乱象,印迹 » 翻译

如今有一种流行的说法,说翻译的最大问题是中文,很多翻译的问题来自译者无法准确妥当地用中文表达原文的意思。这种说法暗含的前提是:译者能完整准确理解原文的意思。确实,现在大家的英语水平都有很大提高,读读英文材料都没什么问题。但是这也只是“读读”而已,真正要做好翻译,必须能读懂英文,而读懂英文恐怕不是太容易的事情。

很多人认为英文比中文更容易阅读。中文像写意的水墨画,讲究“文气流通”,不一定要有严格的主谓宾、定状补;英文则更像严密的组合体,讲究逻辑清晰、结构完整。总的来说这种说法没错,如果具体到非小说类题材,英文应当更容易理解。然而无论英文中文,文字背后的信息应当是连贯的,逻辑应当是自洽的,知识应当是有规律。这也不难理解,作者在文字背后的思维应当是顺畅的,不会前一段说天上后一段说地下好,上一段说东边好下一段说西边好——即便真是这样,也需要有恰当的转折。

在写作时这往往不是问题,因为作者是先有统一观念,明确知道自己要说什么,然后才落实为多段文字的,如果逻辑混乱经脉逆行,多半写不出来东西。但是读者和译者却是要反过来,要根据文字逐字逐段“还原”出来原作者的意思。读者没法钻到作者的脑子里去看看作者当时真正想说的是什么,只能通过文字来设想和拼凑译者“想说的东西”,如果是译者,还需要根据译者“想说什么”来对译文做必要的改动,保证译者“真正想说”的话得到了准确的传达。如果做不到这一点,哪怕单词都认得,搭配都熟悉,句子全明白,也未必能做好翻译。换句话说,这时候其实不算“读懂英文”。

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原文

Having opened this cookbook, you are probably eager to inject some of the ungainly strings of parentheses and question marks you find in its chapters right into your code. If you are ready to plug and play, be our guest: the practical regular expressions are listed and described in Chapters 4 through 9.

But the initial chapters of this book may save you a lot of time in the long run. For instance, this chapter introduces you to a number of utilities-some of them created by the authors, Jan and Steven-that let you test and debug a regular expression before you bury it in code where errors are harder to find. And these initial chapters also show you how to use various features and options of regular expressions to make your life easier, help you understand regular expressions in order to improve their performance, and learn the subtle differences between how regular expressions are handled by different programming languages-and even different versions of your favorite programming language.

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原文

“BRITAIN does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community,” asserted Margaret Thatcher in 1988. Now, increasingly, it does. Opinion polls show that most Britons are in favour of leaving the European Union. Baroness Thatcher’s Conservative Party, which took Britain into Europe four decades ago, is divided between those who long for an arm’s-length relationship and those who want to walk out. The second camp is swelling.

Even the fiercest British critics of the EU are astonished by the speed at which things are moving. Parliamentary rebellions over Europe are becoming easier and easier to organise. Euroscepticism is hardening in the Conservative Party, in much the same way as social conservatism has gone from being a powerful current in America’s Republican Party to an intolerant orthodoxy. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which wants to leave the EU, has abruptly moved from the political margins to the mainstream. A referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU now seems a matter of timing.

Continental Europeans are surprised too—and annoyed. They are bewildered that the British should be talking of leaving a club that many believe has shifted decisively in a free-trading, Anglo-Saxon direction in the past two decades. They also resent the way Britain seems to be using the threat of an exit as a bargaining tool, especially at a time when the euro is in crisis. As they see it, Britain wants to carve out a privileged place for itself in the European club, where it can enjoy free trade without any of the other membership rules. In Berlin and Rome, political leaders argue that Britain needs to make up its mind once and for all: does it want to be in or out?

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原文

Once home to fishermen and farmers, modern Hong Kong is a teeming, commercially-vibrant metropolis where Chinese and Western influences fuse.

The former British colony became a special administrative region of China in 1997, when Britain’s 99-year lease of the New Territories, north of Hong Kong island, expired.

Hong Kong is governed under the principle of “one country, two systems” under which China has agreed to give the region a high degree of autonomy and to preserve its economic and social systems for 50 years from the date of the handover.

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原文

The last two months have seen some astonishing bidding in auctions of Chinese treasures.

Record after record has fallen away as newly wealthy collectors from mainland China have piled into salerooms in London, New York and Hong Kong, anxious to bring home their imperial cultural patrimony.

The market for Chinese art works has strengthened considerably over the past five years, and the high prices have drawn out a number of masterpieces from old collections in Europe and America.

However, there is a danger of sellers becoming over-confident, even greedy.

A close examination of some of the lots that have achieved record prices since early October shows that success cannot be taken for granted.

