Diaries Magazine

Chinese Words and Phrases II - "甭"

By Kei Lam (thetravelphilosophy.blogspot.hk)
Last time, we have seen how the Chinese character "您" is consisted of the upper part "你" and the lower part "心"; one of the interesting things about Chinese characters is that this rule of combining different characters into a new one with an extended meaning is often seen in many cases as well. For example, "甭" (pronounced as béng) means "not necessarily" in Chinese. The upper part of "甭" is "不", meaning "no" or "not"; the lower part, "用",  usually refers to "use", but it is interpreted as "have to" or "necessarily" in this case. As you can see, the combination of "不" and "用" is a phrase saying "not necessarily" if used alone. To some extent, the word "甭" is exactly saying the same thing as the phrase "不用".

So, how do we use "甭" in a sentence? For instance,

1) 甭說了。

As "說" here means "talk" or "speak", the whole senence is "say no more".

2) 甭客氣!

"客氣" means being polite. Here the whole meaning is akin to "take it easy".

3) 票掉了就甭進。

If the ticket ("票") is lost ("掉"), you can forget about going in ("進").

As for the last sentence, it is not a direct translation but it does translate the meaning and captures the tone of the original sentence, especially for its second part (the direct translation for "就甭進" should be "don't have to go in".)  From the  example 1 and 3, the word "甭" is used as an indirect or more polite way to say something - sometimes it's not really about you "don't have to" or it is "not necessary to" do something. The subtext of "you don't have to speak more of it" is you have said enough.

But in today's China, the indirect meaning of "甭" has become as direct as a simple "no". Hence it depends on the context and the tone of the sentence as well.

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