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suMMit

Well and You know translation

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suMMit

How would "You know..." and "Well..." be translated? in these :

 

A: Have you been to Japan?

B: You know, I'm just a factory worker, so I cant afford a trip overseas. 

(whether I actually know this or not)

 

A: Is it usually this hot?

B: Well, it's always warm in Sanya.

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NinjaTurtle

Another one you might want to learn is, "It depends..."

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suMMit

Thanks. For nothing.

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NinjaTurtle

Seeing as how I do not know how to say any of these terms in Chinese, you are most certainly welcome.

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suMMit

You implied that it depends, so it seems that you know all the subtitles involved. 

 

I really don't get how an honest question merits the smart ass reply. 

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Shelley

I don't know if Chinese people speak this way. I have never heard any one say "you know" or " well" at the start of a sentience or anywhere else in a sentence. 

 

You can't expect to just translate everything from English into Chinese and have it mean the same thing as it does in English.

 

Here its not the words you can't translate,  its the concept. 

 

If someone asks you a question and you reply with "you know,........"

Its very confusing. Why would I know? I have just asked you a question.

 

If someone asks if you have been to Japan there is no need to share so much information just say "No I haven't been able to afford it yet". or something similar. its odd that you would want to tell them your job. If its a good friend then they will already know what you do, if its stranger it is not really necessary.

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suMMit

The reason I ask this is that I have heard several instances of chinese speakers using these "sentence starters" when speaking English. I agree it sounds weird in english. So, I was guessing they are translating from chinese, and wondering what those chinese words might be.

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Shelley

I don't think they are translating from Chinese, they are copying how some kids talk. it is common for English speaking kids to speak this way. 

 

"Well, ya know" is common amongst teenagers and seem to be used as pause filling noises. Along with Umm and  "Do ya see?" and the favourite round here "do ya know"

 

At one time all sentences were heavily peppered with the word "Basically" no idea why and not use in any meaning full way.

 

I wouldn't worry about it, just try and ignore it and hope they grow out of it.:D

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vellocet

The keyword you're looking for is "vocal fry".  Do some research and you'll have your answer.

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Shelley
5 minutes ago, vellocet said:

"vocal fry

 

I am sorry, I have done some research,  it seems to be about the tone or timbre of the voice rather than the words used. If I have got it wrong perhaps you could point me in the direction of a relevant article.

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Publius

These are called discourse markers. Since they mainly function at the discourse level, a lexical translation is often futile and useless.

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Shelley

Yes @Publius That is what I meant when I said they were pause filling noises. Thank you for enlightening me to the correct term.

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歐博思

For first one, I feel I've heard 你知道嗎 used in the same way before. As for the second, “那麼”?

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889

First, it's not good to get in the habit of trying to word-for-word translate English speech patterns to Chinese. Second, use of these introductory and concluding devices is very colloquial; you just can't throw them in anywhere anytime.

 

That said, if you desperately need an all-purpose filler because that's how you want to speak, you can try the simple 那: 那,咱们走吧!But you're going to sound odd if you use it indiscriminately.

 

 

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Jim

My first thought was that 嘿 would work in the first example, maybe 嗯 in the second?

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mungouk
15 hours ago, vellocet said:

The keyword you're looking for is "vocal fry"

 

Vocal fry, aka "creaky voice" is about pronunciation and nothing to do with translation or grammar.

 

As @889 pointed out, there is no value in trying to translate everything, especially not discourse markers or idioms.  

 

You will often hear people tell learners to "think in Chinese" which IMHO isn't very helpful, but what it really means is that you need to learn the grammatical patterns, as well as discourse markers and idioms, of written and spoken Chinese and to "think" using those before you speak and write. 

 

Becoming familiar with the various particles that come at the end of sentences like 吧, 吗, 啊, 呢 ... is a useful start, because they often have similar functions to those you describe, in terms of suggesting doubt, "softening" a statement or suggestion, turning it into a question, and so on.

 

21 hours ago, suMMit said:

chinese speakers using these "sentence starters" when speaking English

 

None of those sound particularly strange to me (as a native speaker).   It depends where you're from I guess. 

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker
37 minutes ago, mungouk said:

Becoming familiar with the various particles that come at the end of sentences like 吧, 吗, 啊, 呢 ... is a useful start, because they often have similar functions to those you describe, in terms of suggesting doubt, "softening" a statement or suggestion, turning it into a question, and so on.

 

 

Indeed, best way in my experience to use these is just mimic naive  speakers . I never could "study" ,the correct usage of these sentence particles from a book without sounding awkward. Even if you know the correct one to use , tone of voice and facial expression is important. 

 

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vellocet

I thought vocal fry was the "you know", "like", and other meaningless words that native speakers are unable to complete a sentence without saying twice.  After you've been away for a while, it gets really hard to listen to.

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suMMit

I agree with everything most of you are saying. Maybe I was a bit unclear.  The reason I asked this is that I have heard Chinese speakers overusing these discourse markers when they speak English, so I was curious if THEY were translating something from THEIR mother tongue. In my limited experience with Chinese, I haven't heard people say 你知道。。。

 

But anyway, some good information here, hanks for the replies.

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mungouk
21 hours ago, Shelley said:

At one time all sentences were heavily peppered with the word "Basically" no idea why and not use in any meaning full way.

 

In England in the 80s, yes... :)  Along with "Actually...." and probably many others. 

 

These days you're more likely to encounter "any time soon" (US import), "to be fair", "to be honest".... 

 

None of these have any real grammatical function. They're just there as punctuation ("discourse markers") to regulate the flow of conversation, and to some extent to indicate the register in which people are speaking.

 

Now: the interesting question for Chinese learners would be... what are the similar phrases and markers in Chinese culture at present?

 

 

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