Problems On Chinese – English Translation
山东临沭一中 何文民 张帆

  The rapid progress of civilization led to a succession of new policies and a mushroom growth of new words and expression. Translation must keep abreast of our times and meet new challenges. Translation is the recreation of a translator, so we should pay enough attention to translators comprehensive ability. A qualified translator should have a profound understanding of the linguistic differences concerning phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics and rhetoric between the source language and the target language, and he must have a distinct understanding of the linguistic – aesthetic effects peculiar to the target and source language respectively. Any mistranslation can cause great suffering. The following are some of the new problems that have arisen from Chinese – English translation.
  1. Translation doesn’t correspond with the original English
  if we translate Chinese into English according to its verbal meaning, we create new English. That’s Chinglish, Chinglish fails to get message and causes communication breakdown. We’d better try to avoid the use of clinches, jargons, slangs and use idioms, subtle connotations, tone of voice and short – hand phrases carefully. For example, Chinese word“胶水”should be “glue”in English, But in some magazines, it was translated into “glue water”. In Oxford Advanced Learned English – Chinese Dictionary (OALECD), the English interpretation of glue is “thick sticky liquid used for joining things”. Glue itself can fulfill the meaning of Chinese word“胶水”, so “water” is redundant here. Let’s see the translation of Chinese words“不准拍照”,it was written on public advertisement board as“Don’t take Picture”,which has signification of command and it is impolite in original English. We all know the saying of “No smoking”in English, so it is better to be translated into“No photographs”in English. Following this form, Chinese words“当心碰头”should be translated into“Mind / lower your head”,not“be careful of your head”.
Translation of terminology is very difficult. It should be precise as well as clear, or it will cause misunderstanding or perplexity. For example, Chinese words“拳头产品”is translated into“fist product”. In OALECD, “fist”means“hand when closed tightly with the fingers bent into the palm”, and it doesn’t have the meaning of strength. So professor Ding thought it should be translated into“Market – penetrating product”or“product with a competitive edge”.
  We should pay attention to not only verbal meanings of Chinese, but its connotation and deep meanings.
  2. Clearly and fully translate some short – hand phrases with Chinese characteristics.
  The rapid development of our times lead to new policies and guidelines with Chinese characteristics, so how to correctly translate them is vital to advancement of society and quality of “opening – up and reform”,At least, it should properly transmit the information of Chinese words. With a view to the translation of“Mao Zedong Thought”and“Deng Xiaoping Theory”, Chinese“三个代表”is translated into“Three Represents”,Thought and theory are nouns while represent is a verb, which may confuse readers, In view of English expression“do’s and don’ts”,“represent”can be used here. It is hard to find a better word to replace represent here. When we first mention“Three Represents”,we should thoroughly explain it, that is to say, fully translate its contents. It should be“Three Represents(The Communist Party of China represents the development trend of advanced productive forces, the orientation of advanced culture, the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of people in China)”. This can help original English readers understand the spirit of“Three Represents”.
  We notice that verbal translation is common and widespread, especially in non – official magazines and newspapers. Word – to – Word translation, ignoring deep meaning of words with Chinese characteristics, just translates its superficial meaning. As we all know, one Chinese word may have several meanings, and one character has different meanings in different phrases and sentence structures. When translating them, we should pay enough attention to their certain meanings in this usage and clearly translate them into English.
  3. Ignorant of differences between china and west cultures.
