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Grammatical differences between spoken and written Chinese

spoken chinese, written chinese, grammatical differences


In ancient China, Classical Chinese, the traditional style of written Chinese, was, for a while, largely separated from the spoken language. Now however, written and spoken Chinese are more alike, although compared with some other languages, there are still some obvious differences.

在古代中国,曾经有一段时间,书面语(文言文)与口语有着很大的不同。但是如今,两者的差异大大减少了。但与其他语言相比,中文的口语和书面语仍然有着明显的差异。

 

Let's take a look at these words as an example:

请看以下例句:


"蹓跶" (liū dá)——"散步" (sàn bù)

"聊" (liáo)——"谈" (tán)

"信" (xìn)——"函" (hán)

"剃头" (tì tóu) ——"理发" (lǐ fà)

“脑瓜儿" (nǎo guār) ——"脑筋" (nǎo jīn)

"压根儿" (yà gēn r)——"根本" (gēn běn)

"大伙儿" (dà huǒr)——"大家" (dà jiā)

  

The former words are often used in spoken Chinese, as they are more humorous; the latter are more commonly used in written Chinese, which is more serious and elegant. 

以上例句中,前半部分通常为口语,因为这些词语听起来更加幽默,后半部分则通常为书面语,因为它们听起来更加庄重优雅。

Some words in the style of Classical Chinese are still used in writing today, such as the following monosyllabic words: 乃 (nǎi), 尚 (shàng), 倘 (tǎng), 若 (ruò). and two – syllable words, or bigrams, such as 惠存 (huì cún),垂询 (chuí xún), 切切 (qiè qiè) and 雅正 (yǎ zhèng). 

如今,书面语中仍然保留着一些文言文词语。例如,单音节词有“乃(nǎi)”、 “尚(shàng)”、“倘(tǎng)”、“若(ruò)”;双音节词有“惠存(huì cún)”,“垂询(chuí xún)”, “切切(qiè qiè)” 及“雅正(yǎ zhèng)”等。

In comparison, 儿化音 (ér huà yīn), the addition of the 'r' 儿 to certain words, is only part of the spoken language and is never found in formal written Chinese. 

然而,儿化音(在某个字后面加上“儿”字)则仅在口语中使用。

Alternatively, there are also some conjunctive bigrams, such as 但是 (dàn shì), 虽然 (suī rán), 可是 (kě shì), 仍旧 (réng jiù) and 如果 (rú guǒ) etc, that are often simplified to monosyllabic words using the initial character like, 但 (dàn), 虽 (suī), 可 (kě), 仍 (réng) and 如 (rú).

另外,有一些双音节连词通常简化为单音节词。例如“但是(dàn shì)”、 “虽然(suī rán)”, “可是(kě shì)”, “仍旧(réng jiù)”及“如果(rú guǒ)”等词可以直接用“但(dàn)”, “虽(suī)”, “可(kě)”, “仍(réng)”及“如(rú)”代替。

 

Chinese Grammar

中文语法

 

In Chinese grammar, because of the specific context, spoken Chinese will not always follow the rules as strictly as written Chinese does. There are lots of short and elliptical sentences that are commonly spoken.

由于特殊语境的影响,中文口语并不像书面语那样需要严格遵守语法规则。在口语中人们通常会使用各种短句、省略句。

Here are some commonly seen examples:

以下是常见的例句:

 

Elliptical Sentences

省略句

 

Example sentences:

例句:

 

(你) 怎么了? ( (nǐ) zěn me le) = What's wrong (with you)?

 

(我的) 腿受伤了,(我) 走不动了。( (wǒ de) tuǐ shòu shāng le, (wǒ) zǒu bú dòng le)

(My) legs hurt, (I) can not walk.

  

(要是) 你不去我也不去。 ( (yào shi) nǐ bú qù wǒ yě bú qù.) = (If) you do not go, neither shall I.

 

(不管) 谁去都行。 ( (bù guǎn) shéi qù dōu xíng.) = It is OK, (no matter) who goes.

  

倒 (一) 杯茶 (给) 我(喝)。 (dào (yī) bēi chá (gěi) wǒ hē) = Please pour (a) cup of tea (for) me (to drink).