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图灵出版公司的编辑们在审稿及译者交流中收集了这些例句,它们的毛病比较典型。为避免其他译者犯同同样的错误,本节会详细指出问题所在,并给出修改之后的翻译。

例句1

原文:A moment’s reflection will convince the reader that it is extremely undesirable to change the pointers in every reference to A just because the first element of A is being deleted.
译文:略加考虑,读者就会相信,非常不希望仅因为删除A的第一个元素就改变对A的所有引用。

原文整句话很长,译者将其分为三个短句是正确的处理。但有两个单词的翻译不到位,一个是convince,一般做“说服、使相信”解,但“相信”的对象一般是某种陈述,所以这里取“使清楚明白/使认同”的意思更合适;另一个是undesirable,翻译为“不希望”比较勉强,“希望”一般必须是主体发出的动作,而这里的“非常不希望”没有明确主体,所以翻译为“讨厌、麻烦/不可取”更合适。另外,the pointers in every reference中的pointers在译文中漏掉了,这不是小问题,因为指针和引用是完全不同的概念。

改译:读者想想就会明白,如果仅仅删掉A的第一个元素,就得修改A的所有引用之处的指针,这种做法是极为麻烦的。

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稍微了解一点科学的人都知道,人类所使用的自然语言是不够严格精确的。这些语言既有规则(譬如句子要有完整的结构,英语中过去发生的动作要用过去式),又没有规则(譬如不规则动词,以及某些约定俗成而“毫无道理”的搭配)。从某种意义上说,语言的活力和创造力,就在于能够灵活游走于这种有/无规则的矛盾之间,“搭配”出不曾出现过,但意义完整的词句。

比如近年来出现的“积淀”、“积弱”之类的词语,就是这种搭配的结果;语句的例子就更多,比如“漂亮得一塌糊涂”,按常理“漂亮”和“一塌糊涂”似乎相距十万八千里,但是在某些情况下搭配使用,读者却觉得“写得很棒”。在阅读这样的词句时,读者依据的是母语的本能,而且这种本能是有规矩的,不能随意乱来。“漂亮得一塌糊涂”说得通,“漂亮得难以收拾”就不通了;“千锤百炼”可以调换成“百炼千锤”,但“千炼百锤”就非常别扭了。

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词语是语言的基本组成单位,所以进行翻译时,也应当首先确保准确认识原文的词意,然后在目的文字中选择合适的词汇进行表达。这个道理说起来似简单,做起来却很麻烦,因为词语的意思通常不只一种,有表意(denotation)和涵义(connotation)的区别。表意是刚性的、常见的意义,而涵义是词语蕴含的相关意义。比如英文中的fox,表意是“狐狸”,涵义则是“狡诈”;中文里的“牛”,表意是一种动物,涵义则是“壮实”或者“勤勉”。fox的表意和涵义在中英文里较为相似,但“牛”则相差较远。所以如果看到英文原文说“这人强壮如马”,译者必须知道这里取的是涵义,所以译成中文必须改为“这人强壮如牛”。

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不断提高自己的翻译效率以达到事半功倍的效果,是各位朋友都希望的。如何达到这个目标呢?根据我的经验,不断反思、总结自己的翻译经历,是很有成效的办法。下面是我自己总结的翻译步骤,按照这样的步骤,我可以获得最高的翻译效率,希望对大家有所帮助。

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对比过中外教材的人,很多都对外国教材有意见:篇幅太长,简单的东西需要翻来覆去地讲,生怕读者不明白。但是,如果大部分教材都这样啰嗦,就一定有啰嗦的道理。教材以保证学生能够学明白为目的的,不但要让资质最好的学生能够明白,而且要考虑资质一般甚至稍差一些的学生的理解能力。对于大多数人来说,教材表达出十分的信息,学生可能只能接收五六成,为保证效果,啰嗦一点才能真正起到传授知识的作用。

表达出十分,接收五六分,各种交流都有这个规律,翻译也是如此。原文表达十分,译者能接收到的通常也是五六分。如果译者作为原文的普通读者,接收五六分当然没有问题,因为这是原文读者的普遍水平。但译者将原文翻译出来,译文的读者能接收到的大概就只有三四分了。也就是说,译文读者接收的信息比原文读者少得多(这也是很多人强调一定要看原版的原因)。所以,好的译者必然会竭尽全力保证译文读者能接收到足够多的信息,减少翻译过程中的遗漏。要做到这一点,译者就不能以“原文普通读者”的身份来要求自己,一定要比普通读者多走一步才算称职。最典型的例子,就是典故的翻译。

所谓典故,就是文章中引用的古代故事或者有来历的词语。通常,典故都是与原文所处的文化有密切关联的,原文读者和译者大都懂得这样的关联,而典故与译文所处的文化并没有这样的关联,所以译文读者未必懂得其中的奥妙,如果仅仅是“忠实”翻译,“文字之外”的信息就丢失了。所以遇到典故,译者一定不能只求“忠实”,而需要多走一步,把“文字之外”的信息补全,才算称职。

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