Lesson 059. Dimensions in Chinese. Review.

This lesson is mostly a review, plus you will also learn about dimensions in Mandarin Chinese. Please sign up and become a registered subscriber to download ALL 200+ audio lessons with full PDF transcripts and worksheets.

2 comments

  1. Serge Melnyk says:

    Nihao Thomas,

    Very good questions. But I have to disagree with your wife and your friends. Sorry.

    Let me give my explanation.

    1) Weilai vs. Jianglai. Weilai carries more uncertainty- ‘bu que4ding4 yin1su4’. Jiang1lai2- is more certain. In the situational dialog of lesson 59, I didn’t mention anywhere that ‘I will move into that room’ for sure. That is why I used ‘weilai’-uncertainty-maybe I will move into that room, maybe I will not. Maybe it’s too expensive, so I will find somewhere else, but thank you for offering your help’.

    Jianglai, of course, can also be used in place of weilai, if I’m more than 90% sure that I will move there. Actually, nowadays many people use jianglai and weilai in absolutely the same ways, based on their personal preference. Some prefer to always use weilai, some jianglai. Of course, except for some ‘fixed’ expressions. E.g. zai4 weilai 24 xiao3shi2 zhong1- in the future 24 hours. Here weilai is used and you can not use jiang1lai2, even though jianglai, as according to your wife, is pointing to the near future and weilai to the distant future. There are certainly some language habits that people have acquired, but in the broad sense, both words can be used equally, depending on your view of the world. Some people are less certain about things, so they use weilai more often, etc.

    To support this, please read, or read with your taitai, this passage that I found about weilai and jianglai. I have highlighted the sentences that are relevant to my explanation.

    未来”和”将来”,意思好像差不多。老祖宗是很讲究词语的,比如秀丽和漂亮,都是形容好看,但其中有细微却不容忽视的区别。秀丽更自然天成,漂亮则带有人工斧凿的痕迹。那么未来和将来的差异究竟在哪儿?坦率地讲,我成天和文字打交道,很长时间内搞不清。
    原认为未来和将来的不同,主要在于时间距离的长短。比如常说:”走向未来”,指比较遥远的时间段,无法改成”走向将来”。换后者也可勉强成文,终不伦不类。也就是说,”将来 “似乎是比较贴近眼前的时间,”未来”的尺度则更宏大一些,有点像公里和海里的关系。察觉失误源于听天气预报。播音员常说:”在未来二十四小时内……”
    一昼夜并不遥远,但这句话不便改成”在将来二十四小时内”。看来单是距此时此刻的时间尺度,并不是这两个词的分水岭。
    查辞典。
    “将来”–“时间词。现在以后的时间。”
    “未来”–“就要到来的。指时间。”
    如此解释,半斤八两,不了了之。似乎也不便埋怨撰写词典的人敷衍了事,这两个词,在日常使用上,像通用电脑的内存条,置换方便。比如说:”未来是青年人的”,可以很利索地转化为”将来是年青人的”,理解上无重大歧义。
    那么,智慧的老祖宗,为什么还要分得这么细?
    近读一本学者的书,茅塞顿开。文中说,”未”字的古义是”滋味”。”未”字和”木”字很相像,比木多了一横。这一横可不是随便加的,有深意。它代表树叶,表示枝干繁茂。繁茂了和滋味有什么关系?此刻需要一点艺术想像力–叶子多了说明树木生长情形良好,结的果子就多,味道就好……叶子遮挡了光线,树下就显出朦胧昏昧的样子,表达一种不可知和不可测的神秘性。
    哈!原来”未”的意思是–“朦胧的果实”。
    至于”将来”的”将”字,居然有些热腾腾的血腥气藏在内里。指”手执利剑屠宰杀生”,所以最初多用于将军和厨师,后来渐渐衍生出”掌握”和”选择”的意思。
    如果一定要概括”将”字形象,我愿意把它描绘成遮掩着某些利益的黑色斗篷。
    学者说,”未来”是指在我们视野之外的明天,”将来”是指在我们掌握之中的明天。
    它们都犀利地指向明天。”未来”是一颗雾蒙蒙的核桃,”将来”是一只隐蔽的魔柜。
    某学生成绩优异,人们说,这孩子”将来”能上重点中学,”将来”能上大学。在这里,”将来”有一种探囊索物的笃定,运筹帷幄的安详。一个人发了财,只要经营得当,不犯法,他”将来”会成为富翁。当然意外也随伺左右,如果学生临场失常考试砸锅,商人行私舞弊犯奸作科,人们会说,看!他把自己的”将来”给毁了。”将来”虽然是预计,在这里却几乎成了人人可以把握的既定事实。
    “将来”所说的明天,实质上更多是一种惯性,是在基础上搭盖的二层楼,是箭已离弦,从铁弓到靶心的飞翔过程。于是就有了世故和因循的气息,成了可以预期红利的股票。
    未来更富于冒险和挑战。它是昏暗中的不倦探索,是勇气和智慧的多次叠加,是期望战胜了恐惧后的欣喜,是漂浮着幻想泡沫的鸡尾酒。
    当人们反复强调,”未来”不是梦的时候,内心确知”未来”有太多梦幻的成分。当人们允诺”未来”的寰球是和平世界时,面对的是眼前的硝烟和核弹。当人们说,”未来”要到星际旅行,等待人类的实际上是艰巨拼搏和献身。人们大胆地对”未来”做出的种种预测,其实只是孤独和勇敢地对着茫茫宇宙的悲壮自白。
    将来很实惠,未来多虚幻。一个人在明天的早饭还没着落的时候,考虑的只能是将来。但两厢比较,我还是更喜欢未来的涵义。
    将来当然重要。这条优质纱巾,把某些已露端倪的矛盾遮盖着,掩藏起短兵相接的锋芒。温暖地包裹鸡蛋,把它孵化,某个黎明,嘹亮的鸡啼把主人唤醒。一颗海椰被风暴冲到适宜生长的岸边,便会长成大树,需要的仅仅是时间。定时炸弹埋在土里,秒针无声走动,一个惊天动地的时刻渐渐迫近……”将来”不是无源之水无本之木,”将来”是春种秋收勤劳敬业的农夫。你播下的是龙种,收获的就不是跳蚤。
    所以对待将来,如同守候性能可靠的生产线,按部就班是它的最大特征。输进原料,就准备照单接收产品。出了废品,切勿埋怨客观。必是某个环节出了故障,隐患早趴暗处了。如果得到嘉奖,也不必大喜过望。所有数据已经输入,就像火箭发射,飞上蓝天才是正理,凌空一炸就是大冷门了。
    所以,将来的基调是冷静的古朴之色。循序渐进是经,成竹在胸是纬。所以让我们生出些许畏惧,些许忐忑,概因时间的关系。好像正在显影的照片,虽然一切已经定型,毕竟最后一道工序尚未完成。在某些情形之下,将来之手的可怕在于–它无法使事情变得比设想更好,但有足够的力量,把事情变糟。
    我们永不能对将来掉以轻心。
    但从人类的发展史来说,更重要的是面向未来。猿从树上降落到草地,直立行走,绝不仅仅是已知行为方式的延伸和把握,而是充满了想像力度的空前变革。前景如何,无法预报。最初的人类,只是在若明若暗的曦光中走着,艰难困窘挺进远方。然而,一个伟大的新世纪,就在这蹒跚的脚印中爆发。
    将来是沉稳的,未来是炙烈的。将来是简明扼要的,未来是华美铺张的。将来是务实的,未来是缥缈的。将来是有条不紊的,未来是浮想联翩的。将来是殚精竭虑的,未来是高瞻远瞩的。将来是惨淡经营的,未来是举重若轻的。将来是可以揭秘一览无余的苫布,未来是永在夜空闪烁不可触及的星巢。
    将来更多地属于个体。未来则是全人类远眺的家园。
    现今的人们,常常为自己设计多种”将来”,将来变得越来越精确和细致。但一己的将来固然重要,整个人类的未来,更是现代人必须关注的方向。将来和未来结合在一起,就是飞翔的魔毯,把我们载往远方的树林,那里有朦胧的新的果实。

