Different ways of expressing Actions-2
2.1 Dynamic Nouns.
The use of nouns to express action is natural in English, so in translation many such dynamic nouns should be better turned into verbs (and their attributives into adverbials). Let’s see some example:
- I refused his offer of help. (他表示愿意帮助我，但是我拒绝了。 Cf. he offered to help me but I refused)
- The timely arrival of the police stopped the riot. (警察及时赶到，制止了骚乱。The sentence clearly shows the theme of the sentence is “timely arrival”, not the “police”)
- His exclusion from the tennis club hurt him very much. (网球俱乐部拒绝接纳他，这使他很伤心。)
- History of Latin-America is a history of US military intervention. (拉丁美洲的历史是一部美国进行军事干涉的历史)
We can see the logical subject (agent of the action) of this type of noun is often a possessive case. However, the possessive may not always refer to the logical subject but sometimes to the logical object (patient of the action). For example: “his addition completed the list.” Here “his addition” mean “he added (other named to) the list” (他在名单上加了名字) or “ his name was added to the list” (别人把他的名字加到了名单上). This deserves attention in translation.
Apart from such “dynamic nouns”, very often some other nouns can also be turned into verbs, or with verbs added in English-Chinese in order to produce more smooth and natural translation. Nouns appearing in the “there be…” pattern and similar showing existence can also be translated into Chinese verbs.
By using dynamic nouns, more information can be “squeezed” into a sentence without complicating its structure.
2.2 agentive nouns
Native English speakers seem to prefer to use agentive nouns to describe a person but our Chinese tend to use verbs. For example, We often say “他学习很用功”. In English, however, “he is a good student” is preferable to “he studies hard”. We should also adopt this patter in Chinese-English translation.
2.3 Borrowed unit words
There is a structure in English:”a + noun + of + noun”, such as “a piece of furniture”.
The first noun in the structure is somewhat like the Chinese unit word (量词, also translated as “measured word”, so we call it “borrowed unit word”). The two examples above are used to refer to uncountable nouns. Many of such borrowed unit words are derived from verbs, so they are also often used to refer to implied motions or actions. In order to bring out such meanings, verbs are often used in the Chinese translation of such structure. For example, “ a burst of laughter” can be translated into爆发出一阵欢笑.