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Mandarin: 2days,2weeks,2months,2years

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smallwhite
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 3617 days ago

537 posts - 1045 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin, French, Spanish

 
 Message 113 of 118
06 July 2015 at 6:59pm | IP Logged 
I've always had the impression that Chinese and English actually have very similar word order (except for a few major but simple differences like the temporal adverb starting a sentence in Chinese but ending a sentence in English) (今天 I went to school vs I went to school TODAY). So that it shouldn't be too hard for a beginner to form sentences in Chinese if s/he has access to a dictionary. But then that's probably only if you express your idea in the most simple, direct, non-idiomatic, un-eloquent, 6-year-old way possible. Eg.

1. "That is a flattering dress" -- too idiomatic to translate word-for-word.
2. "That dress makes you look pretty" -- can be translated word-for-word.

1. "I'm under the impression that..." -- too idiomatic.
2. "I think..." -- can be translated word-for-word.

-

I wonder if Google Translate is any better than you translating yourself. If you translate yourself, your sentence might end up with a cross between English and Chinese grammar, both of which are comprehensible to me. Whereas if you feed that into Google Translate, you will get a cross between English, Chinese and Garbage grammar. And I haven't learnt Garbage yet!
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Snowflake
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4268 days ago

1032 posts - 1233 votes 
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 114 of 118
06 July 2015 at 7:48pm | IP Logged 
smallwhite wrote:
I've always had the impression that Chinese and English actually have very
similar word order (except for a few major but simple differences like the temporal adverb
starting a sentence in Chinese but ending a sentence in English)



I wish.... a friend was trying to understand why my Mandarin grammar is so bad.
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rdearman
Senior Member
United Kingdom
rdearman.orgRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3545 days ago

881 posts - 1812 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French, Mandarin

 
 Message 115 of 118
06 July 2015 at 9:41pm | IP Logged 
@smallwhite: I think if I can communicate as well as a 6 year old Chinese child in the limited amount of time I've given myself as a target, then I'll be a happy man! I have to say however I seem to have an innate ability to both understand and produce "garbage grammar" in just about any language I choose, including English

@snowflake: I find that comment intriguing actually because one of the reasons I selected Mandarin instead of learning Japanese was that I was told the grammatical structure was very similar. I'm guessing that your experience is counter to the prevailing opinion that English & Mandarin grammar are similar?
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Snowflake
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4268 days ago

1032 posts - 1233 votes 
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 116 of 118
09 July 2015 at 7:15pm | IP Logged 
...haven't analyzed this in any depth so here are some randomn thoughts, unsure if any of
this will really answer your question.

I don't know Japanese and can't comment on that. That said, my husband and adult kids tell
me that my writings (long letters, and the like) tend to drive them a bit crazy as my
English grammar is rather poor. Since I made it through university with my less than
wonderful English grammar and had to constantly write essays when there, I tend to be
rather unconcerned.

A Taiwanese friend a while back told me that my Mandarin is similar to Chinglish. He
recognizes English grammar patterns in my Mandarin. So instead of speaking English using
Mandarin grammar which is supposed to be a characteristic of Chinglish, I tend to speak
Mandarin using English grammar. Hopefully I can break that.

The Shanghainese friend previously mentioned who was trying to figure out why my Mandarin
grammar is so poor, said that a few weeks ago. Since I spoke Toishanese as a kid she felt
my grammar should be decent. She feels that Cantonese and Mandarin grammar are the
same...I tell Mandarin speakers that my parents are from Guangdong and usually don't
mention being Toishanese. I feel that my Toishanese was never that great to begin with but
given the expectations native Mandarin speakers seem to have, I'd rather not get into that
conversation.
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smallwhite
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 3617 days ago

537 posts - 1045 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin, French, Spanish

 
 Message 117 of 118
10 July 2015 at 12:20pm | IP Logged 
I was just referring to word order.

I will translate Snowflake's message, adding notes ONLY when the word order is different. The spaces in the Chinese version correspond to those in the English version (but I need to hyphenate "tend to" to make it one word).

I don't know Japanese and can't comment on that.
我 不 懂 日本語 所以 不能 on that 評論. (adverb goes before verb)

That said, my husband and adult kids tell me
[That said (idiom)], 我的 丈夫 和 成年 子女 告訴 我

that my writings (long letters, and the like) tend-to drive them a bit crazy
說 我的 寫作 (長的 信, and the like [idiom]) 傾向 使 他們 有點 瘋.

as my English grammar is rather poor.
因為 我的 英文 文法 頗 差.

As you can see, only 3 phrases needed special attention. 2 of them were idioms ("that said", "and the like") and 1 was the adverb. So, English and Chinese word order look very similar to me.
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rdearman
Senior Member
United Kingdom
rdearman.orgRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3545 days ago

881 posts - 1812 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French, Mandarin

 
 Message 118 of 118
13 July 2015 at 10:27pm | IP Logged 
OK, not a lot going on this week other than ANKI and some conversations with smallwhite who has probably worked out just how slow I really am. However I've been given some really great advice from my afore mentioned guru and I'll be doing more work on my sentence structures.

I have managed a couple of basic "hello, how are you" type conversations in spoken Mandarin, but they are short and abrupt due to my very low level. I'm guessing that if I work hard I might soon get to a negative A1. :)




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