了 - 我太敏感了

viajero_canjeado

Senior Member
English - Southeastern USA
Hi forumers,

I'm wondering about how to translate this phrase into English. Am I right in thinking it could go [at least] two ways?

1) I was [being] too sensitive.
In this case the 了 indicates the "pastness" of the event.

2) I am too sensitive [a person].
In this case the 了 would match other constructions I've heard with 太 plus adjective, such as 太貴了, or 太酷了! In these instances there's no "pastness", but rather 了 appears to simply emphasize, or complement the adjective.

So if the Chinese phrase I created actually matches the two English translations I suggested, then it would logically follow that context will decide which meaning the hearer interprets, correct?
 
  • Jerry Chan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hokkien
    我太敏感了 - sounds like you were being sensitive about something.
    So I'll go with the first way.
    Most likely there was something that displeased you and you over-reacted.
    Looking back, you think you shouldn't have reacted that way.
    So you say: 我太敏感了
     

    Jerry Chan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hokkien
    所以..第二個怎麼翻譯呢?
    說人,用敏感好像不太合適
    他是個太過敏感的人 - sounds awkward

    或者換個說法:
    他是個十分感性的人

    But 太敏感 becomes paranoid.
    So, in a negative way:
    他有點神經質/神經過敏

    Note that 敏感 also means allergic
     
    Last edited:

    Geysere

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    所以..第二個怎麼翻譯呢?
    Usually we don't say 我太敏感了 for this sense, since as Jerry explained, we tend to interpret it as the first situation. You can say 我这个人很敏感/我是个很敏感的人。
    Jerry, 我觉得“感性”和 "sensitive" 还是有点不同的。 感性通常与理性相对,指人做事想问题倾向于依赖感官知觉,翻成 "sensual" 应该更合适。
     

    Jerry Chan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hokkien
    Usually we don't say 我太敏感了 for this sense, since as Jerry explained, we tend to interpret it as the first situation. You can say 我这个人很敏感/我是个很敏感的人。
    Jerry, 我觉得“感性”和 "sensitive" 还是有点不同的。 感性通常与理性相对,指人做事想问题倾向于依赖感官知觉,翻成 "sensual" 应该更合适。
    「感性」我們這邊比較常用, 意思是感情豐富, 多愁善感. 我當時隨便說說, 沒太在意它的真正意思。

    Anyway, 我覺得「敏感」應是對事物的表現, 用來說人的性格似乎不太合適。
    說人性格「太敏感」, 就是事事多疑, 帶點神經質了。
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    感性通常与理性相对...
    Then what's the right word for that?
    I would say "perception/ emotion" vs "reason/ rationality" but in a concrete context, the actual words used can be very different. For example, someone is more of an emotional type while another is of the rational type.
     

    Geysere

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Anyway, 我覺得「敏感」應是對事物的表現, 用來說人的性格似乎不太合適。
    說人性格「太敏感」, 就是事事多疑, 帶點神經質了。
    我也不知道如何定义“性格”,或敏感属不属于性格。但我想说话者只是想描述此人对一些事情“敏感”这一特点。在我看来这种用法还是挺常见的,也确实是事事多疑的感觉。
     
    Hi forumers,

    I'm wondering about how to translate this phrase into English. Am I right in thinking it could go [at least] two ways?

    1) I was [being] too sensitive.
    In this case the 了 indicates the "pastness" of the event.

    2) I am too sensitive [a person].
    In this case the 了 would match other constructions I've heard with 太 plus adjective, such as 太貴了, or 太酷了! In these instances there's no "pastness", but rather 了 appears to simply emphasize, or complement the adjective.

    So if the Chinese phrase I created actually matches the two English translations I suggested, then it would logically follow that context will decide which meaning the hearer interprets, correct?
    Chinese 了 here is just a "mood particle". And moreover, Chinese 了 never indicates the "pastness" of the event.

    :idea:A "了1" after a verb means "have done". It indicates the "perfective" rather than "pastness", although "have done" is usually a past event.
    :warning:We normally do not use "了1" after a stative verb(adjective), for example, 貴了, it's usually interpreted as “變貴了1”.

    :idea:A "了2" at the end of a sentence(I have noticed that "了2" is not always at the end of a sentence, anyway) just indicates a certain mood. It causes the listener's attention to the existence of the truth. (sometimes works as English "have done" and "be doing")

    Chinese do not have a grammatical tense. You can simply express the tense by add some time adverb, e.g. 昨天我太敏感了2 and 我現在太敏感了2.
    明天我太敏感了 is not common, but if you are sure something will happen as if the truth already exists, you can say 明天他要死了2。

    We usually add 了 after the sentence when simply telling a past event, otherwise there is a risk that your sentence may be misunderstood.
    e.g. 他出去 = he will go out? He went out? The first interpretation is preferred.
    昨天他去(了1+2),今天該你去了2。Yesterday he did, now it's your turn .

