I'm not native speaker and now i'm translating a book about women for a male client, named "The Manual: What Women Want and How to Give It to Them"(sorry for bothering you again about this sensitive topic and i hope admin will not delete it). But my client is very picky, so i must translate very correctly. Now i have a confusing paragraph that you can see in my photo.

enter image description here The writer are talking about the necessity of persistence when pursuing women. I think "when you ask for a woman’s number, insist that she give it to you even if she says that she cannot" is not good example, because if i "insist she give it to me even if she says that she cannot => she reject me, so i will "cling on forever, stalk, or come back her" => conflict with previous opinion "persist does not mean to cling on forever, to stalk, or to come back despite a woman requesting otherwise", so why does the writer write this example in the paragraph? Or "insist" has special meaning, right?

  • The only possible explanation is that the author does not consider a woman saying that she cannot give him her number as a case of being rejected. – michael.hor257k Jan 3 '17 at 12:23
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    One does wonder what word the author uses for "No", since it obviously isn't "No". I think you're having difficulty because the entire premise is flawed. Just translate the sentence and don't overthink it. – Andrew Leach Jan 3 '17 at 12:27
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    It should be noted that "insist" can cover a range of possibilities. At one extreme it could imply resorting to physical violence to get your way, but at the other extreme it may simply mean asking a second time, in a friendly fashion. However, I agree that it's inconsistent with the previous paragraph. – Hot Licks Jan 3 '17 at 12:44
  • @Hotlicks 'insist' has no connotation of physical intervention. – Mitch Jan 3 '17 at 12:57
  • @Mitch - You've never dealt with very insistent people. – Hot Licks Jan 3 '17 at 13:01

You are right to question this translation. The two definitions of insist that I have quoted below imply a very different meaning, turning the male from confident and firm into a dangerous predator. Please translate correctly so that no misunderstanding occurs.

So in light of the first sentence:

keep going until you either get what you want or are rejected

This implies confidence, pursue until success or failure, do not stop at "maybe", but absolutely do NOT force the issue.

Looking up the definition of insist: (dictionary.com)

verb (used without object)

  1. to be emphatic, firm, or resolute on some matter of desire

verb (used with object)

  1. to demand or persist in demanding

The classic definition of insist is often used with an object, meaning to persist. I would "insist" that the walls are painted in magnolia. However, since women are clearly NOT objects, then we can assume the first definition is meant here, and that is to be emphatic or resolute, or in keeping with the first sentence, be firm and confident.

Also, the second sentence should read "even when she says she should not". If she says she "cannot" then that means she is unable to, and the pursuer should take that as failure and give up or request an alternative. If she says that she "should not", then this is conditional and so not a definitive rejection.

Subtleties of the English Language

In response to a comment that "there seems to be no technical difference between the two definitions of insist ", allow me to elaborate on some of the subtleties of the English Language.

In French, the meaning of a phrase can shift ever so slightly if you use the polite or casual forms, for example "you" can be "tu" or "vous". In Japanese, a similar shift in meaning can occur between formal or humble forms etc. In Mandarin, the meaning is of a phrase can shift ever so slightly with tone.

In English however, there is no intonation and there are no formal forms. All in all, English can appear to be quite flat with complicated grammatical rules.

This however, is not the case. The subtleties and formalities are conveyed through a combination of manners/politeness and conditional tense. For example, the following phrases are in order of politeness:

  • I want now (rude)
  • I want
  • I would like
  • I would very much appreciate (polite)

Applying this principle to the above translation means that the above definitions of insist are actually dramatically different.

For instance:

1st translation. to be emphatic, firm, or resolute on some matter of desire

This is the polite form implying that if she says that she should not give you her number, as it is too soon, then be resolute. Woo her with chocolates and flowers until she either warms to you or responds with a firm no.

2nd translation. to demand or persist in demanding

This is the terrifying form recommending to demand that she give you her number, if she cannot or has no number, ignore her protests and force the issue.

So you see, the two translations are very different and at different ends of the politeness scale. One translation implies resolve which is good and determined, the other translation implies demand, which is rude and wrong.

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  • 1. I don't think the two definitions you quoted imply a very different meaning. Basically they seem to mean the same thing, i.e., you don't accept refusal. 2. I don't understand why you think the second sentence should read "... she should not." I think it changes the meaning. – user140086 Jan 3 '17 at 13:40
  • The definitions are quite different, elaboration above. – Bella Pines Jan 4 '17 at 12:36

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