2

Overwhelm is a difficult word to deal with.

I've seen 难不倒 translated as wouldn't have overwhelmed and XX 劳力 as something's power being overwhelming.

Oxford has

难以忍受的 (heat, pressure)

难以抑制的 (feeling, sorrow, interest)

These two sound very much like direct English translations than proper Chinese, and not very accurate either.

难以忍受 sounds more like unbearable than overwhelming, while 难以抑制 sounds more like uncontrollable.

Let's take these three examples:

  • It was a bit overwhelming to say the least.

  • The work seemed very overwhelming at first.

  • The situation made me feel overwhelmed.

How can we translate overwhelming here in a nice colloquial way?

2

As a native Chinese speaker who is learning English, I have the same problem. And I don't think there is word in Chinese similar to overwhelming. The solution I came to is change the expression completely depending on the context. So here are my tries for the examples:

  • It was a bit overwhelming to say the least.

    再怎么说,这也有点太多/过分/严格了

    This translation really depends on what the subject is. If it is something too much, use 太多, if it is something too went too far use 过分, if it is some overwhelming requirement use 太严格.

  • The work seemed very overwhelming at first.

    一开始这个工作可能有点难以应付/这个工作可能压力很大。

  • The situation made me feel overwhelmed.

    这情况让我压力很大。

P.S:

Similar as overwhelming, I couldn't find the word in English for 过分 in sentence like 你太过分了!.

It means "you went too far!" or "you are way cross the line here!" but both of them seemed too civilised for the original tone since the Chinese one can be yelled out at a raging scolding tone and contains strong personal opinion but both the English version seem to be too fact based.

1

1.起码(at least)也是有点(a bit)过分 (overwhelming)了。 2. 起初工作看上去让人有些不知所措。 3. 那种情况让我觉得压力非常大。

Overwhelming in Chinese could often mean the pressure is so big that someone feels hard to keep head above water.

0

Funny you should mention 'hard to keep their head above water'

'overwhelm' = 'over + whelm' and 'whelmen' is Middle English for 'turn upside down' and later had the meaning 'submerge completely'.

Since 'overwhelmed' in the example sentences above means 'too much' or 'cannot cope' 'very difficult' why not translate that?

It was a bit overwhelming to say the least. 这对我来说有点太多。

The work seemed very overwhelming at first. 首先,这工作似乎太难了。

The situation made me feel overwhelmed. 我无法驾驭这种情况。

  • 首先 is totally the wrong translation of first, try 起初 or 最初 instead... – user3306356 Feb 25 '15 at 0:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.