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英语翻译训练:剖析翻译中的望文生义现象

来源:英语阅读 编辑:英语学习 时间:2017-03-15

  在翻译错误中有相当一部分出于望文生义。如译者认真严肃对待,许多是可以避免。例如:white wine 不是“白酒”(白酒应属spirits 这一类)而是“白葡萄酒”;short drink 不是“少量酒”而“浓酒”,相反long drink 不是“大量酒”而是“较淡酒”。The old parts will no longer be supplied 中no longer 不是指“时间不长”,而是指“旧零件将不再供应”。That‘s not half bad 不是指“那不太好”而是指“那一点也不坏”或“那好极了!”;She did not marry him because she loved him 不是指“她没有和他结婚,因为她爱他”,而是指“她并不是因为爱他才和他结婚”。如此等等。
  再以科技词汇中top为例 top pressure (最高压力),top speed(最大速度),top science(尖端科学),top gear(高速档齿轮)中top含义,作为修词或形容词,是一目了然。但是下面复合词中top并无“高、大”等含义;topmast(中桅)和topsail(中桅帆),在这里top一词不是形容词而是名词(“桅楼”),与另一名词构成一个专用词汇。另外,top overhaul(中修)一词因是overhaul修饰语,容易以为是“大修”(实际上overhaul与complete, thorough 和general联用时才有全部、彻底、普遍之意,成为“大修”),其实是“初步检修”。
  这种望文生义、似是而非,貌合神离现象可概括为“想当然”(英语中称之为take it for granted ),是翻译者大忌。其产生原因是复杂而多方面,现大致归纳如下六个方面,即:一、语法结构理解不当;二、词义理解不当;三、缺乏背景知识;四、缺乏专业知识;五、习惯势力影响;六、疏忽大意。


  一、语法结构理解不当

  译者对语法结构理解不当,如分不清词性、指代关系以及句型等,就会直接造成误译。
  1.Magnetic fields of the former kind are geerally about a million times weaker than the Earth‘s field, whereas those originating from the traveling signals of nerve cells are even weaker, some hundred million times less than the earth‘s field at their strongest.
  [原译]前一类磁场通常只有地球磁场一百万分之一左右,而由神经细胞传播信号产生磁场则更弱,最强时候也只有地球磁场几亿分之一。
  [分析]此处some不是形容词(或称determiner限定词),而是副词,经常用在数词之前,相当于about“大约”,如There were some 40 or50 peop0le there.故some hundred million 应译成“约一亿”。
  [正译]……只有地球磁场约一亿分之一。
  2. Now Jeffreys points out that, if a number of observations have been found to conform to a law, it is highly probable that next one will do so whether the law is true or not.
  [误译]现在杰佛利指出,如果已获得大量观察资料与一条法则一致,非常可能下一条法则也将如此,不管该法则正确与否。
  [分析]此句代词one,它指代observation而不是law,否则变成“法则与法则相一致”,这在逻辑上也自相矛盾。
  [正译]……非常可以下一次观察也与该法则相一致,不管它正确与否。

