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Fred0

半生缘

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Fred0

I have begun reading 半生缘 by 张爱玲. In chapter one Shejun and Manzhen are casually talking as Shejun is thumbing through a calendar. He says that he remembers when he was a child that Fridays were printed in green characters and Sundays were printed in red. Now the only colored characters are Sunday's. Manzhen agrees with him and says that: "礼拜天虽然是红颜色的,已经有点夕阳无限好了.”  The only reference I can find to 夕阳无限 is that it is the title of a spy novel.  Can you help me with the meaning of this sentence? Here is the whole paragraph for context.

 

世钧笑道:“叔惠呢?”曼桢向经理室微微偏了偏头,低声道:“总喜欢等到下班之前五分钟,忽然把你叫去,有一样什么要紧公事交代给你。做上司的恐怕都是这个脾气。”世钧笑着点点头。他倚在叔惠的写字台上,无聊地伸手翻着墙上挂的日历,道:“我看看什么时候立春。”曼桢道:“早已立过春了。”世钧道:“那怎么还这样冷?”他仍旧一张张地掀着日历,道:“现在印的日历都比较省俭了,只有礼拜天是红颜色的。我倒喜欢我们小时候的日历,礼拜天是红的,礼拜六是绿的。一撕撕到礼拜六这一天,看见那碧绿的字,心里真高兴。”曼桢笑道:“是这样的,在学校里的时候,礼拜六比礼拜天还要高兴。礼拜天虽然是红颜色的,已经有点夕阳无限好了。”

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imron
13 hours ago, Fred0 said:

The only reference I can find to 夕阳无限 is that it is the title of a spy novel.

It's also a Tang poem:

 

登乐游原

 

作者:李商隐 年代:唐

 

向晚意不适,驱车登古原。

 

夕阳无限好,只是近黄昏

 

At dusk, a man is feeling down, so takes a ride to the top of a mountain, and although the setting sun is unmatched in beauty, unfortunately it is dusk [so the beauty is but fleeting and soon to end].

 

Now to put this in the context of what they are talking about - that Saturday is better than Sunday, because even though Sunday is marked 'red' it's a little bit like the setting sun, i.e. Sunday's wonderful, but it also signifies the weekend is coming to a close.

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Fred0

I'm so glad to learn this. Would you say that 夕阳无限好 is a chengyu?

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imron

Maybe, maybe not.  I'd probably wait for a native to chime in.  What it is though, is just a line in a poem, much the same way people would talk about the 'road less traveled' or 'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet'.  The latter technically not a line from a poem but the effect is the same.  It's a line from literature that has entered the public's awareness.

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陳德聰

I believe it’s an example of 歇後語. Someone else might be able to verify which exam it typically shows up on :)

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Fred0

Another interesting thing I've learned today. Thanks.

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imron
1 hour ago, 陳德聰 said:

I believe it’s an example of 歇後語

歇後語 are my favourite Chinese literary device.

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somethingfunny

歇後語, in my experience, don't seem to get covered much in Chinese language learning materials.  Maybe someone could correct me and point me to something useful.

 

Also, I always feel compelled whenever "the road less travelled" is mentioned, to point out that our use is actually the opposite of the original meaning intended in the poem.

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ZJC

I think it's just a sentence, not a 成语 or 歇后语(歇後語).

There're many sentences in Chinese poems can be used separately if the sentence fits the conversation well. It's a way to show you have a degree of education. If you use it properly, Chinese people may appreciate you. But be careful because you may not know when it should be. You may be considered awkward.

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Fred0

A secretary at a factory was home sick. The engineer she works for has to go to her house to get a key to her desk drawer where there are some papers he needs to see. He's not sure if it's ok to show up at her house so he says:

“不管他们欢迎不欢迎,我倒是得去一趟。
我要去问她拿钥匙,因为有两封信要查一查底稿,给她锁在抽屉里了。”

My tentative translation is: Whether I'm welcome there or not, I'm just going to barge in. I need to ask her for a key, because there are two (or several) letters I need to examine,  which I gave to her to lock up in her drawer.  

My question is: what does 底稿 (di3 gao3  background manuscript) mean in this sentence. Is it that he has to examine these  letters as background documentation for something that he is working on? Does 查底稿 mean to reasearch or reviiew?

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Jim

Think it just means originals he wants to check, presumably against what got typed and sent etc. Also think 给她锁 just means locked in the drawer by her.

