一周一句 Sunday Sentence #1

By Jack Hargreaves, published

Part of: Sunday Sentence

cover image

And we're off! This is the first week of Sunday Sentence, so if you missed the post explaining the activity, click here for more details.

Otherwise... To start we have three sentences for you to translate, taken from page 13 of Jin Yong's 金庸 《射雕英雄传》(first released in 1959), entitled A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes 1) in Anna Holmwood's translation.

Please input your translation in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

The sentences to translate are:
他脚步甚快,顷刻间奔出数丈。曲叁右手往怀中一掏,跟着扬手,月光下只见一块圆盘似的黑物飞将出去,托的一下轻响,嵌入了那武官后脑。那武官惨声长叫,单刀脱手飞出,双手乱舞,仰天缓缓倒下,扭转了几下,就此不动,眼见是不活了。

Remember, you can post your translation today or any day next week, so you have plenty of time to think about it and there's no need to rush.

This is what Anna had to say about the challenge of translating the passage and others like it:
This is taken from the first fight scene in the novel and it shows exactly the difficulties of translating martial arts action. Making these parts work is crucial to the experience of reading martial arts fiction in English, and so I was conscious of what expectations and references an English reader would have. For this reason I chose to use conventions of film, with speeding up and slow motion, all conveyed through sentence length and word choice. Something as simple as using the word "thud" at the end of the sentence could give the feeling of the object finally hitting against the victim's head. I found very quickly that being too literal with the mechanics of the sentences (translating literally) would kill the feeling of pace and excitement.

And for a little more context here's the whole fight scene:
郭杨二人见他背上负著个包裹,甚是累赘,斗了一会,一名武官钢刀砍去,削在他包裹之上,当啷一声,包裹破裂,散出无数物事。曲叁乘他欢喜大叫之际,右拐挥出,啪的一声,那武官顶门中拐,扑地倒了。馀下那人大骇,转身便逃。他脚步甚快,顷刻间奔出数丈。曲叁右手往怀中一掏,跟着扬手,月光下只见一块圆盘似的黑物飞将出去,托的一下轻响,嵌入了那武官后脑。那武官惨声长叫,单刀脱手飞出,双手乱舞,仰天缓缓倒下,扭转了几下,就此不动,眼见是不活了。

Story Synopsis:
"Set in ancient China, in a world where kung fu is magic, kingdoms vie for power and the battle to become the ultimate kung fu master unfolds, an unlikely hero is born… in the first book in the epic Legends of the Condor Heroes series by the critically acclaimed master of the genre, Jin Yong.

After his father—a devoted Song patriot—is murdered by the Jin empire, Guo Jing and his mother flee to the plains of Ghengis Khan and his people for refuge. For one day he must face his mortal enemy in battle in the Garden of the Drunken Immortals. Under the tutelage of Genghis Khan and The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing hones his kung fu skills. Humble, loyal and perhaps not always wise, Guo Jing faces a destiny both great and terrible.

However, in a land divided—and a future largely unknown—Guo Jing must navigate love and war, honor and betrayal before he can face his own fate and become the hero he’s meant to be."

About the Author:
JIN YONG (pen name of Louis Cha) was a true phenomenon in the Chinese-speaking world. Born in Mainland China, he spent most of his life writing novels and editing newspapers in Hong Kong. His enormously popular martial arts novels, including the epic Legends of the Condor Heroes series, have become modern classics and remain a must-read for readers looking for danger and adventure.

Massive thanks again to Anna for picking this sentence; I look forward to everyone's translations!

Comments

# 1.   

First up, do I get a prize??

He was lightning fast, covering a dozen yards in a flash. Qu San drew his right hand to his chest then raised it aloft, sending careening forth through the moonlight a black discus—eeeeee—that lodged in the back of the officer’s head. With a terrible, drawn-out cry, the officer’s arms leapt up, his blade flying from his hand, then crumpled, slowly, onto his back, jerking momentarily there on the ground before becoming still—dead.

 Jack Hargreaves, May 31, 2020, 3:17a.m.

