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Victory for the Miami Heat…Right? (Intermediate)

Jul. 4, 2012

Key Learning Points (Preview):

胜 (shèng) to win


败 (bài) to lose


On June 22nd, the NBA had its fifth and final championship game; the result being that the Miami Heat "大胜 (dà shèng)" beat the Oklahoma City Thunder by a margin of 121–106 and have become the 2012 NBA champions. They won the seven game series by a final margin of 4 games to 1.

Miami "大胜 (dà shèng)" beat Oklahoma. Yet, a news report wrote that that the Miami Heat "大败 (dà bài)" the Oklahoma City Thunder. Readers were puzzled. "胜 (shèng)" and "败 (bài)" are polar opposites in Chinese; "胜" means to win and "败" means to lose. Did the newspaper, readers wondered, make a mistake? Did Miami win or lose?

As it turns out, the newspaper got it right. Miami "大胜 (dà shèng)" Oklahoma, but it also "大败 (dà bài)" Oklahoma, and that is because both verbs can mean "to beat."

Confused? Let's break it down. In ancient Chinese they used the expression "大大地打败 (dà dà dì dǎ bài)" meaning defeat. Moving forward in time, this expression has been shortened to just "大败 (dà bài)." When used with an object, "大败 (dà bài)" is causative, meaning "to make someone lose" or "to cause defeat." For example, the sentence "the Chinese team 大败 (dà bài)beat the US team" really means "the Chinese team caused the US team's defeat." In this situation you can use either "大败 (dà bài)" or "大胜 (dà shèng)" with the same end result.

But if "大败 (dà bài)" is used without an object it is no longer causative. Instead, it means "big failure" or "to lose." For example, the Oklahoma City Thunder "大败 (dà bài) lost."

Key Learning Points:

胜 (shèng) to win


Yìdàlì dà shèng Déguó jìnrù 2012 Ōuzhōubēi juésài.
意大利大  胜       德国  进入 2012  欧洲杯       决赛。


Italy beat Germany and advanced to the Euro 2012 final.

败 (bài) to lose


C Luó wú yuán diǎnqiú, Pútaoyá dà bài.
C 罗    无   缘     点球,  葡萄牙  大  败。


Cristiano Ronaldo had no chance at making the penalty kick and Portugal was defeated by Spain.


      Zhècì de NBA bǐsài zhēn jīngcǎi.
Jim: 这次 的 NBA 比赛   真     精彩。
      The NBA games this year are very exciting.

      Shì a, Oklahoma City Thunder yǐ 4:1____ the Lakers jìnrù zǒng juésài.
Eric: 是啊,Oklahoma City Thunder以4:1____the Lakers 进入总     决赛。
      Yes, the Oklahoma City Thunder ___ the Lakers 4–1 to enter the finals.

      Búguò zǒng juésài Oklahoma City Thunder què____.
Jim: 不过  总      决赛   Oklahoma City Thunder  却____。
      But Oklahoma City Thunder ____in the finals.

Choose the correct answer to fill in the blanks.

A. 大败 (dà bài)

B. 大胜 (dà shèng)

C. 败 (bài)

Answers to the practice questions: B; A.

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