We’re doing a series of reports at work on the 30th anniversary of you-know-who’s death. (My suggested title: “MZD: 30 years later, his death is still a good thing.”) I’m doing translation for the reports, even though the English text will never be used except for keyword-searching purposes. In principle, i should probably slack off, since all I really need to do for any given report is a 15-line summary, but I tend to end up translating the whole thing anyway, since I work fast and haven’t really got much else to do.
Anyway, today I ran up against an academic paper whose title posed an interesting challenge. (Or so I thought at the time — the bar for “interesting” is set pretty low here.) The Chinese title is 轻诺延安 寡信北京 Qīngnuò Yán’ān, Guǎxìn Běijīng. Background info: Yán’ān is an area of Shaanxi province where the Chinese Communists ended up at the end of the Long March. It symbolizes a utopian period (or at least a less-bad period) in modern Chinese history, a time when people actually believed in the rhetoric they were spouting. 轻诺寡信 qīngnuò-guǎxìn is a four-character idiom meaning, literally, “lignt-promises-impoverish-trust,” i.e., to diminish one’s credibility by going back on one’s word. Neither 轻诺 nor 寡信 exists as an expression outside the idiom (so far as I know), though both would be understandable in a written context.
Anyway, I decided that I’d try to come up with something in English that had a similar feel. I ended up settling on “Betraying Yan’an, Besmirching Beijing,” but I’m sure I could’ve done better than that if I’d had more time. Anyone have any other translations for it?