的工錢都用在過日子了。我買不了。” I would really like to buy (one), but all of my wages are used to keep me alive. I'm unable to buy one (because I don't have the money)."
Is the 在 here being used like in Narrative 6 of my last post? From Altair (since it appears that quote=Altair doesn't work for quotes on this forum):


9. Narrative 6
The word 在 is used to introduce phrases indicating location in space or in time.  At the beginning of a sentence, it can usually (maybe always?) be omitted, leaving what follows to stand simply as a topic on its own.  In some writing styles, 當 can also be used to indicate a location in time, but neither 在 nor 當 adds anything to the meaning.
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嗎先生的車賣給張先生了。If the le had been after the 賣, that would change the meaning to be that the car has been sold, right?

Even without 了 le, the sentence means the car has been sold.

一年 and 一次。 In one year they meet once?

Yes.  It's like English in saying "they meet once a year".


spent *on*

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Lesson 21

RESOLVED 1. Illustrative Sentence 10


Given translation: In Mr. Gu's opinion [regarding that student], that student is the best [student] in teh school. 


First sentence: why is it Mr. Gu's opinion/perspective and not the student's? Why not, "Mr. Gu, with respect to that student's perspective"...


Is it the second part of the sentence that tells us it is Mr. Gu's opinion/perspective and not the student's? With the pattern "person one 對 person #2/thing 的看法" is this always person one's perspective on person two/thing?


2. Dialogue 6

我們請了一個名人來。 他給我們說中國語言裏的外來語。 We have invited a famous person to come. He's giving us a talk on loan words in the Chinese language. 


RESOLVED 3. Dialogue 7

A: 人名字都寫了嗎? Have all the names been written? 

B: 寫了。 They have. 

A: 請你給我看看 。。。 家長的人名子你也寫上了。 請你還要寫一次。 就寫學生的名字,不要寫家長的名字。 Please let me take a look... You also wrote the names of the parents. You still need to write the first/once (students?)?? Only write student names, do not write names of the parents. 


4. Narrative 8

法國的名畫家對張大千畫兒的看法是張大千的畫兒在東方可以就是第一了。 Famous French Painters' opinions (with respect to Zhang DaQian's paintings) is that Zhang DaQian's paintings in the Orient can be considered number 1. 


I'm totally lost on this sentence, but I think I might've figured it out by comparing it to illustrative sentence 10 up above. 

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lips, I'll have to re-read what Altair wrote regarding that sentence (嗎先生的車賣給張先生了.) I probably missed his point. That or you two disagree. 



Chinese is much more scrupulous about differentiating between actions and results than English, which often uses the same word for both.  If you say "When the car was sold, ...), there is a strong implication that ownership of the car changed hands.  In Chinese, 賣 just refers to the action, including typical results, but leaves open which result actually occurs.  In English, you can also say "put on sale" to exclude a reference to the change of ownership, but the default in Chinese is to leave the result vague, unless critical to the context.  I would translate 在賣車的時候 as "when selling a/the car," leaving open whether a final sale actually took place.  Similarly, I would translate 要不然我也不賣車了 as "Otherwise, I won't sell the car.
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Mr. Gu facing that studentviewpoint |||is||| that student is school-in best student


對 literally means "facing", and it is Mr. Gu who is doing the 'facing' towards that student, looking at the student and forming his viewpoint of that student. The big purple IS is the dividing point in the sentence after which telling us Mr. Gu's viewpoint. If you like math examples then it's the equation:


Person #1對Person #2的Viewpoint IS EQUAL TO = Person #1's viewpoint


////End color explosion/////

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"古先生對那個學生的看法" can be either 古先生's opinion or 那個學生's opinion. It's not that the second part of the sentence tells us which explanation is logical. Certain patterns do exist to help us know which one is correct.


Here are two example sentences:

古先生對那個學生    看法    那個學生是學校裡最好的學生了.

古先生    那個學生的看法  感到  生氣. (Mr. Gu is angry with that student's opinion.)

In the first sentence, the subject is "看法", and "古先生對那個學生" as a whole is a "adjective" that make "看法" more specific. In the latter one, on the other hand, the subject is 古先生. The key point is the verb right behind it.


