Monday, November 15, 2004

Chinese, translated

I watch Chinese movies all the time, especially good ol' kung fu flicks. I've been buying old Shaw Bros movies off Ebay and loving them, especially the good ol Ti Lung and David Chiang team-ups. In watching these with my other, often I'd crack up and nothing in the subtitles would indicate anything funny. But I comprehend about 70% of spoken Cantonese, so it was either the subtitle that cracked me up or the phrase itself.

I just want to illustrate how hard it is to translate colloquilisms so occasionally, I'm going to put in Cantonese phonetics, have the literal translation and then the real meaning:

  • Sig bau fa'an, fu'un gau - literal: eat full tummy, sleep nap; real: Tummy's full, it's naptime!
  • Dah sei neigh - literal: hit dead you; real meaning: I'm gonna beat you silly (dead).
  • Ha'am sup - literal: salty wet; real meaning: horny, dirty.
  • Hoong - literal: red; real meaning: it's red-hot (on the rise).
Well, if I think of more, or you can suggest some, let me know. I'm going to pay attention to those old movies and see if I can't put up some humorous ones.

Filed under Reveries & Paranoias.


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