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中译英操作:遣词造句

2006-02-07 00:00李长栓 北京外国语大学

  理想的翻译模式是把外语翻译为母语,这是因为,“even years of study and experience do not necessarily enable one to be completely at home with an acquired language,” (Sofer 1998)(一个人即使学习和使用外语多年,也不一定能够完全达到自如的程度)。但实际情况是,如果一个国家的政治、经济、文化等处于劣势,学习该国语言的外国人就会很少,其中愿意从事该语言翻译的人更少。而这些弱势国家出于政治、经贸和文化交流的需要,往往要把大量的文献译为外语,依赖外国人翻译是不现实的,所以,大多数情况下需要由本国人把文献资料从母语翻译为外语。正如Campbell(1998)所说的,“for many parts of the world, translation into the second language is a regular and accepted practice”(在世界很多地方,译为第二语言是一项常规和人们所接受的做法)。

  与英语相比,汉语处于劣势,虽然随着中国国力的增强,学习汉语的人越来越多,但短期内汉译英的工作由中国人自己做的局面不会有根本性改变。对于十分重要的文件,顶多最后由外国人在语言上把把关。

  许多人的研究表明,外语水平难以达到自如,除其他原因外,主要是没有掌握足够的英语成语、搭配和句套子(idioms, collocations and sentence stems)。

  英语成语经常是比喻性质的,其组成部分不能随意替换,如bark up the wrong tree, have sticky fingers等。

  搭配分为两类,一是语法搭配(grammatical collocations),二是词汇搭配(lexical collocations)(Benson等1997)。语法搭配是一个短语,由一个主导词(dominant word),即名词、形容词和动词,加一个介词或不定式、从句等语法结构组成,如account for, apathy towards, offer to help, a pleasure to do something, and afraid that it would rain.词汇搭配不包括介词、不定式或从句等,而是由名词、形容词、动词和副词构成,如strong tea, rough estimates, readily available, sorely needed, deeply absorbed. 词汇搭配比成语更为灵活(如sorely needed 也可以说badly needed),但比单词的自由组合更为固定。所谓自由组合,是指只要符合语法规则,就可以几乎不受限制地进行组合。如,与put搭配的宾语可以是任何物体;run表示“管理”的意思时,其宾语的选择范围虽受到一定限制,但仍可以在意思上归纳为任何可以管理的机构,如business, institution等。

  句套子是指一个句子的骨架(也叫sentence builders, lexicalized sentence stems),如 at the heart of … is …, demand for … is high, with all the…, it should be no surprise that …, to be sorry to have kept you waiting, there's no doubt that X or my point here is X.

  另外,还有一些固定的短语和句子,似乎无法归入以上各类,如by the way, Can I help you?等。

  研究认为,人们在表达思想时, 遵守“成语优先原则”(idiom principle),即首先选用语言中业已存在的表达方式,当找不到现有的表达方式时,再使用自由选择原则(open-choice principle),即根据语法规则创造新的表达方式。业已存在的表达方式就是指成语、搭配、句套子等。我们在学习外语时,传统上强调语法规则,按照语法规则造句,没有遵循成语优先的原则,导致语言不符合习惯。

  但现在的问题是,尽管我们知道应当遵循成语优先的原则,我们却没有足够的“成语”(包括成语、搭配和句套子)可供使用,无论在口头表达、写作或翻译时都是如此。

  表达和写作当然要符合英语习惯,翻译是否一定要符合英语习惯呢?我想这是不言而喻的。从古到今,无论中国的翻译家,还是外国的翻译家都提出过很多种翻译标准,其中都强调了译文要符合译入语语言习惯,如“信”、“达”、“雅”中的“达”,“忠实”、“通顺”中的“通顺”;纽马克(1988)也说过,在进行交流性翻译(不是字面翻译)时,无论翻译的是信息性文本、通知或广告,“自然”(naturalness)都是至关重要的。

  纽马克的结论是:“所以,如果目的语不是译者惯用的语言,就没有办法翻译好。”(That is why you cannot translate properly if the TL is not your language of habitual usage.)然而,我们面临的工作恰恰是无法做好的工作。

  从以上论述可以看出,外语学习者所缺乏的不是语法知识,而是惯用表达方法。语法知识是有限的,容易在短时间内掌握,而惯用表达方法的数量要大得多,短时间内充分掌握有很大困难。为此,一方面我们在外语教学中应充分重视惯用表达方法,另一方面,对于翻译专业的学生以及广大从事中英翻译实践的人士来说,由于没有时间专门学习外语,必须学会在翻译中提高自己的英语表达能力,使我们译文尽量符合英语习惯。

