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How Good Really Is Mark Zuckerberg’s Mandarin?

Nov. 5, 2014

Are you a Facebook user? If so, you must know of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook. However, you may not be aware that he is also a good Chinese speaker. His wife is American-born Chinese, so he has been learning Chinese for four years and can now easily use the language to express himself. Zuckerberg even visited Tsinghua University for an interview, throughout the duration of which, he spoke in Chinese.

At the beginning of the interview, he said “我的中文很糟糕。(Wǒ de zhōngwén hěn zāogāo.) meaning “My Chinese is terrible.” However, in spoken Chinese, native speakers would typically say “我的中文很差/ 不好/ 烂。” (Wǒ de zhōngwén hěn chà / bù hǎo /làn.) instead, meaning “My Chinese is very poor/not good/bad.”

Examples

Tā xué le sānnián de zhōngwén, rènshi hěn duō hànzì, dànshì shuō de hěn làn.
他  学  了   三年     的    中文,      认识    很 多     汉字,但是     说    得   很   烂。

He has studied Chinese for three years and he knows a lot of Chinese characters, but his spoken Chinese is very bad.

 

Tā de chéngjì yìzhí hěn chà, kě bìyè hòu zhǎo dào le yí fèn búcuò de gōngzuò.
他  的   成绩   一直   很   差,可 毕业  后      找 到   了 一 份   不错   的    工作。
His grades were always poor, but he found a decent a job after graduation.

 

Wǒ de yùnqì bù hǎo, zuìjìn dǎpái zǒng shì shū.
我  的  运气    不 好, 最近  打牌     总 是    输。
I have bad luck. Recently, I keep losing at cards.

 

Now let’s take a look at how we should actually use Mark Zuckerberg’s phrase, “糟糕 (zāogāo).”

Usually, “糟糕 (zāoɡāo)” is used to express that a situation or something is very bad and terrible. We can also use it on its own to express a feeling of frustration or exasperation in a bad situation.

Examples:

Zhèngfǔ de cáizhèng zhuàngkuàng hěn zāogāo.
政府       的    财政          状况           很     糟糕。
The government's fiscal situation is very bad.

 

Zāogāo! Wǒ de chētāi bào le.
糟糕!     我 的    车胎  爆  了。
Oh no! I’ve got a flat tire.

 

Jīntiān zāogāo tòu le, méiyǒu yí jiàn kāixīn de shìqing.
今天      糟糕   透  了,没有     一 件  开心  的   事情。
I had a terrible day today. Nothing good happened.

 

Quiz:

1. Lǐ Míng: Xiàyǔ le.
    李  明: 下雨  了。
    Li Ming: It’s raining.

    Wáng Fāng: Ài,  jīntiān tiānqì zhēn ____.
    王        芳 :唉,今天   天气   真    ____。
    Wang Fang: Ugh, the weather today is really bad.

    A. 差 (chà)

    B. 烂 (làn)

    C. 糟糕 (zāogāo)

2. Wǒ yìzhí zài zhàogu shēngbìng de mèimei, guòde zhēnshì ___ tòu le.
    我  一直  在   照顾        生病       的   妹妹,  过得     真是    ___ 透  了。
    I have been taking care of my sick sister. It really sucks.

    A. 糟糕 (zāogāo)

    B. 差 (chà)

    C. 不好 (bùhǎo)

See Answers

General Chinese (Beginner Level)

General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

 

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Comments

Could we please have more test examples? There were four ways to say bad:
差, 不好, 烂, and 糟糕。 It would be nice to be quizzed on as many variations as possible to make certain the points are understood. Great lesson!

this lesson is very importan improve for our chinese knowledge.

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