On Qualities of Translator (I)
To ensure the quality of translation, a translator must have certain qualities.
First of all, the translator must have a good knowledge of Chinese, which is often easy to be neglected. The translation involves the understanding and expression of the original text. If the translator is not proficient in Chinese, he cannot use the Chinese skillfully to express the original text. In English-Chinese translation, even the translator has understood the meaning of orginal text, he may also be unable to express it in correct ways.
Subways, sewers and other underground passage-ways must be blocked to prevent unobserved access into inner city.
Translation 1: 地铁、下水道和其他地下通道必须堵死，以防被人发现并借助其进入市内。
Translation 2: 必须严密封锁地铁、下水道和其他地下通道，以防敌人潜入市内。
It is not hard to see that the Translation 1 is not correct and smooth and the Translation 2 is appropriate. This shows that the ability of understanding and expression will directly affect the translation quality.
Secondly, the translator must have a good proficiency of the English language, and this is beyond dispute. A good translation requires the translator to have not only the comprehensive knowledge of English grammar, but also a large quantity of vocabulary, otherwise the quality of translation will certainly be affected. The followings are two different translations of a sentence:
The police went out in force to control the crowd.
Translation 1: 警察出动武力去控制人群。
Translation 2: 警察大批出动去控制人群。
In Translation 1, the translator has understood the phrase “in force” incorrectly; actually it means “in large number”, therefore the Translation 2 is correct. This example indicates that if a translator has inadequate knowledge of Engligh, the translation quality cannot be ensured as well.
Third, besides the good knowledge of both languages, a translator shall also have a better understanding of related background information which includes history, geography, politics, economy, science and customs. If the translator only focuses on the linguistic aspects but neglects the cultural difference caused by the cultural backgrounds, he may produce incorrect or confusing translation.
For instance, what is the meaning of “five o’clock shadow”? Does it mean “五点钟的阴影”? Actually, it means “男子的络腮胡子” (清晨刮过脸但在傍晚又长出短的胡子). If the translator does not know this and he does not look up it in the dictionary, he will make a stupid mistake. Therefore, in translation, translators must comprehend the original text combining the era, region and other related background information.
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