My Chinese is bad

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by kyotan, Apr 4, 2016.

  1. kyotan Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese 標準語
    大家好!

    If I want to say "My Chinese is bad." would it be "我的汉语不好." or "我的汉语很差."?

    谢谢!
     
  2. retrogradedwithwind Senior Member

    Chinese
    我的汉语不好/很差 understandable
    我汉语不好 better
    我汉语说不好 much better
     
  3. NewAmerica

    NewAmerica Senior Member

    Mandarin
    Yes, both are correct.
     
  4. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    不好 - not good.
    很差 - very bad.
    Which one fits your situation?

    However, I don't agree with retro's grading.
    I don't see how 我汉语说不好 is much better than the other two...
     
  5. retrogradedwithwind Senior Member

    Chinese
    In my opinion

    我的汉语不好 is a direct translation of my Chinese is not good

    Deleting 的 will make it compact and much more "Chinese-style"
    (If a Chinese person says something like my English is not good, he would be more likely to say 我英语不好. With 的 in it, it seems that he stresses his inability.)


    I just think adding a verb could make the sentence more beautiful and more Chinese-style
     
  6. StargazerT3

    StargazerT3 Member

    Beijing
    Chinese - China
    Kyotan 你好,

    In fact, the two sentences could be understood very differently, and it's all about their implications.

    我的汉语不好 (literally: My Chinese is not good) could be understood as 我的汉语不太好 (My Chinese is not that good), which has an implication that you meant to be modest (谦虚) and respectful (尊敬) to your audience.

    我的汉语很差 (literally: My Chinese is very bad) is, first of all, a positive statement, and people know you were stating a fact concerning your Chinese proficiency. Moreover, people might assume that you were having a pretty negative attitude with yourself (e.g. you were sad with your Chinese proficiency).

    In my perspective, a typical Chinese who heard "我的汉语很差" would probably negate it (没有啊,你的汉语挺不错的 = Oh I think your Chinese is actually pretty good) or console you (没事,我觉得你学汉语肯定没问题的 = No worries, I think you'll be just fine with your Chinese), in order to make you feel better.

    So I'd recommend you 我的汉语不好 or 我的汉语不太好 if you don't meant to express a negative sentiment toward yourself. Or even more explicitly, "我是汉语初学者 = I'm just a beginner with Chinese", since it sounds more neutral (although not idiomatic) and do not contain any further implication.

    This phenomenon of "委婉/隐含的意思 = implied intentions" could be found in most, if not all, cultures. For example, I think it's really similar to "裏読み" as in the Japanese culture or "implications" as in the American culture.

    Hope this answer could be helpful to you and good luck with your Chinese!
    我汉语说不好 could be misleading in some way.

    "说不好" is equivalent to "说不准 = not sure" in the North (and maybe the South?), especially in Beijing.

    I guess we might want to add a "得" to make it "我汉语说得不好"
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2016
  7. retrogradedwithwind Senior Member

    Chinese
    Yeah 说不好also means 说不准

    But in the sentence 我汉语说不好 it doesn't have that meaning
     
  8. kyotan Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese 標準語
    感谢各位的回复!

    I didn't know there was such a difference.

    我的汉语不好 sounds like what I want to say, since I feel just really neutral about my Chinese being bad.
    "我是汉语初学者" really is the case. I've been slowly learning Chinese for 5 years. :oops:

    As for 我的汉语很差, I thought that "很" was necessary without meaning "very" but I'm not sure.
    I'm wondering if the "很" is making 我的汉语很差 My Chinese is very bad.
    Is it correct to say 我的汉语差 if I want to say "My Chinese is bad." without "really" in the sentence?

    我的教科书说 "很" is necessary for adjectives that describe the nature of things. (There must be an English word for this, but in Japanese it is "性質形容詞” ex. 白、清楚 as opposed to ”状態形容詞” ex. 雪白、清清楚楚)

    谷歌把 “ 性質形容詞 ” 翻译成 “自然形容词 ”。 
    谷歌把 “ 状態形容詞” 翻译成 “国家形容词 ”。 

    It says, unless I stress "很" when I say "今天很冷。” "很" does not mean "very".

    謝謝。

     
  9. StargazerT3

    StargazerT3 Member

    Beijing
    Chinese - China
    ^
    Yes, you're right that "很" (or its equivalents) is a necessary component here. We need to describe the degree of "差", and therefore we need to add a description such as "很=非常(very)/比较(relatively)/有点(a bit)" before it.

    我的汉语差 X
    我的汉语很差 O
    我的汉语有点差 O

    我的汉语好 X
    我的汉语很好 O => Grammatically correct, but uncommon. 我的汉语还不错(not bad)/我的汉语还可以(okay) are better expressions. They are the modest way to express "good" or "very good", and that makes them idiomatic.

    So basically, "很" is the description of "差" —— bad, but how bad was it? "很" -> Very bad.

    We don't have to use "很", but we alway need something (e.g. "非常"/"比较"/"有些", etc.)

    Not saying that your textbook is wrong, but me and my friends do believe that "很" has a real meaning here. And according to #4, you can see that there's obviously another native speaker who took "很" as "very" in the sentence.

