Coco
Some less common terms or sayings that you native speakers heard from Chinese Today I noticed a saying: She uses a range of discourse markers including some less common markers like ‘for sure’. I shouldn't have thought that 'for sure' is quite commonly used. And another example is the term 'greenhand' which is commonly used as 'green'. Thus,I want to know more such terms you've ever heard from Chinese(cos the two terms above are quite common in 'chinglish' teaching) and make sure I won't use them wrongly again. Thanks.
Feb 1, 2016 8:26 AM
Answers · 11
I'm so glad that you've mentioned 'greenhand'! I've seen a number of Chinese members use this non-existent word here on italki, and I'm fascinated by it. While it's common for non-native users of a language to mistranslate or misapply the meaning of a real word, it is very rare indeed for an entire nation to use a word which no native speaker of that language has ever heard of. As far as I can tell, Chinese speakers think that this word means 'beginner' or 'novice'. It doesn't. In fact, even 'green' doesn't have this meaning. 'Green', as an adjective, can mean innocent, in the sense of impressionable and gullible - it certainly isn't a synonym of 'novice'. A 'hand' is an old-fashioned term for a worker, and in the 19th century there were some instances of referring to new members of ship's crews as 'green hands' - usually two words. A search took me to an text of the American writer Mark Twain using the term (again as two words) meaning an unskilled boat-handler. I wonder if some Chinese translator read this text and presumed that this was a common and general word for a novice. Then from there, did it somehow end up in dictionaries and textbooks - misleading millions upon millions of Chinese people into thinking that this was a normal English word? If so, it's a mistake of quite epic proportions. Does anybody have any other ideas about how this colossal misunderstanding came about?
February 1, 2016
I'd never heard of "greenhand" before now, though I had heard of the similar term "greenhorn", which also means "an inexperienced person". "Green" is a well-known colloquial adjective for "inexperienced". I often use "for sure" e.g. like this "I think that learning Chinese would hard for anyone, and for sure, it would be hard for me as a native English speaker". I think I have seen students use "for sure" in wrong ways. It's not used in the same way as the word "surely" though the meanings are very similar. Feel free to ask more about this issue.
February 1, 2016
I'm sorry that I didnt gocha. Could you please rephrase it? Thanks.
February 1, 2016
Maybe so what , which means I don't care is used alot among English speakers
February 1, 2016
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Coco
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English
Learning Language
English