  二、词义理解不当
  英语词汇中一词多义情况是相当多,如“只知其一,不知其二”,就会造成错误理解。勤查和细查词典(包括用英语解释英语英英词典)才能避免;所谓勤查是多查几本词典,所谓细查是从头到尾地查阅,不厌其烦,才能扩大视野,并找到合适词义。
  1. For the balance of the section, let‘s speak in straightforward and elementary terms to describe the function and form of the electronic computer.
  [误译]为使这一节平衡起见,我们将用简单明了术语来描述这种电子计算机功能和形式。
  [分析]在《朗曼当代英语词典》balance词条下可查到money or something else which remains or is left over, 又见例句:May I take the balance of my holidays before the end of September ?
  [正译]在本节其余部分,我们将用简单明了术语来描述这种电子计算机功能和形式。
  2. We have a sales force at present of twenty-four salesmen of the road, each with his own territory.
  [误译]目前我们有一支由20名外勤推销员组成推销队正在途中,每人有他自己推销领域。
  [分析]在商业英语中on the road =away from home use, in regular travel on business esp. as a traveling salesman (Webster‘s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language) ,故salesmen on the road 作“外勤推销员”解。
  [正译]目前我们有一支由24名外勤推销员组成推销队伍,每人有自己推销地盘。
  3. Sleeping late on weekends can also disrupt your circadian rhythm.
  [误译]周未迟睡也会打乱人体日夜周期。
  [分析]此句 sleeping late误译为“迟睡”即“睡得晚”,“晚睡”),实际上它表示“起得晚”或“睡懒觉”。《从中式英语到英语》作者Janet Adams 写道:“Remember that sleep late means to get up late and not go to bed late.
  [正译]周末睡懒觉也会打乱人体日夜周期。

  三、缺乏专业知识
  科技翻译往往涉及众多领域,各种专业,为了提高翻译质量,译者不仅要熟练掌握英汉两门语言,而且也应具有一定专业知识素养。隔行如隔山,每个专业都有各自一套术语。
  1. By the age of 19 Gauss had discovered for himself and proved a remarkable theorem in number theory known as the law of quadratic reciprocity.
  [误译]高斯十九岁已经独立地发现并证明了数理定理——二次互反律。
  [分析]将number theory 误为“数理”,系不了解专业所致,其实它在数学上是指“数论”,与“数理”是两个不同概念。
  [正译]……并证明了数论中一个卓越定理,名谓二次互反律。
  2. Designed to predict the motions of hesavenly bodies, it does its job with unbelievable accuracy——better than one in a hndred million for the motion of the earth around the sun——and it remains in daily use to predict the orbits of moons and planets, comets and spacecraft.
  [误译]这个旨在预测天体运行理论,其准确性令人难以置信——以地球绕太阳运转为例,其误差仅略大于一亿分之一,并且时至今日仍然每日要用它来预测卫星和行星、慧星和航天器运行轨道。
  [分析]原文并无“仅略”含义,应删去。Better than 修饰accuracy, 意为“准确度胜于”或“比……更为准确”,即“误差小于”。
  [正译]……,其误差小于一亿分之一,……。
  3. When allowance is made for the separate auxiliary load the consumption can rise to nearly 1 Ib/SHP hour and this is generally about 20% better than the overall fuel consumption of a steam plant at cruising speed.
  [误译]当考虑分开辅机负荷时,其耗油率几乎能增加到1磅/轴马力小时,一般来说比蒸汽装置巡航总油耗大约多20%。
  [分析]此处better than 用来修饰“油耗”时必然指油耗低,而不是指油耗高。
  [正译] ……,一般来说,这是比蒸汽装置在巡航速度时总油耗约低20%。

  四、缺乏背景知识
  译者如不了解所译内容背景,也易造成望文生义。
  1. Anyone who has tugged heavy hand baggage down endless airport corridors, or waited for a deluged flight in a sterile lounge will bow how user unfriendly many airports are in design terms .
  [误译]任何人只要他曾拖着沉重随身行李,走过无止境机场走廊,或者曾在枯燥乏味休息室里等候延误班机,都会体会到许多机场在设计上对旅客多么不方便。
  [分析]此处endless 误译为“无止境”,实际上作“环状”解(circular, with the ends joined ), 一般大型国际机场,从候机室通向各跑道走廊呈环状,两头是相联接。
  [正译] ……,走过环形机场走廊,……
  2. I am/ we are carrying currency or monetary instruments over $ 10000 U.S. or foreign equivalent.
  [误译]我(我们)携带有货币或价值超过10000美元仪器或相当于10000美元外币仪器。
  [分析]原译将instruments 作“仪器”解,显然是缺乏背景知识和脱离上下文所造成失误。此处系指“证券,票据”;monetary instruments 应译“金融证券”。
  [正译]我(我们)携带超过10000美元或等值外币现金或金融证券。

