Chinese learns English

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Saint, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Verb and noun.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No. They are two different words! Advice is the noun, something you give someone to help them. Advise is the verb, the act of giving someone advice. They are even pronounced differently. The C in advice is voiceless, like the S in "say." The S in advise is voiced, like the Z in "zero." They are obviously related, but they are two different words with different meanings and different pronunciation.
    We all feel comfortable and natural with the characteristics of our own language, and feel uncomfortable and unnatural with someone else's. Chinese has its own idiosyncrasies too, which make it just as difficult to learn as English. It is very unusual among the world's languages for tone to be phonemic, as it is in Chinese, Vietnamese and a few other languages. To be told that ji means "chicken" and ji means "how many?" doesn't make sense to most people because they don't notice the difference in tones.

    English is easier than most languages because it doesn't have hundreds of inflections, different endings on words to change the tense, number, sex, etc. We have a few like boy/boys and pour/poured, but that's nothing compared to the inflections in Russian. They would drive you crazy. Ya govoryu, I speak. Ty govorish, you (singular) speak. On govorit, he speaks. My govorim, we speak. Vy govoritye, you (plural) speak. Oni govoryat, they speak.
    In this case it's just British spelling vs. American spelling. But you can't depend on that to be a consistent difference. As we just discussed, "advise" and "advice" are two different words, pronounced differently, in both British and American English.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Formulas or formulae ?
    Why winword spelling checker indicates formulae is wrong.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    formulae is the Latin plural of formula. It is losing favor.

    Other common Latin plurals that are acceptable include bacterium/bacteria (not bacteriums, though technically this would be OK); alumnus/alumni (not alumnuses, which no one uses). Note, most people (since they don't know Latin) seem to use alumni incorrectly, using it as a singular: "I am an alumni of that university" when they are either an alumnus (male) or alumna (female) of that university.
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    As Walter notes, "formulae" is acceptable and your spell checker is oversimplified. But outside of a scientific treatise it would be regarded as pompous or pedantic. English has been steadily normalizing irregularities. Nobody says "foci" instead of "focuses" or "vortices" instead of "vortexes" anymore. Of course there is a small backlash, e.g., historically unfounded "snuck" instead of "sneaked" or "dove" instead of dived. And we all enjoy playing with inflections. "After making sure there was a fresh box of Kleenices in my car, I took the kids to the zoo and they loved the walrera and the hippopotamodes."
    These days "alum" is acceptable for either. But you have to be careful to put the accent on a-LUM, becaus the other kind of AL-um is aluminum potassium sulfate, K2SO4⋅Al2(SO4)3⋅24H2O.
  9. Saint Valued Senior Member

    can not or "cannot" ?
    Now I notice that most writers use cannot instead of can not.
  10. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member


    I prefer the contraction: can't
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    "Cannot" is preferred. That's what I enforce in most cases when I'm editing.

    The exceptions are usually in sentences in which, if you were speaking aloud, you would accent the "not" instead of the "can."
    • I can not understand why you won't let me go skydiving, Mother.
    • My dog can not walk past that fence post without peeing on it.
    Some authorities point out another dichotomy. "Cannot" is absolute. It allows no possibility of exception.
    • Horses cannot fly.
    • We cannot send an astronaut to Jupiter.
    Whereas "can not" is more equivalent to "should not" or "ought not."
    • I can not ever take a sip of beer because I'm a recovering alcoholic.
    • You can not continue to let the dog chew on your shoes.
  12. Saint Valued Senior Member

    I just want to know the reason why do you allow to join can and not together?
    If it is correct, why not we also allow the following combinations?
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I just want to know the reason why you allow "can" and "not" to be joined together.
    If it is correct, why do we not also allow the following combinations?
    Languages are not designed by scientists. They evolve naturally, and this evolution is guided unconsciously by people who are not scholars. As a result, every language is full of illogical constructions. Why do we say in Spanish, Yo no tengo nada, literally "I do not have nothing"? In French, when we ask "What is that?" why do we say, Qu'est-ce que c'est que ça?, literally, "What is that which that is which that?"

    Better yet, I should ask you why, in Chinese, we say Wo you liang ge jiao ta che for "I have two bicycles," instead of Wo you er ge jiao ta che?

    If you want a language that was designed by a scholar and is therefore highly logical, you'll have to learn Esperanto.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  14. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    The contractions are simpler and are what is commonly used, and so the non-contracted version did not catch on. Here are the common forms for the above:


    Essentially, if you want to emphasize the "not", then you don't use the contraction.
  15. delaford321 Registered Senior Member

    That's a great to achieve it is another story. I don't believe it will be impossible for you, but I do believe it will probably take you a longer time than you expect and involve many frustrations along the way. Not sure if it'll help you any, but I've found "owl at Purdue" to be useful to my students, it's more based on research writing tho, so I might not be useful. Hmm...have you taken writing classes anywhere? or have access to higher level classes now?
  16. Saint Valued Senior Member


    Two, in the sense of number - er
    Two, in the sense of "two things" - liang

    Thousand-ten thousands- qian-wan, means MUST.
    e.g., ni qian-wan yao ji de, You must remember.
    I am not sure why 1k+10k can mean MUST in chinese language.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  17. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Ten thousands years, OR
    Ten thousand years?