  Translation means transforming source text into an equivalent target one, which can lay claim to the same authority as the original. Equivalence between a translation and its original is established through an external, performative speech act. But in Chinese – English translation to find equivalent English to Chinese is difficult, so it is prominent in literary translation. It’s a reason why no Chinese novel writer gets the Nobel Art Prize. Chinese version novels do not have the same excellent English version in west countries. Professor Shen Dan, who works in Tsinghua university defined this phenomenon of liberal translation as“deceptive equivalence”,in Chinese“假象等值”,that is, the translation doesn’t converge with the value of the original text, partly or wholly changing original form or style. He made an example, abstract of“The Dream of Red mansion”,in Chinese“你既为我的知己,自然我也可为你的乱,既你我为乱,又何必有“金玉”论呢?既有金玉之论,也该你我自己,又何必来一宝钗”。Somebody translates this sentence into“There mutual understanding ought to preclude all talk about gold matching jade, or she instead of Pao – chai should have the gold locket to match his jade amulet”. It’s a typical example of deceptive equivalence. In fact, this translation changed the speaker’s mentality and speaking manner, this sentence is Dai – yu’s own thoughts, she was speaking to herself, not including Pao – Yu’s thoughts, so“their mutual understanding”is a violation against original meaning, destructing its original beauty.
  5. Explain the words with special Chinese background
  Language is expression of culture, so words have their special social and historical background. When translating these words, we should fully and clearly explain their communicative meaning so as to be understood by original English readers. For example, a Chinese name“白居易”,if we just translate it into“Bai Juyi”,is very difficult for foreigners to understand, who is it? What did he do? It is better to translate“白居易”into“Bai Juyi, a famous poet in Tang Dynasty”. This translation can help foreign readers know why the name is used here, not only a token. In the same way, the translation of“秦始皇”should be“Qing Shihuang, the first emperor of china who united the country in the second century B. C”;“辛亥革命”should be“the 1911 Revolution that overthrew the last monarch of China”;“三高农业”should be“high - yield,cost – efficient and technology – intensive farming”;“建国伊始”should be“since 1949”,the words unavoidably imprinted by their certain marking of times, so fully translate them, or the reader may be perplexed.
  6. Keep the original translation of introduced words.
  Many new words are introduced to china with the development of society, such as“雷达” “干部”、“丁克”,etc. These Chinese words are created by its English pronunciation, development of technology, We should read newspapers and magazines to keep pace of the time. The following are some words:丁克(Dink – double income no kids),电子商务(E - commerce),家庭办公族(SoHo – Small Office Home Office),吸入收炭疽热(inhalation anthrax),网络犯罪(cyber crime),生物恐怖主义(Bio - terrorism).
  7. Interpreters should pay attention to speakers’ tone and facial countenance.
  This point is especially important in simultaneous interpreting, for example, on press conference, international conference, Interpreters should interpret in limited time, which is a challenge to interpreter’s ability of reflection and flexibility. But the most difficult to translate is speakers’ tone and facial countenance, which decide interpreter’s chosen of words. The eminent interpreter Zhu Tong, who works in Diplomatic Ministry, said in her speech to Peking University students, that the former vice premier Qian Qichen kept calm and had no obvious countenance change when he answered journalists’ questions, so she chose words with solemn, formal tone; while former premier Zhu Rongji answered questions with humor and tact, her tone should be varied according to his. We noticed that translators are crucial to success of translation. It’s an examination of translators’ knowledge, information processing, exact expressiveness and cross – cultural consciousness.
  As we all know, simultaneous interpreting has a history of fifty years. With the need for conference interprets growing, these is also an increasing demand for improvements in the interpreters’ performance. Apart from seeking to fulfill the demanding requirements expected of a simultaneous interpreter, special attention must be paid, by interpreters or instructors alike, to the in – situation factors that can directly affect the performance of an interpreter. If these factors are not be correctly handled, they’ll do great harm to the quality of simultaneous interpretation.
  From aforementioned, we can conclude that translator should have a sense of responsibility for their translation, and any mistranslation will do harm to readers. It is only when the translation can achieve its intended function that the purpose of translation can successfully realized. Apart from responsibility, translation depends on translators’ linguistic competence, translation competence, translation strategies and skills and psychological competence, which is particularly important in simultaneous interpreting.
  Great achievements have been made in translation theories. It is important to turn these theories into knowledge and practice, and it will strengthen would – be –translators’ and translators’ awareness of usefulness of applying theoretical knowledge to the practice of translation. Aforementioned problems can be solved.

《学生双语报》教师版 第十九期

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