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Forum Rocket Chinese Chinese Feedback and Comments Can translations be improved to avoid paraphrasing and use translations that match the characters used

Can translations be improved to avoid paraphrasing and use translations that match the characters used



There are a number of lessons where the translations are far different from the literal translation and are much more like a paraphrase-  so we end up cutting and pasting into translation programs to figure out the characters, but I think you should retranslate your lessons to be closer to the characters actually used.

e.g from 6.4 Feeling unwell has a strong paraphrase:
Nǐ de liǎnsè hěn cāngbái.
You look pale."  

Clearly there is no character for 'look' in this phrase, 

Could you please change it to  more literal translation such as "your face is very pale", so that it matches the characters we are learning.  

In general we would be better served with a more literal translation, as others have previously commented - but if it has a local idiom meaning then you could always add a paraphrased version in brackets at the end.


I agree with the sentiment here and there are many phrases where their translations would be better if the adhered more literally to the script and not get too colloquial. However, one must be careful not to try to translate the sentence word for word. The English translation itself, "you look pale" does not make sense in English as the subject (you) are not looking at something but simply appear to be pale.

Probably the most precise translation would be "Your face is pale" since 很 is actually being used as "to be" and not very. You cannot use 是 in place of 很 here.

Sometimes I wish the lesson text spent more time showing how to break down some of these sentences. I often find myself feeding pieces of the sentence to Google Translate, and then building flashcard sets of the individual components. The good thing is that recently they added a lot of these words to "Extra Vocabulary". In lesson 6.4, face and pale appear there.



Thank you very much for your feedback. This is something we have to discuss with the whole team. The difficulty is some people prefer the overall translation with the new words listed separately, and some people prefer more literal translations. We tend towards our translations because they give a better sense of the words and the use of the sentence, whereas if we were to translate them more literally, the nuances between translations can be missed.

Nonetheless, we will look into it and might look at a way of getting all our members to have their say. We also need to make sure that we don't go back and forth between the two approaches.

Thanks for your feedback and keep up the good work!

   -   Lin Ping


I have a crazy suggestion. Maybe consider providing a literal word-for-word translation and below it the actual translation. For instance:

Wǒ de shǒujī zài nǎlǐ?
Literal: My hand machine is where?
Where is my cellphone?


Robert-C7 你好!

Thanks for the suggestion Robert-C7! I will pass this along to our team and obviously I can't promise anything but if we get enough interest in incorporating something like this, then we may include it.

Keep up the good work and the suggestions!

   -   Lin Ping

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