# 2.   

Nicky and I did a Jin Yong excerpt for a translation slam at Liverpool Literary Festival in Oct 2016, so I’ll copy and paste what I did then. Jin Yong’s so difficult to translate - rich in content and language, but also fast and fun. I was aiming for lightness and speed (think swashbuckling, and lame old Qu San banging his crutch on the ground to fly up into the tree). In the process of translation, if I find the English is too wordy, sometimes I’ll switch tense to loosen it up a little, then switch back to the original tense. As this piece was intended for discussion about the process of translation, I left it in the present tense and took a lot of liberties. At the time I was quite pleased with the speed and lightness, but it lacks the richness of Jin Yong's original. Kudos to Anna and Gigi!

He’s a fast runner and is getting away. Qu San slips his right hand inside his shirt, pulls something out and, holding it up in the air, goes after him. Then there’s a black disc flying through the moonlight. It lands sharply in the back of the warrior-official’s head. He screams in agony, the broadsword flies from his hand, and with his arms flailing about him, and his head to the sky, he drops slowly to the ground, writhes a few times, and then stops. He’s dead.

 Helen Wang, May 31, 2020, 3:48a.m.

# 3.   

Went with Wades-Giles instead of Pinyin because it seems a bit more exotic though pretty sure this isn't common practice anymore! Also left 武官 untranslated. Personally I would rather explain it in a footnote then be too literal in describing it as something of an official, administrator, soldier, bureaucrat guy that has no Western equivalent!

"Terrifed, the last wukuan turned and fled. A few steps, already half a dozen yards into the distance. Chu searched his chest with his right; with a flick of his hand, a dark thing bulleted out under the moonlight. And with a soft thud, it was lodged in the back of the wukuan’s head. A terrible scream as the sword flew out of his hand. His hands struggled and danced. He twisted and he turned. And then, he laid still. Seems he’s as good as dead."

Anonymous, May 31, 2020, 4:26a.m.

# 4.   

Good day from Singapore! It's been a long time since I've translated in a community setting, feeling fondly nostalgic about the China Fiction Book Club days. Here is my translation, I had a lot of fun pretending to be a martial artist. I tried to get a delicate balance of staying faithful to the original yet making it fluid and exciting to read in English:

His footsteps were hurried, strides quickly gaining ground. Qu San reached his right hand to within his shirt and raised it suddenly. In a flash a black discus sped forth in the moonlight, reverberating through the air, and lodged itself into the back of the military official’s head. The official howled in agony, his knife falling slip of his grip, both arms flailing in the air, and fell to the floor in slow motion. He convulsed here and there for a while, then was motionless, finally dead.

Amanda Flynn, May 31, 2020, 5:43a.m.

# 5.   

He was running away in a quickened pace and in the turn of a hand, he was many meters away. Qu San fetched something in his coat with his right hand and presently throw it forward. A black thing, like a round saucer, flew under the moonlight and with a light thump, set deep into the head of the officer. The officer gave a thrilling cry, his short-hilted broadsword dashing out of his grip and his hands struggled in vain. Slowly he fell down to the ground with his eyes facing sky. After a few jerks, he remained motionless, obviously dead by now.

Carol Ma, May 31, 2020, 11:30a.m.

# 6.   

His stride was quick. In a flash he had bolted meters away. Qu San’s right hand reached to his chest. As his arm extended out, the moonlight glimmered off a black disc that flew out. With a soft thunk, it embedded itself into the back of the official’s head. The official let out a long miserable cry and his blade fell from his hand. His arms flailed wildly toward the sky then gradually fell back down. He twitched a few times, then moved no more. It was clear he was dead.

David Hull, May 31, 2020, 1:13p.m.

# 7.   

I've loved watching Hong Kong's TV adaptations of Jin Yong's wuxia novels since young, and the fighting scenes always seemed to flow seamlessly into each other.  I've never been very good at writing action, and I've probably taken a bit too much liberty with the sentences here, trying to imagine those moves unfolding before my eyes again:

His footwork was nifty, covering a good few metres at a rate of knots. Qu San fished something out of the front of his chest and with his raised right hand, flung out a black disc-like thing in the gleaming moonlight. It sliced through the air, landing right in the back of the official's head. He gave out a shrill cry, his broadsword falling out of his hand. Down he dropped, eyes on the sky, back on the ground, hands thrashing the air. His body writhed a few times, and stopped short: he had lost his last gasp of air.

