Saucy Tricks for Tricky Sorts

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin: China)
Duìfù èzuòjù de jǐnnáng miàojì
对付 duìfù = 'to deal with'.
恶作剧 èzuòjù = 'practical joke, mischievous prank'.
de = connecting particle
锦囊 jǐnnáng = 'brocade bag'.
妙计 miàojì = 'excellent plan, brilliant scheme'.
Bag of Tricks that Counters Mischievous Pranks
Traditional Chinese (Mandarin: Taiwan)
Táoqì wūshī de èzuòjù bǎodiǎn
淘氣 táoqì = 'mischievous'.
巫師 wūshī = 'wizard'.
de = connecting particle
惡作劇 èzuòjù = 'practical joke, mischievous prank'.
寶典 bǎodiǎn = 'treasured book'.
Treasured Book of Mischievous Pranks for Mischievous Wizards
Torikku-zuki no tame no oishii torikku
トリック好き torikku-zuki = 'trick-lover' (トリック torikku 'trick' + 好き suki 'like').
ため no tame = 'for, for the benefit/purpose'.
no = connecting particle
おいしい oishii = 'delicious'.
トリック torikku = 'trick'.
Delicious Tricks for the Trick Lover
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Mánh Độc Để Chơi Khăm mánh = 'trick'.
độc () = 'wicked'.
để = 'in order to'.
chơi khăm = 'play practical jokes, dirty tricks'.
Wicked Tricks in Order to Play Practical Jokes

The book contains interesting tricks that can be used by people who like such tricks. Its seemingly simple title has pitfalls for the translator in virtually every word, including the preposition 'for'.

How is the preposition 'for' translated?

English speakers are generally unaware of how tricky and complex prepositions can be. Websters, for instance, groups its meanings into ten. They include the following:

In the title, the intended nuance (which isn't actually very clear from the Webster definition) is 'designed for' or 'for the benefit of' tricky sorts. Failure to properly understand this will affect the entire translation.

The Japanese and Taiwanese translators understand the meaning correctly.

Both the Simplified Chinese (China) and Vietnamese translators get it wrong.

Having got the significance of the crucial preposition wrong, both translators continue even further off the rails in interpreting the meaning of the title. This is not surprising since 'saucy tricks' and 'tricky sorts' are slightly slangy expressions.

How is 'saucy tricks' translated?

'Saucy tricks' carries nuances that are hard to translate directly, especially the word 'saucy'. 'Saucy' refers to an attitude that is overly familiar for one's position or station, e.g., children may be saucy or cheeky when they talk back to adults, men may be regarded as saucy when they take small liberties with women. 'Saucy' may indicate disapproval or approval, depending on the speaker's intent. Often the actions it describes are winning or attractive precisely because they dare to go beyond the bounds of acceptable behaviour.

Here the term is one of approval, implying that the tricks in question are slightly cheeky or impertinent, but attractive for their boldness or flair.

How is 'tricky sorts' translated?

'Tricky sorts' means 'tricky people'. 'Sort' here is also a slangy expression. Understanding it is important for translating the title correctly.

The Simplified Chinese (China) and Vietnamese translators, led astray by their misinterpretation of the meaning of 'for', come up with incorrect translations.

As a result, two our four translations come up with completely skewed interpretations of the title.

Bag of Tricks = Chinese '锦囊':

The Simplified Chinese (China) translation uses the expression 锦囊 jǐnnáng meaning 'brocade bag' (錦囊 in Traditional form). The expression 锦囊妙计 jǐnnáng miàojì (literally 'brocade bag of excellent plans') means 'wise counsel' or 'instructions for dealing with an emergency'. It derives from an episode in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, an ancient tale of military wiles and exploits set in the 3rd century AD.

Another famous brocade bag in Chinese history was that used by the Tang dynasty poet Li He to scribble down lines of poetry when he was out riding on his horse, to be assembled into complete poems later.

Category: Spells and Charms (Popular)

arrow up