Sometimes it is difficult for translators to translate each level of meaning of every word in the original text and this is also undesirable. This article is focused on two methods which may be adopted in handling the non-equivalence with respect to words:
1 Usage of hypernym. In some sentences, the translation may possibly appear to be wordy if we translate each word in the original text. Let’s look at the following sentence: I shampoo my hair every two days. “Shampoo” means to wash one’s hair with shampoo. If we translate this sentence into “我每两天用洗发水洗一次头”, the readability of this sentence is poor. If we delete “用洗发水” and directly use “洗头”, namely, the translation is “我每两天洗一次头”, the final translation is a desirable one with the meaning accurately and succinctly delivered. In this case, we use a word with a more general meaning, namely, the hypernym, instead of the completely equivalent word during translation, which makes the translation more desirable. Similar words also include scissor (which can be used as a verb indicating to cut something with scissors), hammer (which can be used as a verb indicating to hit something with a hammer), etc. These words all have one feature in common, namely, they can be either used as a noun or as a verb. When they are used as a verb, they typically mean to perform a specific action with the tool they mean when used as a noun. When they are used a verb in a sentence, and are translated as “to XXX with XXX tool”, the translation will be wordy and fail to comply with the expression mode of Chinese. We can just simply translate them into “to XXX”.
2 Replacement with similar cultural concept. There are some words with specific cultural connotation in each type of language as language is the product of the local civilization, which differs from country to country. Take “Double Seventh Day” as an example. If a foreigner, who has little understanding of Chinese culture, can hardly figure out the implication indicated by this word. If we can interpret it with an English word which has similar cultural concept to this word (in this case, the concept refers to deep emotion between lovers), the foreigner will more easily figure out what kind of meaning you are trying to deliver. In this case, we can use Chinese Valentine’s Day to replace Double Seventh Day, the former more understandable. Therefore, we may use words with similar cultural concept during translation instead of employing literal translation to make the translation more desirable.
In addition to these two methods, there are also other methods that can be employed to solve the non-equivalence in terms of word between English and Chinese during translation, which are in need of further summarization.