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Basic Knowledge of Translation Theory

(2010-09-01 16:16:50)
分类: 翻译天地

I.         Translation

1.         Definition

1)        The definition in the old days

        “译即易,谓换易言语使相解也。”——贾公彦(618-907) 唐朝

        “夫翻译者,谓翻梵天之语转成汉地之言。音虽似别,义则大同。”——法云(960-1279) 宋代

It means that translation is a rendering from one language (Source Language) into another (Target Language), remaining the meaning.

        The British scholar Dr. Samuel Johnson once said: “To translate is to change into another language, remaining the sense.”

2)        The current definition

        The American translation theorist Eugene A. Nida wrote in 1964: Translation consists in reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalence of the source language, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style.(所谓翻译,是在译语中用切近而又最自然的对等语再现原语的信息,首先是意义,其次是文体。)

1)        再现原文的信息(message)而不是保留原文的形式结构(formal structure)

2)        对等(equivalence)不是同一(identity)

3)        对等是最贴近、自然的对等

4)        意义是优先考虑的因素

5)        文体很重要

        The British translation theorist Tytler’s definition in 1970 about translation: “A good translation is one which the merit of the original work is so completely transfused into another language as to be as distinctly apprehended and as strongly felt by a native of the country to which that language belongs as it is by those who speak the language of the original work.”

        Prof. Huang Long Translatology

Translation may be defined as follows:

The replacement of textual material in one language (SL) by equivalent textual material in another language (TL)

(翻译可以作以下界定:用一种语言(目的语)的文本材料对等地再现另一种语言(源出语)的文本材料。)

1)        部分地替代

2)        对等概念

In summary

1)        Translation is the information transferring between two languages and the cultural communication between two language families.

2)        Translation is a rendering from one language into another. Translation is a science, an art, a bilingual art, a craft, a skill, an operation and communication.

3)        Translation is a representation or recreation in one language of what is written or said in another language.

4)        Translation is a kind of science because it was a whole set of rules governing it and certain objective laws to go by in the process of translating.

2.         Varieties of translation

1)        Interpretation and written translation

2)        In terms of SL and TL, Interlingual translation语际(不同语言之间),Intralingual translation语内(同一语言rewording),Intersemiotic translation符际(eg.把语言符号用图画、手势、数字或音乐来表达)

3)        In terms of style, political essay政论,practical writing应用文,science and technology科技,literary translation

II.      Translation Criteria or Principle

        Tytler’s: Essay on the Principles of Translation, 1791

1)        A translation should give a complete transcript of the ideas of the original work.译文应完全复写出原作的思想。

2)        The style and manner of writing should be of the same character as that of the original.译文的风格和笔调应与原文的性质相同。

3)        A translation should have all the ease of the original composition.译文应和原作同样流畅。

        Yanfu’s: Faithfulness, Expressiveness and Elegance (信、达、雅)

1.         “Faithfulness” means the full and complete conveying of the original content of thought.

2.         “Expressiveness” demands that the version should be clear and flowing without any grammatical mistakes or confused logic and sense.

3.         “Elegance” refers to the use of classical Chinese before the Han Dynasty.

In summary, the first two words as translation criteria are acceptable. The original meaning of “Elegance” is unacceptable for today, but we can give it new sense -----elegant style in translation.

        Others:

Lu Xun’s (鲁迅)translation principle:

Rather be faithful (in thought) than smooth (in language) in opposition to Liang Shi-qiu’s translation principle in 1930s. (宁信不顺)

Fu Lei’s付雷translation criteria: TL should be similar to SL both in Form and in Spirit. (形似、神似)

Liu Chongde’s刘重德translation criteria: faithfulness, expressiveness and closeness. (信、达、切) faithfulness: to be faithful to the content of the original; expressiveness: to be as expressive and smooth as the original; closeness: to be as close to the original style as possible.

Liang Shiqiu ‘s and Zhao Jingshen’s (梁实秋,赵景深) translation principle in 1930s: “It’s better to have a smooth version than a faithful one.”宁错务顺

Eugene A. Nida’s translation principle: Dynamic equivalence or Functional equivalence or Equivalent-effect theory. The main idea is that the translator is to produce as nearly possible the same effect on his readers as was produced on the readers of the original.

Peter Newmark’s translation principle: From the angle of contextual analysis, he puts forward two translation approaches: Semantic translation and Communicative translation.

Semantic translation: The translator attempts, within the bare syntactic and semantic constraints of the TL, to produce the precise contextual meaning of the author. Semantic translation focuses primarily upon the semantic content of the source text.

Communicative translation: The translator attempts to produce the same effect on the TL readers as was produced by the original on the SL readers. Communicative translation focuses essentially upon the comprehension and response of receptors.

        In summary, translation criteria: faithfulness and smoothness忠实与通顺.

