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Differences between Chinese and English

中英之间的不同之处.jpg

There are some basic major differences between English and Chinese. It is important to be aware of the major differences between the two languages in order to reduce your mistakes in Chinese and also to make your expression in Chinese much better and fluent.

英语和汉语之间存在着一些基本的主要差异。 为了在学中文时少犯错、使你的中文表达更好更流利,了解这些主要差异是很重要的。

 

1. English emphasizes the structure, while Chinese focuses on the meaning.

英语重在结构,中文重在意义。

 

In English, it is very common to see one long sentence with long modifier, and use of pronouns like “we”, “she”, “they” in addition to “that” and “which”, to avoid recurrences. The sentence may be long and complicated, but it is still clear enough to understand. In Chinese, the situation is very different where a long sentence in Chinese would be very complicated and cannot be understood properly. Therefore, in Chinese we can only find short sentences or long sentences divided to short phrases separated by comma.

在英语里,常常会遇到一个长句还带着很长的修饰语,并且使用如“我们”、“她”和“他们”以及“那个”、“哪个”这样的代词来避免重复。句子可能很长也很复杂,但还是可以清晰理解的。中文里的情况就不一样了,一句很长的中文可以是非常复杂而无法被正确理解的。因此,中文里我们只会发现短句,或者说,长句被拆成短语并用逗号隔开的情况。

 

English sentences are usually long and Chinese sentences are usually short. Let’s look at some examples here:

英语里的句子通常很长而中文句子一般比较短。我们看看以下的例子:

 

A. The sights of Beijing are so numerous that one can spend several weeks here and leave without having seen all of the important ones.

北京的名胜很多,一个人就是在这儿呆上几个星期,离开时也没能把主要的景点看完。

(běi jīng de míng shèng hěn duō ,yī gè rén jiù shì zài zhè ér dāi shàng jǐ gè xīng qī ,lí kāi shí yě méi néng bǎ zhǔ yào de jǐng diǎn kàn wán。)

 

B. The Great Wall traverses plains and mountains being at some points 1,300 meters above sea level. The wall averaged 7.8 meters in height and 5.8 meters in width at the top.

长城跨越平原高山,在某些地方海拔1,300米,平均高7.8米,顶宽5.8米。

(cháng chéng kuà yuè píng yuán gāo shān ,zài mǒu xiē dì fāng hǎi bá 1,300mǐ ,píng jūn gāo 7.8mǐ ,dǐng kuān 5.8mǐ。)

 

2. In English the passive voice is very commonly used. Unlike English, Chinese usually uses the active voice.

英语常用被动态,而中文一般使用主动态。

 

There are ways to show the passive tense in Chinese, and there are more specific words you would use to show that. So let’s take a look at some examples of the Chinese active voice to translate English passive voice:

中文里有许多方式可以表达被动态,也有许多具体的词汇可以用来表达。看看以下一些中文里表达英语里被动态的例子:

 

A. Tea is drunk widely all over the world.

世界各地的人们都喝茶。

(shì jiè gè dì rén men dōu hē chá)

 

B. Sometimes the tables were laid outside in the gardens of stately homes.

有时也把餐桌摆到豪门大宅的花园里。

(yǒu shí yě bǎ cān zhuō bǎi dào háo mén dà zhái de huā yuán lǐ)

 

C. Parties are held when the weather is nice.

人们一般在天公作美时举办派对。

(tiān gōng zuó měi shí kě yǐ kàn dào xún cháng bǎi xìng jiā de yě cān)

 

D. Bananas are widely believed to grow on trees.

人们普遍认为香蕉是结在树上的果实。

(pǔ biàn rèn wéi xiāng jiāo shì jié zài shù shàng de guǒ shí)

 

It must be pointed out that… 必须指出….(bì xū zhǐ chū)


It must be admitted that… 必须承认…(bì xū chéng rèn)

 

It is imagined that… 人们认为….(rén men rèn wéi)

 

It cannot be denied that… 不可否认…….(bú kě fǒu rèn)

 

3. In Chinese, idioms and short four characters expressions are very widely used to make the expression more vivid, live and compact.

中文里成语和四字句的表达经常出现,使表达更加生动、活泼和简洁。

 

English is not so rich in this kind of short idioms and expressions. In English, idioms are used scarcely because it tends be more specific and direct. Here are some to read and compare:

英语里没有如此丰富的惯用语表达形式。惯用语在英文里较少使用,因为那样会显得更明确和直接。阅读下面的句子,比较看看:

 

A. Sincere Buddhists take vows of celibacy and abstinence from meat and wine, wearing no fur or woolen garments and shave their heads.

