This moment will nap, you will have a dream; but this moment study, you will interpret a dream

What does interpret mean?

  • You study, then later, you will have knowledge to interpret this dream
  • You will accomplish this dream
  • 8
    This is broken English. It's really quite difficult to interpret. – Peter Shor Jun 12 '11 at 10:41
  • 2
    I agree with Peter Shor. This is a word salad masquerading as English. – Robusto Jun 12 '11 at 11:28
  • Without the first 'will', it makes sense, though it's in rather convoluted syntax (as aphorisms often are) – Colin Fine Jun 13 '11 at 13:33

Dream "interpretation" means a specific thing. It technically is its own field of study:

Dream interpretation is the process of assigning meaning to dreams. In many of the ancient societies, such as Egypt and Greece, dreaming was considered a supernatural communication or a means of divine intervention, whose message could be unravelled by those with certain powers. In modern times, various schools of psychology have offered theories about the meaning of dreams. (Wikipedia)

While the full sentence you quote makes little sense, the phrase "interpret a dream" strictly means attempting to attribute the events, feelings or people in a dream to something of significance. This will typically be a symbolic interpretation of events that have recently happened or hints at what the dreamer should do in the future.

The scope of this interpretation will vary drastically depending on your beliefs of the supernatural, the afterlife, the human subconscious and what sorts of dreams you have. The most charitable end of the spectrum assumes that all dreams have meaning. The most skeptical end assumes that dreams are completely random and hold no greater significance.

Putting this into the example sentence, I would guess that it means something along the lines of:

Nap, and you will dream. Study, and you can interpret what your dreams mean.


The sentence does not make sense because it is a software translated Chinese sentence. The original Chinese sentence, when translated properly, reads,"If you take a nap now, you will have a dream, but if you study now, your dreams will be fulfilled."

Context, background, and further readings: This sentence is the first of twenty fabricated "Allocutions on the wall of Harvard University Library" originally written in Chinese. It now has Korean, Japanese, Russian, and Arabic versions. For the complete story, please read: The Harvard Library Study Room Wall Statement Nonsense http://www3.sympatico.ca/dstephen1/harvardnonsense.htm

If the inquirer is Chinese, here is the explanation:


1。 中文: 此刻打盹,你将做梦;而此刻学习,你将圆梦。 英语译成 This moment will nap, you will have a dream; But this moment study,you will interpret a dream.

(中文的意思是 “你若此刻打盹”, “你”是主语 ,英文变了 “This moment" 是主语! 变了 "此刻“是而不是 ”人“去打盹。)

"圆梦" 是 ” dream fulfilled"; "interpret a dream" 是“解梦。”

软件是一个字一个字的译 (此刻"this moment)(打盹 will nap"), 软件不能悟出 “nap 打盹" 者是个人( "你"), 而不是个时间 “此刻”。 請看: 无中生有瞎扯的, 笑破肚子的超烂英语 哈佛图书馆自习室墙上的训言 http://www3.sympatico.ca/dstephen1/fake-harvard.htm

  • I reckon this answer is more accurate. No offence to MrHen – Thursagen Jul 6 '11 at 7:24

The syntax here is misleading, but not necessarily 'incorrect' as it is presented poetically, not prosaically. Therefore:

...this moment study... becomes: ...study this moment...

So the line is telling you that you should study your dreams rather than ignore them. If you do, you will understand (interpret) them. If not, they will seem nonsensical.

Unfortunately, the first half of the line really is rather messy. As the syntax is repeated, the first half should have the same formation as the second but the use of the first 'will' in the first half is out of place. I think it can probably be removed as a mistake, but it is not my place to say so.

Nevertheless, I hope this helps with the meaning of 'interpret' in the example.

Interpret - understand and take meaning from

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