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    #1

    Is it difficult for you Westerners?

    Hello Everyone,

    Because of the logic differences, a large number of Chinese sentences and phrases are organized in the way that differs greatly from English ones. Now I will just take the definition of the word "bread" to illustrate this!

    In longman dictionary, "bread" is defined as "a common food made from flour, water and yeast! For the definition, the Chinese are arranged this way: "made from flour, water and yeast common food. We can see from the comparision that the descriptive items like "made from flour, water, and yeast" are usually put in the front of the essential ones as "food" here in Chinese while it is the visa verse in English, like "a common food made from flour, water and yeast!" Due to this difference, we Chinese usually find it difficult to comprehend some English phrases and sentences, esp long ones as it is customary for them to get the descriptive contents then the core ones! I would like to know here. Is it also a headache sometimes for you Westerners like we Chinese when stumple on some complicated sentences?

    Regards

    Sky

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    #2

    Re: Is it difficult for you Westerners?

    Of course! Those long, complicated sentences are like puzzles.

    The thing that helps me the most is trying to diagram the sentence. That gets it down to the "core" meaning, and helps to place all the other words (phrases, adjective, etc.) into their right "slots."

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    #3

    Re: Is it difficult for you Westerners?

    Quote Originally Posted by susiedqq View Post
    Of course! Those long, complicated sentences are like puzzles.

    The thing that helps me the most is trying to diagram the sentence. That gets it down to the "core" meaning, and helps to place all the other words (phrases, adjective, etc.) into their right "slots."

    Which syntax style do you prefer psychologically, English ones or Chinese ones? For the above example, which do you think more reasonable?


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #4

    Re: Is it difficult for you Westerners?

    The English-speaker will say that the basic English construct is more logical:

    Bread is [a basic food] which is made from [wheat, barley, rye oats or other grains] combined with yeast and liquids.

    Yes, there are times when highly complex sentences can be confusing - there is a discussion going on now in the forums on this topic, with disagreement as to the meaning of a complex sentence.

  1. rewboss's Avatar

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    #5

    Re: Is it difficult for you Westerners?

    It depends what you're used to seeing.

    German has similar constructions: entire clauses can be employed as adjectival phrases, something not possible in modern English. For example:

    Der jeden Tag um acht Uhr mit seinem Herrchen zur Post laufende Hund
    The every day at eight o'clock with his master to the post office walking dog

    That's an extreme example, and Germans would rarely say it that way, but it's possible. A more typical example might be:

    Die bereits vor der Lieferung partitionierte Festplatte
    The already before the delivery partitioned hard disk

    I actually don't have any problems speaking or understanding German sentences constructed in this manner; actually, it's quite logical (English has no problem with "the partitioned hard disk", so why should it be such a problem when the adjective phrase is made a bit longer?). I do need to think for a minute when translating them, though, because I have to recast the whole phrase:

    The hard disk, which was delivered already partitioned,

    In addition, German has the nasty habit of splitting verb phrases and piling participles and infinitives up at the end of the clause. Take this example:

    Die bereits vor der Lieferung partitionierte Festplatte konnte nach stundenlanger Arbeit nicht zum Laufen gebracht werden.
    The already before the delivery partitioned hard disk could after hours-long work not to the operation brought be.

    In idiomatic English:

    Even after hours of work, the hard disk, which was delivered already partitioned, could not be made to work.

    Even Germans find this difficult to cope with, and already the system is showing signs of breaking down.

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