  我在《因特网在翻译中的妙用》一文中,向大家介绍了用因特网查找专有名词、技术性术语以及回译的方法,在这篇文章中,我将向大家介绍用什么手段解决英语表达习惯问题,重点介绍翻译时如何确定句子骨架和词语搭配。根据我的实践和教学,我提出以下几个操作步骤:

  1. 确定句子的关键词

  2. 根据汉英词典查找关键词的英语译法

  3. 根据英英词典检验关键词的英语译法是否符合特定上下文的意思;如果不符合……

  4. 根据英语同义词词典寻找更为贴切的译法

  5. 根据英语搭配(用法)词典、语料库等电子手段等确定该关键词的语法搭配(句型)、词汇搭配,从而确定译入语句子框架

  6. 把原文各个组成部分按照语法要求逐项纳入该句子框架,注意各成分内部的搭配

  当然,并非翻译每个句子都要遵守以上步骤。如果对各种句子结构、搭配都很熟悉、有把握,当然不需要每个地方都查。这些步骤是遇到问题时的解决方法。

  下面举例说明。

  比如,翻译下面一句话:

  中国政府欢迎外国私人资本参与中国的基础设施和基础工业建设

  原译:The Chinese government welcomes private foreign capital to invest in China's infrastructure development and basic industries.

  本句话中关键的动词是“欢迎”,根据我们已有的英语知识,翻译为welcome应该不会有问题,所以,我们可以直接用搭配(用法)词典查welcome的用法。下面是The Collins Cobuild Student's Dictionary Online 对welcome一词用法的解释:

  1. If you welcome someone, you greet them in a friendly way when they arrive.

  He moved eagerly towards the door to welcome his visitor.

  Welcome n.

  I was given a warm welcome by the President.

  2. You can say "Welcome" to someone who has just arrived.

  Welcome to Peking.

  Welcome back.

  3. If someone is welcome in a place, people are pleased when they come there.

  All members of the public are welcome.

  4. If you tell someone that they are welcome to do something, you are encouraging them to do it.

  You will always be welcome to come back.

  5. If you welcome something new, you approve of it and support it.

  I warmly welcomed his proposal.

  6. If something that happens or occurs is welcome, you are pleased about it or approve of it.

  This is a welcome development.

  可以看出,动词welcome有6种用法,我们使用welcome一词时,应符合这6种用法之一。根据本句所需表达的意思,我们可以选择第4项、第5项或第6项用法作为句子框架:

  第4项用法:Someone is welcome to do something.

  改译1. Private foreign investors are welcome to invest in China's infrastructure and basic industries.

  为符合该句型的要求,我们把“物”(资本)改为“人”(投资者)。原文的主语“中国政府”没地方加入,但这可以从上下文推断出来,所以,不译也可以。如果你不知道“基础设施”的英语是infrastructure,而是直接译为basic facilities,需要上网查一查有没有这个搭配。结果发现有这一说法,意思与该句相符,理应不算错。基础产业是否basic industries?上网查一查也发现有这一搭配。

  第5项用法:Someone welcomes something.

  改译2. The Chinese government welcomes private foreign investments in China's infrastructure and basic industries.

  第6项用法:Something is welcome.

  改译3. Private foreign investments are welcome in the development of China's infrastructure and basic industries.

  是否可以用A welcomes B to do something?这似乎是我们期待的句型,但字典中却没有说明。如果存在这一句型,则本句也可以翻译为:

  改译4. The Chinese government welcomes private foreign investors to invest in China's infrastructure and basic industries.

  我们可以用Google搜索“welcomes *** to”(一个*号代表任意一个单词,以此控制welcome与to之间的单词数目),发现大多数场合是to welcome someone to some place,以及to welcome something,如:

  1. President Bush Welcomes Prime Minister Sharon to White House

  2. Dr Dreary welcomes you to Creep Street!

  3. UNFPA Welcomes Anglo-Dutch Action to Avert Condom Crisis

  4. VLADIMIR PUTIN WELCOMES U.S. DECISION TO RECOGNIZE RUSSIA AS MARKET ECONOMY

  也有个别例子用句型to welcome someone to do something:

  1. The Chinese government welcomes students studying abroad to return and develop their careers at home, Vice Minister of Personnel Shu Huiguo said Sunday.

