trouble translating chinese to english

125. Translating the Untranslatable

Podcast Duration: 00:51:06

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The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast focuses primarily on The Mandarin Blueprint Method online curriculum. Creators Luke Neale & Phil Crimmins answer questions and comments, discuss topics related to China and Mandarin learning, and have special guests.

125. Translating the Untranslatable

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3:02 Comments & Emails

David Leitnick by Community

Hello MBers, I have a question concerning memory palaces–namely, memory palace clutter and memory palace claustrophobia. Have you ever found you’ve needed to put something in your memory palace but there are still mnemonic images in all the loci? 

For example, in my childhood home memory palace, every place in every room for the third tone has something there that hasn’t gone into my long-term memory yet. If I put something new there, it will overwrite the older mnemonic image I still need. I could squeeze the newer image into a corner, but it either a) interferes with the older image or b) gives the mnemonic room a cramped, cluttered quality and increases cognitive load. 

Does anyone have any suggestions? 


Jason Pon on 我和爸爸

I cried in Chinese after listening to this.

我把这个听后哭了得中文 . (Also, did I get this right?)


Carys Scott on Nasal Final IAN (YAN): 烟 yān,抽烟 chōuyān, 讨厌 tǎoyàn

I was told if you’re offered a cigarette at a wedding in China, you have to accept even if you don’t smoke. Is that right??


Kym Thomas on Level 23 Complete

Reading this” 听说Luke和Phil很帅 😉 ” and understanding it straight away, made me chuckle, but also feel so proud to understand it just as if I was reading it in English. this method is hands down the best!!!! thankyou!!!


Kevin Roy Jackson on Time to Get Real About Sentences

Another key moment which reinforces my trust in you folks as educators. I didn’t get absolutely everything straight away, but I could read the majority of those sentences without difficulty and I see that as a considerable step forward. Thank you.


Ted Crowley on What About the Mandarin Tones?

Where is the “like” button? I already love this method. I wish I had found it a year ago.


Kairi Shikari on Now Just LOOK at how SOLID that Foundation Is! Phase 5 Complete!

I always had a great feeling about this course from the start, but now I am at the end of the first great ‘hill’, I am even more satisfied and amazed at what I have achieved so far. I am now excited every day to learn more Chinese and am enjoying the additional challenges I have now added to my studies (a tutor on Italki, graded reading books). Thank you for helping to rekindle my love for the Chinese language. I vow that one day I will be able to thank you both in person!


Carys Scott on Could You Do Us a Quick Favor?

There’s an app on Amazon Prime called Rakuten Viki, it’s Chinese and Korean movies and TV shows (you choose), including live on TV shows in China. There are adds but it’s cheap to pay to get rid of them if you want. I have watched so much content it’s unreal. Subtitles are good also. Hope that helps people!


Rebecca Wheble on Vocab Unlocked from 幅

Interestingly in English we also (sort of) use ‘width’ as a measure word with fabric. It’s slightly old-fashioned but like you can say ‘a bolt of cloth’, you can also say ‘a width of fabric’.


Carys Scott on Nasal Final ING (YING): 电影 diànyǐng,明天 míngtiān

I mimicked “wo ne, mama ne” – 3 others in the room heard and synchronised “do do did do doo – mnama né” from the Muppets ?


tyson on Make a Movie 器

I made a prop for 㗊 – wailing women. In some cultures, they can be hired for funerals.


Tofu Meow on Vocab Unlocked from 对: 对…来说 – 对不起 – 对面

对…来说 seemed tricky, till I thought of the Karen meme. Karen loves to give her opinions, thinks she is correct (but is facing/opposing), and lies when shouting.


Xiao En on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 说话 – 电话

Did I miss a video that explains the difference between gàn (干) “work” and gān (干) “dry”? And if so, how will I make the entry to my Anki?


Ted Crowley on Special Effects & Memory Athletics

I think razor blades and horror movies are scary. I don’t want to repeatedly think about scary things when I’m learning Chinese!
So I picked a baseball bat for 1 and a layer cake for 2.

The movie in the kitchen was fine. Sean (what happened to Shrek?) was a cricket-like bowler, and I was the wicket-guy with my staff. He knocked down all the pins with his spinning bat, easily spinning past my staff. Cheers! Confetti! Yay!

The scene you described was very dramatic and easy to remember. So was my variation on it. Sadly, I didn’t know we were writing a scene for the “shi” that means “ten” (no-one mentions that) so the bowling pin count meant nothing to me. I have a scene I’ll remember for years — it just doesn’t mean “ten” in my mind.

