Pronunciation: 为

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Inquisit

New Member
English - UK
I'm confused as to when 为 is pronounced with a second tone, and when with a fourth tone. I realise 为 has many different meanings, but are there some common features that might help me to know which pronunciation is appropriate?
 
  • xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    There are many meanings associated with this character but for beginning learners, it may work better to consider 为 as two separate characters, each with one basic meaning:
    为 (wei4): for/ because (of).
    为 (wei2): be/ become.

    One these usages have been mastered, it'd become easier to increase our knowledge of 为 in more subtle and sophisticated directions.
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    What about 因为?

    To me it seems that it's pronounced more often with 2nd tone in Northern China, and with the 4th tone in the South.
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    I don't know... sometimes I read 2nd tone, sometimes 4rd tone.
    Maybe more often 2nd tone, because it's 文言文...

    But in real life I always say 因为 with 4rd tone... later I learnt it should be 2nd tone... but I'm accostumed to my wrong pronunciation...

    But I always say 以为 with 2nd tone. Here the 为 also means "to do"?
     
    I always read “he2wei2” and I have never heard “he2wei4” before.
    The 为 actually means “for”, but it's very common and can be seen in many language that phrases originally meaning “to do” are used to express “for”.
    In the dialect I speak, we say “干什么/干啥” instead “为什么” too.
    In Japanese they say(I write them in 漢字, which isn't the way Japanese people do), “どうして”(如何為而), “なにし”(何為)

    But in real life I always say 因为 with 4rd tone... later I learnt it should be 2nd tone... but I'm accostumed to my wrong pronunciation...
    The 4th tone is right because the 为 is a preposition here.
    But wei2 is common, too. Is it a misreading, or a special case where the archaic pronunciation is retained? I don't know.

    But I always say 以为 with 2nd tone. Here the 为 also means "to do"?
    Maybe the meaning “to do/make” is derived from the older meaning: “become/let it be”, “constitute”, “consist”, etc.
    It's also a preposition-like verb here which means “as/to be”.
    The phrase is short for以之为”, take()it()为(as), and was later shortened to “”.
    Its pronunciation and meaning are the same as in “视为”“认为”“作为” and so on.
    In
    colloquial Chinese, we usually use 做/作 or 成 instead. “看作”“当作”“听成”...

    EDIT:
    It seems that the pronunciation “
    wei4” is later than “wei2”. It didn't appear in 唐韵.
    Anyway, pronouncing
    wei4 when it means “for/ because (of)” is a safe choice.
     
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    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Maybe sometimes I read it "he2wei4" because I think about its meaning "for".
    But sometimes I read it "he2wei2" because I think wei2 is more common in 文言文。

    I had a Chinese teacher from Zhejiang that told me the correct pronunciation of 因为 is with wei2, and that wei4 is wrong.
    As wei4 is the most common pronunciation in Zhejiang province, maybe she was doing an hypercorrection?
    In the dialect I speak, we say “干什么/干啥” instead “为什么” too.
    In my dialect the same.
    In the city version we say 干嘛 (I translated it to standard Chinese as I don't know how to write the 方言字) instead of 为什么。
    In the countryside version we say 干嘛 or also 为啥事 (also don't know how to write it).
    But we use 因为 as in Puthonghua.

    I think in modern Chinese 为 wei2 in the meaning of "as" is more common than "do". I think the latter is used in crystalized 文言文 idioms that are still used in modern Chinese, especially formal/literal language.

    And can you explain why we say wei2 in 为难 and 难为情?

    It seems that the pronunciation “
    wei4” is later than “wei2”. It didn't appear in 唐韵.
    Anyway, pronouncing
    wei4 when it means “for/ because (of)” is a safe choice.
    So is it safe to read 文言文 texts, e.g. 何为, as wei2 because it's the older pronunciation?
    Or would you prefer to read wei4 because of its meaning?
     
