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bed down to an embroidery needle, Mr. Scarborough (No. 15) renders "sharp as a needle."
In another case (No. 1485) the characters kung tao A‘Justice' are translated Instinct'; while in No. 1739 chi tzu 'chicken's sons') is rendered 'Cock'!
F (an egg
In No. 102 we find:, which does not mean "shrink from considering, and all things grow hard," but 'Retreat and (merely) think about it, and everything will prove difficult.' No. 232 furnishes an example of ambiguity: T. It is correctly translated: "When there is no fish in one spot, cast your hook into another," where pieh () is taken in the sense of another.' The colloquial meaning however is simply don't.' 'If there are no fish here, don't throw your hook.' In No. 2226 we have the rendering: "If your wife is against it, do not get a concubine." The following is the Chinese text: J literally: Eating vinegar do not seek for the small' [animalculæ ?] which, it is safe to say, conveys no meaning whatever. Is it fair to presuppose in every casual reader, an acquaintance with the figurative use of the expression ch'ih ts'u, 'sipping vinegar,' as a synonym for domestic 'unpleasantness,'especially that between the wife and the concubines ?* To such a sentence a note should have been appended.
In No. 461:
we have the translation: "Those who reject iron can not make steel." Hen (1) does not mean to reject, but to feel resentment towards, and the meaning is not (as in the appended note)" that those who despise the effort to educate, will not have educated children," but that parents are (justly) indignant at (†) their stupid children (), because they will never come to anything (7). The figurative use of the words iron and steel is similar to that in another saying: 男兒無志鈍鐵無鋼‘A son without ambition is blunt iron without steel.'t No. 1734 is a perfect enigma: 在生是一根草死了是一個寶。 which is explained thus : “ Man alive's a trifle-like a blade of grass; Kill him though, and then see what will come to pass." ." This rendering of the second line, suggests the motto upon the cover of a patent medicine almanac, where a Virgilian quotation, was followed by a "free translation," thus:
"He comes to conquer and his skill
It concentrated in the Brandreth pill!"
The apparent meaning of the proverb is that although a man may *Here the saying, 'If you do not taste her vinegar, she will be sure to turn you sour' (你不吃他醋他必拈你的酸。), supposed to be spoken by the
husband to the wife, concerning the 'small wife,' as an exhortation to caution in
behavior. Used metaphorically it denotes that two rivals can not both succeed 勢不兩立).
Mr. Scarborough, No. 1268, gives a slightly different version of this proverb.
be worthless when alive (-) yet if he is murdered, his family will demand satisfaction, and he will thus become to them a valuable capital. As in the case of No. 2226 already cited, an explanatory note would not in this case have been resented by the average reader as impertinent.
In No. 318 a perfectly obvious meaning, is mistaken. "Every man to his calling. Lit.: Separate hongs are like separate hills.' The character ko () is translated as if it were the distributive ko () 'every,' 'each,' and even thus the rendering is far fetched, since there is no perceptible analogy between a trade and a mountain. The real meaning is that the boundary-or barrier-between different kinds of business is as difficult to pass, as a range of mountains. The outsider () knows no more of the secrets of the craft, than he knows of another country. The same idea is expressed in another common saying: 同行是冤家、隔行是力巴。‘Those of the same trade are rivals; one not of the trade is a green-horn.' The error in the translation of this proverb noted above, is however, a mere peccadillo, compared to the treatment which it receives in Doolittle's Handbook (p. 484) where the character hang (7) is read hsing, and the sentence is tortured into meaning (in two languages) "Modes of action are as various as the hills!"
In No. 1890:7A, we have the rendering: “A star, however willing, can not help the moon," and a note informs us that the word hsing() contains a play on the word hsin (f), which it resembles in sound. This seems to be an error throughout. Another reading is given in Doolittle (p. 326), where we find: A. "The stars can not face the moon, i.e. the people can not compare with the king." Under No. 2422, we find the following proverb: ATSFE . which is thus translated: "To excuse a murderer is abhorrent to reason." How the character k'o (J) is disposed of in this version, and what becomes of the balance between the two clauses of the proverb-which, as in the sentences that precede and follow, is clearly marked, even in the punctuation-does not appear. In this translation, however, Mr. Scarborough only follows Mr. Doolittle, who struggles with it in the following fashion, (preserving nevertheless the antithesis): "Murder may be apologized for, or excused, but it is impossible for reason to approve of it!" The saying is merely an hyperbole, and means: Murder can be condoned; but violations of Common Sense are unpardonable.'
There are other instances in Mr. Doolittle's book, in which errors of greater or less importance have been allowed-not to creep in, but rather to walk in and take a front seat, with their hats on and umbrellas spread!
Thus, we find on p. 576: 7##IS7.The sea is not worn by ships, nor is a road impaired by travel,' the last part of which proposition is so obviously at variance with daily observation, especially in China, that it is to be wondered how it passed unchallenged. The true meaning is, of course, (as in Mr. Scarborough, No. 324) that the multiplicity of ships need not blockade a channel, nor the number of carts obstruct a road, i.e. when each keeps to his own place, there is room for all. On the same page is the sentence:
777, which is rendered: "Better not be, than be nothing," whereas the idea clearly expressed in the text is that 'It is better when destitute to acquire, than after having acquired to become destitute,' preferable, in other words, to change one's condition for the better than for the worse.
