Azhong's Writing Practice.

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Linguaphile
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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-19, 15:13

azhong wrote:(Again, thank you in advance for your assistance.
This is a translation practice. I don't plan to translate the short novel over. I can't, either.
The first paragraph has been revised by removing the impersonal narrative.)

Keigo had lasted grinding ink for quite a while; the sound of the ink stick grinding on the inkstone reigned over the six-tatami room. Not a sound could be heard from the next room, where his wife had been decorating the shrine. He wondered if she was finished.

After finding the color strong enough, Keigo stopped, put the ink stick down and took up a calligraphy brush. He dipped some ink with the nib, then closed his eyes softly. He had decided what words to write.

This is nice: I can imagine exactly what is happening, as if I could see it. Just two changes: "Keigo had been grinding ink for quite a while." The word "lasting" shouldn't be used as a transitive verb ("it had lasted" is fine; "he had lasted it" is not).
The other suggestion is actually a question. You wrote: "He dipped some ink with the nib, then closed his eyes softly. He had decided what words to write." This sounds incongruous to me. If he closes his eyes, he's probably thinking, so he probably hasn't decided what words to write.
I would have expected the ending to be something more like "He dipped some ink with the nib, then closed his eyes softly, thinking." (or: ..."lost in thought".) Depending on what you want to say, I would have expected something like "Then suddenly he opened his eyes again and looked at the paper. He had decided what words to write."

In summary, here's my version (but keep in mind that the ending involves some ideas from my own imagination, which might not be exactly what you want to say:

Keigo had been grinding ink for quite a while; the sound of the ink stick grinding on the inkstone reigned over the six-tatami room. Not a sound could be heard from the next room, where his wife had been decorating the shrine. He wondered if she was finished.

After finding the color strong enough, Keigo stopped, put the ink stick down and took up a calligraphy brush. He dipped some ink with the nib, then closed his eyes softly, lost in thought. Then suddenly he opened his eyes again and looked at the paper. He had decided what words to write.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2020-07-19, 15:48

Hi linguaphile,

I agree with your question, which I also had during my translation. I am not sure because it's also a pity for me that I can't access it's original article in Japanese, but I do have a personal guess: there is a period of time from "closing his eyes, thinking" to "having had his decision". It is, however, not narrated with any words.

Therefore, I see this passage a slow-motion narrative, and have tried to translate the slowness by two efforts. First, I've used more verbs instead of Ving. Second, after a consideration I chose
put the ink stick down and took up the calligraphy brush

instead of
put the ink stick down and took the calligraphy brush up

I think, by avoiding the same phrase structure, the speed can somewhat slow down. I am not sure, though.

The target is surely out of my ability for now. Perhaps you can show me a better example.

Anyway, this is just a practice. And any suggestions from you are always helpful to me.

Thank you, linguaphile.

Zhong from Taiwan
Last edited by azhong on 2020-07-19, 16:22, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby linguoboy » 2020-07-19, 15:59

I found “nib” confusing since I’ve never seen anyone fill a fountain pen with ink ground on a traditional inkstone, only the tip of a calligraphy brush. What exactly is Keigo writing with?
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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-19, 16:21

linguoboy wrote:I found “nib” confusing since I’ve never seen anyone fill a fountain pen with ink ground on a traditional inkstone, only the tip of a calligraphy brush. What exactly is Keigo writing with?

The tip of a calligraphy brush can also be called a nib. (Google "brush nib" in quotes for some examples.) I double-checked, and Wiktionary has for the first definition of "nib": "The tip of a pen or tool that touches the surface, transferring ink to paper." Merriam-Webster says "the sharpened point of a quill pen; pen point; a small pointed or projecting part."
The sentence does not imply that he is using a fountain pen. Zhong said quite clearly, "he took up a calligraphy brush". I think it sounds fine and understood it easily.
Last edited by Linguaphile on 2020-07-19, 16:31, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby linguoboy » 2020-07-19, 16:29

Linguaphile wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I found “nib” confusing since I’ve never seen anyone fill a fountain pen with ink ground on a traditional inkstone, only the tip of a calligraphy brush. What exactly is Keigo writing with?

The tip of a calligraphy brush is also called a nib.

By whom? I’ve literally never come across that usage before. (And I say this as someone with a collection of East Asian calligraphy and books on it.)

You can get nibs for calligraphy pens which emulate brush tips, but the actual brushes have “tips” and not “nibs”.
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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-19, 16:33

linguoboy wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I found “nib” confusing since I’ve never seen anyone fill a fountain pen with ink ground on a traditional inkstone, only the tip of a calligraphy brush. What exactly is Keigo writing with?

The tip of a calligraphy brush is also called a nib.

By whom? I’ve literally never come across that usage before. (And I say this as someone with a collection of East Asian calligraphy and books on it.)

