在 (健在, 何在, 现在)

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by themadprogramer, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. themadprogramer Senior Member

    The other side of the world
    Turkish, English
    大家好

    As far as I can tell the general rule is to use 在 before whatever the location is.


    However it seems there are a few words (particularly some adjectives and adverbs) where this is not the case.
    Such as:
    健在,
    不在,
    何在,
    现在 等 等

    Now I find this interesting and would like to ask if in Old Chinese it was the norm have 在 at the end. I don't think that's the case as I have tried reading some old texts (even if I understood barely anything) and I've seen 在 come before the location.

    Otherwise would anyone mind explaining what's going on?
     
  2. retrogradedwithwind Senior Member

    Chinese
    在 has several meanings, two of which are:
    1,在+location 在北京 在屋里
    2,存在 exist 这盘子还在呢(the plate still exists)

    健在 basically means 健康且存在 be healthy and exist.
    他依然健在。
    He is still healthy and lives on.

    现在=now.
    just remember this word.

    何在=在哪里=where is...
    Just remember... to explain it is not mecessary.

    不在
    1, 不存在
    2,不在某地
     
  3. themadprogramer Senior Member

    The other side of the world
    Turkish, English
    I understand what 在 means, thanks you.

    The explanation is what is necessary for me. I want to understand why and how this happened.
    I want to know when and how this divergence occured. Perhaps I'd be better off asking a historian rather than on a language forum.
     
  4. retrogradedwithwind Senior Member

    Chinese
    In old chinese(文言文), a pronoun should be put before a preposition in a negetive or interrogative sentence. Some words like 何在,自杀 are inherited from 文言文 and don't change their forms.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
  5. themadprogramer Senior Member

    The other side of the world
    Turkish, English
    If this only applies to interrogative and negative sentences, how come I can use words like 健在 even if the sentence is positive?
     
  6. gerardmontreal Member

    Montréal
    Chinese-China
    健在---(康地存)live in good health . 健adverb 在-verbe
    何在--- (在何出,在什么地方)何-where, 在-prep, in or inside.
     
  7. fyl Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    在 has many meanings. The usage before a location is just one of them.

    Your 4 examples are of very different types of usages (among them there are verbs and adverbs; words only used in modern and words only used in classic; one single word and two words/phrase). There's simply no explanation, because they are not the same thing.

    What retrogradedwithwind has explained in #4 is only for 何在, not the other three, as you asked in #3 about 何在.
     
  8. themadprogramer Senior Member

    The other side of the world
    Turkish, English
    I understand how 在 works thank you very much, Turkish has a very similar equivalent so I don't need to imagine it as if it's at/in/on etc. I have a firm grasp on what the actual character means so please if you're trying to explain that I appreciate your help but that's not why I'm here.

    retro considered 在 a proposition and I assume that 现,不 an even could qualify as (abstract) pronouns. So his definition still fits the bill. My next question is "If this form of old chinese imports was something that occured in negative and interrogative sentences only how'd it become acceptable to use it for positive sentences as well?"
     
  9. fyl Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    That's clearly false.

    The "negative and interrogative sentences" explanation is only for 何在. I think I've made it quite clear: the other three words have nothing in common with 何在.
    There's no such thing like 何在 in modern Chinese no matter positive or negative (except as inherited fixed expressions, but you can't create new words/phrases in this way).

    Let me make it clearer: Whenever you see 在 is used together with its object (location), in modern Chinese the location is always after 在; in classic Chinese, it is also after 在 except in some special cases (e.g. questions). When you see 在 after another word in modern Chinese, that means the word before 在 is not the location (for example, it can be an adverb).

    Your question is invalid because the usage in positive sentences you thought does not exist.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
  10. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    健在:healthy (健) and living (在 existing), alive and kicking (e.g., 父母健在).
    不在: not (不) exist (在)(e.g., 東風不在, 三月的柳絮不飛);not (不) present (在)(e.g., 他不在, 出差去了).
    現在:now (現), present, current (在)(e.g., 現在的局勢)
    何在:where (何) exist/be (在) (e.g., 天理何在)
    在 does not serve as a preposition in any of the above examples.
     
  11. retrogradedwithwind Senior Member

    Chinese
    .何在 is a word inherited from the old times.

    云横秦岭家何在
     
  12. themadprogramer Senior Member

    The other side of the world
    Turkish, English
    well then... What about the others? Are they usages specific to various accents which gained usage over time or something like that?
     
  13. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    What you may need to research first is the difference between "character" and "word" in Chinese.

    A character has its basic meanings. The meaning is often vague and flexible.
    在 is a character. It's basic meanings including "exist" and "present".
    Based on this, one (but not all) usage of 在 is to indicate the location, like "AT somewhere".

    A word is usually joint by two or more characters, forming a relatively fixed meaning or usage.
    健在 现在 are clearly words.
    A characters in a word is often like a "root" or "prefix/suffix".
    And now the characters are fixed with words. You can't freely change the orders or replace a character with a similar one.

    Even a word can have its inner-structure, like a mini phrase. Inside a word, we can often tell certain characters are the "noun/verb/adjective/..."
    Skatinginbc has given explanation to every character and every word in his post (#10), but it may takes some time to digest.

    健在 现在 不在 are all used in modern Chinese, except for 何在.
    Positive, negative and interrogative tones usually don't affect Chinese words and their orders.
     
  14. Messquito

    Messquito Senior Member

    台灣台北 Taipei, Taiwan
    Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
    In 何在, actually, 在 does work like a preposition, the reason that 在 is at the end being that this is an "inverted structure" in older Chinese. (examples including, 有何錯(have what wrong)>何錯之有(what wrong (does one) have), 以何(with what)>何以(what with). 何(is)'s are put in front, like in Modern English.
    This structure, however, does not exist in Modern Chinese, that's why this is the least common one among the four. (You can still see it in fixed phrases (mostly conveying abstract ideas) like, 天理何在(where is the justice), 理由何在(where the reason lies in), 意義何在(where the purpose/cause lies in>what for?), etc. especially in writing)
     
  15. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    倒不倒裝 (或前不前置), 意思不太一樣:
    何以 (rhetoric question):何必靠 (e.g., 君子質而已矣, 何以文為), 有什麼用, 要它幹什麼 (e.g., 匈奴未亡, 何以家為), 憑什麼 (e.g., 何以謂之文也--他憑什麼稱得上「文」, 我不覺得他配), 哪有的 (e.g., 民何以為食--人民哪有的吃)
    以何 (true question): 拿什麼, 用什麼 (e.g., 汝義以何為宗; 民以何為食--人民用什麼當食物)

    哪有 (rhetoric question): 這裡哪有人會說英語
    有哪 (true question): 這裡有哪人會說英語

    何在 (rhetoric question): 哪裡存在, 哪裡去了 (e.g., 天理何在--天理哪裡去了, 沒天理), 存在什麼 (e.g., 居心何在--存什麼居心, 不安好心).

    越靠近現代,「何在」越有當 true question(在哪裡)的傾向 , 如:XX的理由何在。
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017

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