dimanche 10 août 2008

Translations gone awry

快乐 (kuai4 le4) This means "happiness" in chinese. It's used generally to describe happiness. However, just like English, there are variations, to describe the degree of happiness and different types of happiness.

For example, "高兴" (gao1 xing4) would mean "happy" as in "I am happy with my job". In order to exaggerate the degree of happiness, one can use "快乐如神仙" (kuai4 le4 ru2 shen2 xian1) and this means to be as happy as an immortal.

Apparently, the owner of this place tried to get an English translation for the words 餐厅 (can1 ting1) but got an error message instead and didn't realise it. 餐厅 literally means Canteen or dining place.

I have no idea how they managed to get such a translation! But what the words "生鲜超市" (sheng1 xian1 chao1 shi4) literally means is "live" and fresh supermarket. Maybe what it really means is that it's a supermarket that sells really fresh goods.

jeudi 7 août 2008

祝词 (greetings)

祝词 (zhu4 ci2) are congratulatory phrases, greetings or general phrases that wishes well. They are normally made up of just four words. Sometimes people may also use phrases quoted from scholars in the past. Such phrases come in handy when writing greeting cards. However, it is important to know what they really mean, so as not to use them inappropriately.

Here are some examples:

For Students/Children:
学业进步 (xue2 ye4 jin4 bu4): May your studies improve constantly
快高长大 (kuai4 gao1 zhang3 da4): May you grow up fast and tall

For working adults:
步步高升 (bu4 bu4 gao1 sheng1): May you be promoted fast
马到成功 (ma3 dao4 cheng2 gong1): Success will be here soon

For elders:
福如东海,寿比南山 (fu2 ru2 dong1 hai3, shou4 bi3 nan2 shan1)
May you have prosperity as great as the Eastern sea and longevity as great as the Southern mountain.
身体健康 (shen1 ti2 jian4 kang1): Good health always

General well wishes:
万事如意 (wan4 shi4 ru2 yi4): May everything go smoothly for you
心想事成 (xing1 xiang3 shi4 cheng2): May everything that you wish for come true

vendredi 1 août 2008

词 2

Here are new examples of 词, containing the words 日 (ri4) and 雪 (xue3).

日 (ri4): sun, day

日报 (ri4 bao4): daily newspaper
Literal translation: sun/day-report

日本 (ri4 ben3): Japan
Lit: Sun-(measure word for Books)

日常 (ri4 chang2): daily, usual
Lit: Day-often

日出 (ri4 chu1): sunrise
Lit: Sun-out

日记 (ri4 ji4): Diary
Lit: Day-remember

日内瓦 (ri4 nei4 wa3): Geneva
Lit: Day-Inside-Tile
Note: For countries' names, usually the chinese names are made to sound like the English one, hence, the meaningless literal translation of the words.

雪 (xue3): snow

雪白 (xue3 bai2): White as snow
Lit: Snow-White

雪崩 (xue3 beng1): avalanche
Lit: Snow-break-apart

雪恨 (xue3 hen4): Hatred to be avenged
Lit: Snow-hate

雪花 (xue3 hua1): Snowflakes
Lit: Snow-flower

雪人 (xue3 ren2): Snowman
Lit: Snow-people

雪山 (xue3 shan1): Snow Mountain
Lit: Snow-mountain

雪中送炭 (xue3 zhong1 song4 tan1): (Figuratively) Timely assistance
Lit: Snow-in-send-coal (Sending coal when it's snowing)