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幼いときに老けて、老いて子供に戻る。 I can make a few guesses as to the specific meaning but I'm not sure which one is right.. does anyone know what would be the most correct translation of this sentence?

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What are your guesses? –  Lukman Sep 20 '11 at 17:03
    
Translated very loose, so as to preserve what I am perceiving as the proverb feel: "As children we grow old, when old we become children again." or "Children grow old as the old return to childhood" –  yadokari Sep 20 '11 at 22:26
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You hear 老いて子供に戻る a lot, but I haven't heard 幼いときに老けて. Google seems to agree with me, so I'm assuming it's not a proverb or something.

The phrase 幼いときに老けて is rather peculiar because 老ける means "become an old man / behave like a old man" and has a negative nuance. So it's not the same as "grow old"; if you are 幼い and do 老ける, then that's very unusual. It's like an oxymoron, but I don't "get" what is meant here. Perhaps with more context it would make sense, but frankly my guess is that whoever wrote this phrase didn't fully understand the nuance of 老ける.

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Disagreed completely. The wording 幼い時に老ける may surely be uncommon but I think the author understands the word 老ける. The sentence makes perfect sense as well. –  Tokyo Nagoya Feb 25 at 15:12
    
@TokyoNagoya If you can make perfect sense of the sentence, you should prob. write an answer... –  Enno Shioji Feb 25 at 15:47
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