Any Chinese Translation Help?

by Erin on April 27, 2007

Memory Dress

Dress A Day reader Erma's husband is a non-native speaker of Chinese and a linguistics professor, and he has a dress-related translation question. Does anyone know the meaning of the Chinese character bai3 ()? It's used in compounds such as qun2bai3 (), where qun2 means skirt. It was used in a sentence which translates to something like "Under the rustling of the evening breeze, the entire bai3 of the skirt was billowing".

The dictionary defines bai3 as "hem or lower part". But a native speaker told Erma's husband that bai3 refers to width — a narrow skirt has a "small bai3" and a wide skirt has a "big bai3".

Anyone have some input? I have to say, if we figure this one out, I'm going to steal that word into English and use it to refer to this concept all the time. "I only wear skirts with big bai," I'll say.

[The image is an artwork called "Memory Dress" by Yu Hong.]

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