一周一句 Sunday Sentence #2

By Jack Hargreaves, published

Part of: Sunday Sentence

cover image

For this week of Sunday Sentence, we have something entirely different: a big announcement taken from page 118 of Yan Ge's 颜歌《我们家》(2013), released in 2018 as The Chilli Bean Paste Clan, translated by Nicky Harman.

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

The sentences to translate are: 他遂自己端起杯子来把里头的酒喝了,要把勇气豪气和阳气都鸡巴喝出来。给你们说,他宣布,老子又把婆娘的肚皮搞大了。

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.

Here's some more context provided by Nicky: 'Dad' is a small-town factory owner, put upon by his domineering mother and flagrantly unfaithful to his wife. Here his double life is getting complicated. Having installed his mistress in a flat two floors above his mother’s, then had a heart attack in her bed, he is supposed to have sent the young woman packing. But she calls to say she needs to see him urgently. The scene then moves forward to later that same evening, when Dad has joined his friends at dinner, and drops a bombshell.

About the challenges: The Chilli Bean Paste Clan《我们家》 is a razor-sharp, humorous examination of squabbling middle-aged siblings and Sichuan small town life, with all its Rabelaisian excesses and petty corruption. It contains a lot of dialect and plenty of bad language. And therein lies the problem for the translator.

About the Author:
Yan Ge was born in Sichuan, China in 1984. She is a fiction writer in both Chinese and English. Yan’s first short story collection was published in China when she was seventeen. She is the author of thirteen books, including six novels. She has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Maodun Literature Prize (Best Young Writer).

Big thanks to Nicky for picking this sentence and Yan Ge for writing it! Looking forward to everyone's translations!


# 1.   

Happy Sunday all! I loved the original and Nicky's translation of this book, fast paced and funny! Luckily I don't have the translation to hand, as would have been tempting to take a look!

Things I found challenging to directly translate: (alcohol, rice wine, wine, spirit), as the type of alcohol commonly drunk differs within cultures, and 雞巴 (slang for penis), how does one convey the crudeness in the text!

Looking forward to seeing everyone else's translations!


With both hands cradling the glass he tipped back his head, emptying the rice wine down his throat, from it trying to absorb every drop of courage, heroism and masculinity he fucking could.

Let me tell you guys something, he announced, "I've gone and managed to get a woman pregnant again!"

Amanda Flynn, June 7, 2020, 8:24a.m.

# 2.   

(Reviewed, slight punctuation error!)


With both hands cradling the glass he tipped back his head, emptying the rice wine down his throat, from it trying to absorb every drop of courage, heroism and masculinity he fucking could.

"Let me tell you guys something," he announced. "I've gone and managed to get a woman pregnant again!"

Amanda Flynn, June 7, 2020, 8:27a.m.

# 3.   

I was stumped by "阳气", and loosely translated it as "libido" in the end as it felt most apt in this particular context with my basic understanding of that word and the dictionary meanings I found. I mulled over "" a bit as well, but decided it is a detail I could probably get from the wider context or hopefully the writer/the book at some point. Also wondering if I've over-translated “肚皮搞大了”. Anyway, here goes:

He went for the glass and drained it of spirit, hoping to let loose his fucking guts, inhibitions, libido in one swig. "Listen up, you all," he announced. "Your friend here has knocked up that little bitch again. Got her belly big and round."

Christina Ng, June 7, 2020, 1:47p.m.

# 4.   

He raised his glass and necked the contents in one, hoping a stiff drink would give him the spunk and balls he needed. "I've something to tell you all," he announced. "Your man has knocked up another gal."

Jack Hargreaves, June 7, 2020, 4:12p.m.

# 5.   

-I wanted to write that he "knocked back" his drink but all the knocking back and knocking up was too much, so necked or downed were the next options, and necked feels a little more animalistic. Also, necked is more familiar for me as British slang.

-Opted to avoid the tricky issue of identifying the drink. Was tempted to go with "booze", but I couldn't resist the temptation of taking 鸡巴 to its limits (however I wrote this sentence it sounded terrible, so we're sticking with that ok...).

