Du, Nguyá»…n

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Comment by Tuan Minh Bui on July 29th, 2009 at 7:01 pm


After reading the English translation in just 6 lines of the Nguyen Du poem, I totally disagree with Lê Xuân Thuy—Kim Vân Kiều in his translation because the differences in normal speaking and written doesn’t interpret well the meanings in poetry; Therefore Lê Xuân had made enormous mistake by translating word-for-word from the Vietnamese language poetry into English written language. When I read the Thuy-Kim-Van-Kieu in Vietnamese, I have so much feeling and tears even rush out of my eyes; but when I read it in Lê Xuân’s Translation, it gave a different meaning. Please look a some example below:

– Trăm năm = doesn’t mean Hundred years (yes it is correctly translated as: Hundred years), but rather it describes the very long period of time. Think about the life expectancy of people of long time ago. Think about the value of $100 nowadays and $100 of 200 years ago.

– má hồng (rosy cheeks): that’s not even close to the author’s meaning,

– má hồng = pinky cheeks not rosy: because in Vietnamese language, whenever we talk about “pinky cheeks,we meant to refer to the beautiful and young girls. (rosy cheeks doesn’t mean anything).

– Trời xanh = blue sky: correctly translated, but not exactly the meaning in the Vietnamese language, because whenever we talk about “Trời” meaning we talk about GOD; altinately in English, we say “oh my God”, I have never heard anybody says “oh my blue sky”

– OH MY GOD: “Trải qua má»™t cuá»™c bể dâu” = while mulberries cover the conquered sea: this is getting stupid. this has nothing to do with “mulberries” cover the “sea”

****we always make fun of the newcomers, those don’t speak English at all and they try to translate Vietnamese into English, please look at the this example: “anh ta hanh ha toi”, properly translate into English would be: “he abused me” or “he has beaten me” but with the newcomers, they would say “he onion me down” because hanh = onion; ha = down; SO, does “he onion me down” mean anything?

I humbly and respectfully request the English translation of Lê Xuân Thuy—Kim Vân Kiều be removed from the website. I also offer my translation for review:

By centuries, in the world of human being,
The Gifted and The Destiny are skillfully opposing each other
Passing (Travelling) through a sea of sufferings,
With the scenes observed, One’s heart must be all broken.
Strangely? Just the usual Good and Bad,
How often, God jealously fights against the Beauty.

Thank you for your review,


PS: I used to be a Vietnamese translator in the United States Marine Corps 1996 – 2004. Corporal Tuan Minh Bui.

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