Jay Chou: What Kind of Man / 算什麼男人 – English Translation

 

算什麼男人 was a big hit a couple of years back! Lyrically, it’s quite difficult: there are a few 成語 and metaphors that just don’t lend themselves directly to English, so the idiomatic and literal translations differ quite a lot. As far as lyrics penned by Jay Chou himself go, though, it’s pretty good, and the melody isn’t challenging, so most people will be able to sing with you if you put it on at karaoke.

親吻你的手 還靠著你的頭
Kissing your hand and holding you close
[Lit. Kiss your hand, also lean on your head]

讓你躺胸口 那個人已不是我
Letting you lie on his chest… that man isn’t me any more
[那個人已不是我: that person already not me]

這些平常的舉動現在叫做難過 喔~難過
It’s little actions like these that are making me tear up now
[Lit. These everyday actions now called sadness; oh, sadness]
[叫做: ‘to call’ (e.g. a name). 難過 is not usually used as a noun (mostly seen as an adjective); changing the part of speech is a common device used by 方文山, Jay Chou’s usual lyricist, and it seems to have rubbed off.]

日子開始過 我沒你照樣過*
Days start to pass; even without you they pass*
[Lit. Days start pass; I without you as always before.]

不會很難受 我會默默的接受
It won’t be that hard; I’ll just accept reality
[Lit. Won’t very hard; I will silently accept]
[I think a lot of the time 默默 is redundant in English, or can be translated as ‘just’ instead. See also the chorus of “Waiting for You”, also by Jay Chou.]

反正在一起時你我都有開心過 就足夠
At least we were happy together, and that’s enough

我的溫暖你的冷漠讓愛起霧了
There was friction between us
[Lit. My warmth and your coldness fogged up our love. This metaphor doesn’t work very well in English!]

如果愛心畫在起霧的窗是模糊 還是更清楚
If we could’ve somehow sketched out our love, would it have been any clearer?
[Lit. If love draw on fogged window, is hazy or even clearer]
[The metaphor continues from the previous line.]

你算什麼男人 算什麼男人
Just what kind of a man are you?

眼睜睜看她走卻不聞不問
Watching her leave with complete indifference
[眼睜睜: eyes wide open; 不聞不問: a 成語 literally meaning ‘don’t listen don’t ask’, kind of like the US military]

是有多天真 就別再硬撐
If you’re that naïve then just let go
[Lit. Is have how-much naïve; then don’t keep hard holding-on]

期待你挽回 你卻拱手讓人
I hope you get her back, but you just give up
[期待你挽回: as with a lot of Chinese songs, the singer doesn’t explicitly refer to themselves where we might do in English. So, the subject ‘I’ here could also refer to the girl instead. See also this song by Crowd Lu for more good examples.]
[拱手讓人 is a 成語 meaning something like ‘give up without a fight’]

你算什麼男人 算什麼男人
Just what kind of a man are you?

還愛著她卻不敢叫她再等
You still love her, so why don’t you ask her to stay?
[Lit. Still loving her but don’t dare tell her keep wait]

沒差 你再繼續認份
It makes no difference; you were just going to accept what happens anyway
[Lit. No difference; you keep accept fate]
[認份 is another example of a Taiwanese word being thrown in near the end of a Jay Chou song; see also “If you don’t love me, it’s fine”. 認份 is equivalent to 認命, ‘accept your fate’. ]

她會遇到更好的男人
She’ll find a better man
[遇到: lit. come across]

* 我沒你照樣過: I had to think about this for a long time. There is an implied subject here (日子) which is omitted since it appears in the preceding clause. So, it’s much easier to understand if you think of it as 即使我沒有你,日子照樣過.

If you have any comments on or suggestions for this translation… let me know in the comments section below! (These things can always be improved.) Also, the full list of my other Chinese song translations so far is here.


6 thoughts on “Jay Chou: What Kind of Man / 算什麼男人 – English Translation

  1. Thanks for the translation. What is the meaning of 算(suan) in this song, because it is translated as “to calculate or plan” by the dictionary?

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    1. Hi Joe! Thanks for the excellent (and hard-to-answer) question. The meaning of “算” here falls outside of “calculate or plan”. I would say it cannot be literally translated into English here.

      In this case, I think “算” implies that a standard is failing to be met.

      I think the feeling of “你算什麼男人“ can be conveyed as “just what kind of man are you?”. Conversely, if it were “你是什麼[樣的]男人” instead, it would be more like a simple question: “what [kind of] man are you?”.

      Edit: I think the usage in the song would be categorised within the fifth definition (copied from http://dict.revised.moe.edu.tw):

      【算】 部首:竹 部首外筆畫數:8 總筆畫數:14
      注音 ㄙㄨㄢˋ
      漢語拼音 suàn

      [動]

      1 核計數目。如:「核算」、「結算」、「心算」、「推算」。
      2 謀劃、策劃。如:「盤算」、「失算」、「打算」。
      3 屬於、當作。如:「這頓飯算我請客。」、「東西弄壞了,該算誰的?」
      4 謀害。元.鄭廷玉《後庭花》第一折:「夫人教我所算了他,我可下不的手。」元.無名氏《硃砂擔》第三折:「有鐵旛竿白正圖了他財,又算他性命。」
      5 當真、承認有效力。如:「說話算話」。《儒林外史》第六回:「這都由他麼?他算是個甚麼東西!」
      6 推測、料想。如:「算命」、「我算準了他一定會來。」
      7 作罷、不再計較。如:「算了,多說無益。」《兒女英雄傳》第九回:「十三妹想起他那兩隻手是方纔撒溺褲襠的,連忙攔他道:『你那兩隻手,算了罷。』」

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