-Spunk and balls really both mean 勇气, so maybe I've missed out 豪气 (something a little more heroic) but they felt too well suited not to stick together given the mention of 鸡巴. As far as I know, 鸡巴 in this context is just like 非常 but more vulgar, but again, I wasn't going to miss that chance.

-On another day I might've translated that last sentence as "I've gone and knocked up another gal." But "Your man" seems to capture his bravado.

-婆娘 I struggled with. Missus was first choice, but then it's not his wife, it's his mistress. Do people call their mistresses "missus", I've no idea, so "gal" it is (perhaps this makes her sound too young though, I don't know how old she is relative to him, but it certainly has the flavour of condescension I imagine he has toward women).

-Going with "knocked up" is maybe a cop out, rather than trying to describe making her belly big, putting another bun in the oven or whatever. But it sounds great.

Jack Hargreaves, June 7, 2020, 4:16p.m.

# 6.   

He helped himself to his drink, lifting his glass and draining the spirit inside like he was trying to suck down courage, heroism, and manliness to the last bloody drop. "Got something to tell you." he announced. "I've gone and knocked up another one."


Is it true that 他遂自己端起杯子来 is calling attention to him not waiting for a prompt/toast but just going ahead on his own? Easy enough to change the if more context reveals it's not 白酒, no dramas. But if you're aiming for 阳气 surely you're hitting the hard stuff? Really interested to see alternatives for 勇气豪气和阳气! Is it good/bad to collapse some terms, eg. 'suck down some heroic manliness'? Should these go high-register or low-register? The 鸡巴 clearly lives in the gutter, but maybe some of the force here is from the contrast between that and the high-falutin qualities of heroism he's going after?

Pretty critical question on 婆娘, do the listeners know who this is? Huge difference between "I've gone and knocked up another woman" vs "I've gone and knocked up the mistress again." Knowing which was intended would steer the choices for 婆娘 pretty strongly, is it clear which it is here? Deciding that would also put some constraints/options on 'knocked-up' vs alternatives, for example I'd argue 'bun in the oven' variations are probably more likely with the specific mistress version rather than the latest-in-a-parade-of-lovers version.

stevenL, June 7, 2020, 8:49p.m.

# 7.   

Not sure I’ve understood this correctly, but here goes. I was trying to include the 自己 and 豪气.

He poured himself a glass, and knocked it back. He was damn well going to say it like a hero, proud of his manhood. “OK, here it is.. I’ve only gone and got her pregnant.”

Helen Wang, June 7, 2020, 9:36p.m.

# 8.   

I suggest that each entry include the original Chinese, for comparison's sake.

Bruce Humes, June 8, 2020, 12:58a.m.

# 9.   

This has some great problems, the cursing obviously - I like 'balls,' but it's a bit similar to courage in meaning if not register. I think there has to be a better way around that, but I don't see it.

I'm a fan of trying to bring out general tone in specific words, so even if 婆娘 isn't particularly kind, it's not as rough as 'bitch,' but I think it's actually better than the other options (woman, mistress, etc...) and I think it conveys the general tone of the text fairly well. Same with 'ya' instead of 'you.'

I have to say, I'm not really happy with my result here. I think I would really need a lot of time with the whole text to get the voice right.


He lifted the glass of liquor and drank down all the damned courage, heroism, and balls in it. "Let me tell ya, " he announced. "Your old man here just knocked that bitch up again."

David Hull, June 8, 2020, 2:36a.m.

# 10.   


Translation:He shot back the glass of liquor that, clutched in both hands, found its way to his lips. The alcohol would bring out all that cocksucking courage, heroism, and virility he needed. "I have to tell you all something," he announced, "yours truly went and got that woman knocked up again."

The use of 遂自己 in the first sentence gives me the feeling that his actions are happening almost out of his conscious control. The glass is brought up to his lips and he drains it automatically. I tried to capture that feeling in my translation.

I am not sure about the 勇气豪气和阳气 portion, I think some of the other translations here may be taking a better approach by not translating literally. The use of 鸡巴 in the original was a funny swear to choose, so I went with "cocksucking," which I hope is also a bit absurd and funny to use in this context, hopefully more effective than "fucking."