Faithfulness refers to that content and style of TL should be faithful to the SL.

Smoothness requires that version should be clear and distinct, flowing and easy to read without signs of the mechanical word-for-word translation, of obscure language, of grammatical mistakes, confused structure and logic.

III.   Prerequisites of a translator

As Zhou En-lai said: To be a good translator we should strengthen our “basic training” in the three essential aspects:

1)        The enhancement of our political consciousness

2)        The betterment of our command of the relevant languages

3)        The broadening of the range and scope of our general knowledge.

IV.    Translation strategies: foreignization and domestication

Foreignization: If the translator’s preference is placed on preserving the language and cultural differences of the Source Text, we call this kind of approaches or its translation foreignizing or foreignization.

Domestication: It refers the method or practice of adapting the translation to the norms and values of the Target Language and culture is called domesticating or domestication.

For example,

C-E

谋事在人,成事在天。(曹:95

Man proposes, Heaven disposes. (Yang: 90)

Man proposes, God disposes. (Hawkes: 152)

:杨宪益利用了一个英语谚语,但把其中的“God”改成了“Heaven”,从而保留了原有的宗教色彩。而Hawkes直接引用了英语谚语,未作任何改动,这样,他把原文的佛教色彩变成了基督教色彩。这样英美读者更为自然、更容易接受。当然,这样一来,Hawkes把一个信佛的人变成了一个信耶稣的人了。

E-C

He made you for a high way to my bed; but I, a maid, die maiden ---widowed. (W. Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, 3, 3, 134-135)

译文1:他要借着你做牵引相思的桥梁,可是我却要做一个独守空阁的怨女而死去。(朱生豪译)(归)

译文2:他要借你作捷径,登上我的床;可怜我这处女,守活寡,到死是处女。(方平译)(异)

Unless you’ve an ace up your sleeve, we are dished.

误译:除非你有锦囊妙计,否则我们是输定了。(归)

改译:除非你手中藏有王牌,否则我们是输定了。(异)

:英语中ace是西方玩牌赌博时藏于袖中的“王牌”,而“锦囊妙计”则是中国古代宫廷争斗或疆场征战时封在“锦囊”中的神妙计策,彼此有截然不同的文化背景和内涵。

Among Wolves one must howl.

入乡随俗(归)

在狼群中你就得嗥(异)

:异化的翻译方法为汉语表达同一意思提供了一个新颖别致的语言形式。

Go to law for a sheep, you lose a cow.

捡了芝麻,丢了西瓜。(归)

为一只羊打官司,却损失了一头牛。(异)

注:异化的翻译策略表示律师借打官司之际,向原告和被告收取尽可能多的钱财,反映了西方民族习惯于通过法律途径解决纠纷的文化习尚。

 

V.       Two basic translation methods: Literal Translation and Liberal (Free) Translation

Literal Translation means word-for-word translation. It takes sentences as its basic units and the whole text into consideration at the same time in the course of translation. It strives to reproduce both the ideological content and the style of the entire literary work and retain as much as possible the figures of speech.

Liberal Translation is also called Free Translation. It is a supplementary means to mainly convey the meaning and spirit of the original without trying to reproduce its sentence pattern or figures of speech.

For example,

E-C

To kill two birds with one stone.

直译:一石二鸟

意译:一箭双雕,一举两得

 

The worst wheel of a cart creaks most.

直译:最坏的车轮最会嘎吱响。

意译:才学最差,叫喊最响;出力最少,抱怨最忙;能猫不叫,叫猫不能。

C-E

树倒猢狲散

直译:When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter.

意译:Members run away when the family falls.  Rats leave a sinking ship.

VI.    Terms

        Polysemy: One word has various parts of speech and various meaning. Firth said: “Each word when used in a new context is a new word.”

Eg. Dry

I want my martini dry. (not sweet)

我的马丁尼酒不要甜的。

 

There are still some dry states in the United States.

在美国尚有几洲禁酒。

 

She prefers dry bread. (without butter)

她喜欢无奶油的面包。

 

The cows are dry. (not supplying milk)

这些母牛缺奶。

 

He gave us a dry lecture yesterday.

昨天他给我们作了一个枯燥无味的讲演。

 

I am sure what he presented was a dry fact. (plain, undisguised)

我相信,他所列举的是铁一般的事实。

        Commendatory and derogatory words: Commendatory word means a praising word, or a word in good sense. Derogatory word means a word to lessen or impair the power or authority or a word in bad sense.

Eg.

Many people think that he is one of the most ambitious politicians of our times.

很多人认为他是现今最有野心的政客之一。

 

Although he is very young, he is very ambitious in his research work.

他虽然很年轻,但是在研究工作中很有雄心壮志

 

They incited him to go into further investigation

他们鼓励他做进一步的调查。

 

The plotters incited the soldiers to rise against their officers.

