Fast & Quickly

These two words both have the meaning of “快” in Chinese. What is the difference between them? Why this sentence “那个小孩拼命快跑” is translated into “The boy ran as quickly as he could/as his legs could carry him”? and the sentence “运动员跑得非常快” will be translated into “The athlete is a fast runner/runs very fast”. The reason is that the word “Quickly” has the meaning of subjective feeling, “run quickly” means the boy will try his best to run quickly, but the boy will not run faster than the athlete, so the athlete is actually a faster runner.

The word “fast” expresses the meaning of objective feeling. So we could understand why the phrase “快车” will be translated into “fast rain”, not “quick train”, because the train will not decide by its own. Also we will use the “be quick” to express the meaning of “快一些”. There is no difference in subjective and objective fields for the word “快” in Chinese, but not in English. So we should pay attention to this during English to Chinese translation.

Also there are another two words “high” and “tall” for the term “高”. We use the word “high” to describe a mountain has the height (for example, there is a song called “Rocky Mountain’s High”). However, if we would like to say someone has the height, we will use the “Tall” to express it, also with the tree, “a tall tree”. The word “Tall” emphasis on the subjective height and the “high” do the objective feeling.

For example, The cup is twenty centimeters high—这只杯子高二十公分(厘米)。High heel—高跟鞋。 We can also use either a tall building or a high rise to describe a “high” structure. The first one “the tall building” emphasis on the feeling of high to people, while the second one is an objective evaluation (any building which exceeds 6 floor could be called high rise).

Let us have a look another sentence. How will we translate such following sentence “That was a tall story in the high street of the town”? Obviously we could not explain this sentence by using the subjective and objective roles. As we have referred to, the word “tall” has the meaning of subjective, so we can know there is the meaning of unbelievable and marvelous.

So it will be “一个令人难以置信的故事” for the translation. We will connect “high street” with this phrase “highway”— 高速公路。And then we will conclude the meaning would be “the main street”. So the actual translation for this sentence will be “这是发生在该镇主要大街上的一个令人难以置信的故事。” (to be continued)