"I think Chinese characters look very special."


December 1, 2017

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很特别 is not something i've ever heard someone say


我已经参加汉语补习班从我五岁的时候,但到现在我也没听过“很特别”的字。“很特别” 是真的对的吗?


That "te" (特) sounds a lot like "ke," but apparently that's the way it is, and I am not the only one to hear it that way. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/9665-pronunciation-of-te4bie2-特-别/


never heard the word of 很特别before


I remember that during my time in China, my colleagues would often use the word "special" (I didn't know any Chinese by then, so we were talking in English/Chinglish). They would use it A LOT. Everything was special. "I think the food/this place/Chinese history/Chinese characters/Sichuan accent/etc. is very special". Which is the exact Chinglish translation of 很特别.

While one gets the idea behind this "I think xxx is (very) special", I don't think that this is the kind of comment that we would actually make in English. Unique, peculiar, particular, unusual... are what I would use most of the time to translate 很特别. Or I'd just make a different comment (frankly, it would never come to my mind to make this particular comment about Chinese characters unless I'm some archeologist unearthing some ancient tablet with old, unusual characters. And I'd probably use "unusual" in this situation anyway).

I'm not a native speaker of English (nor Chinese for that matter) so I might be wrong, but it sounds to me that translating with "special" does not cover most of the situations where 特别 would be used.

On a side note, there is a common Chinglish confusion between "special" and "spicy" when talking about food.

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