Translation:Long time no see!
Maybe it's better to think of 好 as "well", which can similarly be used as an intensifier in English.
e.g. you might cook your meat "well done" or something might be "well out of range" or a person might be "well-rounded". In modern times it's probably not used so much in this sense (I think it's more common in British English).
Just as an aside, since you've studied Spanish, "bien" can also be used as an intensifier like this.
This is my first time seeing this, thanks for sharing.
It flows more naturally to make these changes in this case; is it always true that a phrase with double 3 or double 4 will sound best if the first 3 or first 4 is changed to a 2?
Just trying to understand what the actual rule is. Thanks!
Mandarin users know the numbers probably better than the diacritical markings ("accent" marks), so it would not hurt to learn them. I guess it is because the diacritical markings are more difficult to type on phones, etc. And people refer to "1st tone", "2nd tone" etc.
So: 好= good, well, maybe also used as the English "great" which has a duble meaning: It can mean big or large, but can also mean good, fine, superb etc. So word by word this phrase could be 好= great (as in the meaning large?) 久= long 不=no 见= see. And the translation would be: It is a long time since we saw each other or simply: Long time no see...
见 is pronounced as jian4.
Sure, "Long time no see" might be more of an American expression. It possibly comes from Chinese (Cantonese) originally. I'm American and we say it a lot (loads :) ) The sentence you gave is of course a proper English full sentence, but it's not an "expression." In any case, what we are dealing with here is a Chinese expression, which happens to have a counterpart in American (?) English, but I guess maybe not in UK English...
Actually "Long time no see" has been used for over a hundred years and hence has become part of the language even though it is technically grammatically incorrect. It originally appeared in some westerns in the mid 1800s. The phrase was most likely picked up from either Native Americans or Chinese railroad workers. It is grammatically correct in Chinese.