9 minutes reading time (1755 words)

New Mandarin Chinese Lesson: Cultural Differences: Nali Nali

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We're excited to announce that 席爱娜 Xi Aina (Diana) has just published "Cultural Differences: Nali Nali", a new Intermediate level Mandarin Chinese lesson, on Language Mentor! 

Lesson Script

Nali Nali
Nǎlǐ Nǎlǐ
哪里哪里

A:

You speak Chinese really well.
Nǐ Zhōngwén shuō de zhēn hǎo!
你中文说得真好!

B:

Not really!
Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ!
哪里哪里!
Note: Literally "Where? Where?" - a modest response.

A:

Previously, Chinese people often said, "nali, nali", ...
Yǐqián, Zhōngguórén jīngcháng shuō "nǎlǐ nǎlǐ", ...
以前,中国人经常说"哪里哪里",……

however, now - people who speak this way - more and more rare.
búguò, xiànzài zhèyàng shuō de rén yuèláiyuè shǎo le.
不过,现在这样说的人越来越少了。

Especially - is our young people. Seldom hear them say "nali nali".
Tèbié shì wǒmen niánqīngrén. Hěnshǎo tīngdào tāmen shuō "nǎlǐ nǎlǐ".
特别是我们年轻人。很少听到他们说"哪里哪里"。

B:

Oh, I'm very amazed to hear this!
Ō, tīngdào zhègè wǒ hěn jīngyà!
噢,听到这个我很惊讶!

Why? Is because - received western cultural influence?
Wèishénme? Shì yīnwéi shòu le xīfāng wénhuà de yìngxiàng ma?
为什么?是因为受了西方文化的影响吗?

A:

I feel that this is - among them - one reason.
Wǒ juéde zhè shì qízhōng de yígè yuányīn.
我觉得这是其中的一个原因。

At present in China, if you say to a young person ...
Xiànzài zài Zhōngguó, rúguǒ nǐ duì yígè niánqīngrén shuō ...
现在在中国,如果你对一个年轻人说……

"wow, your cloths - really pretty." ...
"wā, nǐde yīfu zhēn piàoliang." ...
" 哇,你的衣服真漂亮。" ……

many people - all will say "thank you".
hěnduō rén dōu huì shuō "xièxie".
很多人都会说"谢谢"。

If you say to them, "your English - not bad!" ...
Rúguǒ nǐ duì tāmen shuō "nǐde Yīngwén búcuò!" ...
如果你对他们说"你的英文不错!" ……

some people will say "thanks" ...
yìxiē rén huì shuō "xièxie", ...
一些人会说"谢谢",……

some people will say "common" or "just so-so".
yìxiē rén huì shuō "yìbānyìbān" huòzhě "mǎmǎhuhu".
一些人会说"一般一般"或者"马马虎虎"。
Note: Literally, "some people will say common-common or horse-horse-tiger-tiger"

B:

What does "yibanyiban" mean?
"Yìbānyìbān" shì shénme yìsi?
"一般一般"是什么意思?

A:

"Yiban" means "common".
"Yìbān" de yìsī shì "common".
"一般"的意思是"common"。

B:

"Mamahuhu" means horse and tiger?
"Mǎmǎhuhu" shì mǎ hé lǎohǔ de yìsi ma?
"马马虎虎"是马和老虎的意思吗?

A:

Yes.
Shìde.
是的。

B:

Then why - can "mamahuhu" express - "do so-so"?
Nà wèishénme "mǎmǎhuhu" kěyǐ biǎoshì "zuòde yìbān" ne?
那为什么"马马虎虎"可以表示"做得一般"呢?

A:

I guess you don't understand this.
Zhè nǐ jiù bùdǒng le ba?
这你就不懂了吧?

Listen to me tell you a story.
Tīng wǒ gěi nǐ jiǎng gè gùshi.
听我给你讲个故事。

Long ago, there was a painter - because careless, ...
Cóngqián, yǒu yígè huàjiā, yīnwèi cūxīn, ...
从前,有一个画家,因为粗心,……

painted a tiger head - horse body - picture - hung in home.
huà le yígè hǔtóu mǎshén de huà guà zài jiā lǐ.
画了一个虎头马身的画挂在家里。

Later, his son - because ...
Hòulái, tāde érzī yīnwèi ...
后来,他的儿子因为……

mistakenly took tiger to be horse - and killed by tiger.
cuò bǎ lǎohǔ dāngchéng mǎ ér bèi lǎohǔ shā le.
错把老虎当成马而被老虎杀了。

He very sad - felt son's death ...
Tā hěn shāngxīn, juéde érzi de sǐ ...
他很伤心,觉得儿子的死……

is self's fault - not serious - carelessly draw bad picture.
shì guài zìjǐ bú rènzhēn, cūxīn huà cuò le huà.
是怪自己不认真,粗心画错了画。

