Phrasebook: xiāng tí bìng lùn

1. China Daily Translation

The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway and Japan’s Shinkansen line cannot be mentioned in the same breath, as many of the technological indicators used by China’s high-speed railways are far better than those used in Japan’s Shinkansen.

Wang Yongping (王勇平), Chinese ministry of railways spokesman, in a Xinhua interview (quoted by China Daily and Xinhua‘s English website), reacting to Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. threatening to take action if China files for patents on high-speed trains made using Japanese technologies.

Translator's Choice

Translator's Choice

2. JR’s Translation (Xinhua-based)

What would spell “pirating” Japan’s Shinkansen? This is somewhat showy. One can say that you can’t put the Shinkansen and the Beijing-Shanghai bullet train on a par*). No matter if speed or the degree of convenience is the issue, no matter if the technology above or underneath the rails is the issue, all the differences are big.

*) Both Baidu‘s dictionary and the Concise English-Chinese Chinese-English Dictionary, by A. P. Cowie, Zhu Yuan et al, Beijing 1986, 1997, leave the English choice for xiāng tí bìng lùn (相提并论) to the translator: “to mention (or be mentioned) in the same breath”, and “to put (or place) on a par”. Google Translate suggests “not on comparable levels”.

In the Shinkansen context, I find “on a par” somewhat less offensive than “in the same breath”.


China masters German Train Technology, Deutsche Welle, April 28, 2006


Xinhua introduces Wang Yongping as the ministry of railways’ deputy director of the political department, and director of the propaganda (or publicity) department, as well as a ministry spokesman.


5 Responses to “Phrasebook: xiāng tí bìng lùn”

  1. This being my line of business, I can tell you that the Chinese railway operators can file as many patents as they like. A patent is not a symbol of what the ordinary man in the street would think an invention is, instead it merely shows that you have been able to find something that, in the main, there is no written description for, and which, in the patent examiner’s eyes, is not obvious from the research which the examiner (who may be very lazy) has done. However, my suspicion is that if the Chinese try to file these patents in Japan the Japanese examiners will be even more unwilling to grant the patent than they normally are.


  2. Well, I had hoped that you would add some expertise here, Foarp. But then, that wasn’t striclty within your line of business.



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