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Some commented about a joke,

还真别说,这个笑话有点意思。

The translator gives

Don't mention it

I don't think it's right.

7 Answers 7

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"还真别说" literally translates to "you don't say". It means the same kind of "contrary to common belief".

Unlike "you don't say" which is usually used as a standalone sentence to express surprise and strong disbelief, "还真别说" is way milder and mainly used as a phrase to start a sentence with some following up comments.

It's when you give a thing a second thought, and find out it actually has some other interesting properties that you didn't notice before.

So, you can safely replace "还真别说,..." with "Wow, it actually ...".

"On second thought, it actually..." is an option too, but it's a bit too formal. "还真别说" appears mostly in spoken language.

还真别说,这个笑话有点意思。
You don't say, the joke is funny. (weird, too strong)
Wow, the joke is actually funny. (better)

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说 is the key to understanding. Here it means to judge, deny, or disapprove (especially quickly). 还真别说 translated character by character is "just really don't judge too soon". As a whole it means "(contrary to what I expected,) I just realize that...", or "admittedly".

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还真别说 (or 你别说) is a colloquial term, meaning Things are different from what you would say about them. It expressed that something is not just like what you thought it would be. it usually follows the reason.

还真别说,这个笑话有点意思 expresses originally, we thought the joke would not be very interesting, but now I find it's not that bad. The lieral translation can be: Don't say that joke is tedious, it's actually quite interesting.

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还真别说,这个问题挺不好回答。 大概可以这么解释吧:

It really shouldn't be played down

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I think this word expresses a kind of recognition that is beyond your expectations. Literally speaking, the full meaning of "你别说" is something like "Don't think this is just talk or a joke, because after careful consideration, I found that it is really the case." Here's an example:

  • 那场考试也太简单了吧,就算是让小学生参加,考个80分也是没问题的。(That exam was too easy. It wouldn't be a problem to achieve 80 points even for a primary school student.)
  • 你别说,还真是(You are right.(Although it's an exaggerated expression and may not be accepted by common sense, but I found it true after careful consideration.))。
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How to correctly translate this Chinese sentence "还真别说, 这个笑话有点意思. "?

You are correct. It is not valid to translate "还真别说" into "Don't mention it". A few of better translations could be,

(1) It turns out that (the joke is funny).

(2) Needless to say that (the joke is funny).

(3) Out of my expectation that (the joke is kind of funny).

The easy way for a CSL (Chinese as a Second Language) student to learn this idiom 还真别说 is to think that the speaker has omitted or hidden the object of the verb 说. Such as,

还真别说这个笑话没有意思 - Please do not say that it is not funny.

Therefore, the speaker uses 还真别说 to prepare the listener for something contradicting or out of their expectation.

Another example is,

还真别说, 他竟然把钱包找回来了. - Surprisingly, he found his wallet. (implies that nobody thinks that he can get it back.)

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it is kinda like indeed, i think? my understanding is that:

you just read/heard sth your first thought was: what is that bullsh*t/i dont agree with that/etc a few seconds later: i kinda like it

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