Translation nightmare!

Is this an acceptable translation of the sentence "I never said she stole my money."?

If it is acceptable, is there any, even slight, trace of ambiguity in the Chinese sentence “我从来没说过她把我的钱偷走了。”?

She stole your money?
I never said she stole my money.

Edit: English is a stress-timed language, unlike Chinese. This 7 word sentence has 7 different meanings, depending on which word is stressed. That's why I want to know if the Chinese has more than 1 meaning!

  • 1
    It's a good, natural translation, and there's no ambiguity.
    – dROOOze
    Jun 30, 2018 at 1:04
  • good. But it's something emm with a hint of translationese Jun 30, 2018 at 1:47
  • 1
    I think we will naturally repeat the question when denying it. Like 她偷你钱了? 我没说过她偷我钱了。Or 是她偷了你的钱? 我可从没说过是她偷的。 Jun 30, 2018 at 1:52
  • 2
    Is the English sentence "I never said she stole my money." ambiguous? If you are saying that this sentence has 7 different meaning, can you elaborate?
    – fefe
    Jun 30, 2018 at 3:28
  • 4
    @fefe I think OP is referring to the idea of stress shifting the focus of the sentence. For instance, "I never said she stole my money" could be taken as implying that you did something other than "saying" she stole your money, like hinting at it or something, while "I never said she stole my money" could imply you said she stole something else of yours. This isn't really a part of the sentence's meaning semantically, so it isn't really ambiguous per se, but which part you stress does effect how the utterance is interpreted in context.
    – Sparksbet
    Jun 30, 2018 at 4:10

1 Answer 1


You want 7 stresses? Well, one could (though one doesn't really need to) insert a few words into your sentence:

I never said (that it's) she (who) stole my money.

And get:

我 从没 说过 是她 偷了 我 的钱。

Viola! Seven parts to stress. See them in action:

  1. 从没说过是她偷了我的钱。那是我朋友宣称的!
    I never said she stole my money. My friend alleged that!
  2. 从没说过是她偷了我的钱。我发誓!
    I never said she stole my money. I swear!
  3. 我从没说过是她偷了我的钱。我仅仅暗示了而已!
    I never said she stole my money. I only hinted!
  4. 我从没说过是她偷了我的钱。是她们,不是她一个人!
    I never said she stole my money. They stole it, not just by her!
  5. 我从没说过是她偷了我的钱。她骗了我的钱!
    I never said she stole my money. She swindled my money!
  6. 我从没说过是她偷了我的钱。她偷了我的朋友的钱!
    I never said she stole my money. She stole my friend's money!
  7. 我从没说过是她偷了我的。她偷了我的电影票,而不是我的钱!
    I never said she stole my money. She stole my movie ticket instead of my money!

In essence, your translation


is correct, contains seven parts to stress and they would give the same meaning when stressed as the example above, though you slightly changed the word order.

We return to the original dialog:

A: She stole your money?

B: I never said she stole my money.

Positive responses to A's question are more or less like "Yes, she stole my money." Negative responses are like "No, she didn't." Vague answers could be like "Maybe." However, with

I never said she stole my money.

B only stated that they never said it, but this is not an answer at all because B did not answer the question positively, negatively or even vaguely. Different stresses each carry their vague additional meaning, which can only be supplanted from context, but they don't invalidate B's statement.

Furthermore, note that the analysis above is independent of your language choice! Aren't languages wonderful?

  • 3
    我从没说过(是)她偷了我的钱。is my recommended translation too. If the 7 meanings are those OP intended, then this is a perfect answer IMO.
    – dan
    Jun 30, 2018 at 5:03
  • Very good! So your Chinese sentence is also very ambiguous?
    – Pedroski
    Jun 30, 2018 at 5:23
  • 1
    @Pedroski Not at all. The only assertion is the literal meaning, which is clear. There could be multiple implications of the sentence, but those are all natural extensions on the literal meaning.
    – Frenzy Li
    Jun 30, 2018 at 5:25
  • @Pedroski See edit.
    – Frenzy Li
    Jun 30, 2018 at 5:56
  • I’d like to upvote the question and this answer twice
    – Philipp
    Jun 30, 2018 at 6:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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