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Robert Frost said, “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” When something is translated, phrases tend to get rendered down, curtailed, simplified. Still, even in translation, some new voice is asserting its own flair, knuckling its own spin into a basic meaning.
One morning earlier this week, avoiding the lessons in my Chinese text book, I stumbled onto a daily affirmation site, and I tried to translate a bit into Chinese. I asked Mandy to check it over, and then I posted it and asked people to translate, just as an experiment.
This was the original passage, which I kept to myself.
I am patient, loving, caring, and understanding. I am surrounded by patient, loving, caring, and understanding individuals. In all situations, I remain balanced. I am balanced and as a result, my relationships are balanced.
If I try to translate it into French, I don’t think much is lost, but Chinese is a language family or two further removed, and radical surgery must be carried out. (No doubt a more faithful representation could be produced by someone proficient in Chinese; then again, the point is not to make a perfect translation but to see what happens when imperfect people translate).
I've got a good heart, filled with patience, and so have others. If we can get all the stuff out of our heads, no matter what happens, we can get along with others. ——Belle
I am a patient and good person. People around me are good people as well. Whatever happens, I just let it be, so I get on well with other people. –AJ
I’m patient and kind-hearted. People around me are also ready to help. No matter what happens, with a kind heart, I am constantly in friendly relationships with other people. –Iris
I am a patient and good person. People all around are good too. No matter what happens, I do not care about it very much, so I can get very well with others. –Caroling
I'm patient and kind-hearted, and so are people around me. No matter what occurs, I spare it no mind. That's the reason for my harmonious relationship with others. –Nancy
I am patient. I am a good person; the people around me are good people too. No matter what happens, there is no panic, no worries, so I am amiable with people.
I have patience; I am a good-hearted person. The people around me are also good-hearted people. Regardless of the issue at hand, I don’t get distracted by such thoughts, so I get along well with others. –Julien Cordry
It’s interesting how many ways "let it be" may be said: “I don’t get distracted; I don’t worry or panic; I spare it no mind; I don’t care about it, etc. Elle introduced an interesting word “amiable”. I notice that despite some changes in meaning, the slightly altered meanings don’t lose much and in some cases become more potent. It may be that the process of recreation—in which slightly altered meanings and alternatively colorful forms emerge—is to be embraced. In my view, a new elegance is added in the following translation, based on simplicity, and it may stand superior to the original:
I have patience with good hearted and well intentioned people. With these, I live in harmony.
—Mathew Charles Wood
Feel free to add new translations in the comments!
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