From this moment on - "horse-tiger" thus changed into ...
Cóngcǐ yǐhòu, "mǎhu" jiù biànchéng ...
从此以后,"马虎"就变成……

meaning - careless - not serious, ...
cūxīn, bú rènzhēn de yìsi le, ...
粗心,不认真的意思了,……

Furthermore, horse-horse-tiger-tiger also came to mean - to do something in a so-so way.
Ér mǎmǎhuhu yě jiù biànchéng zuòde yìbān de yìsi le.
而马马虎虎也就变成做得一般的意思了。

B:

Oh, also quite interesting.
Ō, hái tǐng yǒuyìsi de.
噢,还挺有意思的。

Can I ask you another question?
Wǒ kěyǐ zài wèn nǐ yígè wèntí ma?
我可以再问你一个问题吗?

A:

Of course can. What do you want to ask?
Dāngrán kěyǐ. Nǐ yào wèn shénme?
当然可以。你要问什么?

B:

Yesterday, one of my colleagues told me ...
Zuótián, wǒde yígè tóngshì gàosù wǒ ...
昨天,我的一个同事告诉我 ……

she felt - can work with me - very lucky ...
tā juéde néng hé wǒ yìqǐ gōngzuò hěn xìngyùn ...
他觉得能和我一起工作很幸运 ……

A:

Oh, it looks like you are a good work partner.
Ō, kànlái nǐ shì yígè hǎode gōngzuò huǒbàn.
噢,看来你是一个好的工作伙伴。

B:

but I didn't know - should say what.
dànshì, wǒ bù zhīdào gāi shuō shénme.
但是,我不知道该说什么。

I felt a little embarrassed.
Wǒ juéde yǒudiǎnr bùhǎoyìsi.
我觉得有点儿不好意思。

In this kind of situation what should I say?
Zài zhèyàng de qíngkuàng xià wǒ gāi shuō shénme?
在这样的情况下我该说什么?

A:

Let me think. Yes... you can say ...
Ràng wǒ xiǎngxiǎng. En... nǐ kěyǐ shuō ...
让我想想。嗯…… 你可以说……

"Actually, I still have a lot of limitations, ...
"Qíshí wǒ háiyǒu hěnduō bùzúzhīchù, ...
"其实我还有很多不足之处,……
Note: bùzúzhīchù can be translated as "limitations", "shortcomings" or "deficiencies".

Hope - in the future you can - much advise."
xīwàng nǐ yǐhòu néng duōduō zhǐjiào."
希望您以后能多多指教。"
Note: "Duōduō zhǐjiào" is a commonly used phrase. Literally it means "much ~ much ~ point (out mistake) ~ teach". Idiomatically it is a request for guidance and, perhaps, mentoring.

Or, you also can say, "I - also the same."
Huòzhě, nǐ yě kěyǐ shuō, "Wǒ yě yíyàng."
或者,你也可以说,"我也一样。"

Actually - this - want to look at circumstances.
Qíshí, zhè yào kàn qíngkuàng.
其实,这要看情况。

If she is - long-term employee, ...
Rúguǒ tā shì lǎo yuángōng, ...
如果他/她是老员工,……

you'd like to show respect to her - first one - better.
nǐ xiǎng duì tā biǎoshì zūnjìng, dìyīgè gèng hǎo.
你想对他/她表示尊敬,第一个更好。

If your relationship - very good, ...
Rúguǒ nǐmen guānxi hěnhǎo, ...
如果你们关系很好,……

you'd like to show your confidence - also keep a good relationship with them, ...
nǐ xiǎng biǎoxiàn nǐde zìxìn bìng hé tā bǎochí hǎode guānxì, ...
你想表现你的自信并和他/她保持好的关系,……
Note: Literally... you ~ want ~ show ~ your ~ confidence ~ and ~ with ~ them ~ preserve/maintain ~ good ~ relationship

the second one is better.
dìèrgè gèng hǎo.
第二个更好。

If it was twenty years ago, ...
Rúguǒ shì érshí nián qián, ...
如果是二十年前,……

maybe - major part of people - will use the first response, ...
kěnéng dàbùfen rén huì yòng dìyīgè huídá, ...
可能大部分人会用第一个回答, ……

but now - not the same.
kě xiànzài bù yīyàng le.
可现在不一样了。

B:

It looks like Chinese culture is changing very quickly.
Kànlái, Zhōngguó de wénhuà biànhuà hěn kuài a.
看来,中国的文化变化很快啊。

A:

Right, definitely is like this!
Duì, quèshí shì zhèyàng!
对,确实是这样!


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Creative Commons License

​This article and the lesson that it presents are both licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

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