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Old 10-07-2009, 06:37 AM   #1
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Advice on best chinese translation

I want to use some chinese characters on a book cover. The book is a set of short stories, as told by an imaginary chinese story teller, Kai Lung.

Previous books, having an overall structure, have used









But I wondered if









might be more appropriate for a collection of stories.

Any advice much appreciated.
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Old 10-11-2009, 08:18 PM   #2
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As it appears this request for assistance has gone unanswered, I decided it was alright for me to add my non-Chinese reading opinion.

The first two characters are unchanged, thus no comment seems needed. It is the last two that have been altered. It appears you traded in a jet plane and a pirate for a dancing couple and a lady holding an umbrella.

I hope I don't come off as flippant here. I simply found the symbols rather interesting. As I mentioned, I do not read or speak Chinese, but I wonder how close my interpretations are to the actual meaning of the symbols. I also wondered if anyone else sees what I do or if they see something completely different.
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:33 AM   #3
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Well, I printed it out so I could take it to work - but somehow it didn't arrive. I will Try Again on Tuesday, after Thanksgiving Dinner is over. We have a large number of Chinese speakers and writers, so I may get some good answers. Patience, please...
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
<snip>

Previous books, having an overall structure, have used

開 --- open

龍 --- long

小 ---- small

說 ---- said

But I wondered if

開 --- open

龍 --- long

故 --- so

事 -- thing


<snip>
I was curious so used google translate just to see what it would say....

Now, I'm even more curious as to what it really means.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:32 AM   #5
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OK, the first two characters are a name - Kai Lung (or Long).

In the first set the last two characters translate as "novel" or "fiction", and are the symbols used on previous long-form fiction involving the fictional storyteller "Kai Lung"

In the second set the last two characters translate (I think) as "story" or "tale", and I think also work as the plural.

I got the second set from extensive use of on-line chinese dictionaries, and I'm not a native speaker.

So I thought I see if anyone here could tell me

(a) whether the second set makes sense
(b) whether the second is a better label for a set of short stories as opposed to a longer connected narrative.


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I was curious so used google translate just to see what it would say....

Now, I'm even more curious as to what it really means.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:38 AM   #6
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Thank you for explaining.

The book sounds interesting. Is it one that you are going to epublish?
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:53 AM   #7
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Thanks! There's no great rush. I just don't want to commit a terrible error like some of these people — http://www.hanzismatter.com/ — even on a book cover.

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Well, I printed it out so I could take it to work - but somehow it didn't arrive. I will Try Again on Tuesday, after Thanksgiving Dinner is over. We have a large number of Chinese speakers and writers, so I may get some good answers. Patience, please...
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:01 AM   #8
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Yes, it's my next (paper & ebook) publishing project. I've finally got all the permissions sorted out, and I'm working through layout issue, proofing, and cover design. It'll be eleven stories - seven reprints of previously published (but uncollected) stories, and four previously unpublished stories.

The Kai Lung stories come from the first half of the 20th Century, and were written by Ernest Bramah (Smith). Although the stories are all faux Chinese in style, I'd rather have correct Chinese on the cover.

Bramah died in 1942, so the published stories are out of copyright in Canada, and the first two volumes of stories are also out of copyright in the US, and are available on Gutenberg and also here on Mobileread.

https://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13244
https://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13247

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Thank you for explaining.

The book sounds interesting. Is it one that you are going to epublish?
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Old 10-12-2009, 07:32 AM   #9
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Uh...it really depends on the nature of the literature. using 故事 by itself is not ideal in the title unless it refers to a featured narrative within the story. If it's a collection of short stories or tales about the character named 開龍, it could be something like 開龍故事集. 小說集 or 短篇小說集 would appear accurate at first glance, except they would force the reader to assume that 開龍 is some weird pen name for the author (not a fictional author within the story but the actual author).

Last edited by LDBoblo; 10-12-2009 at 08:31 AM. Reason: grammah
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:41 AM   #10
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Many thanks for helping out.

The book is a collection of short stories as told by the fictional storyteller, Kai Lung.

Some of the stories in the book include a small prolog which describes the circumstances under which Kai Lung releates the story. Others are just the story, with no explicit mention of the storyteller.

In English it's possible to leave it ambiguous - "Kai Lung Stories" can be either stories about Kai Lung, or stories by Kai Lung.

