Comparative critique

User avatar
xiamenese
Posts: 4469
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:32 am
Platform: Mac
Location: London or Exeter, UK.

Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:39 am Post

So this is the thing , since we're all here involved with writing in one way or another, I thought I might enlist the help of any of you that is looking for a way to procrastinate for a little while and would be willing to help me with a mini project. I have two different translations of a Chinese "essay", is perhaps the best way to describe it. It's not long. Without any further introduction, what I'd like is to know which of the two translations you prefer as something to read, and why, and any other comments you care to make about them.

I will also be enlisting the help of Chinese friends ... colleagues and former students ... and asking them the same thing.

You can — I hope — download the requisite file at http://files.me.com/mark_hilton/lk1kgj If there's any problem with the download, let me know. It's the first time I've tried it from my space since .mac became .me and the whole interface was changed.

You can PM me your comments if you prefer.

TIA :)
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.6, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
2017 iPad, iPadOS 14, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

User avatar
vic-k
Posts: 7135
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:23 am
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: Protesting in the nude, outside ex Red Lion TESCO Store

Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:58 am Post

Mark,
No problem.Download instantaneous. :wink:
Vic
As a professional, you, are your one and only asset. Without integrity you are worthless, but with it, you are priceless.

User avatar
xiamenese
Posts: 4469
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:32 am
Platform: Mac
Location: London or Exeter, UK.

Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:16 am Post

vic-k wrote:Mark,
No problem.Download instantaneous. :wink:
Vic

Great. Thanks Vic. I hope I can look forward to some comments.

:)

Mark
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.6, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
2017 iPad, iPadOS 14, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

User avatar
africanstardust
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:56 am
Location: ZA
Contact:

Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:29 am Post

*disclaimer* a) I'm only 18, b) I've never been to China, c) when I read I pay more attention to whether or not I like it than anything else.

However, that said...I like it. Your style is inviting and it drew me in from the first paragraph; I especially like your repeated use of phrases. It adds a poetic rhythm to the writing.

My only critique is this: on the first page, in the paragraph beginning with "In Lüliang in Shanxi there is a place called Bei Wudang Shan," there is a punctuation error..."It it is an isolated peak in the Loess Plateau of China, covered with pine trees and mixed woodlands, it’s cliffs eroded by streams giving it a unique appearance." Should be "its" without an apostrophe, I believe.

Otherwise, in my limited ability to evaluate, very well done.
The coroner will find ink in my veins and blood on my typewriter keys.
-C Astrid Webber

User avatar
vic-k
Posts: 7135
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:23 am
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: Protesting in the nude, outside ex Red Lion TESCO Store

Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:59 am Post

Mark,
Having downloaded them, my intention was to read them later on in the day. I gave a cursory glance at the first line of the first translation and WHAMMO! :shock: The opening paragraph is exquisite, beguiling and the piece carries on in that vein to its completion. It`s poetic without being poetry.

By the time I`d finished the first translation, I was head-over-heels in love with the author; mother nature (as I believe the author is), and China! Oh yeah! in love with the translator as well, for such a lovely translation.

The second translation, on the other hand, left me decidedly indifferent. As for syntactical errors etc, I didn`t take much heed of them. If there, then they`ll be self evident.

I would love to read other stuff by the author, translated by the person who did the first translation.

So! Blown away by No 1. Indifferent to No 2
Hope that`s of some use to you Mark
Take care
Vic
As a professional, you, are your one and only asset. Without integrity you are worthless, but with it, you are priceless.

User avatar
xiamenese
Posts: 4469
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:32 am
Platform: Mac
Location: London or Exeter, UK.

Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:42 pm Post

africanstardust wrote:*disclaimer* a) I'm only 18, b) I've never been to China, c) when I read I pay more attention to whether or not I like it than anything else.

However, that said...I like it. Your style is inviting and it drew me in from the first paragraph; I especially like your repeated use of phrases. It adds a poetic rhythm to the writing.

My only critique is this: on the first page, in the paragraph beginning with "In Lüliang in Shanxi there is a place called Bei Wudang Shan," there is a punctuation error..."It it is an isolated peak in the Loess Plateau of China, covered with pine trees and mixed woodlands, it’s cliffs eroded by streams giving it a unique appearance." Should be "its" without an apostrophe, I believe.

Otherwise, in my limited ability to evaluate, very well done.


Uh-oh ... bloody typos! I'll have to change that.
Umm ... I'm keeping quiet about the translators for the moment. What interests me is how people react to the two translations of the same text, which they prefer, why, if one of them seems to retain more Chinese-ness and if that is a good thing or not ...
But thank you for reading and for your comments. They are much appreciated. :)
Mark
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.6, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
2017 iPad, iPadOS 14, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

User avatar
xiamenese
Posts: 4469
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:32 am
Platform: Mac
Location: London or Exeter, UK.

Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:46 pm Post

vic-k wrote:Mark,
Having downloaded them, my intention was to read them later on in the day. I gave a cursory glance at the first line of the first translation and WHAMMO! :shock: The opening paragraph is exquisite, beguiling and the piece carries on in that vein to its completion. It`s poetic without being poetry.