Christina Ng, May 31, 2020, 1:43p.m.

# 8.   

The officer sped away, covering several yards in the blink of an eye. Qu San reached into his robe with his right hand. With a flick of the wrist, he let fly a single black disc, which shimmered in the moonlight and whistled as it flew. It struck the back of the fleeing officer’s head, penetrating his brain. The officer let out a miserable wail. He tossed his blade to the air, his hands gesticulated wildly, he stared up at the sky and slowly crumpled to the ground. His body flopped and twitched, then suddenly stopped moving. The officer lay dead before Qu San.

ENJ, May 31, 2020, 3:15p.m.

# 9.   

He sped away, and was quickly far off. Qu San’s right hand went into his robe, pulled out and flung a round black thing that flew through the air and sank into the official’s head with a soft thud. The official screamed in anguish. His sword flew out of his hands as they jerked crazily. Face to the sky, he slowly sank down, writhed for a while, then stopped moving, his eyes without life.

Julie S, May 31, 2020, 10:47p.m.

# 10.   

He darted forward with swift steps, covering yards in a moment. Qu San snapped his right hand to his chest and cast it high: a round shadow lept forward, glistening in the moonlight, and with a whisper buried itself in the back of the officer's head. The man gave a keening cry as the sword flew from his grasp and, hands scrabbling wildly, stared skyward as he sunk to the ground. There he writhed until he moved no more and was gone.

Alexander C. Wille, June 1, 2020, 3:57a.m.

# 11.   

Footsteps fast, he covered a number of meters in less than a second. In Chu Saan’s right hand was something he had taken out from somewhere, he threw it and in the moonlight, all one could see was a dark object, all that one could hear was a soft sound of disturbed air. The object thudded into a martial captain’s head, the captain’s sword flew out of his hand as he let out a long scream. Falling to the ground, he began to thrash, then stopped moving as if dead.

Johan Stephen, June 1, 2020, 5:30a.m.

# 12.   

He ran a few meters in an instant. Swiftly, Qu San’s right hand moved in and out of the folds of his robe in a throwing motion: a black disk gleamed under the moonlight and flew whirring into the back of the officer’s skull. The man screamed wildly, flailing his arms as he slowly fell forward, his sword flung into the air. His body squirmed for a few seconds before stopping—dead.

Leonardo Magnelli, June 1, 2020, 1:36p.m.

# 13.   

Qu San burst forth in a patter of footsteps, covering several zhang in the blink of an eye, and in one clean motion swept his right hand in towards his breast and out. The small black disc flew through the moonlit night and embedded itself in the back of the officer's head with a soft thud. The officer let out a long bitter cry before dropping his sword, looking up to the night sky and falling to the ground in a slow dance of flailing arms. He twitched a few times and was still. The life gone from his eyes.

Luke G, June 1, 2020, 6:50p.m.

# 14.   

He bolted, several zhang away in a blink of an eye. Qu San, producing something from inside his garment, flung his right arm out - a dark shadow the shape of a disk came swiching by in the moonlight and sank into the back of the fleeing man's head. The man cried out in pain, dropped his sword, and hands pawing the air, fell down flat on his back, writhing for a moment before gasping out his life.

Yaqi, June 2, 2020, 12:14a.m.

# 15.   

Good morning! Hope everyone is well, sending best wishes from Nottingham!

He moved with great speed, in an instant he had ran a number of yards. Qu San raised his right hand bearing the weapon he had just drew. In the moonlight, all that could be seen was a black disk-like object that flew off into the air, setting off a gentle sound. It lodged itself into the back of the of the mercenary’s head. The mercenary let out an awful scream and his single broadsword flew from his grip. With his hands flailing, he looked up to the heavens and slowly fell to the ground. After turning around he could no longer move and the life drained from his eyes.

Lucy Elwood, June 2, 2020, 3:42a.m.

