Following exchanges with readers, I open a section dedicated to language in Chinese series. I will talk about expressions or habits typical to the Chinese language.
I have chosen a first serie, ” 都挺好 All is well. ” It is the story of a family from Suzhou, where everything is not going very well. The eldest son works in San Francisco while the father, the second son, and the little sister live in Suzhou.
Let’s start with the title 都挺好. 都 is an adverb that here means everything, 挺好 very well.
The first scene takes place in San Francisco. The city is usually called 旧金山, literally The Old Mountain of Gold – 旧 jiù, old + 金 jīn, gold + 山 shān, mountain. In the 19th century, many Chinese emigrated to this city, known for having gold mines. In Melbourne, Australia, gold was later discovered. The latter was called The New Gold Mountain 新金山, and San Francisco became the old one.
Let’s look at the first sentences of episode 1 from 1’16.
The elder’s family is getting ready to join friends.
慢点 màn diǎn, Take it easy!
The Chinese language likes particles, small words that add nuance, or give direction to the meaning. The Chinese use them a lot. The following three sentences end with the particle 吧 ba. 吧 has many uses including suggesting, confirming, or evaluating.
装好了,走吧 zhuāng hǎole, zǒu ba! Everything is loaded, let’s go!
装 = load, 好 acts, as a result, to show that the action is carried out. 了 indicates change. 吧 is used to suggest. This suggests the idea of leaving. 走吧 can be translated as: Let’s go !
没落什么吧 méi là shénme ba? Didn’t we forget anything?
落 has two sounds. Pronounced là, it means to forget.
吧 can be used when asking for confirmation.
你放心吧, nǐ fàngxīn ba, Don’t worry!
放心, fàng xīn, be quiet, be reassured
吧 has a value that is between suggestion and request.
You will notice that out of four sentences; only one has a subject. Only the fourth has a subject, 你.
You can listen to these first four sentences here from 1’16 :
Articles on characters and the Chinese language:
16 November 2020