婆娘 was difficult to translate. I can't think of a word in English that would be equivalent, everything is either too strong or too ineffective. I was also unclear from the context if he was saying that he had gotten this specific woman pregnant again, or just had generally gotten someone pregnant again.

My above interpretations may be way off, but it was fun to translate this bit either way!

George Dudley, June 8, 2020, 4:30a.m.

# 11.   

He raised a cup of baijiu to his mouth, and with calm, courage and aplomb knocked that shit back. "I'd like to tell you all," he announced. "I've gone and got some bird up the duff again."

Luke G, June 8, 2020, 5:57a.m.

# 12.   

It has been fun reading everyone's ingenious translations again! It also got me thinking more about the word 豪气。On reading the text over and over again, it feels like that word leans more towards bold/unrestrained (豪迈)in this context rather than plain noble heroism; not sure if anyone here has similar thoughts?

Christina Ng, June 8, 2020, 7:14a.m.

# 13.   

"Fuck it, man up!" He thought to himself as he raised the glass and chugged the wine. "You know what," he announced, "knocked up a wench again."

Yaqi, June 8, 2020, 10:33a.m.

# 14.   

Sorry,I didn't notice Bruce's advice, so here is the bilingual version:)


"Fuck it, man up!" He thought to himself as he raised the glass and chugged the wine. "You know what," he announced, "knocked up a wench again."

-I moved "要把勇气豪气和阳气都鸡巴喝出来" to the begining of the scene and treated it as Dad's soliloquy, in a bid to preserve the force of the expression "要把...". Moreover, I felt the story was written from Dad's perspective,which sort of justified this move. Nevertheless, I'm aware that the sentence turned out to be a bit too short as I didn't make explicit 勇气、豪气和阳气, whose distinctions the author might or might not be emphasizing.

-Not sure with 婆娘. The term appeared frequently in 水浒传, yet in most cases Pearl Buck translated it as "woman", instead of using more vulgar versions. I guess it's because 婆娘 was more common-used then and not as derogatory as it is nowadays, which we would now more often see in curses like 臭婆娘、丑婆娘 than in daily speech. My roommate from Sichuan says she hasn't heard it for years lol. Still,given the frequency of the word in this book, I think it may well have retained a hint of humour and pungency in the local context.

Yaqi, June 8, 2020, 11:46a.m.

# 15.   

ST: 他遂自己端起杯子来把里头的酒喝了,要把勇气豪气和阳气都鸡巴喝出来。给你们说,他宣布,老子又把婆娘的肚皮搞大了。


He lifted his glass and drained it. He was fucking well going to put some fire in his belly.

"I'm gonna tell you something," he proclaimed. "I've only gone and got the bit on the side knocked up again."

I'm assuming it's the mistress, given the context ;)


Luisetta Mudie, June 8, 2020, 2:24p.m.

# 16.   

He lifted his glass and gulped down the booze, mustering all the bottle he could. ‘I got something to tell you lot,’ he declared. ’I’ve knocked my bird up again.’

Nick P

Nick Prendergast, June 8, 2020, 4:45p.m.

# 17.   


He grabbed his drink and gulped it down, hoping that the alcohol would give him the liquid courage and manliness he needed. “I’ve got something to tell you,” he announced. “I’ve gone and got the girl pregnant.”

I tried my best to resist the temptation to go and check the translated version (which I have right here at home), and I'm quite happy with the result nonetheless.

Some points had me scratch my head more than others, thinking of the best way to translate them:

  • 端起: I went back and forth between "raised", "lifted" his glass, but I couldn't feel 100% satisfied with either. I wanted to express the movement of his hands, more than focussing on the 自己; so I imagined that he would go on a momentum, "grabbing" his drink and "gulping" it down his throat.

  • 勇气豪气和阳气: the first two, 勇气 and 豪气 felt similar enough to me, so I translated them with "liquid courage" (this takes care of the alcohol part as well); 阳气 was more of a struggle between "manliness" and "masculinity", but the first sounded much better.