# 16.   

Loving the versions posted so far! Ashamedly, I've realised that I misunderstood exactly what was happening: I initially imagined something more magical going on with the thrown weapon, not being as familiar with Jin Yong's stories as I'd like to admit, so here's the edit in bold:

He was lightning fast, covering a dozen yards in a flash. Qu San drew his right hand to his chest, slipped something from the folds in his clothing, then with a whip of his hand aloft, sent careening forth through the moonlight a black discus—eeeeee—that lodged in the back of the officer’s head. With a terrible, drawn-out cry, the officer’s arms leapt up, his blade flying from his hand, then crumpled, slowly, onto his back, jerking momentarily there on the ground before becoming still—dead.

 Jack Hargreaves, June 2, 2020, 3:55a.m.

# 17.   

Yes, I'm cheating :)

 Jack Hargreaves, June 2, 2020, 4:02a.m.

# 18.   

I had fun with this little exercise!

His steps were quick, covering several feet in an instant. Qu San reached into the folds of his clothing with his right hand and swung his arm. A black disc-like object was sent flying in the moonlight, and it embedded itself in the back of the officer’s head with a soft thud. The officer let out a terrible scream as he flailed about, and his sword left his grasp. He slowly crumbled, staring up into the sky, twitched a few times, and was still. Qu San could see that he was very much dead.

Phyllis Ang, June 2, 2020, 10:11a.m.

# 19.   

Here's what I produced, using Riina Vuokko's excellent Finnish translation as a reference:

With quick steps, he covered a dozen yards in an instant. Qu the Third drew something from inside his robes with his right hand and drew his arm back. Under the moonlight, they could only see a dark disk-like object fly out, making a small sound as it embedded itself in the back of the officer’s head. The officer gave out a wretched cry, his broadsword sent flying in the air as he flailed. He fell slowly, face towards the sky, rolled over a few times as he hit the ground and then lay there, unmoving and lifeless.

Eero Suoranta, June 2, 2020, 2:25p.m.

# 20.   

His steps were fast, rushing over yards in each moment. Qusan's right hand scooped something from inside his shirt, and with a flick of his wrist something dark and round flew through the moonlight and crunched into the back of the officer's skull. The officer wailed, and his sword flew from his hand. He clawed at the air, then crumpled slowly onto his back, writhed for a moment, and did not move again. He was dead.

Would love to know what Qusan is wearing. "reached inside [article of clothing]" seems good, but is it a shirt? What would be other natural examples of the 托的一下轻响 sound? Does it convey if the object is sharp or blunt, how heavy it is? I'm guessing sharp from 嵌入, so went with [crunch, skull], but if it's blunt maybe [thud, back of head]? Is there a standard solution for 武官 in this context?

stevenL, June 2, 2020, 5:20p.m.

# 21.   

He was getting away fast. Qu San reached into his gown, pulled something out, launched it with a flick of his wrist. In the dim moonlight, a dark, circular object whistled through the air, lodging in the back of the official's head. The official groaned in agony, sword flying from his grasp as his arms flailed and he slowly toppled to the ground. He convulsed for a few moments, then went still.

Natascha Bruce, June 2, 2020, 5:24p.m.

# 22.   

If nothing else, the radically different versions offered above should remind us why we got into Chinese-to-English translation: The freedom of interpretation offered between these two unrelated languages, which is so much greater than what would be permitted between two romance languages such as Italian and Spanish, for instance.

However, I am struck by the surprisingly wide range of interpretations of the final phrase, "眼见是不活了". Whose eyes, or just whose viewpoint, does 眼见 refer to. The narrator's? The assassin's? The deceased's? And are there actually any "eyes" here?

Is this really "open" to interpretation? Or are the wide variations in our renditions due to a basic misunderstanding of the phrase?

Bruce Humes, June 2, 2020, 9:52p.m.

# 23.   

I'm imagining the clothing as robes of sorts, but something manageable, something he can move around in with ease. Googling the story's title brings up some helpful images.

As for 武官, I went with officer simply for the reason that's a relatively vague term that implies military and can be read quickly, my aim being to keep up the pace and not get bogged down. Military-official might be the most standard translation though? Happy for someone to correct me. In a short extract like this, it's hard to fully flesh out what a 武官 is, but there must be plenty of opportunity throughout the book to gloss and explain further

Has anyone read lots of Jin Yong or wuxia stories before and have any suggestions what the object being thrown might be? Besides disc-shaped. The speed it's being thrown at, however sharp the edges, and from that distance, it would probably make a dullish sound either way, whether sharp or blunt. Though whose perspective is the narrator interpreting the sound from?

