Interjections are commonly used in our daily life which are also known as “叹词 (tàncí)” or “感叹词 (gǎntàncí)” in Mandarin Chinese.
These kinds of expressions are used in our daily lives to express exclamations or make various kinds of emotional responses.
It happens every day!
We use interjections or exclamations to express our emotional responses to things or to emphasize or exclaim when speaking with people.
In Chinese, these are called “叹词 (tàncí)” or “感叹词 (gǎntàncí).” There are obviously many words that are commonly used, and I will introduce one of them today.
These two ladies haven’t seen each other since Lisa attended Tina’s daughter’s first birthday party.
One day Tina went out with her daughter and happened to meet Lisa.
Lisa: Zhè shì nǐ de nǚér ma?
Lisa: Is this your daughter?
Tina: Shì a.
Lisa: Āiya, tā dōu zhǎng zhème gāo la.
Lisa: Wow, she has gotten so tall.
Calvin is walking down the street with his new girlfriend Emily. In the coffee shop, they meet Calvin’s aunt Susan.
Susan: Āiya, nǐ nǚpéngyou hǎo piàoliang a, shēncái yě hǎo jí le!
Susan: Oh my Godness, your girlfriend is so pretty, and her figure is fabulous!
Calvin: Hāhā, āyí, nà shì kěndìng de, wǒ nǚpéngyou shì xiàohuā ne.
Calvin: Haha, of course auntie, my girlfriend is our school’s beauty queen.
Lǎogōng: Āiya, lǎopó, nǐ yòu mǎi yīfu le? Zhè ge yuè nǐ yǐjīng mǎi le sì jiàn yīfu le.
Husband: Oh my gosh, are you serious? Honey, did you buy clothes again? You’ve already bought 4 items of clothing this month.
Lǎopo: Lǎogōng, wǒ yǐjīng mǎi le ma, nǐ shuō wǒ yě méiyòng a.
Wife: Hubby, I’ve already bought them, so it doesn’t do any good to complain about it.
Milly: Āiya, jiějie, nǐ fán sǐ le, ràng wǒ zài shuì huìr ma!
Milly: Ugh, sis, you’re annoying me. Let me sleep a little longer!
Phoebe: Bùxíng, tàiyáng dōu shàidào pìgǔ shàng le, qǐchuáng!
Phoebe: No, you’re burning daylight! Get up!
Linda: Āiya, yéye xīnzàng bìng fāzuò la.
Linda: Oh my god, Grandpa is having a heart attack.
Jack: Zhàogù hǎo tā, wǒ mǎshàng dǎ jíjiù diànhuà.
Jack: You watch him! I’ll call 120. (The emergency number in China is 120.)
Nancy: Āiya, diànyǐng yǐjīng kāishǐ la, tā zěnme hái méi lái ya.
Nancy: Oh shoot! The film has already begun. Why hasn’t she come yet?
Taylor: Dàgài shì yǒu shì dānwù le ba.
Taylor: She probably got delayed with something.
So as you can see, there are many meanings for this interjection “哎呀 (āiya)” depending on the context, the conversation, and the tone with which you say it.
Wáng Qīng: Āiya, nǐ yòu cǎi dào wǒ de jiǎo la.
Lì Lì: Bàoqiàn, wǒ búshì gùyì de.
A. Wang Qing is complaining that Li Li stepped on her foot.
B. Wang Qing feels sorry for stepping on Li Li’s foot.
C. Wang Qing didn’t think Li Li had stepped on her foot on purpose.
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