Learn Chinese through Movies and Laugh! – 非诚勿扰

2014 November 17
by Wenjuan Zhao

Watching movies is one of the best ways to learn a native language. Today we look at the comedy titled: “If You Are the One 非诚勿扰(fēi chéng wù rǎo).”

If You Are the One is a 2008 highly successful Chinese romantic comedy film directed by Feng Xiaogang and starring Ge You and Shu Qi. It earned over 364 million (US$53.7 million) at the box office.

The movie is about Mr. Qin Fen秦奋 (qín fènhomophone of the word diligence勤奋 ) who is now in his late 4os. He returns to China after years of living in the US. The plot starts by him convincing a foolish but rich angel investor to purchase his “innovative invention”. (He made £2,000,000, by the way.)

With his financial condition improved, Mr. Qin then starts to look for a wife. He posts personal ads on dating sites. We will look at his hilarious personal ads another time but today, we take a look at the opening scene when he and the angel investor Mr. Fan meet. Watch the opening scene here. http://v.qq.com/cover/4/40nwh0gdlv64gbw/e0012ar1r8f.html 1’14-5’58. Be patient with the ads. The dialogue is from 2’13 to 2’32. ) It is some small talk, Very colloquial. A little funny. You can learn a lot about how Chinese people show their courtesy through how they use their language.

The short dialogue has seven sentences:

范先生:你看看,我们是说英文呢,还是说中文呢?

奋: 您定,您说哪个顺口说哪个,我都行。

范先生:那还是说母语吧。Nice to meet you

奋:说母语。

范先生:哎呀,你看看我,这个经常不说母语已经不习惯了。见到你非常高兴!

奋:幸会!范先生:坐!

奋:您请!

Sentence 1:

(fàn xiān shēng :) nǐ kàn kan ,wǒ men shì shuō yīng wén ne ,hái shì shuō zhōng wén ne ?

(范  先  生 :) 你 看 看 ,我 们 是  说  英 文 呢, 还 是  说 中 文 呢 ?

Mr. Fan: Look, do we speak English or Chinese?

Vocabulary and Phrases Flashcards:


SENTENCE EXPLANATION:

Mr. Fan is asking the guest which language he prefers, implying he speaks both fluently. The funny thing is he has a strong provincial accent. And this mix of affluence and provinciality can be seen in everything he owns and how he behaves. Face, 脸面(liǎn miàn) or public image is important to Chinese people, especially those who think they are high-profile figures. Mr. Qin returns to China from the US, a desirable foreign country. Mr. Fan is implying that he himself too has seen the world.

The sentence structure is (phrase to get attention)+who+do+what+modal particle(forming a question)?

你看看: Literally, it means You Take a Look. But it is normally used to get someone’s attention and start a conversation. Similar to Hey, or Look, or What do you say?

还是This is a classic parallel structure expressing choices. N1还是N2. It is something or something else? We do something or something else? Example: 你是中国人还是美国人?Are you Chinese or American? 你喝咖啡还是茶?Do you drink coffee or tea?

Forming a question: It can be very easy to form a question in Chinese. The whole sentence is structured exactly like a statement, but by simply adding a question mark and changing the tone from flat to up, you now have a question. Example: 我长大了。(wǒ zhǎng dà le accent is on zhǎngI have grown up. 我长大了?(accent is on dà) I have grown up? The latter sentence indicates a question form of the sentence.

ne: there is no tone mark on “ne”, indicating this word should not be emphasized and the pronunciation is short and light. Normally modal particles and the second word in a repetition is pronounced this way. Example: 呢(ne), (le), (de), 看看(kàn kan)说说(shuō shuo

Thank you for reading my article on learning Chinese through Funny Movies. I hope you incorporate these new vocabularies and structures into your Chinese speaking practice. Next article we will dive into sentences 2 and 3, their explanations, and we’ll also cover the variety of Chinese dialects; neither Qin Fen nor Mr. Fan is speaking standard Mandarin. Unless it is CCTV News, we rarely do. Be well, until next time.

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