    2)shuo1fa3. In your friend’s story, shuofa means’ explanation’: gei wo yige shuofa-give me an explanation. In lesson 54, shuofa means-shuo1hua4 de fang1shi4(or fang1fa3)-the way of saying smth. The key thing here is ‘bai4nian2 de shihou’. So when you ‘bainian’, are there any special ways ways of saying things?
    Because if you read the next sentence, dangran you-of course there are….. ni3 ke3yi3 shuo1…..ni3 ye3 ke3yi3 shuo1……. words guiju and jiangjiu will not fit into this context. However, in a different context, you can put them there. E.g. if you mean to say that people give ‘hongbao’-red envelopes to each other etc. Because guiju or jiangju are some sort of behaviour that people exhibit.

    Hope this was helpful!

    Best,

    Serge

  2. Tom says:

    Ni hao Serge,

    I’m really enjoying your lessons. Please keep them coming!

    In lesson 59, there is the expression “Yinwei women weilai yao banjia . . .” My taitai (from China) swears this is incorrect in that, according to her,
    weilai means in the distant future. She says you could say weilai in regard to telling a child some day (weilai) you will have kids. She thinks jianglai or yihou would be more appropriate.

    In lesson 54, there is the expression in regard to bainian, “you meiyou shenme tebie de shuofa ma?” Two Chinese people have told me that this is not the correct way to say this. It was suggested to use guiju or jiangju. I must say they both had a difficult time of explaining what shuofa meant. One gave me an example from a news story. An out of town man was beaten up by the Shanghai police. He complained to many different government ministries. Ultimately, the Shanghai police agreed to pay him some money. But this wasn’t enough and he went on one of these rampages we’ve been hearing about recently in China and said words to the effect if you don’t give shuofa, I will take shuofa.

    Please don’t take this as a criticism! I’ve tried looking these words up in the dictionary and can’t make heads nor tales of these issues and so thought I would ask.

    All the best,

    Tom

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