眼见 - Bruce, that's precisely why I skipped around it. You'd think if it's an omniscient narrator, there would no need to mention eyes. Like 眼前, I took it to mean 'right there on the spot', or more literally, 'before their eyes', but felt that type of phrase didn't necessarily need spelling out. Any native speaker able to enlighten us?

 Jack Hargreaves, June 3, 2020, 2:50a.m.

# 24.   

The details are fascinating, but I'm also really interested in the pacing and flow. Especially in those last phrases, there's a tension between the grammar that English wants and the stuttering deceleration of the Chinese. I'm fighting the urge to totally rewrite my offering.

David Hull, June 3, 2020, 11:01a.m.

# 25.   

I'd be interested in how to better convey the pacing and flow too! I personally find "wuxia language" quite hard to translate - as every Chinese character seems to encompass so many possible phrases and words in English. While it reads succinct in Chinese—every phrase in itself a well-choreographed move—the English rendition might turn wordy or lose something in the translation if I'm not careful, and wuxia/action is very much about pacing. I'd be curious if there is an English equivalent of Chinese martial arts or action-adventure/war novels (?) with excellent fight scenes that are very similar to wuxia? Which English writers do these particularly well?

Christina Ng, June 3, 2020, 12:19p.m.

# 26.   

I for one just mistranslated 眼见是不活了and didn't read the context to know who was running. But it's still interesting I think to see people's mistranslations. I see it as all part of the fun of this exercise

Luke G, June 3, 2020, 11:39p.m.

# 27.   

¡ Add oil, Comrades !

Bruce Humes, June 3, 2020, 11:59p.m.

# 28.   

I think that it's really hard to keep the descriptiveness of the original Chinese into English, especially when he flings the "kunai" out of his robe. It describes the movement, the shape of the object, the sound it produces, the scene under the moonlight... I tried to go for short sentences in succession to convey the pacing, but had to sacrifice some of the original structure. I admit I had to take a look at the book, just to really get the context.

For the sentence 眼见是不活了, I didn't even think of eyes tbh. I went with an intepretation similar to Jack's.

Leonardo Magnelli, June 4, 2020, 5:05a.m.

# 29.   

“He darted off, putting yards behind him in an instant. Qu San’s right arm reached into his robe and hurled a black disc flying into the moonlight. It struck the back of the officer’s head with a thud. The officer shrieked in pain, his blade flew from his grasp, before slowly falling, arms flailing, facing heaven. He writhed a little then lay motionless – limp, dead.”

It’s wonderful to see so many fine translations of this passage. I grew up watching the Hong Kong TVB productions of Jin Yong’s stories before reading them and I love them to this day. Just a couple of thoughts. I agree on translating wuguan as ‘officer’ as it conveys the observers’ viewpoint and is not too unwieldy in translation. As for the black disc, I think it’s a metal disc depicting the bagua ‘Eight Trigrams’. This is a clue for the reader about the real identity of Qu San - though the characters Guo Xiaotian and Yang Tiexin who are watching do not know this, indeed they are startled that the guy from their village inn has such martial prowess! The fact that Qu San is on crutches and his use of a bagua indicate that he is a student of Huang Yaoshi, one of the Five Greats.

Desmond Cheung, June 4, 2020, 8:29a.m.

# 30.   

Well, that was a challenge. Here it is:

He moved at an incredible pace, covering metres in an instant. In a single movement Qu San's right hand darted towards his chest and withdrew in a deft wave. Just visible in the moonlight, a black disk flew from his fingers, cut the air with a light whistle and embedded itself in the back of the general's head. The general let out a long, agonised howl. His blade flew out of his hand. His hands fluttered wildly. His head rolled back. He crumpled slowly to the ground, writhed for a few moments then stopped dead. Clearly dead.

Sarah D, June 4, 2020, 10:53a.m.

