Learning Mandarin – Exaggeration for emphasis – to Death !

Most languages have expressions that are really massive exaggerations and Mandarin is no different. One of my favorites is the way they say:

死了 (Sǐle) which is basically like "to death"

An example would be:

我饿死了。(Wǒ è sǐle.) which is literally "I hungry death" followed by 了 (le) which some people regard as "past tense" but really is an indication that a state has changed. This sentence basically means "I'm starving" and so the state change is that I wasn't starving but now I am.

There are several other common examples of "to death":

我累死了。(Wǒ lèi sǐle) lèi means tired. So this is really "I'm exhausted".

我害怕死了。 (Wǒ hàipà sǐle) is really scared to death. Curiously, Google Translate gives it as "I'm scared of death". I suspect they're wrong there.

While these work OK in English, a number of other common ones don't.

我忙死了。(Wǒ máng sǐle) Google says "I'm busy" but it's really "I'm really, really, really busy". We don't really say we're "busy to death".

它贵死了。(Tā guì sǐle) I don't quite get how "expensive" to death makes much sense but it's OK in Mandarin. This means "it's so very, very expensive".

它难吃死了。(Tā nán chī sǐle) is even stranger. It's basically "it tastes really bad".

我都急死了。(Wǒ dū jísǐle) Google says "I'm in a hurry" but this is more like "I'm really anxious" or perhaps "I'm really nervous".

Learning Mandarin

I'll write more soon on the best methods for learning. If you want to get a taste for it in the meantime though, my current favorite site is iTalki, and my favorite teacher by far is Amy He. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.

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