加载中…
个人资料
妮妮
妮妮
  • 博客等级:
  • 博客积分:0
  • 博客访问:31,246
  • 关注人气:19
  • 获赠金笔:0支
  • 赠出金笔:0支
  • 荣誉徽章:
相关博文
推荐博文
谁看过这篇博文
加载中…
正文 字体大小:

Idioms Translation (Anonymous)(part 2)

(2010-03-18 12:42:01)
标签:

idioms

proverbs

杂谈

分类: CONCEPT-SUMMARY-INTERPRETATI
 

III. Five Methods Used in Idioms Translation

3.1 Literal translation

Literal translation does not mean to translate word-for-word, but to express its meaning without too much extension. We translate an idiom literally provided that the readers can understand the translated text correctly without arousing wrong imaginations and the language rules of the target language are not violated. Literal translation can preserve the special features of idioms such as metaphor and local colors.

3.1.1 From English into Chinese

To fight to the last man 战斗到最后一个人

To break the record 打破纪录

Golden age 黄金时代

To turn over a new leaf 揭开新的一页

He laughs best who laughs last 谁笑在最后, 谁笑得最好 

3.1.2 From Chinese into English

易如反掌 As easy as turning over one’s hand

沧海一粟 A grain afloat on a vast ocean

削足适履 To whittle down the feet to fit the shoes

知无不言, 言无不尽 To say all you know and say it without reserve

到什么山唱什么歌 To sing different songs on different mountains

Literal translation is not only faithful to the content and style of the original, but also helpful to enlarge the vocabulary of the target language. For instance, “Sour grape” is originated from Aesop’s Fables in Greek. It was translated into English literally as “Sour grape” then literally into Chinese as “酸葡萄”. This idiom is now widely used both in English and Chinese. “纸老虎” was translated literally into English as “paper tiger” which is now a very common phrase. These kinds of loaned idioms constitute peculiar idioms.

Examples:

3.1.3 Borrowed from Chinese

To lose face 丢脸

To shoot the arrow at a target 有的放矢

Well-fed and well-clad 丰衣足食

3.1.4 Borrowed from English

武装到牙齿 Armed to the teeth

在某人鼻子底下 Under one’s nose

门户开放政策 The open-door policy

挤得象罐头里的沙丁鱼 Packed like sardines

3.2 Equivalent translation

This means includes four cases:

3.2.1 Some English and Chinese idioms are completely equivalent. They have not only the same meanings but the similar metaphors.

Walls have ears 隔墙有耳

Strike while the iron is hot 趁热打铁

To be on thin ice 如履薄冰

To add fuel to the fire 火上浇油

Man proposes, God disposes 谋事在人, 成事在天

3.2.2 Some English and Chinese idioms have similar figurative meanings though their comparisons are different. They can also be equivalent to each other.

To get the upper hand 占上风

To shed crocodile tears 猫哭老鼠

To have one foot in the grave 风烛残年

Six of one and half a dozen of the other 半斤八两

3.2.3 Some idioms don’t contain any figures of speech or national and local colors, and their meanings are evident. So they can be translated equivalently.

At one stroke 一举

At sixes and sevens 乱七八糟

In low spirit 垂头丧气

Out of order 杂乱无章

Heart and soul 全心全意

3.2.4 Some Chinese idioms use no metaphor while their English equivalents use one.

少年老成 To have an old head on young shoulders

一举两得 To kill two birds with one stone

不伦不类 To be neither fish nor flesh

惹是生非 To wake a sleeping dog

物以类聚 Birds of a feather flock together

3.3 Free translation

According to the rules of translation, faithfulness to the content is more important than to the style. In idioms translation, if neither literal nor equivalent translation can be used, we have to adopt a free way in order to make the translation closely follow the original in meaning.

3.3.1From English into Chinese

“Among so many well-dressed and cultured people, the country girl felt like a fish out of water.”

The idiom “like a fish out of water” can be literally translated into “象出了水的鱼”. However, we cannot get a clear impression of the country girl’s embarrassment from this translation. We change it into “很不自在” by free translation. The whole sentence is:

“同这么多穿着体面而又有教养的人在一起, 这位乡下姑娘感到很不自在.”

