Translation idiomatic english
There is a few things I have been struggling to translate myself into chinese but last night I found a Taiwanese girl with good english who helped me translate some more idiomatic but frequently used english into chinese. For example I never know how to respond when sb over compliments me in chinese, as in english I would say ' oh I do ok' or 'I can get by' which she helped me translate to 我承擔得起 - literally meaning I can afford it, but it use is more akin to the the english vers of 'I can get by'. Another one which refers to both Taiwanese and Chinese alike I'm sure is ‘to dance around the subject' which she thought 拐彎抹角 was quite a good translation, not a direct trans but in proper usage it could be used in a similarly to our idiomatic expression. So I was wondering if anyone else had done this and would like to share their thoughts.
Mo4li3xiang2November 21, 2011, 03:07 PM
Thanks, but I would never say 還好, 過獎了, 差得遠，哪裡，等等 in english,
so it feels strange to reply that way in chinese. I realise culturally our responces are different but I think there must be one that is more akin to an english responce like 'I can get by' which for me means I that I have enough ability to get my point across but I don't think I do it in a completely eloquent way.
Mo4li3xiang2November 25, 2011, 03:03 AM
What I was hoping with this thread was to see if anybody had translated some of the daily used english , granted some are not everyday phrases, which is kind of hard to translate into chinese e.g. fly by the seat of your pants, harden up, cheeky monkey, what's up.
Even some very common words I'd love to hear your thoughts, such as how've you been 你最近過得怎麼樣 or how are you 你怎麼樣 these seem a little to directly translated. As if I go an ask sb I never met before 你今天怎麼樣？ they'll look at me a little strange, is there better translations? Please let me know your thoughts.
If I understand correctly, "你今天怎么养" isn't to be used with strangers, it's to be used among friends. Although it is accurately translated "How are you", it's usage in Chinese is different than it's usage in English.
As you know, and in fact this is the very reason you opened this thread, many things between two languages can't be directly translated, and even when a phrase can be directly translated, often it's usage or implied meaning is different.
If you could directly translate "I do okay" into Chinese, you would be intending to sound humble and honest, but you would come across as arrogant and as ungrateful for the compliment. To accurately reflect your gratitude for the compliment and at the same time express the fact that your Chinese isn't perfect, you need to go with one of Connie's suggestions above.
You don't want to say the same thing you would in English, because it won't communicate the same thing it communicates when you say it in English.
I love the idea behind this thread! I plan to check back in every now and then, and to try to think of some interesting translations I've heard over the years! Thanks for starting it, molixiang.
Yeah, I think you're right, I guess that would be a similar reply in Chinese. It's funny I found that although I'm not knew to chinese, I sometimes say things in English and the wonder how I express some equivalent in Chinese. I hope people throw in some nice suggestions and we can all feel a little more like it's our own style when we speak.
ouyangjun116November 25, 2011, 04:13 AM
I don't think you can think of it as "I say something this way in English, so I will translate the same in Chinese". It will make no sense and it will just sound weird and not deliver the message you want. I think the key to progression into fluency of the Chinese language is to quit thinking in your native language. The key is to think in the Chinese language and understand what Chinese words/prases are used in certain situations in Chinese (not think of what is used in English and tranlsate that to Chinese).
If you want more of a "hip" way of saying things, hang out on Weibo and make friends there, they use all kinds of new words... a lot that completely confuse me on what they're trying to say.
That said, I like the idea of your thread and will check in to see what people comment.