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I recently encountered: 除非,你堅持躲在潮濕的甲殼裡更快樂。in an email.

The context is that the writer was telling me to cheer up.

I can recognize some of these words.

It seems to start off with "unless you persist", but beyond that I'm not very sure what to make of it.

"Unless you persist in making yourself sad, you will become more cheerful" is one guess, but I can't make that out of the remaining words.

"Unless you persist in trying to be happy, you can't hope to be happy" would be another reasonable guess, but again I don't see how to get that from the remaining words.

It's quite possible that both of the above guesses are completely misguided.

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2  
According the context, your guesses are not quite close. It means "Unless persisting in hiding in the moist shell would make you happier, (you should let yourself go)." The moist shell is a metaphor for having much worry. –  Stan Mar 26 at 9:23
    
@Stan That's exactly what it means. Maybe you can turn your comment into an answer? –  TactMayers Mar 27 at 1:28
    
@TactMayers this question looks a little off-topic because it is "asking for translations" (in fact I don't quite get the criterion for this rule). So let it be a comment :) –  Stan Mar 27 at 1:58

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

First off, this is not well written Chinese since it could lead to different interpretations.

One:

除非,你堅持(認為)躲在潮濕的甲殼裡更快樂。

Unless, you insist that hiding in a moist carapace is happier.

Two:

除非,你堅持躲在潮濕的甲殼裡更(讓你)快樂。

Unless, keeping your self hidden in a moist carapace (makes) you happier.

Although the essential meaning is similar. There are different interpretations because 堅持 used in the sentence is not clear enough.

堅持 could have two different meanings in the sentence:

  1. persist in: Basically, it means keep doing something persistently.

  2. insist (that.../on): In this case, it's actually means 堅持(認為)、堅持(覺得)、堅持(要)and the words in the brackets can be omitted if there is no ambiguity.

With appropriate pauses in speaking, this ambiguity can be avoid. In written, normally, such ambiguity is avoided by proper punctuation. However in this case, additional words might be necessary to avoid misinterpretation.

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My thinking of meaning of this sentence is "Don't insist to stay in the shell unless you feel more happy with that".

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"Unless you insist that hiding in the moist carapace is happier."  
"除非    你  堅持        躲      在     潮濕的 甲殼(裡)     更快樂。"

I think what the writer want to tell you is not to escape, just let the life go on.

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潮濕=moistly

甲殼=shell

快樂=happy

I think you can understand the sentence now, it means unless you insist that hiding in a moistly shell is more happy.

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