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aroberts42

Open the door, you can already see the mountain

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aroberts42

In Amy Tan's book The Kitchen God's Wife, she writes: "'Open the door, you can already see the mountain,' which is a classical saying, meaning you’re ready to grab all opportunities and turn them into something big."

This quote really speaks to me personally for many reasons, but I'm not sure if it really is a classical quote or if it is something Tan came up with on her own. I've done some searching on the Internet but haven't come up with anything. I've also asked my Chinese friends if they were familiar with a classical phrase like this and none of them were familiar with it.

So can someone please translate "Open the door, you can already see the mountain" into Chinese for me (traditional characters, please) or let me know what the original classic translation might be if it exists. 

Thank you!

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889

开门见山

 

https://wapbaike.baidu.com/item/开门见山/15446

 

Not that I'd use it the way you described it. Maybe some would, I don't know.

 

By the way, not sure how you struck out with this. The literal meaning is indeed open-door-see-mountain and it's a basic known-to-everyone expression.

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艾墨本

I second @889. It doesn't convey the meaning you have in quotes. I have only seen it in contexts pertaining to writing or speech and it was used to expresse that the author got straight to the point. In other words, as soon as they opened the door of their introduction you could already see the mountain that is their main point.

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Jim

Yes, same here, only ever known it mean "straight to the point"

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陳德聰

I thought maybe there would be more backstory in the book that could connect it somehow to this meaning, but there apparently is not and it's just an embellished explanation of the phrase.

 

Quote

 


"And next?" he was asking me. "What must we do next?"
"We must wait awhile," I said. "We must wait until the right moment when I can leave."
And then we made a plan. When I was ready to run away, I would call him by telephone late at night when everybody was sleeping. I would say something very quick and simple, such as, "Tomorrow I'm coming."
But then your father, he was so romantic, he suggested something else, a secret code. So this is what we decided I would say: "Open the door, you can already see the mountain," which is a classical saying, meaning you're ready to grab all opportunities and turn them into something big. Your father would answer me this way: "Let's go beyond the mountain."
 

 

 

P.S. The traditional characters look like this: 開門見山

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Jim

Wonder if "let's go beyond the mountain" was 山外有山 and they were really just code phrases a bit divorced from base meaning.

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roddy

Long time no see, @aroberts42! Been busy ?

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aroberts42

@roddy Hello! Yes, always haha. But settled in Yangshuo now, so life is good. 

 

@Everyone, thank you. Actually, 开门见山 is the closest I could find in my research, but as you all said, it doesn't convey the meaning I'm looking for. If you had to translate the meaning of the phrase as Tan wrote it, how would you do it?

Thanks!

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Lu

I think there is a chance that Tan is simply mistaken here. To my knowledge, she has learned Mandarin but is not a native speaker, so possibly she heard the saying and filled in her own meaning.

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Jim

Is there a Chinese edition of the book? Could see how the translator handled it.

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陳德聰

Seems a fine translation, although I am sure they were scratching their head when they came across this line. Quite possibly some of the most annoying things to translate are texts where the author has attempted a translation themselves. Always makes me feel like I am somehow complicit.

 



But then your father, he was so romantic, he suggested something else, a secret code. So this is what we decided I would say: "Open the door, you can already see the mountain," which is a classical saying, meaning you're ready to grab all opportunities and turn them into something big. Your father would answer me this way: "Let's go beyond the mountain."

 

但你父親是那麽浪漫,他建議用另外的東西,一套密碼。於是我們決定這麽説:“開門見山。” 這是一句古話,意思是你準備抓住一切機會,大顯身手。你父親則這樣回答我:“讓我們翻過山去吧。”

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aroberts42

I see. Thank you. 

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艾墨本

I did a quick search on Pleco for a Chengyu to express the meaning of grabbing an opportunity when it arises by searching for chengyu with 机会的机 and got this one:

 

0A103C15-C15F-4A5B-9A17-AECC4D054B74.thumb.png.a349ef6121ff9fb579abd7141d193b46.png

 

But there were lots that expressed similar meanings 

 

A73F1A99-267A-4D76-A072-4EB495E72398.thumb.png.4af4109a203ac26ccfa4ddde7422a14b.png

172B8A0C-F705-4E0B-9C30-95C1C84448B5.thumb.png.ed800dd3b2305987d467bca88dd66563.png

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Lu
10 hours ago, 陳德聰 said:

I am sure they were scratching their head when they came across this line. Quite possibly some of the most annoying things to translate are texts where the author has attempted a translation themselves. Always makes me feel like I am somehow complicit.

Yeah, if at all possible I try to work in the correct translation in cases like this. But sometimes it isn't possible. In this particular case it's a shame, because it makes Amy Tan look stupid to Chinese readers where she didn't look stupid to her original Western readers.

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陳德聰

@Lu I almost feel like it’s a shame in the other direction too, that she may seem to have some mystical Chinese wisdom to her original Western readers but only the Chinese readers will notice it falls apart.

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