Characterless Northeasternisms

« previous post | next post »

From a native Northeasterner:

Many people think that Dōngběi huà 东北话 (Northeastern Topolect) = Pǔtōnghuà 普通话 (Modern Standard Mandarin). Nononono! Although phonologically Dōngběi huà 东北话 (Northeastern Topolect) sounds like Pǔtōnghuà 普通话 (Modern Standard Mandarin), it is not Mandarin at all because of its distinctive lexical inventory. Yesterday we talked about hermaphrodites, or intersex persons, which are called “èryǐzi” (sounds like 二椅子 (lit., "two chairs"), though I don’t know which are the Chinese characters at all); and also breasts as zhāzhā — e.g., a small kid would say to his/her mom “Wǒ yào chī / mō 我要吃/摸 zhāzhā” ("I want to nibble / touch zhāzhā") when he/she looks for the mama’s breasts; and also xuán了 for “a lot” — e.g. "Lǎoshī liú de zuòyè xuánle 老师留的作业xuán了" ("the teacher gave a lot of homework"),"Dàjiē shàng yǒu xuánle rénle 大街上有xuán了人了" ("the street is crowded with so many people"),or "Tā de wánjù xuánle 他的玩具xuán了" ("he has a lot of toys"). Note that we don’t say "Tā yǒu xuánle wánjù 他有xuán了玩具",but rather "Tā de wánjù xuánle 他的玩具xuán了"。Funny grammar :) Again, I don't know how to write these words in characters.

When will people ever wake up to the fact that Sinitic words are not dependent upon Sinographs?!


Selected readings

1 Comment

  1. Chau said,

    July 15, 2022 @ 9:40 pm

    I found in Harbin Fangyan Cidian (哈爾濱方言詞典 Harbin Topolectal Dictionary, published by Jiangsu Jiaoyu Chubanshe, 1998) two of the three words mentioned in the o.p. Èryǐzi ‘intersex person 兩性人’ is given as 二尾子 (p. 15), and zhāzhā ‘breast, milk’ is given as 咂咂兒 (tsa-tsar) or 咂兒 (tsar) (p. 98).

    In Dongbei Fangyan Cidian (东北方言词典 Northeastern Topolectal Dictionary, published by Jilin Wenshi Chubanshe, 2005), I found only one of the three. Èryǐzi is transcribed, like the other dictionary, as 二尾子 (p. 80), defined as ‘hermaphrodite 陰陽人, intersex person 兩性人’.

    It is obvious that these Sinographs are just borrowed to transcribe the sounds.

RSS feed for comments on this post