Celebrate Roald Dahl Day on 13th September (his birthday 🙂 ) in Chinese with your kids or students.
Roald Dahl’s Chinese name is 罗尔德。达尔 ( Luóěrdé 。Dáěr).
All of Roald Dahl’s books have been translated into Chinese. Using translated versions of books that kids are familiar with and love, are great for kids to practice their second language reading. Older students (including senior students and adults) will enjoy the nostalgia and challenge of trying to read their fave Roald Dahl book in Chinese!!!!! We’ve picked up a few of Roald Dahl’s books on our trips to China, but you can order them online for delivery to Oz… pick your favourite one and get it in time for Roald Dahl Day!
If a full chapter book like this in Chinese is too difficult for your students, use Roald Dahl Day to springboard memorable ways to visualise some Chinese vocab. For example, you could do a mind map of all the different products a chocolate factory could produce…at the centre of your mind map would be 威利旺卡先生的巧克力工厂 (Wēilì Wàngkǎ Xiānsheng de Qiǎokèlì Gōngchǎng)’Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory’. You can take examples from the book to start your mind map, then the kids brainstorm all the different products and flavours they would like…with flavours like roast beef and gravy bubblegum, blueberry pie lollipops, and whatever kids’ imaginations think of, there are some great opportunities for food vocab to come alive!
Or, if you are following a strict curriculum with just no room to budge for your students, then you could just pick a few paragraphs, or key sentences from a Roald Dahl book that are really exciting, but also have grammar points that you are working on at the moment…so you can have some fun with Roald Dahl but still tick the boxes you need to as a teacher 🙂
Such books are also really good to spark conversation about translation…are there some things that have been translated literally that have ambiguous meanings in the first language, but just don’t work in the second language? (Roald Dahl plays with language so much!!!). The books were written for western children, immersed in western ‘culture’…are there things in the books that Chinese children (growing up in China) would find difficult to ‘get’ the point of? These questions can really help kids with literary analysis in their first language too 🙂
Below I have typed out chapter 5 of the ‘BFG’, to give an idea of the level of language typically required for a Roald Dahl book in Chinese. In this chapter, Sophie is having her first conversation with the giant, which is all about what the giants think children from different countries in the world taste like. Giants like to eat kids from Turkey because they taste like turkey, they don’t like to eat kids from Greece because they taste greasy, kids from Denmark (Danes) taste like Great Danes, kids from Wellington in New Zealand taste like Wellington boots, kids from Jersey taste like jumpers, and kids from Panama taste like Panama hats. The Giant is not very good at English grammar, which also allows for Dahl to play on words some more, he call human beings ‘Human Beans’.
This chapter is really interesting for kids to read, and full of grammar points just waiting to be highlighted 🙂 BUT, what is really interesting for kids, parents and teachers to discuss, is how the translator has managed to keep the same play on words using Chinese like Dahl intended using English. It contains Chinese idioms that the translator has carefully picked to maintain Dahl’s humour the best way possible in Chinese, eg. when Sophie tries to correct the giant’s grammar he says not to ‘咬文嚼字’ (yǎo wén jiáo zì) literally to bite words and chew characters (meaning don’t be punctilious about the finer details of wording!). This is within a conversation about Bone Crunching Giants biting and chewing kids’ bones, so a cool idiom to use 🙂
How does a translator translate ‘Greek kids taste greasy’ in Chinese?? It just wouldn’t have the same effect if translated literally. So the translator has used a Chinese idiom to describe children from Greece (Greece= 希腊Xīlà) have a taste described as 味同嚼蜡(wèi tóng jiáo là) which means to taste as if one is chewing wax. The character 腊(là) in the country name of Greece is not only pronounced the same as the character 蜡(là) which means ‘wax’, but also shares some of the same character components. This way the translator has been able to keep the same play on words that Dahl intended using English.
Where the translator has not been able to change this play on words in Chinese, they have kept the same literal translation, but added a foot note to explain the intended meaning, for example a foot note explaining what a Wellington Boot is in England, how they were named after the soldier ‘Wellington’ and how the capital of New Zealand ‘Wellington’ shares the same name etc. The foot note explaining that the Panama hat is a straw hat from Panama is a good one to discuss, because it can lead to a discussion as to whether the Panama hat actually does come from Panama…so translating the text from Chinese can actually lead to students delving deeper into analysis of the text in English 🙂
Read the full chapter to find out how the translator has translated the other kiddie tasting comparisons 🙂 Hope you and your students can have fun with Roald Dahl in Chinese in some capacity on Roald Dahl Day this year 🙂
好心眼儿巨人 Chapter 5
巨人哈哈大笑。‘只因为我是一个巨人，你就以为我是一个吃人生番！’他叫道，‘你说得也对！巨人全是生番，要杀人豆子！他们当真吃人豆子！ 我们如今是在巨人国！四面八方都是巨人！ 在外面我们就有个赫赫有名的嘎吱嘎吱嚼骨头巨人！嘎吱嘎吱嚼骨头巨人每天晚上要嚼上两个肥肥胖胖不值钱的人豆子做晚饭！他吃饭的声音会把你耳朵震聋！他嘎吱嘎吱嚼骨头的声音会传得非常远！’
‘丹麦人豆子有很 强烈的面粉味道。’巨人说下去。‘当然，’索菲接上他的话，‘面粉是麦子磨出来的。你说话是不是有点混？’索菲说。‘我是一个非常混的巨人，’巨人说，‘不过我已经尽力不这样。我一点儿没有其他巨人混。 我认为这么个巨人，他一直跑到惠灵顿去吃他的晚饭。’