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Chinese Essential Grammar 2nd Ed

Chinese Essential Grammar 2nd Ed

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Like most languages, Chinese has a considerable number of conventional
phrases or constructions which habitual usage has made acceptable
despite apparent grammatical incompleteness. Similarly, Chinese makes
use of abbreviated expressions when allowed or demanded by the
context (i.e. the actual situation in which the utterance takes place).
There is also a tendency, already observed, for Chinese to omit words
from a sentence that are not strictly necessary for the meaning. This is
possible because the sentence is formulated within a cotext (i.e. the
spoken or written text that precedes and/or follows). For example, the
subject and/or object may be omitted in response to a question (see
17.2).There is, of course, likely to be some overlap between context
and cotext.

23.2

Conventional abbreviations as subjectless sentences

Conventional abbreviations normally take the form of subjectless
sentences and occur in the following types of expression:

(1)Thanks, good wishes, apologies, etc.:

, or

Xièxie,

(lit. thank-thank, or thank-thank you)

5

Xièxie nm.

Thanks, or Thank you.

, or

Bù xiè,

(lit. not thank, or not polite) You]re

5

Bù kèqi.

welcome. (in response to xièxie)

, orBié kèqi,

(lit. don]t polite) Don]t stand on
!5Bù yào kèqi.ceremony, or Make yourself at home.

5

Duìbuqm.

(lit. face not rise) Sorry.

/ 5Hln/zhbn

(lit. very/really be-apologetic)

bàoqiàn.

[I] must apologise.

3 5Gdngxm,

(lit. respectfully-[wish]-happy,

gdngxm.

respectfully-[wish]-happy)
Congratulations!

Others include: màn znu ‘take care’ (lit. slow walk) (said whenseeing
off a guest), xcnko le ‘you must be tired (after such a longjourney)/
sorry to have put you to so much trouble’ (lit. tiring p), ! yc
píng]an
‘have a safe/pleasant journey’ (lit. all way peace-safe), !

Abbrevi-
ation and
omission

182

III

Sentences

zhù nm shbntm jiànkang ‘wish you good health’ (lit. wish you body
healthy), ! jìng nm yc bbi ‘your health’! (lit. respectfully-[offer]
you one cup/glass), zàijiàn ‘goodbye’ (lit. again-see), gan bbi
‘bottoms up, cheers’ (lit. dry glass).

(2)Approval, commendation, etc.:

8

Duì!

(lit. correct) (You]re) right!

5

Hko.

(lit. good) That]s good/All right.

5

Bù yàojmn.

(lit. not important) It doesn]t matter.

Others include: méi guanxì ‘never mind/it doesn]t matter’ (lit. no
concern), méi wèntí ‘no problem’, zhbn qiko a ‘what a
coincidence’ (lit. really coincidental p), hko xiang a ‘how sweet
(of smell)/how tasty’ (lit. very fragrant/savoury p).

(3)Requests, warnings, etc.:

5

Qmngbiàn.

(lit. please convenient) Please
yourself, or Do as you please.

5

Qmng

(lit. please point-correct) Please make

zhmzhèng.

comments/corrections. (usually when
presenting a piece of writing, etc.
and politely seeking opinion)

5

Xikoxcn.

(lit. small concern) Be careful, or
Take care.

!5Jìde guan

(lit. remember close door)

mén.

Remember to close the door.

Others include: kàn hko ‘look out/watch out’ (lit. look well),
kaihuì le ‘let]s start (the meeting)’ (lit. start/hold meeting p),
jiùmìng a ‘help!’ (lit. save life p).

(4)Standard prohibitions, often found as public notices:

!8Qmng wù

(lit. please no inhale-smoke)

xcyan!

No smoking!

!

Qmng wù

(lit. please no over-all-zoor

8

suídì die lajc!throw rubbish) No litter!

!8Bù zhon

(lit. not allow stop car) No parking

tíng chb!

(on these premises).

!8Jìnzhm rù nèi!(lit. forbid enter inside) No entry.

183

(5)Proverbial sayings:

3

Huó dào lko,

(lit. live till old, learn till old) It]s

5

xué dào lko.

never too late to learn./You’re
never too old to learn

!3

Jm sun bù yù,

(lit. self that-which not want, do-

!5

wù shc yú rén.not impose on people) Do unto
others as you would be done by.

(6)Sentence starters, characteristic of oral or written narrative:

!"

XiKngbudào

(lit. think-not-reach can at

!"5huì zài zhèr

here bump into you) [I] never

jiàn dào nm.

thought/expected [I] would
see you here.

!

BùzhCdao ta

(lit. not know he tomorrow

! 5míngtian

come not come) [I] don]t know

lái bù lái.

whether he is coming tomorrow
or not.

KNngpà wn

(lit. afraid I catch-cold p) [I] am

5

gknmào le.

afraid I have caught a cold.

Others include: ...jìde...‘[I] remember . . .’ (lit. remember),
... bù liào...‘unexpectedly . . .’ (lit. not expect), ...tcng
shud ...
‘[I] have heard that . . .’ (lit. hear say).

(7)Statements about the weather (often including a change in
the weather, or a realisation about the state of the weather
on the part of the speaker – see discussion on sentence le in
Chapter 16):

5

Xià yo le.

(lit. fall rain p) It]s raining.

!5

ChE tàiyáng le.(lit. out sun p) The sun is out.

Others include: gua fbng le ‘it]s windy’, qm wù le
‘it]s getting foggy’, dk shuang le ‘it]s frosty/there]s a frost’,
dk léi le ‘it]s thundering’, shkn diàn le ‘it]s lightning’.

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