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Wippen (inactive)

What are your most frequently used chengyus?

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Wippen (inactive)

I have been trying to incorporate more chengyus into my active spoken vocabulary. After a while I have noticed that you can force yourself to use them and that they eventually turn out to be more natural in use. You end up being more tuned into the ones you are trying to practice when other people are using them. This makes the use of the chengyus more active, rather than just being passive.  Passive here meaning you understand them when you read them or hear them but would not necessarily use them in your active spoken vocabulary.

 

What is your most frequent chengyus that occur in your active vocabulary which means you will use them without a pause and they are used to describe exactly what you want to say?

 

Here are some of mine 理所当然, 成千上万, 层出不穷, ( I can list more, but it would be interesting to see what are on other people's lips first)

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Publius

hmm, why don't you start a thread for 成語接龍 game

like

成千上萬

萬水千山

your turn :wink:

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somethingfunny

In this thread, being a native speaker is cheating.

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Wippen (inactive)
28 minutes ago, Publius said:

成千上萬

萬水千山

your turn :wink:

The suggestion is a good one. The problem I have got is that my active chengyus would not be sufficient to play the game. I would have to consult the dictionary and we are then into passive terrain. Also it reminds me of Chinese water drop torture... but I guess it is like studying:  水滴石穿 :-)

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GregO

Hi, those that I am more familiar with and come to me more naturally are: 杀鸡给猴看 (俗语), 乘虚而入, 一字千金, 不知所措。 It is interesting to 

think about the concept of working to activate passive vocabulary. I sort of vacillate in my thinking between 1. enough input will eventually produce better and more refined output, and 2. more active efforts to improve  production are useful. I have kind of landed in the middle (leaning toward the input side). Lots of input with some things like SRS to consolidate learning and "activate" newly learned phrases. This is how I have approached 成语。 Of course attempting to use newly acquired phrases in normal conversation is great also. I don't have too many of those opportunities any more living in farm country USA. 

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Wippen (inactive)

@GregO

Thanks for your opinion here Interesting view put forward. If a person does not live in China (or has not lived in China for a while), it will be difficult to work on 1. This would entail passive input such as SRS and passive listening, which then would not easily be transferred into active vocabulary

 

The problem with chengyus and idioms in general is that foreigners/learners of a language already have another way of expressing the same thing. So learners  will just continue to use the same phrases that they know work and are understood and which are in their active vocabulary. To replace or copmlement these phrases, learners need to be exposed to a range of contexts which would enable the learner to instinctively know which exact chengyus and idioms natives use in that context. This is the passive exposure phase: you listen, you take mental notes, you analyse. To transfer these context uses tinto active use, is what I am trying to (force myself) to do.

 

I recently posted this on another thread. It is an article by a professor of English " Beyond the Plateau" by prof Jack C. Richards who explains why the attainment of higher level is difficult.This serves to illustrate one of his points:

 

"Multi-word chunks

"There are many factors that can contribute to the naturalness of speech. One

important factor is the extent to which the learners are using what are sometimes

called multi-word “chunks,” as well as conversational routines or fixed

expressions. Random patterns of words do not occur together in speech, but

often occur as multi-word chunks" Source.

 

 

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Jim

Not one of my regulars but happened to hear it three times today: 好事多磨

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Wippen (inactive)
16 minutes ago, Jim said:

Not one of my regulars but happened to hear it three times today: 好事多磨

Nice one and thanks for posting.

 

Would you actively use this one as part of your active vocabulary?

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Jim
2 hours ago, Tøsen said:

Would you actively use this one as part of your active vocabulary?

I'd say yes in future, I'm always a bit of a vocab magpie and recycle things I've heard recently. Can't recall ever using it myself before though, though knew what it meant. Never been that great at chengyu use, though as I type another one came to mind I have used but just had to check if it counted as a chengyu being five characters: 天高皇帝远

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Wippen (inactive)
47 minutes ago, Jim said:

recycle things I've heard recently

Then try and do it proactively and see it it can become part of your active vocabulary.

 

49 minutes ago, Jim said:

Never been that great at chengyu use

This is probably because you can say the same thing without using a chengyu.

Most of my "active" chengyus  have come from writing essays in the past where I have been forced to use the chengyus, but I have also gone out and tried to apply these when speaking. Then later there is an automatic brain click when you keep hearing the same one :-)

As you know the Chinese are strictly only calling chengyus those that are a proper four-hanzi idiom and has been officially recognised as such :-) but I do like your suggestion.

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anonymoose

It usually takes me a couple of seconds to retrieve chengyus from my memory, which means that I use them much more when texting (having the time to think) than when speaking.

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GregO
7 hours ago, Tøsen said:

The problem with chengyus and idioms in general is that foreigners/learners of a language already have another way of expressing the same thing. So learners  will just continue to use the same phrases that they know work and are understood and which are in their active vocabulary.

This is quite true. It is quite easy to use the same phrases over and over again when you already have a way in which you are comfortable expressing yourself.

 

7 hours ago, Tøsen said:

I recently posted this on another thread. It is an article by a professor of English " Beyond the Plateau" by prof Jack C. Richards who explains why the attainment of higher level is difficult.This serves to illustrate one of his points:

Thank you for sharing this. I had read your previous post on "multi word chunks". Actually I have read and benefited from much on this forum over a few years but have not commented too much....I guess I am too passive :-)  - not active enough. 

 

Another couple 成语 and 俗语 that come to mind as being natural for me to say are 崇洋媚外, 外国的月亮比中国圆。 I guess this is because I had previously interacted with a number of Chinese friends who seemed to hold some of this thinking. This type of perspective of course is not limited to only Chinese. It seems that the grass is always greener on the other side point of view is typical of many people - maybe all of us in varying degrees. 

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Wippen (inactive)
28 minutes ago, GregO said:

I have read and benefited from much on this forum over a few years

I am believer in contributing to a community one benefit from. (That is why I have written some 500 Tripadvisor reviews. I don't have the time but I use other people's Information to my benefit).  A forum like this needs new content which means people who start threads and ask questions.
What is on your mind? :-) by the way, it is easier to answer threads than create original content

 

33 minutes ago, GregO said:

come to mind as being natural for me to say are 崇洋媚外

This is also one of my active ones. It comes from a topic I once studied with a teacher on why Chinese seem to be copying Western habits. I may post the material she gave me at some future point.

 

37 minutes ago, GregO said:

that the grass is always greener

 

This one is active in my vocabulary 这山望着那山高。 That is really useful to know.

We discussed the subject and yes that was one of the factors. Another one was the Chinese after the 改革开放 lacked self-confidence. (not in a negative way)

59 minutes ago, anonymoose said:

It usually takes me a couple of seconds to retrieve chengyus from my Memory

I know exactly what you mean. This is why I am forcing it. I want them to be right there when I need to spontaneously say them.

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艾墨本

Two that I like and use a lot:

一概而论 because one of my professors does this all day. Students don't have names in his class. We are referred to according to our country of origin. Low point of many of my weeks.

君子一言,驷马难追: I like to use this to poke fun at Chinese friends when making plans because of how frequently my Chinese friends suddenly change, cancel, or amend plans.

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永鈞

i think these ones might be more southern, but i use 鷄同鴨講 and 鴨子聼雷 a lot

 

they are both useful for talking about misunderstanding and miscommunication, which makes them handy for second language learners lol

 

they aren't listed in some chengyu lists for some reason but i hear taiwanese people use them so i don't worry about them as being inaccurate or inauthentic or whatever

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Wippen (inactive)
3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

一概而论

Thisis a good one that people can incorporate actively.

 

3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

because one of my professors does this all day. 

Glad you mentioned that. This is not to be underestimated in its usefulness. When I studied English literature (in the UK) the lecturers would use exotic idioms that we would pick up ( and sound pretentious)

 

3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

Students don't have names

That is interesting. If this had been the US and someone was from Mexico or from a country from the continent below Europe.

Having said that, when I used to live in Spain I would be called "rubia" and also my nationality with definite article in front. You could nearly start a thread on that asking how people are referred to.

3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

君子一言,驷马难追

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Wippen (inactive)

I like this saying a lot. Thanks also for the topic. You could  do a thread on that also. This must be a cultural thing I reckon. I may pick this one as a topic with my teacher. Though they change plans they are never late.

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Wippen (inactive)

Here are a few more that I use actively

每况愈下, (but I don't use it literally ie for health),  举足轻重 (formal), 日益增加,一蹴而就,七上八下

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Publius
1 hour ago, Tøsen said:
3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

because one of my professors does this all day. 

Glad you mentioned that. This is not to be underestimated. When I studied English literature (in the UK) the lecturers would use exotic idioms that we would pick up ( and sound pretentious)

I think what 艾墨本 means is his professor does the generalization all the time not that he uses the idiom all the time.

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永鈞

There are some chengyu that are so common that it’s hard to think of them as  chengyu, and there are some common turns of phrase that get Called chengyu by some people but don’t seem like chengyu to me, I don’t really think of 無論如何 as a chengyu, but it could be that I haven’t grasped what a Chengyu is haha

 

i also use 每況愈下 a lot

I also use 無言聳聽 a lot when talking about the news, the rise of populism, things the public love to get angry over etc

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