The word "對" is a verb in Chinese which means "towards". Interestingly, as far as I know, there is no equivalent verb in English, since "towards" is a preposition. There are some verbs in Chinese often used with "對". The pattern is like:

   A  對  B  doing something.

The word "對" in the pattern simply indicates the direction of the certain action. I cannot list all such verbs, but this pattern is widely used in daily life. "是", however, is definitely not of this group of verbs, hence the original sentence could only refer to Mr. Gu's opinion.


As a native Chinese speaker from Taiwan, I should say "古先生對那個學生的意見是那個學生是學校裡最好的學生了"  is not quite natural to me. I think "那個學生是學校裡最好的學生是古先生對他的意見" would be better, though I cannot explain what is the difference between them. In fact, "依 (according to) 古先生對那個學生的意見, 他是學校裡最好的學生." may be mostly used.

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"oops too much color". You're welcome, glad it could help.


歐sound from my English surname博extensive, plentiful思thinking. My Chinese teacher from university gave it to me; I'm really fond of it. Laowhiner's a clever name by the way, did you come up with it yourself?

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I don't think I came up with it. However, I just googled it and there's only a couple pages of results - all me. I guess it's mine now. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Going back to 請你還要寫一次 - it's not first, or once, it's again - "Please write them one more time"


The one below that, narrative 8, you've understood correctly. 

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  • 3 months later...

Can I piggyback on this post? I'm working through the Beginning Chinese Reader right now. I'm trying to figure out the illustrative English sentences on my own, translating them to Chinese. Then I post to lang-8 to see if my translation is correct. 


From lesson 9 - 


My translation - 他就會說英文嗎?

Several people corrected it to this - 會說英文嗎?


Similar correction on another translation. 

Mine - 就白先生會說中文.

Theirs - 只有白先生會說中文.


Can 就 be used in these instances? Is it not the ideal way to express these thoughts? 只 hasn't been introduced in the textbook yet. 

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According to the guifan dictionary one of the possible meanings of "就"  is "限定范围,相当于“只” “仅” - or translated: "determine a limit, equivalent to "只" and "仅".


So as far as I'm concerned there's nothing wrong with what you wrote. But, I'd probably go with the corrections that were given on lang-8. Basically they just sound more idiomatic to me (and I assume the Chinese speakers as well). If you wrote “就是我” I'm pretty sure no one would correct it to "只是我“ because here it does sound idiomatic. There's no grammatical rule that will help you. Just experience.


And this raises one problem with lang-8. Often native speakers are just correcting according to what they think sounds good (or rather, idiomatic) and in doing so cause unnecessary worry about whether or not what you're doing is right or wrong (though it could be argued that what isn't idiomatic is 'incorrect'). While this kind of idiomatic correction is useful for when you're at a more advanced level, I feel it's unnecessary for beginners.

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Isn't there a difference between 就是我 and 只是我?

就是我 - it's exactly me (we are talking about,  you are asking about,...) 

只是我 - it's only me


Or is my feeling wrong?

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I guess the correction should read 他(就)只會說英文嗎? 就 can be used to give more emphasis, but it never happens after 只.

Strictly speaking, your translations are not wrong (Especially the second one. 就 and 只有 are gennerally interchangeable. Some even say 就/jiu4 is a contraction of 只有/zhi3you3). They are just less natural to a native ear. And don't worry too much about it. As you progress, you'll get a better feel of the language and be able to produce more native-sounding sentences :)

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Isn't there a difference between 就是我 and 只是我?

就是我 - it's exactly me (we are talking about,  you are asking about,...) 

只是我 - it's only me


Or is my feeling wrong?


I was thinking something along these lines "誰來了?” “就是我”

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  • 2 months later...

Beginning Chinese Reader, lesson 16, illustrative sentence 23:



My translation: "My home (family) is in Southern China. I study in Northern China."

Then the usage of the 的 got me thinking.

The given translation is: "My home is in South China. I studied in North China."


If the sentence is actually about the past, shouldn't it read



Otherwise, given the verb + noun combination, I myself could only come up with this sentence:



Do you think the original sentence contains a mistake or is there another valid explanation for this sentence structure / translation?


[Edited to fix mistakes.]

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