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From Episode 1, 1.35 – 3.40

 

1. 雷颐:我们现在用的很多词实际上是近代都是来自于日本近代新词,你说。

1. Lei Yi: Many of the words we use now are actually from the ‘capitalist period’, from modern Japanese words. Can you name any?

 

2. 窦文涛:社会科学。

2. Wentao: Social science.

 

3. 雷颐:对,还有什么军队,什么健康、美术、美学、设计、派出所,连地下室这些词都是日语。

3. Lei Yi: And many more – army, health, art, aesthetics, design, police station, even basement, all come from Japanese.

 

4. 窦文涛:日本的词。

4. Wentao: Japanese words.

 

5. 雷颐:因为本来它英语叫做basement严复就觉得应该用中国传统的一个词来翻译这个叫做窖,地窖的窖,他就这么翻,但是就通行不了,通行的是大量的留日的学生带回来地下室,同样逻辑这个词,我们现在谁说逻辑这个词不是汉语,实际上到我们生活中也不过一百多年的历史,因为最开始这个英语 logic,严复还是用中国传统的名学来翻译,日本是用逻辑的翻译,那也是抵挡不住近代大量的留日学生带回来的。

5. Lei Yi: Originally it comes from the English word ‘basement’. Yan Fu wanted people to make customary Chinese translation: ‘cellar’ (地窖, dì​jiào), that was the word he used, but it never came into popular usage in the way that basement (地下室, dì​xià​shì) did, brought back by students studying in Japan. The same goes for the word ‘logic’ (逻辑, luó​ji) – nowadays you’d never think that this word wasn’t Chinese, but in fact it hasn’t been around even a hundred years, because it comes from the English word ‘logic’. Again, Yan Fu wanted to use a Chinese term, 名学 (míng​xué), but the Japanese transliterated the English word, and again the great number of returning students meant that the Japanese term couldn’t be held off.

 

6. 梁文道:我记得那时候还有些人把它用一个不是汉语传统,但是汉语思维我们自己来翻译逻辑(理智学?),但我觉得这个过程就奇怪,这些字你们说地窖这真的是中国原有的,大家也都用的,那为什么我们舍弃了这些原有的字眼却用了地下室呢?又或者说像逻辑,那本来我们叫名学,那或许不是一般老百姓都知道什么叫名学,但是 为什么就都宁愿采取用逻辑的这样译法呢?

6. Liang Wendao: I seem to remember that back then there were attempts to use… not a traditional Chinese word, but a translation that accorded with Chinese thought, our own translation of logic as ‘rational-thinking’ (理智学, lǐ​zhìxué)… But anyway, I find it very strange that there are these words in use in Chinese, like ‘cellar’, that everyone is using – why then was this given up in favour of ‘basement’? Or with ‘logic’, if there is a Chinese term ‘míng​xué’ – perhaps not everyone is familiar with it, but still… why was the translation ‘luó​ji’ preferred?

 

7. 雷颐:原因很复杂,就是说我关注到语言现象一个总体现象确实就我们在某种程度上,语言背后,我跟你说它是权力,有政治,有经济,有文化,总是强势的 往弱势的地方传播,很难说从弱势的地方向强势的地方,或者我们称之为文化的边缘向文化的中心,它的词汇会侵入进来,这种现象比较少,你像我们看比如说。。。

7. Lei Yi: The answer is very complicated. I mean, for me it seems that linguistic phenomena depend on, to some extent, power, politics, economics, culture – essentially dominant forms spread into areas that are weaker… That vocabulary goes from weak areas to strong areas, or what we might call the cultural margins into the cultural centres, this happens pretty rarely. For example, …

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From Episode 1, 5.10 – 9.45

 

8. 雷颐:比如说电话,中国最开始翻叫德律风。那么实际上日本人把它翻译叫电话,实际上我们现在用的电话也是外来词。

8. Lei Yi: … for example, ‘telephone’. To begin with in China, it was known as ‘delufeng’ (德律风). It was the Japanese who translated it as ‘electric-speak’ (电话), so our word for telephone is actually a word of foreign origin.