“All right, I blame myself. But it’s the last time. We were cat’s paws. That’s all.”

“Cat’s paw” is an allusive idiom which is from Aesop’s Fables. Since it’s now recognized as a fixed phrase, it is not necessary to give the source in translation. Even if we do give the source, it will make the translation long and dull, which is not faithful to the simple style of the original. If we translate it literally into “猫爪子”, the native speakers of Chinese will feel confused. Since there is not a Chinese equivalent, we have to translate it loosely into “上了人家的当”. The whole translation is:

“得了, 怪我自己瞎了眼, 可是我再也不干啦。我们上了人家的当, 没别的。”

3.3.2From Chinese into English

“不可拿进园去, 叫人知道了, 我就吃不了兜着走了。”

                                       ( 《红楼梦》第二十三回 )

The literal meaning of the idiom is “to get more than one bargained for”. Here, it means “to land oneself in serious trouble”. Now that this idiom lacks an English equivalent, we give it a free translation:

“Don’t take these into the garden! If you do, and anyone finds about them, I’ll be in real trouble!”

(Translated by David Hawkes)

The other examples of freely translated idioms:

To have other fish to fry 有别的事要干

To hit the nail on the head 说得中肯

To have a bee in one’s bonnet 胡思乱想

变本加厉 To step up

胸有成竹 To have ready plans to meet a situation

不管三七二十一 Regardless of the consequences

3.4 Combination of literal and free translation

When only literal or free translation is not enough to express the idioms correctly and idiomatically, the literal-free translation should be used, especially in translating Chinese into English in the context.

不到黄河心不死 Until all is over ambition never dies.

“心不死” is literally translated into “ambition never dies”, while “不到黄河” is freely translated into “until all is over”. “Yellow River” (黄河) is a geographical term. If the literal translation “until the Yellow River is reached” is used, the native speakers of English will be utterly bewildered.

Here are some more examples in which the freely translated parts are underlined:

视死如归 To look on death unflinchingly

登峰造极 To reach the peak of perfection

事后诸葛领 To be wise after the event

瞎子点灯白费蜡 As useless as a blind man lighting a candle

3.5 Translation with annotation

We owe many idioms to the allusion, and to the major authors of the past. This adds colors to the idioms. In translation, they need more explanation.  

For example, if the idiom “to carry coals to Newcastle” is translated into “运煤到牛卡斯尔, 多此一举”, the Chinese readers may ask why it is unnecessary, for they do not know Newcastle is a coal-producing center in England. Therefore an annotation is needed here.

The literal meaning of “守株待兔” is “to watch the stump and wait for a hare”. Its extended meaning is “to wait for gains without pains”. But if it is introduced to English people at the very first time, the following explanation is helpful.

“From the story of a peasant, who, seeing a hare run headlong against a tree stump and break its neck, abandoned his plough and waited by the stump in the hope that another hare would do the same thing.”

Strictly speaking, the translation with annotation is not a good method in translating a piece of works. But in a dictionary of idiom, it is necessary to dig out the sources of some idioms. This is one of the differences between idioms translation in dictionary and in context.

. Essential opinions on idioms translation

4.1 Several translations for one idiom

There may be several translations for one idiom. The translation of an idiom may be different from that of the same idiom in a dictionary. A dictionary translation needs to reproduce both the form and the content of the idiom. While a context translation needs to be fit for its particular situation. Therefore, we should make some changes accordingly instead of copying the translation in a dictionary mechanically.

Usually, the translation of “谋事在人, 成事在天” is “Man proposes, God disposes” But in the translation of A Dream of Red Mansions, it was rewritten:

“谋事在人, 成事在天”, 咱们谋到了, 考菩萨的保佑, 有些机会, 也为可知.

                                    ( 《红楼梦》第六回 )

“Man proposes, Heaven disposes”. Work out a plan, trust to Buddha, and something may come of it for all you know.

                                    ( Translated by Yang Xianyi 杨宪益)

“Buddha” is a Buddhist term while “God disposes” is a Christian term. In order to make the text coherent, “God” is replaced by “Heaven”.

