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gillux gillux February 17, 2020 February 17, 2020 at 10:29:24 AM UTC link Permalink

I’d like to ask a question to Mandarin Chinese speakers about the word 什麼.
As a beginner in Chinese, I’d like to know the differences between 甚麼 and 什麼.
As a developer of Tatoeba, I’d like to know if the automatic script conversion is correct in these sentences:

#829202 什麼 (trad.) → 什么 (simp.) This is fine.
#465906 什么 (simp.) → 甚麼 (trad.) I’m not sure about this. As far as I understand 甚麼 is an equivalent word, but strictly speaking, can 甚 be considered as a traditional form of 什?
#3364516 甚麼 (trad.) → 甚么 (simp.) This looks wrong.

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Yorwba Yorwba February 17, 2020 February 17, 2020 at 4:26:46 PM UTC link Permalink

> I’d like to know the differences between 甚麼 and 什麼.

They're different traditional ways to write the same word. The Taiwanese Ministry of Education's dictionary lists quotations from classical literature for both:

for 什麼:

for 甚麼:

It doesn't actually say which form is used where. I think 什麼 is more common in Taiwan and 甚麼 is more common in Hong Kong, but don't quote me on this, it might be exactly the other way around.

There's only one simplified form, 什么. Because both 甚麼 and 什麼 simplify to 什么, 甚 must be considered a traditional (variant) form of 什.

甚 is also a simplified character, e.g. in words like 甚至. This is likely the reason behind the incorrect simplification 甚麼 (trad.) → 甚么 (simp.): sinoparserd doesn't recognize 甚麼 as a single word that needs to be transformed as a whole, but simplifies each character individually.

See also

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Yorwba Yorwba February 18, 2020 February 18, 2020 at 3:53:37 PM UTC link Permalink


I asked a Mainland Chinese friend about this, who in turn asked a few Taiwanese and one Hong Konger. The Taiwanese mostly thought that 什麽 is more common because it's easier to write and 甚麽 is only common in formal context. Some also thought that 甚么 is acceptable, even if rare. The Hong Konger on the other hand thought that using 什麽 was a sign of machine-translated text and that most people would write 甚麽, except out of laziness when handwriting.