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For me as a non-Chinese, I often find Chinese quite cryptic, which I admire, but that makes it hard for me to get the meaning. Like this morning, looking at this: (should have written 经历, keyu gan is right)

上班族常常会有这样的经历:今天难得工作轻松些,但是一整天待在办公室里,往往不明原因地感到头晕、心烦,注意力不集中。出现这些情况,往往与办公室噪音有关。

At first I thought: 'Nowadays it is difficult to find and easy job' but then I looked more carefully at what followed and changed my mind. I think it goes like this:

今天 难得 工作 轻松些, 但是 。。。
Today rare work easier, but ...
Today (is one of those) rare easy days at work, but ...
Today (is one of those) rare easier workdays, but ...
Today is / was a rare easier workday, but ....

I think the structure is:
今天 noun 难得 adjective 工作 noun 轻松些 adjective

Would you agree?

If I gave you "Today is one of those rare easy days at work," to translate into Chinese, would you arrive at '今天难得工作轻松些,'?

My attempt at back-translating: 今天是一个那种稀有的轻松些的工作日,但是 ....

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Congratulations! You got the exact meaning of what the sentence wants to express.

At the very begining, 难得 means hard (难) to come by (得), e.g. 难得的机会 means a chance that is hard to acquire; 这场考试难得高分 means It is difficult to get a high score in this exam. Here, it is an adjective (or a verb), obviously.

Later, 难得 is used to modify a sentence. From my point of view, 今天难得工作轻松些 leaves out the subject 我(I), which should be [(我)今天(难得)工作轻松些] (难得 as an inserted component) / [今天]难得[(我)工作轻松些] (难得 as a sentence adverb). And it can be understood as Today is a rare day when I am easy with work. My opinion can be validated from the point that all the following senetences don't have a subject.

Besides, in the first sentence 上班族常常会有这样的精力, 精力 (spirit, energy) should be 经历 (experience) here. I guess it's a typo.

And it is more natural to say 这些情况往往与办公室噪音有关。 instead of 出现这些情况,往往与办公室噪音有关。

  • 这些情况往往与办公室噪音有关。 and 出现这些情况,往往与办公室噪音有关。are pretty much the same I think. The former denotes 情况 is relevant to 办公室噪音, the latter denotes 出现这些情况 is relevant to 办公室噪音. We could also say: 这些情况的出现,往往与办公室噪音有关。 – dan Oct 28 '17 at 3:58
  • @dan i don’t think it’s a good practice to use abstract gerund as subject in Chinese. – Keyu Gan Oct 28 '17 at 23:55
  • Maybe you are right in some sense. People might not think too much in spoken sometimes. In 出现这些情况,往往与办公室噪音有关。, the tricky part is that it puts a comma in the middle, so it could be considered as two separate clauses/sentences. It might be like: 出现这些情况,(它)往往与办公室噪音有关。 – dan Oct 29 '17 at 0:11
  • Imagine you have not read this post. How would you translate: "Today is one of those rare easy days at work." into Chinese? – Pedroski Oct 29 '17 at 1:18
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    I would probably go like: 今天是哪些难得工作清闲当中的一天。 – dan Oct 29 '17 at 1:44
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I think "sparsely" is an appropriate word to interpret 难得 in this context.

It goes like:

Today, I sparsely had a relatively-easier day at work. // 今天(我)难得工作轻松些

Or Sparsely/Rarely, I had a relatively-easier day at work today. // 今天(我)难得工作轻松些

轻松些 connotes that that day is just easier in some degree compared with those hard-working days.

I have been thinking about the word "scarcely", but I found it connotes a negative meaning like "hardly". Does "Today, I scarcely had a relatively-easier day at work" sound good? This need an English native to confirm.

PS, I invented the word "relatively-easier" and hope people would understand it. Feel free to correct or comment if it's good or not.

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    Haha, sorry, but that won't do! 'sparse', meaning 'few and far between' is heading in the right semantic direction, but it is an adjective, from Latin 'sparsus' = scattered. I can't imagine a situation where I might say 'I sparsely had'. 10 out of 10 for trying though! Maybe you heard 'I scarcely had ....', that is common. 'Today was one of those sparse days when we had a relatively easy day at work.' would work, sounds a bit awkward. You can change sparse here for 'seldom', 'few', or 'rare'. No need for a '-' in relatively easier. 加油! – Pedroski Oct 29 '17 at 7:35
  • @Pedroski, thanks for teaching me! So, what would be your best choice so far? – dan Oct 29 '17 at 8:12

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