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A Leftover Man
   2014-09-02 13:46:12    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Qin Mei

In China, there is a group of people who are highly educated, earn a descent income and maintain a good appearance, yet most of them are single even though they are in their late 20s or early 30s. These people are known as "剩男” (shèng nán) or "剩女” (shènɡ nǚ) in Chinese. Simon happens to meet one such person today.


            nǐ jīn tiān kàn qǐ lái hěn yù mèn ā
Simon: 你今天看起来很郁闷啊
            You look upset today.

              shèng nán zhè me duō ,wéi shén me hái quē wǒ yī gè
Da Wei: “剩男”这么多,为什么还缺我一个?
              There are so many "Leftover Men", why does it need one more?

             shén me ?nǐ hé xiǎo lín fèn shǒu le
Simon: 什么?你和小林分手了?
             What? You broke up with Xiao Lin?

              ài  yī yán nán jìn
Da Wei: 唉,一言难尽。
              Well, it is a long story.

In the dialogue, Simon wonders why Da Wei is so upset. Da Wei responds that he is now unfortunately among the group of “Leftover Men” again. "Leftover Men" or "剩男(shèng nán)" is a very popular term in modern China. It has two Chinese characters - "剩" and "男". We may regard "剩" as the short form for "剩下的" which means "leftover" or "the remainder of something". For example: 剩下的人 means "the remaining people (leftover)". "他不喜欢吃剩下的饭" means "He doesn’t like to eat leftovers". “男” means "men" in Chinese. So the word “剩男" literally means “leftover men.”Meanwhile, "女" refers to "lady" or "women" in Chinese, so "剩女"means "leftover women".

"分手" comprises the characters "分" and "手". "分" means "divide" or "separate" while "手" means "hand". In some cases, "分手" refers to a "relationship breakup" as a noun or "break up between couples" as a verb. However, it also means "separate". For example, "我们一直谈到深夜, 然后才分手" means "We talked until midnight and then separated."

Da Wei replies directly with his reason, but says "一言难尽(yì yán nán jìn)", which means that explanation is a long one. Here "一言" means "one word". "难尽" means that it is difficult for someone to explain all the facts. The whole phrase is used when someone wants to express that it's hard to explain the whole story in just several words. It is commonly used as a reply when someone asks for details regarding a complicated situation.

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