You can get nibs for calligraphy pens which emulate brush tips, but the actual brushes have “tips” and not “nibs”.


I edited my post with the dictionary references just as you posted, so I'll repost them below:
Wiktionary has for the first definition of "nib": "The tip of a pen or tool that touches the surface, transferring ink to paper."
Merriam-Webster says "the sharpened point of a quill pen; pen point; a small pointed or projecting part."
Besides which, Zhong's original sentence sounded perfectly natural to me, without looking up those definitions. It didn't cross my mind that he might mean a fountain pen or anything other than a calligraphy brush. This is largely because he literally referred to it as a "calligraphy brush," but even if he hadn't, although there would have been several possibilities for the type of writing utensil used (fountain pen, calligraphy pen, calligraphy brush, etc), a calligraphy brush still would have been one of those possibilities (and probably the most likely one, given the context). I see nothing wrong with calling the tip of a calligraphy brush a "nib". (And I've done some calligraphy before, too.)
Of course, there's nothing wrong with changing the word "nib" to "tip" either. Based on your (linguoboy's) post, it sounds as though the change would make the passage more understandable for some English speakers.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby linguoboy » 2020-07-19, 20:04

Linguaphile wrote:I edited my post with the dictionary references just as you posted, so I'll repost them below:
Wiktionary has for the first definition of "nib": "The tip of a pen or tool that touches the surface, transferring ink to paper."
Merriam-Webster says "the sharpened point of a quill pen; pen point; a small pointed or projecting part."

You know as well as I do that dictionary definitions don't capture actual usage. I repeat: I've never heard "nib" used to refer to the tip of a calligraphy brush in contemporary English (or any variety of English, for that matter). Have you? The prototypical "nib" is hard and usually metal. As you probably know if you've done calligraphy, you can get nibs with tips made of soft hair to emulate calligraphy brushes, but the body of these nibs is still metal (so that they can be inserted into a stylus). Historically, "nib" was also used to refer to the hard point of a quill, but even calligraphers rarely use real quill pens anymore. Extending it cover the soft head or a brush makes little sense when the term "tip" it already in common use for that. Thus my confusion: I thought either Azhong used "calligraphy brush" when he meant to refer to some other kind of writing implement or that he said "nib" when he really meant tip. (IIRC, Chinese 筆尖 can be used indiscriminately for either "pen nib" or "brush tip".)
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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-19, 21:02

linguoboy wrote:You know as well as I do that dictionary definitions don't capture actual usage. I repeat: I've never heard "nib" used to refer to the tip of a calligraphy brush in contemporary English (or any variety of English, for that matter). Have you?

Yes, I have. That's why it didn't strike me as the slightest bit odd nor did I question its meaning or think of looking it up in a dictionary until I had seen your comments about it. Then what I found in some of the dictionaries (but not all) matched my own usage, although some dictionaries (such as Cambridge and Oxford) do have a narrower definition that appears to match yours. That's news to me.
But, as we've often discussed before, English usage also varies from region to region. Linguoboy, I've also noticed that your English tends to be closer to British usage than mine.
I also use the term "tip" myself as well, and I have no issues with replacing the word "nib" with "tip". Based on the comments in this thread, it seems that change would make it clearer for some English speakers. I'm only one speaker, so the fact that I found it clear to begin with isn't especially relevant, if others don't.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2020-07-21, 0:50

(Thank you in advance for your assistance.)

He took a deep breath, then opened his eyes, looking at the white hanshi[1]. Straightening his body up, he moved the tip of the brush toward the paper and, as his emotions were rising gradually, started wielding it waving. After having written two words over, he put down the brush and contemplated his work. Keigo thought it not bad. He was at dan 2[2] and was quite self-confident in his calligraphy.
"Good," he murmured, starting tidying up the calligraphy tools.

[1]半紙(はんし, read as hanshi) is calligraphy-dedicated paper with fixed size of 35 x 25 cm.
[2]段(だん, read as dan) is the advanced calligraphy certification level after 級(きゅう, kyuu). The latter starts from kyuu 10 to kyuu 1, and then the former, dan 1 to dan 8.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2020-07-21, 16:26

(I found another translation version, thus I have another exercise below, in which some phrases are replaced for language practice, too.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.)

The ink had been ground for some time. There was only the grind of the ink stick on the inkstone in the six-tatami room. No more sound came from the next room, where Yasuyo was decorating the shrine a while ago. She was probably finished now.

墨,已經磨了很久。六張榻榻米大小的房間裡,只有墨與硯台的摩擦聲。隔壁房間不再傳來聲音。剛才康代還在裝飾神架,看樣子現在應該已經弄好了。

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-21, 16:46

azhong wrote:The grinding of ink had been going on ground for some time. There was only the grinding sound of the ink stick on the inkstone in the six-tatami room. No more sound came from the next room, where Yasuyo was had been decorating the shrine a while ago. She was probably finished now.

