querist Post time 2013-3-7 02:41:32

Choosing the correct classifier for a compound noun

Hello everyone!

I thought I'd post this question here rather than just ask a friend because someone else may need this information as well.

How do you determine the correct classifier/measure word (量词) for a compound noun?

For example, I work in computer security, so I need to talk about various forms of malicious software including what we call "worms", which in Chinese is 蠕虫病毒. 蠕虫 is just the animal, a worm, and 病毒 means "virus" both in the biological and computer senses. The classifier for the animal is 条 because it is something long and skinny, like a rope. The classifier for a virus is 种, but I am not sure which classifier to use with 蠕虫病毒. I would think it would be 种, because 蠕虫病毒 is a type of 病毒, but I wanted to ask a native speaker just to be sure.

Can you give a general rule for determining the correct classifier for a compound noun? It is always based on the last word?

Thanks!

LoneAcorn Post time 2013-3-8 09:52:35

Generally, in modern Chinese languages, classifiers are used for head nouns, not modifiers.

蠕虫 is the modifier while the head noun is 病毒, so you are right to use 种 in your example above
(这种电脑蠕虫病毒… or 蠕虫病毒是一种常见的计算机病毒.)

querist Post time 2013-3-8 21:44:49

LoneAcorn Post time: 2013-3-7 20:52 static/image/common/back.gif
Generally, in modern Chinese languages, classifiers are used for head nouns, not modifiers.

蠕虫 i ...

Thank you very much for your help. I thought that was how it works, and I appreciate your confirmation of my suspicions.
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