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August 13 2010

Learn Firefly Swear Words. Ma Jung Hwa.

Should probably mention that some of the ads on this site make it NSFW.

I was hoping for actual Firefly "swear" words such as "gorramit" and "ruttin" but instead it's Chinese insults ("explosive diarhhoea of an elephant", and such).
I've seen stuff like this before and what I've always wanted was an audio pronunciation guide. There's that whole tone issue with Chinese. And being me, no matter what language it's in (including English), I inevitably pronounce new words wrong and put the emphasis on the wrong syllable. I have no instinct for spoken language. *sigh* It gets very embarrassing.
I don't lend much credence to this site. Just look at the English section. Even with voting it's hard to know what is and isn't true. Not to mention languages like Mexican and Argentine. Good for some laughs though
Four of those start with the same word, but they all mean different things?
It might seem like the same word in English, but the corresponding characters in Mandarin or Cantonese would be different.
Should probably mention that some of the ads on this site make it NSFW.

Yes it is. I switched the URL to something a bit more innocent.
Finally,time to learn my future mother tongue!
I'm giggling! Some of them are so funny!
The mixture of romanization systems is very distracting - I see pinyin, Wade-Giles, and stuff that makes no sense to me which I assume is the original phonetic version. It'd be nice if someone would go through and switch them all to one or the other, a person just learning the language would be extremely confused.
I sort of even wish they'd cross-references what episodes these supposedly come from or where they came up with the English translations. (Which is actually how I had to try and figure what noises to make anyway.)

I say pinyin, since it's a system people actually still use. (Right? Wade-giles is that thing that old-school Taiwanese used to use with lots of apostrophes right? I swear it also came up with totally incomprehensible letter combination like "Tsihang"or "gwai".)

Like "Yeh Lu Jwo Duo Luh Jwohn Whei Jian Guay" seems like it might be "ye lu zou doule, zhong hui jian gui(with an umlaut on the i)" which... I dunno, to me at least seems like it'd be more intuitive. Or even with the actual tone marks like "zǒu" which... I personally am too lazy to do. Still, it seems much less subjective if they just include a primer since despite how ridiculously confusing tones get, at least people can learn that all the basic vowels and/or dipthongs. (Unlike how in English there are long/short/etc vowels like the E of Echo or Eliza.)

Or there's even Rosetta-stoning it by maybe breaking down each phrase to the component character, it's literal translation, and transliteration.

I dunno, it's just sort of a pet peeve for me whenever I see intent Firefly fans try and express their feelings and enthusiasm but I have no idea what they mean. (Granted I'm also basically illiterate so if they did research the characters I also would have no idea what they mean.)
Yes, Wade-Giles is an old-fashioned linguistic style. I'm not familiar with what they use on Taiwan now, I learned first Yale, then Wade-Giles, then pinyin. I have an old pre-WWII dictionary that even romanizes the tones and it's supremely confusing.

Lately online I mostly see the tones added as numbers at the end of the syllables, as in ta1 ma1 de0. And the umlaut (when used) goes with the u, not the i. I use the dictionary a lot because I go to a site where we raise dragons (yes, yes, silly, I know) and all my dragons have Chinese names (some of which are rather clumsy but it's been 25 years since I used Chinese so I do my best :).
Unfortunately,even professors here can't get it right. A few months back,there's a great buzz about a Qinghua University professor translating Chiang Kai-shek into an unknown Chang kai-sheng,which should be Jiang Jie-Shi(one dictator before 1949) .Chang kai-shi is now a running joke about Chinese scholars,at least on internet.
Almost all of us in mainland are raised on Pinyin.Only very,very old dictionaries have Wade-Giles.(as far as I can see)
Anyway, I can not understand a single word of Chinese when watching Firefly,but now I've seen them written down,some of them are actually very good,others are of course hilarious. Very happy-making!
Yeah, the romanization is so scatter-shot as to be meaningless, especially with no tones indicated.
orangewaxlion wrote
I sort of even wish they'd cross-references what episodes these supposedly come from....
I say pinyin....
...maybe breaking down each phrase to the component character, it's literal translation, and transliteration.

I don't have the RPG-only phrases (and need to work on some things), but I've been doing all of the above since 2003. Just sayin'. ^_^

Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary

[ edited by Ying on 2010-08-14 19:47 ]
Ooooh, that's actually a great plug Ying and pretty darn thorough even. Both simplified and traditional characters, the pinyin and the way it was actually pronounced on the show, definitions, cross-referencing, and even the context it was used in!

And yeah, I guess if there were to be an umlaut it'd be on the U, my monitor's a wee bit crap and I mistook a tone marker.

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