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Non-professional Translators in Contract Translation

Golden Autumn When translating English Contracts, translators should be well informed in both language and the professional knowledge related to Business English. If the translator does not have enough specialized knowledge or just translate the contract word by word without comprehending the whole content, mistranslations will occur. However, great amount of translators engaged in business contract translation are non-professional. Although they have the advantage of language proficiency, they know a little about professional knowledge. They just translate contracts according to the literal meaning, thus making the contract unable to convey the original message. E.g. This contract is made by and between the Buyer and the Seller, whereby the Buyer agrees to buy and the Seller agrees to sell the under-mentioned commodity according to the terms and conditions stipulated below. 译为:买卖双方签订此合同,均同意根据下列条件买卖以下商品。 买卖双方同意按以下条款购买、出售下述商品,并签订本合同。 In this example, the first version is obviously non-professional translated. The translator does not have enough specialized knowledge and just translates the contract word by word. On the contrary, the second sentence is a correct and concise one. It grasps the overall information and expresses fully and clearly. The differences in mode of thinking result in the differences in language expression habits. People in each country have their unique mode of thinking, thus the unique way of language use. Although the translator has mastered a certain amount of background knowledge, there are still great differences in mode of thinking. Meanwhile, the way of thinking, traditional values and other differences caused by the differences in mode of thinking make it impossible to avoid every mistake in the English contract translation. For example, the Language structures of the sentence in English are not the same as those in Chinese. Therefore, the error is difficult to be avoided. All in all, misunderstanding or mistranslation caused by cultural difference should be paid attention to. E.g. “The goods we received contrary to our instructions are packed in wooden cases without iron hoops”9. 译为:我们收到的货物与我们的指示不符,是包装在木箱里而没有铁箍。 收到的货物是包装在没有铁箍的木箱里,而这种包装与我们的指示不符。 As is known to all, the way of logical thinking is very different between English and Chinese. In the example above, apparently, the first sentence is correctly translated. In the original sentence, “contrary to our instructions” is closely related to “the goods”. Therefore, it is difficult for the translators to distinguish the structures and the logical order. In English, sentences are usually made of first attitude and then fact. However, the Chinese sentences are just the opposite. To express fully and clearly the meaning of the English sentences, the second sentence is correctly translated, because it confirms to the Chinese way of logical thinking and language use.

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