 

The reason why, in spoken Chinese these sentences are shortened, is that If the speaker spoke the words or character in the parentheses, it would make the sentence sound clumsy. The equivalent of these in English, might be the use of slang or contractions. For example, using 'dunno' instead of 'I don't know'.

括号里的字词会使句子变得很生硬,因此在口语中人们通常会省略这些词。这和在英文中使用俚语或缩略形式是一样的。例如,在口语中,通常会说用‘dunno’取代‘I don’t know’。

Simplification

简化

 

Example sentences: 

例句:

上车请排队。(要上车的话,请排队) (shàng chē qǐng pái duì. (yào shàng chē de huà, qǐng pái duì.) = Please line up to get on. (If you want to get on the bus, please line up)

  

他一教就会。(别人一教,他就会) (tā yī jiāo jiù huì. (bié rén yī jiāo tā jiù huì.) ) = He is quick to learn. (If some others teach him, he will soon to learn. )

 

The example in the parentheses shows the semantic structure of the sentence. But in spoken Chinese, it is common to 'squeeze' the structure of the sentence, and express the same meaning simply. 

以上例句中,括号里的句子为该例句的语义结构。但是在口语中,这些句子结构通常会被压缩,以便能更简洁地表达意思。

Modal Particles to Express Emotion

采用“语气词”表达情感

 

The structure of the spoken Chinese language can sometimes be loose, so in order to express a certain feeling, we add a modal particle, or alter the structure of the sentence.

口语句子结构有时很松散,我们可以通过加语气词或改变句子结构来表达感情。

Example sentence: 

例句:

你呀,说话不算数! (你说话不算数!) (nǐ ya), shuō huà bù suàn shù! (nǐ shuō huà bù suàn shù!) ) = You did not keep your word.

  

他不住那儿了,听说。 (听说他不住那儿了。) (tā bù zhù nàr le, tīng shuō. (tīng shuō tā bù zhù nàr le) ) = I heard that he does not live there now.

 

Special Formats: Idioms and Collocations

特殊结构:习语与词语搭配

 

There are also some special expressional formats in spoken Chinese.

以下是口语中的一些特殊结构: 

For example:

例句:

 

动不动 (dòng bu dòng): always

 

他动不动就打人。(tā dòng bu dòng jiù dǎ rén.) = He is always beating others.

 

有完没完 (yǒu wán méi wán) = Is there no end of it?

 

你俩到底有完没完啊? (nǐ liǎng dào dǐ yǒu wán méi wán a?) = Are you two finished?

 

可不是 (kě bu shì) = Yes, Indeed / Exactly.

 

他再不回家就完蛋了。(tā zài bù huí jiā jiù wán dàn le.) = If he still does not go home, he is done for.

可不是。(kě bu shì) = Indeed. 

 

真有两下子 (zhēn yǒu liǎng xià zi) = pretty good at (something)

 

在这方面,你真有两下子!(zài zhè fāng miàn nǐ zhēn yǒu liǎng xià zi) = You are pretty good at that!

  

Pauses to Suggest Meaning

用“停顿”来表达意思

 

Spoken Chinese can express different meanings depending on it's use of tone, pause or accent.

中文口语所表达的意思会随着语调、停顿或重音的变化而变化。

 

Both sentences below use the same characters and pinyin but have two different meanings:

以下两个句子组成汉字及拼音完全相同,但意思却不一样:

 

我想 / 起来了 (wǒ xiǎng qǐ lai le.) = I want to get up.

我 / 想起来了 (wǒ xiǎng qǐ lai le) = I remember now.

 

The pauses (shown by the '/') created by the speaker would indicate to the listener to meaning of the statement. 

听者可以通过说话者在句中的停顿(用/表示)理解其欲表达的意思。

It's important to note that like many other languages, written and spoken Chinese are not exclusively being written or spoken respectively. Depending on different social situations and people, you can decide to use either written Chinese or spoken Chinese. Spoken Chinese is often used in a letter or message to a close friend, whereas in a formal news broadcast, written Chinese would be used.

注意:像其他语言一样,汉语中书面语和口语并不是完全区分开来的。你可以根据不同的社会场景选择使用口语或书面语。给亲近的朋友的信件通常采用口语,而新闻广播则采用书面语。

Translated from: writtenchinese.com

2016-06-21

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