1

Translation interests me.

Referring to Becky's recent post: It seems the consensus is, 挑战 is a verb.

我第一次挑战这么高难度的手术。
I/my first time challenge such difficult operation
(This was) the first time I had faced such a difficult operation.

What interests me in this is how you decide what is what.

Is 我 I, me or my?

Is 挑战 a verb or a noun? How do you know what you know?

我第一次 mostly gets translated as "my first, my first time".

Are these Type 1 translations, gathered from the Internet, all wrong?
Maybe, the distinction I/my is actually not present in Chinese?

这是我第一次访问纽约。

Question: In Chinese, are you really saying: "This is I first (time) visit New York."? Is it only in English that we require 'my'?

Type 1 translation: My first X, my first time X (should it be I first X??)

1. 我第一次跳伞的经历很令人激动。
   My first parachute jump was an exhilarating experience. 

2. 这是我第一次访问纽约。
   It's my first visit to New York. 

3. 我第一次从空中看到这个岛时,叹赏不已。
   My first view of the island from the air took my breath away. 

4. 这是我第一次出国,我要充分利用这个机会。
   It's my first trip abroad so I'm going to make the most of it. 

5. 那是我第一次到唐人街参观。
   That was my first visit to Chinatown. 

6. 这是我第一次受审。
   This is my first trial.

7. 演员们都很有名气,而且这是我第一次在真正的剧院里演出。
   The actors were famous, and besides it was my first time in a real theatre.

Then there is

Type 2 translation: the first I X, the first time I X, I first X,

1. 那是我第一次忘记母亲节。
   That was the first time I forgot Mothers Day.

2. 就是在那儿,我第一次看到了野生短尾鳄。
   It was there (that) I first saw (a) wild alligator.

3. 我第一次遇见8岁的凯蒂是在一个下雨的下午。
   I first met 8-year-old Katy on a rainy afternoon. 

4. 那是我第一次踏上非洲大地。
   It was the first time I had set foot on African soil. 

5. 那是我第一次踏足美洲大地。
   It was the first time I had set foot on American soil. 

Then there is

Type 3 translation: my first time to X, the first time I have X

1. 这是我第一次独自开车。
   It's my first time to drive alone. 

2. 这是我第一次吃火锅。
   This is my first time to eat hot pot. 

3. 我第一次吃这么好吃的拉面。
  (This is) the first time I've eaten such delicious spicy noodles.

4. 这是我第一次与人发生性关系。
   This was the first sexual relationship I'd had.

5. 这可是我第一次听说这件事!
  This is the first I've heard of it! 
1
  • Some of the restrictions seem to be posed by English grammar rather than Chinese. For example, "That was the first time I forgot Mothers Day." How can you make it a so-called type 1 translation? "That was my first forgetting Mother's Day"? Seems odd.
    – Betty
    Jul 16 at 1:19
1

In your examples, all the sentences seem to have the structure of:

我(I)第一次(for the first time)verb

It has many types of translations because if you put the English words together in this way, it would be ungrammatical or unnatural. The words have to reorganized (or rephrased) base on the English grammar.

You have already showed that:

我第一次挑战这么高难度的手术。
I/my first time challenge such difficult operation
(This was) the first time I had faced such a difficult operation.

The second line is a more literal translation, while the third line is more natural.

For Type 1:

我(I)第一次(for the first time)跳伞(do parachute jump)的经历(the experience that)很令人激动(is exhilarating)。
The experince that I did prachute jump for the first time is exhilarating.
My first parachute jump was an exhilarating experience.

Type 2:

那是(That is)我(I)第一次(for the first time)忘记母亲节(forget Mother's Day)。
That is I forgot Mother's Day for the first time.
That was the first time I forgot Mothers Day.

Type 3:

这是(This is)我(I)第一次(for the first time)独自开车(drive alone)。
This is I drive alone for the first time.
It's my first time to drive alone.

1
  • My question is basically: on what basis do you make the decision, "This word is a verb, this word is a noun." Orthographically, in Chinese, there is no difference. What factors influence your decision? 你可以信赖他,他懂得应付挑战。挑战: 名词或者动词?
    – Pedroski
    Jul 13 at 21:59
1

Edit:

这是我第一次访问纽约。

Question: In Chinese, are you really saying: "This is I first (time) visit New York."? Is it only in English that we require 'my'?