 

9. 梁文道:是日本人翻译的。

9. Liang Wendao: A translation from Japanese.

 

10. 雷颐:中国最开始用的是德律风。

10. Lei Yi: At the beginning in China it was ‘delufeng’.

 

11. 窦文涛:所以日本成了个介绍人,而且你说这个规律跟现在都有关系,你看当年广东经济火的时候,今天我们使用的语言有很多,就是你们港怂的话,我们叫港怂。

11. Wentao: So the Japanese were the ones who introduced it. And this pattern you’ve been talking about still applies today – think about how, when the Guangdong economy was booming, so now our vocabulary is full of… wannabe Hong Kong expressions.

 

12. 梁文道:我们就是港怂。

12. Liang Wendao: We all wanted to be from Hong Kong.

 

13. 窦文涛:香港人的话进入了,但是你看这种现象,现在在全国经济当中,广东没有当年那个地位了,于是你会看到广东人乃至于香港人开始用起了大陆人的一些词汇。

13. Wentao: So Cantonese expressions came into use. But now that the whole country is doing well, and Guangdong doesn’t inspire the same adulation as it used to, now we can see words from the mainland entering into the Guangdong and Hong Kong lexicon.

 

14. 雷颐:对,这个我也没准,你可以提供一些证据,因为我是研究的或者我关注的是港台语对大陆语言的影响,我因为在这生活我感觉到,比如说你像台湾的考量,我们中间都叫考虑,现在都用考量了我发现。

14. Lei Yi: That’s right, I haven’t really considered that and I’m sure you’ll be able to give me some examples, my research has focused on the linguistic influence of Hong Kong and Taiwan on mainland China, what I’ve seen in my life. For example in Taiwanese Mandarin, they say ‘kǎo​liáng’ to mean ‘consider’, whereas we would say ‘kǎolǜ’, but now I’ve found that everyone says ‘kǎo​liáng’.

 

15. 窦文涛:没错。

15. Wentao: That’s right.

 

16. 雷颐:我跟一个台湾学者谈及这个,一个台湾学者说大陆也对台湾有很大的影响,他就举了一个例子,我不知道是不是,因为我自己对台湾,他说叫做氛围, 什么氛围,他说氛围我们特别从前不用这个词,也是大陆这边对台湾,我说那两岸的语言开始有融合的趋势,包括香港粤语,我记得我80年代第一次到广州,现在广州到处理发馆就是一个火字旁一个局长的局,我想这是焗。

16. Lei Yi: I was talked to a Taiwanese academic about this, they told me that mainland China had had a big impact on Taiwanese language, the example he gave – I’m not too sure about this, not being Taiwanese… - he said the word for ‘ambience’ (fēn​wéi) never used to be used in Taiwan, it came from the mainland, so it seems the two language varieties are merging together. And this even includes Cantonese – I remember in the 80s when I went to Guangzhou for the first time, in all the hair salons was this character with next to , I thought this should be read ‘jú’ [meaning ‘bake’, ‘guk’ in Cantonese]

 

17. 窦文涛:我们普通叫盐焗鸡。

17. Wentao: We use it for the name of the dish ‘salt-baked chicken’.

 

18. 雷颐:从那也是后传来的,蒸汽焗油,后来生猛海鲜,慢慢的之后你看马上最早的粤语北上都是这个饮食和理发,生猛海鲜北京的饭馆也都是生猛海鲜。

18. Lei Yi: That’s where it came from, to mean a steam treatment for hair. [not sure about this part]

 

19. 梁文道:后来还有打的,打其实是北方人的讲法,这个打的是综合的,我们广东人不用打这个字的,就不会说打这个,现在当然广东语也这么讲,但是的的确是香港人翻译英语的taxi,我们叫的士。

19. Liang Wendao: And there’s also 打的 (dǎdī) to mean ‘taxi’. Just saying ‘dǎ’ on its own is a Northern thing, the full expression is ‘dǎdī’ – in Guangdong we don’t use ‘dǎ’ as a verb, so we can’t say ‘dǎ​’ on its own just to mean ‘take a cab’ – although of course now in Cantonese you can! – but in fact the word comes from a Cantonese version of the English word ‘taxi’, we say ‘dīk-síh’.

