The literal translation is a general method we use during our work, it has many advantages, for example, to convey the original meaning, reflect the original style. It is estimated that about 70% of the sentences need use the literal translation method, so it is widely adopted for the translator, we can see the importance of literal translation. However, the literal translation has some limitations. For example, the translation sometimes will be lengthy wordy, obscure, sometimes it cannot properly convey the original meaning.

So, if you disregard occasion conditions, regardless of the differences of the two languages between Chinese and other languages, just blind pursuit of literal translation, then it may make some misunderstanding caused by a mistranslation. Th

e reason for metaphrase problem is sometimes the languages have different structure and deep meaning of the sentence; On the other hand, different cultural and historical background results in a different way of thinking and expression. Then what are the limitations of metaphrase, there are at least five aspects, it is necessary to know, then we can avoid mistake and use paraphrase in right place properly.

1. The literal translation in negation sentence

The different negation sentence in the English, which some sentences can not be completely literal translation translation, otherwise, it will cause a mistranslation, and even contrary to the intended, there are some examples as follows:

I do not know all of them.



We cannot estimate the value of modern science too much.



2. The literal translation for long sentences

There is a complex relationship in the long English sentences, it is difficult to express under the principle of order in a Chinese, which is necessary to paraphrase according to the characteristics of the English sentence and intrinsically linked, There are three methods to deal with this situation:

(1)Translate as per the logical relationship of the sentence and Chinese expression habits

The chances are that the dwellers of the new caves would see more greenery, under ecologically healthier conditions, than dwellers of surface cities do today.


(2) Combine the literal translation and paraphrase

But a broader and more generous, certainly more philosophical, view is held by those scientists who claim .that the evidence of a war instinct in men is incomplete and misleading, and that man does have within him the power of abolishing war.


(3)some sentence is different from Chinese thinking way, which need reverse translation

Textile finishes have in general become a “no-no” in today’s market place ,thanks to many reasons ,says a represen tative of fiber producer.


3. Mistakes in the rhetorical sentence

There are many rhetorical expression in English writing like Chinese, but some English Rhetoric expression is difficult to articulate in literal way,

(1) Analogy: some metaphor can be literally translated, while some are not, which often depends on the Chinese expression habits. For example:

After the failure of his last novel, his reputation stands on slippery grounds.

Correct:他的上部小说失败之后,声誉一落千丈。(we cannot translate as “站在滑动的场地上了。”)

(2). Some figurative cannot literal translated

He went west by stage coach and succumbed to the epidemic of gold and silver fever in Nevada’s Washoe Region.



(3).If it’s a story that everyone knows, which can be literally translated, and no need to add explanation, if the majorities do not know, it is best to paraphrase, or literally translate and add a comment.