Lesson 2.2 - Buying Plane Tickets

Robert-C7 August 20, 2014, 8:13 pm
I have questions/issues with the following sentence from lesson 2.2

Wǒ yào mǎi liǎngzhāng qù Běijīng de fēijīpiào。
我要买两张去北京的飞机票。
I would like to buy two tickets to Beijing.

First of all, the tickets being purchased are airline tickets. The translation, if it is to accurately reflect what is being said in Chinese should read "I would like to buy two airline tickets to Beijing." I was curious to see how Google Translate would give and it gave this for "I would like to buy two airline tickets to Beijing."

我买了两张机票到北京。
Wǒ mǎile liǎng zhāng jīpiào dào běijīng.

1. It seems to interpret "I would like to buy" as something to trigger the use of 了. Should the English translation be "I want to buy" rather than "I would like to buy"?
2. It uses jīpiào rather than fēijīpiào for airline ticket. Are both correct? I am pretty certain that fēijīpiào is correct just as 飞机场 (fēijīchǎng) and 机场 (jīchǎng) both mean airport.
3. It uses "liǎng zhāng jīpiào dào běijīng" rather than "liǎng zhāng qù Běijīng de fēijīpiào" for "two airline tickets to Beijing".

Comments anyone?
Lesson 2.2 - Buying Plane Tickets
Lin-Ping September 2, 2014, 3:04 pm
你好Robert!

I would not use Google Translate as a benchmark for checking the validity of a translation. It deals with vocab fairly well but has trouble with the nuances and irregularities in grammar which makes it useless.

The English sentence and the Chinese are both perfectly fine, and exactly what we would be likely to say if we were to in this situation. Although the English version is not a literal translation, it is a perfect translation of meaning, which is more important than a direct translation.

The English translation leaves out the word 'airline' because I don't think I have ever included that specification when I'm buying plane tickets. The translation provided by Google Translate is a poor translation because it implies the tickets have already been bought and the sentence order is round the wrong way...Read More
你好Robert!

I would not use Google Translate as a benchmark for checking the validity of a translation. It deals with vocab fairly well but has trouble with the nuances and irregularities in grammar which makes it useless.

The English sentence and the Chinese are both perfectly fine, and exactly what we would be likely to say if we were to in this situation. Although the English version is not a literal translation, it is a perfect translation of meaning, which is more important than a direct translation.

The English translation leaves out the word 'airline' because I don't think I have ever included that specification when I'm buying plane tickets. The translation provided by Google Translate is a poor translation because it implies the tickets have already been bought and the sentence order is round the wrong way. If we wanted to say it this way, we would say something more like,
我想买两张到北京的(飞)机票。
到/去北京 is a qualifier of the ticket and therefore must be placed before the noun, not afterwards.

I urge you not to use Google Translate for verifying the translation because it will only confuse you. It may be able to translate some very basic sentences accurately but all you have to do is take a basic sentence in English, translate it into Chinese using Google Translate, and then take the resulting Chinese and translate it back into English. You are likely to get a ridiculous result. Were it a good translation tool, then it would be able to take a sentence, translate it, then reverse translate it back into its original form without any problems. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

I hope this has cleared up some of your queries.

Keep up the good work and 加油!

- Lin Ping
Lesson 2.2 - Buying Plane Tickets
Robert-C7 September 2, 2014, 11:48 pm
OK - I have always had my doubts about Google Translate's ability to translate sentences, but now I know to really take their translations with a grain of salt and not to use them as a reference. Also, I see your point regarding requesting to purchase tickets to Beijing. If I am at an airline counter purchasing tickets (in English), it is obvious that I am purchasing airline tickets. I find it interesting that in Chinese, we fully spell it out an say 飞机票 (fēijīpiào) rather than just 票 (piào).

liǎngzhāng qù Běijīng de fēijīpiào
两张去北京的飞机票
two tickets to Beijing

The above sentence fragment shows why you cannot translate English to Chinese word for word. I am still trying to wrap my head around this grammar...Read More
OK - I have always had my doubts about Google Translate's ability to translate sentences, but now I know to really take their translations with a grain of salt and not to use them as a reference. Also, I see your point regarding requesting to purchase tickets to Beijing. If I am at an airline counter purchasing tickets (in English), it is obvious that I am purchasing airline tickets. I find it interesting that in Chinese, we fully spell it out an say 飞机票 (fēijīpiào) rather than just 票 (piào).

liǎngzhāng qù Běijīng de fēijīpiào
两张去北京的飞机票
two tickets to Beijing

The above sentence fragment shows why you cannot translate English to Chinese word for word. I am still trying to wrap my head around this grammar. I guess this falls into the grammatical pattern with 去北京 (qù Běijīng) being the adjective/qualifier.
Lesson 2.2 - Buying Plane Tickets
Lin-Ping September 5, 2014, 3:29 am
Yes, that's right.

The grammar may be strange at first but the more you read, the more engrained the sentence structures and patterns will become.

Keep up the good work!

- Lin Ping
Lesson 2.2 - Buying Plane Tickets

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