Attribute clause

Attribute clause sometimes called adjectival clause, which structure is completely opposite compares to Chinese. In Chinese, components that used to modify nouns are in front of a noun, while the components are exactly after a noun in English. This fundamental difference pushes translators to be flexible, which is mainly related to syntax adjustment.

However, it depends on specific cases. If an attribute clause is short, then modifiers can be putted in front of a nou, If modifiers are too long, then it is not working.

Besides, finite clause and non-finite clause should particularly be given more attention. Non-finite clause have a loose structure with its main structure, the position of each modifiers is not that high demanding. But If it is a finite clause, modifiers should be given in front of a noun.

For example, ”Many people have read the book I bought you a few years ago in San Francisco, but few people have read this new book.” In this sentence, putting modifiers in front of the noun book would be better – “许多人都读过我几年前在旧金山为你买的那本书,但少人读过这本新书。”

Adjustment in attribute clause is mainly on type of clauses. In fact, most of attribute clauses are not essentially translated into a Chinese attribute clauses, we should be flexible and translate some of them into adverbial modifiers or other types of clauses, even into independent sentences.

However, translators should be taken the specific context into consideration. Here is an example. “How can I introduce into a casual conversation those lengthy lines of argument that inject the adrenaline into a given idea.” This sentence is translated as “我怎样才能将那些冗长的学术文章的内容,在与普通人的交谈中表现出来?这些文字常为人的希望注入生机活力。”

In this particular case, we can see that it contains an attribute clause, but the relation between modifiers is not close, therefore translators adjust this attribute clause into an independent sentence, which is acceptable.

In this passage, I merely discuss attribute clauses in a simple way. But all the information that contains in it should be a small lesson for us. When we are translating, we intend to be a “machine” – rigidly translate an English structure into a Chinese structure, which is greatly influenced by the original text.

This will lead to a not very well translation version, because English structures have a great number of differences compares to Chinese. Therefore, we must not be a “machine” any more. In my personal opinion, we should be more flexible on dealing with some of long sentences, which will input an authentic translation version.