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人” in Chinese

Chinese characters, Chinese words, learning Chinese

The words 人 (rén) and 男人 (nánrén) in Chinese are sometimes misused by English speakers. There are probably two main reasons for this:

中文里"人"和"男人"这两个词有时会让英语母语者困惑,这或许有两个主要原因导致:

 

The English word "man" can mean "the human race", whereas 男人 in Chinese cannot.

英语里的"man"可以表示"人类"的意思,而中文里的"男人"不可以。

 

In English, it is common to refer to a man as "a man" rather than "a person", but in Chinese 男人 tends to draw attention specifically to the person's gender.

英语里,说到人时一般指的是"a man"而不是"a person",但中文里"男人"倾向于让人特别注意该人的性别。

 

男人 ≠ "the human race"

 

The first difference between "man" and 男人 is probably the most straightforward. English can use "man" to refer to "the human race" as a whole. Although this usage is becoming less common, a lot of fairly recent texts and films from the twentieth century use "man" and "men" this way, and we still use words like "man-made".

"man"和"男人"之间的第一个不同之处或许是最直白的。英语可以使用"man"指代总体的"the human race",虽然这个用法趋于少见,但是相当多20世纪近代的文字和电影都这样使用"man"和"men",而且我们还在使用类似"man-made"这样的词。

 

In Chinese, though, you absolutely cannot use 男人 to refer to "the human race". It specifically means "male person", and can only be used to refer to males.

不过,中文里,你绝对不能用"男人"去指代"the human race"。它的特定意思是"male person",并且只能用于指代男性。

 

To speak about people in general Chinese, you should just use 人 on its own. The word "man-made" in Chinese is 人为 (rénwéi) or 人造 (rénzào). Literally these are "person-made" – no gender involved! Similarly, "humans" or "the human race" are 人类 (rénlèi) – "human kind".

要想谈及总的人类,你应该单用"人"。"man-made"这个词的中文是"人为"或者"人造",字面上就是"person-made",这并没有涉及到性别。同样的,"human"或"the human race"是"人类",即"human kind"。

 

Let's have a look at some example sentences in Chinese using 人 in this general sense:

一起看看中文里"人"表示总体含义的一些例句:

 

人类不断地犯错误。

rénlèi bùduànde fàn cuòwù.

Human beings constantly make mistakes.

 

人类会永远生存下去吗?

rénlèi huì yǒngyuǎn shēngcún xiàqù ma?

Will the human race survive forever?

 

许多人造卫星已经发射到地球轨道。

xǔduō rénzào wèixīng yǐjīng fāshè dào dìqiú guǐdào.

Many man-made satellites have already been put into orbit.

 

人造的纺织品通常比天然的纺织品还要坚韧。

rénzào de fǎngzhīpǐn tōngcháng bǐ tiānrán de fǎngzhīpǐn hái yào jiānrèn.

Man-made fabrics are often more durable than natural ones.

 

As you can see, you could translate these Chinese sentences into English using "man" or "men", but there is no use of 男人 at all.

如你所见,虽然你可以把这些中文句子译为含"man"或"men"的英文,但根本不会用到"男人"这一词。

 

男人 and 女人 draw attention to gender

 

It's often that case that the words 男人 and 女人 (nǚrén) in Chinese are used when the person's gender is particularly relevant. Otherwise you just say 人.

通常情况是,与性别关系尤为密切时,就用"男人"和"女人"这两个词指代,否则,你只需用"人"。

 

For example, in English you would probably say "he's a very popular guy", and less commonly say "he's a very popular person". In any case, it's usually better to say "person" in Chinese unless the gender is very relevant.

例如,英语里你或许会说"he's a very popular guy",而一般不说"he's a very popular person"。总之,中文里一般最好说"人"除非与性别关系较大。

 

Some examples:

一些例子:

 

他是一个备受欢迎的人。

tā shì yīgè bèi shòu huānyíng de rén.

He's a very popular guy. (person)

 

她是个很有成就的人。

tā shìgè hěn yǒu chéngjiù de rén.

She is a very successful woman. (person)

 

前门有个人来找你。

qiánmén yǒu gèrén lái zhǎo nǐ.

There is a man / a woman / someone to see you at the door.

 

The situations where you should use 男人 and 女人 in Chinese are when you really are singling out men or women and not including both genders. Some examples:

中文里用到"男人"和"女人"的情境是,你真的要区分性别,不想包含两个性别。一些例子:

 

女人一般比男人长寿。

nǚrén yībān bǐ nánrén chángshòu.

Women usually live longer than men.

 

男人工作时受伤机率比女人的大。

nánrén gōngzuò shí shòushāng jīlǜ bǐ nǚrén de dà.

Men are injured at work more often than women.

 

女性的平均工资仍然没有男性的高。

nǚxìng de píngjūn gōngzī réngrán méiyǒu nánxìng de gāo.

The average salary of women is still not as high as that of men. 

 

Translated from: chineseboost

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2016-06-21

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