A Case Study on C-E Literature Translation (II)

The last article has an analysis of equivalence in terms of word during C-E literature translation. This article will further make a discussion of Chinese-English literature translation from the perspective of the sentence structure.

In the case mentioned in the last article, the first section is comprised of nine segments, each of which has no punctuation. Consequently, I need to figure out the logic relationship among these segments prior to translation commencement. I divide these segments into five sentences.

“The construction of YunjuTemple was started from the Sui and early Tang Dynasty. Following the tradition of sun worship in Jin Dynasty, it was designed to be east-facing.

It is surrounded by mountains on three sides with a river running through. YunjuTemple was initially named ZhiquanTemple. It is recorded in the “Outline History of Scenery of Beijing in Ming Dynasty” that this temple later was renamed “YunjuTemple” as people could often see cloud shrouding the temple and dwelling around the mountainside.”

The task is not completed yet as I need to display these sentences in an order equivalent to the original text. Namely, each segment of the original text shall be provided with one segment of the target text.

This point deserves great attention in subtitle translation. Take the first section as an example, there are three segments in the original text: 它坐西朝东, 三面环山 一水分流 and沿袭了晋朝崇奉太阳的习俗.

There is kind of causal relationship between ‘沿袭了晋朝崇奉太阳的习俗’ and ‘它坐西朝东’. Therefore I consider them as one part with complete meaning, and made the following translation: “Following the tradition of sun worship in Jin Dynasty, it was designed to be east-facing.

It is surrounded by mountains on three sides with a river running through”. In order to display the translation exactly in accordance with the order of the original text, I divide the translation into three parts, which allows one-to-one match in subtitle display. In this way, English-speaking audience can readily figure out what the subtitle is saying.

Read Also: On Three Thoughts of Translation

This point can also be traced in the second section. There is causal relationship between ‘好一处风水宝地’ and ‘难怪高僧静琬会选址于此刊刻石经’. Consequently, I take them as one part during translation. After completion of the translation for this sentence, I also divide the translation into three parts. In this way, the target text can be equivalent with the original text from the perspective of both the meaning and the structure.

In summary, during C-E translation of literature subtitle, there are mainly two points deserving attention. The first one involves the word equivalence between English and Chinese.

As there are many words with Chinese characteristics and in most cases there are no equivalent words in English, the translation will be poor in terms of readability. In this case, free translation is preferred.

The second point relates to the sentence structure. In subtitle translation, we need to figure out the logic relationship among different segments prior to translation commencement and then divide the translation into several parts in accordance with the structure of the corresponding original text.

By means of this, the final translation can match the original text in terms of both the meaning and the structure, further approaching to a desirable translation.

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