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Some Obstacle in Translation

While we Chinese learn English for many years, we still have some obstacle in translation, especially for professional translation such as technical translation and financial translation. Some problems provided in following text are common problems when we translate English to Chinese.

There are several harsh criteria for translators when translating. One of them is the usage of punctuation, which is the first obstacle for me. First thing to know is the different usage between Chinese punctuation and English punctuation. Usually, Chinese punctuation occupies two bytes compared with one byte for English punctuation. Also, there is no space between character and punctuation for Chinese, but there is a space when an English punctuation followed by a word, to which we should pay attention especially.

Another problem is that we ignore the Chinese expression habits because of literal translation. There are several typical examples to explain the phenomenon.

  1. He showered her with kindness and words of praise until she consented to be his wife. The word “shower”, in the sentence, cannot be translated as “to rain in showers” or “pour down in showers”, and the real meaning is “to shower with praise”.
  2. I will teach him to deceive others. Some translators translate it as “I teach him to learn how to deceive others”, which, actually, is the wrong translation, with the opposite meaning when comparing with the real meaning. In fact, the author means “I will punish him so that he will not deceive others again”.
  3. She can speak English after a fashion. “After a fashion”, in this sentence, does not mean “come into fashion or be in fashion”, which, actually, means “not very well or a little”.
  4. His skills in use of colours is so great that some who views the paintings he created said they were more true to life than life itself. “Great”, in this sentence, does not mean “of remarkable ability of quality”. According to the context, it means “skillful at”.
  5. In California, hundreds of billions of dollars ride on the success of earthquake prediction. The word “ride on”, in the sentence, does not mean “ride some vehicles”, which, really, does not make sense here. Its real meaning, in here, is that “rely on”, which makes the sentence fluent.

The readers of translation, from English to Chinese, are Chinese clients. They will be confused when reading the literal translation, such as the above examples. Therefore, a good translation is making readers know what the original article means. We should learn further and practice more to master the translation, which make the reader comfortable.

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