Lexical overlap

One challenge of learning a language is that it's not just about picking up the new words, but about working out exactly how the meaning of the new words maps back on to the words in your first language – since it's rarely one-to-one. For example, the dictionary may give you a simple translation, but then when you see how native speakers use the word, its usage is not the same as the word in your native language.

I've been thinking about tebie in Chinese  (defined in the dictionary as 'especially/special/particular/unusual') , which is most often taken as meaning especially. But tebie is normally followed by shi (the verb 'to be'), so a literal translation from Chinese would give 'especially is..' – which doesn't make sense in English because especially is an adverb. Tebie often occurs in brackets e.g. Mobile phones (especially HTC phones) are becoming widespread in rural areas. The Chinese equivalent of this sentence would have (tebie shi…) for the bracketed part. 

Furthermore, tebie shi can start a sentence, qualifying the whole sentence, whilst in English we can only use especially to modify verbs. The equivalent of a sentence beginning tebie shi  would be one starting, In particular. 


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