Topic: Shui Xian translated

One thing that's been baffling me for a while now is the fact that Shui Xian translates to both Water Sprite and Naracissus - how, exactly? And which meaning of "Narcissus" would this be (myth, flower, other)?

The only thing I can think of is if it refers to a particular flower that I'm not aware of, unless it's one of those things that depends entirely on context and 'Shui Xian' as a name for tea holds little more meaning than just a name for a tea (just like just about anything you find in any store here, I suppose).


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Re: Shui Xian translated

水仙 shuixian is the name of the flower narcissus (not the myth). The two characters when read separately are 水shui which is water (or river/stream in ancient Chinese) and 仙 xian which means fairy, or some sort of supernatural being (also sometimes translated as immortal, but this is not exactly correct.)

I always figured that some computer translators didn't have narcissus in their internal dictionaries, so vendors just translated the individual characters.

ABx wrote:

...'Shui Xian' as a name for tea holds little more meaning than just a name for a tea...

It probably doesn't really matter which translation you use, because people in the industry will likely continue to use both.

One could even argue that they mean the same thing, because the name for narcissus in Chinese is water fairy.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

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Re: Shui Xian translated

Also, I was talking with a few friends recently about the translation of "仙". It doesn't really translate that directly into English (see also http://teadrunk.org/viewtopic.php?pid=123#p123). "Sprite" and "Fairy" all have specific connotations in English that don't really convey how people describe the idea of 仙.

I am curious, though, about what exactly a 水仙 looks like; my language tutor said that it refers to a specific 仙, or at least a specific type of 仙. Does it refer to one of the 八仙 (8 "immortals"; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Immortals)?

The tea does refer to the flower name, though, right?


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4 (edited by ABx 2008-12-03 04:35:51)

Re: Shui Xian translated

Thanks, exactly what I was looking for :)

One could even argue that they mean the same thing, because the name for narcissus in Chinese is water fairy.

That was the other thing I was thinking, though I forgot to mention it. I believe that the name Narcissus is a western name (I'd bet that it's based on the myth, but I wouldn't know), so it stands to reason that they'd probably have their own name for it - especially if the flowers grow natively over there as well.

Also, I was talking with a few friends recently about the translation of "仙". It doesn't really translate that directly into English (see also http://teadrunk.org/viewtopic.php?pid=123#p123). "Sprite" and "Fairy" all have specific connotations in English that don't really convey how people describe the idea of 仙.

That's always the hard part about these things - when it comes to anything spiritual or mythical, there's hardly ever any kind of comparison. The two ways of thinking just seem to be completely different in most ways. Probably just about like trying to compare Native American ways of thinking.

On a completely unrelated note this reminds me of the fact that I have a big (13oz) yixing pot with a "water sprite" for a handle - though I really bought it for decoration, which I still have to figure out what I want to dedicate it to (since I really don't brew in that quantity). It seems logical to brew shui xian in it "big pot style" (that's what they call it, right?), but it would probably get used more for Chinese red teas, for the rare occasions that I drink it.

Re: Shui Xian translated

As Laochagui can verify  the word hsien/xian  is comprised of the characters 'man' and 'mountain'  the ideogram stands for man residing amongst the mountain, but the idea has mystical connotations. This word is used more in Taoist circles, it describes a person that devotes oneself in cultivating the mind, less worldly minded usually, done away from hustle and bustle of urban areas i.e; reclusive mountains.

  I guess it was in line with using tie "luohan" a buddhist saint description (arhat, obsessesed with self), and tieguanyin ( a boddhisattva, concerned with welfare of others) one rank above a luohan.   Using profound names to market teas and foods is what Chinese love to do, go to a restaurant and if you read chinese a simple dish has a description for example like "dragon eggs nested in a phoenix brocade nest"  menu items often have elaborate names, especially in chinese vegetarian restaurants.


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Re: Shui Xian translated

http://member.i-dno.com/system_dntb/upload/水仙.jpg

This is a chinese water fairy. Mostly for Chinese New Year's gift, representing Spring.
The smell of the blossom sometime reminds me of Shui Xian the oolong.