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On Extension of Meaning in Translation

English and Chinese are two different languages in many aspects including the word, grammar, expression mode, etc. Therefore, we need to employ appropriate approaches flexibly to produce a desirable translation. Two methods related to extension will be discussed in this article.

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The first method is about extension in terms of logic relationship. For example, “generally speaking, one has to fail for many times before making great achievements”. If we translate it into “一般而言,一个人在成功前要失败很多次”, the translation will seem to be somewhat strange. If we express this sentence in a different manner which is in tune with the expression mode of Chinese, namely, “一般而言,一个人要经历多次失败后方能成功”, the translation will be desirable. Actually, from the perspective of the accurate delivery of the original text, the first translation is also somewhat acceptable. However, it is obviously poor with aspect to the fluentness. In this case, we can regard this conversion as an extension in terms of time logic relationship.

Let’s look at another example. “This mother told her child to treat people with respect in an indirect way”. If we directly make the translation in a literal manner, the translation will be “这位母亲以一种非直截了当的方式教育孩子要尊重他人”. “非直截了当” here makes the translation poor in fluentness. We can change it into “间接”, the translation will be in line with the expression mode of Chinese. In most cases, the positive way of expression is preferred. Consequently, if there are words with “negative meaning” in the original text, we usually should express these words in a positive manner during translation.

The second method is about extension in terms of meaning, namely, adding the implied meaning in the original text to make the translation understandable. For example, “he had lived all his life in desert where every cupful of water might be a matter of life or death”. If we translate it into “他一直在沙漠生活;一杯水可能是生死攸关的事”, the translation will seem to be incomplete. If we also translate the implied meaning, namely, “他一直在沙漠生活,这地方每一杯水都得精打细算地用;一杯水可能是生死攸关的事”, the translation will be more complete and fluent. Let's look at another example, “she was ready to go , but first she wanted her book to be in print”. In this case, “瞑目” needs to be translated to make the translation more complete. This method is not easy to obtain, which requires continuous accumulation during translation practice.

There are many other ways to be used in translation to make the translation acceptable in terms of accurate delivery of meaning, fluentness in the target text and elegant style in the target language. We should flexibly use these methods to produce desirable translation.

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