"他不说汉语。"

Translation:He does not speak Chinese.

November 23, 2017

27 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nikki1428

why are they saying 汉语 instead of 中文?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VinciusdeS1

From what I understand 中文 is the written chinese (文 literaly means scribbings, writings, etc..). Also 汉语 literally means "language of the Han people” which might be a reference to a specific dialect of Chinese. The written language might be shared, but their spoken language are some what different. But this is just an educated guess. Maybe I'm wrong, in which case, feel free to correct me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

The word 汉语 denotes Chinese in general, including all of its dialects, and is usually equivalent to 中文, though the latter may be more common colloquially. Both can be used except in certain idiomatic or specialized contexts, where one term might be preferred over the other. The idea that "中文" refers to or at least includes writing has some currency in these specialized contexts but doesn't apply to general usage. "说中文" is a legitimate and common phrasing, and likewise "汉语" can be used to refer to Chinese set down in writing.


And for the sake of further interest:

Mandarin Chinese is technically 官话 (officialese, or the language of the officials/bureaucrats, as Chinese officials/bureaucrats were known in English as mandarins).

However, in terms of talking about the official language of China, what we commonly call Mandarin in English is 普通话, "the common language", also known as 现代标准汉语 (modern standard Chinese, which is probably why some people will confuse it with just 汉语, i.e. Chinese in general), which is essentially a modern vernacular version of 官话, itself based on or equivalent to a northern dialect arising in or around Beijing (with related dialects being classified as part of the Mandarin language family as categorized by linguists).

普通话, i.e. standard Mandarin, is commonly known as 国语 in Taiwan (really 國語, since Taiwan uses traditional characters), and 华语 (or 華語) in Singapore and Malaysia.

In English we're a bit out of step with the Chinese nomenclature, at least colloquially, but for good reason. We call the official language of China and Taiwan "Mandarin", which (etymologically) evokes its path to becoming the official language, and also makes more sense in the English context than calling it simply "the common language" (China) or "the national language" (Taiwan), as those terms would require further qualification. ("华语", for its part, could be translated as "Chinese" or perhaps "the magnificent language", but neither of those is useful for specifying Mandarin in English.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Terry592353

Gee, I translated the above with "He doesn't speak chinese" - which Duolingo didn't accept. It corrected me with " ...does not... " Gee, how strict is this ! :-(


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lightning_11

Wow, that's very strict. Thankfully, it's accepted now. I'm glad to see that Duo is improving.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2lMx1j7K

I was learning Chinese from a book some time ago, and I remember seeing something like "中国话" for "Chinese". Is this correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

Yes, that's another way to say it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/choccymiIk

Would adding 会 to this sentence make it "He can't speak Chinese" like, “他不会说汉语”?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/staryblaster2

Wow, you guys are good at chinese


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NickolasLu10

They are just gaining xp to be the first on the legue


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

I didn't know anything about Chinese until I started learning it in university, and then I lived in China and Taiwan for a couple of years.

I don't think I've done a Chinese lesson on Duolingo in weeks. I don't care about the leagues at all. I care about language learning, and helping others.

There are people who treat Duolingo as a game. I don't waste my time on that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NickolasLu10

Almost everyone that is doing this course is native Chinese speaker because I'm sure. I mean normal people wouldn't know so much about Chinese. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/samomotaro

汉语,华语,国语,普通话... There are several ways refer to Chinese (spoken language) depending on where you are. I'm guessing 汉语 is more commonly said in China, but I've heard 国语 being used in Taiwan and 华语 is more commonly used in Southeast Asia. So rule of thumb, just use whatever other people around you are using.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

Well, be careful, because 汉语 is technically Chinese in general, not the standard Mandarin dialect, whereas the other words in your list refer specifically to Mandarin. (From what I've read, "华语" used to refer to Chinese in general but underwent a shift in or around the 1960s.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CharlesJac316108

汉语 means Chinese language. A Chinese person understands the difference between 中文 which also means Chinese and 汉语 which is Chinese as a language. And in this context, the correct word is 汉语.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nyamothecat

汉语 is a pretty outdated way to translate mandarin chinese. 普通话 would have been more relevant.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeaceJoyPancakes

I don't think it's outdated, though it may be less colloquial than "中文", at least in many regions.

But it actually means "Chinese" (of any dialect), not "Mandarin", so it's not equivalent to "普通话". See my comment above.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GaryLBulthouse

谢谢和平喜悦煎饼教授

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