Generalization (概略化, or 化实为虚) and specification (具体化, or 化虚为实) are two translation strategies, which are frequently adopted, due to the big difference between Chinese and English.

According to the context, we need to extract the real and essential meaning instead of translating it literally. Generalization is to translate the into the concrete (具体) words in English into the abstract (抽象) words in Chinese. Specification is the contrary.


1. If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him; an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.


concrete – abstract(purse—金钱 head—知识)

2. The bottle is boiling.


Here if we translate the “bottle” into “壶” instead of “壶力的水”, we would be laughed at. The Chinese would mean the bottle is opened. What a big mistake!

3. That man is always chasing after skirts.


4. I’m a child in these matters.


5. There were times when emigration bottleneck was extremely rigid and nobody was allowed to leave the country out of his personal preference.


“bottleneck” in the sentence means “瓶颈”. If it is the translation we use, we can not concey the exact meaning of the sentence. Then we should generalize it into “限制”. It is perfect. (英语具体,汉语概括)

6. The emergence of the peoples of the third world and their struggle for identity will lead to the flowering of diverse concepts of life in the future.


7. Since then, our relations based on the anti-imperialist struggle have blossomed and have been diversified and considerably reinforced.



1. Marketing involves product development, pricing, distribution, and communication; and in the more progressive firms, it further involves continuous attention to the changing needs of customers and the development of new products, with product modifications and services to meet these needs.


Here the “communication” is translated into “产品信息交流”, of which “产品信息” comes from the context. We can see now, only the thorough understanding of the whole text can we nuture the beautiful translation.

2. I say this because of the bleak consensus , albeit only among some in the West, about the future.


3. No one will deny that what we have been able to do in the past five years is especially striking in view of the crisis which we inherited from the previous government.

version (1) : 考虑到上届政府遗留下来的危机,我们在过去五年里所能取得的成绩是尤其显著,这是没有人可以否认的。

version (2): 无人可以否认,我们在过去五年里所取得的成绩尤为显著,特别是当他考虑到上届政府给我们留下怎样一副烂摊子的时候。

The version 1 just translate the “crisis” into its literal meaning. And it is right and correct. But let’s see the version 2. “怎样一副烂摊子” can vividly and precisely conveys the speaker’s emotion. Therefore specification is neccessary.

4. In line with latest trends in fashion, a few dress designers have been sacrificing elegance to audacity.


5. Internet promises to reshape our lives and our world.


6. He managed to carry the heavy suitcase into the house alone.


7. The EEC’s Common Agricultural policy is a dinosaur which is adding £13.50 a week to the food bill of the average British family.