[SOLVED] About requests to translate into "Chinese (Cantonese)"

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<a href="/en/translator/xin-shiyu" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1427851">Xin Shiyu</a>
Joined: 17.07.2019
Pending moderation

Hi everyone.
I have noticed that there are many translation requests whose target language is "Chinese (Cantonese)".
I wonder what this may mean.
The first possibility is to write something like the existing Cantonese songs. This is a difficult work, because the tradition requires all the Cantonese songs to be "filled in words according to the tone".(倚聲填詞, as it is a tonal language) This is challenging and requires special training, and the result is much more than translating as it will cost the lyricist much energy.
The second possibility is to write something as a native speaker would say. This is more feasible, but may not be necessary. In fact, despite regional word preferences and the choice of the two written forms (namely the simplified form and the traditional form), almost all speakers of Sinitic languages can and would choose to read and write Modern Standard Chinese. (現代標準漢語, whose written form is called 書面語 in HK) Written Chinese would use the grammar and vocabulary of Mandarin Chinese (especially Putonghua) mainly.
So, I'm wondering what such requests mean. I would personally welcome both (writing a brand new lyric with 倚聲填詞 and translating into the oral form), but currently such request is still confusing.

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<a href="/en/translator/crimsondyname" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1311076">crimsonDyname</a>
Joined: 14.10.2016

I would say both ways of translating are fine, as long as they're accurate. Personally, I tend to use the second method in my translations, but I always make sure that my translation is as close to the meaning of the original lyrics as possible. Bearing that, footnotes are always a good idea to explain something that can't be explicitly stated in the lyrics :). Hope this helps!

<a href="/en/translator/joyce-su" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1375920">Joyce Su</a>
Joined: 17.03.2018

First of all, welcome you to join LT! I think both of ways are reasonable and good to use in translations. Personally, my translations are used in Mandarin Chinese and the traditional form.

I'm glad that we have chances to share our experiences of learning languages. Here, I’m not only talking Cantonese, but also the similar way for spoken (tonal) languages in Chinese. It’s a long message but all my learning on LT for being here about one and a half years. Hope it could help users who like to understand Chinese languages.

1. Background of language:
Standard Mandarin (Chinese or Putonghua) is the official language in China and Taiwan. There are not only these three spoken dialects as Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Taiwanese Hokkien) and Chinese (Hakka) here, but also many dialects in Mainland China.

These spoken languages may share the same written characters, but their pronunciation of same characters within these languages may vary (be different). And it means that the transliterations within these language may be different with Standard Mandarin too.
2. Issues and challenges:

(1) Demand and supply:
Many users don’t know what the difference is in Chinese languages, but there are many different Chinese (languages) to make requests on LT. Some users just like to have more translations for their favorite songs, but they don’t have enough knowledge to understand what these languages are.

(2) Wrong language submitted:
From the beginning, there was only one language choice in Chinese. It changed to have 4 choices in Chinese category almost for one and a half years. And I tried to make these lyrics sources right in correct category as possible as I could. This problem would be improved right now.

(3) To judge which spoken language is:
Because they all look alike same characters. Sometimes they are difficult to judge which spoken language is from the lyrics if the texts are written in Standard Mandarin, or if the lyrics are lacking their idiomatic expresses or phrases (regional word preferences).

Once I made a transliteration for a Chinese song that based on the submitted language (Chinese). But I found I made it wrong after I heard the original song as Chinese (Taiwanese Hokkien).
3. My opinions and suggestions:

(1) Chinese translations:
For my opinion, all Chinese translations are good enough in Standard Mandarin Chinese (no matter simplified form or the traditional form). This topic is related with second possibility what Xin Shiyu mentioned.

However, if the users really like to have the translations of spoken language. These translations of spoken languages should be considered about more idiomatic expresses and phrases (ex. 喜不喜歡 // 中不中意) and it’s similar to an oral form. Even sometimes it has to break the rules of Standard Mandarin to write in words according to the tone/sound (ex. 自己 // 甲己). Then it will be judged easily which spoken languages is from the lyrics and it will be closer to the core of languages.

(2) Chinese transcriptions of spoken languages:
This topic is related with first possibility what Xin Shiyu mentioned. The lyrics should be filled by the tone/sound. It’s based on the tone/sound to transcribe a song by using the proper words. Sometimes it’s not easy for native speakers because of unclear tone. I think that it’s allowed with some mistakes and proofreading is always welcomed and appreciated.

(3) Chinese transliterations of spoken languages:
Now there is auto-transliteration (Romanization) for Standard Mandarin Chinese on LT for half year, and it’s good for languages’ learners.

Because all Chinese languages use same characters, but their pronunciation /transliteration are quite different. About Chinese transliterations of other spoken languages, they should be done by users. Because even Google Transliteration only supports Standard Mandarin Chinese, it may cause users confusion and misunderstanding.

<a href="/en/translator/xin-shiyu" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1427851">Xin Shiyu</a>
Joined: 17.07.2019

關於漢語言的拉丁專寫,中文世界已有部分網站提供廣東歌的粵拼。不過似乎尚無公開的 API 可供接入。
When it comes to latin transliteration of Sinitic Languages, it reminds me of the fact that there are a few websites in the Chinese world which provides the Jyutpings of the Cantonese songs. However, it is true that there doesn't exist an open API for such transliteration.
Also, the complicated lierary-oral reading system in Hokkien will make it's automatic transliteration harder than that of Cantonese.