虔诚的僧人立誓禁欲,不沾酒肉,不着皮毛,削发修行。

(qián chéng de sēng rén lì shì jìn yù ,bú zhān jiǔ ròu ,bú zhuó pí máo ,xuē fà xiū xíng。)

 

B. China is a vast country.

中国地域辽阔。 

(zhōng guó dì yù liáo kuò。)

 

C. He always looks very funny.

他的样子总是滑稽可笑。 

(tā de yàng zi zǒng shì huá jī kě xiào。)

 

D. In retrospect, the past 100 years of human existence have been extremely fantastic and extremely frightening as well.

回首过去一百年,人类世界可说精彩绝伦,但也惊心动魄。

(huí shǒu guò qù yī bǎi nián ,rén lèi shì jiè kě shuō jīng cǎi jué lún ,dàn yě jīng xīn dòng pò。)

 

4. English widely uses abstract nouns while Chinese usually uses concrete nouns.

英语经常使用抽象名词而中文一般使用实体名词。

 

Disintegration 土崩瓦解 (tǔ bēng wǎ jiě)

Land slides and tiles disintegrate

 

Total exhaustion 筋疲力尽 (jīn pí lì jìn)

The muscles are weary and the strength has been used up

 

Careful consideration 深思熟虑(shēn sī shú lǜ)

Deep thinking and careful thought

 

Perfect harmony 水乳交融(shuǐ rǔ jiāo róng)

Mix well like milk and water

 

Feed on fancies 画饼充饥(huà bǐng chōng jī)

To allay one’s hunger using a picture of a cake

 

With great eagerness 如饥似渴(rú jī sì kě)

Like hunger as thirst

 

Lack of perseverance 三天打鱼,两天晒网(sān tiān dǎ yú ,liǎng tiān shài wǎng)

Spent three days fishing and two days drying nets

 

Make a little contribution 添砖加瓦(tiān zhuān jiā wǎ)

Contribute bricks and tiles for a building

 

On the verge of destruction 危在旦夕(wēi zài dàn xī)

The crisis is in the coming daybreak or in the coming dusk.

 

5. In English words often being omitted to avoid recurrences and to make the sentence shorter and simpler. In Chinese, in contrast, words are generally not being omitted and instead may be repeated.

英语里经常省略一些词以避免重复出现的情况,从而让句子更短更简单。相反地,中文里一般不会省略词汇而可能是重复使用。

 

It is repeated in order to give the listener or reader clarity of what is being stated. Chinese has a lot of the similar sounding words and therefore need to distinguish the words by repeating the words in a specific sentence frame. Let’s look at some examples:

重复使用的话是为了让听众或者读者清晰了解阐述的内容。中文有许多发音相似的词,因此需要在特定的句子结构里重复使用字词以便区分意思。看看以下的例子:

 

1. Ambition is the mother of destruction as well as of evil.

野心不仅是罪恶的根源,同时也是毁灭的根源。 

(yě xīn bù jǐn shì zuì è de gēn yuán ,tóng shí yě shì huǐ miè de gēn yuán)

 

2. Reading exercises one’s eyes; speaking, one’s tongue; while writing, one’s mind.

阅读训练人的眼睛,说话训练人的口齿,写作训练人的思维。 

(yuè dú xùn liàn rén de yǎn jīng ,shuō huà xùn liàn rén de kǒu chǐ ,xiě zuò xùn liàn rén de sī wéi)

 

3. One boy is a boy, two boys half a boy, three boys no boy.

一个和尚挑水喝,两个和尚抬水喝,三个和尚没水喝。 

(yī gè hé shàng tiāo shuǐ hē ,liǎng gè hé shàng tái shuǐ hē ,sān gè hé shàng méi shuǐ hē)

 

6. English puts more emphasis on the first part of the sentence while Chinese put the emphasis on the last part of the sentence.

英语里重心在句子的第一部分而中文里重心在句子的最后部分。

 

This characteristic is especially apparent in sentences, which include logic with drawing conclusions or expression of results. In English, the conclusion is described first and the facts are described at the end of the sentence. In Chinese it is the opposite. First, the facts will be described then the results, conclusions, and etc. For example:

该特征是在句子中特别明显,其中包括总结性的逻辑词汇或者陈述结果的表述。英文里,开头先是陈述结论,然后在句子的后面部分陈述要点。中文里则相反。首先是陈列要点,然后再是结果、结论等等。例如:

 

A. I was all the most delighted when it proved possible to reinstate the visit so quickly as a result of the initiative of your Government.

由于贵国政府的提议,才得以这样快地重新实现访问。这使我感到特别高兴。 

(yóu yú guì guó zhèng fǔ de tí yì ,cái dé yǐ zhè yàng kuài de chóng xīn shí xiàn fǎng wèn 。zhè shǐ wǒ gǎn dào tè bié gāo xìng。)

 

B. His assertion that “it was difficult, if not impossible, for a people to enjoy its basic rights unless it was able to determine freely its political status and to ensure freely its economic, social and cultural development” was now scarcely contested.

如果一个民族不能自由地决定其政治地位,不能自由地保证其经济、社会和文化的发展,要享受其基本权利,即使可能,也是不容易的。这一论断几乎是无可置辩的了。 

(rú guǒ yī gè mín zú bù néng zì yóu de jué dìng qí zhèng zhì dì wèi ,bù néng zì yóu de bǎo zhèng qí jīng jì 、shè huì hé wén huà de fā zhǎn ,yào xiǎng shòu qí jī běn quán lì ,jí shǐ bú shì bù kě néng ,yě shì bù róng yì de 。zhè yī lùn duàn jī hū shì wú kě zhì biàn de le。)

2016-06-21

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