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Thread: Clarification on 'verb + 不明白'

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    Senior Member athlee's Avatar
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    Default Clarification on 'verb + 不明白'

    他自不知段誉记不明白六路剑法中这许多繁复的招式.

    The phrase above comes from DGSD. forgot_password (FP) translates 记不明白 as not remembering clearly. Specifically FP is saying that 'verb + 不明白' would mean not clearly. But I think it means not understanding, i.e. 读不明白 when talking about a book would be read but don't understand as oppose to cannot read it clearly.

    Can anyone help on this?
    Quote Originally Posted by remixedasian View Post
    6: Duan Yu is the greatest martial artist of all time

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    I also wanna clarify some things before someone posts a reply:

    - I only said 'verb + 不明白' usually meant 'verb + not clearly'.

    - The focus of this argument is the phrase '记不明白' and not 'Any verb + 不明白'.

    - Below is the full paragraph of the quote in the first post, taken from chapter 10 of TLBB:

    鸠摩智大惊,尽力催动内劲相抗,斗室中剑气纵横,刀劲飞舞,便似有无数迅雷疾风相互冲撞激荡。斗得一会,鸠 摩智只觉得对方内劲越来越强,剑法也是变化莫测,随时自创新意,与适才本因、本相等人的拘泥剑招大不相同, 令人实难捉摸。他自不知段誉记不明白六路剑法中这许多繁复的招式,不过危急中随指乱刺,那里是什么自创新招 了?心下既惊且悔:“天龙寺中居然伏得有这样一个青年高手,今日当真是自取其辱。”突然间嗤嗤嗤连砍三刀, 叫道:“且住!”

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    Senior Member junny's Avatar
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    My two cents:

    forgot password is correct in using 记不明白 as "not remembering clearly". The problem is with 明白, which has a few meanings and the most common one relates to "understanding". However, it can also mean "explicit" or "plain" (eg: 道理讲得十分明白) or "sensible" (eg: 他是一个明白人).

    Also, in this case there is the use of 记, which would necessitate the use of the other meaning of 明白 rather than the more common one of "understanding". I think in the given passage it would work well since Jiumozhi is baffled by Duan Yu's skills but doesn't know that he cannot recall explicitly the many difficult strokes of the swordplay (hence he has to improvise), and that is what stumps Jiumozhi into thinking he has met a young and highly-skilled opponent.
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    Senior Member athlee's Avatar
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    Is this a Mandarin thing? No matter how many times I run it over, I cannot think of a single verb adding to 不明白 to mean not clearly as opposed to not understanding.

    DY also showed in the fight in Shaolin that he remembered the sword techniques and used it against MRF. Also, there is a passage that indicates that DY remembered the techniques but because he didn't know martial arts he couldn't use it, i.e. don't understand the techniques as opposed to don't remember.

    顷刻间阿朱、阿碧双双脱险,鸠摩智的双刀全被段誉的六脉神剑接了过去。鸠摩智卖弄本事,又要让人瞧见段誉确 是会使六脉神剑的功夫,故意与他内劲相撞,嗤嗤有声。段誉集数大高手的修为于一身,其时的内力实已较鸠摩智 为强,苦在不会半分武功,在天龙寺中所记剑法,也全然不会当真使用。鸠摩智把他浑厚的内力东引西带,只刺得 门窗板壁上一个个都是洞孔,连说:“这六脉神剑果然好厉害,无怪当年慕容先生私心窃慕。”
    Last edited by athlee; 11-07-10 at 10:22 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by remixedasian View Post
    6: Duan Yu is the greatest martial artist of all time

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    Senior Member Ian Liew's Avatar
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    The context probably defines it as "clearly" rather than "understanding". I can imagine that if someone threw a smokebomb and you said "看不明白" I would immediately interpret it as "can't see clearly" (as in "看不清楚") rather than "can't understand" (as in "看不動").

    Maybe if we took the word apart rather than use the common usage of the word "明白". 明 means clear, and 白 means white. 明白 is commonly used to mean "understand", but probably due to it becoming "clear" to you. Just a guess, mind you, and not based on any scholarly interpretation.
    Last edited by Ian Liew; 11-08-10 at 01:33 AM.

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    Senior Member athlee's Avatar
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    junny:

    I understand what you are saying, but if one is to refer to context, shouldn't it be on the novel as a whole? DY used the sword techniques against MRF in Shaolin and in the paragraph that I posted above, it states that he did remember, but couldn't use it in practice.

