Tools available for translation of Chinese characters

Discussion in 'Chinese Culture and History' started by TaiChiTJ, May 5, 2015.

  1. TaiChiTJ

    TaiChiTJ Brown Belt

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    One hard cold fact about translating instructional material written in Chinese characters is this:

    The characters may have a martial art meaning that is not in your every-day standard Chinese dictionary. So you may rejoice at finally finding a Chinese character in your Chinese dictionary, jot down the meaning, scratch your head for awhile trying to make sense of it in relation to the other characters you have translated so far, and finally quit in confusion and exasperation because nothing is making any sense.

    ENTER: Andrea Falk who has written:

    Chinese-English Dictionary for China's Martial Arts

    Chinese-English Dictionary for China s Martial Arts www.thewushucentre.ca Andrea Falk

    Now you are really onto something! Any idea or concept that is communicated in Chinese characters often takes more than one character to do the job. It may require several characters. Andrea has organized a dictionary to do this. Absolutely wonderful.

    There is still another piece to this whole puzzle. Is there some way we can quickly get to the English language meaning of a character without counting the strokes or marks and then go digging in a paper book to find it?

    There is a thing called a Quicktionary:
    Store

    You hold this amazing contraption in your hand, and with a steady hand, using silk-reeling learned from your Tai Chi practice (hopefully), scan a line of Chinese characters. You have to either buy the model with a Chinese dictionary pre-installed or install off their site. It will give you a character by character English definition. You can then use Andrea's dictionary, or another resource, to focus in on if there is a special meaning in the martial arts world for that character.

    Another valuable resource is this dictionary by McGraw-Hill.
    McGraw-Hill s Chinese Dictionary and Guide to 20 000 Essential Words A New Method for Non-Native Speakers to Look Up the 2 000 Most Commonly Used Characters in Chinese Quanyu Huang 9780071629249 Amazon.com Books

    With these three resources, I have found effective translation can by achieved in Chinese texts that have martial meaning to the characters.
     
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  2. BlazeLeeDragon

    BlazeLeeDragon Blue Belt

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    It's very difficult to work with Chinese characters, not only is it a picto type of writing and not phonic but the words dont' translate exactly. Our concept of Qi for example. Add that to the fact that there are many many different dialects and it can quickly become a life long pursuit.
     
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  3. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    But the characters, from dialect to dialect, stay the same.

    The romanization however can be a problem
     
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  4. BlazeLeeDragon

    BlazeLeeDragon Blue Belt

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    This is true. I gave up trying to read a while ago. They have a traditional way of writing and a modern version with less strokes. There is something like 75,000 I think it is and a core 20,000 that are commonly used and learned by everyone in China.

    Speaking it is no treat either, since the dialects are based upon tone and pitch. Messing one up changes the word completely. I've studied mandarin and can speak it enough to be understood but can't really read it that well with out the pinyin. I got on some language exchange sites and have spoken with a few people from China. Like in the USA here, where you live changes the word and trying to figure out translations can be tricky at times. such as north versus south or For example:
    Wǒ bù dǒng vs Wǒ bù míngbái
    dǒng and míngbái are dealing with understanding and both phrases are talking about not understanding or not knowing. The two I have asked from china tell me both are right. I guess it's like comprehend vs understand.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
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  5. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Depending on dialect the number of characters to be considered literate change as for north and south you are talking Mandarin vs Cantonese and the two cannot speak to each other

    Also traditional characters are not used as much these days and can cause big translation issues if all you know is simplified
     
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  6. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    We have some unintentional fun on here with American English and GB English!
    I have enough problems with Hebrew and I gave up on modern Greek simply because of the different characters and letters.
     
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