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Publius

Yes, like Jim says, 底稿 is the original copy/manuscript/draft. Here 底 means 'base, what something is based on'. She is the secretary. It's her job to make a clean copy and send the letters and keep the originals archived.

給 = 被, the passive marker: (那兩封信的底稿)被她鎖在抽屜裏了.

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Fred0

So would the meaning be, " I have a couple of letters, regarding which I want to check the original documents?" Whether he has to write them, create them by making copies from the original, or respond to them is not specifically stated. He is just saying that he needs to see the originals, which is the only thing relevant to the conversation anyway.

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Publius

Yes.

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陳德聰

Also I don’t think he is barging in, that seems a bit aggressive. He’s going over welcome or not.

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Fred0

Thanks for the correction. 趟 then is just acting as a measure word in this sentence, or in the sense of a trip, rather than "to trample."

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imron

Yes. 趟 is a measure word for trips. 

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Fred0

Shu Hui has made a shocking suggestion about Man Zhen's circumstances, namely that she has a son. She Jun's reaction is being desribed.

 

今天他所说的关于曼桢的话,也不过是想到哪里说到哪里,绝对没有恶意的,世钧也不是不知道,然而仍旧觉得非常刺耳。

 

I take 想到哪里说到哪里 to mean "saying  whatever comes to his mind." Is that correct?

 

Also, I take 不是不知道 to mean "it's not that he doesn't know,"  or, in simpler English "he knows perfectly well." Is that correct? 

 

My translation of this segent would be: Today, what he said regarding  Man Zhen, although he was just talking off the top of his head, and absolutely without evil intent, yet there remained a sense that it was terribly painful to hear.  

 

Please offer improvements to my translation. 

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imron
3 hours ago, Fred0 said:

I take 想到哪里说到哪里 to mean "saying  whatever comes to his mind." Is that correct?

Yes.

 

3 hours ago, Fred0 said:

I take 不是不知道 to mean "it's not that he doesn't know,"  or, in simpler English "he knows perfectly well." Is that correct?

Yes.

 

3 hours ago, Fred0 said:

Please offer improvements to my translation. 

I'm not going to over an improvement to the translation, but I will offer you a translation tip.

 

You've got the meaning part of the translation more or less there.  That's half of it.  The next half is rendering it to decent English.  The trick to doing that is forgetting Chinese for a moment and assessing it as an English sentence.  Don't be afraid to move words around, and change things up.  The key to a good translation is having something that reads well in its target language, not in maintaining rigid adherence to the sentence structure of the source language.

 

With that in mind, forget everything you know about Chinese, and translating, and everything about this sentence in Chinese for just a minute and judge it entirely on its merit as a sentence in English:

 



Today, what he said regarding  Man Zhen, although he was just talking off the top of his head, and absolutely without evil intent, yet there remained a sense that it was terribly painful to hear.

 

To me, this is not something a native English speaker would write or say, and it comes across as stilted and awkward.  There are too many commas, yets and althoughs so the reader is juggling several pieces of information in his or her mind before getting a conclusion.  In fact the comma structure is identical to the Chinese version - which is almost certainly an indicator of a not that great translation because Chinese will often use a comma where English would use a full stop.

 

It's not enough just to translate the words, you've also got to finesse the finished product in to something that reads well.

 

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Fred0


The lady proprietor of a restaurant where lunch is being served is sitting at the counter with nothing to do, knitting a red wool garment.
压在那大红绒线上面可贵的辩证法因素。但此书贯串着唯心主义的偏见,如对唯,鲜艳夺目。
Pressing on the red woolen yarn,  (lies) the praiseworthy Elements of Socratic Method. But this book pierces through the prejudices of  the philosophy of idealism, as if the opposite -ism (materialism?) brightly colored dazzling to the eye.

Can someone help me make sense of this? Here is the whole paragraph for context:

总是看见她在那里织绒线,织一件大红绒线衫。今天天气暖了,她换了一件短袖子的二蓝竹布旗袍,露出一大截肥白的胳膊,压在那大红绒线上面可贵的辩证法因素。但此书贯串着唯心主义的偏见,如对唯,鲜艳夺目。胳膊上还戴着一只翠绿烧料镯子。世钧笑向曼桢道:“今天真暖和。”曼桢道:简直热。

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