    In writing cheque/check, we should write:
    1) Ten thousands dollars,
    2) Ten-thousand dollars, OR
    3) Ten thousand dollars?
  18. John99 Banned Banned

    Red is correct. Cheque is British version.
  19. Saint Valued Senior Member

    When do we use "thousands", "hundreds" ?
  20. Saint Valued Senior Member

    She died on 15th May 1980. Or
    She dies on 15th May 1980.

    I read that the verb "die" mostly used as present tense. Why?
    It is an historical event about the death of a person, happened yesterday, why do we not use past tense?
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Yes, I know that. But why is 2 unique? We don't have two different words for 3, 4, 5, etc.
    When you find the answer to that, please tell me why "east-west" means "thing."

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Doesn't the word for "friend," peng-you, have an unusual and illogical origin also?
    Never use a plural form when forming a number.
    As I already mentioned, 1) is wrong because it contains a plural.

    Hyphens are more complicated to explain, especially because people don't always use them correctly. The correct form for 10,000 is "ten thousand," not "ten-thousand." There is no hyphen in any of these constructions:
    • three hundred
    • six thousand
    • fifty thousand
    • eight hundred thousand
    • twelve million
    • seven hundred million
    • eighteen billion
    • four hundred trillion sixty billion seven hundred twenty million
    • etc...
    The only place where a hyphen is used in spelling out numbers is in the series 21-29, 31-39, ... 81-89, 91-99. Twenty-one, thirty-six, fifty-eight, ninety-nine. (Don't ask why we do this, it's just the way we do it. And as I mentioned, a lot of people do it wrong.)

    This includes these numbers anywhere they occur.
    • 26,000 = twenty-six thousand
    • 61,235,086,154 = sixty-one billion two hundred thirty-five million eighty-six thousand one hundred fifty-four.
    Perhaps you count the large numbers the British way, but even then there are no hyphens: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = one thousand quadrillion, not one-thousand quadrillion. (In America we call this "one octillion" but that's a different topic.)

    I should also mention another mistake that many Americans make with numbers. It's so common that it even shows up in important documents, but it's still wrong. 521 is read "five hundred twenty-one," not "five hundred and twenty-one." There should never be an and in the reading of a number.
    The simple answer: not when counting. One thousand, two thousand, twenty thousand, six hundred eighty-seven thousand. You say "thousands" when you're using it as a noun, not a number.

    "There were thousands of people at the President's funeral." "There are billions of galaxies in the universe." "There are hundreds of species of rodents." Notice the "of," that's your clue that this is not a number. It's no different from saying "dozens of flavors" (a dozen = 12) or "scores of years ago" (a score = 20) or "a gross of pencils" (a gross = 144).

    Now don't go looking into old books! It used to be acceptable to say "three score and ten years" to mean 70, using "score" as if it were a number, but we don't write that way anymore.

    On the other hand, we still sometimes use "dozen" as a number since it is so commonly used in business. "If you're going to the grocery store would you please buy two dozen eggs?"

    If this is giving you a headache, be grateful that you're not learning French, where 95 is "four twenties fifteen," or German, where 542 is "five hundred two and forty."
    Not in American English. We say "She died..." I've never seen it that way in British English either. I think you may be reading biographies or historical accounts, where writers sometimes put everything in the present tense to make the reader feel closer to the story.

    "In 1762 John's loyal British father dies, so in 1776 he fights on the American side in their revolution. In 1792 he is elected to the Senate, in 1804 he is appointed to the Supreme Court, and in 1819 he dies and is celebrated as a hero and a statesman."
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  22. Saint Valued Senior Member

  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    In America we refer to all fresh fruits and vegetables as produce. It is a noun in the same category as food, water, air, meat, etc.: It does not require a definite article. "Our supermarket stocks canned goods, fresh meat and produce."

    Also, it is pronounced differently from the verb. The accent goes on the first syllable: PROH-dooss, rather than pruh-DOOSS. In the standard British dialect I would imagine they say PROH-dyooss (if they use the word at all) since the verb is pro-DYOOSS.

    We have discussed many words like this in this thread, in which the stress falls on a different syllable depending whether it's used as a noun or a verb. This is probably not easy for you to distinguish, since in Chinese stress is not very often used and in general all syllables have equal length and loudness.

    We also use tone to indicate stress, which must be extremely confusing to a speaker of Chinese.

Share This Page