In Chinese, we require 的 to make 访问 a noun -- The 的 in "这是我的第一次访问纽约。" is omitted. "这是我(的)第一次访问纽约 = "It is my first New York visit", in which, the verb phrase '访问纽约' (visit New Youk) is marked as a noun phrase by 的, and became "the occurrence of I visited New York" (n)

BTW if you change "这是我的第一次访问纽约" to "这是我的第一次纽约访问", you can omit 的 and write "这是我第一次纽约访问" because 纽约访问 is clearly a noun phrase

  • 我 = I; me

  • 我的 = my

  • 我們 = we; us

  • 我們的 = our

我第一次 followed by a verb or noun makes the difference

我第一次參加(v)派對 = The first time I go to a party

我的第一次派對(n) = My first party(n)

我第一次派對(v) = The first time I party(v)

我 followed by a 的 indicates the following word is a noun, but as you can see, sometimes the 的 is omitted. e.g. 我(的)第一次派對

6
  • When you read: 这是我第一次访问纽约。Is 访问 a noun or a verb, in your opinion?
    – Pedroski
    Jul 13 at 21:50
  • @Pedroski 访问 is a verb; 纽约 is a noun; 访问纽约 is a verb phrase
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 13 at 21:54
  • So, the translation given is wrong?
    – Pedroski
    Jul 13 at 22:00
  • @Pedroski if 这是我第一次访问纽约 is translated as "It is my first time New York visit" instead of " It is the first time I visit New York" the correct Chinese sentence should be "这是我第一次(的)纽约访问 -- 纽约访问 is a noun phrase, in which, 纽约 is an adjectival noun and 访问 is the main noun
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 13 at 22:20
  • The given translation is not a word for word one but an interpretation with the same meaning. It is like translating 那次我去纽约 (that time I went to New York) as "my New York trip that time -- The occurrence of "I went to New York" is interpreted as "my New York trip"
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 13 at 22:29
1

I don't think you have to add 这是 in 我第一次挑战这么高难度的手术. When you add 这是, whatever after is an object clause, and you emphasize "this time". However, is it really what you want to say? For example, if you want to say 昨天,我第一次挑战这么高难度的手术, there is no "it is" at all,and you can parse the sentence without any problem. 挑战 in this case is a verb, and is the subject. You may refer to my answer to Becky's post for more details.

The examples you listed in your question probably need more thoughts, and can't simply group together like that..

5
  • Are you saying, all the above Type 1 translations are actually wrong? That 我 is always and only the subject of a verb? When you read, for example, 我第一次跳伞的经历很令人激动。do you think to yourself in Chinese, 我 is "I" or 我 is "my", or does this distinction not even occur to you??
    – Pedroski
    Jul 15 at 3:03
  • @Pedroski Parsing for 我第一次跳伞的经历很令人激动 is different from 我第一次挑战这么高难度的手术. 挑战 is a verb, while 经历 is not. I was saying your examples need to be studied more carefully, as they can't simply group together from my glance.
    – sylvia
    Jul 15 at 14:40
  • @Pedroski Quote: "do you think to yourself in Chinese, 我 is "I" or 我 is "my", or does this distinction not even occur to you??" I guess (just guessing here, I'm not a native Chinese) that it might be difficult for a native Chinese understand what you really mean. 我 is just 我, whatever is its function in the sentence. This issue is only ours. As verb conjugation (but that is another subject). To answer your question, when I say or read 我, I think to Giuseppe Romanazzi (that is Joe in China), just that, really. Jul 16 at 10:03
  • I see where the confusions coming from. A lot of the translations are done loosely, so we can't parse the Chinese structure based on English translation, unless you know these are 1-1 mapping. And also, I don't know why you have to add (it is) in 我第一次挑战这么高难度的手术. For english, "The first time I face such challenging/difficult surgery" sound okay to me - may sound a bit incomplete though. This way you have a 1-1 mapping, but still with different position of "I".
    – sylvia
    Jul 16 at 14:40
  • You are right: ""The first time I face such challenging/difficult surgery" is incomplete. If you say that, I will ask: What will happen/ what happened that first time? Either put "This is" in front, or put something behind it like "I will take my textbook with me."
    – Pedroski
    Jul 18 at 1:08
1

这个问题让我想起学英语的时候,老师问,“What's the day of today?"

如果我只回答,”Sunday或Monday“,老师会提醒,前面应该加It's, "It's Sunday."

按照中文习惯,其实你已经问了是今天了,我回答Sunday其实说的就是今天,但英文里好像这样说太干了,总得加个it's。

有时候中文也是一样,这里不加”我“,总感觉有可能在说别人,虽然其实根本上下文应该能理解说的就是自己(而非他人。)

1
  • 老实的英语点差, 得说: "What day is it today?" 回答为: "Sunday." "Today is Sunday." "It's Sunday." 都好。
    – Pedroski
    Jul 18 at 1:22
1

Translation interests me.

That is great! 加油!

What interests me in this is how you decide what is what.

You are asking for principles here. Please, read carefully the following principles, because from what I read in your post and comments I can clearly see that you are having a hard time with each one of them. I wish you don't mind if I focus on what I believe you really need.

Principle 1: Translate is to let World 1 understand World 2 and viceversa. World 1 has its own language, with its own words, sentences, and grammar rules. The same goes with World 2.

