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On Localization in Zhang Ruogu’s Tess of the d’Uberville

It is my first try on this blog. What I want to share with all the dear friends is something related to one of my favorite novels, Tess of the d’Ubervilles. It is a famous work of Thomas Hardy, which describes the tragic life of  a pure girl, Tess.

Hardy’s writing often illustrates the “ache of modernism”, and this theme is notable in Tess, which, as one critic noted, portrays “the energy of traditional ways and the strength of the forces that are destroying them”. Tess of the d’Urbervilles presents complex pictures of both the importance of social class in nineteenth-century England and the difficulty of defining class in any simple way. With this social background, the language Hardy adopted in the novel deserves our carefull study.  Set in rural England,  Hardy unfolded a picture of that period by the difference in the language of people from the social classes, such as the dialects of farmers and noble speech of Clares. Language which is innovatively used has the power to recognize mental activities and demonstrate the motif.

Yet, though being a treature in literature, it would be a headache for translators who want their readers to savor the essence of the work thoroughly. Here I highly appreciate Zhang Ruogu’ (张若谷) version, which conveys the theme and style of the original by adopting localizationdomestication approach. According to Wikipedia, language localization is the process of translating a product into different languages or adapting a language for a specific country or region. Localization addresses both aspects simultaneously and offers a number of benefits:

  • It ensures that the needs of readers with linguistic and cultural differences are met;
  • It avoids potential misunderstanding.
  • All in all, it is a key element in successful cross-cultural communication.

Zhang boldly translated the dialects in the source text into Chinese dialects. And where there is some elegant languages, there appears elegant translation. His version, in my mind, is a good example of localization or domestication.

Some examples quoted from Zhang’s Tess of the u’Dubervilles to illustrate my point are as follows.

1.
原文:On this board,thirsty strangers deposited their cups as they stood in the road and drank,and threw the dregs on the dusty ground to the pattern of Polynesia,and wished they could have a restful seat inside.(Thomas Hardy:Tess of the d’Urbervilles)
译文:患酒喝的客人,都站在路上买醉,往这块隔板上放空酒杯;他们把酒渣儿洒在满是尘土的地上,做成玻里尼西亚群岛的花样。他们很想能在屋子里面,有一个安身落座的地方。(张谷若译)
赏析:”thirsty”是“口渴的”的意思,用在原文中当然不是指“客人”渴了想喝水,译成“患酒喝得”恐怕是最好的选择。“站在路上买醉”,似乎不是很忠实于原文,但转念一想,既然爱酒都爱到”thirsty”的地步,那么终于寻找到了一个喝酒的机会,不喝个半醉不醉,反而不可想象了,所以“买酒”即 “买醉”。
2.
原文:No greater misfortune can befall a country than to be governed by an old tyrant.
译文:国之横祸,莫过于暴君当政。
赏析:现代汉语是在古汉语的基础上发展起来的,相当于现代汉语来说,古汉语有它自己的优势,如词汇丰富、语法有弹性、表情表意能力强等等,在写作和翻译时,适当的运用一些古汉语的语素或词,能给文章带来一种书卷气,显得庄重典雅。上面这个译例就体现了这种特色,译者灵活套用了古汉语的句子结构,使用了古汉语的个别语素(词语),译出的句子简洁、庄重,读者好似看见了一个学识渊博的老学究在摇头晃脑地评说历史。
3.
原文:Hearing Debs was an experience.
译文:听德布斯演讲可真带劲。
赏析:如果说上一译句让我们看见了一个学识渊博的老学究在摇头晃脑地评说历史的话,读了这一句译文,我们看到的是另一种场面:一个求知若渴、激情满怀的青年学子在听了一场演讲后,眉飞色舞地对没有去听演讲的同伴大谈特谈演讲人演讲艺术之高超。译者使用了口语体“可真带劲”来译”was an experience”,准确、生动。
4.
原文:Charity begins at home,they say.(Thomas Hardy:Tess of the d’Urbervilles)
译文:人家不是说,行善得由己及人吗?(张谷若译)
赏析:“行善得由己及人”,在形式上颇像哲言警句,在意义上非常忠实于原文。
5.
原文:”So much for honesty towards’ee!”(Thomas Hardy:Tess of the d’Urbervilles)
译文:“这就是俺把真心掏给你的下场了!”(张谷若译)
赏析:伊茨原是同苔丝一起在克里克牛奶场帮工的女孩,心里也一直暗恋着安玑。安玑同苔丝分开后,因为有些事要处理,又回到了和苔丝新婚时住的井桥村舍,恰巧伊茨来看他们,给他们夫妻问好——她并不知道他们已经分开。刚刚受到人生重大打击的安玑,突然产生了一种想报复社会的心理,鬼使神差中竟问伊茨愿不愿意同他一块去巴西,伊茨想也没想,就坐上了安玑的车。车行驶了两英里,安玑问伊茨,她爱他是不是比苔丝爱他还厉害,伊茨回答没有人比苔丝还爱他,因为苔丝为了爱他把命都豁出去了。这一回答惊醒梦中人安玑,于是决定送伊茨到回家的岔道,希望全当他说的是瞎话,伊茨想到自己好心”honesty”却得到如此的下场,不仅悲从心中来,译文“这就是俺把真心掏给你的下场了!”用在此处,真是再好不过了。
6.
原文:Either a flat ’yes’ or a flat ’no’–Go back where you came from.(Isaac Bashevis Singer:Gimpel the Fool)
译文:要就要,不要拉到——你滚好了。
赏析:原句出自以撒.辛格的小说《傻子金宝》,还有几种译法(1)要就要,不要就拉倒——你请便吧。(2)干脆说“行”或者“不行”——否则你哪里来就回哪里去。考虑到这句话是出自一个泼妇之口,以上两种译法显得太雅了一点,没能充分表达说话人的语气,刻画好人物的性格,而“要就要,不要拉到——你滚好了”既简洁生动,又符合说话人的身份和性格。
7.
原文:Its waters,in creeping down these miles of meadow-land,frequently divided,serpentining in purposeless curves,looping themselves around little islands that had no name,returning,and reembodying themselves as a board main stream further on.(Thomas Hardy:Tess of the d’Urbervilles)
译文:这一带的草场,平衍广远,河水从这儿经过,往往泛滥流溢,不循轨道,曲曲折折,时分时合,分的时候,环抱无名的小洲,分而复合的时候,就又成了一道宽广的河流。(张若谷译)
赏析:读这样的文字,您会想到它是译文吗?比较原文和译文,您定能学到很多翻译技巧,对翻译的艺术性有更深刻地了解。

To sum up, only with a deep understanding of both two languages’ culture and custom can we produce the wonderful work. Localization is a method which can guide us to find a way out, for it promotes the communication between people throughout the world.

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