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English Slang and Translation

Slang is a very informal spoken language with abundant cultural backgrounds. When people use slang to replace ordinary expression, they are not only exchanging the meaning, but also the information and emotion with that slang. Thus, slang translation should not be word-for-word translation. Translators must understand all of the connotations within that slang and express them in corresponding and powerful target language. There are three equivalences need to be pay attention to during translation. i. Semantic Equivalence Some slang has equivalent expression in Chinese, such as “dead-end street” can be translated into 死胡同 or 死路. But most of them do not have. Thus we should consider the connotation and context, find out the most suitable expression in Chinese. For example: Mr. John is a little under the weather these days. “under the weather” here means a little sick or ill, or feel depressed, upset. Thus, it should be translated as 身体不适 or 心情不好. ii. Stylistic Equivalence Besides to semantic equivalence, stylistic equivalence is also very important. As slangs are always appear in friendly, casual and informal situation, we should avoid using stiff and formal expression. Instead, it is better to use relevant stylistic to reproduce the humorous, funny and colloquialism of English slangs. Here is an example: And now 2000 women want his number. The guy could be a crack head, a transvestite, a flasher, a junkie, a chain - saw murder or someone really sick. 译文一:现在有2000位女士想要他的电话号码。那个人可能是瘾君子、易装癖者、暴露狂、吸毒者、电锯杀人犯,或者真的就是有病。 译文二:现在有两千多号女的想和他搭讪。可那家伙没准儿是个烟鬼、娘娘腔、暴露狂、毒贩子、杀人狂,要不就真有病。 iii. Cultural Equivalence Cultural background is also a key element in understanding meanings and implications of English slangs. Due to different living habits, religious ceremonies, values and priorities, we should pay special attention in culture representation. For example, when translating the phrase “keep a straigntface”, we can find the corresponding Chinese expression 板着脸 or 拉长脸. Also, for the phrase “nodding acquaintance”, we can translate it into 点头之交. Some slangs are euphemism, usually some embarrassed, hard-to-speak-out words. For example, there are many expression of die. As we Chinese also have different ways indicating die, we can use equivalent translations as follows: to expire 逝世 to end one’s day 寿终正寝 to go west 命赴黄泉 to log down one’s life 献身 to go to sleep 长眠 to pay the debt of nature 了解尘缘 Another example is the different expressions of pregnant: She is expecting. 她在待产中。 She is about to have a blessed event. 她不久会有喜事。 She is six months gone. 她已经有六个月身孕了。 In the end, I will provide you with some frequently used English slangs and their corresponding translation. On the same wavelength 志趣相同 Space cadet 想入非非的人 Wrong side of the tracks 社会地位低的人 Follow one’s heart 做自己想做的事情 Cut a deal 达成协议 Throw your weight around 仗势欺人 A stupid person 笨蛋 Sick as a dog 病得很重 A social butterfly 善于交际的人 A piece of cake 小菜一碟 A slap in the face 公然受辱 A thorn in someone’s side 芒刺在背 Ants in one’s pants 坐立不安 Butterflies in mu stomach 心里紧张,七上八下 Cut to the chase 开门见山,单刀直入 Last straw 最后一根稻草 Left a bitter taste in the mouth 留下不愉快的回忆 Wrapped around one’s little finger 玩弄于股掌之间 When hell freezes over 决不可能的事 Not lift a finger 袖手旁观

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