Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Getting off with your lover" / Lost in love

Chinglish is the sometimes comical insertion of Chinese grammatical constructions into colloquial English speech.  Usually you can reverse engineer it to identify the Chinese original.  But some things are just lost in translation.
This goofy sign could better have been translated as "Lost in love?  Watch your purse!"  The bold type begins with a Chinese set phrase, or four character chengyu 成语: "before flowers, under moon" 花前月下.

Victor Mair at Language Log explains:
The expression "huāqián yuèxià" 花前月下 ("in front of the flowers and beneath the moon") derives from a heptasyllabic quatrain entitled " Lǎo bìng" 老病 ("Old and Ill") by the famous Tang poet Bo Juyi 白居易 (772-846), the first two lines of which read:
Zhòu tīng shēnggē yè zuì mián, ruòfēi yuè xià jí huā qián
昼听笙歌夜醉眠, 若非月下即花前。
By day listening to music and song, by night in a drunken sleep;
If not beneath the moon, then in front of the flowers.

No comments:

Post a Comment