Literal translation is one of most important translation method in our work, which have many advantages, for example, it could convey the original meaning, reflect the original style. According to estimation, about 70 percent of the sentences can use the literal method to deal with, that’s why such literal translation method widely used by translators, since then we could see the importance of the literal translation.
However, literal translation has some limitations. For example, sometimes the text is too long to be translated, and sentences are too difficult to be understood, if we still insist on using literal translation, it couldn’t ensure correctly convey the original meaning, and sometimes had the opposite of the intended effect.
So, if we disregard occasions& conditions, ignore the differences between Chinese and English, it definitely caused by mistranslation. On the other hand, Historical& Cultural background are quite different between Chinese and English, resulting in a different way of thinking and different language expressions.
Many people have criticized literal translation, pointed out its limitations, but actually we need figure out the exact limitations and do our best avoid some errors during our translation.
1. Literal Translation of Negative Patterns
There are a number of different negative sentences in English, some sentences can’t be completely translated by literally, otherwise, it will cause a mistranslation, even run into the opposite position of the original meaning, the following types of negative sentences worth of your attention:
Partial Negative Sentence Patterns, such kind of sentence is quite different from the thinking form of Chinese.
Eg: I do not know all of his family members.
Everybody wouldn’t like your sister.
Single Negative Sentence Patterns
Eg: He is the last man I want to see.
It is a wise man that never makes mistakes.
Long sentences tend to have more complex relationship which it not easy to be expressed by one simple Chinese sentence, it is necessary to follow the characteristics of English sentence and the intrinsic link between each meaning parts for your translation.
Based on the inherent logical relation of the sentence and Chinese traditional expression to translate. For example:
The chances are that the dwellers of the new caves would see more greenery, under ecologically healthier conditions, than dwellers of surface cities do today.
Analysis: This sentence is not complicated, but not easy to translate. There are 3-tier relations as comparison, condition and result, but if translated according to this logic relation, it would be much easier than before.
As some of the sentences are different from the Chinese way of thinking, often need to use reversed translation method. For example:
How much easier, how much more satisfying it is for you who can see to grasp quickly the essential qualities of another person by watching the subtleties of expression, the quiver of a muscle, the flutter of a hand.
Read Also: Literal translation and Liberal translation