The last sentence: from http://cn.tmagazine.com/culture/20141013/t13adulthood/dual/

Now get off my lawn! 只不过离我远点儿!

To me, "Get off my lawn!" means I'm old and some young kids did something to remind me of that and that I admit that I'm old and say it out of annoyance - Get off my lawn!

You could translate it literally, but a native speaker in China would probably have no idea what it means and take the meaning literally. What lawn?

The NYT translation means get away from me I think, but I don't think it conveys the meaning.

You could translate it to I feel old, like, 我觉得自己老了, but then you lose the slanginess and history of the phrase.

How would you translate this?

  • 1
    Great article. After reading through it, I have to agree that that translation is the right balance between message, style (phrasing is consistent with the rest of the article) and tone. There were some more slangy alternatives I could think of, but they brought inevitable side effects. I guess it's the trade off you'll have to make in translating allusions.
    – NS.X.
    Oct 14, 2014 at 1:35

1 Answer 1


I disagree with the translation as it's too literal and totally misses the mark. Your suggestion - 我觉得自己老了 - is better but as you've said, it lacks the tone and nuance of the expression.

Variations on the phrase "get off my lawn" were once uttered by ageing homeowners at disrespectful youths but has long since morphed into a caricature of generation gaps. The original users of the phrase are unaware of generational differences and think it's the kids that are acting badly, whereas the phrase is used in the opposite sense nowadays - its users are keenly aware of generational differences, of differences in experience and perspective, and are using it to point out this fact. You might replace it with "you (younger people) don't understand", "times have changed", and in certain situations, "you should be grateful" and more. The humour in the phrase is that it simultaneously evokes an image of a cantankerous elder futilely railing against inevitable change.

I think there's no way to 100% capture such a meaning and nuance. If I had to offer a translation, I might try 孩子们一边玩去吧 (you kids run along now), but this lacks the humour in the English phrase.

  • 1
    I agree with the translation at the end: that is the best I can think of.
    – Timothy Gu
    Oct 16, 2014 at 0:32

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