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    I had a Chinese teacher from Zhejiang that told me the correct pronunciation of 因为 is with wei2, and that wei4 is wrong.
    As wei4 is the most common pronunciation in Zhejiang province, maybe she was doing an hypercorrection?
    Wei4 must be correct. 重編國語辭典修訂本

    And can you explain why we say wei2 in 为难 and 难为情?
    I think 为难 originally meant “make sb. feel difficult”. 为 means “let”.
    I don't know what does 为 mean in 为情. Maybe it's just a light verb. So is the 害 in 害羞, the 打 in 打呵欠, etc.

    So is it safe to read 文言文 texts, e.g. 何为, as wei2 because it's the older pronunciation?
    Or would you prefer to read wei4 because of its meaning?
    I don't think so. If it's 为何, I will read wei4.
    I read “he2wei2” simply because I haven't heard “he2wei4”.
    何為 is obviously of the grammar of 上古汉语, maybe, another exception.
    According to 重編國語辭典修訂本, both pronunciations exist, but he2wei2 seems to be more widely used.
     
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    Inquisit

    New Member
    English - UK
    The phrase is short for以之为”, take()it()为(as), and was later shortened to “”.
    Its pronunciation and meaning are the same as in “视为”“认为”“作为” and so on.

    In
    colloquial Chinese, we usually use 做/作 or 成 instead. “看作”“当作”“听成”...


    This is really helpful for understanding the differences in meanings for 为, thanks. But what does "听成" mean?
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    e.g. when many Koreans classmates say 重要,and I hear them wrong and understand 中药。

    他们说的是“重要”,我却听成了“中药”。
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Maybe it's just a light verb. So is the 害 in 害羞, the 打 in 打呵欠, etc.
    Thank you for your explanation.
    What do you mean by light verb? A verb that doesn't have its original meaning? How do you say "light verb" in Chinese?
    According to your examples I suppose that 打球、打饭、吃苦、吃亏、吃烟 (used in my dialect instead of 吸烟、抽烟) are "light verbs", right?
    I don't think so. If it's 为何, I will read wei4.
    I read “he2wei2” simply because I haven't heard “he2wei4”.
    何為 is obviously of the grammar of 上古汉语, maybe, another exception.
    According to 重編國語辭典修訂本, both pronunciations exist, but he2wei2 seems to be more widely used.
    Thank you very much! You have clarified my doubts.
    Now I realize that sometimes I read he2wei4 because I confuse it with 为何!!
    But I don't know if I am wrong, I think 何为 means “是什么”,and wei2 can also mean "to be", so it must be wei2.
    In colloquial Chinese, we usually use 做/作 or 成 instead. “看作”“当作”“听成”...

    Then what's the literal form of 听成?闻为?
     
    What do you mean by light verb? A verb that doesn't have its original meaning? How do you say "light verb" in Chinese?
    A light verb(轻动词)
    Wiki has given a good definition:
    Wikipedia said:
    In linguistics, a light verb is a verb participating in complex predication that has little semantic content of its own, but provides through inflection some details on the event semantics, such as aspect, mood, or tense.
    According to your examples I suppose that 打球、打饭、吃苦、吃亏、吃烟 (used in my dialect instead of 吸烟、抽烟) are "light verbs", right?
    They more or less carry some semantic meaning, but I think they are basically light verbs.

    Then what's the literal form of 听成?闻为?
    成 and 作 are so productive that they can be attached to almost all verbs. The use of 为 is more or less archaic, except for 认为/以为. (And 以为 seldom means “I think” in spoken language.)

    But I don't know if I am wrong, I think 何为 means “是什么”,and wei2 can also mean "to be", so it must be wei2.
    Umm. Good suggestion.
    何 may mean “why” by itself, may be derived from “how” and “(be) what”. e.g.
    王朝而有憂色,何也?——为什么/怎么了
    何其多能也?——他很多才多艺,为什么呢/(程度)多么(高)呢?
    仍舊貫,如之何?何必改作?——为什么/怎么一定要改造?
    In Japanese, they say 何で(why, literally, “be what and then”)

    I'm not an expert so I can't answer you confidently. But I wonder if couple verbs(including 为) are widely used in 上古汉语.

