Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China
  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
Fred0

长得俊倒是俊

Recommended Posts

Fred0

This sentence from the novel 城南旧事: “这孩子长得俊倒是俊,就是有点薄,眼睛太透亮了,老像水汪着,你看,眼底下有两个泪坑儿。” A woman is speaking of a young girl.

 

I can't decipher the meaning of 长得俊倒是俊.  I see the 长得 defined as" to look (pretty, the same, etc.)" and 倒是 as "contrary to what one might expect, actually, contrariwise, why don’t you." The translator of my text gives: "The child is real pretty, but appears somewhat ill-starred." I don't understand "ill-starred" even in English- maybe it means born under a not propitious star, thus ill-fated.

 

I would be grateful for any help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Publius

I think you're right about 'ill-starred'. Several dictionaries give "unlucky; unfortunate; ill-fated" as its definition.

倒是 here indicates some level of concession, but not as strong as 'even if'. I think 'granted' might be a good approximation. Granted, she is pretty, but...

I found a link that has some commentary/note you might find useful.

Quote

“这孩子长得俊倒是俊,就是有点薄,眼睛太透亮了,老像水汪着,你看,眼底下有两个泪坑儿。”

    批注:通过宋妈的语言,“薄”既表现了妞儿长得瘦弱,又暗示了她命不好,命薄,暗示了后文故事的发展。“太透亮”、“水汪着”让人觉得她似乎经常哭,哭的原因可能是因为想找自己的亲生父母,或许也可能是因为常常被养父养母虐待,侧面写出了妞儿命运多舛,让人觉得可怜。

EDIT: Someone also asked about …倒是… structure in this thread.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fred0

Yes, that's a help, and it's interesting to have this page of commentary on the novel. Thank you for both. 

 

So, how would a translation like this go down with you? “This child looks pretty, I would grant you, pretty, but a little delicate. Her eyes are too bright, they always seem to be on the verge of tears. You can see, she has ‘tear dimples’ under her eyes.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
陳德聰

What are "tear dimples"?

 

Note that 透亮 here more likely means see-through or transparent (as water).

 

I'd say "is pretty" rather than "looks pretty", it's just that she's a bit "thin" (like paper, although I don't know why this word also always summons a vision of a thin soup for me). Is she always on the verge of tears or is she just always crying? 老像水汪著 her eyes are too transparent, always pooling like water...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fred0

I also had never heard the term tear dimples before, but it is the way the translator translates 泪坑 。How should it be translated?

 

I was assuming that there is a myth in Chinese culture that dimples are caused by too many tears.

 

In the phrase 眼底下鼻子两边的肉就会有两个小漩涡, he translates 漩涡 also as "dimples."

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Publius

 

4 hours ago, Fred0 said:

he translates 漩涡 also as "dimples."

Because those are the same dimples:

  妞儿一笑,眼底下鼻子两边的肉就会有两个小漩涡,很好看,可是宋妈竟跟油盐店的掌柜说:
  “这孩子长得俊倒是俊,就是有点薄,眼睛太透亮了,老像水汪着,你看,眼底下有两个泪坑儿。”

In the narrator, a 6-year-old girl's eyes, they are good-looking. But in Song Ma's eyes, they are "unpropitious."

The woman is talking in the language of Chinese physiognomy (面相学). For example the adjective 薄, it means "thin," but it also suggests 薄命 "(of women) be born under an unlucky star." I cannot find an equivalent English word with the same association. Dimples under the eyes are bad too, because of the supposed connection with lots of crying. For this reason it's called "tear dimples." People with this kind of dimples will have a rough life awaiting them. The term does not exit in English at all.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fred0

Publius, this last post clarifies the meaning greatly. Thank you. So interesting!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
lips
12 hours ago, Fred0 said:

This child looks pretty, I would grant you, pretty,

This is too strong IMHO.  The original text was (without context) just a passing reference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
陳德聰

The 倒是 is basically just an admission that will be followed by a "but". It is not emphasised, it basically just foreshadows the but coming up, the fact that something contrary or contrasting is just about to be mentioned.

 

Notice that the narrator refers to them as 漩渦 whereas the old bat refers to them as 淚坑兒, 窩/渦 being a much nicer word than 坑

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
On 20/03/2017 at 0:13 AM, Fred0 said:

So, how would a translation like this go down with you? “This child looks pretty, I would grant you, pretty, but...

The problem I have with this translation is that you've tried to preserve the Chinese word order in the final English sentence.

 

This will almost always get you stilted English, which in my opinion makes it a worse translation.

 

Publius' initial English gloss reads much better

On 19/03/2017 at 10:46 PM, Publius said:

Granted, she is pretty, but...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×