Found a list of Chinese contractions here:
and in discussion here:
...anyone know any others?
bodaweiDecember 17, 2010, 01:45 PM
I would think that Chinese is full of contractions of various kinds, but maybe there is a special linguistic definition for contraction? The obvious one that comes to mind is the practice of leaving out characters for anything that we would call a 'long word' - such as the 发改委 fāgǎiwěi for 发民改革委员会 fāmíngǎigéwěiyuánhuì (Dvpt and Reform Commission) in the recent lesson on food prices UI - The Rising Cost of Food.
Then in newspapers, words and expressions are often contracted, particularly in headlines - does this qualify as 'contraction'?
In everyday speech it seems that contractions are plentiful - I would think that more words are 'left out' than in English - one reason context is so important. Perhaps that isn't contraction; contraction might refer to leaving part of a word out. And by some kind of convention. Okay - 的 is often left out of words.
thanks mate. Good stuff. Your comment/ question at the start is a very good one:
"of various kinds, but maybe there is a special linguistic definition for contraction?"
...and my post above left the definition wide. But what inspired me for the post was Jason's use of 甭 in a recent thread. I went searching for other examples of where two characters have been contracted into a single character. I came up with the above 2 links ,both on the topic of contractions and I found them interesting too, but neither of them seemed to have as neat an example as this 甭. So I'm particularly interested in examples similar to this 甭 where 2 characters have been contracted into one. Anyone got any other examples?
bababardwanDecember 17, 2010, 11:02 PM
zhenlijiang in another thread has just pointed out another one of these contractions I'm looking for in this thread here:
..the word being 冇
..and as pointed out in that thread the derivation of this character is really cool with a couple of strokes being removed from 有 to indicate 没有
I missed this thread altogether - how is that possible, I am on here all the time! This is something I have not come across before and now I am interested. I will look out for some more.
I'm interested in the comments about how these contractions make you feel uncomfortable; I understand that. Chinese is 'cryptic' enough without doing tricks with the characters - it really becomes another language. On the other hand 很好逻辑！ hen3hao3luo1ji2 (I like the logic！)
My question is (like yours) - how common are these contractions? The one native speaker in the thread said that 孬 is used to form just one word, so that's not common.
Oh, my 'you' actually didn't mean you personally Baba! (I realised that it was Zhenlijiang who made the comment). I should have said 'people', or .. maybe the correct English term I should have used is 'one' - but I can rarely bring myself to say 'one', it sounds so .. pretentious.
hehe, do you ever do that thing in company where you look at one person while talking to someone else in the group?
[hehe, it's like when a stranger starts smiling/waving at you and you reciprocate only to realise they're aiming it at their nanpengyou behind you....hen ganga, hehe]
"one" ...pretentious?..aiyou...I've been guilty o' that one....didn't realise it was pretentious. Well waddya know !
Hi, I guess I wouldn't think of the 冇 character as a contraction really. The sound, Changye said, is probably a combination (contraction) of the sounds of 没 and 有. I have no evidence of course, but I'm imagining the graphic design of the character came first--someone thought it made perfect sense to empty out the 有 to express "there isn't" in one char--then later they decided it would be read that way.
Hope anyone with knowledge on this can share!
Interesting thought. I agree the graphic design is the coolest thing happening here and I like that your pondering this. I of course don't know either but I'm not backing your horse on this occasion [though of course you may be right and I may be on the wrong horse again,hehe...it wouldn't be a first for me...not even a first for today ;) ]. I would think speech habits are more likely to come first. It could be that they arose almost simultaneously I guess. But if the character had come well in advance of the current reading of it then you would think that there'd be another reading then. Unless it was used in maths or something else purely as a symbol...but a symbol with no reading?
Baba my guess would be, they started reading it--because this was Canto--"mut you" (= same as 没有), then soon after contracted that to "mou".
To me it doesn't feel strange to have a symbol like this with no reading initially though, if it were only being used at first for instance to make notations on lists or something. That would seem to explain the preference for convenience, for one char instead of two, and fewer strokes--and without compromising the clarity of meaning at first glance. 冇 seems to succeed brilliantly in that sense. The traditional char for 无 is 無--a lot more strokes!
But it seems plausible that they just started referring to it with the "mut you" reading doesn't it? All guesswork obviously. Wish I had knowledge!
' do you ever do that thing in company where you look at one person while talking to someone else in the group?'
Very good point - sorry about that. Actually, reminds me of a friend (haven't seen him for 32 years odd - does he still qualify as 'friend') who used to always speak to the top right-hand corner of the room in which you were standing, from his standpoint. When I first met him my eyes used to go to the same point to see what he was looking at, then I realised that he was just talking to me. :)
Years later I read something about body language, and that this gazing to the upper-right when speaking, away from the object of your conversation, means something quite specific (I've forgotten now.)