    EDIT:
    王力『古代漢語』 said:
    實際上古漢語中的“為”字是一個涵義非常廣泛的動詞,…... 在上古漢語裏,用“為”字的判斷句就非常罕見,而且限於一定的場合。
     
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    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    (And 以为 seldom means “I think” in spoken language.)
    :confused:
    I'm not an expert so I can't answer you confidently. But I wonder if couple verb(including 为) is widely used in 上古汉语.
    But it seems that you are the one that understands most about ancient Chinese here :D
    The other one is Ghabi, but recently I don't see him posting on the forum.
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Thanks for the link! I will read it some time :) (maybe you are more accostumed to read than me, for me it's a quite long paper :()
    Sometimes I wonder if in Taiwan they know Chinese better than in Mainland. Once I found a blog on the Internet talking about the language difference between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Usually in Taiwan they use more complex sentences, more literal and high level constructions.
    The names of the universities confirm what I said in the 人民教师 thread. But I didn't know that in Taiwan there was a 清華大學 too! :eek:

    Yes, I also understand 以为 as 本来以为 or 错误地以为. I didn't know it could mean an opinion in general, like "I think" in English or 认为、觉得。I've never used 以为 with that meaning.

    I think (我以为:D) in English the only way to distinguish 认为 and 本来以为 is by the tense.
    认为: I think/I guess
    以为: I thought; or if we want to put emphasis: I used to think/I wrongly thought.
     
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    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    前几天在看古装连续剧《步步惊心》。
    片中的那个格格用了“以为”,当做“认为、觉得”的意思。

    还有把“着想”的着发成zhuo2
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    謝謝 Ghabi!
    雖然大學語文課里學過這個字“竊”……我忘了它對應的是簡體字的“窃”……
    而且在網上搜索了一下,發現在古文裏也有“
    谦辞,指自己”的意思。
    沒想到你的一句話,讓我學到了兩樣東西。
    ;)
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    大家好!

    How about the pronunciation of 为 in this sentence? Is 现为 a word?
    毕业后于北京徐悲鸿纪念馆工作至今,现为徐悲鸿纪念馆展览典藏部主任
    (Also, what word is 部 a part of here, if you don't mind me asking?)
    Thanks! :)
     

    albert_laosong

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    现为 is a formal word used only in written texts. Then it may not be recognized as a word by everyone, because it can be said it's only a short way of saying 现在为.
    But in those kind of formal texts, using 现为 looks more appropriate than 现在为 because the latter is a little cumbersome, or 现在 as a not-so formal word doesn't quite match the very formal word 为.
     

    SimonTsai

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese Mandarin
    Similar collocations include '曾為', '昔為', and '今為', e.g. '曾為滄海難為水' and '昔為娼家女,今為蕩子婦'.
    I think in modern Chinese 为 wei2 in the meaning of [...] "do" [...] is used in crystal[l]ized 文言文 idioms
    Yes, for example, '君子有所為與不為', '為山九仞,功虧一簣', '無為而治', and '明知不可為而為之'.
    Usually in Taiwan they use more complex sentences, more liter[ary] and high-level constructions.
    I take it as a compliment. :p
    But wei2 [in '因為'] is common, too.
    Here in Taiwan it is always the fourth tone; wei2 sounds odd to me.
    And '以为' seldom means “I think” in spoken language.
    I sometimes use it this way in discussions. I, an accounting student, might say the following:

    但這項資產還沒有被分類為待出售,企業持有這項資產是為了使用,計算可回收金額 (recoverable amount) 時,將淨公允價值 (net fair value) 納入考量,這樣的作法是否適當,我以為可能要再想想。

    (It seems that the hyperlink in post #16 was broken. Would you be kind enough to abstract it for me?)
     
