China's most watched news program stumps translators
Updated 21:34, 18-Aug-2019

The most watched daily news program in China, "Xinwen Lianbo", has taken over the Chinese blogosphere after it broadcast a series of short commentary programs – but they have proven to be bad news for translators.

On Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, the newscast, broadcast on China Central Television (CCTV), was trending because the vivid and humorous language of its segments sent audience ratings 26 percent up – the highest increase in nearly two decades. 

The format of the segments has attracted a younger audience, who are now binge-watching them online like Korean dramas. International media outlets have also taken note of the phenomenon. 

The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the BBC, CNN, Fox and others have quoted contents from Xinwen Lianbo. 

News program "Xinwen Lianbo." /CGTN GIF

News program "Xinwen Lianbo." /CGTN GIF

However, some things have been lost in translation when the content is adapted for an English-speaking audience. Some translators are reportedly scratching their heads over certain phrases that are expressive in Mandarin but not so much in English. 

For example, how to translate "a mouth running trains" in English? In fact, it is a Chinese phrase that means "You're full of crap." 

To help translators and those looking to understand the Chinese culture, we’ve tried our hand at translating few buzzwords from Xinwen Lianbo. 

Pen fan (something makes you spit out what you are eating) means "Laughable" or "Choke with laughter."

Kang Hui, one of the anchors of "Xinwen Lianbo." /CGTN GIF

Kang Hui, one of the anchors of "Xinwen Lianbo." /CGTN GIF

Man zui pao huo che (your mouth is a runaway train) means "You’re full of crap." 

Zha lun tai (slashing tires) – take revenge. 

Yuan fu xin tai (a female who is full of complaints) – green-eyed monster.  

Zhe xiu bu (loin cloth) – fig leaf. 

Gang Qiang, one of the anchors of "Xinwen Lianbo." /CGTN GIF

Gang Qiang, one of the anchors of "Xinwen Lianbo." /CGTN GIF

Luo ben (streaking) – showing your true colors. 

Man di zhao ya – beat the living daylights out of you.

He ze liang li, dou ze ju shang – benefit from cooperation and lose from confrontation. 

Duo de liao chu yi, duo bu liao shi wu – you can run but you can never hide.  

Tian ruo yu qi wang, bi xian ling qi kuang – those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.  

Hai Xia, an anchor of "Xinwen Lianbo." /CGTN GIF

Hai Xia, an anchor of "Xinwen Lianbo." /CGTN GIF

Jiao di mo you – sneak away.  

Qing shan zhe bu zhu, bi jing dong liu qu – nature will always take its course. 

(Cover image via CGTN GIF)