Translation:Excuse me, what is your honorable last name?
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This is okay. They are sharing their sense of propriety, even though we don't say "your honorable last name," they do. Take it as culture. But hold onto your hat. A far worse one is coming that makes no sense at all and they have not changed it in years. "Your honorable's company..." Watch for it. It is horrendous. All of us have asked them to fix it. Maybe your complaint there will be the final straw. Good luck! :-)
It is a social formula, not something that can be literally translated. It reflects politeness levels in Chinese that really don't exist in the same way in English. Although I have heard something like this in India where hierarchical language is more common than with other regional forms of English. If you study Japanese you will see even more pronounced language politeness levels.
Translating a polite sentence with a fragment is pretty much the worst path to take here; broken grammar and omissions are associated with the most colloquial registers in English; precisely the opposite of what's expressed in the Chinese sentence. I also think English does have close equivalents in terms of politeness. Unlike Chinese (and to some degree Japanese), it's less systematic: there are no necessarily polite/formal pronouns, prefixes or conjugations, but (like in Japanese) you can adjust the sentence structure and level of directness/certainty. For a sentence like this, it could be "Excuse me, could I have your last name please?" (formal) versus "Excuse me, what's your last name?" (colloquial)
Nobody is going to say "your honourable last name" in English. Ridiculous translation.
Please change this. As an American who has worked in Taiwan and now among Chinese in the Philippines, I am comfortable with "honorable." Yes, we need to learn (and accept) the culture that spawned this language. But I am annoyed by the choppiness of the rest of the sentence. "Your last name?" is what someone at a hotel checkin desk would say without looking up from the registration card. With or without "honorable" "Your last name?" would be rude in an English-speaking country. Try, "Excuse me, may I have your honorable last name?" You've had two years of complaints. I think it's time to correct this.
I think this goes to a common issue with Duolingo's Chinese course. A lot of the translations are sort of half thought out. Some of them are translated too literally into something that makes no sense in English and others are translated so loosely that they lose key aspects of the original Chinese sentence when there is a much more accurate and legitimate English translation. My Chinese professor would dock me a lot of points for turning in translations like these. I know it's always a bit of a challenge finding the balance between not losing meaning in the translation and making the translation readily understandable, but it just feels like a little more thought could make these translations so much better.
The Chinese course is indeed quite frustrating when it comes to translations. It's riddled with issues like archaic and rigid sentence structures; not to mention that some stuff just doesn't/can't translate well. If the course creators are native Chinese (from China), then I can only fault their education system as that's the type of ESL lessons they often receive in school so their knowledge only goes so far.
Just adding to the chorus, here: a complete English sentence ought to be accepted. This is obviously meant to be formal language in Chinese. In English, at least in my part of the US, it would be extremely rude to speak to someone formally using their title, then ask them a question in an incomplete sentence. "Your name, sir?" comes off as rude, despite the "sir".
It's cases like this that make me feel they could do with providing information in parallel. Give one translation that's very literal, another that may be looser but which more accurately expresses an equivalent sentiment in English, and perhaps also a brief note about the culture when there's no direct equivalent.
As ever, “last name” is incorrect; the Chinese surname is the first name. Names count from left to right (I, for example, have both a second and a third name; my third name is my surname, though it would be possible for my second name also to be part of my surname). And … you simply can't use the English word “honourable” in this way, perhaps because it implies that you must also have a dishonourable one (though it is possible, if uncommon, to say “he has an honourable surname”, in a non-contrastive construction). If you really need the word “honourable” to appear, “what is your name, honourable sir” will serve, but the closest to a faithful and idiomatic translation I have is “Pardon me, what is your good name?”, which is at least attested. (It's rumoured to be a borrowing from Hindi, but I'm uncertain of this.)
The English translation sounds really strange and just clumsy. I've never heard of "honourable last name" before and I'm a native English speaker. I was thinking that it might be something along the lines of 'Excuse me, honourable[/Your Honour], may I please have your last name?' but apparently that's still wrong.
Technically, it's correct grammatical English even if that's not how you'd ask this question in English. The point of that translation is so that an aspect of culture that's in the Chinese phrasing isn't lost. It's a completely valid translation from a learning standpoint as well. Too bad, but you're going to have to deal with some "Chinglish" if you're learning Chinese.
I'm glad you did.
I know that "honourable" would not be used in asking this kind of question in normal English, but it's a pity that English doesn't have a formal register at all anymore, except for the legal personals, government officials, and royalty. The standard "Excuse me, what's your surname / last name?" does not convey this aspect of Chinese culture. If people want to avoid using "honorable", then my suggestion would be the very polite "Please, may I ask what's your surname?" I see"May I ask?" as simple politeness and "please" as adding almost the amount of respect as 貴 implies when it's used in this context.
Actually, politeness is already conveyed by “您” (instead of “你”). “贵” here goes beyond just being polite and is more akin to using the English honorifics/titles "Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., Your Honor, Your Majesty, etc." The story behind “贵“ is as follows: In ancient China, some regular people would have the same surnames as gods. For example, if your surname was ”张“, then your surname would be the same as the Jade Emperor‘s mortal surname . As people wouldn't know whether or not your surname was the same as a god (or other respectable individual) when they first met you, the only way they could ask you while conveying this formality (and avoid disrespecting the gods, etc.) would be to add "贵“ (Yes, they believed gods are totally deserving of honor). After the question was asked, you could respond ”免贵“ to state that there is no need for such formalities or this common curtesy. Of course, you can drop this extra info given about the Chinese culture when writing the question in English (making it lost in translation), but I think, from a learning standpoint, it is important to understand some of the culture besides just the linguistics. https://baijiahao.baidu.com/s?id=1594827918580135858&wfr=spider&for=pc
It is important, thank you for pointing that out. I was referring to the fact that (a) to use "honourable" in English is unnatural and sounds foreign, if not strange, and (b) the use of 贵 in, well, ancient China; said usage was from texts I studied so your story of the history behind it is even more interesting to me.
To go back to the translation, I think that this is an instance where things may be "lost in translation" simply because it is beyond most translators, or at least me, to bring out the nuance behind it. Perhaps someone here will have an answer.