 

20. 雷颐:所以在1983年我当时研究生,我还专门注意到当时有一个报纸写了一篇文章就分析,说不能用打的,因为这个的就是你刚才说的,是香港人翻译说英语taxi,那你说我们的正式翻译taxi叫做出租汽车,或者叫出租车,为什么你要用香港的的?香港是英国的,当时还没回来,香港是英国的殖民地,你现在在用殖民地的话,你用打的这个词就叫做自我殖民地化,就是你就被香港的语言殖民了一道,但是你这样规定或者你实际上语言我觉得是最难控制,老百姓现在还是用打的。

20. Lei Yi: So in 1983 when I was a research student, I took a professional interest when an opinion piece appeared in a newspaper saying that we shouldn’t say ‘dǎdī’, because as you said it was a word from English via Hong Kong, and that the proper way to say taxi was ‘rent-car’ (出租车, chū​zū​chē) – why would people want to use this Cantonese version? Hong Kong was British – this was before the handover – it was still a British colony, so if you used this colonial language, it was a kind of self-colonisation, you would be colonized by Hong Kong language. But I think these types of rules… actual language use, in my opinion, is too difficult to control. And now everyone says ‘dǎ​dī’.

 

21. 窦文涛:就打的,而且这个东西里边我觉得还有一个,就是说你这个词发明的好不好还有一个关系,你比方像咱们用代替的词,我一直觉得这个词不合理,就是你不要说打的你说出租车,出租车这个词不对的,出租车很容易让我搞混淆,你租车也叫出租车,出租的车,小巴什么的也可以叫出租的车,所以你看但是我可以接受台湾人的叫法,计程车,我觉得这比较合理。

21. Wentao: The other thing about the word taxi – disregarding the question of its provenance for a moment – if you want us to replace this word with a different one, well I’ve always thought that this other word isn’t appropriate. To not say ‘dǎdī’ but rather ‘chū​zū​chē’ – this word meaning ‘rent-car’ isn’t right! It could easily confuse people, because a car that you rent could also be called a ‘rent-car’, a rented car, a minibus (小巴, xiǎo​bā) could be called ‘rent-car’. I can accept the Taiwanese version – ‘count-car’ (计程车, jì​chéng​chē) – that makes sense to me.

 

22. 雷颐:所以你刚才讲中巴、小巴这也是改革开放之后才有的。

22. Lei Yi: And what you just said, minibus, that’s also a word that’s only recently begun to be used.

 

23. 梁文道:巴也是个粤语。

23. Liang Wendao: That bā () also comes from Cantonese.

 

24. 雷颐:巴是从英语来的,那么在1949年以前也用巴,后来逐渐就觉得这有公共车,或者大轿车,中轿车,大轿中轿小轿,但是逐渐你看现在都是用巴,包括有我关注一个现象很复杂,比如说我们用麦克,话筒,从前是叫麦克尔,后来1949年逐渐用话筒,就不用那个音译

24. Lei Yi: It comes from English, and in fact before 1949 it was widely used. Afterwards it was gradually replaced by other words, but nowadays you can still hear everyone saying ‘bā’. It’s very complex. It’s the same with the word for microphone – in the past it was ‘mài​kè’ [i.e. from English], after 1949 it gradually became ‘huà​tǒng’, the transliteration wasn’t used.

 

25. 窦文涛:我是跟着香港人叫,广东人叫麦。

25. Wentao: I call it the same as people from Hong Kong and Guangdong – a ‘mài​’.

 

26. 雷颐:现在又叫麦,麦就是麦克,现在又都叫麦,你去唱歌的话谁拿着这个唱歌叫麦霸,就是麦,现在又恢复到这种音译,反正这种语言特别的有意思。

26. Lei Yi: Yes, that’s true nowadays, it’s equivalent to ‘mài​kè’, everyone uses it, when people go to a KTV the person with the mike is called the microphone chief (màibà), so now the transliteration has come back in. This type of language change is really interesting.

