East Brain Word Formation

August 03, 2009, 11:28 PM posted in General Discussion

Some interesting word formation in this week's Intermediate lesson - Amusement Park. The Tuttle Dictionary explains very well (for West brainers) how words are formed in the Chinese language, and that the way a word is formed tells you a lot about its meaning i.e. makes it easier to remember, i.e.  expands one's vocabulary i.e. for WB to understand EB better.

Six categories of word-formation (1) Compounding (2) Modification  (3) Verb+Object (4) Verb+Complementation (5) Suffixation (6)Idioms.

Categories 2 to 5 are  easiest to remember by knowing the components of a word. Unfortunately, for Categories 1 and 6, WB will just have to memorize as a chunk.



yóulèyuán (C2)

[wander+happy+park] amusement park



xuánzhuǎnmùmǎ (C2)

[revolve+turn+wooden+horse]carousel, merry-go-round


cìjī (C1)

[irritate+excite] stimulating; thrilling; exciting



guòshānchē (C2)

[go across+mountain+car] rollercoaster



dǎnxiǎoguǐ (6)

[brave+small+ghost] coward



 胆小鬼 would be somewhat a perplexing word for WB. How could a brave small ghost be a coward?

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August 03, 2009, 11:44 PM

Interestingly, the word 胆 dan3 = gall bladder/brave (radical rou4=meat) has a connection to the English language. When we say someone has the 'gall' to do something, it means he is brave enough to behave in a rude and disrepecting way.

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August 10, 2009, 02:25 AM

Hi paulinurus

Top secret! This is just between you and me.

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August 04, 2009, 12:50 AM

"gall" may imply brashness, but "guts" are often a good kind of bravery. 胆小 would be "gutless". It is a natural word to me. When you have to do something that scares you, you feel it in the pit of your stomach. I don't think there has to be a connection for different cultures to come up with the same idea.

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August 04, 2009, 02:17 AM

Baba,welcome mate!

Interesting comments on 胆小... make it easier to remember 胆小鬼  dan3 xiao3 gui3 gutless spirit i.e. coward.

Here are examples of the six categories of Chinese word formation:

1. Compounding - two words of almost the same meaning, e.g 充满 chong1man3 [filled + full]=be filled with (adj)

2.  Modification - one component modifies the other e.g 将来 jiang1lai2 [will/shall + come] = future (noun)

3. Verb + Object - the word has a verb-and-object relationship e.g. 放心 [set in place + heart] = to set one's mind at ease (verb)

4. Verb + Complement - the first component is a word and the second modifies it e.g 提高 ti2gao1 [raise+high] = to raise/advance (verb)

5. Suffix - the word contains a suffix e.g. 虫子chong2 zi5 = insect (noun)

6. Idiom - the word is an idiomatic expression e.g. 马上 ma3 shang4 = immediately (adverb) 

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August 04, 2009, 02:52 AM

And let's now take a moment to remember one of the boldest leaders of the 20th century.

De Gaulle

Is he recording a podcast?

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August 04, 2009, 12:14 AM


Yes,I'm interested in looking at this vocab and was going to get around to making a similar post myself.

"How could a brave small ghost be a coward?"

..good question.I think of it as...braveness quality in this person is small.I'm not sure if gui3 is referring to one's spirit here.So the whole term may be referring to someone with a cowardly spirit.

Yeah,I also thought it was very interesting the connection between east and west in the use of gall.Good observation mate.

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August 10, 2009, 12:11 AM

Here's the results to the survey.

Only seven people responded.

Five got it right - Charles De Gaulle, president of France in the sixties

One said Hitler

One said I don't know.

A bit of consolation for me since I was not the only one who thought the pic was Hitler.

Other comments included in the responses:

"I think your survey is flawed. Most folks that dont know will not respond. Why would they?"

"my first impression was that Pete was taking a shot at you. A younger person would not know Degaulle."

"I confess I did have to look it up.... at which point I got the joke! 哈! De Gaulle 的 gall! Pete is a funny guy."

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August 10, 2009, 12:19 AM

Hi paulinurus

I couldn't recognize him either, so I had no choice but to see the property of the photo. It says,


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August 10, 2009, 12:43 AM

de-gaulle, leader of the free french in ww2. defiance in the face of utter defeat. the french were split, vichy as opposed to de-gaulle. vichy had the backing of hitler, degaulle had the majority of the people.

paul, i would take it as a compliment.

i dont know;-)


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August 10, 2009, 02:16 AM


I learnt something new again from you.. 哈哈!I didn't know that right click/properties will show the details. Thanks

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August 08, 2009, 02:07 AM

Can you recognize the person in this photo?

I'm curious to know how many poddies can or cannot recognize this person posted by Pete.

Please pm me and tell me whether you can or cannot recognize the person in the photo. Do not post, otherwise you'll spoil the survey. Simply pm me and tell me the name of the person, or simply say "I don't know".

I'll post the results of the survey early next week