<a href="/en/translator/xin-shiyu" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1427851">Xin Shiyu</a>
Joined: 17.07.2019

關於倚聲填詞的部分,不知您是否理解我想表達的意思,因為我英語不太好。您聽過廣東歌多的話,您應該會注意到廣東歌的歌詞是按照原本講話的聲調來的,比如陰平聲在標準粵語中是 55/53(按五度標記,5 最高,1 最底),所以填在曲子中比較高的音符上。例如《暗湧》中“然後天空又再湧起密雲”此句話,按照五度標調就是 11 22 55 55 22 33 35 35 22 11,同原本旋律的走向是一致的。這是廣東歌比較特別的一點,在其他漢語中體現得就不甚明顯。所以我的意思是說第一種做法確實很難,需要有填詞的經驗和對音樂的敏感度,即使對於母語者而言亦需要頗多工夫。
另外,廣東歌大都使用“書面語”填寫。這意味著大部分的語法和辭彙都將同現代標準漢語(或曰普通話、國語)一致。雖然亦有少部分按粵語口語說法填寫的歌,不過大抵還都是按前者。因此對於看起來像是普通話的文字来說,倚聲填詞是唯一可以區別“Chinese (Cantonese)”翻譯和“Chinese”的方式,否則完全可以投至 Chinese 下。
另外,我關於本站對於語言的分類尚有不疑問,還請賜教。例如,Chinese 標籤是否包含沒有單獨列出的漢語方言?如吳語(雖然很少,但的確存在這樣的歌曲;吳語本身同樣也是國際上具有影響力的漢語方言之一,如美國許多華人就是來自上海等地,可以說一口流利的上海話)

<a href="/en/translator/joyce-su" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1375920">Joyce Su</a>
Joined: 17.03.2018

時雨, 您的英文很好, 我能理解您所表達的。對於語言上聲調的這些差異, 看來你比我研究的更多。其實中文的翻譯, 除非在翻譯時特別加入了方言的口語說法, 才能被分辦, 否則我也認為中文的翻譯應歸於中文類(Chinese)即可, 即標準的漢語或中文。

過往的廣東歌或台灣歌曲, 多使用口語"倚聲填詞"的方式, 這樣的歌詞令非熟悉此語的人無法讀懂, 還需要中文翻譯。然而近些年來作詞者多使用“書面語”填寫, 即標準的中文來表達。這種的方式讓人更容易去理解歌詞的含義, 即使聽不懂也能讀得懂歌詞的意思。尤其有很多人在學習中文, 便聽歌學中文, 也利於歌曲的推廣。

對於任何語言Transcription(倚聲填詞), 都不是件容易的工作。 除了音同, 還有合情合理(Make sense), 整首歌聽下來, 還是會有少部份聽不清的錯誤, 但我想這沒有太大問題, 總歡迎有人提出來修正, 幫助彼此的學習。所以對語廣東歌或其他方言的Transcription, 不論是口語或是書面語, 能八九不離十的寫出來, 對於網站就是很大的貢獻。畢竟這是個無償的工作, 有人願意花時間, 我們應該要感謝。

目前這網站上的中文分類有此分類, 是因為這些分類的歌詞較多。我在收集關於中國地名的歌曲中也有找到一些吳語(上海話)的歌曲, 目前歸類在Chinese這個類別裡然後備註而已。或許能有更多這樣的歌曲和歌詞在這網站上, LT會考慮再加入Chinese (Shanghainese) 這個類別。我們指日以待囉。

謝謝您讓我們有機會作這樣的討論, 讓更多人瞭解中文和我們的方言。如果您有任何問題, 都可以PM給我 (簡體字也行)。中文的天地需要大家一起努力!

<a href="/en/translator/joyce-su" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1375920">Joyce Su</a>
Joined: 17.03.2018

To recap above Chinese message in English:

As Xin Shiyu mentioned, unless you specifically add the dialect of spoken language in the translation to make them be divided with the Standard Chinese, otherwise I think that the translations of Chinese should be in Chinese category.

In the past, Cantonese songs or Taiwanese songs used the phrase "reliance on the tone" on the lyrics. Such lyrics made it hard to understand if you are not familiar with the language. And sometimes these lyrics need to be translated in Standard Chinese.

However, in recent years, lyricists have used “written language” to fill in the lyrics with Standard Chinese. This way makes it easier to understand the meaning of the lyrics, even if you don't know what they’re singing but you still can understand/guess the meaning of the lyrics. In particular, many people are learning languages by listening songs, and this is a good way to publicize songs too.

For any language Transcriptions, it is not an easy job. It has to be relied on the tone/sound and make it be reasonable (make sense). Probably sometimes it has a little mistakes but I think it’s not a big deal. Because proofreading is always welcomed and appreciated! This is a free job, we appreciate all of users’ works here.

Currently, the Chinese classification depend on the quantity of the lyrics. I also found some songs in Wu dialect (Shanghai dialect) when I collected the lyrics of Chinese places. These lyrics of Chinese (Shanghainese) are currently classified in the Chinese category and then remarked on comment. Maybe there are more such songs and lyrics on this site, LT will consider to add the Chinese (Shanghainese) category. We are waiting for the day.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to make this discussion and let more people know about Chinese and our dialects. Please don’t hesitate to PM me if you have any questions.

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