对...来说

WildeJoyce

New Member
English - U.S.
大家好,

I've seen "对...来说 used to mean "as far as ... is concerned" or "from ...'s point of view." I've also been told, however, that the expression only conveys the speaker's opinion, which to me seems like a contradiction.

比如:"。。。所以一年级的中文课,对张天明来说,听和说很容易,只是写汉字有点儿难。"
“... so first-year Chinese is very easy for Zhang Tianming with regard to listening and speaking; only writing characters is a bit difficult."

The context of this sentence is an impersonal narration, so the speaker isn't a defined person. I would expect from reading this in English that the point of the sentence is to describe Zhang Tianming's personal experience with Chinese, and the speaker of the sentence is irrelevant--it could just as easily be said by Zhang Tianming himself or one of his classmates. But if the Chinese sentence only expresses the speaker's opinion, then the sentence could be merely a random assumption, and Zhang Tianming couldn't even reply that the sentence is untrue because it's only an opinion the speaker has about how well he knows Chinese. In that case, when would a sentence like that actually be used, and how does it make sense in its current context? I can't think of many scenarios in which it's more useful to know someone's opinion about another person's views/experiences than it is to know what the person who holds those views/experiences themselves thinks.

I'm pretty sure that I'm misunderstanding something here. Could you please help me figure out what it is?

谢谢!
 
  • AChineseKitten

    Member
    Chinese - Mandarin and Wu Chinese
    Well, for this sentence, when I'm reading it, what comes in my mind is like this:
    In a documentary, the aside is introducing Zhang's academic performance, and soon after this, we will see a clip in which he is trying hard to write Chinese characters in school or at home.
    But of course, that's just my personal impression.
    Come back to the question. I think in this sentence, 对张天明来说…… means "as far as Zhang Tianming is concerned" or "from Zhang Tianming's point of view". It is Zhang Tianming who feels listening and speaking are easy but writing are difficult. In other words, it's Zhang Tianming's personal feeling. It has nothing to do with the speaker's personal opinion. Whether it is objective or the speaker's random guess depends on the speaker, and there is no clue here. I would agree in SimonTsai's case (yes, I edited my post after seeing his) it's just the speaker's opinion, but it's not because of the phrase "对……来说". I would argue that this phrase can be used in an objective case as well.
    I think maybe you learn that it means "as far as ... is concerned" or "from ...'s point of view" from sentences like: "对我来说,这件事让我很难受。" Here it can be understood as "from my point of view".
    I personally think the meaning of "对……来说" is closer to "for ... (sb.)" than "as far as ... is concerned". For example:
    "对我来说,这不是什么好事。" -- "It's not a good thing for me."
    "这道题 对他来说 可能 太难了" -- "This question might be too difficult for him."
     
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    SimonTsai

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese Mandarin
    But if the Chinese sentence only expresses the speaker's opinion, then [...] Zhang Tianming couldn't even reply that the sentence is untrue
    We could be at odds with an opinion, couldn't we?
    because it's only an opinion the speaker has about how well he knows Chinese.
    The speaker may know that writing Chinese characters is not very easy for Zhang because Zhang told him, or because there is an indication. (Of course it could be a random guess; that is, it is not necessarily based upon facts or knowledge.)
    I can't think of many scenarios in which it's more useful to know someone's opinion about another person's views/experiences than it is to know what the person who holds those views/experiences themselves thinks.
    I would say that in most cases, you are right: It is better to ask Zhang himself than to ask someone else.

    Below is the only scenario that I can think of in which it is probably more useful to know the speaker's opinion than to know Zhang's:
    Zhang is a Belgian who is interested in Chinese. He has been learning Chinese for a few weeks, but never learnt it from a native. His hubby (Yes, they are both chaps and in love) is trying to get him a Taiwanese teacher. And I was asked for help.​
    Zhang's hubby wanted me to give Zhang basic lectures upon writing Chinese characters, and I replied,​
    'But he is still a beginner. That would definitely be a toughie for him.'​
    || 但他還只是初學者;寫中文對他來說太難了。||​
     
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    WildeJoyce

    New Member
    English - U.S.
    I like the examples both of you gave!

    Would I be accurate in summarizing your explanations by saying that "对...来说 " is capable of expressing both the speaker's personal opinion and a statement that's independent from the speaker, depending on the context?
     

    AChineseKitten

    Member
    Chinese - Mandarin and Wu Chinese
    I think you'd better not take it as "as far as ... is concerned". It seems misleading. I just think of maybe it should be translated as "for sb". (But of course, not all "for sb." can be translated as "对……来说") So, yes, it depends on the context, because "对……来说" itself does not indicate whether it's the speaker's personal opinion, just like "For sb ...".

    For example:
    for children, staying up late at night can damage their health. 对 小孩子/儿童 来说,熬夜会损害他们的健康。

    If it is from a parent talking with another parent, then it may be just his or her personal opinion, especially if its:
    I think, for children, staying up late at night can damage their health. 我觉得对小孩子来说,熬夜会损害他们的健康。
    But if it's the conclusion of a scientific study, then it seems independent from the speaker:
    The data shows, for children, staying up late can damage their health. 数据显示,对儿童来说,熬夜会损害他们的健康。

    Another example:
    Mobile phone is useless for him. 手机对他来说没用。
    If the whole sentence is: Mobile phone is useless for him. He's just a little kid. 手机对他来说没用。他不过就是个小孩子。Then it's probably the speaker's opinion (probably a parent). But the child himself may think a phone is very useful for him (但是孩子自己可能觉得手机对他来说很有用).
    If the whole sentence is: Mobile phone is useless for him, because there's no signal in the area he lives. 手机对他来说没用,因为他住的区域没信号。Then does it sounds more objective? And if it's taken from a novel, then it's completely unrelated to the author's personal opinion or his personal opinion. It's just an objective description.
     
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