That’s okay. I’ll just have to re-shoot that scene (with some better script-writers… keep your day jobs, guys).


Ric Santos on Level 42 Complete

For example, 光 carries a primary meaning of light or ray of light. At first glance, that has nothing to do with “use up” (e.g., 我的牙膏用光了。牙膏 gāo – toothpaste). It also doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the concept of “bare or naked” (e.g., 你不能光着身子去外面). Doesn’t it, though?

my take: it is just that toothpaste is advertised as shining one’s teeth! So, when one runs out of the shining paste, there will be no shining teeth either. As for the “bare or naked”, one will need some form of light to see something naked…nevertheless, even in the darkest night, it might not be wise to walk in the dark alley stark…

and Thank you for the lessons 37-42!


Oscar Haglund on Pick a Prop for 十

Coming back here from level 25 to say first up that this is a frequently recurring prop and I wish I had taken the syringe than the cross. The cross may look more like the actual character but honestly that does not matter as much as you may think at this stage. More important is how versatile a syringe is with regards to how it can be used.

In fact I would say that one of the most important facts when picking a prop should be, what can I do with this? Props that have a lot of interaction possibilities (such as the syringe) should be at the top of your list.


Jason Pon on 小美和男朋友的一天

I wonder if you guys have considered attaching submissions that have been shared by students of the course. Would be great to see how other students sound as well.


Christopher Neil on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 认识

I saw the the usage 我认得你 (wo ren de ni) in a soap opera which was translated as ‘I recognise you [from work]’. Is this interchangeable with 认识?


Kate Gans on 电动车 in Context


Why is 再 used instead of 更?


Georgia Swanson on 它们 in Context

What is the purpose of the 的 in the first sentence, “这群小猫它们非常的可爱“?Can it be omitted from this sentence or does it add a particular grammar point that we just haven’t learned about (in which case I’ll just be patient and wait to find out!)? Thanks!

44:40 Movies! 

This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters.

Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 病

Keyword: Sick
Actor: My cousin Benita
Set: Stonehenge
Room: Inside the stone circle
Props: 3rd eye, Dr. House

Cousin Benita is climbing the rocks inside Stonehenge. She has a terrible fall and rips something and breaks something else. Her cries of pain and fear and quickly answered. In runs DR HOUSE who runs right up to her. after he meditates a moment, a hole begins to open up on his forehead. A wildly decorated 3rd Eye opens up emitting beautiful colors of healing energy. In a few more moments Benita is enveloped by this healing energy from Dr House’s 3rd eye (as it shuts they keep hearing a bing, bing, bing). Her bleeding wounds begin to heal. Just then she wretches
and pukes up the sickness of the injury as a green slime of yuck! She is cured. House is Smiling and Blinking at his accomplishment. Bing, bing, bing…


Will Raley on Make a Movie 郎

KEYWORD: 郎 láng Groomsman (friend of a man who is getting
Actor: Leslie Nielsen
Set: -ang
Room within Set (tone): Kitchen
Prop(s): 良 (Princess Bride), 阝 (Brick Wall)

Make a movie:
1. Leslie Nielsen at -ang’s Kitchen
2. Leslie Nielsen is dressing himself up as GROOMSMAN for a wedding
3. Princess Bride (良) is there, and she comes at Leslie
4. Seems, Princess Bride prefers the GROOMSMAN
5. Leslie Nielsen in a panic raises up a Brick Wall (阝) in between them to block her from getting to him
6. Leslie Nielsen is an honest GROOMSMAN (郎)


Jonathan Pritchard on Make a Movie 数

I love this one. First, there’s Marilyn Monroe (my Nu prop) tapdancing with a bowl of rice on her head. Then the tap-dancer appears next to her. Then Shrek pops in while tapdancing. There’s a voiceover like in Sesame Street: One! Two! Three! Three in number!


Chad Ressler on Make a Movie 姓

Set: Current home where I got ENGgaged (Backyard)
Actor: Shauna (my now wife)
Props: Pink Lingerie and Baby Jesus

I come home from work and as I come through the gate into our backyard, I see my wife Shauna standing there in pink lingerie. She is busy setting up a Christmas manger scene and is holding baby Jesus. She informs me that she ran a very special errand today and shows me a new social security card with her SURNAME changed to Ressler. She lays baby Jesus in the manger, and…well….we go inside…..

2 February, 2021