4.2 Making head or tail of an idiom

Before translating an idiom, we should make head or tail of it instead of only guessing the meaning. For instance, some proverbs which have a metaphorical quality and whose meaning must be transferred from the literal plane to the metaphorical plane are not so easy to a foreign ear. We should pay more attention to them     

“One cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” and “巧妇难为无米之炊”

The two idioms are so alike in structure that a beginner of English may draw a hasty conclusion that they are equivalent. In fact, there is much difference between them. The former means “You cannot make something good out of what is by nature bad or inferior in quality”. Its near equivalent is “朽木不可雕”. The latter’s meaning is similar to “You cannot make bricks without straw”.

“To lock the stable door after the horse is stolen” and “亡羊补牢”

Though the two idioms refer to the same thing, their meanings are quite different. The former means that it is useless to take precautions after something bad has happened (事后弥补为时已晚). The latter is an allusion which means that it is not too late to mend the fold even after some of the sheep have been lost (亡羊补牢犹未晚).

“To move heaven and earth” and “翻天覆地”

The former means “to do one’s utmost” (千方百计), while the latter means “earth-shaking, world-shaking”.

“To wash one’s hands” and “洗手不干”

The former means “to say one is no longer responsible for something” (摆脱责任), while the latter means “to stop doing something wrong and reform oneself”.

4.3 Free translation if local or national colors

In contexts, idioms which have much local or national colors could not be translated literally..

“小人有眼不识泰山! 一时冒渎兄长, 望乞恕罪.”

                                         (《水浒传》第二十三回)

The idiom “有眼不识泰山” is similar in meaning to “to entertain an angel unawares”. But both of the two idioms have much local color. “泰山” (Mount Tai) which is a geographical term is one of the famous mountains in China. The idiom means “to fail to identify a person of great ability”. The idiom “to entertain an angel unawares” is from The New Testament. The original is “to be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”. It can be translated into “有眼无珠”. Therefore, Jackson translated the sentence like this: “I failed to recognize your eminence and I hope that you will forgive me for that blunder.” In the example, “有眼不识泰山” was translated freely.

Another sentence with the idiom “to entertain an angel unawares” is: “Who would have thought of Mr Mottram doing so well? And so many of his friends too, that used to stay here? We were entertaining angels unawares.” (E Waugh Brideshead Revisited) The translation is: 谁知道摩特兰先生干得那么出色? 还有他那许多原来都住这儿的朋友, 谁知道呀? 我们真是有眼无珠。

“To carry coals to Newcastle” cannot be translated into “带着瓷器上浮梁”, because “浮梁” is a place abounded with china in ancient times.

“To teach one’s grandmother to suck eggs” cannot be translated into “夫子庙前卖文章” or “关公面前耍大刀”, because “夫子” and “关公” are two persons’ names which have particular meanings.

4.4 Addition or deletion in idioms translation

To make a translation more vivid or clear, we often add or take off some words

“螳螂捕蝉, 黄雀在后”: The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole lurking behind itself.

One phrase “unaware of” and one word “lurking” are added to express the meaning more clearly.

“惊弓之鸟”: Like birds startled by mere twang of a bow string.

“Twang” is added to make it vivid.

“班门弄斧”: To show off one’s proficiency with the axe before Lu Ban, the master carpenter.

“The master carpenter” is added to give further explanation of “Lu Ban” who is the father of the Chinese carpentry.

Many Chinese idioms are antithetical phrases. Each of them consists of two parts which mean the same thing. It’s enough to translate one of them.

长嗟短叹 Sighing deeply

筋疲力尽 Exhausted

土崩瓦解 To fall apart

取之不尽, 用之不绝 Inexhaustible

沉鱼落雁之容, 闭月羞花之貌 Her beauty would put the flowers to shame.

4.5 Faithfulness to the style

When we do a translation, we should also be faithful to the style. If an idiom is an archaic expression, its translation should look archaic. If rhyme and rhythm are used in an idiom, its translation should contain the figures of speech too.

“己所不欲, 勿施于人”: Do not unto others what you would not be done by.

“福兮祸所倚, 祸兮福所伏”: Good fortune lies within bad, and bad fortune lies within good.