阴谋家煽动士兵们造军官的反。

        Diction: It means proper choice of words in translation on the basis of accurate comprehension of the original.

Eg. Context

We can make out the meaning of the word from the context.

我们可以从上下文判断出这个词的意思。

 

We should settle the disputes in the context of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

我们应当在和平共处五项原则的基础上解决这些争端。(in the context of以……为精神,在……的基础上)

 

It is in this context that the tragedy of Sahara was born.

撒哈拉沙悲剧正在这种情况下发生。

 

We must operate within the context of the Olympian Spirit.

我们必须按照奥林匹克精神办事。

 

In this context, I’ve to call your attention to the fact that the peaceful trend in the Indo-China Peninsula is essential to peace in the world.

就此而论,我不得不提醒大家注意这样一个事实:印度支那半岛局势的稳定对世界和平来说是至关重要的。

 

The traditional pattern of classroom experience at the college level brings the professor and a group of 20 to 30 students together for a 45-to-50 minute class session two or three times a week. The most common mode of instruction is the lecture.

由一位教授和二三十名学生每周会晤两三次,每次授课时间45分钟到50分钟,是大学程度课堂教学的传统方式。最普遍的教学方式是讲课

        Repetition: In translation we are required to repeat words over and over again for clearness, for the sake of emphasis and for attractiveness (vividness).

Eg.

Big families had their own difficulties.

大家庭有大家庭的难处。

Ignorance is the mother of fear as well as of admiration.

无知是羡慕的根源,也是恐惧的根源

        Amplification: It means supplying necessary words in our translation work so as to make the version correct and clear. Words thus supplied must be indispensable either syntactically or semantically.

The number of children being excluded in the area is getting out of hand.

该地区学生被开除的现象已到了无法控制的地步。

“According to Dr. John,” he said, “the patient’s life is still in danger. The first aid must be rendered as soon as possible.”

“根据约翰大夫的诊断,”他说,“这位患者的生命仍然处于危险之中,必须尽快采取急救措施。”

Then a little over decade ago, Professors Hoyle, Bondi, and Gold, working at Cambridge, proposed an entirely different scheme.

然而三十多年前,剑桥大学的霍伊尔、邦迪和哥尔德三位教授却提出了完全不同的学说。

        Omission: In the process of translation we may make proper omission of some individual words in accordance with the corresponding laws inherent in the two languages concerned in order to retain and better express the original meaning.

Eg.

He who has never reached the Great Wall is not a true man.

不到长城非好汉。

As the temperature increases, the volume of water becomes greater.

温度增高,水的体积就会增大。

        Conversion: It means that in translation a word in one language belonging to a certain part of speech is not necessarily to be turned into one of the same part of speech in another language.

Eg.

The turning point of my life was my decision to give up a promising business career and study music.

我生活的转折点是我决定不做发迹有望的商人而专攻音乐。

A glance through his office window offers a panoramic view of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

从他的办公室窗口可以一眼看到华盛顿纪念碑和林肯纪念馆的全景。

 

        Inversion: By inversion in translation we mean that the constituent elements of a sentence are arranged in way different from the general rules of word order of the language in question.

Eg.

It’s good you’ve so considerate.

你想得这样周到很好。

Formerly a worker himself, he was now an engineer.

他过去是工人,现在当了工程师了。

Send us a message in case you have any difficulty.

万一有什么困难,请给我们一个信。

        Negation: It means in translation some words, phrases or sentences with negative expression in SL may be transformed into affirmative expression in TL. Vice versa, some affirmative expression in SL may be transformed into negative expression in TL, to make the version clearer and more explicit.

Eg.

I wrote three books in the first two years, a record never reached before.

我头两年写了三本书,打破了以往的记录。

The machine is far from being complicated.

这部机器一点也不复杂。

Don’t lose time in cleaning this machine.

赶快把这部机器擦好。

        Division: It means the necessary splitting of a long sentence into shorter ones.

Eg.

There are many wonderful stories to tell about the places I visited and the people I met.

我访问了一些地方,遇到不少人,要谈起来,奇妙的事可多着呢。

After singing a concert in this city, he said he wanted to greet his admirers backstage as he always does.

他在那个城市演唱了一场音乐会。音乐会结束以后,他提出要向往常那样到后台去见见他的崇拜者。

Change of the voice: There are two kinds of voices: the active and the passive. The passive voice is much less used in Chinese than in English. In E-C translation we may usually change the passive voice into active voice, but in C-E translation we may usually change the active into the passive, especially in EST (English for Science and Technology)科技英语.

Eg.

The happy man cannot be harried.

吉人自有天相。

He is said to be the most respected teacher in our department.

据说他是我们系上最受尊敬的老师。

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