Learn Chinese Through Movies and Laugh – 非诚勿扰 Part 2

2014 December 11
by Wenjuan Zhao

Hey, everybody! Welcome back to our series on Learning Chinese through Funny Movies! Last article we started with the small talk between Mr. Fan and Qin Fen. Since then I hope you had the opportunity to watch more of the movie. Today, we will explain further what happens in the opening scene.

Sentence 2 & 3:

qín fèn: nín dìng ,nín shuō nǎ gè shùn kǒu shuō nǎ gè ,wǒ dōu xíng 。
秦  奋:您   定,      您    说    哪 个   顺      口      说   哪 个, 我   都    行。
fàn xiān shēng: nà hái shì shuō mǔ yǔ ba 。
范   先      生:   那  还   是    说    母  语 吧。Nice to meet you!

Qin Fen: Up to you. We speak the one you are comfortable with. I can do both.
Mr. Fan: Then let’s speak our mother tongue. Nice to meet you!

Vocabulary and Phrases Flashcards:


SENTENCE EXPLANATION:
In sentence 1 in the previous article, Mr. Fan extended his courtesy to the guest by offering Qin Fen the power to choose what language they would speak. Now Qin Fen returns the courtesy by giving back the power to choose the language. (They may repeat this several rounds before a decision is made. You won’t be surprised by this phenomenon if you have seen Chinese people fighting amongst each other about who should enter the door first or who should pay the dinner bill. We insist on showing the right amount of respect, no matter how trivial the issue is. ) It is Mr. Fan who finally decided that they should speak their native language. Considering the fact that both of them are Chinese, you would assume they are going to speak Chinese. Then you hear Mr. Fan say “Nice to meet you!” in English! This is the kicker of the whole dialogue. This seemingly unintentional mistake gives Mr. Fan a perfect opportunity to show how natural it feels for him to speak English.
Sentence 2 is made up of three short but complete sentences.
Short sentence 1: 您定: 您(决jué)定。决定is a formal way to express “make a decision”. 定 is more colloquial. Subject + verb.
Short sentence 2: 您说哪个顺口(我们)说哪个。 (preposed modifier clause(subject+verb+object+adverb modifier)) + (subject) + verb + object. We speak the language that you feel comfortable with. We change the word order to emphasize a certain part of the sentence. For example: 你喜欢哪个我们买哪个。(nǐ xǐ huān nǎ gè wǒ men mǎi nǎ gè。) We buy the one that you like.
Short sentence 3: 我都行. Subject +都 + verb. I (can) do both.
还是: means had better. The structure 是…还是…has quite a different meaning if you still remember from the previous article. For example: 我们还是待在家里吧。(wǒ men hái shì dāi zài jiā lǐ ba 。) We’d better stay home.
吧: This character has no tone, it is not emphasized and should be pronounced short and light. 我们走吧。(wǒ men zǒu ba。) Let’s go.
Both Mr. Fan and Qin Fen are speaking Mandarin but with an accent. Mr. Fan speaks with an accent (I would have to assume) possibly of Henan province, a region in the east and central plain of China. Qin Fen is speaking Beijingese, or Beijing hua, from which the standard Chinese, also referred to as “Mandarin” was developed. Besides Mandarin, there are some other major regional dialects spoken in China: Wu, Yue (Cantonese), Min, Gan, and Hakka, which are not mutually intelligible. And these regional varieties (especially Min) are themselves composed of a number of non mutually intelligible sub varieties. The good thing is that Mandarin as the national language is widely spoken by the younger generation. If you travel in Hunan or Guangdong and try to ask your way, don’t panic if you don’t understand a word they say!  : ) I am sure you will eventually find someone who can help you out.

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Thank you for reading our article on learning Chinese through Funny Movies. Use the new words and structure in this article in your daily practice. If you have any questions or feedback, share them with us through the comment section below. In the next article we will finish the rest of the dialogue. If space allows, we can also talk about Qin Fen’s funny personal ads on dating sites. 下次再见啦!

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