1

I'm having trouble understanding this:

他手指挖着裤管上的泥巴,愤怒地告诉我是他那不孝的儿子,当我再问为何打他时,他支支吾吾说不清楚了,我就立刻知道他准是对儿媳干了偷鸡摸狗的勾当
活着, p.3

My translation is:

[With] his finger picking trouser-leg mud, [he] angrily told me that it was his unfilial son, [but] when I next asked him why hit him, he hummed-and-hawed [and] spoke unclearly; I immediately knew he (准是对 ???) [his] daughter-in-law work (?) [in] stealthy, shady business.

Question: What does 我就立刻知道他准是对儿媳干了偷鸡摸狗的勾当 mean?

It seems like means allow, but I don't know why 是 nor 对 is used here. It's possible may mean "to have sex" here.

4

我就立刻知道他准是对儿媳干了偷鸡摸狗的勾当.

准 means surely;definitely.

是 is used as an adverb:

(重读, 表示坚决肯定, 含有“的确、实在”的意思)

E.g. 他是不知道 // He certainly doesn't know.

对 is a preposition, meaning to. E.g. 你对我做了什么 // What have you done to me.

干 means 做(do).

Over all, the sentence roughly means:

 I immediately knew he surely had done some stealthy, shady business to his daughter-in-law.

P.S. As you suspect, the sentence might invoke some sexual affairs.

3

他「準」是對 means 他「肯定」是對. The meaning is not「准」(允許).

我就立刻知道他準是對兒媳幹了偸鷄摸狗的勾當

I immediately knew that he did something shady to [pronoun] daughter-in-law.

3

I would translate it as

他准是对儿媳干了偷鸡摸狗的勾当

He must have done [something] to his daughter in law

The translation should reflect the following:

  1. he knew
  2. but he was guessing

In the link you provided, there is an example:

这人准是她丈夫。

This man must be her husband.

It also used "must" in the translation. I feel that if you use "surely is" or "did" the guessing part is missing. Since you're better in English, maybe you can help me understand this.

  • I feel the difference between "I immediately knew he surely had done" and "I immediately knew he must had done", if any, is very subtle. But I'm not a native English speaker. I'm glad if anybody can teach me here. – dan Jan 11 at 0:45
2

I [then] knew immediately that he must have done something filthy [shady, stealthy, unseemly, etc.] to the daughter-in-law.

我 [就] 知道 立刻 他 准是 干了 偷鸡摸狗的勾当 对 儿媳.

准是 = 一定是. 干 = 做 = do. No need to connect the latter to its extended meanings.

0

他手指挖着裤管上的泥巴,
His finger scraping the mud off his trouser leg,
愤怒地告诉我是他那不孝的儿子,
he angrily told me his son is not a good son,
当我再问为何打他时,
when I asked why he hit him,
他支支吾吾说不清楚了,
he mumbled an answer,
我就立刻知道他准是对儿媳干了偷鸡摸狗的勾当。
I immediately knew he must have had sex with his daughter-in-law, (possibly raped her).

Just normal village life!

  • The sentence has not directly said that he have had sex with his daughter-in-law. – dan Jan 11 at 0:50
  • 1
    No, of course not, that is much too direct for Chinese people! They would never say that! What do you think he did? To what may 勾当 refer? – Pedroski Jan 11 at 1:40
  • 1
    It might invoke some sex affair, but not necessarily. It's just something bad which is unspeakable. – dan Jan 11 at 2:10
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    @Pedroski -- any special reason why 不孝, (not fifilal), is translated as "not a good son"? Could it be that the context of the situation calls for a "circumstantial translation" rather than a direct translation? As for – Wayne Cheah Jan 11 at 2:31
  • As for 偷鸡摸狗的勾当, in an ordinary context, it may mean to steal or some unlawful activity. However, in the context of the situation in question when a 儿媳, (daughter-in-law) is involved and also using 干了 and 勾当 (which are normally used to describe some action which is not "morally good", especially 勾, "to hook" ), then I would say that sex, possibly non-consensual, was meant to have taken place or allegedly so. – Wayne Cheah Jan 11 at 2:54

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