Differences Between Chinese and English Sentences
Chinese and English are two kinds of special languages that have many differences from many aspects. If we know these differences clearly, it will benefit our translation and we will bear these differences in mind to make proper adjustments during Chinese and English translation. Here I would like to discuss some of them.
Firstly, English emphasizes structure. That is why English sentences are always very complicated and they often express many meanings just in one sentence through structure arrangement. Therefore, they use many subordinate clauses. But Chinese sentences lay stress on semantics, so they are much simple and short in structure.
Secondly, most English sentences are much long while a lot of Chinese sentence are relatively short due to the former characteristic. By knowing this difference, we should get rid of the constraint of the original text and try our best to write the most authentic Chinese sentence during translation.
The key is to analyze the structure of the long English sentences and divide them into several small parts. Take a sentence for example: By the stair lay at least twenty-one shoes of all sizes and colors. 楼梯旁放着一堆鞋子，少说有二十一双，五颜六色，大小不一。
If you translate this sentence as “楼梯旁放着至少有二十一双五颜六色大小不一的鞋子”, although the meaning is clearly expressed, the Chinese sentence reads uncomfortable and obviously is worse than the first translation.
Thirdly, English uses pronouns more often while Chinese uses nouns instead. Such pronouns include not only we, you, it, he, they, ect. but also that, this, which. Due to this, you have to identify what do the pronouns intend to refer to and use corresponding nouns to replace them during translation, so as to make the meaning more clearly.
Fourthly, English use a large number of passive sentences, especially in scientific English. On the contrary, Chinese often uses active sentences. Although these words such as “被” and “由” sometimes are used in Chinese sentences, they are less common in Chinese than in English.
So we should translate English passive sentences into Chinese active sentences as often as possible to suit the expression habit. For example, It is said that…据说……It is reported that…据报道……It is estimated that…据估计……It must be pointed out that…必须指出…… It can not be denied that…不可否认……It is (generally) considered that…大家(普遍)认为……
Fifth, English often puts the important part at the beginning of a sentence and will describe facts, reasons, etc. later. But Chinese often describes the facts, reasons and assumption first, and then represents the conclusion, results and deduction. Therefore, you should reflect the difference during translation. That is to say, change the word order when doing bilingual translation.
Read Also: Chinese Sentence Translation
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