I have a very good Chinese friend who studies design. Yesterday she shared with me one Powerpoint for her presentation that will take place next week.

She explained the following sentences to me, which contains a very deep meaning. After she explained to me, I can kind of understand what this means, and it makes sense. However, I would like to share it with my friends, but I have a hard time translating it into English.

Can anybody help me?

用来装金银珠宝的能带给你满足感 // 用来装面包的盒子能带给你安全感 // 盒子需要被填满 // 没有安全感和满足感的盒子就像是人的内心 // 空洞而又孤独

  • 1
    用来装珠宝的盒子不能带给你满足感 -- 裡面的珠宝才可以// 用来装面包的盒子不能带给你飽足感-- 裡面的面包才可以
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 22 '20 at 19:30
  • Agree with Tang, as the original sentence mentioned, "没有安全感和满足感的盒子就像是...", the subjects of the first two sentences should be jewellery and bread, like "盒子装满金银珠宝能带给你满足感,盒子装满面包能带给你安全感"
    – Shaw
    Oct 22 '20 at 20:49
  • This body copy is still in the brainstorming phase, needs much more refining before the editor would approve.
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 22 '20 at 20:52
  • 没有安全感和满足感的盒子 - A box with no security or satisfaction? The Chinese sentences sound quite strange and ill-formed. Perhaps they need to be re-written before any attempt in translating.
    – monalisa
    Oct 22 '20 at 21:23

Your friend must be an artist or a poet or both!

I have never seen a gilded, jewel bestudded bread-bin! As far as I know, bread-bins feel neither satisfied nor secure. That would be people!

用来装金银珠宝的能带给你满足感 //
Adorning with gold, silver, or jewels can give a sense of satisfaction. //
用来装面包的盒子能带给你安全感 //
Using them to decorate a bread-bin gives a sense of security. //
盒子需要被填满 //
the bin should be full. //
没有安全感和满足感的盒子就像是人的内心 //
a bin exuding neither a sense of security nor a sense of satisfaction is like a person whose heart
is empty and alone.

  • I think '盒子' is missing in '用来装金银珠宝的(盒子)能带给你满足感 '
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 22 '20 at 21:57
  • Yeah, you could be right, I just translated it as I understood it. It is a bit unclear really! That's called "artistic license"!
    – Pedroski
    Oct 22 '20 at 23:04

A box of jewels brings satisfaction,

A box of bread brings security;

Both boxes to be fully filled;

Boxes empty of satisfaction and security,

Is like a heart that is empty and lonely.

  • How about: A box of jewels brings satisfaction, A box of bread brings security; Either to be fully filled; A box empty of satisfaction and security, Is such a heart, empty and lonely.
    – Shaw
    Oct 23 '20 at 3:30
  • If you interpret there being only one box, (whether to house jewels or bread), then, yes, you could put it that way; no problem. As for, "Is such a heart, that is empty and lonely", well, I interpret "就像是" as "Is like", or "Is just like". I chose "Is like" for poetic brevity. Thanks for your suggestion. Oct 23 '20 at 3:39
  • I think our comments crossed before you amended it to "either" If so, "either" would mean two boxes?, one for jewels and one for bread? Oct 23 '20 at 3:43
  • I interpret there being two boxes because one box should not house both jewels and / or bread, being dialectically different in their substance and nature. So, there are two boxes, one housing jewels, bringing satisfaction, and one housing bread, bringing security. Like most people the author wanted the best of both worlds, (satisfaction & security), so lets kindly give her two boxes. Oct 23 '20 at 4:03
  • Because if she has only one box, she needs to empty a box of jewels first before filling it up with bread and vice versa. One box would therefore means she could only have either satisfaction or security at any one time. She wanted both all the time. Oct 23 '20 at 4:14

Boxes of jewelry grants you pleasure. Boxes of bread grants you security. All boxes need to be filled. A box without pleasure and security is like a man's inner-self - empty and lonely.

This is a pretty literal translation and I don't get the point about 安全感(security). I guess it just means you feel secure when you don't have to worry about food but I personally don't think it makes much sense.

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