In the previous article, I have listed two problems that would be ignored by new translators——tense and polysemy. In this article I would like to continue m discussion about inadvertent mistakes that might be made during translation.
（1) Non-finite Verb
Non-infinite verb is any of several verb forms that are not finite verbs; that is, they cannot serve as the root of an independent clause. In English, non-finite verbs fall into three types: infinitives, participles and gerunds. Here I want to emphasize the translation of infinitives. And infinitives’ function as adverbials often blurs new translators in translating process, for example:
E.g. It will strengthen you to know that your distinguished career is so widely respected and appreciated.
Version 1: 这样会使您更加认识到，您的杰出事业是如此广泛地受到人们的尊敬和赞赏。
Version 2: 当您认识到您的杰出事业是如此广泛地受到人们的尊敬和赞赏时，您就会为自己增添力量。
In the two English versions above, it could be easily observed that, in version 1, the translator mistook infinitive phrase “to know that… appreciated” for the adverbial of “will strengthen”, which, as a result, caused misunderstanding during translating process. In fact, if we could be more attentive, we would find that “to know that … appreciated” is the true subject of this sentence, and “it” is just the formal subject. Hence, manifestly ,the version 2 is right.
(2) Relative Pronoun
A relative pronoun is a pronoun used to mark a relative clause, and have the same referent as the element of the main clause (usually a noun or noun phrase) which the relative clause modifies. As to relative pronouns, what may obscure new translators is their function as reference.
E.g. Millet made a portrait of Lady Chester field , which flattered her.
Version 1. 米勒为了逢迎切斯特菲尔德夫人而替她画了一幅像。
Version 2. 米勒给切斯特菲尔德夫人画了一幅像,该像之美简直超过了她本人。
In version 1, the translator did not get the content that the relative pronoun “which” refers to. He/she regarded the whole sentence prior to the word “which” was what the word “which” refers to, which actually is the phrase “a portrait”. In addition, according to the context, the word “flatter” in the original text means “surpass (to make better looking than)” other than “逢迎”. Therefore, the Version 2 is the right one.
(3) Literal Understanding
When encounter familiar words or common words during translation, new translators may directly translate them without a second thought. As a matter of fact, however, sometimes the most familiar or common words do not mean the common meaning which we usually think, like the word “flatter”, which is mentioned above. So, we’d better to look up dictionary for the most proper meaning in accordance with the context, when in confusion.
E.g. Example leader boards may be for a top vertical, a top tempo, a total airtime, total games played, total awards won, or for other performance metrics.
Version 2. 示例排行榜可显示最高纵跳高度、最高运动频率、最长滞空时间、比赛项目总数、所获奖项总数或其它性能指标。
By comparing the two versions above, we could easily find that the word “games” is the root of problem. The word “games” cannot be more common enough in English and even pupils know what it exactly mean —— 游戏. However, the original sentence is relevant to “sports”, so, obviously, “游戏” is not the right meaning here. After looking up the dictionary for the right meaning of the word “games” in sports field, we realize that “比赛项目” is the proper meaning in this sentence.