Monday, June 11, 2012

Translating a Teacup

Well I spent about an hour today trying to translate a teacup. I recently bought a new teapot, and I just got a cup to go with it. I picked it up from a local supermarket because it was about the right size. On the side was a little boy saying something to a little girl and the girl was blushing. Now at the best of times translating something from Chinese involves counting the strokes in a character and then hunting through the dictionary for that character, but here it was even worse. The font used for the characters was so strange that I couldn't even tell how many strokes were in the characters or what they were really supposed to look like. I was complaining to David on g-chat that I couldn't make heads or tails of it when I had a minor breakthrough. The cup had one sentence on it with ten characters and a comma after the first four. I was having no luck with the beginning of the sentence but I realized that after the comma was three characters I knew. 我 "wo" or I, 是 "shi" or am, one more I didn't know then 的 or "de" which makes something possessive. So I had X X X X, I am X's X X.

My next clue was that the last two characters were written in a different color so they must go together to make one word. After messing around on which has a nice feature where you can try to write in the character with a little pen I figured out they were 太阳 or "tai yang" which means sun. So now I had X X X X, I am X's sun. Here I was still baffled since I couldn't figure out what the missing character from the second part of the sentence was supposed to be. Here David stepped in and suggested it was 你 or "ni" meaning you. This is a pretty common character but the writing on the cup was pretty far from normal. This made sense though. X X X X, I am your sun. Also this helped because the first character was also 你. So I had You X X X, I am your sun. I was able to use again to figure out the second character was 要 or "yao" meaning want or have. I actually thought it looked familiar again, another common character.

So now I had You have X X, I am your sun. Here David stepped up again I descried the next character as looking like the letter "i" next to the number "2" and he figured out it was 记 or "ji" which doesn't mean much on it's own but with 住 or "zhu" it means remember. So in the end the cup said 你要记住,我是你的太阳。 "Ni yao jizhu, wo shi ni de taiyang." "You have to remember, I am your sun." There was also one more character by the girl which was 羞 or "xiu" which means shy. So that's fun with translating Chinese for the day, and a big shout out to David without whom I wouldn't have figured it out.