1. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    from or of?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ohmyrichard, Apr 29, 2013.

    Hi everyone.
    I am asked to translate the Chinese title of a graduation thesis by a Chinese undergraduate into English, but I am not so sure of my English wording. So, I would like to have your helping hand. My English translation is: Wit,Talent and Charisma:A Study of Poet Xue Tao from the Tang Dynasty and Her Poetry. This female poet who will be discussed in the thesis was an ancient Chinese poet, eloquent, witty, and glamorous, to a great extent like Emily Dickinson. She lost her father, who had been a low-ranking official, to perhaps a disease, when she was very young. Since her father's death, she lived with her mother, and they had never been able to return to their native place due to poverty. Poverty later on forced her to become a singsong girl(not a prostitute in the modern sense, but an occupation of singing songs to entertain viewers like today's moviegoers,similar to that of the Japanese geisha) remaining unmarried her whole life. However, her poetic talent won her friendship with male celebrities and poets of that time; she enjoyed good relationships with a governer and several famous poets of her time who appreciated her poetic talent very much. That governor even petitioned the emperor to grant the talented female poet an official title to recognize her poetic achievement, but it was declined, for the rule dictated that no female was allowed to hold an official position at that time, even though it was not a position of real power.

    I would like you to help me with the question of whether to use "from the Tang dynasty" or "of the Tang dynasty"? And I would also appreciate it if you would help me improve the other parts of the translation.
    Thanks a lot.

    Richard
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    neither...

    'a study of tang dynasty poet...' makes better sense and reads better...
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say "of" sounds more elegant than "from" personally, although I agree with maia, "Tang Dynasty Poet, Xue Tao, and her Poetry" would be better.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ditto maia's advice. I often have problems translating sentences like this from the Turkish, as in Turkish the noun is always modified to show origin (think of the locative case in Latin, if anyone studies that these days). Sometimes translation has to go with the mores of the tongue you are translating to, in order to give accuracy of normal academic phrasing, or it looks "off".

    Edit: note that "of...........of..." is unendurably clumsy.
     
  5. Sue Almond
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    Sue Almond Member

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    I agree with Mckk... Tang Dynasty Poet, Xue Tao, and her poetry...
    Suggestions for the rest: ....she was very young. After (not 'Since') her father's death (no comma) she lived with her mother (no comma) and they were never able.... ('had never been' suggests that they did later)
    ....singsong girl(space) (
    ...an occupation, singing to entertain an audience, similar to that.... (I suggest the rest is unnecessary)
    .....geisha). She remained unmarried.... (This does not join on to the first part of the sentence correctly as you had written it)
    ...That governor.... (As he has been mentioned before it should be ..The Governor...)

    I am sure that is better. I hope I have got it right, it is quite difficult scrolling up and down!
     
  6. squishytheduck
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    squishytheduck Senior Member

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    As a scientist, my first reaction is that "of" always refers specifically to what you are studying, and "from" can make it sound like the study was performed during the Tang Dynasty, or by a research group headed by a megalomaniac named Tang, who calls his lab his "dynasty".
     
  7. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks a lot, maia.
    A follow-up question: Which is correct in this case, "a study of Tang dynasty poet Xue Tao" or "a stuy of the Tang dynasty poet Xue Tao" and why?
    Thanks.
     
  8. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks, Mackk.
    A follow-up question: which one is correct, "Tang Dynasty Poet, Xue Tao, and her Poetry" or "the Tang Dynasty poet Xue Tao and her poetry"? And why?
    Thanks again.
     
  9. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks for directing my attention to the clumsiness of "of...of...", which I overlooked.
     
  10. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks a lot for your suggestions. This is what I also want to get from you native speakers. As this forum also does not allow its users to ask other members to proofread their writings, I dare not breach the rule. However, proofreading by you native speakers is what I desperately want to get and it most effectively helps me improve my English.
    Thanks again.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    either one is ok... they both have the same meaning...
     
  12. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks, maia.
    Yesterday I thought of "Victorian poet Thomas Hardy" and I googled it and found that interestingly a lot more people say "Victorian poet Thomas Hardy" and much fewer people say "the Victorian poet Thomas Hardy".
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it would depend on context and how it's used in the sentence... in some instances, 'the' may read better...
     
  14. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    How about when it is part of the title of a book or the heading of a chapter? Thanks. I may be overthinking, you will say perhaps.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i can't see either way being used as a title or heading...
     
  16. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Hi,maia.
    What do you mean? I intend "Wit, Talent and Charisma: A Study of (the) Tang Dynasty Poet Xue Tao and Her Poetry" to be used as the title of an essay as I explained in my OP.
     
  17. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think what you have there is very suitable for a title or heading. I would put the "the". Without "the" it comes over as a bit more informal, slightly note-form, the sort of thing journalists write.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, i wasn't considering a subtitle... but i agree with mad re 'the' being unsuitable there...
     
  19. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks, madhoca.
     
  20. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks, maia.
     
  21. The Byzantine Bandit
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    The Byzantine Bandit Member

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    What's the most literal translation from the Chinese?

    If both are equally acceptable, please go with "of." I feel it gives it more of an heroic feel, something you'd find in Tolkien.
     
  22. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    The subtitle I gave in my OP is a literal translation which I am unable to make it any more literal. Unlike in English, in Chinese we express the idea of "a Tang dynasty poet" always placing "Tang dynasty" before "poet". When we analyze the philological relationship between "Tang dynasty" and "poet", we will interpret it as something like "a Tang dynasty's poet" with this possessive "'s" meaning "of". However, let me tell you that we in Chinese never place a modifier after what it modifies. I mean we do not have a structure similar to "of..." in Chinese. If a modifier is too long and it is improper or clumsy to put it before the modified, then we may have its meaning rephrased in a new clause in the same sentence. Grammatically speaking, the comma splice/ fault is not allowed in English, but it is definitely allowed in Chinese and this is why we can have a new clause for a too long modifier in the same sentence, which is arranged to be followed by new or newer information. Hope I have explained the issue satisfactorily.

    BTW, please tell me something about Tolkien. Thanks.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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  24. The Byzantine Bandit
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    The Byzantine Bandit Member

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    I suggest that you just go with the literal translation, then. When I translate from Latin in school I try to make it as close to the original wording as possible, even if it sounds awkward in English.

    Tolkien was a great writer from the early/mid-1900s. He wrote lots of stuff, most famously The Lord of The Rings. He was friends with C.S. Lewis, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, though Tolkien himself despised allegory. He was a great scholar as well. He invented several languages which he used in his books (I remember at least one language for the Dwarves and at least two (Quenya and Sindarin) for the Elves). His heavy influences seem to have been his Catholic faith and Norse mythology. There may have been some English stuff mixed in there as well (he himself was British). His books are gorgeous! His words are so believable that sometimes my friends and I will talk about them as if they're real. They have their own rich histories and literature. If you want to start reading, I think it's best to start with The Hobbit, which falls chronologically before The Lord of the Rings.
     
  25. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks for recommending me Tolkien. I have heard of The Lord of the Ring but I did not know Tolkien is the author. In China many youngsters love to watch this kind of movies and to my knowledge the present day Chinese youngster are enthusiastic about Harry Potter. I will read Tolkien when I've got time.
     

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