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A Preliminary Study on the English Translation of Chinese Idioms

时间:2011-10-19作者:吴晓娟来源:中国论文库
字号:T|T

  [Abstract]Asweallknow,someChineseidiomsareverydifferentfromEnglishidiomsintheirconstitutionsandthefigurativeusages.Howtocomprehendandtr

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  [Abstract]As we all know,some Chinese idioms are very different from English idioms in their constitutions and the figurative usages.Howto comprehend and translate those idioms is a troublesome problem for most children.This paper will help you to make a successful transla-tion.This paper falls into three parts.The first part,gives a brief introduction about the features of idioms.The second part gives a detailedintroduction about how to retain those character in translation and the methods of translating idioms.And finally,it sums up several problemswhich we should pay attention to in translating idioms.

  [Keywords]Integrality Stability Faithful Smooth Translation1.Introduction“…Translation consists in reproducingin the receptor language the clos-est nature equivalent of the source language,first in terms of meaning andsecondly in terms of style…”———Eugene A.Nida,From“Translation theoryand practice”“Translation,essentially,is the faithful representation,in one language,of what is written or said in another language.”———钟孔述,《英汉翻译手册》Chinese idiom is a shining pearl of the Chinese language and culture.Itis the intellectual achievements of Chinese people.It not only has a great fea-ture in language,but also has a wealth of knowledge and a great talent in con-tent.The study of idioms takes a position of prestige in the process of learningChinese language.It is helpful to understand the traditional beliefs,the cus-toms,the view of value and the world outlook of China.

  The most important characters of Chinese idioms are its integrity,vivid-ness and a plenty of expressive force.If it used in a proper manner,it willmake the translation more precise and smooth,and will be helpful to increaseinspiration of translating.Regardless of the characteristics of Chinese,we willtranslate some non-descript sentences.Therefore,how to conquer these prob-lems and translate Chinese idioms vividly and imaginatively and not lose theiroriginal colour?This paper will give you the answer.

  2.Cha ra cte ris tics of Chine s e Idioms“Strictly speaking,idioms are expressions that are not readily under-standable from their literal meanings of individual elements.”(English lexicol-ogy).They form an important part of the Chinese language.This part will dealwith idioms in terms of their characteristics.

  2.1 Structural Stability

  Like English idioms,the structure of Chinese idioms is to a large extentunchangeable.The constituents of idioms cannot be changed at random with-out cause or reason.Idioms are fixed phrases over a long period of time.

  Though it is not a single word,the structure is inseparable;we often use it as aword.

  2.2 Semantic Unity

  Idioms each consist of more than one word,but each is a semantic unity.

  Though the various words which make up the idioms have their respective lit-eral meanings,in the idioms they have lost their individual indentity,theirmeanings are not often recognizable in the meaning of the whole idioms.Forexample:“一五一十”It is not refer to“one five one ten”,but“to tell thewhole story”.When we translate idioms,the first we should do is to under-stand the inherent meaning of the idioms.Some are directly quoted from theclassical works.Such as“:实事求是”.Some are from the historical or ancientallegory.Such as:“杞人忧天②”.Finding out the origins of idioms is veryuseful for us to comprehend the Chinese meaning and translate into English.Itcan not be content with superficial understanding.

  3.The Sta nda rd of Tra ns la tion a nd The Popula r Me thods OnTra ns la ting Idioms3.1 The Standard of TranslationIdiom is a special linguistic phenomenon.

  Though there are lots of English idioms we could borrow,different na-tions have different social customs and human relationship and the back-ground of English language and historical development are also different fromChinese.So idiom’s emotion and modification colours are different from eachother too.If we pay a little attention to it,we will translate Chinese idioms ofstrong national colours to a dull,old and decayed fixed language,and thewords will fail to convey the idea.

  So we should apply to the principle of faithful and smooth,when wetranslated.

  (a)Faithful

  What is called faithful,be the first to faithful to the original,we can’t al-ter or make up at random,and then faithful to the style and colour of ChineseIdioms.

  e.g.:“逝世”“去了极乐世界”“丢了小命”“蹬腿”“吹灯拔蜡”These words are all refer to die,because they belong to different styles,thetranslation must be reflected in different styles and colours.The above-men-tioned idioms should be translated into:“pass away”,“pass to the other side”,“be done for”“,kick the bucket”“,snuffit”.

  (b)Smooth

  What is called smooth,refers to the translated text must be easy to un-derstand and conform to the English expression customs.

  e.g.“:坐如针毡”It means a people with unstable of mind.We often ex-press this feeling with”ant in one’s pants”,but in English,only translate into“like a cat on hot bricks”,is conform to the English culture and expressioncustoms,thus expressed the actual meaning of Chinese idioms.

  (c)the Relationship Between Faithful and SmoothFaithful and smooth seemed to be mutually opposite.In fact,they are u-nity of opposites.Faithful to the original text is not only refers to faithful in theliteral meaning,the most important is faithful in the inherent meaning andstyles of idioms.Similarly,only pursue the smooth of translation,regardless ofthe inherent meaning and styles of idioms,we will lose the significance ofsmooth.According to the translation standard,faithful is a presupposition forsmooth.Conversely,smooth is the perfection of faithful.They complementeach other.With regard to a Chinese college student of studying English,un-derstanding the difference between Chinese and English culture is necessaryand useful.

  3.2 The Popular Methods on Translating Idioms1)The Way of Translating into EnglishGenerally speaking,in minimum cases they were completely identical ei-ther in meaning or form between Chinese and English idioms,but after all itstill exist.It is also divided into two parts.One is identical or similar in bothmeaning and form or rhetoric.Another is identical in meaning but different inform or images.

  a.Identical both in meaning and form(a little)e.g.“:黄金时代”golden age“空中楼阁”castles in the air“混水摸鱼”tofish in the trouble waterIdentical in meaning and similar in form or images:(a little)e.g.“:心不在焉”absence of mind“事实胜于雄辩”actions speak louder than words“有志者事竟成”where there is will,there is a wayb.Identical in meaning but different in form or images:(more)e.g.“:半斤八两”six of one and half a dozen of the other“无足轻重”ofnoaccount“小题大做”make much adoabout nothing“掌上明珠”the apple ofone’s eye“乳臭未干”smell ofthe babyThe above-motioned examples show that we could quote some Englishidioms under the circumstance of no harmful to the original meaning and style,when we translate Chinese idioms.

  2)Combination of Literal Translation and Free TranslationIn the process of translation,sometimes if we translated idioms complete-ly with literal translation,foreigner would be in a fog to the translation.If wetranslated completely with free translation,the original images would be lost.

  So we should adopt the way of combining literal translation and free translationto solve this problem.

  e.g.“:做一天和尚撞一天钟”

  Literal translation:One goes on tolling the bell so long as is a monk(For-eigners didn’t understand the meaning of this sentence).

  Free translation:Take a passive attitude towards one’s work(no images).

  The sentence will become complete when we combine them.

  The advantage of this method:The meaning and images are expressed toa great extent.转贴于中国论文库 http://www.lwkoo.com

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