On Handling of Attribute in E-C Translation

Attribute is defined as those words which are used to modify nouns. The difference between English and Chinese in terms of expression mode makes an appropriate conversion of attribute a necessity in translation. This article is focused on two kinds of conversion in terms of attribute in E-C translation: one is to convert the attribute to adverbial; the other is to convert the attribute to predicate.

In English, there should be only one verb used in each sentence. Consequently, if more than one motion needs to be expressed in one sentence, the rest motions except the one used as the predicate shall be described via noun instead of verb. In other words, there may be nouns in English which express the meaning of a motion though they are in the form of a noun.

Instead, in Chinese, the sentence structure is typically as follows: one subject plus several predicates. Therefore, when making English Chinese translation, the noun expressing the meaning of a motion usually shall be translated into the correspondent verb and the attribute used to modify the noun should accordingly be translated into adverbial. The following is an example of this kind of conversion.

“The annual competition celebrates UK entrepreneurs that have demonstrated exceptional dedication and passion towards their work.”. If we translate this sentence in a word-for-word manner, the translation will be “这个年度比赛是为了表彰在工作中表现出非凡投入和热情的英国创业家”, which seems somewhat insufficient in smoothness.

If we translate “competition” to a verb and accordingly translate “annual” to an adverb, the final translation will be “这个比赛每年举办一次,是为了表彰在工作中表现出非凡投入和热情的英国创业家”, which is more in compliance with the expression mode of Chinese. The structure of adjective + noun is extremely common in English. Therefore, the conversion of attribute to adverbial is frequently employed in E-C translation.

Another kind of conversion occurs between the attribute and the predicate. Let’s start by looking at this example: equipment designs allow faster operation and more efficient fuel usage.

Read Also: Cultural Factors in English to Chinese Translation

If we translate this sentence in a literal way, the translation will be “设备设计可实现更快的操作和更高效的燃油使用效率”, in which the function is not expressed directly enough. Instead, if we translate “faster” to “提高” and “more efficient” to “提高效率”, the translation will be “设备设计可加快操作和提高燃油使用效率”, in which, the function of the subject is explicitly described.

Attribute of this kind typically expresses the meaning of a change in term of size, speed, or time, etc., such as faster, quicker, shorter, etc. By means of converting the attribute to the predicate, the function of the subject can be directly expressed and highlighted.

We should take full use of these two kinds of conversion in E-C translation to produce a translation in compliance with the expression mode of Chinese.

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