  • 鸡巴: I tried to put "fucking" or "damn" in the sentence, but it didn't felt right anywhere. If this part had been a direct speech or the thoughts of the protagonist, then I'd have included it for sure; however, there is an external narrator here and she's the daughter of the protagonist, whose manners are way different from her dad.

  • I also saw a lot of discussion about 婆娘. "Girl" seemed to be the most appropriate. Also "chick", maybe? It shouldn't be too vulgar, but we'd have to keep in mind that he's referring to his kinda silly love affair.

Leonardo Magnelli, June 8, 2020, 9:33p.m.

# 18.   

Just had an epiphany!

老子又把婆娘的肚皮搞大了: I've gone and got the girl a belly bump / I've gone and got the girl a baby belly.

Leonardo Magnelli, June 8, 2020, 9:37p.m.

# 19.   

Finally clasping the cup with both hands and assuming an air of bravery, heroism, and exuberance, he drank up all the wine. "I will tell them that the old guy still can impregnate a woman", he spoke out loud.

Ion Marandici, June 9, 2020, 2:15a.m.

# 20.   

I've tried to go as simple (and clean!) as possible, and tried to capture the prosody of “老子又把婆娘的肚皮搞大了。

He downed his drink to help himself pluck up the courage: “I wanted to tell y'all”, he announced, “I’ve gone and got her pregnant again.”

TDyson, June 9, 2020, 2:51a.m.

# 21.   

Translation: He took a glass and drained it in one gulp, praying that the alcohol would summon up whatever valor and courage he had in his balls. “Well, I’ve got news,” he announced. “I’ve gone and knocked her up again.”

Original: 他遂自己端起杯子来把里头的酒喝了,要把勇气豪气和阳气都鸡巴喝出来。给你们说,他宣布,老子又把婆娘的肚皮搞大了。

Tough one! Like many others, I didn’t want to deal with the unwieldy list of "勇气豪气和阳气” so I kept “勇气”, and went with “valor” for “豪气” (not a literally perfect translation, but I thought it captured the slightly satirical quality of that phrase), and then I tried to get both the meaning of “阳气” and the vulgarity of “鸡巴” in “balls.”

Finally, for "婆娘”, I thought “her” was just derogatory enough within this context (he’s announcing his mistress’ pregnancy, but he doesn't say her name, nor who she is in relation to him--simply “her”). And I’d have to look at the surrounding text to be sure, but I’m guessing “her” is sufficient for his friends to know who he’s referring to here.

Breanna Chia, June 9, 2020, 8:27a.m.

# 22.   


He cupped his glass and downed the alcohol in it, trying to draw all the fucking courage, valour, and manliness he could from it. “Lemme tell you something,” he announced, “I’ve got her belly growing again.”

I opted to use 'cupped' and 'downed' to indicate he used both hands to lift the glass and drink. Yang energy is often linked to "male essence", so I felt 'manliness' fit quite well there. Based on context, it seems he doesn't want to name who he got pregnant directly, and as his friends they already know he's cheating. A simple 'her' reference, and his friends would know.
Using the phrase "bun in the oven" seemed too homely for his character, given that he's cheating. The process of pregnancy is also gradual so the woman wouldn't have a big belly overnight – it grows.

Phyllis Ang, June 9, 2020, 10:11a.m.

# 23.   

Love Phyllis’ rendering of the last sentence. Get & are both versatile yet elusive verbs, and ‘growing’ is so vivid!

Yaqi, June 9, 2020, 1:15p.m.

# 24.   

I translated this sentence for a slam with Nicky in 2018 and am copying my version here without edits. I had seen Nicky's translation beforehand, so was aiming for a certain amount of dramatic contrast with hers. My 'slag' for 婆娘 is too strong, I think -- as did Yan Ge, who was at the event with us! I agree with Breanna that 'her' is probably derogatory enough, in the context. And I second Yaqi: I love Phyllis' 'got her belly growing again' for the last part.


