English-Chinese Homophones (1)

One of the things that contribute to the difficulty of learning the Chinese language is the abunance of homophones, i.e. different characters or different words that sound exactly the same. If you look up a Chinese character in a dictionary by its pinyin, you will often find many more than what you asked for. When you have become proficient in the language, you will be able to determine the correct character used based on the context, or based on the polysyllable word in which the character occurs. However, the beginning learner is likely to be confused. For example, 愚人 (yúrén) is a fool, while 渔人 (yúrén) is a fisherman. In fact, to avoid confusion, we usually say 傻子 (shǎzi a fool) instead of 愚人 (yúrén).

On the other hand, it’s not that bad if you look at it this way: You only need to learn one sound to cover a number of different Chinese words. In fact, many of these sounds are plain everyday English words. Therefore, you are uttering a few Chinese words everyday without knowing it. Just look at the following examples, and you will see.

Aye (ài love) (ài hinder, block)

我爱你.
Wǒ ài nǐ.
I love you.

不要阻碍我. (zǔài)
Bùyào zǔài wǒ.
Don’t be in my way.

Bay (bèi seashells) (bèi the back of something)

她收集贝壳.
Tā shōují bèiké.
She collects seashells.

她站在我的背后.
Tā zhàn zài wǒ de bèihòu.
She is standing behnd me.

Bee (bì finish, complete) (bì wall)

他明年毕业.
Tā míngnián bìyè.
He will graduate next year.

墙壁上有只虫.
Qiángbì shàng yǒu zhǐ chóng.
There is an insect on the wall.

Boo (bù no, not) (bù a step)

他不高興.
Tā bù gāoxìng.
He is not pleased.

一步一步慢慢走.
Yī bù yī bù mànmàn zǒu.
Walk slowly, step by step.

Dee (dì younger brother) (dì fields, ground)

我弟弟还太小.
Wǒ dì di hái tài xiǎo.
My brother is still too young.

他坐在地上.
Tā zuò zài dì shàng.
He sits on the ground.

Die (dài a belt, to bring) (dài to substitue, an era)

你带我去, 好吗?
Nǐ dài wǒ qù, hǎo ma?
Take me along, okay?

你代我去, 好吗?
Nǐ dài wǒ qù, hǎo ma?
Go in my place, okay?

Dough (dòu beans) (dòu to tease)

豆腐是用黄豆做的.
Dòufu shì yòng huángdòu zuò de.
Bean curds are made from soybeans.

我是逗著你玩兒的.
Wǒ shì dòu zhe nǐ wánr de.
I’m just teasing you.

Done (dàn eggs) (dàn bland, diluted) (dàn but, however)

你爱吃蛋黄还是蛋白?
Nǐ ài chī dànhuáng hái shì dànbái?
Do you prefer to eat yolks or egg whites?

这汤很淡.
Zhè tāng hěn dàn.
This soup is rather light in taste.

我做完毕了, 但是他不满意.
Wǒ zuò wánbì le, dànshì tā bù mǎnyì.
I have completed the job, but he is not pleased.

That’s right, this is a compund sentence.
———————————————————————————-
Anwer to last week’s question about a compound-complex sentence:

他会来, 但是, 如果他来的时候, 我不在,
Tā huì lái, dànshì, rúguǒ tā lái de shíhòu, wǒ bùzài,
He will come, but if when he comes, I’m not here,

那么, 我们还是不能见面.
nàme, wǒmen háishì bùnéng jiànmiàn.
then we still won’t be able to meet.

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