  五、习惯势力影响
  习惯势力也会造成误译,如下列句中at the same time, 也许这一短语太熟悉了,因此往往习惯地译成“同时”,其实此处上下文并不存在时间上关系,而是让步关系。
  1. In most cases, …he knows that certain manufacturing processes will have to be employed .In many instances, the selection of a specific material may dictate what processing must be used .At the same time .when certain processes are used, the design may have to be modified in order for the process to be utilized effectively and economically.
  [原译]在大多数情况下,……他知道必须采用某些制造过程。在许多情况下,选择特定材料就规定了须用什么加工过程。同时在采用某些加过程时,可能要修改设计,以便有效地、经济地利用这些加工过程。
  [分析]at the same time 有两项释义“同时”和“然而”。上句中该短语并非指时间上关系,而是用这个短语引出一个需要人们注意事实。英语词典中至少有八部国外出版词典,在at the same time 条下仅列出however一项释义。据国内首届一指《英汉大词典》编写组称:至于为何有些词典只有however解,可能编篡者不收习语literal meaning 之故,笔者以为言之有理。
  [改译] ……。然而在采用某些加工过程时,……。
  2. The force of gravity and the friction of the air near the earth are working against the satellite.
  [分析]英文可说near the earth, 不能照译“地球附近”,因该词语仅指位置(location), 即直线距离(linear distance),但地球不是单一平面,而是球体。
  [正译]引力和地球附近空气阻力对卫星起阻碍作用。

  六、疏忽大意
  有些译作总体上说是高质量,但也有望文生义现象,如不属于本文上述五个方面原因,则可能是疏忽大意所致。
  1. Feedback, which one-way communication like the printed page fails to provide, makes learning easy and, in the case of motor skills, is essential.
  [误译]反馈能使学习变得方便,而象印刷品之类单向信息传递就没有反馈。在学习驾驶摩托车时,反馈更必不可少。
  [分析]in the case of“就…来说(而言),论到,提到,至于”。Motors skills 是教育学上名称,指“运动技能”,而不是指“摩托车驾驶”。
  [正译] ……就运动技能而言,反馈更必不可少。
  2. The results of that decision can now be evaluated as the first ships of the new gas turbine Navy far enough advanced to enable a comparison to be made with existing steam turbine warships.
  [误译] ……,并以英海军第一艘先进新型燃气轮机舰只与现有蒸汽轮机舰只相比来估价这个决定结果。
  [按]将first 误译为“第一艘”,将advanced误为“先进”,均系不认真严肃所致。
  [正译]现在可以来评论这一决定结果了,因为英国海军首批新燃气轮机舰只已大有进展,足以用来和现有汽轮机军舰作一比较。
  3. There is generally an advantage in being able to keep propelling machinery as far aft as a large gearbox restricts possible, but this positioning.
  [误译]一般来说,使推进装置尽可能远离舰尾是有利,但是这样布置会受到大齿轮箱限制。
  [分析]如far aft 译为“远离舰尾”,意思就完全颠倒了。此处far相当于much, considerably, to a great extent. Aft [a : ft ]非常接近船尾。由于“尽可能接近舰尾”这一概念已相当明确,故“非常”可不译出。
  [正译]一般来说,使推进装置尽可能靠近舰尾是有利,但是这种布置会受到大齿轮箱限制。

  最后尚须指出,有时望文是由多种因素所造成,请看下面句子系受词汇、专业、习惯等影响。
  In practice, a rotor weighing about 10 tons and rotating at 3, 000 r .p . m . may be so well balanced that the motion, except for sound, is just perceptible.实际上,一根据重约10吨、每分钟3000转转子可以平衡得非常好,以致除了响声外,人们几乎觉察不出它是在转动。
  [分析]此处just =almost not, hardly 曾误译为“正好觉察得出……”,这样意思就反了

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