Translation and Biography Requests

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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Shen Ai » Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:21 pm

How long is Cao Pi's full biography? The one on the site is really short.
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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Sang » Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:25 pm

Lady Wu wrote:I thought you didn't read Chinese?

Yes, I can’t read the Chinese characters. I can read the Pinyin one. I can’t say that I can read 100% Pinyin but I’ll try.

Lady Wu wrote:What are you translating from?

I remember that Mengdez New Book posted a link of SGZ biographies of the Three Kingdoms when he was debating with Lady Zhuge and Zhang Liao17. I think Mega Zarak posted the link as well, but I losted it so I have to look at Mengdez New Book’s 641 posts to find it. Unless you have the link, I would greatly appreciated it if you could post that link. I have two Chinese friends, he and she are willing to write the biography in Pinyin for me so I can translate it. If I am done, they will proofreading it. I also have a few Professors, that are willing to proofreading it too before I post it here (Kongming’s Archives). I also have you guys to help me proofreading it for any mistakes, etc.
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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Lady Wu » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:57 pm

I hate to say this, but quite honestly, I would not encourage you to try to translate the SGZ if you can't read the characters. The language in Chen Shou's time is very different from the modern language, and one word can mean a lot of different things unless you know what the character is and what the context is. Even Chinese speakers who can read Chinese characters have difficulty understanding the SGZ properly, as seen in the many mistakes in the translated biographies on KMA.

This is what the first sentence in Wei Yan's bio looks like in Pinyin:

Wei Yan zi Wenchang, Yiyang ren ye. Yi buqu sui xianzhu ru Shu. Shu you zhangong, qian yamen jianjun.

If I didn't know the characters already, I wouldn't know what that sentence says. Furthermore, that's not how a modern person would say the sentence---in today's Chinese, you'd say:

Wei Yan, zi Wenchang, shi Yiyang ren. Ta shi yi Liu Bei shuxia de shenfen gensui Liu Bei qu Shu. Yinwei ta lile bushao zhangong, suoyi bei sheng wei yamen jiangjun.

I leave you to figure out the difference.

PS: I can read Chinese fluently, and I've studied how to translate from Han-dynasty Chinese to modern English in university. I also have >15 years experience translating SGZ-era material. Even so, when I translate SGZ, I have to look things up quite frequently, and do research on particular words or phrases to make sure that I'm translating stuff accurately. There are many ambiguous sentences, sentences with archaic or incorrect words, etc. in the text, and there are passages that not even the experts agree on. If you don't have access to sources written in Chinese, or a heavy-duty Chinese dictionary that lists etymology/ancient usage, you're not going to get very far.

PPS: To further illustrate the problem with reading pinyin alone--consider this little gem written by the linguist Zhao Yuanren 趙元任. In characters, it goes:

《施氏食獅史》

石室詩士施氏,嗜獅,誓食十獅。
氏時時適市視獅。
十時,適十獅適市。
是時,適施氏適市。
氏視是十獅,恃矢勢,使是十獅逝世。
氏拾是十獅屍,適石室。
石室濕,氏使侍拭石室。
石室拭,氏始試食是十獅。
食時,始識是十獅屍,實十石獅屍。
試釋是事。

In Pinyin:

« Shī Shì shí shī shǐ »

Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.
Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.
Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
Shì shì shì shì.

It's impossible to reconstruct the meaning of the passage from pinyin alone.
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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Liu Yuante » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:03 am

Shen Ai wrote:How long is Cao Pi's full biography? The one on the site is really short.


Fairly long, but not as long as Cao Cao's. Rough count - about 650 lines and 21000 characters, certainly much longer than the comprehensive bio on KMA (which is not intended to be a full SGZ bio, btw). I'm currently working on an English translation of Cao Pi's SGZ bio - but I have not worked on Classical Chinese in 3 years so...it is a process trying to think in it again. When it is done and I am satisfied that there are not too many howling errors I will post in in the main forum.

Lady Wu wrote:I hate to say this, but quite honestly, I would not encourage you to try to translate the SGZ if you can't read the characters. The language in Chen Shou's time is very different from the modern language, and one word can mean a lot of different things unless you know what the character is and what the context is. Even Chinese speakers who can read Chinese characters have difficulty understanding the SGZ properly, as seen in the many mistakes in the translated biographies on KMA.


I have to agree with Lady Wu, here. I'm a fairly intelligent person with a strong facility for languages but not having studied Classical Chinese in any form except on my own time, and even with great resources at hand (textbooks, grammars and multiple dictionaries w/archaic usage), I still screw up and make mistakes or else end up wanting to beat my head against a wall. And that's using the actual text of the SGZ - I cannot imagine trying to make my way using pinyin alone.

There are many words whose pronunciation is indicated by the same pinyin but have different meanings. And that doesn't even get into the issue of people and place names, official titles, the names of books, etc. In addition, as LW mentioned, the grammar can be difficult and is written in imitation of earlier forms - it can also change within a text, such that many important imperial declarations or edicts are written in an incredibly stylized grammar that basically apes the earliest Chinese classics.

I'm not trying to be a downer - I think it's great that you want to translate these, as I know the feeling very much. But I thought at one time that it would be possible to shortcut around actually learning the language and how to read it, and I was wrong. My first project took a lot of hard work and despite learning much it still has a few mistakes in it, and that was without making matters more difficult by not using the actual characters.

But - that doesn't mean you can't learn or do any translating. You will just have to learn the actual language. If you want, I can post my recommended shortlist of materials (most of which were originally recommended to me by LW) in a more appropriate thread.

