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                            Trusty translation Always take culture into account
   

    How do we do better Chinese to English translations to help western readers better understand this country? This is an urgent and complicated task.

    Translation is cross-language, cross-cultural communication. All countries have their own way of living and their own traditions and customs, and these certainly find their way into the language. Therefore, translating only the linguistic form is not enough, we need to convey the cultural connotations as well.

    The debate on whether to translate literally or freely has raged forever. “Fidelity” is often seen as the first and most important principle of translation, but practice has shown than absolute fidelity is an ideal which i s difficult to reach. Translation is This expression indicates how an translator operates under cultural constraints in the source text.

    Chinese to English translation is much more difficult for the Chinese than English to Chinese translation because English is not our mother tongue. Most difficulties come from the untranslatability of certain terms due to cultural differences.

    For example, someone translated “ 五講四美三熱愛 ” as “five stresses, four beauties and three loves” without any explanation. It will certainly cause misunderstanding. In the past, we often translated “ 宣傳 ” as “propaganda”, which sometimes bears a negative sense of “government control” in
    English. Now, “publicity” is used instead, and we have a number of terms for “ 宣傳 ” according to the context. For instance, 宣傳活動 : Promotion events / activities

宣傳品 : leaflets, brochures or publications

宣傳紀念品 : promotional items (eg. T-shirts or caps with logos on them).

   In recent decades, a large number of new terms have appeared in Chinese. We must understand the connotation of the terms first if we want to translate them into proper English. For example, you can translate “ 大款 ” as “big bucks” or “money bags”.Both convey the original connotation fairly well. But if you translate “ 白條 ” literally as “a white strip”, it doesn't make any sense to a native speaker, while a free translation like “IOU” (I owe you) or “a promissory note without binding force” is much more to the point. Similarly, “ 保稅區 ” cannot be “Tax Protection Area”, while “Tax Free Zone” is the proper translation.

    And because the Chinese have a different way of thinking, they have different ways of expressing something. For instance, instead of saying “The paint is not dried yet” ( 油漆未干 ), English say “Fresh/wet Paint”, instead of “Non-workers are not allowed to come in” ( 非工作人員不得如內 ) , they say “Staff Only”.


 

 
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