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    #1

    Question Question about a translated verse (not + preterit)

    Hello,

    Here is a translation of a Chinese verse made by a Chinese translator (not a native English speaker):

    "This morn of spring in bed I’m lying
    Not woke up till I hear birds crying"

    I was wondering if this "not woke up" was a regular usage in English? Usually, we would write: "I did not wake up", "I have not woken up" or "I woke up". "Not woke up" (negative form + preterite) sounds odd to me, but "not + verb" seems to appear often in English poetry.

    Is this form is grammatically correct?
    If it is, what about the style? Can it be considered as poetic language?
    Any similar examples in native English verse?

    I also found another translation of the same verse, slightly different:

    "This morn of spring in bed I'm lying,
    Not to awake till birds are crying."

    "Not to awake" is also strange to me in this context, is this grammatically correct? What would be the meaning of "not to" here? I do not want to? I did not wake up? other meaning?

    Thank you for your help.

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Question about a translated verse (not + preterit)

    Quote Originally Posted by Barnabé View Post
    Hello,

    Here is a translation of a Chinese verse made by a Chinese translator (not a native English speaker):

    "This morn of spring in bed I’m lying
    Not woke up till I hear birds crying"

    I was wondering if this "not woke up" was a regular usage in English? Usually, we would write: "I did not wake up", "I have not woken up" or "I woke up". "Not woke up" (negative form + preterite) sounds odd to me, but "not + verb" seems to appear often in English poetry.

    Is this form is grammatically correct?
    If it is, what about the style? Can it be considered as poetic language?
    Any similar examples in native English verse?

    I also found another translation of the same verse, slightly different:

    "This morn of spring in bed I'm lying,
    Not to awake till birds are crying."

    "Not to awake" is also strange to me in this context, is this grammatically correct? What would be the meaning of "not to" here? I do not want to? I did not wake up? other meaning?

    Thank you for your help.
    It would make more sense as "I won't wake till birds are crying". Even then, we have to assume that the person is talking in their sleep;

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    #3

    Re: Question about a translated verse (not + preterit)

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    It would make more sense as "I won't wake till birds are crying". Even then, we have to assume that the person is talking in their sleep;
    So "not woke up" and "not to awake" are grammatically wrong or erroneous syntax, could you confirm?

    Then, what would be a correct past tense usage in this sentence? For example: "I did not wake up till birds are crying"? But here, the problem may be "till" (which is linked with future tense, no? So you are suggesting "won't wake", I am right?). And is there a way avoid using "I" (but still meaning "I wake up").

    Sorry to ask several questions at once, but I would like to clarify both the usage of past tense "not woke up" and the lack of personal pronoun. Is there any form/syntax would allow to avoid the use of personal pronoun "I" and still be proper in English? Is it common to leave out "I" (or any personal pronoun) in literary language?

    And thank you for your answer!

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    #4

    Re: Question about a translated verse (not + preterit)

    "This morn of spring in bed I’m lying (present). I did not wake up (past) till I heard birds crying.

    "This morn of spring in bed I’m lying (present). I won't wake up (future) till I hear birds crying.

    "This morn of spring in bed I’m lying (present), not to wake up (future) till I hear birds crying.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Question about a translated verse (not + preterit)

    "This morn of spring in bed I’m lying (present). I did not wake up (past) till I heard birds crying.

    "This morn of spring in bed I’m lying (present). I won't wake up (future) till I hear birds crying.

    "This morn of spring in bed I’m lying (present), not to wake up (future) till I hear birds crying.

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    #6

    Re: Question about a translated verse (not + preterit)

    Many thanks for these examples.

    "This morn of spring in bed I’m lying (present), not to wake up (future) till I hear birds crying.
    Could you help me to understand the clear meaning of "not to wake up" here? What's the difference (if any) with "I won't wake up"?

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