Chinese idioms that follow the AABB pattern (2)

Let’s start today with a few four-character Chinese idioms that feature a couple nouns arranged in the AABB pattern.

You know that 妈妈 (māma) means mother, and 婆婆 (pópo) could refer to a married woman’s mother-in-law or an old lady in general. Put together, 婆婆妈妈 (pópomāmā) means to be fussy or mushy like an over-sentimental mother or old lady. You can apply this phrase to anyone (male or female) who behaves in this mawkish way.

Wǒ zuì pà tā de pópomāmā.
I dread her mawkish ways.

As the constituent words suggest, 朝朝暮暮 (zhāozhāomùmù) means mornings and evenings. It implies day and night, or all the time. You may have come across this phrase in a song or a poem.

Tā zhāozhāomùmù sīniàn tā de qíngrén.
She misses her sweetheart every waking moment.

世世代代 (shìshìdàidài) means generation after generation.

Tāmen jiā shìshìdàidài dōu xíngyī.
Their family has for generations practiced medicine.

口口声声 (kǒukoushēngshēng) means to maintain a statement by adamantly making the claim with each utterance. This phrase is shown below in a compound sentence. For additional examples of compound sentences, please see Chapter 25 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

她口口声声说她爱我, 但我看不出她的真心.
Tā kǒukoushēngshēng shuō tā ài wǒ, dàn wǒ kàn bù chū tā de zhēnxīn.
She maintains that she loves me, but I fail to see her sincerity.

(diǎn) is a dot, a point, or a bit. (dī) is a drop of liquid. 点点滴滴 (diǎndiǎndīdī) stands for bits of details. Note, however, that 点滴 (diǎndī) is the medical term for intravenous drip.

Tā yòng yōumò yǔqì miáoshù zhèi chǎng bǐsài de diǎndiǎndīdī.
He used a humorous tone to describe the bits of details of this competitive match.

Here are a few idioms that employ verbs in the AABB pattern.

拖拖拉拉 (tuōtuōlālā) is to drag one’s feet, to procrastinate, or to do things inefficiently.

快一点! 别拖拖拉拉.
Kuài yīdiǎn! bié tuōtuōlālā.
Hurry up! Don’t drag your feet.

指点 (zhǐdiǎn) means to give directions or pointers. On the other hand, 指指点点 (zhǐzhǐdiǎndiǎn) is to point fingers at another person or other people to place a blame or to gossip about them.

Nǎina lǎo ài zhǐzhǐdiǎndiǎn.
Grandma always likes to point to people and say this and that.

蹦蹦跳跳 (bèngbèngtiàotiào) means bouncing around vivaciously.

Háizǐ men huópō de bèngbèngtiàotiào.
The children bounced around energetically.

(tōu) means to steal. (mō) means to touch, to stroke, or to grope around. 偷偷摸摸 (tōutōumōmō) describes doing things in a surreptitious way.

Tāmen tōutōumōmō de liū le.
They slipped away in secret.

If you could like to hear some of the above sentences sounded out, please click on this link then select “Idioms in AABB Pattern.mp3”.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Krystal
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 08:56:51

    Could you have a recording of how to say this phrases correctly? I would love it. I’m pretty good with tones, but it would still be helpful.


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