The Riddles of The Hobbit – Part Four

Since the Hobbit part one is due for its cinematic release this week, I thought what better a time than now, to breathe some new life into thee old “The Hobbit Riddles in Chinese” series of posts we did a while back. If you haven’t seen the previous post then make sure to check them out)

So, lets delve straight into the action shall we. Here’s the Riddle in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese:

Simplified Chinese

活着却不呼吸,
冰冷带着死气;
永远不渴,永不喝水;
披着鳞甲,却不用背。

Traditional Chinese

活著卻不呼吸,
冰冷帶著死氣;
永遠不渴,永不喝水;
披著鱗甲,卻不用揹。

Now the Pinyin and English:

Pinyin

huózhe què bù hūxī,
bīnglěng dàizhe sǐqì;
yǒngyuǎn bù kě, yǒng bù hē shuǐ;
pīzhe línjiǎ, què bùyòng bēi.

English

Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking;
All in mail never clinking

Apart from the final line, the Chinese version matches up quite well with the original English. Though it seems as though the final line was altered slightly, probably to preserve the rhyme. In the English ‘drinking’ and ‘clinking’ rhymes, while in the Chinese they opted for 水 to rhyme with 背.

A more direct English translation of that line could be:

披着鳞甲,却不用背。
Draped in armour, but no need to carry (it).

If you’re having difficulty figuring it out, take a closer look at the third Chinese character on the final line (鳞 lín)which kind of gives it away.

Anyway, there’s the riddle folks, post the answer in the comments if you’re able to figure it out, and enjoy the movie if you’re going to se it later this week!

3 responses to “The Riddles of The Hobbit – Part Four

  1. When I read it I understood “永不喝水” as “never drinking”, and I still don’t understand why it should mean the opposite. Can you help to explain it? Or is it a translation error?

    1. Hi Kevin, I had the exact same conversation with Chris yesterday when I read the riddle. It could be that the Chinese version goes something more like “never thirsty, doesn’t (need to) drink”. The 不喝水, could be 不「用」喝水, as in, it doesn’t need to drink water because constantly in water. This would also allow the writers to keep the 永不… 永不 structure. But anyway, I did notice it and you may well be right that it’s just a translation error.

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