  2. Sidhu welcomes visitors who are interested to come and watch the performance of this talented martial artist.

  鉴于我们无法断定这样的用法是否来自英语国家的媒体,我们可以用英语国家的语料库,如Collins Cobuild Concordance Sampler 进一步搜索welcome的用法。检索结果与Google搜索结果类似。我做了这样的检索:

  输入welcome@/VERB检索welcome作为动词的例句,在所显示的40个索引行中发现只有一句可以归入to welcome someone to do something的句型:Judge Sporkin today said, “I welcome you back to sue Exxon. For…”

  输入welcome@/VERB+PPO+to+VERB搜索welcome+人称代词+动词不定式的例句,结果为:

  1. s Eve. She knows that no one will welcome her to share the festivities and

  2. aloof. Here, everybody else had welcomed me to take photographs of their

  3. Act as an historic village and we welcome you to join us on a special tour

  用welcome@/VERB+NOUN+to+VERB检索动词welcome+一个名词+不定式的用法,其中符合welcome someone to do something的例句有:

  1. policy. We are an open society. We welcome people to come and work with us.

  2. the Conservation Tent but they would welcome volunteers to help design the

  3. Christmas Fair. The Committee will welcome volunteers to help before, during

  输入welcome@/VERB+NOUN+NOUN+to+VERB查动词welcome+两个名词+不定式的用法,其中符合welcome someone to do something的例句有:

  1. and Governor Clinton have said they welcome Mr. Perot to join their debates,

  2. David O'Brien.29 [p] The priest welcomed wage earners to join a larger mass

  从以上调查可以发现,welcome someone to do something的用法是存在的,尽管不常用。所以,该句翻译为The Chinese government welcomes private foreign investors to invest in China's infrastructure and basic industries.是没有问题的。

  在The Collins Cobuild Student's Dictionary Online对welcome用法的解释中,我们看到“If you tell someone that they are welcome to do something, you are encouraging them to do it.”,所以,我们还可以用encourage做本句的动词来翻译,这时,就要使用encourage的所要求的句子框架:

  1. If you encourage someone to do something, you tell them that you think that they should do it, or that they should continue doing it.

  Her husband encouraged her to get a car.

  Encouragement n. Many people sent messages of encouragement.

  2. If you encourage a particular activity, you support it actively.

  Group meetings in the factory were always encouraged.

  3. If something encourages an attitude or a kind of behaviour, it makes it more likely to happen.

  This encouraged the growth of Marxism.

  (The Collins Cobuild Student's Dictionary)

  改译5. The Chinese government encourages private foreign investors to invest in the development of China's infrastructure and basic industries.

  改译6. The Chinese government encourages private foreign investment in the development of China's infrastructure and basic industries.

  当然,孤立地翻译一个句子与在上下文中翻译是不同的。有了上下文,还需要考虑其他因素,如段落的话题(topic),从而可能影响我们对译文句子主语的选择,也许在以上众多译法中,只有一两个是合适的。

  再举一个例子。

  一种观点认为,既然我国刑法没有把丈夫和妻子排除在外,如果丈夫违背妻子意愿,强行与妻子发生性行为,就应定为强奸罪……

  原译:First opinion, now that Criminal Law in China does not exclude husband and wife, if a husband forces his wife to participate in unwanted sexual activity, he has committed rape.

  查汉英词典和同义词词典 ,“观点”可能译为:view, viewpoint,point of view, opinion

  “一种观点”可能翻译为:one view, one opinion, one point of view

  接下来看这些说法的搭配是否得当,以及如何放在句子中。

  在Simple Search of BNC-World上搜索one view,共搜索到76个包含one view的例句,显示了其中的50个(免费用户最多可以看到50个),比如:

  1. One view of the art market is that it is like a staircase with several landings.

  2. One view is that the Corporation can now afford to do this.

  3. One view has it that they are the trusted preservers of law and order…

  4. One view sees the development of fairness as a correlative of the expansion of procedural rights post Ridge v. Baldwin.

  5. One view saw Suharto's motive in encouraging greater activism on the part of Golkar as an attempt to acquire a reforming image to help counteract pressure on him to stand down before the 1993 election.

  6. On one view, this was a bilateral dispute between Israel and Egypt regarding the right of transit for Israeli shipping through the Canal.

