Super Joke on Chinese Study – 姑妈和姑娘/gūmā hé gūniang: Auntie and Girl

23 Oct

John has always been confused by synonym in Chinese. For example, 冷 (lěng) and 凉 (liáng) both mean cold in Chinese. People can say 我很冷 (Wǒ hěn lěng) to describe that I feel very cold, but cannot use 我很凉 (Wǒ hěn liáng) even though 冷 and 凉 have the same meaning here.
One day, John is having a dialogue practice with SpeakMandarin coach Molly. John wants to tell Molly that he met a girl today.
John: 我今天遇到了一个姑妈。
Molly: …What?
Language point: In Chinese, 妈 (mā) and 娘 (niáng) are synonym, and they both mean mother when used individually. However, when used in words, this pair of synonym will lose its original meaning some time. Here, 姑妈 means auntie, but 姑娘 means girl. John still thought that these two can be replaced by each other therefore made a mistake.

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