Student Question About Chinese Lesson 40
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A student asks the following question:

1. When Zhang is saying to Lu “please prepare 6 drumsticks, peel off the skin, put into a pot and boil”. Where she says “Fang Jin Guo Li Zhu”. What is the purpose of the “Li” ? I see it is the same character as in ZheLi, NaLi, LiMian. So it just reinforcing the in/into or is it meaning something else? Does it make sense even if it is left out?

2. I see in the cooking instructions there is quite a lot of use of the construction “ba” followed by a noun followed by a verb, and I see the character for Ba is the same as “hold” which we saw in Ba Men Kai Kai – which I have been thinking of as  hold the door open. But is the meaning more like – take hold of the door and open it.  So is it the same sort of construction: Ba Pi BoDiao – take hold of the skin and peel off; Ba Shui DaoDiao – take hold of the water (in the container) and tip it out. Is that how “ba” works?

1. You are right, the character 里 Li has several uses, but it usually means “inside”.
Li comes from 田 (tián) ‘field’ and 土 (tǔ) ‘earth’, and its original meaning is: “Village of 25 or 50 families; place of residence; (the length of the side of the said village:) length measure of about 600 meters”

That’s why, Li can sometimes be understood as “place”

Compare the following examples:
– 这里 ZhèLǐ means “here” (this place) ,  那里NàLǐ means “there” (that place)
– 这面 ZhèMiàn means “this side”,  那面 NàMiàn means “that side”

Mian means “side”,
and therefore
里面 LǐMiàn means “inside”.

If you want to say something is inside of something else, you can say it either by Limian, or just Li, depending on how many syllables the noun has (in Chinese rhythm is important – an even number of syllables is preferred).

Therefore:

房间里面 FángJiān LǐMiàn OR 房间里 FángJiān Lǐ means “in the room” (2 syllables followed by 2 syllables is better)

but,

锅里 Guō Lǐ “in the pot” (1 syllable followed by another syllable)

2) You are right, 把 Bǎ means to hold (something in your hands), but, at the same time, Ba has its grammatical meaning – we use it when we want to stress the object of the sentence.

See the difference:

我开门 Wǒ Kāi Mén. I open the door (the subject is important)

In general, we put what we want to emphasize at the beginning of the sentence; now we we move Men from the last place, to immediately after Ba.

把门开开  Bǎ Mén KāiKai. Open the door (the object, or what is happening to it, is more important)

Similarly

我剥掉皮 Wǒ BōDiào Pí. I peel-off the skin.
把皮剥掉 Bǎ Pí BōDiào. Peel-off the skin.

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