Lesson Transcript

​​嗨,大家好,我是李茵茹。 (Hāi, dàjiā hǎo, wǒ shì Lǐ Yīn Rú).
Hi everyone, Yin Ru Li here.
Each 漢字 (Hàn zì) Chinese character has its own meaning. But in everyday Chinese, 漢字 (Hàn zì) are rarely used alone.
They are often combined with other 漢字 (Hàn zì) to make words. Words that are made of two or more characters are called compound words. In Chinese, some compound words are made of two 漢字 (Hàn zì) with opposite meanings, such as 大小 (dà xiǎo), 左右 (zuǒ yòu), and 多少 (duō shǎo).
In this lesson, we're going to take a close look at these types of compound words.
First word is 大小 (dà xiǎo), 大 (dà) means big.
It's like, it looks like a person spreading out his forelimbs trying to look big. 大 (dà), and to write 大 (dà), it's written in this order. 一,二,三,大 (dà), and 小 (xiǎo) means small. It's almost like a little penguin, this character.
To write it in the proper stroke order, it goes like 一, with a hook, 二, and 三, make sure you can see this. 小 (xiǎo), well when 大小 (dà xiǎo) are combined to make a compound word, 大小 (dà xiǎo) together means size.
大 (dà), 小 (xiǎo), for example, 衣服大小合适吗? (Yīfú dà xiǎo héshì ma?) Literally, this sentence means clothes, big, small, fit? Question mark.
But in more natural English translation, it is, do these clothes fit?
衣服大小合适吗? (Yīfú dà xiǎo héshì ma?) Next sentence.
Literally it is, these two apples, big, small, not the same. But it actually means, these two apples have different sizes.
这两个苹果大小不一样。 (Zhè liǎng gè píngguǒ dà xiǎo bù yīyàng)
The next pair of opposites is 左右 (zuǒ yòu),
左 (zuǒ) means left, 左 (zuǒ), and 右 (yòu) means right, 右 (yòu). Well, 左右 (zuǒ yòu), these two characters both look like they are wearing a cape. Can you see it? But the difference lies in what's under the cape.
In 左 (zuǒ), there is a character 工 (gōng), meaning labor or work. And under the cape of 右 (yòu), it is a 口 (kǒu), which means mouth or opening. So you can memorize it as left labor, right bite. 左工 (zuǒ gōng), 右口 (yòu kǒu), left labor, right bite. Okay, that's right, 左 (zuǒ) and 右 (yòu) in the proper stroke order.
So to write 左 (zuǒ), first, 二, 三, 四, 五, this is how you write 左 (zuǒ). To write 右 (yòu), 一, 二, 三, 四, 五, 右 (yòu), and 左右 (zuǒ yòu) together as a compound word means about or around.
Okay, 左右 (zuǒ yòu), about, around. For example, 他三十岁, 左右 (Tā sānshí suì, zuǒ yòu), he 30 years left, right.
Well, in more natural English translation, or English, it is, he is about 30 years old.
Next one, 開車要一小時左右 (Kāichē yào yī xiǎoshí zuǒ yòu). Literally, driving the car needs one hour left, right.
And in the natural English, it is Driving needs (takes) about an hour.
Well, another compound word with the opposite directions is this one. 東 (dōng), 西 (xī), 東 (dōng) means east. 西 (xī) means west. So to write 東 (dōng), well, you can see there is a character at the bottom, that looks familiar to you maybe. This one, 小 (xiǎo), see there is a 小 (xiǎo) in 東 (dōng).
So to write 東 (dōng), we write the top first, 一, 二, and then we write 小 (xiǎo), but make sure you start from here.
So 小 (xiǎo) cross lines with the second stroke of 東 (dōng). Okay, and to, let's look at 西 (xī) first, before we write it. Do you think it looks like an upside down wine glass? Well, this could be the bottom of the wine glass, and this could be the stem, and this could be the part that holds the liquid. Well, since wine was introduced to China from the west, this could be one way you memorize this 西 (xī) as a wine glass introduced from the west. 西 (xī), and to write 西 (xī) in the proper stroke order, like this, 一, 二, 三, 四, 五, 六, 西 (xī).
Well, when 東 (dōng) and 西 (xī), east, west combined together as a compound word, it is 東西 (dōngxi), which means stuff or thing.