I also read that Bob Hawke's habit of tugging on his left ear-lobe while talking meant that he was telling a fib. But that is not very enlightening.
lol. I'm actually chuckling at this. Very funny. [ I wasn't trying to make any "point" by the way...I was just wondering/kidding around]. Looking at the spot in the room reminds me of a scene from a very funny French movie..."tais-toi"...I think I've mentioned that one before.
bodaweiDecember 18, 2010, 09:25 AM
Not really, just joking seeing if the IME actually brings up these characters.
tingyunDecember 19, 2010, 06:25 PM
合音 he2yin1 (Contractions) were very, very common in classical chinese, and many of the examples still sound sound like proper contractions. There are several examples from the wikipedia link that was posted, but they are almost all gone from the modern language. ie while the wikipedia link is correct that 奈何 was originally 若之何‘s contraction, even 1500 years ago everyone had forgoten this, and began saying things like 奈我何。。。which since 之 was a pronoun in classical chinese would make no sense if it was still used as a contraction, it would be like saying 'it's is' or 'wouldn't not' (but not meaning a double negative. . . the wikipedia link's statement that 勿 is the contraction of 毋之 is also correct, but was likewise forgoten/ignored by most writers some 1500 years ago...
One that is interesting/useful in the modern language is probably:
诸 zhu1 has among its meanings 之乎zhi1hu1's contraction. In meaning here 之=他 (as I menotioned 之 is the common literary chinese multi-purpose pronoun） and 乎=于=在, so you have modern expressions using this contraction like 公诸社会 (公=announce, so it means '公 announce 诸 （之）this （乎）among 社会 society'...another common example is 付诸行动 'put this (a plan, etc) into action’.
Many modern speakers do not understand 诸 is a contraction and say things like 公诸于众, but by understanding its origin you can see why saying that would be wrong...you could, however, say 公之于众. Of course, maybe give it another couple hundred years and this one will fall the way of 勿 and 奈何...;)
It is interesting that most contractions in Chinese are the province of literary chinese, which the most formal modern language borrows from, and most contractions have a very classical feel to them. Though it mirrors the fact that formal english is very long and complete, while the opposite is often true of chinese (though more true of literary chinese). Of course there are informal modern chinese contractions too, but manay fewer. Though it would be interesting to see where these contractions originated from - its possible they were more prevalent in the more colloquial, chatty classical chinese pieces.
wa, thanks tim. I think you're the man to step into the void left by changye [but I'm greedy and still hope for both of you]. I think your last point is the most interesting:
most contractions in Chinese are the province of literary chinese
...as this surprises me. I would have expected just the opposite...that they would be from lazy oral speech. But I can see your examples are all very literary in flavour and I guess this expectation also reflects my ignorance of literary and classical chinese.
Thanks bababardwan, that's very nice of you to say. Yah, the only common informal contractions seems to be 甭 and the measure word ones (俩lia3，仨sa1) Though literary Chinese lacks measure words so it of course wouldn't need those last 2...
Though that's viewing the whole 不知道bu4ri1dao4 多少钱 duo1ao3qian2 告诉gao4___ type phenomenon discussed in your other link as something distinct. Actually, I think these are less like the english contraction can't, and more like how some speakers of english say 'oh my ga' (or something that sounds very close to it) instead of 'god', which is sort of the lazy colloquial speech phenomenon you mention. I'm not sure what the correct name is, but I've heard people call this sort of thing 吞字 and 吞音...
Perhaps it was the characters and literary tradition that discouraged the creation of very many 合音 in the colloquial context? With english it's pretty easy, we just stick a comma in and you can do it the same for every word, but for Chinese, you'd have to pick a character from the many many possible 'combined sound' candidates, or create a new one, then get everyone's agreement...and creating characters is usually seen as the province of a literati elite who probably wouldn't be too keen on creating colloquial contractions (though this may be changing now, especially in the stuff coming out of Guangdong, and how informal characters are created in that region)...or maybe its the nature of Chinese with so many dialects - colloquial is almost inherently going to be one's dialect, and there's enough variety there in sound to keep colloquial contractions fairly local (at any rate, I think the three common ones I mentioned, 甭 俩 仨, are much less common outside of Beijing). Then of course you'd still have a great variety of lazy pronunciation producing contraction like effects, without much formalization into defined 合音.
Anyway, that's enough wild speculating for me today. ;) I've got a final exam in classical chinese tomorrow morning, so I'll go back to focusing on the literary ones...