Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

Difficult sentence with wisteria and shadows chained to one another


Recommended Posts

I'm editing a translation of a short story. The entire story is not too easy, but the difficulty is dialed up to about 12 in the last paragraph.


Young girl has been deceived by older man. They meet on top of a building. She proposes they jump off to die together, he says no, but she manages to wrestle him to the edge and over the parapet of the roof. Then follows a looong sentence:




Here is my understanding:

Outside the parapet was the white sky, like the most comfortable bed in the world, ready for a couple of mandarin ducks: the besotted young girl who has decided to come to an intimate intercourse, and the experienced man who stubbornly keeps his lust in check and wants to draw a clear line between him and this girl, doesn't want to share this deathbed with her. At this point, they clearly have trouble coming to an understanding. If you saw them from a distance from the sky, it would seem they weren't fighting on life and death, but were playing with each other like human dice. In a whirl of bones, with a jump that seemed careless, seemed a little too wild, simple lust was lucky enough to gain the upper hand. The two tendrils of wisteria shadows chained to one another, eventually rose up together, half in fright and half in joy they go over the parapet, rose to the sky, and continued to disappear away from the rooftop.


(Please don't mind the style too much; the translation is into Dutch, not English.)


Any pointers are more than welcome, but especially about the bolded sentence, which I can't figure out. Thanks in advance!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.




  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's difficult to translate it literally without sounding a bit odd. I'd say something like, "the two shadows, locked together like tendrils of wisteria, eventually rose up together".

  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


"the two shadows, locked together like tendrils of wisteria, eventually rose up together".


That's really good, but based on my observation of wisteria that we have right behind our house, I'd tweak it to "...entwined like tendrils of wisteria..."


It's quite a nice image.


Here's a (lousy) photo of two stalks of wisteria entwined around each other to show what the author meant.  You may need to enlarge the photo to pick out the two strands...



  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hesitate to open my mouth here as I will only display my ignorance, but...


Images I find standing out, but difficult to integrate are Mandarin ducks, often seen as the perfect couple (I think that they mate for life), so they're aways drawn/painted/represented in pairs, almost never alone or as a single fowl. These two don't seem like the perfect couple to me. Sarcasm perhaps...


And secondly, the wisteria image: the purple color of wisteria is often (aways???) used as the color of the cloud the Bhudda floats on in painted statues or wall hangings here in Japan. Again, to me, the image seems out of place. 


Well, you said anything would be helpful...



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all! With this help, I finally got it:


藤萝附身 and 互为镣锁 are two things that are said about the pair of 影子. A comma in the middle would have been useful here.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...