If similar ambiguity is impossible, I'll go for the "Stories about Kai Lung" meaning. 開龍故事集 seems to be right in that case, from what you say and what I can glean from on-line translations.

Or perhaps I'll not worry about it, and go with 開龍小說 which is what was used on some of the books in the first half of the 20th Century.

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Originally Posted by LDBoblo View Post
Uh...it really depends on the nature of the literature. using 故事 by itself is not ideal in the title unless it refers to a featured narrative within the story. If it's a collection of short stories or tales about the character named 開龍, it could be something like 開龍故事集. 小說集 or 短篇小說集 would appear accurate at first glance, except they would force the reader to assume that 開龍 is some weird pen name for the author (not a fictional author within the story but the actual author).
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Old 10-13-2009, 05:05 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
Many thanks for helping out.

The book is a collection of short stories as told by the fictional storyteller, Kai Lung.

Some of the stories in the book include a small prolog which describes the circumstances under which Kai Lung releates the story. Others are just the story, with no explicit mention of the storyteller.

In English it's possible to leave it ambiguous - "Kai Lung Stories" can be either stories about Kai Lung, or stories by Kai Lung.

If similar ambiguity is impossible, I'll go for the "Stories about Kai Lung" meaning. 開龍故事集 seems to be right in that case, from what you say and what I can glean from on-line translations.

Or perhaps I'll not worry about it, and go with 開龍小說 which is what was used on some of the books in the first half of the 20th Century.
For your purposes, I'd go with the 開龍故事集 option, as it can leave some ambiguity (there is no of/by/about distinction, just inference). 小說 indicates "novel" and suggests something fairly long and basically singular.

For reference, J.K. Rowling's "Tales of Beedle the Bard" is translated into Chinese using the words 故事集, as are many books of "Mother Goose Stories". "Tales of Henry James" is done with 故事選 (selected stories).
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Old 10-13-2009, 05:13 AM   #12
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Many thanks again - knowing that 故事集 is, so to speak, a common phrase helps a lot. I will indeed go for 開龍故事集.

Two final questions

* does it make any difference in meaning whether the symbols are written horizontally or vertically.
* If vertically, it should be top to bottom, shouldn't it?









Quote:
Originally Posted by LDBoblo View Post
For your purposes, I'd go with the 開龍故事集 option, as it can leave some ambiguity (there is no of/by/about distinction, just inference). 小說 indicates "novel" and suggests something fairly long and basically singular.

For reference, J.K. Rowling's "Tales of Beedle the Bard" is translated into Chinese using the words 故事集, as are many books of "Mother Goose Stories". "Tales of Henry James" is done with 故事選 (selected stories).
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Old 10-13-2009, 06:20 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Many thanks again - knowing that 故事集 is, so to speak, a common phrase helps a lot. I will indeed go for 開龍故事集.

Two final questions

* does it make any difference in meaning whether the symbols are written horizontally or vertically.
* If vertically, it should be top to bottom, shouldn't it?





It depends on whim mostly these days. I actually recently did an informal survey on the streets here in Taiwan to discern preferences for reading Chinese (vertically or horizontally).

Most responses said it depends on the medium, since different media have different conventions (websites, for example, are almost always horizontal, while paper fiction novels are generally vertical).

Preference results for "general literature" were something like 75% preferring vertical over horizontal in Taiwan. I don't think the same preference is extended to ebooks because the advantages of vertical typesetting are lost on a single-screen ebook reader. I will need to do a more elaborate survey to really know for sure, but that's my general impression.

For a cover, it really doesn't especially matter one way or the other. If you want it to appear old or formal, you would want to use an old-style typeface and print vertically. Horizontal works fine, and a lot of modern books have horizontally printed covers. If printing on the spine, then vertical for sure.

And yes, vertical typesetting in Chinese is done top-to-bottom.

Hope that's helpful.
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Old 10-13-2009, 06:54 AM   #14
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Very helpful indeed. Since the stories are set in an indeterminate but distant past, I think vertical and in an old-style type face is the way I'll go.

Quote:
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For a cover, it really doesn't especially matter one way or the other. If you want it to appear old or formal, you would want to use an old-style typeface and print vertically. Horizontal works fine, and a lot of modern books have horizontally printed covers. If printing on the spine, then vertical for sure.

And yes, vertical typesetting in Chinese is done top-to-bottom.

Hope that's helpful.
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