500 Common Chinese Proverbs and Colloquial Expressions: An Annotated Frequency Dictionary (Paperback) book cover

500 Common Chinese Proverbs and Colloquial Expressions

An Annotated Frequency Dictionary

By Liwei Jiao, Benjamin Stone

© 2014 – Routledge

426 pages

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Paperback: 9780415501491
pub: 2013-11-15
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Hardback: 9780415501484
pub: 2013-11-14
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About the Book

500 Common Chinese Proverbs and Colloquial Expressions is a dictionary of key Chinese proverbs or suyu. Suyu are vivid and colourful expressions widely used in Chinese language. The smooth use of chengyu in Chinese writing and of suyu in spoken Chinese not only makes communication more effective, it is also an indicator of mastery of the language.

This dictionary will provide an ideal resource for all intermediate to advanced learners of Chinese. Concise and practical, it draws upon a large corpus of authentic language data to present 500 of the most commonly used Chinese suyu. The suyu are listed and organised according to their frequency, enabling easy and convenient access for the reader.

Each proverb listing:

  • is given in both simplified and traditional characters
  • offers an English translation, followed by English equivalents
  • is followed by two examples, written in Chinese, Pinyin and English, plus explanations and usage notes.

Examples are given in the form of dialogues reflecting typical situations, and helpful cultural annotations are provided throughout. A Pinyin index, a stroke index and a Chinese word index are presented at the back of the book and accompanying audio is also available for free download at www.routledge.com/9780415501491. Recorded by native speakers and covering the whole range of proverbs, expressions and example sentences featured in the book, this invaluable resource will help students to build up strong comprehension and communication skills.

This dictionary is suitable both for class use and independent study and will be of keen interest to students and teachers of Chinese alike.


"The 500 proverbs and colloquial expressions collected in this book provide a precious window on Chinese culture, as well as an invaluable aid to learning the language. The book is an immensely useful reference toward understanding the Chinese mind, for both the learner and the teacher." W.S-Y.Wang, Professor Emeritus, University of California at Berkeley; Academician at Academia Sinica; Editor of the Journal of Chinese Linguistics

"It is an extraordinary dictionary with a creative and effective glossary that includes stylistic-register usages and historical resources. It is composed, for the first time, by first rate experts in the field. This dictionary will serve not only for Chinese learners and teachers, but also professionals who are interested in Chinese proverbs." Shengli Feng, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

"This book is a valuable resource I would recommend to any serious learners of Mandarin Chinese at intermediate level or above. It is essentially two books in one: with a Pinyin index, a stroke index, and a word index, this is an easy-to-use reference dictionary, while with two typical authentic examples for each of the 500 suyu items in the dictionary arranged according to their frequency of use, including their Pinyin glosses, literal translations, functional translations as well as usage guides and cultural notes, the book provides an excellent reader suitable for independent study." Dr Richard Xiao, Director of Lancaster University Confucius Institute

"With copious examples and annotations, this collection of colourful expressions is bound to be an enriching addition to any learner's library." Zheng-sheng Zhang, Editor, JCLTA

"In any language, proverbs and colloquial expressions are among the most difficult to grasp. Jiao (Univ. of Pennsylvania; coauthor with C. C. Kubler and W. Zhang, 500 Common Chinese Idioms, CH, Oct'11, 49-0607) and graduate student Stone are to be commended for their undertaking. For this excellent work, 500 Chinese proverbs and colloquial expressions were selected, based on frequency of use. Gathered from a survey of some 900 university students in different regions of China, they are presented in a user-friendly format: the term in simplified and traditional Chinese, its Pinyin Romanization with tone markings, explanation of the term (often including a "functional translation" that is an English proverb or colloquial expression), two bilingual conversational examples with Pinyin notations, and brief notes on usage and tone (humorous, neutral, slightly derogatory, derogatory). Entries include not only time-honored proverbs, but also new expressions that came into being only in recent years. Included are fine indexes by Pinyin, strokes, and Chinese words. This is a valuable resource for intermediate and advanced learners of Chinese. As a side note, the functional translations are an excellent feature for Chinese learners of English. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." Choice

"500 Idioms and 500 Proverbs are groundbreaking in their overall design and stand out due to the authors’ meticulous effort. They are tailored for intermediate to advanced learners of Chinese and have set high standards for similar books in the years to come. I hope to see more such reference works from these authors." Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. List of abbreviations and grammatical terms in character by character translation 3. List of Entries 4. 500 common Chinese proverbs and Colloquial expressions 5. Appendix one: Pinyin index of 500 Common Chinese Proverbs and Colloquial Expressions 6. Appendix two: stroke index of 500 Common Chinese Proverbs and Colloquial Expressions 7. Appendix three: Chinese word index of 500 Common Chinese Proverbs and Colloquial Expressions 8. Accompanying audio materials (available for free download at http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415501491/ )


About the Authors

Liwei Jiao

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Learn more about Liwei Jiao >>

Liwei Jiao is Lecturer in Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania. His publications include 500 Common Chinese Idioms: An Annotated Frequency Dictionary (co-authored with Cornelius C. Kubler and Weiguo Zhang, Routledge 2011) and The Routledge Advanced Chinese Multimedia Course: Crossing Cultural Boundaries (co-authored with Kunshan Carolyn Lee, Hsin-hsin Liang and Julian Wheatley, Routledge 2009)

Benjamin M. Stone is a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. He possesses extensive experience in translating and interpreting Mandarin Chinese under a wide variety of professional contexts.

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Audio Files

001-100  (76MB)

101-200 (76 MB)

201-300  (76MB)

301-400  (69MB)

401-500  (67MB)