Translating 碧绿 (dark-green)

There’s a tunnel on the Central Cross Highway, 碧绿 Tunnel. How would you translate that term? All I’m getting is bì​lǜ ‘dark green’.

“Dark Green Tunnel” sucks.

Why would you translate it? Why not transliterate?

Because it’s the tunnel adjacent to the Golden Horse Tunnel, and that translates easily - so I was trying to do the same for the Bilu, but failing.

My 商務印書館 Chinese dictionary translates it as 青綠色, which I would translate as blue-green, teal, or turquoise. But my Far East Chinese-English dictionary says “emerald green,” and a quick Google image search shows a preponderance of the latter. Emerald green sounds better than dark green, right?

Fear not, for I have the answer. As they say, Baidu Knows, and our friends on the other side of the TW Strait offer up this RGB code for figuring out what color 碧綠 is: R66 G171 B145. Plug it into photoshop and voila:

Turquoise Tunnel sounds fabulous.

Translating place names is totally pointless but a lot of fun. Back in the colonial days (when US troops were here), they often directly translated place names: 草山 (today’s Yangmingshan) was called Grass Mountain, a less than inspiring name; 碧潭 in Xindian was Green Lake, almost as boring. Today we still say Sun Moon Lake, Elephant Mountain, Green and Orchid Islands, and even New Taipei.

I did the counties of Taiwan recently just for the heck of it. (I was going for a sort of Middle Earth feel:)

I started working on one for New Taipei… errr, New Northend… but got bored and just left it around 80% complete.

Turquoise it is then, many thanks for the effort.

I doubt Bilbo would’ve felt much at home in Peachshire. unless his hobbit hole was somewhere way down in the south-east of the county.

Hmmm, I really don’t agree. Not with the translation – with the whole idea.

Translating these names – especially in a very idiosyncratic way that you personally make up – won’t help the user of the text at all, unless they happen to speak Chinese. Transliterating at least gives them some opportunity to confirm that the place you’re talking about is the same place they’re seeing on a map, or hearing a local talk about. Unless there is a standardized “English” name for something, I would avoid making them up, or at least make sure the original Chinese is included in the text (preferably in characters, but at least in correct Pinyin).

I mean, how far would you get in Taipei looking for “Peace Road” or “Loyal Filial Piety Road”, anyway? Or asking “Where’s Residence of Somebody Rich or Important”?

Don’t get me wrong, ironlady, we’re 100% on the same page. When they announced “New Taipei City” I was ready to march on the streets in protest. I mean imagine someone getting into a taxi and saying “New Taipei Immigration Center” – do they mean a new center in Taipei, or an old center in New Taipei? I’m even against Sun Moon Lake. It should be Riyue Tan or MAYBE Riyue Lake, just like Yushan should be Yushan (and absolutely not Mount Yushan, which I’ve seen). My map was made just because I was wondering, what Taiwan would be like if it was inhabited by hobbits, dwarves, and elves. I could draw a dragon on top of Yushan to show this is a fantasy map, and not at all intended for anyone to take seriously ever.

As a side note, we have a few interesting roads here in Taoyuan: 油管路, 國際路, 航勤路 just to name a few, and they all use pinyin instead of translation (a move I strongly applaud).

I’ve tried to do the streets of Taipei, too, since you mention it, (again, just for fun!) although I always get stuck with geographical street names. Should I render 北平路 as Beiping Rd., Beijing Rd., Peking Rd., or Northern Peace Rd.? A question for the ages.

I also STARTED to make a map of the United States as if each state were a Chinese province, giving more authentically Chinese-sounding names based on either the etymology of the state’s name, the state’s nickname, or its major cities. California was 金山州, Nevada was 雪山州, but I gave up after about 10 because it was too exhausting to try and research each state.

It’s a wonder I have any friends at all. >_>

BTW, one thing I realized while doing this is that we have quite different naming conventions in English and Chinese. In the US, we tend to name things after people or things (Washington State, City of Industry, Independence Ave.) – or in Spanish – while Chinese generally tends to go with geographic cues (Shandong/xi, Guangdong/xi, Hunan/bei, etc.). It’s really awkward if you translate “East of the Mountain Province” or “工業市,” so I’m a big advocate of transliteration for proper names – or just pick a new name altogether, like in the case of Honolulu.

Oh, I like your map. I’d like to live in “Urbane”. Who wouldn’t?

You should make that a T-shirt. I’d buy one.

[quote=“ironlady”]Oh, I like your map. I’d like to live in “Urbane”. Who wouldn’t?

You should make that a T-shirt. I’d buy one.[/quote]

I like the map too. Can I share it on our FB fanpage?

For Travel in Taiwan? I’ve written a few articles for you guys, but that was years back. Sure.

Done, thanks. Will show up a bit later today.

‘Peachshire’ for me. :laughing:

I like the map but I don’t like new translations of places. If people want to they can explain what the the transliteration means. I find this annoying with some of the hiking info on the net (not pointing any fingers). Especially when they strictly use the dictionary. I remember reading about a place and not realizing for several days that I had actually already been there.

Yup, like I mentioned, it was just for fun for long-time residents of Taiwan who want to pretend they live in a vaguely medieval European fantasy realm. I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones probably. >_>

just to be clear the map is separate from my complaint of place translations. the map is meant to be (and is) funny while new translations are effectively attempting to rename places. Usually these names are boring.

someone probably mentioned it already… but what about emerald?

Great thread! Funny I was struggling with translating 碧绿 just a few days ago, and now I find this. I generally agree with transliteration, we tend to miss the mark when we seek too much meaning in Chinese proper names. Muzha is just Muzha, not Wooden Fence. Banqiao is Banqiao, not Plank Bridge.

But it is a tough call in this case. If the target language were German, Turkish or Hungarian, I would definitely recommend ‘Bilü’, but English doesn’t afford us the umlaut ü, and there is a world of difference between Bilu and Bilü.

Flipped through the online dictionaries, and my old stand-by, Rick Harbaugh’s equates 碧绿 with ‘verdant’. Not perfect, but it has something going for it. It contains the Latin root for green, but it’s rarely used, to the extent that most English speakers probably couldn’t define ‘verdant’ on the spot either. So … Verdant Tunnel?

Hokwongwei, your map is awesome! Deserves its own thread. I agree with ironlady, I’d totally buy the t-shirt or mousepad.

[quote=“AdvancedCake”] It contains the Latin root for green, but it’s rarely used, to the extent that most English speakers probably couldn’t define ‘verdant’ on the spot either. So … Verdant Tunnel?

They couldn’t? Only if they still read using their forefinger, surely?

‘Verdant tunnel’ sounds really rather unpleasant. :laughing: