Chinese Descriptive Words

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Monday, September 24, 2012 5:39 AM


Keep Flying

Hi! I'm kind of new to and I want to start off by saying that in all of my years of following Firefly, I have never felt as 'at home' as I do when I come here! Everyone is so positive and helpful and no one bashes other peoples' work no matter how far-fetched it might be. So thank you for that!

Now, I need a bit of help with writing some Chinese phrases. I know there are site for the words used in the show, but I want to add some of my own to my stories, and I'm having some trouble.

When using an adjective with a noun, does it work like it does in the English language (Big Mom) or like it does in Spanish and French (Grande Mama)?

For example, in the chapter I'm writing now, I wanted to say Beautiful Friend. So I wrote it as 'Mei You'. Should it have been 'You Mei'? I just don't want to offend anyone by butchering this wonderful, but complex language!

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012 4:10 AM


Hi! Sorry, I guess things were a little slow around here yesterday. In any case, welcome, nice to see you venturing out onto the boards.

To answer your question, as another example, the word "baobèi" means "precious sea shell" (bao with a caron over the a - precious, bèi - sea shell) and so follows an adjective noun format.

However, that doesn't actually always hold true. There isn't a fixed rule for whether adjectives follow nouns or the other way around. "dànbái" is egg whites (dàn - egg, bái - white).

So really, the rule of thumb is to combine the words into phrases that are already common in chinese, so that chinese speakers can easily recognize them.

Without having the accent marks on your "mei you" combination, things become kinda tricky. I'm guessing the accents here are both carons over the e and the o (carons don't show up on the board well). Accent marks (pinyin) helps people figure out which character or words you're using (or at least narrows it down).

That combination does not appear to be a common chinese phrase, but if you're going to use it, put in the accent marks is my suggestion. I also note that you mei, with different accent marks, is a common term for "beautiful" (you - excellent, mei with a caron - beauty). So if you want the friend meaning in there, might change it from the expected phrase.

This is the chinese dictionary I use a lot.

and I use this to cross check the chinese to english.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012 3:33 PM


I use the MDGB translator, same site that Bytemite referenced there. If you turn on the "Auto Complete Input" option it gives you many choices for phrases and idiomatic expressions as well as single words.

Chinese word order is mostly like English, so Adjective Noun would be the correct word order. If the word being used as an adjective is a verb or some verbal form, the particle "le" is added to the end of it, then it's placed before the noun. If the word being used as an adjective is a noun, then the particle "de" is added to the end of it, then it's placed before the noun. (I haven't studied Chinese formally, but I consulted someone who has before writing this answer.)

You're welcome to consult the glossary lists at the end of each chapter of my fanfics, and take words or phrases from them, if it's of any use to you.

Good luck! :-)


Tuesday, September 25, 2012 6:51 PM


Hmm, I haven't heard the le verb one, but I do know about de. I think de is a possessive particle, like adding an apostrophe s to a noun.






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