He drained his glass, sucking that drink down until he could feel the Dutch courage in his dick. 'Little announcement for you,' he said. 'Your old man here's only gone and knocked that slag up.'

Natascha Bruce, June 9, 2020, 2:35p.m.

# 25.   

喝出来 suddenly gave me the idea that the alcohol was "squeezing" it out of his body, and I suddenly thought of the process of fracking - and of course, this works well with the "fucking." A moment of ad hoc genius, I gotta say!

"He then swiped up his glass and downed the the remaining liquor, fracking every last bit of his bravado and fucking balls out. "I tell ya," he announced, "your daddy here just knocked up that bitch again."

Juni Lefeuille Yeung, June 9, 2020, 4:01p.m.

# 26.   

OK, I'm almost embarrassed to put my translation up. It seems so pale and tame by comparison with the delicious filth all of you have produced! If only I could turn the clock back and do it again :-) So here's how it appeared in The Chilli Bean Paste Clan, Balestier, 2018: "He reached out for the cup and drank down the wine in it, to give himself some liquid courage. ‘OK, here’s the thing,’ he announced. ‘I’ve given the girl a belly bump.’"

Nicky Harman, June 11, 2020, 9:22a.m.

# 27.   

I see a problem with "wine" (as some of you have done) as it's pretty certainly not grape wine! I think I should have fudged it and said "...cup, and emptied it...". 婆娘 caused a lot of discussion between Yan Ge and me. It occurs so often in the novel, and sometimes with mixed scorn and affection, so that calling her a bitch or a slag wasn't really on. If only we were back in Shakespeare's day, "wench" would have fitted perfectly. So I just went for a neutral "the girl" (or in other cases, eg when he's using it to refer to his wife, "that woman")

N HARMAN, June 11, 2020, 9:35a.m.

# 28.   

Nicky, I'm so glad you chimed in on this. I love your rendering and I think it shows a lot about the actual work of translation. Not only dealing with an author who can help explain their ideas, but that without context, we are trying to wring every last drop of meaning from a small selection, when you are trying to weave it into a full narrative. I especially like 'liquid courage' and 'belly bump.'

David Hull, June 11, 2020, 11:54a.m.

# 29.   

Thanks, David. I've really enjoyed the different versions wrung out. I think Yan Ge's going to chime in tomorrow. Watch this space!

N HARMAN, June 11, 2020, 1:53p.m.

# 30.   


  • He took the glass himself and drained it of every fucking ounce of courage, bravado and manliness he could get. “Listen up, boys”, he announced, “I’ve got that little piece up the duff again!”

I am posting this against my better judgement. Mine is a pretty staid translation. I'm not very good at writing profanities.

I don't know the force of 婆娘 so I translated it as 'that little piece', which adds a little extra information about the girl in question (his little piece) and expresses both his pride and his superficially dismissive attitude. 鸡巴 strikes me as being like 他妈的, but I really would like a better idea what it actually means. Just adding 'fucking' doesn't really capture it.

Finally, how you translate any sentence will depend on the tone and language of the context.

Greg, June 12, 2020, 1:03a.m.

# 31.   

¡ Bravo, Greg !

I also think the term 婆娘 bears some thought. Is this word just a neutral, countrified synonym for "woman"? Or is it actually Sichuan dialect with a particular flavor to it?

I lived much of my life in China in Shenzhen, and I recall how men there often used the term 老婆 -- typically used in Cantonese for "wife/spouse" -- to refer to their 二奶. For the latter, it clearly had a possessive feeling to it, i.e., "my woman."

Bruce Humes, June 12, 2020, 1:17a.m.

# 32.   

I think Greg's got the right idea here. Yan Ge is getting creative with figurative language, and it's easy to forget that this is what English is made for: we've got all the flexibility in the world, and there's no reason we can't bend our language to fit any such circumstance.

If we wanted to restore the cock to its place in this figure of speech, we might go with: "sucked every fucking drop of courage, manliness and bravado..."

Eric Abrahamsen, June 12, 2020, 4:59a.m.

# 33.   

Also I can't explain why but I want "bint" for 婆娘. It bites off so nicely, and is rude and derogatory without actually being disgusting.

