Good Master of Languages Doesn’t Mean Good Translation

In amateur’s mind, it is not difficult to make good translation if you handle well with both source language and target language. However, if you have experience of translation, you will find things were not what you thought before. Certainly, to be a translator, you need to have great master of two languages. But more than that, take an example of Chinese-English Translation, you may know more about difference in culture, grammar, expression, etc.
Each language has its tradition; each nation has its culture. To be a qualified translator, you have to get a good understanding of its culture. You’d better know its custom, its location and the way people talking. We know that in China, there are twelve animals, representing the twelve Earthly Branches, used to symbolize the year in which a person is born. Then how to express it in English? Here is a joke I heard about this:
One time, my girlfriend and I were talking about the upcoming spring festival holiday. Suddenly she said something that seemed really strange, “I’m a pig. How about you?” I couldn’t really understand why she would say that and ask such a thing. Eventually I understood that what she meant was” 我属猪,你属什么呢?”
While we know it is not the right expression in English. The best way to say this in English is “ I was born in the year of the pig. What year were you born in?”
Here we can see what joke cultural difference can make. This is just a small part of what we can see. How to make it clear when translating is also a hard job. Let us read another example first.
A sign in a zoo read “Please don’t feed the animals. If you have suitable food, please give it to the guard(不要喂动物,好吃的请给看守人吃)”. There is no grammar mistake in this sentence, it is just too vague. It should say “If you have suitable food, please give it to the guard and let him/her feed the animal(请将食物交给看守人喂食)”.
What I am talking about are just some easy and simple things you may encounter when translating. There are too many differences between English and Chinese. For more details, you may keep reading blogs in our site.

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