    Personally speaking, I'd talk this way in my daily life:
    My English is bad = 我英语不太好 (My English is not very good) - "的" could be omitted here
    It's very cold today = 今天太冷了 (太=very) / 今天真冷啊 (真=really) / 冻死我了 (I was (nearly) froze to death)

    And write this way:
    My English is bad = 我的英语不太好 / 我的英语不是很好

    Given that you've been learning Chinese for 5 years, I would recommend the expression 我的汉语不太好

    人A:你会说中文吗?
    人B:我的汉语不太好。

    Jp = En = Ch
    性質 = Property = 性质
    状態 = State/Status = 状态
    Apparently Google is not doing the job... But don't worry, the two languages have many 汉字 expressions in common.

    Lastly, if you were learning Chinese for certain practical use (say, business), I'd recommend you to watch some Chinese movies or TV series (if you're ever interested) to enhance your sense of the language. It's indeed a very useful way to learn foreign languages. To be honest, watching Japanese Anime and TV drama helped me a lot in learning Japanese, especially the oral conversation part. Otherwise if you were learning Chinese for fun, then just enjoy it, keep learning slowly, and take your time.

    加油!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2016
  10. kyotan Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese 標準語
    StargazerT3, 感謝您的詳細解答!

    Textbooks can be very wrong, but I know so little Chinese that I can't tell if they are wrong. Haha.

    Does "今天很冷。” sound non-idiomatic?
    Does "很" in "今天很冷。” mean "very"?---If yes, I understand that you need a 程度副词 e.g. 有点儿 but is there a way to just say "It's cold today." in Chinese?

    我的教科书说"今天冷。" implies that you are comparing the temperature with something else, such as "昨天暖和 今天冷。”

    Does "很" in sentences in the same construction such as "姐姐很痩” usually mean "very"?

    Thank you for the tip in learning Chinese. The process has been "learn>forget>learn it again>forget it again" over and over for the past 5 years. I sometimes watch Chinese TV on Youtube. (Not that I can understand it really.)
    I'm traveling to Shanghai for sightseeing next week so I'm reading the textbook again.:D
     
  11. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    In an independent statement, we usually need a 程度副词 to make it idiomatic, such as 有点, 有些, 比较, 很, 相当, 特别 etc. 比较 is the most "neutral" one I can think of.
    今天比较冷。

    Without a 程度副词, the sentence is usually not independent, or incomplete. It would be a clause of a full sentence, or an answer of a question.
    昨天暖和,今天冷。/ 今天冷,但我不怕。/ A:你觉得哪天冷? B:今天冷。
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  12. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Canada
    Mandarin 國語
    Well, if we know what goes before or after that sentence, we may give you a better suggestion that fits the context without bringing up scenarios and grammatical points that are moot for you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  13. kyotan Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese 標準語
    感谢两位的回复!
    As for "My Chinese is bad," it was what I thought of about my level of Chinese. I wasn't talking to anyone. I apologize for the lack of context in my first post.
     
  14. StargazerT3

    StargazerT3 Member

    Beijing
    Chinese - China
    I think "比较冷 (relatively cold)" might be the equivalent to 普通的冷 (cold but neither a bit nor a lot), but I'm not sure.

    In my perspective:
    A:你姐姐有多瘦?= How thin was your sister?
    B:我姐姐很瘦 = My sister is very thin.
    B:我姐姐比较瘦/我姐姐一般瘦/我姐姐也就一般的瘦 = My sister is thin (but neither a bit nor a lot, the degree was just 普通).

    Yes, "今天很冷" is indeed idiomatic and intelligible. But young people use other expressions more often.
    For example, "How are you?" is definitely idiomatic, but young people just rarely use it. They often use "Hey what's up?/What's up man?" to greet people. But still, they won't have any problem understanding it if I greet them with "How are you?"

    瘦 or 冷 just inform you that the person or the weather is deviated from the normality, but it does tell you how large the deviation was. "很/特别/非常" means the deviation is very large and very extreme; "有点儿/有些" means the deviation is pretty small or not very large. Also, if you want to emphasize that the deviation is being neither large nor small, you'd probably use "普通的/一般的/比较", but that means you intend to emphasize the 程度 was being 普通.


    |———A———|———B———|———C——————|X|——————D———|———E———|———F———|
    |—very cold—|——-cold-——|——a bit cold——|Normal|——-a bit hot——|——-hot-——|—very hot—|
    |——特别冷——|—普通的冷-—|——有些冷———|不冷不热|———有些热——|—普通的热—|——特别热——|

    Usually people don't care about the deviation, unless the case was being very extreme. Since both "普通的冷" and "有些冷" are not "特别冷", we don't really have the need to differ one from the other rigorously while chatting with others.

    Natural languages are not strict enough in their nature, and our perception of the normality could be very different. For most cases, people don't need to compare B with C, and hence they only need to distinguish between A and BC.

    I'm not sure if this explanation is correct, but I think this is my best try.

    BTW, have fun in Shanghai!
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  15. kyotan Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese 標準語
    真的非常謝謝您! 感謝您的詳細解答! And thank you, I will have a wonderful time there!
     

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