# 31.   

Reading the other translations, I think I mistranslated 托的一下轻响. I thought it meant that the disk made as noise as it flew as opposed to it making a noise as it made impact. What does the means in this context? I couldn't work it out.

Sarah D, June 4, 2020, 11:07a.m.

# 32.   

Had a bit of fun putting it in present tense for immediacy:

The officer turns to flee; his powerful strides are making good ground.

But Qu San reaches into his robes – and takes out – what is it? Under the moonlight – there it is – a black disc spins towards the running officer, and lodges smack in the back of his head with a dull thwunk.

A howl of agony, and the man’s sword falls loose. Arms flailing he looks to the skies. He writhes, slumps, and lies there… still. He’s gone.

Finn Aberdein, June 5, 2020, 1:45a.m.

# 33.   

Me too Sarah, though I'll try pass it off as an excuse to write eeeeeeeeee because thud isn't quite as evocative. I couldn't tell you precisely how is being used there either, so I've asked a friend and will post his response if no one beats me to explaining.

The question about pacing is great: to add to that tension between grammar and flow that David mentioned, this genre seems to beg for decorative prose, especially when the setting is some faraway land and far-off time, but as far as I'm concerned (as it's a trap I've often fall into and been told off for) that's a surefire way to lose pace.

And Finn, reading yours with the almost pantomime narrator injected in, I'm imagining comic book panels, with stops and starts and shifts of scene or frame. It's not something reading has often made me think of but kind of cool

 Jack Hargreaves, June 5, 2020, 1:34p.m.

# 34.   

Hi all, I think that the is onomatopoeia. At least that's how I read it and then I checked in the dictionary just to make sure and 象聲詞 is listed as one of the definitions.

Desmond, June 5, 2020, 5:38p.m.

# 35.   

Thanks, Desmond! This is really useful; I definitely fell into the same trap as Sarah and Jack, imagining the disc making a noise in the air. Does anyone have any thoughts on the fact the disc went into the back of the officer's head as he was running away, but he is described as 仰天缓缓倒下 -- it seems to me that he'd be more likely to fall forwards? I had some trouble visualising the motion!

Natascha Bruce, June 5, 2020, 7:39p.m.

# 36.   

Thank you Jack and Desmond. I found in a couple of online dictionaries which both describe as the sound of a heartbeat, and one included: 常指心脏因兴奋或紧张而加快跳动. So I would assume that it's the sound of the disk entering the skull with a soft thud.

Natascha - I visualised that the guard had something like a convulsion because of his flailing arms and hands, and as such I imagined he would have stopped running and that the head movement was involuntary.

Sarah D, June 5, 2020, 11:28p.m.

# 37.   

Thank you for this translating challenge! We had lots of fun with it. The main principles we tried to follow in preparing our version were to keep our translation fairly minimalist while staying true to the author’s evocative style and to split the sentences at natural breaks in the action.

The guard’s quick strides were already putting distance between them. Qu reached into his shirt and flung out his arm in a wide, graceful arc. A black disc-like object caught the glint of moonlight as it whooshed through the air. There was a soft thud as it lodged itself in the back of the guard’s skull. He let out a blood-curdling howl, the dagger flying out of his grasp, arms flailing wildly, and fell slowly backwards onto the ground. He lay there writhing, and then he was still. He was done for.

Yenney Lai and Angela Cook, June 6, 2020, 3:12a.m.

# 38.   

And now for the nitty-gritty:

‘the guard’ -- Since the action is being viewed through the eyes of Guo and Yang, and they don’t yet know exactly what kind of guards they’re watching, we used a general term

‘were putting’ -- decided to use past continuous to give the sense that the guard kept running and was hit while still running

‘In one fluid motion’ -- experimented with including this at the beginning of the second sentence to vary sentence structure and make the image more vivid, but decided that it detracted from the momentum of the action. Sentences 2-4 are all similar in length and structure, resulting in a faster reading pace and more dramatic action. Still not sure if this was the right decision.

