We already know of a few really great Mandarin learning sites and dictionaries but Lexicalist is our latest fancy. It’s a Chinese/English dictionary and those we have a’plenty. However aside from the denotation, it also shows you how the usage of the character fares by province and by gender.
The landing page of the site will show you the words that are trending right now in China — because of the recent passing of Women’s day, it’s mostly female-related. That is pretty interesting in itself, but you can do your own search. This is the entry for the word we tried: flower + “er” hua
花儿 (1) huā ér. style of folk song popular in Gansu, Qinghai and Ningxia. (2) huā r5. erhua variant of 花[huā].
Breakdown by area:
As expected, because it carries the “er-hua”, the word has a higher usage up north than down south. The northwestern province of Qinghai topped the list because as the entry points out, it can also refer to a style of folk song in that regions.
Demographics of “花儿” on Mar 09, 2011 (from Lexicalist.com).
And flowers, being girly things, is a term that is used much more widely by females than males. The practical application of the gender breakdown that we’re thinking of here is aimed squarely at male students of Chinese. How so? Well, we’ve come across several guys who have only ever been taught Chinese by females and as a result, come off rather effeminate when they talk. Let’s face it, men and women talk differently no matter what the language is. Maybe this site could help them not sound so dia? Or….if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to speak like a Shenzhen gangster boss, this could be a modest start.