    The context probably defines it as "clearly" rather than "understanding". I can imagine that if someone threw a smokebomb and you said "看不明白" I would immediately interpret it as "can't see clearly" (as in "看不清楚") rather than "can't understand" (as in "看不動").
    But if you use this to refer to a book, it is definitely can't understand. In fact, I have never heard of people saying 看不明白 in anything not related to arts/literature or things where understanding is needed. It is always 看不清楚 (tei um ching chor) in all the Canto (my Mandarin is close to useless) shows.
    Quote Originally Posted by remixedasian View Post
    6: Duan Yu is the greatest martial artist of all time

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    Senior Member Ian Liew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by athlee View Post
    But if you use this to refer to a book, it is definitely can't understand. In fact, I have never heard of people saying 看不明白 in anything not related to arts/literature or things where understanding is needed. It is always 看不清楚 (tei um ching chor) in all the Canto (my Mandarin is close to useless) shows.
    Oh, my bad. You wouldn't actually say something like that, at least not in Canto, which I speak far more than Mandarin. I meant that in written form.. if the book says that someone 看不明白 in the after a smokebomb has been released, I'd read it as "can't see clearly". I'm not sure if Mandarin speakers would speak like that, but as far as reading is concerned I'd interpret it that way. I don't know if it's technically correct, but I would read it that way.

    In Canto, like you said, it would be tai mm ching chor. "看不清楚" is actually "hon bat ching chor", which nobody in his right mind says unless he's singing a so-called Canto-pop song. 看不明白 is definitely not a phrase you will experience in that context using Canto.

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    Senior Member athlee's Avatar
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    Oh, my bad. You wouldn't actually say something like that, at least not in Canto, which I speak far more than Mandarin. I meant that in written form.. if the book says that someone 看不明白 in the after a smokebomb has been released, I'd read it as "can't see clearly". I'm not sure if Mandarin speakers would speak like that, but as far as reading is concerned I'd interpret it that way. I don't know if it's technically correct, but I would read it that way.

    In Canto, like you said, it would be tai mm ching chor. "看不清楚" is actually "hon bat ching chor", which nobody in his right mind says unless he's singing a so-called Canto-pop song. 看不明白 is definitely not a phrase you will experience in that context using Canto.
    Which could be why I can't bring my brain to intepret it as such. My reading of chinese is purely self taught through TVB shows (read the subtitles while listening to them speak). 记不明白 equals to 记不清楚 is something that I have trouble with, since 不明白 and 不清楚 are both used in Canto to mean different things as far as I know.
    Quote Originally Posted by remixedasian View Post
    6: Duan Yu is the greatest martial artist of all time

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    Quote Originally Posted by athlee View Post
    Is this a Mandarin thing? No matter how many times I run it over, I cannot think of a single verb adding to 不明白 to mean not clearly as opposed to not understanding.

    DY also showed in the fight in Shaolin that he remembered the sword techniques and used it against MRF. Also, there is a passage that indicates that DY remembered the techniques but because he didn't know martial arts he couldn't use it, i.e. don't understand the techniques as opposed to don't remember.

    顷刻间阿朱、阿碧双双脱险,鸠摩智的双刀全被段誉的六脉神剑接了过去。鸠摩智卖弄本事,又要让人瞧见段誉确 是会使六脉神剑的功夫,故意与他内劲相撞,嗤嗤有声。段誉集数大高手的修为于一身,其时的内力实已较鸠摩智 为强,苦在不会半分武功,在天龙寺中所记剑法,也全然不会当真使用。鸠摩智把他浑厚的内力东引西带,只刺得 门窗板壁上一个个都是洞孔,连说:“这六脉神剑果然好厉害,无怪当年慕容先生私心窃慕。”
    You can read the last book of TLBB in which there are at least 5 examples where ji bu ming bai = not remembering clearly. Quite busy at the moment, but if you can't find them I'll quote them later.

    Regarding the paragraph you quoted above, you misinterpreted a bit.

    在天龙寺中记剑法,也全然不会当真使用 means He was completely unable to really use the sword techniques THAT he had memorized when he had been in Tianlong Monastery.

    It doesn't say that DY memorized everything. It only says that he could not used what he had memorized.

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    Senior Member Ren Ying Ying's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by athlee View Post
    Is this a Mandarin thing? No matter how many times I run it over, I cannot think of a single verb adding to 不明白 to mean not clearly as opposed to not understanding.
    As far as standard written chinese is considered, I don't think there's any difference between Mandarin or Cantonese (or any other dialect).

    The problem here is that things get lost in translation. Sometimes words are interchangable and sometimes they arn't depending on the context. Certain words are used in certain situations while other arn't. It's just the way the language is and why it's "funny" to hear foreigners speak because they use a lot of words out of common context even though there is nothing wrong gramatically.