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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Shen Ai » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:13 pm

Well then, I wish you luck Liu Yuante, on translating the biography of my favourite Three Kingdoms figure. I look forward to reading it one day, and better it be done with care than rushed.
I've a brave warrior in my army. Shen Ai is his name, and he can slay this Hua Xiong.

Wei has no more famous commanders, Shen Ai takes lead of the vanguard!

Even a commoner on the street knows what Shen Ai is thinking!
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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Sang » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:16 pm

Lady Wu wrote:I hate to say this, but quite honestly, I would not encourage you to try to translate the SGZ if you can't read the characters. The language in Chen Shou's time is very different from the modern language, and one word can mean a lot of different things unless you know what the character is and what the context is. Even Chinese speakers who can read Chinese characters have difficulty understanding the SGZ properly, as seen in the many mistakes in the translated biographies on KMA.

This is what the first sentence in Wei Yan's bio looks like in Pinyin:

Wei Yan zi Wenchang, Yiyang ren ye. Yi buqu sui xianzhu ru Shu. Shu you zhangong, qian yamen jianjun.

If I didn't know the characters already, I wouldn't know what that sentence says. Furthermore, that's not how a modern person would say the sentence---in today's Chinese, you'd say:

Wei Yan, zi Wenchang, shi Yiyang ren. Ta shi yi Liu Bei shuxia de shenfen gensui Liu Bei qu Shu. Yinwei ta lile bushao zhangong, suoyi bei sheng wei yamen jiangjun.

I leave you to figure out the difference.

This is harder than I thought. I know you’re saying this for my own good but I’d still want to give it a try. Can you please give me ‘Liu’ Feng and Wei Yan biography? So I can have it written in Pinyin.

Thank you :D

Liu Yuante wrote:But - that doesn't mean you can't learn or do any translating. You will just have to learn the actual language. If you want, I can post my recommended shortlist of materials (most of which were originally recommended to me by LW) in a more appropriate thread.

Adrian

That is great if you could post it in this thread.

Thank you Liu Yuante.
Gao Shun & Cheng Lian, you have my prayers!

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Sun Tzu: “A vanquished state cannot be revived; the dead cannot be brought back to life.”
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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Lady Wu » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:35 am

Sang wrote:This is harder than I thought. I know you’re saying this for my own good but I’d still want to give it a try. Can you please give me ‘Liu’ Feng and Wei Yan biography? So I can have it written in Pinyin.

Thank you :D

Sorry, but translation requires doing research. The Chinese characters for Liu Feng, Wei Yan, and SGZ are on KMA and are not difficult to find. If you are not ready to look up those characters and use them to find the original text, you are not ready to translate the text. To put it bluntly, you'd be wasting the time of the people transcribing the text into pinyin for you (btw you know there are internet tools for doing that, right?) and the people correcting/proofreading/editing your work.

PS: I apologize for being harsh, but really, as Adrian said, there is no shortcut for learning a language, and no translator in their right mind would think about translating a text without having access to a dictionary. If you are really eager to learn Chinese/translate biographies, it's really to your benefit to go about it the right way---i.e., learn the language, use dictionaries, do the necessary research. May I ask if you read Vietnamese (given your avatar)? If you do, there are likely Vietnamese translations of the SGZ, and you can try to translate from those. The end result would not be entirely accurate (since it's gone through two degrees of translation), but it'd be miles ahead of a translation done from pinyin.
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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Nazne » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:39 am

Sang wrote:This is harder than I thought. I know you’re saying this for my own good but I’d still want to give it a try. Can you please give me ‘Liu’ Feng and Wei Yan biography? So I can have it written in Pinyin.

Thank you :D


Sang, I don't like to say it, but I think you're completely missing the point. Lady Wu isn't telling you this just for your own good, although it'll certainly spare you the trouble of trying to translate, but no one has any use for a piece of ancient Chinese "translated" by a non-speaker who can only read pinyin, because pinyin alone can't uniquely identify a sentence or even individual words. You can't translate English if you only know the first two letters of each word; likewise, you can't translate Chinese from pinyin, and even if you tried, SoSZ wouldn't be able to use your translation without having someone more knowledgeable about the language go over it again, which defeats the purpose completely.
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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Liu Yuante » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:12 am

Sang wrote:That is great if you could post it in this thread.

Thank you Liu Yuante.


Firstly, I have to again echo the sentiments of the above posts - if you want to do this correctly, you need to learn and study the language. With that in mind, the first item on my shortlist of resources/learning tools, which I have posted here, is a textbook on literary Chinese. Good luck!

P.S. - I should add that there is definitely a monetary investment involved as well - textbooks and dictionaries cost money, so don't start into this unless you're serious about it.

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Re: Translation and Biography Requests

Unread postby Liu Yuante » Mon May 05, 2014 2:35 am

Liu Yuante wrote:Fairly long, but not as long as Cao Cao's. Rough count - about 650 lines and 21000 characters, certainly much longer than the comprehensive bio on KMA (which is not intended to be a full SGZ bio, btw). I'm currently working on an English translation of Cao Pi's SGZ bio - but I have not worked on Classical Chinese in 3 years so...it is a process trying to think in it again. When it is done and I am satisfied that there are not too many howling errors I will post in in the main forum.


So, I hate to be that guy who says he's going to do something and then doesn't, so just for information purposes, this got about 1/3 of the way done and then other projects (unrelated to translation work) took precedence. Maybe sometime in the future I will finish it.
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