User Comments - kqueller

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Posted on: Argument over Garbage (1)
November 13, 2023, 08:43 PM

I was at first mystified by the expression “此地无银三百两” (“here there are no three hundred taels of silver”). The literal translation makes little sense in the context, where the young man seems in effect to be saying to his two elderly neighbor ladies “why are you protesting your innocence so loudly, when there are so many people living in this apartment building (even if on different floors)?” [话里有话:”Methinks you do protest too much; maybe it WAS you who did this, after all!”] 

But how is it that the saying about a sign denying the presence of 300 taels of buried silver can communicate this?  Somewhat indirectly, as it turns out. Looking up the expression in Chinese Wiktionary, I discovered that this is the first part of a 歇后语 (xiēhòuyŭ – literally, a “stop-[before]-the-ending saying”). These are two-part idioms, in which only the first half is stated, while the hearer is left to recall the second half on their own (and then to infer its implied meaning for the situation at hand).  

Here is the whole 歇后语 saying: “此地无银三百两 – 隔壁王二不曾偷”; the second half -- unstated but implied -- is “Gébì Wáng Èr bù céng tóu (next-door-neighbor Wáng Ér didn’t steal [the silver]).” 

The story goes that a man named Zhāng Sān buried 300 taels of silver, and then posted a sign at the place where they were buried, saying that they weren’t there. His neighbor Wáng Èr sees the sign and infers from it that silver is indeed buried there. So he digs it up and steals it. Then he posts his own sign in the same place, denying that he, next-door neighbor Wáng Èr,  had stolen it. 

 You can see how this applies directly to our story here, in which neighbors are protesting that the harm that someone has done to their neighbor wasn’t done by them, when (quite likely) it was!此地無銀三百兩#Chinese 

Posted on: 定做的噩梦
January 02, 2008, 11:51 PM

Just caught up on this one, after being away for Christmas -- very useful! And ... 我不是鸡蛋里挑骨头,故意找茬儿 ... but some of the English glosses (especially for the sentence examples at the Expansion page), 做得实在是不敢恭维 ! For example, here's the Expansion page's first sentence example for 裹 guo3 "wrap around" (or, in the present dialogue's context -- as was nicely explained in the podcast discussion -- "fit [too] tightly / be [too] snug"): 太冷啦,闹钟叫了一次又一次,我还是裹在被子里不想起来。 (Roughly: "It was way too cold; the alarm clock rang again and again, but I just stayed wrapped up in my quilt, not even thinking of getting up") And here's the phrase-by-phrase gloss: "too - cold - [la] - to stir up - to call - again and yet again - I - still to be - wrap around - at - quilt - mile - not - [xiang3] - to think." Obviously, a phrase-for-phrase gloss is not going to give an idiomatic translation, and that's not the point. But, come on -- "to stir up" for 闹钟, or "at - quilt - mile" for 在被子里??? And what's up with the gloss for 不想起来 coming out as "not - [xiang3] - to think"? Evidently, the glossing procedure skipped 想, and transposed its gloss into the slot for 起来! The pdf transcript vocabulary glosses are usually better. But in this lesson, for example, "structured" for 笔挺 bi3tıng3 is perplexing, to say the least. – And "wrap" for 裹 guo3 is again not quite to the point here (see above). Ideal for such cases, in my view, would be a literal gloss (裹 “wrap around”) followed by a more specific one that includes the relevant phrasal context (裹在身上 "fit [too] tightly / be [too] snug"). Much of the problem here is probably attributable to some kind of mechanical look-up algorithm that is not looking at the particular text or context at all. That's understandable -- and even imperfect glossing can be very useful! But is there any chance that some of these problems could be manually edited / corrected? And don't get me wrong -- Chinesepod is STILL by far the best language podcast on the web. (I'm waiting for Spanishpod to catch up, and in time I think it might. But they still need to expand into the upper-intermediate / advanced / media domains.) Happy New Year -- 新年快乐!

Posted on: 送孟浩然之广陵
November 07, 2007, 07:50 PM

A nice webpage containing more English translations of this poem than you can shake a stick at: