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Translating short sentences: 回忆起过去那如火如荼的革命岁月...



Have almost finished translating the song 纯真年代 so will post that up when done, but to take a break and try translating some smaller passages I'm going to copy some sample sentences from NCIKU.com's dictionary. Here is the first one I tried with my translation underneath:

A: 回忆起过去那如火如荼的革命岁月,他激动不已。

B: 岁月漫长,世事如白云苍狗

A: Remembering the rapidly growing revolutionary years, he is endlessly excited

B: The years are endless, world affairs are like white clouds and dark green dogs

  • 回忆起过去

"memories form and pass by".

I thought remembering or as he remembered would be an appropriate translation but I am unsure.

  • 那如火如荼的革命岁月

"That like fire like bitter herb revolution years".

This really confused me when I broke it down as I didn't know how to combine the 如火如荼 part. The dictionary said it was a saying meaning either "magnificent" or "originally used to describe a soldier's demeanor and discipline; developing quickly; growing rapidly;blazing", so I opted for rapidly growing as seems more appropriate to describe a revolution.

  • 他激动不已

"He excited endlessly".

I thought this would sound better as "His excitement is endless" but that would need 的, and the translation that I have for 不已 is endlessly, which is an adverb. I would have used this first translation but when I saw that 漫长 translates as endless in the second phrase I compared the two.

I don't know what time frame the first line occurs in. Present tense? - As he remembers the revolutionary years he is endlessly excited, or past tense? - As he remembered the revolutionary years he was endlessly excited.

  • 岁月漫长,世事如白云苍狗

I'm not sure about the last line, Nciku.com says that it's a saying meaning "how things change in this world". My literal translation looks a bit silly but it's based on my current knowledge so I will leave it as it stands.

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Well, there are things in Chinese language that are really hard to understand. 白云苍狗 comes from a poem by 杜甫(Du,Fu), the famous poet in Tang Dynasty. The original meaning is to describe a cloud may look like a piece of white cloth at one time and change rapidly into a grey-colored dog in the next minute. People use that phrase to say how fast things change in the world.

The other sentence is very hard to translate, because the "起” in "回忆起过去“means "to start to do things", so the meaning is "starting to remember the past". "如火如荼” means something grows so fast like fire and so lavish like weed (a bitterly-tasted plant). Hope these will help.

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