tè 特 = tèbié 特别, a special word

tèbié 特别 = especially, special, exceptionally

NEWS FLASH: They often just say tè

I just got fruit from one of my usual fruit dealers. The competition is so fierce between the fruit ladies that they usually throw in an extra apple or orange to try to secure my business for next time. Here’s how it went:

A = Albert
F = Fruit Lady

(F tries to give a free piece of hāmìguā 哈密瓜)

A: bú yào, xièxie 不要谢谢 = I don’t want it, thanks.

F: sòng gěi nǐ 送给你 = I’ll give it to you for free

A: bú yào, háishì yào xièxie 不要, 还是谢谢 = I don’t want it, thanks anyway.

(F puts in the the bag)

F: zhège tè tián 这个特甜 = this one is especially sweet

But often they don’t use tèbié 特别 the way we would use “especially.” We say especially to mean, “in comparison to other things (usually just mentioned).” For example, “I saw 3 movies but I the the third one was especially good.”

The way I’m hearing it used is more like the way we say “really” or “SO.” I heard a student describe a lecture (not mine) as:

tè wúliáo 特无聊 = SO boring

Another student celebrated her triumph in killing a mosquito by calling it:

tèbié bèn 特别笨 = especially stupid

If anyone knows any rules for when you can say tè and when you should say tèbié 特别, please leave a comment below.

Comments

  1. A twist on this one…

    The “CBD” area of Beijing is, of course, the Central Business District. But local Beijingers have taken to assigning a more clever definition, “Chē Bér Duō”. The “bér” is actually the bié of tè bié , and this running joke is a comment on the freaking unbelievable traffic around here…and the “r” assures that this term will remain Beijing’s own. This little gem will get a laugh from people between the ages of 25 and about 40 and a confused look from older folks.

    I think you are on track with your use of tè bié. It is not a comparison term, really, but meant to indicate something that is really, really special. And like fēi cháng, which is even MORE tè bié, it is often said twice for added effect (but I don’t think two tè bié rise to the level of one fēi cháng…not that it really matters…)

  2. Hey Albert,

    I don’t have time tonight to look thoroughly through your blog. But I will definitely read it later. Sounds like you’re rocking zhongwen as you were before. I appreciate the note on ‘tebie’. The only comment I have to add to ‘tebie’ is what I learnt the other week; fei chang tebie. I didn’t look it up, but was informed it meant unique. We were referring to a unique person

  3. bú yào, háishì xièxie …so, like, the “haishi” works as “but”? Like ke shi or dan shi?

  4. As far as I know, the phrase “haishi xiexie” = “thanks anyway” [lit. “still thanks”]. It’s actually a shorter, simpler version of what they usually say…but…I can’t seem to find my notes on what the long version is. I’ll post it when I find it.

  5. queqie de shuo(exactly speaking), women changyong “xiexie” laibiaoshi “Thanks anyway.”
    tingnishuo “bú yào, háishì xièxie …” zong juede henguai(means: henqiguai).

    Can you understand me?

  6. I tend not to worry too much about words like this, increasing understanding just comes from use, sometimes translating as particularly or especially, or exceptionally or uniquely works but eventually it seems adding more English words or phrases to the list doesn’t help.

    It just becomes what its is, some words and phrases in a foreign language are more blurred in translation, but I expect it works both ways.

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