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Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by miltonese, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. miltonese

    miltonese Junior Member

    Can anyone shed light on how to appropriately interpret the word 随便 in these two sentences?


  2. SuperXW Senior Member

    The basic meaning of 随便 is "randomly", but the word have several different connotations and usages developed from its basic meaning.
    I see Chinese is your native language, so no need to explain everything. You should know that in different contexts, the sentence may mean:

    a. 正式场合,要注意礼节。
    b. 事关重大,不能轻易决定。
    c. 做人不能这么轻浮。
    d. 要认真严谨,不能敷衍了事。
    e. 已经确定了,不能随意更改。
    There could be more interpretations.

    Which one did you mean?
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
  3. miltonese

    miltonese Junior Member

    In my sentences, they should have the meaning of your D explanation.

    Thanks you so much for your great efforts to answer my question.

    I do know the meanings in different contexts. But I am not sure how to appropriately interpret them into english.

    Because to simply interpret this word as randomly is too crude.
    I am hoping for a better version in english.
  4. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    Hi Miltonese,
    Since, since the sentences are basically criticism, one can't just 随便 say them anywhere and to anyone. Likewise, I would suggest the following in English but they should be used with caution and modified to fit the specific context:
    Can you be a bit more serious?
    How can you be so casual?
  5. miltonese

    miltonese Junior Member

    That's what I am looking for.
    Thanks so much, xiaolijie.
  6. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    I think the original meaning of 随便 is "at your convenience". 随 = according to; 便 = convenience.
    不能这么随便 You shall not do things only at your own convenience (i.e., however, whatever, or whenever you like; at your desire 随欲; at your will 随意).
  7. Thime

    Thime Senior Member

    Italy (Venice)
    Hope you don't mind if I post here, because my trouble is about the same word.

    I have a doubt about 随便 in this phrase: 一般的老百姓起名则相对比较随便, 但也都表达了父母对子女的希望。
    The text concerned with how Chinese people choose kids’ names.

    My attempt: “Common people choose the name (of their kids) depending on which ones they like most。。。”
    Is it possible to interpret随便 “ as “depending on one’s taste” ?

    Thank you in advance.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2014
  8. zhg Senior Member

    I think 随便 here means "not orthodox", there is a custom in Chinese that when parents of higher class order give names to their babies they take reference of certain "rules" which are not prevalent among common people.
    On a second thought now I am not so sure if my choice of word "not orthodox" conveys the meaning in English. And by the way you translation looks good to me:)
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2014
  9. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    随便 in this case means the common people don't stick to a particular rule (in giving names to their offspring, but a general pattern can still be observed.)
  10. Thime

    Thime Senior Member

    Italy (Venice)
    Thank you very much for the explaintions! ;)
  11. BODYholic Senior Member

    Chinese Cantonese
    The clue is with the word 相对. When we say 相对, we are essentially making comparison. Typically, 老百姓 is used to compare with the 高官贵族. The latter are more picky when choosing names for their offspring. They are likely to engage feng-shui master to 起名/批命 for their babies. We say this group of people are more "讲究". But for 老百姓, they do not have the luxury or money to do likewise. They are generally more pragmatic or down to earth when choosing name. If they hope their son to grow up strong and healthy, they may choose 阿牛/大牛 as the baby's name.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014

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