    Remember, you cannot simply assign one english meaning to one chinese word/phrase because the distinctions made in the english language is not necessarily made in the chinese language and vice versa. In english, "understanding" and "clear" may be two distinct ideas whereas 明白 represents a blend of both. Heck, even in English, the word "clear/clearly" can refer to either a "visual/audio distinction" or an "intellectual understanding".

    明白 and 清楚 have overlapping meanings. Often, they are interchangable, but other times one is preferred over the other depending on the context. There is true systemic formula differentiating when one is used over the other.

    For example, "Merry" and "Happy" are pretty much synonyms but it would be awkward to say "Happy Christmas and Merry New Year" even though there's really nothing structually wrong with the phrase. Or if you heard someone say "Merry Birthday", you would go be going "WTF"?
    Last edited by Ren Ying Ying; 11-11-10 at 08:56 PM.

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    Senior Member athlee's Avatar
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    forgot_password:

    What about the fight in Shaolin?

    段誉逃过了飞笔穿胸之险,定一定神,大拇指按出,使动“少商剑法”。这路剑法大开大阖,气派宏伟,每一剑刺 出,都有石破天惊、风雨大至之势,慕容复一笔一钩,渐感难以抵挡。段誉得到萧峰的指点,只是专使一路少商剑 法,果然这路剑法结构严谨,再无破绽。本来六脉神剑六路剑法回转运使,威力比之单用一剑自是强大得多,但段 誉不懂其中诀窍,单使一剑反更圆熟,十余剑使出,慕容复已然额头见汗,不住倒退,退到一株大槐树旁,倚树防 御。段誉将一路少商剑法使完,拇指一屈,食指点出,变成了“商阳剑法”。
    这商阳剑的剑势不及少商剑宏大,轻灵迅速却远有远之,他食指连动,一剑又一剑的刺出,快速无比。使剑全仗手 腕灵活,但出剑收剑,不论如何快速,总是有数尺的距离,他以食指运那无形剑气,却不过是手指在数寸范围内转 动,一点一戳,何等方便?何况慕容复被他逼出丈许之外,全无还手余地。段誉如果和他一招一式的拆解,使不上 第二招便给慕容复取了性命,现下只攻不守,任由他运使从天龙寺中学来的商阳剑法,自是占尽了便宜。

    It shows him calmly using the technique for both swords, not all 6, but it does show that he remembers the technique for these clearly.


    Ren Ying Ying:

    My problem isn't that I am trying to translate the text into english or any other language but that I am reading the text in Canto. So anything that is different from the spoken form is somewhat alien to me, which is why I asked if it was a Mandarin thing. I still read 不 as 'umm' instead of 'bat'.
    Quote Originally Posted by remixedasian View Post
    6: Duan Yu is the greatest martial artist of all time

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    Quote Originally Posted by athlee View Post
    Ren Ying Ying:

    My problem isn't that I am trying to translate the text into english or any other language but that I am reading the text in Canto. So anything that is different from the spoken form is somewhat alien to me, which is why I asked if it was a Mandarin thing. I still read 不 as 'umm' instead of 'bat'.
    I suppose standard Mandarin is more consistent with standard written chinese (hence the name), so I guess the usage and interpretation sounds more natural to mandarin speakers. But from the written standpoint, forgot password has translated the sentence correctly. Why? Who knows. But that's the way things are, so we'll just all have to live with it. Languages suck

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    Moderator kidd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by athlee View Post
    My problem isn't that I am trying to translate the text into english or any other language but that I am reading the text in Canto. So anything that is different from the spoken form is somewhat alien to me, which is why I asked if it was a Mandarin thing. I still read 不 as 'umm' instead of 'bat'.
    But, for correct pronunciation, 不 should be 'bat' and 'ng' should be '唔'.
    什麼是朋友?朋友永遠是在你犯下不可原諒錯誤的時候,仍舊站在你那邊的笨蛋。~ 王亞瑟

    和諧唔係一百個人講同一番話,係一百個人有一百句唔同嘅說話,而又互相尊重 ~ - 葉梓恩

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    Senior Member athlee's Avatar
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    Ren Ying Ying:

    Unfortunately, I guess I will have to accept that.

    kidd:

    How often do you hear 'bat' as opposed to 'um'/'ng'? Minus off old sayings and songs, and you would probably be left with 'bat ko' (but) being the most often you hear 不 being pronounced as 'bat'.
    Quote Originally Posted by remixedasian View Post
    6: Duan Yu is the greatest martial artist of all time

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    Quote Originally Posted by athlee View Post
    forgot_password:

    What about the fight in Shaolin?