On page 575 is the proverb: 2⇓⇓, which is translated: "Though brothers are very near relations, the difference of money separates them widely." Fên ming (B) does not mean wide separation, but clear discrimination (so as to prevent quarrels) and the signification is the same as that of the following: ★#‘Even friends should be separated by a high wall,' for it requires a superior man to avoid misunderstandings in regard to money 財帛分明大丈夫。
The expression: $5754 (p. 681) is rendered: “A donkey's lips are not the opposite of a horses' mouth," whatever that may be. The meaning is merely that they do not fit-employed of Janguage which is self-contradictory, or otherwise absurd.
In the Book of Rewards and Punishments (p. 248) occurs the oft quoted sentence: *. which is correctly rendered, "If it is the right way, advance; if it is the wrong way, retire." On page 498, however, the same words, (which have by this time ripened into an "Ancient Saying ") are oddly translated: "To have virtuous principles is to advance; to have none is to retrograde."
On page 571:†Œ #ˆ, appears in the translation in this shape: "Potter envies potter." The correct rendering is given by Mr. Scarborough (No. 320) "Two of a trade hate one another." Stil: wider of the mark is the translation on p. 685 of the saying: t. Ł an adage based upon the popular notion of transmigration, and which is aimed at the rapacity of officials who in a lifetime commit crimes sufficient to condemn to seven generations of beggary. Beggars in China, as one daily perceives, often kneel in the streets, beating their bodies violently with a brick to excite compassion. Hence "to brick-beat" (T) is synonymous with 'to beg.' This obvious explanation is ignored, and we are confronted with the rendering: "For one generation to be an official: for seven to be a brick-maker!"
2. which is translated: "Even sheep kneel to give their milk, and crows feed their young by disgorging." It is not easy to see how, upon these terms, the lambs would get anything to eat until after they were weaned. Mr. Scarborough (No. 1906) gives the correct rendering, 'Lambs have the grace to suck kneeling.' The second clause is said to be referred, however, to the care taken by their young of the parent birds when old, rather than to 'disgorging' by either for the sake of the others.
The phrase is said of one whose temper is violent, and who, disregarding the feelings of others suddenly bursts out into unprovoked ebullitions of wrath, like smoke from beneath a cold boiler. This proverb we find (upon page 680) rendered in the following singular manner: "In a cold kettle to assume (pretend) there is hot vapor!"
A similar struggle to make clear water turbid, appears on p. 182, where we have: X, i.e. When the butcher has actually killed your pig, it is useless to discuss with him the price, (since you must sell him the meat to get rid of it). The translator, however, was resolved to make the word pai (É) an adjective, agreeing with the late pig, which he achieves as follows: "The pig slaughtered (all stark and) white, then talk of a (different) price—to talk of another price after a thing is done," and the sentence is placed, "for convenience of arrangement," under the "motto:" "Done, then talk," whereas it should rather be: Agree before you begin.'
The Chinese are fond of expressing a part only of a meaning as will be hereinafter more fully illustrated, leaving the hearer to supply the clause understood. A frequent example of this class, is the phrase:
*. i.e. A mother-in-law praising her son-inlaw-he will do,' only so so, (all the commendation that could be expected from such a quarter). The last two words are often omitted. "How does your business prosper ?" "Oh, it's a mother-in-law's praise of a son-in-law," from which the hearer understands that the success is only tolerable. On page 687 we have this familiar idiom reduced to the following platitude: "For a mother-in-law to boast of her sonin-law is allowable !"
Like other languages Chinese abounds in reduplicated forms of expression, as in the English phrases from pillar to post,' 'with might and main.' Of this class is the phrase: *.***. i.e. without self-reliance-depending upon whatever is nearest. In Mr. Doolittle's translation, however, (p. 686) the subject is transferred to the realm of Mechanics, and advantage is taken of the occasion to
prefix a negative, and make the saying convey a lesson on the relative strength of materials: "Do not lean against a fence of bamboo sticks; lean against a wall!"
.well rendered by Mr. Scarborough, (No. 2383): "The monastery faces the nunnery; there's nothing in that-yet there may be." This seems to have proved a Sphynx' riddle, but the Editor refuses to give it up, hence we have the following: "The priest lives near the priestess, the idle are never busy!"
Our list of examples-already perhaps too much protracted— shall fitly close with a single additional instance-unum sed leonem. It is to be found both in Doolittle's Handbook (p. 285), and in Mr. Scarborough's volume (No. 1123). Here is the couplet, the first line of which is a very common proverb:一星之火、能燒萬頃之山。 **2. Of this we have (in Doolittle, p. 285) the following translation: "The light of a single star tinges the mountains of many regions; The half sentence of an improper speech injures the virtue of a whole life." Mr. Scarborough copies this rendering, with a trifling verbal variation: "As the light of a single star tinges the mountains of many regions; so a single unguarded expression injures the virtue of a whole life." This translation is moreover expressly reaffirmed in the Introduction, (p. XIV.) in the words: "And how could the danger of unguarded speech be more beautifully expressed than in the following ?" As the question has thus been raised, a few "remarks" may be in order.
1. The antithesis requires a correspondence between the effect of a star on the mountains, and the influence of a wrong expression upon the life; the star merely "tinges," the unguarded expression injures. Thus "the danger of unguarded speech is not at all "beautifully expressed."
2. I hsing chih huo (~) can not possibly mean "the light of a single star," but denotes a spark of fire.
3. Shao () can not possibly mean to 'tinge,' [is this not a fatal misprint for singe?] but to burn.
4. Wan ch'ing chih shan(Z) does not mean "the mountains of many regions," but a million acres, ('be the same more or less') so that the analogy between the widespread destruction caused by a single spark, and the far-reaching consequences of a single wrong word, is perfect. We are expressly warned on the very first page of the Preface, that any faults which may be discovered are not the result of over haste, or carelessness. This translation is not therefore to be credited to oversight-much less to insight.