But what you need to pay attention here is that when 東西 (dōngxi) is used as a compound word, the tone of 西 (xī) changes to the neutral tone, which means it doesn't have stress, it's light, and there's no mark on 西 (xī) compared to the 西 (xī) in the first tone, when it means west. So 東西 (dōngxi), thing or stuff, by 西 (xī), west, 西 (xī).
Well, we often say 東西 (dōngxi) as in 吃東西 (chī dōngxi), means to eat things or to eat something, 吃東西 (chī dōngxi),
or 這是什麼東西? (Zhè shì shénme dōngxi?) What is this thing? 這是什麼東西? (Zhè shì shénme dōngxi?)
Next, 多少 (duō shǎo), 多少 (duō shǎo) is made up of 多 (duō), which means many or much, and 少 (shǎo), which means few or little. Now 多 (duō), let's take a close look at 多 (duō), 多 (duō) is made up of two copies of this compound, タ, タas two of these タ stacked together. Well xī originally was used as a symbol to represent meat, so two タ (xī) or two pieces of meat was considered a lot, so 多 (duō) means a lot, to write it, 一, 二, 三, then we repeat, 四, 五, 六, 多 (duō), and 少 (shǎo), which is a simple word, but kind of resembles this one, 小 (xiǎo), right? But 小 (xiǎo) has a little hook, 少 (shǎo) instead has a left curve, let's write 少 (shǎo) together, 一, 二, 三, 四, 少 (shǎo), and 多少 (duōshǎo), when used as a compound word, means how many or how much, how many.
But we can ask how much something is by saying 多少钱 (duōshǎo qián), 多少钱 (duōshǎo qián) means how much, literally it is many, few money, but it means how much is this 多少钱 (duō shǎo qián), and we can also use 多少 (duō shǎo) to ask someone how old he is by saying 他多少岁 (Tā duō shǎo suì), he many few years, or how old is he, 他多少岁 (Tā duō shǎo suì).
Now let's look at the next pair of opposites, 反 (fǎn) and 正 (zhèng), 反 (fǎn) is a word that could mean reversed, anti, or negative, on the contrary, 正 (zhèng) could mean correct, justified, or positive, now let's first look at 反 (fǎn), the first stroke of 反 (fǎn) goes like this, you could see this stroke as a rooftop or canopy, and the next one, we can see this as a wall, and the next part, the lower part goes like this.
Well, you can think of this as a person with folded arms or crossed legs as if he or she is against something that is being brought up, 反 (fǎn), against, and 正 (zhèng). Well other than being a regular character, 正 (zhèng) is often used as a symbol for a five count, so in Chinese we write 正 (zhèng) for five counts instead of this in some parts of the world, because 正 (zhèng) has five straight lines, so for instance, I'm giving you a quiz, and for every question you get right, I write, I add one stroke of 正 (zhèng) to record your score, so this means you have one point, and now you have two points, then you got three points, four points, five points, so when a 正 (zhèng) is completed, that means you have five points, and when you have two 正 (zhèng), that means you have ten points, three 正 (zhèng) means you have fifteen points, and so on.
Okay, when 反 (fǎn) and 正 (zhèng) are combined, it becomes an adverb, meaning no matter it's negative or positive or in any case or anyways, let me just write anyway here.
Okay, for example, you are meeting your friend for a movie, you arrive early and you
text your friend, 我到了 (Wǒ dào le), I'm here, your friend feels apologetic and tells you she will be there in just a bit, and then you can text back, 没关系,反正还有时间 (Méi guānxi, fǎnzhèng hái yǒu shíjiān), this means it's okay, there's still time anyway, 没关系,反正还有时间 (Méi guānxi, fǎnzhèng hái yǒu shíjiān).
The next sentence, 反正不是我的错 (Fǎnzhèng bùshì wǒ de cuò), well this means whatever, it's not my fault anyway, 反正不是我的错 (Fǎnzhèng bùshì wǒ de cuò), implying I don't care who did this, I did not do anything wrong, 反正不是我的错 (Fǎnzhèng bùshì wǒ de cuò).
In this lesson, we learned five pairs of compound words that are made up of opposites.
In the next lesson, we'll learn five more compound words like these, I'll see you then, 再见 (zài jiàn)!