    And your sentence 我太敏感了 will be interpreted as I'm/I was offensive. For example 對不對,我太敏感了2。
     
    Last edited:

    viajero_canjeado

    Senior Member
    English - Southeastern USA
    Chinese 了 here is just a "mood particle". And moreover, Chinese 了 never indicates the "pastness" of the event.

    :idea:A "了1" after a verb means "have done". It indicates the "perfective" rather than "pastness", although "have done" is usually a past event.
    :warning:We normally do not use "了1" after a stative verb(adjective), for example, 貴了, it's usually interpreted as “變貴了1”.

    :idea:A "了2" at the end of a sentence(I have noticed that "了2" is not always at the end of a sentence, anyway) just indicates a certain mood. It causescalls/directs the listener's attention to the existence of the truth. (sometimes works as English "have done" and "be doing")

    Chinese does not have a grammatical tense. You can simply express the tense by adding some time adverb, e.g. 昨天我太敏感了2 and 我現在太敏感了2.
    明天我太敏感了 is not common, but if you are sure something will happen as if the truth already exists, you can say 明天他要死了2。

    We usually add 了 after the sentence when simply telling a past event, otherwise there is a risk that your sentence may be misunderstood.
    e.g. 他出去 = he will go out? He went out? The first interpretation is preferred.
    昨天他去(了1+2),今天該你去了2。Yesterday he did, now it's your turn .

    And your sentence 我太敏感了 will be interpreted as I'm/I was offensive. For example 對不對,我太敏感了2。
    Perhaps this belongs in another thread, but at any rate, I've tried reading up some on the perfective, and I get the impression that in most cases it corresponds to a preterite conjugation in English. So, while I can appreciate that the two forms are not exact equivalents, in order to make it comprehensible to a toddling learner, it helps me to at least think of them as close cousins.

    When I heard the example I gave of 太貴了 in real life, it didn't strike me as meaning what you suggested. It was in a market and a child asked his dad for pineapple or something, and the father shook his head and said with a smile 太貴了. As I mentioned, it only seemed to intensify 貴, not indicate some sort of change or recent price increase. So maybe in that context 了 was meant to impart an air of finality, or "truth"ness to the sentence.

    To be quite frank, I probably misuse 了 unpardonably, but it's just because in lots of instances it seems just thrown in there by native speakers for reasons which are to me inscrutable.. so I try to imitate and just tack it onto a sentence whenever I feel like it, ha!
     
    Perhaps this belongs in another thread, but at any rate, I've tried reading up some on the perfective, and I get the impression that in most cases it corresponds to a preterite conjugation in English. So, while I can appreciate that the two forms are not exact equivalents, in order to make it comprehensible to a toddling learner, it helps me to at least think of them as close cousins.
    English does not have a "pure" tense. :) A simple past tense is similar to “了1”, prefect tense is similar to “了1”+“了2”.
    English past tense can be imperfective(e.g "used to", habitual activities in the past).
    Chinese does not have "tense" at all, as far as I noticed. So both sentences in your "#1" can be mapped to 我太敏感了.

    When I heard the example I gave of 太貴了 in real life, it didn't strike me as meaning what you suggested. It was in a market and a child asked his dad for pineapple or something, and the father shook his head and said with a smile 太貴了. As I mentioned, it only seemed to intensify 貴, not indicate some sort of change or recent price increase. So maybe in that context 了 was meant to impart an air of finality, or "truth"ness to the sentence.
    This 了 is at the end of a sentence. It can be ether 了1 or 了2(or 了1+了2). But your context does not allow the "了1" interpretation. (the adverb 太 only accepts a stative predicative)

    Another example:
    A: “怎麼樣?”
    B: “貴了。”
    It usually means "too expensive". But "變貴了" is also possible.

    A: “貴了沒有?”
    B: “貴了。”
    The only interpretation allowed is "變貴了", because this “了” is to reply the “了沒有”(have done/finished or not).

    But in this sentence, the “了” in “比XX貴了兩塊錢。” seams to be categorized as a third usage.
     
    Last edited:

    Ghabi

    AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod
    Cantonese
    When I heard the example I gave of 太貴了 in real life, it didn't strike me as meaning what you suggested. It was in a market and a child asked his dad for pineapple or something, and the father shook his head and said with a smile 太貴了. As I mentioned, it only seemed to intensify 貴, not indicate some sort of change or recent price increase. So maybe in that context 了 was meant to impart an air of finality, or "truth"ness to the sentence.
    I think you're right. The 了 is here for emphasis. I try to use your original example of 敏感.

    A wine connoisseur is boasting to his friends: 我的舌头太敏感了,不是十年以上的陈酒,实在喝不下去。 "I've such a delicate palate that I can hardly quaff any liquor less then ten years old." It fits the second interpetation in your original post.

    Your original sentence doesn't allow two interpretations, but that's only a matter of idiomatic usage. In some cases two interpretations are allowed. Consider the following:

    -他太好人了,所以常常吃亏。 "He is such a kind person ..."
    -他太好人了!我不知道怎样感谢他。 "He was so kind as to ..."
     
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