Eric Abrahamsen, June 12, 2020, 5:04a.m.

# 34.   

In my mind, the way I've worded his line is best read in a Scottish accent - gives it a bit of oomph...

He raised his glass and downed it, mustering all his boozy bravado, and proclaimed: “Well boys, I’ve done it. I’ve gone and put another bun in that bird’s oven.”

Finn Aberdein, June 12, 2020, 9:36a.m.

# 35.   

Knocking back his glass he hoped that the liquor would give him the brass balls to speak his mind. “Let me tell you lot,” he announced, “Your old man’s only gone an’ got another knocked up.”

Hi guys! In terms of the 勇气豪气和阳气,I felt that changing it simply to “the brass balls” was a bit more idiomatic and smoother, and seemed to go with the general feel of the scene (to the best of my understanding of course!) and going on personal experience, I think it’s a long running joke in the UK particularly that having a drink is an easy way to pluck up the courage to say something that would otherwise be quite awkward to say outright to someone.

I was unsure about how to approach the 婆娘 section is in the first part it says which I would usually translate as again. However I was unclear as to if it should be another girl, or it could even be the same girl (for example if this was a mistress he was involved with for an extended period of time)

Going on from this point, the translation of this ...婆娘 actually opens up a lot of possibilities because if the latter was true, I would be inclined to translate it as mistress, or thinking about this in the British context, I’ve frequent heard mistress also referred to as “bit on the side”, I feel that this sounds a lot cruder, but I think the decision for this should come from where the main point of anger is aimed at. By this, I am referring to if the speaking is mainly aiming their anger at the the man or the woman.

Sorry for rambling on, but there are quite a lot of levels to this that are worth talking about

Lucy Elwood, June 12, 2020, 10:50a.m.

# 36.   

He raised his own cup and emptied it of wine, wanting to drink up some bravery and heroism and fill his dick with yang energy. “Here’s the thing,” he declared, “Lao Zi has put a biscuit in mama’s oven again.”

Sharon Dempsey, June 12, 2020, 12:45p.m.

# 37.   


He raised his drink and knocked it back, going for glory and giving it the full hard-on. "There's news," he announced. "Big Daddy's got Missy preggers again."

I couldn't say precisely what 'giving it the full hard-on' means here, but it's got swagger and seems to fill that 鸡巴 gap!

Christopher MacDonald, June 12, 2020, 5:17p.m.

# 38.   

Out of sheer cussedness, I present the Google Translate version:

He then picked up the glass himself and drank the wine in it, trying to drink out the courage and courage. "To you," he announced, "Lao Zi made her mother's belly bigger again."

And the Microsoft Translate version:

He then picked up his own cup to drink the wine inside, to the courage and yang are chicken to drink out. "Say to you, " he declared, "the old man has made his mother-in-law's belly big again." "

David Hull, June 13, 2020, 7:55p.m.

# 39.   

Oh we should definitely be Google-translating all of these!

Eric Abrahamsen, June 13, 2020, 8:25p.m.

# 40.   

Nicky sent me this link a few days ago and I finally got to read all the creative and wild translations this Saturday evening and oh my, salute to all your brilliant minds.

I like the idea of Shengqiang having a Scottish accent. I also can't remember under which circumstance did I come up with this wicked sentence...

I tried to think about how I would do it in English and concluded that I would have to scratch everything and rewrite it ...So you guys are heroes!

This made me urgently want to write in Chinese. Wait until I finish this silly MFA...

Yan Ge, June 13, 2020, 11p.m.

# 41.   

[Forgive the tardy entry:] Then he raised a glass and emptied the drink, sucking from it all the guts and balls he could. “Well, I’ll just say it,” he announced, “Your old man got the little lady’s belly big again.”

CSQD, June 15, 2020, 9:01a.m.

# 42.   

Ah, yes, and the DeepL version:

He then took the glass himself and drank the contents, to cock out his courage and bravado and virility. "For your information," he announced, "I've made my mother-in-law's belly big again."

Bruce Humes, June 27, 2020, 1:25a.m.


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