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From Episode 1, 12.40 – 15.45

 

28a. 雷颐:因为咱们刚才说语言的变化是变动不居,谁想控制都很困难,但实际上总有一种大家对这个语言的变化有一种不同的态度,有的人是赞同的,觉得就应该变,或者有的人就觉得大家都这么说我就说了,有的人会坚决反对,说这个是对于传统文化或传统语言的一种污染、迫害、伤害.

28a. Lei Yi: We were saying before that changes in language are unstoppable changes, that anyone seeking to control language will have a tough time of it. In fact there are varying attitudes to language change. Some are in favour of it, they think that language should change, or they simply think people should be able to say whatever they feel like. But then there are others who are firmly opposed, who see this change as polluting or damaging traditional culture and traditional language.

 

28b. 雷颐 [cont.]: 比如说近代有一个很有名的大臣 张之洞,他是非常开明的,办了很多新式企业,其实包括办学校,那么他对于我刚才讲的,咱们刚才讲的恰恰他最后那几年大量的日本词开始涌进中国了,他就接受不了,他那么开明的人他接受不了这个,他就最痛恨日本词,所以他有一次他大概是办学,他要办新式学校,他让他的一个幕僚帮他起草这个大纲办学,其中有健康,要注意学生健康,健康这些词也是日本词,张之洞看了之后非常生气,就批了几个字扔给这个幕僚,说健康乃日本名词,用之殊觉可恨,哪知道这个幕僚也很厉 害,他一发现你张之洞用的是健康乃日本名词,名词这个也是日本新词,但是他马上批回来,他马上又写了一个,说名词亦日本新词,用之也觉得可恨就这意思,你反对这个的,你很难摆脱这种新的语言,所以我觉得这个是。

28b. Lei Yi [cont.] For example, there once was an extremely famous scholar named Zhang Zhidong, who was extremely progressive and was supervising many new enterprises, including new schools. But as for what we’ve been talking about, the great number of Japanese words entering the Chinese language, in the end he decided he couldn’t take it anymore: he was such a cultured man that he would not accept it, and so he detested Japanese words. So, he was once I think setting up a school, a new style of school, and he had one of his aides draw up a draft programme. This programme mentioned the word ‘health’ – taking care of students’ health – which is a word that comes from Japanese. Zhang Zhidong saw this and at once got very angry, he circled the words and threw it back to his aide, saying that ‘health’ was a Japanese noun, and to use it was absolutely scandalous. But this aide was particularly bright, and found out that this sentence that Zhang Zhidong had used – “health is a Japanese noun”… well, it turned out that the word ‘noun’ also comes from Japanese! So he wrote a correction back, saying that ‘noun’ was a Japanese word and to use it was absolutely scandalous. So, if you try and oppose new language, you have a very tough time of it.

 

29a. 梁文道:而且我觉得这里头还有个很特别的现象,就是说一个名词进来,一个新词进来到底意味着什么?它有时候因为我们传统一般人就俗名的观点,认为所谓的任何的字眼,任何的词汇他就对应一个东西,你比如说我现在翻一个东西改健康,那就表示原来我们中国人说不定也有个类似健康这样东西,只不过现在新的名词替代的旧名词,但也有的时候是我们中国原来没这个东西,像刚才讲电话,所以你来了新名词,我们需要它.

29a. Liang Wendao: I also think that there’s another interesting thing going on, which is that when a new noun enters a language, what does it actually mean? The conventional way of looking at it is that any word must refer to some particular thing. So in the case of the word ‘health’ entering the language, that shows that Chinese people already had something similar before, and the new word only replaces an old word. But sometimes it’s that we never had the thing in China before, as we said with ‘telephone’ – a new word arrives because it’s needed.