By the time I`d finished the first translation, I was head-over-heels in love with the author; mother nature (as I believe the author is), and China! Oh yeah! in love with the translator as well, for such a lovely translation.

The second translation, on the other hand, left me decidedly indifferent. As for syntactical errors etc, I didn`t take much heed of them. If there, then they`ll be self evident.

I would love to read other stuff by the author, translated by the person who did the first translation.

So! Blown away by No 1. Indifferent to No 2
Hope that`s of some use to you Mark
Take care
Vic

Thank you very much Vic. That is indeed very useful. I'm glad you liked the piece too. The original author is a painter and essayist ... now very elderly ... but reasonably well-known, I think.

I'll reveal all in due course, when I've had sufficient responses.

Mark
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.6, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
2017 iPad, iPadOS 14, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

PJ
PJS
Posts: 1185
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:05 pm
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: Upstate New York

Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:14 pm Post

On my way out the door, so time only for quick observations; I'll come back this PM for further comment, as the topic intrigues me.

Dominant impression: number 1 is by a native English speaker who has learnt Chinese; number 2, just the reverse. (Look at "festooned," would you.)

I prefer reading number 1, yet can't help suspecting that number 2 -- perhaps because of my previous comment -- is more faithful to the original.

I agree generally with Vic's observations.

More anon.

Phil
You can't conquer stupid — or cure it — with more stupid.

User avatar
xiamenese
Posts: 4469
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:32 am
Platform: Mac
Location: London or Exeter, UK.

Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:41 pm Post

PJS wrote:On my way out the door, so time only for quick observations; I'll come back this PM for further comment, as the topic intrigues me.

Dominant impression: number 1 is by a native English speaker who has learnt Chinese; number 2, just the reverse. (Look at "festooned," would you.)

I prefer reading number 1, yet can't help suspecting that number 2 -- perhaps because of my previous comment -- is more faithful to the original.

I agree generally with Vic's observations.

More anon.

Phil

Thank you Phil. Very interesting, and I look forward to your further comments.
:)
Mark
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.6, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
2017 iPad, iPadOS 14, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

User avatar
Jaysen
Posts: 6278
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:00 am
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: East-Be-Jesus-Nowhere SC, USA

Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:48 pm Post

Crap crap crap crap.

Number one tries too hard to be a poem turned into a pamphlet. Think travel brochure. The poor word order requires breaks in the pace of the read. The idea is there but it feels like a direct translation without the filter of insuring the intent is communicated. If I were to guess this would be a direct translation by a native Chinese.

Number two is my idea of heaven. The philosophical nature of the chinese is maintained by proper phrasing and complex word choice (sorry PJS but the more with less mantra would seem to me to allow the use of less common words to convey a particular meaning). This translation also shows a clearer reverence for the past common to the chinese culture. I would assume this translation it from a nationalized individual who has passionately pursued the chinese culture. Probably a native english speaker. Although it could be a foreign born chinese who grew up speaking both languages.

In both there are slight errors, but nothing worse that what I do in every post.

How long do I have to live?
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

ImageImage

User avatar
xiamenese
Posts: 4469
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:32 am
Platform: Mac
Location: London or Exeter, UK.

Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:58 pm Post

Jaysen,

Great ... the voice of dissent. I love it. Let's hope you provoke lots of argument. Me, I'm keeping quiet for the moment.

:)

Mark
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.6, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
2017 iPad, iPadOS 14, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

User avatar
Jaysen
Posts: 6278
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:00 am
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: East-Be-Jesus-Nowhere SC, USA

Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:08 pm Post

That seems to be a common role for me.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

ImageImage

Hu
Hugh
Posts: 2444
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 12:05 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: UK

Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:27 pm Post

In a hurry, so here's my first impression.

I agree with Vic's judgement, with the gloss that Translation 1 is almost too self-consciously rich (as a simple read) in vocabulary, rhythms and overall poeticism, whilst I quite enjoyed reading Translation 2 despite its blander take.

H

P.S. Xiamen has made the news today!
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

User avatar
xiamenese
Posts: 4469
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:32 am
Platform: Mac
Location: London or Exeter, UK.

Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:52 pm Post

Thank you Hugh. Dare I hope that you will find time to make a more detailed comment?

As for Xiamen being in the news, yes, I heard about that. Sadly, not something that one should be proud of on Xiamen's behalf. :?

Mark
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.6, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
2017 iPad, iPadOS 14, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

User avatar
vic-k
Posts: 7135
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:23 am
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: Protesting in the nude, outside ex Red Lion TESCO Store

Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:07 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:Crap crap crap crap.
Really!! :shock: Good lord. :? I shall have to go back and read it again, with the, Crap crap crap crap, bouncing off the walls of my empty cranial cavity. But. First off I shall reread No2. Without the lustre of No1 blinding me to what good there may be therein :wink:
Vic
As a professional, you, are your one and only asset. Without integrity you are worthless, but with it, you are priceless.