How do I discuss translation in Chinese? I want to express to a Chinese speaker how and English speaker learning Chinese interprets Chinese language (in a few simple cases).

Example 1: 猫 is cat, expressing it's English translation:

Example 2: 红茶 is black tea, expressing that I interpret 红 literally as "red":
"In English, "红茶" is translated literally as "red tea".

What I am hoping is that people here will provide several different ways to communicate this in Mandarin. Other examples are welcome, of course.

  • I am not sure what are you asking. Are you asking for the different ways to phrase: 中文的字在英文是 cat / 中文的字在英文是 dog / 中文的 X 字在英文是 Y? There are many ways to phrase it.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 19:31
  • Yes, that is part of the question. And your comment provides a good answer. Maybe you would write that as an answer and provide an example for the second question also? The second part is about how to express the literal meaning of a word, for example, 红, generally means "red", but we translate 红茶 as "black tea". For an English speaker, it looks like it should be "red tea" if we take it literally character-by-character. Does that make sense? 谢谢
    – jdods
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 19:39

1 Answer 1


How do I discuss translation in Chinese?

The simplest:

''的英文是 'cat' / ''的英文是 'dog' / 'X' 的英文是 'Y'

More detailed:

中文的''字在英文是 'cat' / 中文的''字在英文是 'dog' / 中文的 'X' 字在英文是 'Y'

For standard translation of 红茶:

  • '红茶'的英文是 'black tea'
  • '红茶'在英文译作 'black tea'

For literal translation of 红茶:

  • 红茶在英文的词面上就是 'red tea' ('红茶' literally means 'red tea' in English)

  • 红茶直译成为英文就是 'red tea' (the direct translation of '红茶' in English would be 'red tea')

There are many more ways you can rephrase the above examples. I didn't even use the word 翻译 (translate) in any of my examples.

  • And if I was to tell this to a Mandarin speaker who doesn't know any English (as unlikely as that may be!), could I just substitute "红色的茶" for "red tea" to emphasize the interpretation as tea which is the color red?
    – jdods
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 21:09
  • 1
    @jdods Yes, you can. 红茶在英文的词面上就是红色的茶 / 红茶直译成为英文就是红色的茶
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 21:12

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