“吃一堑, 长一智”: A fall into the pit, a gain into your wit. (rhyme)

4.6 Other cases

Sometimes there isn’t an idiom in the original, while in its translation there is one. And vice versa.

“But against the vast expanse of the sky, the chute looked very small.”

但和广阔无垠的天空相比, 降落伞看起来是沧海一粟。

The very common words “the vast expanse” and “very small” have been turned into two idioms “广阔无垠” and “沧海一粟”.

“I was nervous before crowds.”

我在大庭广众之前感到紧张。

“哪怕再念三十本诗经, 也是掩耳盗铃, 哄人而已。”

                                         ( 《红楼梦》第九回 )

Even if he studied another thirty volumes, it would just be fooling people.

                                  ( Translated by Yang Xianyi 杨宪益)

Although the idiom “掩耳盗铃” disappears in the translation, its meaning has been expressed in the context.

“方案一公布, 大家就七嘴八舌地议论开了。”

The publication of the draft plan touched off a lively discussion in which everybody was eager to put in a word.

. Conclusion

Of many methods in idioms translation, only five main ones are introduced in this paper. Among the five methods, sometimes the equivalent translation is a shortcut. But when we use the equivalence, we should take into consideration all the things that would confuse us: colors of idioms, the commendatory and derogatory sense, and subtle differences of idioms.

The literal translation should be often used so as to enrich the vocabulary of the target language. Even some English idioms have their Chinese equivalents. For instance, we have used“武装到牙齿”to take the place of“全副武装”in the translation of“armed to the teeth”, and it can be seen that the former is more vivid than the latter“全副武装”.

The dictionary translation and the context translation are different. It is necessary to make some changes when translating an idiom in a context. Translation with annotation is mainly used in a dictionary of idiom. The combination of literal and free translation is mainly used in a context translation.    

Bibliography

[1] W. McMordie, 1962,English Idioms and How to Use Them[M]. Britain: Oxford University Press

[2] 北京外国语学院词典编写组, 1982,A Chinese-English Dictionary of Idioms[M]. 北京:商务印书馆 

[3] 陈定安, 1991, English and Chinese-A Comparative Study[M]. 北京:中国对外翻译出版公司商务印书馆(香港)有限公司

[4] 陈文伯, 1982, English and Chinese(A Comparative Study)[M]. 北京:外语教学与研究出版社

[5] 张培基, 1979, How to Translate Chinese Idioms into English[M]. 北京:商务印书馆

[6] 雷航, 1991, 译《朗曼英语语法》[M]。上海:外语教育出版社

[7] 罗文振,1987, «翻译与语言环境»[M]。成都:四川大学出版社

[8] 沈维贤﹑庄智象,2000, 《汉英中华文化图解词典》[M]。上海:外语教育出版社

[9]《现代中学生》编写组, 1994.1,《现代中学生》(初中学习版) [J]。杭州:浙江教育出版社

[10] 喻家楼, 1991, «汉语成语英译词典»[M]。北京:中国科学技术大学出版社

[11] 张培基等,1983, «英汉翻译教程»[M]。上海:外语教育出版社

[12] 张月祥, 2005, 《朗文英语语法教程》[M]。上海:外语教育出版社

[13]《中学生英语园地》编写组, 1994.2, 《中学生英语园地》(高中版) [J]。杭州:浙江教育出版社

[14]《中学生英语之友》编写组, 1994.2,《中学生英语之友》(高一版) [J]。上海:上海教育出版社

[15] 章振邦, 1989, 《新编英语语法》(修订本)下册[M]。上海: 上海外语教育出版社

     

0

阅读 评论 收藏 转载 喜欢 打印举报/Report
  • 评论加载中,请稍候...
发评论

    发评论

    以上网友发言只代表其个人观点,不代表新浪网的观点或立场。

      

    新浪BLOG意见反馈留言板 电话:4000520066 提示音后按1键(按当地市话标准计费) 欢迎批评指正

    新浪简介 | About Sina | 广告服务 | 联系我们 | 招聘信息 | 网站律师 | SINA English | 会员注册 | 产品答疑

    新浪公司 版权所有