Principle 2: Words are used differently in different languages. In Chinese, for each character (or word) we need to learn 4 things:

  1. How to read it (its pronunciation);
  2. How to write it;
  3. Its meaning/s;
  4. How to use it.

Principle 3: We cannot map in a one-to-one list the words belonging to the languages of World 1 and World 2. What World 1 says using one of its words (whether it is a noun, a verb, an adjective, or whatever) is not conditioned by how the same concept is expressed in World 2, and viceversa.

Principle 4: How words are put together (sentence structures) is peculiar to each language. It's quite normal for World 1 to feel that the wording of a sentence made in World 2 doesn't have any logic. My personal suggestion: stop applying English grammar logic to Chinese language sentences. Are you still thinking to English while studying Chinese? English, or your native language, is an obstacle in this case.

Is 我 I, me or my?

The only correct answer is: 我 is 我, and only 我. 我 belongs to a world different from the one "I", "me", and "my" belong to.

To translate the meaning of 我 in English, you may need to use "I", "me", or "my", according to English language usage.

So the important point here is: do I know what that 我 really means in that specific sentence?

Edit

All I am asking you is: how did you conclude that 挑战 is a verb? Magic? A guess? Just your opinion? Some logical principle?

Short answer: it's a matter of correct syntax. There is no Chinese structure which would permit 挑战 to be a noun in this sentence.

Long answer

How to apply the above principles—Example sentence 我第一次挑战这么高难度的手术。

Grammar basis (see Principle 4): This is a Chinese sentence. Forget English. When ready, go on reading.

We need to understand how words work together in a Chinese sentence. You can take special note of the following word groupings.

By far the most common sentence structure in Chinese is 主语+动词谓语, and luckily we don't need to go on searching for anything different because it perfectly fits our sentence.

我: 主语.
第一次挑战这么高难度的手术: 动词谓语.

We can go on splitting 第一次挑战这么高难度的手术 this way:

这么高难度的手术 is a 的 structure, i.e. a nominal structure (手术 is its 中心词, 这么高难度 is its 定语).

The following is needed if you want to understand why 第一次 is not syntactically related to 我 but to 挑战.

次 is a 量词 here (it can be also a 形容词, but this is not the case). 次 can be used with 名词 (in that case, 的 can be added after 次) and 动词. When used with 动词, can be in the form 动+数+次 or 数+次+动 (as in our sentence).

数+次+动 is the structure used in our sentence:
第一: .
挑战: .
(the meaning of 挑战 is 激励自己主动跟困难等做斗争)

So, 第一次 is not syntactically related to 我 (and can never be), but to 挑战.

The reason I asked is: 我第一次X mostly gets translated as: my first X, e.g. "我第一次跳伞 my first parachute jump"

First, as I said, 我 and 第一次 are not syntactically related.

Second, please, read carefully Principle 1, Principle 2, and Principle 3. You are mixing World 1 with World 2, and confusing what is correct and natural in one world with what is correct and natural in the other.

If, in '我第一次X' X is always a verb, these translations are incorrect.

No, sorry, (please, read Principle 1 and Principle 2, please) if you need to use a noun to express in a correct and natural English what a verb correctly and naturally expresses in Chinese, you have to use it (the English noun) for the translation to be perfect. Ever heard about Chinglish? Ever felt as if what you read in English, while grammatically correct, is not exactly the way you are accustomed to formulate a sentence or use words?

state it in simple terms

I'm sorry for that, I try my best to keep what I say simple. Which point do I need to make simpler?

6
  • Thanks for your long reply! You and others clearly stated, 挑战 is a verb in Becky's sentence. She thought, in 我第一次挑战, it was a noun. All I am asking you is: how did you conclude that 挑战 is a verb? Magic? A guess? Just your opinion? Some logical principle? The reason I asked is: 我第一次X mostly gets translated as: my first X, e.g. "我第一次跳伞 my first parachute jump" If, in '我第一次X' X is always a verb, these translations are incorrect. If you used some logical principle to make your decision, you should be able to state it in simple terms.
    – Pedroski
    Jul 15 at 23:38
  • @Pedroski With pleasure, but not now, please, it's 01:53 here in Italy 🥱 Jul 15 at 23:53
  • Done. BTW, your post was longer 😉 Jul 16 at 9:36
  • Well, thanks for trying! On a wry note: the principal and often first meaning given for 次 in dictionaries is::: “第二” !! 第一第二!!
    – Pedroski
    Jul 17 at 2:57
  • My pleasure, but I feel something still needs to be made simpler, am I wrong? Is it clear what I said about correct and wrong syntax? It's the same problem we see in "第一次" when you give to its "次" the meaning of "第二". You know the meaning of 次 (see Principle 2 point 3) but don't know how to use it (see Principle 2 point 4). Syntax, syntax, syntax, that's the key. Different syntax, different meaning. Jul 17 at 11:10

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