墨,已經磨了很久。六張榻榻米大小的房間裡,只有墨與硯台的摩擦聲。隔壁房間不再傳來聲音。剛才康代還在裝飾神架,看樣子現在應該已經弄好了。

"The ink had been ground for some time" means that the grinding was finished a while ago; it is not saying that the grinding is still going on. To me it would sound more natural to say it the way you did in the original version ("He had been grinding ink for quite a while"), rather than using the passive form.
To avoid having the word "grinding" in both of the first two sentences, you could leave it out of the second one: "The grinding of ink had been going on for some time. There was only the sound of the ink stick on the inkstone in the six-tatami room."
I still like this passage, as I did when you posted the other version of it the first time. What is it from?

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2020-07-22, 0:38

Linguaphile wrote:To me it would sound more natural to say it the way you did in the original version ("He had been grinding ink for quite a while"), rather than using the passive form.
Thank you for this information, as linguoboy has also mentioned. It's also one of my wonderings. I think there are different language characters here; the passive form is natural in both Chinese and Japanese.

Linguaphile wrote:To avoid having the word "grinding" in both of the first two sentences, you could leave it out of the second one:...
Yes, that's exactly what I didn't know how to get over. Thank you.

Linguaphile wrote:What is it from?
It is ftom the first short novel in "素敵な日本人" published in 2017 by Keigo Higashino, a mass-productive writer of mainly detective stories. Here is a complete Chinese translation on-line; pitifully that's all I can afford.

But, to be honest, these short novels in this book are not so good. I believe you can find some of his better works which have been translated into English.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2020-07-22, 2:47

Is the tense of the sentence below grammatical and natural when in a novel? Thank you.

The fire had been being burning for a long time..
(c.f. The ink had been being grinding.)

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-22, 3:18

azhong wrote:Is the tense of the sentence below grammatical and natural when in a novel? Thank you.

The fire had been being burning for a long time..
(c.f. The ink had been being grinding.)


No. They are both incorrect.

First of all, what makes the two sentences different from each other is that the first one has an intransitive verb and the second one has a transitive verb. This means that you will need to form sentences with them in different ways, and shouldn't use a sentence using one of those two verbs as an example for making sentences with the other verb.

So let's start with "The fire had been being burning for a long time." It should be:
The fire had been burning for a long time. (Remove the word "being".)
The verb "to burn" can actually be either transitive or intransitive, but here it is intransitive.
The fire is burning --> intransitive (the fire is not burning something else; it is just burning itself)
Similarly, we could say The house is burning. --> intransitive; the house itself is what is burning, the house is not causing some other thing to burn (another way to look at this is to say that the house is both the subject of the sentence and also the object)

It becomes a transitive verb if we say something like this:
The cook is burning our dinner. --> transitive, because the cook is the subject, and our dinner is the object. Here, the cook himself is NOT what is burning; the cook is causing our dinner to burn!

In the sentence about ink, it is also a transitive verb. Someone (whether we say who it is or not) is grinding the ink. The ink is not grinding itself, the way a fire burns by itself! Someone is the subject, and the ink is the object.
This is why it is a bit more difficult to turn it into a passive sentence.

So you can say:

The ink had been being ground for a long time. [This is grammatically correct, but does not sound very natural.] Being ground lets us know that the ink is the object, and that something (or someone) other than the ink is making the grinding happen.
NB: it should be "being ground", not "being grinding".
NB #2: "being ground" can still be happening as we speak; "was ground" (as you had in your earlier sentence yesterday or the day before) is past tense and no longer happening.

Pay attention to the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs.
The example above works because it is a transitive verb. But, the "burning fire" sentence has an intransitive verb, so you can't use the "grinding ink" sentence as an example and try to say "The fire had been being burned for a long time." Being burned sounds as if the fire is the object, and that something (or someone else) other than the fire is making the burning happen. But that doesn't make sense, because the fire itself is making the burning happen, not something/someone else.

Back to the ink:

The grinding of ink had been going on for a long time. [This sounds a bit better. It still does not sound completely natural, because it would be more natural to make it an active sentence: Someone had been grinding the ink for a long time. / Keigo had been grinding the ink for a long time.]

I hope this makes sense. (There was probably a shorter way for me to explain it, but there is truth to this Mark Twain quote: "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." Sometimes it is easier and faster to write a long explanation like this than it is to write a short one!)

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2020-07-22, 11:56

(Thank you in advance for your assistance.)

The ink was now strong and thick. Tatsuyuki stopped, put the ink stick aside, and held a calligraphy brush up, keeping his eyes softly closed while dipping the tip. He had decided what words to write earlier.

墨汁的顏色已變得十分濃稠飽滿,達之這才停手,把墨擱在一邊,然後握起筆來。他一邊用筆尖蘸墨汁,一邊輕輕閉上眼。他早已想好要寫的字。


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