Tips for C-E Translation
In order to practice your Chinese to English translation skills, you need to pay attention to the following points:
You need to have a deep and full understanding of the importance of translation. Good or bad translation can make very different effects. For example, 天涯海角 does not mean the End of the World. It should be translated into Land’s End / End of the Earth. Another example: 一小时内免费送票上门 should not be: We give you tickets free of charge within one hour. But should be: We offer free delivery of your air tickets within one hour after your booking confirmation.
Understand the meaning of Chinese source text carefully. Exact understanding of source meaning is the premise of good translation. Such as 摸着石头过河 does not mean crossing the river by feeling the stones. Rather, it means wade across the stream by feeling the way.
Sometimes, equivalent words of Chinese and English do not have the same meaning, thus we can not translate word by word. For example, 他的英语说得真好，就像外国人一样。 This sentence does not mean: He speaks English so well, he sounds like a foreigner. But should be: He speaks English so well, he sounds like a native speaker. 素质教育 is not quality education, but caliber-focused education or trait-centered education.
Avoid using Chinglish expression. You should try to be native. A quite common example is 人山人海. Some translate it into People mountain people sea. That is a little funny and quite literal translation. You’d better say: huge crowd of people or jam-packed with people. Another example:我攒了一堆的赃衣服，等着周末来洗。 You’d better not translate it into: I have accumulated a large amount of dirty clothes. I’m going to wash them at the weekend. The idiomatic expression is: I have a lot of laundry to catch up at the weekend.
Sometimes, literal meaning in Chinese is not enough for understanding; some information is omitted or hid. In this situation, translators need to grasp the connotation and make them clear in English expression. For example, 退耕还林 is not return farmland to forest, but should be restore “woodland-converted farm-plots” back for afforesting. 春运 is not spring transportation, but should be the rush / peak season of passenger transportation during the Spring Festival.
Also, you should pay attention to the cultural differences between English and Chinese. When translate 相声 into English, you should give consideration to both its form and inherence. If you translate it into cross talk, foreigners may get confused. It is better to translate it into comic dialogue.
In one word, a good translator must know the truth of translation. In order to improve translation skills, one needs to develop a thinking habit of multi-level and multi-dimension.
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