  7. On one view, expert determination is not a form of dispute resolution at all.

  据此,我们可以总结出one view所使用的句套子:One view is that…, one view has it that…, one view sees something as something else, on one view+句子。根据本句的特点,我们可以选用简单的one view is that…

  我们可以再搜索一下one opinion的用法。同一语料库,one opinion仅有6个例句,可以用作本句翻译模板的只有一个:

  Taking a more global view, one opinion is that the manufacturing industries should indeed move to developing countries whilst the advanced industries orientate their labour forces toward information and other service industries.

  可以看出,虽然one view is that…与one opinion is that…都可以使用,但前者更为常用。

  从另一个角度看,也可以从“认为”入手进行翻译。“认为”的英语可以是think, believe, consider. 在WordNet上查think,不仅得到think的同义词,还可以得到各词的例句,可以据此决定各词在句子中的用法,比如,think的第1义项是:

  Sense 1

  think, believe, consider, conceive —— (judge or regard; look upon; judge; "I think he is very smart"; "I believe her to be very smart"; "I think that he is her boyfriend"; "The racist conceives such people to be inferior")

  EX: They think that there was a traffic accident

  因为think或believe的主语必须是人(从例句可以看到),所以,“一种观点认为”,就应变为“有人认为”:some believe…, some think…

  下面看“既然”一词的意义和用法。“既然”在字典上有两个译法,一是now that,二是since。学生选择了now that.

  Cobuild 对now that的解释是:

  2. You also use now or now that when you are talking about the effect of an event or change.

  I like him a lot now he's older.

  Now that she's found him, she'll never let him go.

  可见,Now that 表示“既然结果是……”,BNC-World众多例句也说明了这一意思,如:

  1. Sir: Now that the dust kicked up by the mass raid on the Broadwater Farm estate last week has begun to settle, it is time to embark upon an assessment of its effects.

  2. Now that Caen had fallen, some of the villagers, were beginning to drift back to their homes.

  3. Now that Czechoslovakia is stepping out of the Stalinist ice-box, nationalist voices in Slovakia are beginning to be heard again.

  Cobuild 对since的解释如下:

  3 You use since to introduce a reason.

  Aircraft noise is a problem here since we're close to Heathrow Airport.

  Since it was Saturday, he stayed in bed an extra hour.

  所以,since表示原因,更符合本句的意思。

  我们看下一个关键词“排除”。“排除”可以翻译为exclude。我们看Cobuild的解释和用法举例:

  1 If you exclude something from an activity or discussion, you deliberately do not include that thing in it.

  The retail prices index, excluding housing costs, rose by 646.6 per cent.

  2 If you exclude a possibility, you reject it.

  A fake call from some local phone box was not excluded.

  3 If you exclude someone from a place or activity, you prevent them from entering the place or taking part in the activity.

  ……jobs from which the majority of workers are excluded.

  我们由此知道,exclude的句型是exclude something或exclude someone/something from…,但我们怀疑这个词是否可以表示法律上的“不适用于”,于是我们查Microsoft Bookshelf中的钱伯斯电子词典,发现一条解释中有:to exempt (from a law, regulation, etc) 。所以,这里可以用exclude,也提醒我们,还可以用exempt。

  所以,前半句可以翻译为:One view is that since the criminal law of China does not exclude husband and wife…或者用被动语态:One view is that since husband and wife are not excluded from the criminal law of China …(考虑到后半句话题是丈夫,为保持话题的一致,用被动更好一些)。也可以用exempt翻译:One view is that since husband and wife are not exempted from the criminal law of China …这半句还有一个小问题:是criminal law in China还是criminal law of China? 在BNC-World上查criminal law of,结果有:

  1. The criminal law of England (it might well be argued) is shot through with inconsistencies and irrationalities

  2. …suggested that Imelda Marcos would be charged under the criminal law of the Philippines at some point in the future.

  3. There are plenty of examples in English criminal law of crimes which appear to include…

  所以,我们不仅可以说the criminal law of China,还可以说the Chinese criminal law。至于the criminal law in China,查询结果共有12项,其中3项与我们的要求在形式上相似,它们是:

  1. The Dutch courts applied Roman-Dutch criminal law in the Low Country, though it is unlikely that it was adhered to by headmen or officials trying minor offences.

