• 2008-08-13

    Lost and found in fun translation - "加油"的翻译


    There are many ways of putting "加油",the most frequently used cheer phrase in China, into English.

    加 means to “add.” 油 means “oil” or “fuel.” (And technically gas stations are often called 加油站, or jiayou stops). But it’s almost never chanted in the context of a gas station. Instead, you’ll hear it often chanted at these Olympic games when the audience wants the competitors to dig deep and put in an extra effort.

    But  the chinese term is so all-emcompassing and versatile that in other languages you simply have to scramble to find a specific way of putting it in various concrete contexts. It is often held as one of the virtues(or flaws) of the chinese language to be too broadly appliable. Along with simplicity and conveninence, one might argure, always comes inaccurancies and confusion. I seem to be digressing here,  but 加油 is fine, broadly applied with little confusion involved. However, when translated into english, or any other languages for that matter,  the linguistic blessings chinese language enjoys are often not granted. There are simply no clear and neat counterpart for this chinese term in english language. It varies from context to context.

    For instance, depending on different situations, the term may be rightfully translated into something like "go, go,go !' "GO! Go team!" "Come on!" "Let's Go!" "Hang in there!" "Hop on!' "Let's fight!' "Harder!" and most bizarrely, "refueling China!"

    A good one, isn't it? Some of the times the automatic translator online may do some curiously good stuff, you just never know!