 

29b. 梁文道 [cont.] :那还有一种情况更复杂,就是我们原来中国模模糊糊的有些对应的实质的东西,但是不是那么确定,不是那么实在,或者不是这个意思,来了一个新名词之后就把一些旧的东西再整理归纳范畴进去了,比如说我举个例子像文化,我以前一直在想这个事情,就是文化也是一个外来词,文化也是日本人译的,但是文化是什么呢?你回忆想想中国,今天一讲我们中国的根本是什么?[*] 你回头想什么叫中国文化,就过去中国就清朝以前在没有文化这个字之前,我们用什么来讲文化呢?

29b. Liang Wendao [cont.]: But there’s another, more complicated case, when Chinese language only had a vague, fuzzy conception of something corresponding to the thing, not something concrete, not that exact meaning. A new word arrives that redefines categories, for example the word ‘culture’. I’ve been thinking about this, because ‘culture’ is a word of foreign origin, it’s imported from Japanese. So what is culture? If you think about China’s past, what can we say is the essence of China, and China’s history…? If in the past, before the Qing Dynasty, there didn’t exist this term ‘culture’, what did we use to talk about culture?

 

*The part in blue isn’t transcribed, I guess because it’s damaging to the idea of 5,000 years of Chinese culture. There’s a later bit which has also been excised from the transcript: around 17.40, 雷颐’s comment that meaning ‘political party’ originally comes from Japanese and had a negative connotation.

 

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From Episode #2, 0.00 – 2.45

 

30. 窦文涛:社科院的雷颐老师,研究语言的流变,尤其是中文,其实太值得研究了,上回您讲到哪了?

30. Wentao: Professor Lei Yi, social scientist, researching new forms of language, especially in Chinese, which is certainly worth studying. Where did we get to last time?

 

31a. 雷颐:就是说到词汇的变化,其中讲到一个重要的,也引起很多争议的,就是关于字母词能不能进入汉语,他反对方有反对方的道理,我也很理解,确实汉语 突然里面加大量的字母词,确实好像是对汉语的一种污染或者是破坏,也可以这么说,但是在现实中好比说一个人读报读到,中央领导,国家领导人说我们GDP 一些人不知道GDP是什么,他到哪去查?又不会英语,得要一个辞典来查。

31a. Lei Yi: We were talking about changes in vocabulary, one important one in particular, which provokes a lot of debate – should words containing Latin letters be allowed to enter the Chinese lexicon? Those who oppose it, and I understand their position, say that lots of these words suddenly entering Chinese is a form of pollution or damage. But think about it – if someone is reading a paper, and sees that the country’s leaders are talking about China’s GDP, maybe some people don’t know the meaning of the term GDP – how can they look it up, if they don’t speak English? They need access to a suitable dictionary.

 

31b. 雷颐[cont.]:我们说,我为了研究这个,我问了很多人,谁能够,我问了几乎我问的,但是非医学专业者,我们都说到医院做CT,大家都知道做CT什么样子,谁能把不用CT这个词,把他的汉语全名称给我说一边,你说的出来吗?

31b. Lei Yi [cont.]: For my research, I asked a whole host of different people, not medical specialists but… the expression ‘have a CT scan’ is very widely-known, everyone understands what it refers to, but who can tell me how to say it in Chinese proper, without using the letters ‘CT’. Can you?

 

32. 窦文涛:核磁共振

32. Wentao: ‘Hé​cí​gòng​zhèn’.

 

33. 雷颐:核磁共振是核磁共振,恰恰核磁共振是另外一种。

33. Lei Yi: ‘Hé​cí​gòng​zhèn’ is MRI scan, it’s something different.

 

34. 窦文涛:CT不一样?CT叫什么来着?我照过那玩意。

34. Wentao: It’s the not the same thing? So how do you say ‘CT scan’?

 

35. 雷颐:所以这时候,如果你不懂什么叫CT,你就需要一本辞典来查。

35. Lei Yi: So again, if you don’t know the meaning of CT, you need a dictionary in which you can look it up.

 

36. 梁文道:但用什么辞典呢?

