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I saw the phrase Koi no yokan described on a website: http://www.hightowerflashes.com/untranslateablewords.html

The Japanese phrase means a feeling that you will fall in love with someone, which is different from love at first sight. I don't know if there is an exact equivalent in English ("premonition of love"?), but I would be a bit surprised if there was no Chinese equivalent. Any suggestions?

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After reading Stan's answer I realized an ambiguity within this question (hence why his answer and mine differ in conclusion): are you asking if the phrase is translatable into Chinese, or there is an authentic Chinese word/phrase that represents the same, authentic concept? –  NS.X. Jun 26 '13 at 18:54
    
@NS.X: I guess I was wondering if there is an exact equivalent in Chinese, but if there isn't then what would be the best translation. –  Michael Lai Jun 26 '13 at 22:54
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3 Answers

I don't think there is an exact counterpart for this phrase in Chinese. A few similar ones come to my mind:

  • Describe 爱情 (love) or 缘分 (chemistry) with 命中注定 (fated), e.g. 命中注定的爱情 (predestined love), 命中注定的缘分 (preordained love luck).
  • 走桃花运 or 命犯桃花 (blessed by peach blossom) means someone is in a lucky streak for love affairs.
  • 真命天子/真命天女 (Heaven ordained lad/lass) means Mr./Ms. Right.

Since there are more and more imported words from Japan, simply using 恋之预感 as a Chinese phrase can be understood by a lot of people. Actually this usage already took place in pop song lyrics as well as internet fictions.

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I will explain this in another view point :-) And I think it's better to put my conclusion first:

恋爱的预感 or just 恋之预感 is a perfect translation in Chinese.

Now, let's consider this interesting question:

Why is it said to be untranslatable in English?

Koi No Yokan (Japanese): Koi No Yokan is a truly beautiful concept. It can defined the sense can have upon first meeting another person that the two of them are going to fall in love. In other words, it is the knowledge one has that he/she is going to fall in love with another person. This differs from the idea “love at first sight” in that it does not imply that the feeling of love exists, rather it refers to the knowledge that a future love is inevitable.

I think the essentials of the concept of 恋の予感 are

  1. It should be a subjective sense, or, intuitive knowledge, about the future. So the word or phrase for 予感 should be neutral -- it implies neither good future nor bad future.
  2. It should precisely describe the delicate situation that you know the love happens in the future but not at present.
  3. Furthermore, in both Japanese and Chinese, is not equal to . In Japanese, is

    特定の異性に強くひかれること。また、切ないまでに深く思いを寄せること。恋愛。

    Which means a thing that one is attracted by another special person of the opposite sex, and thinking of him/her very deeply. And in Chinese, it is

    慕也。

    Which means feeling attached to, or being reluctant to part. So, the meaning of can be considered the same in Japanese and Chinese. Intuitively speaking, is an immature kind of love, green but beautiful. For example, 恋人(こいびと) is not lover (愛人) but rather boy/girl friend (see goo辞書). It reflects one aspect of the eastern culture: being veiled to the emotion of love.

Thus, for Chinese, there isn't any culture barrier in the meanings of 恋 or 予感, besides, 恋爱的预感/恋之预感 makes sense in Chinese. So I said, 恋爱的预感/恋之预感 is a perfect translation.

For English, I found one translation on Weblio英語表現辞典:

presentiment of a romance

This would be better than "premonition of love" because it takes Point 3 into consideration. But still, I find presentiment/premonition is often associated to unpleasant future. Maybe sixth sense is a better phrase, though it's informal.

EDIT

I check through the Roget's International Thesaurus for premonition, and find these entries:

  • premonition, presentiment; hunch, feeling in one's bones ... [generally implying something unpleasant, or being informal]
  • foreboding, apprehension, misgiving ... [implying something bad]
  • omen, portent, augury, symptom ... [they are not subjective sense]
  • harbinger, forerunner, precursor, herald ... [not subjective sense either]
  • ominousness, portentousness, portent ... [something bad]
  • inauspiciousness, unpropitiousness, unfavorableness ... [something bad]
  • auspiciousness, propitiousness, favorableness ... [something good]

It seems difficult to find a neutral and subjective and formal word to state 予感/预感 :(

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Thanks for the comments. Your answer shows quite a bit of understanding for both Chinese and Japanese. Do you speak both languages? I think there are a lot of different subtle expressions about emotions in Japanese (interesting since Japanese people don't seem to like expressing them), but I should do some more investigation for Chinese as well. –  Michael Lai Jun 26 '13 at 4:24
    
@MichaelLai: you're welcome :D I'm a native Chinese speaker and I've learnt a little Japanese (though far from proficient). In the traditional eastern culture, emotion should be moderate, so not only Japanese, but also Chinese, Korean and other people in eastern countries, to some extent, are shy to express themselves. The subtle expressions about emotion can be found in many Japanese novels, animations, games, and TV plays. It would be convenient to understand Japanese by those works. –  Stan Jun 26 '13 at 4:53
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What about "foreknowledge"? Sites to look at (sorry I don't know markup) thefreedictionary.com/foreknowledge and zh.wiktionary.org/wiki/foreknowledge –  tao Jun 26 '13 at 7:19
    
@tao: Good candidate :) But I am not very familiar with English so I don't know whether "foreknowledge of a romance" sounds right and describes such a "koi no yokan" emotion. –  Stan Jun 26 '13 at 8:05
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爱情的征兆,that is, the feeling or phenomenon of love is coming. For example, 这可是爱情的征兆哦 means this is a phenomenon of your love is coming.

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征兆 is a pretty good word for this, and probably closer to the actual tone of the Japanese expression. –  Michael Lai Aug 12 '13 at 22:35
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