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    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    大家好!
    How about in this sentence? " 最近,一位同事通过纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商工作的熟人的邀请,约好带我们一起去参观一下世贸一号观景台。"
    Would anyone know the meaning and pronunciation here?
    Thanks! :)
     

    SimonTsai

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese Mandarin
    There it is pronounced with the fourth tone and means 'for', as in 'For whom do you work?'

    By the way, that sentence is structurally intricate and grammatically dubious, in my opinion.
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    Similar collocations include '曾為', '昔為', and '今為', e.g. '曾為滄海難為水' and '昔為娼家女,今為蕩子婦'.
    昔為4娼女活, 今為4蕩婦死; 曾為4恩客灌迷湯, 現為4政客擠淫水...
    My point: 字典有 "以為2"、"認為2"、"視為2"、"作為2"、"何為2"、"為4何"、"因為4", 但沒有 "昔為"、"今為"、"曾為"、"現為", 原因是後一組的 collocation 沒強到成為一個單詞, 仍應分字析解。
     
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    Shazhudao945

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Mainland China
    最近,一位同事通过纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商工作的熟人的邀请,约好带我们一起去参观一下世贸一号观景台。
    It is also a broken sentence with multiple mistakes. And the meaning of the sentence is not expressed in a proper way.
    一位同事通过纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商工作的熟人的邀请 = I would assume that 世贸中心一号观景台 is currently closed/unavailable to normal tourists, and 纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商工作的熟人 offered his help.
    Followed by 约好带我们一起去参观一下世贸一号观景台, the meaning changes to your relationship is not so good enough for him to invite you directly, he needs 纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商工作的熟人 to make the appointment/date you.
    邀请 and 约好 repeat the meaning of date/make an appointment.
    一位 defies that the text style is formal, but then he used 参观一下, which is oral language.
    So, the two parts of the sentence don't pass well together. I would say it must be written by someone who is learning Chinese.
    熟人here makes me feel uncomfortable, but I still haven't found a better word to replace 熟人.

    Try to tell the difference.

    最近,一位同事通过纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商工作的熟人邀请我们一起去参观世贸一号观景台。
    最近,一位同事通过纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商工作的熟人约我们一起去参观世贸一号观景台。 (I believe these are good in grammar)

    or

    最近,一位同事邀请我们一起去参观世贸一号观景台。他认识纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商工作的熟人。
    最近,一位同事约我们一起去参观世贸一号观景台。他有熟人纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商工作。(These versions are still not perfect, but I am tired right now. )
     
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    albert_laosong

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    it may be more natural to say: 我的一个同事在纽约世贸中心一号观景台运营商那里有一个熟人,我的同事和这个熟人约好了,带我们一起去参观世贸一号观景台 。
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    How about here:
    " 这些天来,停泊在日本横滨港的钻石公主号(Diamond Princess)邮轮,由于为数众多的乘客感染新型冠状病毒导致的肺炎而连续不断为各国媒体所报道,引起国际上广泛关注。 "

    How should "为数" be pronounced here? Is it "wéishù"?

    Thanks! :)
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    How about here? Is the second 为 here pronounced wèi?
    " 这些天来,停泊在日本横滨港的钻石公主号(Diamond Princess)邮轮,由于为数众多的乘客感染新型冠状病毒导致的肺炎而连续不断<为>各国媒体所报道,引起国际上广泛关注。 "

    Sorry if this is a very basic question! I often have a lot of trouble figuring out what it means in long sentences (and the meaning and syntax of long sentences in Chinese in general).
     

    hx1997

    Senior Member
    汉语普通话 Chinese - Mandarin
    wéi. Note the construction 为 + noun (phrase) + 所 + verb:

    由于为数众多的乘客感染新型冠状病毒导致的肺炎而连续不断<为>各国媒体报道,引起国际上广泛关注。
    In this construction, 为 is always pronounced wéi. It introduces the doer of the following verb, and marks the passive voice.
     
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