36. Liang Wendao: But which dictionary?

 

37. 雷颐:用什么辞典呢?但是所谓的汉语基本概念就是我们,说汉语的人经常用的就应该属于汉语。

37. Lei Yi: Which indeed? The basic concepts of Chinese, which Chinese speakers regularly use, need to be considered a part of the Chinese language.

 

38. 窦文涛:没错,现在英语里都有中文了。

38. Wentao: That’s right. And nowadays there’s a lot of Chinese entering English [debatable, but a point of pride I guess, Wentao mentions this a couple of other times]

 

39. 梁文道:而且刚才那个情况很奇妙,你比如说CT,你就算用英语辞典查,也不好查,比如说随便拿本英语辞典查CT,你不一定查得到的,如果小的英语辞典的话,因为那个CT可以是很多东西,所以说这个CT在中国人的世界里面,已经变成中文里面我们特定用的一种字母词了,就我们特别熟悉的一种字母词。

39. Liang Wendao: And this case is especially interesting, using ‘CT’ in Chinese to mean ‘CT scan’, because even if you looked those letters up in an English dictionary you would struggle, especially if it wasn’t a big dictionary. Because these two letters ‘CT’ could refer to lots of different things. So those letters ‘CT’ to mean a CT scan in particular is part of a Chinese worldview, they have already transformed into a specifically Chinese usage of the letters, one that we are especially familiar with.

 

40. 雷颐:所以我查了一下,当然我曾经能背下来那一串,现在不一定能背下来,叫做X光深沉什么计算机,还是计算机深沉扫描,还是深沉计算机什么扫描系统,但是我又觉得又有问题了,X光本身又是一个字母词,要把这个再排除干净,你有一个什么光,X光汉语叫什么?

40. Lei Yi: And if you did look it up… I used to know it by heart, I’m not sure I can remember the exact phrasing now, in Chinese it’s ‘X-ray deep something computer’, or maybe ‘computer deep scan’ or ‘deep scan system’* or something like that, but that just raises the new question – what about the X in X-ray?! If we want to totally clear this up – how do you say X-ray in Chinese?

 

41. 窦文涛:镭射。

41. Wentao: ‘Léi​shè’?

 

42. 雷颐:镭射是激光,我们对于镭射是有个标准的翻译,叫做激光,港台翻译做镭射,我个人认为镭射恐怕翻译的形象一点.

42. Lei Yi: That means ‘laser’. We do in fact have a standard Chinese way to say laser without transliterating (激光, jī​guāng), but in Hong Kong and Taiwan they say ‘léi​shè’. Personally I don’t really like this.

 

* mdbg says 电脑断层扫描

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A little bit of vocabulary from the parts I’ve transcribed:

 

近代   jìndài     ---    [here] the ‘Capitalist era’, post-Opium wars but pre-war

派出所  pàichūsuǒ     ---    local police station

地窖  dìjiào     ---    cellar

名学  míngxué     ---    (old-fashioned) logic

抵挡  dǐdǎng     ---    resist, withstand

港怂  gǎngsǒng     ---    to imitate Hong Kong?

焗油  júyóu     ---     steam treatment for hair

音译  yīnyì     ---    transliteration

幕僚  mùliáo     ---    aide, advisor

核磁共振  hécí gòngzhèn     ---    MRI scan

镭射  léishè     ---    laser (Taiwan)

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"It seems that the previous [one] wasn't too popular.."

 

Doesn't really matter if the thread doesn't get lots of replies, I think the important thing - from my experience at least - is to have these threads as a resource so that people one day can get into the show by way of an episode with a little translated and a clearer idea of the topic. It can be a bit much to go into one totally cold if you've no idea what it'll be about.

 

As a suggestion, try this (video + transcript): 

http://phtv.ifeng.co...7456049_0.shtml

 

Gaudfroy and a smoking Annie Yi, discussing American idol, could appeal to Mandarin-learning geeks?

 

At the risk of showing my ignorance of Chinese popular culture and celebrity laowai, I don't actually know who either of those two are! But the episode (and the following one, about dating) look interesting, thanks for the tip.

(Probably won't be writing it up any time soon though, what with new academic year starting tomorrow)

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