‘reached’ -- we decided it was not necessary to specify ‘with his right hand’, since most readers will automatically assume it was the right hand anyway, and the author’s choice of 右手 is likely to have been based on prosodic rather than semantic considerations

'whooshed' -- onomatopoeia, not present in ST but in keeping with Jin Yong’s style

‘There was a soft thud’ -- followed ST in putting this first, because Guo and Yang heard the thud before they realised he’d been hit on the head

‘and fell slowly backwards onto the ground’ -- slightly wordier phrase, rhythmically slower than preceding sentences

‘He was done for’ -- quite colloquial, in a slightly old-fashioned way; like ST, it seems to imply he was 98% dead

Angela Cook, June 6, 2020, 3:36a.m.

# 39.   

It’s very interesting to learn more about everyone’s thinking in their translation choices. I think it’s definitely important to visualize what’s going on, not least because Jin Yong’s writing was very much influenced by cinema.

I just want to comment a bit on 仰天. I think there’s more to the phrase than the direction the man is facing. It literally means ‘looking up to heaven/the sky’, but in traditional texts it’s often used in the sense of looking to heaven as the powerful, immanent force that controls the affairs of men. Thus, one might look to heaven when facing injustice, despair, resignation, fate. I don’t want to read too much into this, but it’s notable, for example, that the phrase appears in the famous ci poem ‘Man jiang hong’, attributed to the Song general Yue Fei, whose spirit runs throughout the novel. Of course, Guo Jing and Yang Kang are named by Qiu Chuji after the ‘Humiliation of Jingkang’ 靖康之恥, the disaster of 1127 when the Jurchen forces swept south and took the Song capital of Bianjing (Kaifeng). This is also referenced in the poem.

滿江紅

怒髮衝冠,憑欄處,潚潚雨歇。 抬望眼,仰天長嘯,壯懷激烈。 三十功名塵與土,八千里路雲和月。 莫等閒,白了少年頭,空悲切。

靖康恥,猶未雪臣子恨,何時滅駕長車,踏破賀蘭山缺。 壯志飢餐胡虜肉,笑談渴飲匈奴血。 待從頭,收拾舊山河,朝天闕!

Desmond, June 6, 2020, 6:41a.m.

# 40.   

Yes, it's fascinating reading everyone's translation process! I struggled with 托的一下轻响、武官、飞将、仰天缓缓倒下 as well. And wow Desmond, thanks for sharing - very useful to know! I've only watched the Hong Kong TV adaptations of Jin Yong's novels, but have never read the books before. There's so much philosophy behind his words. But I've always been impressed - and nostalgic - when I hear the theme songs written for the drama. They sound immensely beautiful in Cantonese.

Christina Ng, June 6, 2020, 8:26a.m.

# 41.   

Quickening his pace, he instantly rushed ahead 10 feet.

He pulled his right arm to his chest with his hand raised overhead; in the moonlight you could see a black disc-like object fly out and with a whoosh it lodged in the back of the military officer's head.

With a bloodcurdling scream, the officer's sword flew from his hand, both arms flailing randomly as he collapsed face upwards, twitching a few times, then motionless, his sightless eyes unmoving.

Sharon Dempsey, June 6, 2020, 9:14a.m.

# 42.   

With lightning-fast feet, he dashed out from the crowd. Qu San reached his right hand into his robes then raised it high. A dark, disk-like object soared through the moon-lit air and--thunk!--lodged itself in the back of the officer's head. "Yaaaargh!" he screamed, his knife flown out of his hands, his arms flailing, he keeled over with his eyes to heaven and hit the ground; he rolled around for a bit, then stopped moving altogether. A few seconds later, and he was dead.

Arran Macdonald, June 6, 2020, 10:24p.m.

# 43.   

For 'shirt' read 'tunic'. 'Tunic' is more mediaeval and has a slightly military ring to it. A 'robe' sounds long and flowing... Or is there standardised terminology for the kind of clothing they wore?

Angela Cook, June 7, 2020, 12:11a.m.

# 44.   

We interpret 眼见 as an evidentiality marker, something like 'seemingly', 'apparently', 'obviously'. The sentence 眼见是不活了 is quite common in martial arts novels and usually implies that the speaker or observer is very confident that the person can't possibly live, to the extent that if they are not already dead, then they will be within the next 5-10 minutes.

Yenney Lai, June 8, 2020, 6:01p.m.

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