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I have moved on from Eileen Chang for now, and I am beginning to read Shi Shuqing's Hong Kong Trilogy, beginning with the first book, Her Name is Butterfly. My first quesion is:

 

Does 若有似无 mean the same thing as 若有若无?

 

Thank you,

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3 hours ago, Fred0 said:

Shi Shuqing's Hong Kong Trilogy, beginning with the first book, Her Name is Butterfly

OMG I own this book, bought it years and years ago, I guess at the time someone had recommended it to me. I never read it (at the time it was too difficult for me and later on I had forgotten why I should read this one and went on to read other books). I look forward to your posts here, if it sounds interesting perhaps I'll finally read it.

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My question remains:

 

Does 若有似无 mean the same thing as 若有若无?The first defined as indistinct or faintly discernible. The second could mean the same or slightly different: There but appearing not to be there. Is this a play on the original by the author, or an accepted variation... or something else? Thanks.

 

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This suggests it's broadly the same meaning: https://zhidao.baidu.com/question/1695494187412062228.html 释义:形容事物不清晰或关系不亲密。

And here the latter is suggested as a near synonym: https://zhidao.baidu.com/question/383512941.html

Couldn't find a cite for earliest recorded usage but similar phrases dating back to Ming, suspect it's not Shi's own coinage.

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老蔡逐渐不理黄奕敏了,固然跟“情”字有关,但绝对不是因为黄奕敏主动跟老蔡告白了,更不是黄主动约跑,被老蔡拒绝了。

 

Does 绝跑 have a euphemistic meaning here of invite to go to have sex, does it mean invite to run away, or what?

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Looks like the "hook up" meaning to me, as a progression from having previously 告白了. Had to check the date of the novels to see if that reading was likely and though no expert think it was current by the 1990s. I've more often, in fact only, seen it written 泡. Or are the characters known joggers?

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I have strayed from 他名叫蝴蝶. This quotation is from a blog post which someone sent me, so it's contemporary. I don't think "hook up" meant that even in English in the 1990s, so I'm sorry you had to take the trouble to research the origins.  The MDGB dictionary gives "hook up" as the meaning of 约炮.  So it seems there is no one way to write it.

 

Thanks for your help.

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4 minutes ago, Fred0 said:

The MDGB dictionary gives "hook up" as the meaning of 约炮. 

Hah, now you cite that, I've seen it written that way too. My memory is so flaky I really should stop making absolute pronouncements. 

ETA In fact I think there's a distinction between 泡 as pick-up and 炮 as hook-up so I'm even more wrong.

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黄奕敏的长相容貌应该不是老蔡的菜吧,后来他找的老婆挺好看的,毕竟老蔡的性格也讨女人喜欢啊。

 

1. Does 长相 imply something more than "appearance?" Why does she say 长相容貌, which seems to say that same thing twice?

 

2. Does 讨 here mean "to provoke"-- "In the end Lao Cai's nature provoke's women to like him."  In the end Lao Cai is attractive to women.  Or does it mean "to demand " --"Lao Cai's nature is to demand (to have) a woman to like."  I would think it is the first, but if so, shouldn't it be 讨 被女人喜欢他?

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1. I'd say they're pretty much the same word with slightly different connotation, my sense is 容貌 says a bit about your demeanour or even aura too while 长相 is just how your features are arranged, but both fundamentally appearance and I might be looking for a distinction where there isn't one. Using both together also creates an effect, maybe makes it a much more holistic dismissal of the ways she looks.

2. 讨 appears in various similar constructions about provoking some emotional etc response, cf. https://www.zdic.net/hans/讨人嫌 讨人喜欢 is pretty much a set phrase. It's based on older patterns of the language so adding a further passive marker would be superfluous. 讨厌 is basically the same sort of construction but seen as just a word through long usage.

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24 minutes ago, Fred0 said:

MDGB gives 讨人喜欢 as a set phrase. I should be more diligent in my research. Thanks very much.

it's easy to get thrown when the subject gets changed or inserted somewhere in the pattern, think one big breakthrough as I was learning was beginning to be able to spot that happening or at least suspect it was a possibility.

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  • 1 month later...

Yi Hong, in an opium induced stupor, sits up in bed, her jacket collar is open exposing some of her pink under-garment,

浮肿的眼皮抬也没抬,

 

How does one understand 抬也没抬. Is this a pattern with a certain connotation, or does it just mean "she didn't lift her gaze?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yi Hong, the Madam of this brothel, who has been grooming young Deyun to eventually become a prostitute, is smoking opium on a couch with Wufu (Wolf?), an English agent for an opium distributor, whom she has nicknamed 肥佬. Deyun’s maid comes in to say that the English teacher has not arrived for Deyun’s lesson. Yi Hong says that they have a teacher right here, and tells her to bring in Deyun.

仆妇瞪大眼睛,对烟榻上这座肉山不免另眼相待。半掩门规矩,琵琶仔开苞以前,连被看一眼都怕会掉身价似的。

 

肉山 ... Does this mean the mountain of meat (laying on the couch), or is it perhaps a transliteration of Roshan? If so, who is that?

另眼相待 ... Does this mean she looked at him with the other eye, or that she eyed him differently?

半掩门规矩... Does this mean that by the rule of the brothel, the door of the room in which he deflowered the  girl was only half-closed? If not, what does it mean? (I understand 琵琶仔 to mean a young girl who is being groomed to become a prostitute, and who may be asked to entertain  from time to time.)

连被看一眼都怕会掉身价似的。It would seem that even if  Wufu was briefly noticed by someone, probably it would be enough to lower his social status.  Is this a correct reading of this clause?

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If his nickname is Fatty 肉山 here will just mean "mountain of flesh", see https://www.zdic.net/hans/肉山

 

I've encountered 另眼相待 in the sense of "looked at in a different light" most often but it can also mean looked at in wonder/surprise/disgust, basically someone has caught someone's eye to make them look at them in some more particular way which will vary in context.

 

半掩门规矩 - this looks to mean "door half-open rule" she'll only be left alone in the room with a man with the door left half open so as to prevent anything untoward happening

 

连被看一眼都怕会掉身价似的 - this follows on from the bit above - "if a man so much as looked at a sing-song girl, the price they could get for [selling her first time] would drop, they feared"

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So 身价 here means literally the price of her body. And the previous phrase means "a 琵琶仔 before she is deflowered." I was thinking that it said that Fatty had previously had deflowered a 琵琶仔. I should look more carefully at the word order.

 

Thank you very much. ""

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