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Lu

What modifies what?

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Lu

A translation question. In the story I'm translating , a young woman sees her former (boy)friend Xiaoyou in a picture. The picture is taken in a bar, during a party. The (boy)friend was a real party boy. She describes what he is wearing:

照片上的小悠穿着透明的玻璃纸一般硬生生的上衣,穿了细瘦无比的花格子裤子,他的头发竖着而耳朵上全都是洞。

 

My question: is he wearing:

- a stiff shirt resembling transparent cellophane

- a shirt as stiff as transparent cellophane

- a stiff shirt transparent as cellophane

- something else?

Since cellophane is not all that stiff, I suspect it makes most sense if the shirt is 1) stiff and 2) transparent, but is there a way to tell for sure what is supposed to go where?

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Luxi

I'd say the guy is wearing

a stiff shirt

4 hours ago, Lu said:

般硬生生

 

transparent like cellophane

4 hours ago, Lu said:

透明的玻璃纸一般

 

It could be open to other interpretations, I suppose...

 

 

 

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889

Remember that cellophane is a particular type of clear wrapping, made from cellulose not plastic. It's not too common these days, so I suspect 透明的玻璃纸 means clear plastic wrap.

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Shelley

Taking clues from what others have said and the fact he is a real party boy, I wonder if he has been wrapped in plastic wrap - the sort used to wrap food - and so is now stiff because he can't move due to being trussed up like a chicken in plastic wrap ie: Saran wrap in the USA or here in the UK Clingfilm.

 

It is a thing, I have seen it done at parties, especially drunken events like stag nights, and the like.

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陳德聰
6 hours ago, Lu said:

透明的玻璃纸一般[的]硬生生的上

Oddly enough, the choice of which 的 to omit makes my subconscious feel that it should be:

“透明的[玻璃紙一般硬生生的上衣],” but the entire rest of me reads it as: “透明的玻璃紙一般[,]硬生生的上衣.”

 

In this case I might actually try to preserve the vague description in the translation: “wearing a transparent cellophane-like stiff shirt,” like is it “transparent cellophane”-like and stiff or is it “transparent, cellophane-like, and stiff?”

 

When you say cellophane is not particularly stiff, I am reminded of the coloured cellophane craft supplies and how unbelievably uncomfortable clothing made out of it might be.

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Lu
7 minutes ago, 陳德聰 said:

makes my subconscious feel that it should be:

“透明的[玻璃紙一般硬生生的上衣],” but the entire rest of me reads it as: “透明的玻璃紙一般[,]硬生生的上衣.”

The more I think about it, the more I agree with the entire rest of you. Mostly because the meaning of 'transparent shirt stiff like cellophane' is just wrong, and the transparency should clearly (hah) go with the cellophane-like. I can see if I can translate it vaguely, but not sure if that will work. Also there is enough vagueness in this story as it is, I'd rather not add extra.

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Shelley

Just watched a program on CTGN Documentary about Detoxing.

The presenter went and had fire therapy. He had towels soaked in alcohol set alight on his back and after the treatment was completed he was wrapped in Clingfilm and left to rest. Just made wonder how this world works and what is the third person wrapped in clingfilm I am going to come across today, because as they say things come in threes.

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Luxi

If I was translating into English, I'd check how using see-through for 透明 works, it goes well with 透. 

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Lu

I'm translating into Dutch 🙂 I think in English I would still prefer 'transparent', because of the comparison to cellophane, which I would consider transparent rather than see-through. But there are reasons I don't translate literature into English. In Dutch I have 'doorzichtig', which is a bit in between the two terms I guess.

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anonymoose
5 hours ago, Luxi said:

If I was translating into English, I'd check how using see-through for 透明 works, it goes well with 透. 

 

Translucent is probably a closer translation.

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889

Except that in English at least, "see-through" works well when you're talking about clothing. If we are in fact talking about clothing.

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陳德聰
17 hours ago, anonymoose said:

Translucent

I’ve always found the Chinese words to make more sense than the English ones for this exact reason:

 

透明 - transparent 

半透明 - translucent

不透明 - opaque

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Lu

That's because Chinese mostly makes its own words while English doesn't just borrow words, it pursues other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

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realmayo
1 hour ago, 陳德聰 said:

半透明 - translucent

 

Interesting. I don't think of translucent as 'half transparent' (although it is).

Like, 'weekend' is more than 'not-Monday-to-Friday'.

But then, we probably shouldn't be worrying about what 'makes more sense' as native speakers anyway.

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cnchsy

"小悠穿着透明的玻璃纸一般硬生生的上衣" usually it is 小悠穿着[透明的玻璃纸一般]硬生生的上衣,or we will write as 小悠穿着[透明的]、[玻璃纸一般硬生生的]上衣

However,it is not definite as the grammer is not strict. The  best way is to learn from context.

 

In fact, it is better to write as "小悠穿着[透明玻璃纸一般]硬生生的上衣" or "小悠穿着玻璃纸一般[透明的]、[硬生生的]上衣"

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