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好久不见 Etymology and other thoughts



好 hao Good, excellent, fine; well

久 jiu** long time** (ago);** time,**
passage, grow late

不 bu, fou no, not; un-;
negative prefix

見 jian, xian see, observe,
behold; perceive

‎(“eye”) + 儿
‎(“human”) – an eye on a pair of legs. Originally a human figure with a large
eye for a head.
further study of the Etymology can be found at this link which show the evolutions of the word behold/see to its present day context from Oracle Bone to Bronze to Small Seal to Big Seal見

We see that 見 , to behold is indeed an eye with legs. This is very helpful for me with

When I break down the sentence 好久不见 the translation is Well, long time, no see.
Is this not the true translation. Why are we not introduced to the words singularly in each Sentence? Why do we omit the comprehension and translation of 好 ? Perhaps I am missing something but I don’t remember being introduced to 好 at all! I made a Flashcard for it though.

I ask this question with great respect and not in any sort of derisive way.

I also have a Flash Card List that I am memorizing of the top 100
Radicals. ( Due to my desire to read and
write Chinese almost more than speaking. )
I find it confusing to translate a sentence when I don’t know the
individual words within it.

I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal for a couple of Years and was enrolled in a
Buddhist Shedra at a Monastery. We would sit at the
feet of a Monk with Pecha Texts on our laps and break down the Sanskrit and
Tibeten words/terminology one by one. We
would also discuss the implications within the teachings regarding how a term
could even properly be expressed in the English Language. Very tricky! Mind blowing really. LOL

I am afraid my studying shall go at a much slower pace due to my
breaking down every sentence and word !

Any thoughts and discussion regarding my translation and learning please contribute!




You are missing something. The character 好 is often used as a intensifier. In the sentence your breaking down, 久 just means a duration of time. So by saying 好久不見 its really more like “so long no see” or “long time no see”. Another example is the character 吃 chi (to eat), if you put 好 in front of it, you can literally translate it as “good eat” but most translators would probably say “delicious”. Other examples I can think of off the top of my head are, 好看 ,好聽 ,好朋友 ,好奇怪。


Thank you for your answer! I am a bit burnt out at the moment studying. I am reading up more on “intensifiers” but then I am confused as to when I would know when 好 hao means Good, excellent, fine; or well?

Thank you again! I am dim today. Just trying to figure out the context.



No prob! Thats what this forum is for. Its okay, there were many nights where I was just studying and not really fully understanding what was going on. I still go through the same thing when learning new words and grammar. What I will say though, is if you keep at it, you will have moments where it all comes together, and it just makes sense. As you progress, you will know through context what the person is saying. Remember “Rome wasn’t built in a day” , its not unreasonable to achieve a high level in mandarin, it just won’t happen in a day, in your own good time.

I would like to quote Gwilym from this video where he says “its like throwing shit at a wall and seeing what sticks” LOL, Just keep throwing.

Heres the link:


I needed that Video!

I have been also getting overly hung up on each/symbol word and I am very hard on myself to ridiculous proportions! LOL

Thank you Allah,