Chinese and English differ from each other in terms of both grammar and the inherent thinking mode. In Chinese, words are connected together usually by their meanings while in English, words are joined together by the logical relation implied by the words.

If we make word-to-word translation, the readability of the target text will be undesirable. Consequently, in order to minimize this phenomenon, we should make our target text compliant with the expression mode of the target language as much as possible.

To achieve this, firstly we should have a deep understanding of different expression modes used in Chinese and English, and then make a conversion in terms of either the sentence pattern or the characteristic of certain words, etc. Below are some examples on several types of conversion used in English-Chinese translation.

a. Conversion of sentence pattern

Example I

Source text:

In an example, a user may wear shoes that are each equipped with an accelerometer, a force sensor or the like, to allow the computer 102 and/or the server 134 to determine the individual movement and metrics of each foot or other body part.

Target text:

在示例中,用户所穿的每只鞋分别配备加速计、力敏传感器等设备,从而可使计算机 102 和/或服务器 134 测定每只脚或身体其它部位各自的活动情况和指标。

In the source text, “user” is the subject and “wear” and “shoes” are applied as the predicate and the object respectively. The latter part is used to modify the object of “shoes”.

If we directly make word-to-word translation, the translation will be “在示例中,用户穿鞋,每只鞋分别配备加速计、力敏传感器等设备,从而可使计算机 102 和/或服务器 134 测定每只脚或身体其它部位各自的活动情况和指标。” Obviously, this translation is poor in terms of readability.

Actually, the translation will be greatly improved simply by a combination of these two segments, “用户穿鞋” and “每只鞋分别配备…”. In this way, the translation is more compliant with both the expression mode in Chinese and the logical relationship.

Example II

Source text:

Arranged over six floors in a grand scale and with a gross internal area in excess of 21,000 square feet, 3 Grafton Street is immense and spectacular and has enjoyed a rich, noble and aristocratic history that can be traced back to 1767 and a proposal by the Duke of Grafton to the City Corporation to create a development of prestige houses on the site.

Target text:


In this example, the source text is of only one sentence while the target text can be divided into several segments. If we make word-to-word translation, the target text will probably be “共设有六层,室内总面积超过21000平方英尺,格拉福顿街3号规模宏大且壮观,并享有一段可追溯至1767年的贵族传奇史和格拉福顿公爵向地方政府提出在此建造名贵住宅区的提议”, which is disorderly and unsystematic.

In the target text described in the last paragraph, a conversion of the sentence patter as well as adjustment of sequence of segments is made so as to make the target text compliant with the expression mode in Chinese.

There are some other types of conversion frequently used in E-C translation, which will be introduced in the next article.

Read Also: On Several Types of Conversion Used in E-C Translation (II)