问渠哪得清如许

English translation: Asking how the water acquires its purity? The answer lies in the lively source of the springhead

18:49 Apr 26, 2011
Chinese to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - History
Chinese term or phrase: 问渠哪得清如许
问渠哪得请如许, 为有源头活水来.
From an article about the history of a Chinese university.
Ralph Dunsdon
Local time: 18:26
English translation:Asking how the water acquires its purity? The answer lies in the lively source of the springhead
Explanation:
Literal translation

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 9 hrs (2011-04-27 04:37:06 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

渠 -1. third-person pronoun
2. 【說文】水所居也。即水流之体。
哪 - a question word in Simplified Chinese (not a typo, in spite of its being a borrowed character from an ancient character which has different meaning );哪得 means "how" or "how come."

The allusion to these two lines serves to explain the cultural origin of the University in Shandong, the origin of ancient 齐鲁文化. So the metaphor is:
山东大学,学统纯正,源远流长,来自古老的齐鲁文化荟萃之地。
Selected response from:

jarv95888
Local time: 21:26
Grading comment
All the answers were very helpful and good. Thank you
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +1How can it be so clear and cool?
Ivan Niu
3I asked the water: How can you be so clear? It said: For running water comes from the fountainhead
Francis Fine
3Asking how the water acquires its purity? The answer lies in the lively source of the springhead
jarv95888
3if you wonder how it could be so clear
Ambrose Li


  

Answers


26 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
问渠那得清如许
if you wonder how it could be so clear


Explanation:
The referenced page translates it into modern Chinese as:
若要問這水為何能這樣清澈?

The two problematic words were probably
渠 - third person singular pronoun (cf. Cantonese 佢)
哪 - typo for 那



    Reference: http://ftp.nssh.tpc.edu.tw/china/chinese/06/%E8%A7%80%E6%9B%...
Ambrose Li
Canada
Local time: 21:26
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
How can it be so clear and cool?


Explanation:
这是诗歌翻译大师许渊冲先生对全诗的译文:
There lies a glassy oblong pool,
Where light and shade pursue their course.
How can it be so clear and cool?
For water fresh comes from its source.

《中国古诗精品三百首》,北京大学出版社 2004年出版

原诗:
半亩方塘一鉴开,
天光云影共徘徊。
问渠哪得清如许,
为有源头活水来。


    Reference: http://wenku.baidu.com/view/3e23ed63caaedd3383c4d3a2.html
Ivan Niu
China
Local time: 09:26
Native speaker of: Native in ChineseChinese

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  jarv95888: Good job.
3 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

8 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
Asking how the water acquires its purity? The answer lies in the lively source of the springhead


Explanation:
Literal translation

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 9 hrs (2011-04-27 04:37:06 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

渠 -1. third-person pronoun
2. 【說文】水所居也。即水流之体。
哪 - a question word in Simplified Chinese (not a typo, in spite of its being a borrowed character from an ancient character which has different meaning );哪得 means "how" or "how come."

The allusion to these two lines serves to explain the cultural origin of the University in Shandong, the origin of ancient 齐鲁文化. So the metaphor is:
山东大学,学统纯正,源远流长,来自古老的齐鲁文化荟萃之地。

jarv95888
Local time: 21:26
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in ChineseChinese, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8
Grading comment
All the answers were very helpful and good. Thank you
Notes to answerer
Asker: Wow, this came from something written by the president of Shan Dong University, and he was referring to the university's quality as a result of being planted on the 'fertile' soil of Qi and Lu.

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1 day 12 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
I asked the water: How can you be so clear? It said: For running water comes from the fountainhead


Explanation:
All colleagues have correct answers. I only tried to mimic what seems to be the format of the stanza: - dialog.
The "target term" line is not long enough for too many letters.

Another attempt at mimicking the poem: "How can it be so crystal clear? Because there's running water from the very fountainhead.



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 day12 hrs (2011-04-28 07:04:05 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Expert poetry translator Xu Wenyuan's translation is very good.

Francis Fine
United States
Local time: 18:26
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in ChineseChinese, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 3
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