(Translation) 不禽不獸

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Original Script

鳳凰壽,百鳥朝賀,惟蝙蝠不至。鳳責之曰:“汝居吾下,何踞傲乎?”蝠曰:“吾有足,屬於獸,賀汝何用?”一日,麒麟生誕,蝠亦不至。麟亦責之。蝠曰:“吾有翼,屬於禽,何以賀與?”麟鳳相會,語及蝙蝠之事,互相慨嘆曰:“如今世上惡薄,偏生此等不禽不獸之徙,真個無奈他何! 《笑林廣記》


Student translation : (Althea Volpe)

The Feng Huang lived so long that every bird went to the court to congratulate him and only the bat didn't show up. The Feng, blaming it, said: "You are inferior to me so how can you be so arrogant?" The bat replied: "I have feet so I belong to the beasts' race, why should I congratulate you?" One day it was the Qi Lin birthday and the bat didn't show up again. Also the Qi Lin blamed the bat. The bat replied: "I have wings so I belong to the birds' race, what should I congratulate for?" The Feng Huang and the Qi Lin gathered and talked about the bat's matter and, complaining for the indignation they both felt, said: "Now in an evil and ungenerous world, there is even a crowd of neither bird nor beast that moves from place to place and there is really nothing you can do about it."

  • Discussion Questions:

+ How would we render Fenghuang? (Fenghuang bird? Phoenix?) How about Qilin?

(JG) I thought it was a great choice that you were consistent - if Qilin, then also Feng Huang. I would only maybe say fenghuang and qilin, together and now capitals, cause each is one word and it indicates a kind of creature. I would also add footnotes describing briefly what these creatures are.

+ For 壽, wouldn't it be better to say "banquet/celebration for its long life"?
(JG) I agree, I think we translated it something like that in class too.

(NKL) for 属the translation into "race" seems unfitting - perhaps "the category of beasts" or "the family/genus of beasts"?
(YO) Yes, or even "belong to the likes of birds"?

(Althea) Actually I think this is an error due to my mother tongue, we use to say "race of a certain animal" so I thought it could be used in the same way also in english. Would saying only "beasts" and "birds" without any other word be correct too?