The universal two-child policy is expected to play out

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thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
Hi. In a reference book on Chinese-English translation, I have read this sentence:
The universal two-child policy is expected to play out, promising to bring the total population to around 1.42bln by 2020 and about 1.45bln by 2030.

This sentence is translated from a Chinese sentence; I think the bold part is questionable. The literal meaning of the bold part is, in my version, “the effect of the universal two-child policy is to manifest itself completely”. Does my version make sense to you? Is “play out” a preferable turn of phrase here?
Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    It makes no sense whatsoever. You should bear in mind that (i) dictionary definitions usually do no more than "explain" meanings - they do not provide perfect synonyms (which are vanishingly rare in English in any case.) (ii) idioms and figurative language rarely translate directly.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    (cross-posted, replying to post #1)

    I think there's a problem here. What does it mean to say "the policy manifests itself completely"? Literally that says "the policy causes the policy to exist: completely". That does not make sense to me.

    But I think "play out" in the original is also incorrect. Let me take a couple sentences to explain.

    We have a plan (to limit population growth), which has goals (certain numbers in 2020 and 2030). To support that plan we created a policy (rules for people). In English, the plan and the goal(s) and the policy are three different things. In sentences these are three different things. The policy is not the plan and is not the goals.

    It is the plan that is expected to play out (be a successful plan), which we will know when it achieves its goals. The policy cannot "play out": it is a set of rules for citizens. It is already in effect.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    I think there's a problem here. What does it mean to say "the policy manifests itself completely"? Literally that says "the policy causes the policy to exist: completely". That does not make sense to me.
    Thank you both. But I wrote “the effect of the universal two-child policy is to manifest itself completely”. in the op.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Oxford has the phrasal verb “play out” as meaning 1. Develop in a particular way, and 2. Happen; take place.

    But in the OP it would make more sense if it said the policy was expected to play out in such a way as to…
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I mean “the universal two-child policy will have taken effect to the full by 2020”. Does it make sense now?
    This mean that in 2019 there would still be people who are allowed to have more than two children and it will not be until 2020 that the policy affects everyone. It's the result of the policy (the reduction of population) that will happen in 2020, not the policy (have no more than two children) itself.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    This mean that in 2019 there would still be people who are allowed to have more than two children and it will not be until 2020 that the policy affects everyone. It's the result of the policy (the reduction of population) that will happen in 2020, not the policy (have no more than two children) itself.
    Thank you. Though I would say the original Chinese text means it won’t be the case until in 2020 that we can observe a significant increase in Chinese population, as a result of the implementation of the new policy (instead of the abolished one-child policy). The two-child policy does affect everyone since its implementation. Does “play out” have this connotation? Or else how should I put the idea in simple words?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The policy will play out = The policy will have a result (at the end).
    The policy will manifest = The policy will come into existence (at the beginning).
     
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