Recently, more and more foreign TV series and films are available for Chinese. Watching those foreign programs becomes an effective way to learn foreign culture, social practice, ways of thinking and dealing with matters, lifestyle, etc. For us translators using English in daily work, it might be a leisurable way to past time and improve our English understanding. For me this is the case. Here I would like to share some funny translation mistakes occurred in lines of some episodes.
In my opinion, the big bang theory has been another classic funny scene play after Friends. The lines in the big bang theory may exceed those in Friends, almost every episode of which contains jape of actors’ behaviors or lines. As to those classic funny lines, on one hand, I admire the wits of the author, but on the other hand, I would be mean to the lines translators’ work.
The other day, I searched the internet about the lines translation (English to Chinese) mistakes of this TV series, as I am a really big fan of it, while watching the fourth season and unfortunately found one translation mistake. One mistake seems happened in season three. After Sheldon revealed a secret, Penny said ”A little bird told me.” The translator metaphrased the sentence, absolutely word by word into Chinese. Apparently it is a slang or proverb here. The correct meaning might be “he told me in private”. Therefore, slangs should always be on the top of learning tasks for us translators. Even though it’s not a huge mistake here, but we can never image what the influence would be generated from translation mistakes. Also there is a sentence between Sheldon and Rajesh’s discussion, which is “Pigs might fly”. Apparently if metaphrased, the Chinese meaning could be far away from the real one. Not only the meaning, the expected humor would lost.
In addition to those translation mistakes, I also found a meaningful one while watching the Serendipity. Some advanced translator transferred a lament at the end of Serendipity into classical Chinese. Classical Chinese writing has always been considered as elegant and profound, bearing deep meanings with concise words, which even the majority of modern Chinese are unfamiliar with. It is one of the heritages of the long history of China. The translated lament was so touching that even the old listening for the first time would weep. Hence we can see how profound Chinese background the translator acquired. It told us that not only English, we translators should also improve our Chinese learning.