    段誉逃过了飞笔穿胸之险,定一定神,大拇指按出,使动“少商剑法”。这路剑法大开大阖,气派宏伟,每一剑刺 出,都有石破天惊、风雨大至之势,慕容复一笔一钩,渐感难以抵挡。段誉得到萧峰的指点,只是专使一路少商剑 法,果然这路剑法结构严谨,再无破绽。本来六脉神剑六路剑法回转运使,威力比之单用一剑自是强大得多,但段 誉不懂其中诀窍,单使一剑反更圆熟,十余剑使出,慕容复已然额头见汗,不住倒退,退到一株大槐树旁,倚树防 御。段誉将一路少商剑法使完,拇指一屈,食指点出,变成了“商阳剑法”。
    这商阳剑的剑势不及少商剑宏大,轻灵迅速却远有远之,他食指连动,一剑又一剑的刺出,快速无比。使剑全仗手 腕灵活,但出剑收剑,不论如何快速,总是有数尺的距离,他以食指运那无形剑气,却不过是手指在数寸范围内转 动,一点一戳,何等方便?何况慕容复被他逼出丈许之外,全无还手余地。段誉如果和他一招一式的拆解,使不上 第二招便给慕容复取了性命,现下只攻不守,任由他运使从天龙寺中学来的商阳剑法,自是占尽了便宜。

    It shows him calmly using the technique for both swords, not all 6, but it does show that he remembers the technique for these clearly.
    Sorry, but I don't think the two sentences you put in bold type states that DY memorized all the theories of those 2 meridian swords.

    Here's my interpretation of them:

    段誉将一路少商剑法使完,拇指一屈,食指点出,变成了“商阳剑法”
    Once he finished using the Shaoshang sword technique, he bent his thumb and pushed out w/ his forefinger, switching to the 'Shangyang sword technique'

    现下只攻不守,任由他运使从天龙寺中学来的商阳剑法,
    now he was only attacking w/o defending, allowing him to use the Shangyang sword technique that he had learned in Tianlong Monastery,

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    Senior Member athlee's Avatar
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    段誉将一路少商剑法使完,拇指一屈,食指点出,变成了“商阳剑法”
    Once he finished using the Shaoshang sword technique, he bent his thumb and pushed out w/ his forefinger, switching to the 'Shangyang sword technique'
    As per your translation, he finished using the Shaoshang sword technique before switching to the next one. It indicates to me that he used all the strokes of Shaoshang and thus switched to the next one to avoid reusing the same strokes.
    Quote Originally Posted by remixedasian View Post
    6: Duan Yu is the greatest martial artist of all time

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    Quote Originally Posted by athlee View Post
    kidd:

    How often do you hear 'bat' as opposed to 'um'/'ng'? Minus off old sayings and songs, and you would probably be left with 'bat ko' (but) being the most often you hear 不 being pronounced as 'bat'.
    But, that word is pronounced as 'bat'. I'm a Cantonese speaker too, and I read in Cantonese. But, I read all the characters as the way they should be pronounced.

    When HK people want to write 'ng' they don't go write '不', they write '唔'.

    I think it's not the right way to read, but, that's up to you. You can read whatever way you like. But, trying to convince me that it's a right way to read because canto people seldom say 'bat' won't work. It's just not the correct pronunciation. You are not reading the word. You are just supplementing one word with another. Even TVB ancient series (the 90's series) tried to use the correct pronunciation as much as possible.
    什麼是朋友?朋友永遠是在你犯下不可原諒錯誤的時候,仍舊站在你那邊的笨蛋。~ 王亞瑟

    和諧唔係一百個人講同一番話,係一百個人有一百句唔同嘅說話,而又互相尊重 ~ - 葉梓恩

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    Moderator kidd's Avatar
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    If JY want to say Duan Yu does not understand the sword skill, he would have just said 不明白 instead of 記不明白. The '記' seems to indicate he's memorising. Also, beside 'understand', 明白 also means 'clear'.
    什麼是朋友?朋友永遠是在你犯下不可原諒錯誤的時候,仍舊站在你那邊的笨蛋。~ 王亞瑟

    和諧唔係一百個人講同一番話,係一百個人有一百句唔同嘅說話,而又互相尊重 ~ - 葉梓恩

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    Senior Member athlee's Avatar
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    kidd:

    Oh, I am not saying it is the write way to read, I am just saying that is how I go about it. I have trouble with reading single characters since a lot of them look the same to me, but when it is in a sentence, I somehow know which word it is, so I automatically revert to that. I also automatically read 不 as 'bat' if I am reading a saying or a song lyric. It is the same as the word 是. I know it reads as 'si' but in most sentences I will read it as 'hai'.

    I am just wierd that way.
    Quote Originally Posted by remixedasian View Post
    6: Duan Yu is the greatest martial artist of all time

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