  2. His lecture took as its starting point the distinction drawn by the Wolfenden Committee between public and private behaviour, and what it thus considered to be the proper role of the criminal law in these areas.

  3. There is growing interest in the possibility of introducing a formal system of plea bargaining and discounts into the systems of criminal law in the UK.

  但仔细分析,发现介词in组成的短语并不修饰law:第一句应当理解为to apply…in some place;第二句应理解为the proper role … in these areas;第三句应理解为the systems …in the UK. 所以,不能用介词in.

  下半句:……如果丈夫违背妻子意愿,强行与妻子发生性行为,就应定为强奸罪……

  原译:…if a husband forces his wife to participate in unwanted sexual activity, he has committed rape.

  学生选用的关键词是force. 我们查Cobuild看动词force的意思和搭配:

  1. If you force someone to do something, you cause them to do it, although they are unwilling.

  They forced him to resign.

  She forced herself to kiss her mother's cheek.

  ……the campaign to force the closure of the factory.

  Weekend gales forced him to change his plans.

  2. If you force something into a particular position, you use a lot of strength to make it move there.

  I forced his head back.

  3. If you force a lock, door, or safe, you break the lock in order to open it.

  学生的用法符合第一个句型to force someone to do something. 从第1项解释还可以看到,force本身有违背某人意愿的意思,所以,“违背妻子意愿”不译出来是对的。

  我们看to participate in unwanted sexual activity这个词汇搭配是否说得通。

  查Google: “participate in unwanted sexual activity”,结果有:

  Date/Acquaintance rape occurs when an individual is forced by someone he or she knows to participate in unwanted sexual activity.

  这样,学生的这部分译文是站得住脚的。

  我们看最后一部分:

  ……就应定为强奸罪……

  原译:…he has committed rape.

  这部分译文显然与原文意思不太相符。原文是表达一种观点,译文是陈述事实,原因在于没有把“应定为”翻译出来。假如我们从“强奸罪”的译法入手,看能否找到解决方案。“强奸罪”字典上可能无法直接查出来,但“强奸”是可以找到的:rape. 那么,“强奸罪”是否可以说crime of rape?我们可以用Google或其他电子手段查一下这个搭配是否成立。结果发现答案是肯定的。 那么,下一步就是决定与crime of rape搭配的动词是什么。用Cobuild Concordance Sampler查VBN+5crime of rape(表示要搜索一个过去分词+crime of rape,两者之间的单词数不超过5个),结果有两个符合我们需要的意思:

  1. be adjudged guilty of the crime of rape & hellip You know what [f] carnal [f]

  2. person convicted of the crime of rape shall be imprisoned in a

  我们可以从中抽出两个搭配:Someone is adjudged guilty of a crime. 以及Someone is convicted of a crime.

  基于这个结果,我们可以把原译文修改如下:…he should be convicted of the crime of rape.

  由于rape本身就是犯罪,可以不用crime加以限制。

  所以,整个句子翻译为:

  1. One view is that since husband and wife are not excluded from the criminal law of China, if a husband forces his wife to participate in unwanted sexual activity, he should be convicted of the crime of rape. 或者:

  2. One view is that the husband should be convicted of the crime of rape if he forces his wife to participate in unwanted sexual activity, since husband and wife are not excluded from the criminal law of China.

  当然,一句话的译法可以多种多样,只要意思正确,保证符合英语习惯就可以,不必拘泥于字词。比如,这句话完全可以作为整体翻译(宏观处理方法):

  3. Coercive sex within marriage should be a criminal offense since husband and wife are not exempted from the Chinese criminal law.

  综上所述,我认为只要充分利用现有资源,尤其是电子资源和网络资源,我们在汉译英方面是可以避免死译、硬译,做到达意、通顺的。我们应当针对外语学习的薄弱环节(各种搭配及句子结构),勤查英英词典、英语搭配词典、用法词典、同义词词典、英语语料库和有关英语文献,不要轻易相信汉英词典。虽然每个人的英语水平不同,但只要掌握了方法,多查资料,都可以保证翻译质量,只不过英语差的多用些时间罢了。另外,我建议大家在学习外语、阅读和翻译外语材料时,注意抽取其中的成语、短语、搭配和句子骨架,以备汉译英时使用。

  又及:文章写完之后,又发现一个查找搭配的好去处:http://www.webcorp.org.uk/,它以整个网络作为语料库,搜索功能极为强大。

相关热词:翻译 英语
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