My Mandarin is limited to "wo ai ni"
June 3, 2007 3:10 PM   Subscribe

How can I get this Father's Day card translated into Chinese?

Posting this question on behalf of my mom. She bought a card to mail to her dad for Father's Day, but he doesn't understand English. She also wants the gesture of giving him a card in Chinese, even though she doesn't know any of the writing.

She's told me that she "doesn't mind if the translation isn't totally accurate, as long as it's not something outlandish or offensive." She wants something that she can just print out, not pinyin that she'll have to further research. He reads both simplified and traditional, and as far as we understand, it doesn't matter which we use.

I have no idea what this sort of translation would entail for a native speaker, so I don't know if it would be an appropriate favor to ask here. I would greatly appreciate it, of course, but if that is out of line, my questions are:

1. If I am paying someone to translate it for me, what would be the appropriate amount to offer? I attend a university with lots of Chinese speakers, but I don't have anyone in my immediate social circle to ask, so I considered posting on general market discussion board.

2. Is there a particular online community that I should instead be asking for help with this?

Thanks so much!

Here is the card:

"For a wonderful father, with love and gratitude."

Inside (left):
[Note from mom: I don't like all the "he"s and "him"s and would prefer changing it to "you"s]

"There aren't enough words
to say thank you
for all he's provided to me,

Not enough praise for his courage,
his strength, and his calm dignity,

Not enough ways to repay him
for gifts he gave from the start,

Not enough gold to reward him
for all that's poured out from his heart,

Not enough books for the wisdom
that all those around him have learned,

Not enough days in a lifetime
to bring him the joy
he has earned."

Inside (right):

"Dad, you've always
been there for me
with an open mind, open heart,
and open arms.
There are no words to tell you
how grateful I am
and how wonderful it feels
to have you for my father,
but "I Love you" comes closest.

Happy Father's Day."
posted by scission to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is BabelFish good enough for her?
posted by k8t at 3:19 PM on June 3, 2007

I think writing "happy father's day" in chinese in your own handwriting and learning how to pronounce it and say it to your dad would be more thoughtful than having a stranger translate a passage for you. Or for your mom that is.
posted by mphuie at 3:58 PM on June 3, 2007

I agree with what mphuie said. Also, if you live in a city where there is a Chinatown or some significant Chinese community, you can probably find a father's day card in Chinese. Ask the storekeeper what each card says. What you're thinking of doing here seems a lot of trouble for little effect and doesn't show that much effort on your/your mom's part.

Anyway, to answer your question 1, I'd say go by approximately an hourly rate of $10, assuming you are asking a non-professional. If you want a half-assed job that doesn't really preserve the form or elegance, then $5. If you want someone to think about it and put it in almost-as-nice phrases in Chinese, then $20.
posted by bread-eater at 5:31 PM on June 3, 2007

Beware asking just anyone to translate this for you - translators demand fairly high rates for good reason; however, it's unlikely that if you ask around you're going to get anything outlandishly bad - at worst the result may be too literal or in the wrong register or have a few small character errors.

I would suggest that if you're looking not to spend too much but get a decent quality translation, you should visit your local university's Asian Studies department. There you should be able to find at least one poor, foreign graduate student with university-level Chinese - ideally with a degree in Chinese from a mainland Chinese or Taiwanese university - willing to do this on the cheap. I would posit, though, that in this case the hourly rate may still be a good bit higher than what bread-eater suggests.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:17 PM on June 3, 2007

Here's a page with the characters for happy father's day.

I'm not nearly fluent enough to translate the inside. I would vote against using Babelfish, though. In my experience it does word for word translation (maybe short phrases)... so a lot of the meaning will be... busted.
posted by tngrn at 10:33 PM on June 3, 2007

Definately avoid Babelfish or any computer translator.
posted by mateuslee at 2:04 AM on June 4, 2007

Best answer: I'll be happy to take a look at it if you want. I'm fluent in Mandarin and I have several Chinese friends who can check over my work.

Be advised that a Mandarin translation of that poem will not preserve the structure, since the grammar will be different.

mjklin at gmail dot com
posted by mjklin at 8:18 AM on June 4, 2007

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