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Another translation question. The main character and her mom have moved in with her aunt. The main character descibes her uncle. I'm just going to quote the whole paragraph, that gives all the context. This is the first we really learn about this uncle and if I recall correctly, he doesn't play much of a role further on.




What I don't really get: what does 他膨胀得很厉害 mean here? I don't suppose he gets fat, I guess perhaps it's his ego that inflates? Can anyone confirm?

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16 minutes ago, Lu said:

I guess perhaps it's his ego that inflates


That’s right, my girlfriend tells me it’s a common way of saying this. Not sure how to smoothly express it in English though.

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I really enjoy learning from these examples!

As I was reading the passage, I thought about how this person bragged that his family needs him (说没有他我们都会饿死在大街上), how he's doing well in his business (那几年企业效益好), and how he became more insolent/arrogant/brash (性格变得越发张狂). So when I see 膨胀得很厉害, I can guess that this person is really proud and arrogant about his success. That concept seems to fit the context well.

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On 3/25/2021 at 3:05 PM, Lu said:

I guess perhaps it's his ego that inflates? C

Does "ego" translate comfortably into Chinese?  The reason I ask is that commonly my Chinese friends don't know the word "ego," even ones with strong English skills.  


The book "Anatomy of Chinese" explores how for certain concepts, the Chinese language prefers to use verbs to describe them whereas English uses nouns.  That English tends to use "nominalization" in which nouns are created for "things" that might or might not exist.  It's hard to give concise examples, but 2 he gives are "inflation" and "connectivity" are nouns in English of things that don't really exist.  He doesn't offer "ego" as an example, but it fits with his thinking.  Pleco gives 自尊 (a verb) and 自我 (a noun) as translations for ego.  Are either of these words commonly used in Chinese for ego?  Does Chinese talk about "ego" as a "thing"?


(I can't think of "ego" as a verb....)


The author notes that in the 20th century, some Western concepts have come into Chinese such that now they use nouns to describe them.  

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Don’t know how literally you want to be translating but:


head swelled with self love

Puffed him up no small amount 

Filled his head with a sense of greatness


and you could also play with how those fit together. Hopefully also just sparks some ideas of possible ways to get it across.


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56 minutes ago, roddy said:

We’re all assuming this is getting translated into English, of course.

Yes, I should have mentioned I'm translating into Dutch. But all the advise has been very helpful and inspiring! I'll come up with something good.

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