文档库

最新最全的文档下载
当前位置:文档库 > 毕业论文(浅谈英语谚语翻译)

毕业论文(浅谈英语谚语翻译)

毕业论文(浅谈英语谚语翻译)

JIUJIANG UNIVERSITY

毕业论文(设计)题目浅析英文谚语翻译

英文题目On English Translation of Proverbs

院系外国语学院

专业商务英语

姓名陆怡

年级外 A0721

指导教师候伯华

二零一零年五月

Abstract

Because of the differences of religious beliefs, habits and customs, fables and myth, and culture and art, English proverbs and Chinese proverbs carry on the different national cultural characteristics and information. Proverbs are closely linked with cultural tradition and they are inseparable. The cultural elements of proverbs cause the difficulty of translation of proverb. This thesis is trying to make some exploration about the proverb, and its translation.

Key words: category;translation method ; culture contrast

摘要

由于不同的宗教信仰、风俗习惯、寓言神话以及文学艺术诸多方面的差异,英、汉谚语承载着不同的民族文化特色和不同的文化信息。他们与文化传统紧密相连,不可分割。言语中的文化因素构成了翻译中的困难。直译,意译,或者直译与意译相结合,则要根据具体的语言环境来定。本文通过对英文谚语的分类和对中西文化的对比,就英语谚语及其翻译做一些探索。

关键词:谚语分类;翻译方法;文化对比

Contents

ABSTRACT...................................................................................................................I 摘要........................................................................................................................ II INTRODUCTION.. (1)

1 WHAT IS PROVERB? (1)

1.1 The Definition of Proverb (1)

1.2 The Categories of Proverb (2)

1.2.1 From Production Experiences (2)

1.2.2 From Life Experiences (2)

1.2.3 From Masterpieces and Mottos (3)

1.2.4 From the Bible (3)

1.2.5 To Convey the Truth (3)

1.2.6 Loan Proverb (4)

2 THE COMPARISON OF CHINESE AND ENGLISH PROVERB (5)

2.1 Subaudition of Proverb (5)

2.2 Religion (6)

2.3 Values (6)

2.4 History and Culture (7)

3 METHODS OF PROVERBS TRANSLATION (7)

3.1 Literal Translation (8)

3.2 Free Translation (9)

3.2.1 Free Translation in different English and Chinese proverbs (9)

3.2.2 Free translation in similar proverbs in English and Chinese (10)

3.3 Combination of Literal and Free Translation (10)

4 CONCLUSION (11)

BIBLIOGRAPHY (12)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (13)

Introduction加入章节号

Proverb is a short pithy saying in frequent and widespread use that expresses a basic truth or practical precept. Proverb is a treasure of literature which comes from people’s daily life. It sparkles with the wisdom of human’s thoughts and experiences from the ancient times to the modern times. What’s more, it has enriched the languages of lots of countries. In a word, proverb is as lively as poem, as steady as essay and as terse as idiom.

Since the differences on history, religion and custom, the proverb connects with its own culture steadily and carries the unique information and feature in each language. When translating English proverbs, the attention should be paid to deliver the exact meaning, meanwhile the language character has also to be concerned. Though English and Chinese are totally two different languages, but they have much in common on proverb, for instant, proverbs in two languages are both simple and alive; most of them rhyme with tidy structures and vivid metaphor. On the other hand, Proverb is kinds of reflection of culture that convey the features of a country as well as the translation of English proverb. As we know, the both two languages have centuries-old history, religion and literature. So proverbs learning can be a good way to understand English-speaking countries.

Mr. Zhu Guangqian says: “The most difficult to understand and translate about foreign literature is the associated meaning”, “It has the specific emotional atmosphere, quite deep and delicate; you may not find it in the dictionary, but it is very important to literature. If we don’t know the habits and customs as well as the cultural historic background, we’ll be at sea, especially when we translate the associated meaning.”By analyzing the sort of proverb, one can understand the features, subaudiences and also the author categorizes proverb into several sections, from geography, custom, and culture to compare the differences between Chinese and English proverbs. Through the study of proverb, good understanding may be well applied to the translation of proverbs. As for the methods of translation, such as literal translation, free translation, or the combination of two ways of translation which depend on the features of language and cultural background of the proverbs.

1 What is Proverb?

1.1 The Definition of Proverb

“A proverb is a brief familiar maxim of folk wisdom, usually compressed inform, often involving a bold image and frequently a jingle that catches the memory.”(NY: Longman, 1976: 889) “A proverb is a short saying in common use that strikingly expresses some obvious truth or familiar experience.”(NY: Macmillan General reference, 1988: 1083) So proverb is considered as a popular short saying with words

of advice or warning which is created among people as a great intellectual achievement from their understanding of the nature and society. Proverb is common on style, neat on structure, vivid on language and profound on meaning. “Proverb is the daughter of daily experience.”“A proverb is much matter decocted into few words.”(JinHuikang, 2004: 421) As a legacy of ancestors, proverb contains the experiences that the ancestors have concluded or the wisdoms of truth.

From the definitions above we may find out that proverb is a general truth and gives advice and warning which involves a bold image, musical rhyme or compressed form and brings reality and vividness to the readers and so they are easy to memorize.

1.2 The Categories of Proverb

Proverb can be seen as a brilliant treasure to a culture, it reflects every aspect of one society. However, such many proverbs can be divided into categories.

1.2.1 From Production Experiences

Language develops along with the society as well as the proverb. Lots of English proverbs are created by farmers from the prediction of the agricultural production and the weather since they ties up with the crops and weather. These proverbs are the experiences of their years of farming which is closely related to there harvest and happiness, so they knows them very well.

For example:

When April blows its horn, it’s good both for hay and corn. (四月打雷,谷草成堆)

It never rains but it pours. (不雨则已,一雨倾盆)

Make hay while the sun shines. (晒草要趁晴天)

A year of snow, a year of plenty. (瑞雪兆丰年)

He that by the plough would thrive, himself must either hold or drive. (想要种地发家,就得扶犁赶马)

1.2.2 From Life Experiences

There are a kind of proverbs that embodies the happiness, joy, tears and pain. Some are even bloody: How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child (逆子无情甚于蛇蝎). This is a proverb that a heartbroken father describes his vicious son. We can imagine the evil face of the son and the poor parents who are left unattended without care, waiting for death. War is death’s feast (战争是死亡的宴席). In all ages, war is all about deaths, broken families. Isn’t the war is exactly a feast of

death? He that taught them all their tricks kept one for himself (教人百艺留一艺). This one may be concluded from the real story of the ungrateful student who betrayed his own teacher.

1.2.3 From Masterpieces and Mottos

Britain is an old European country affected by ancient Rome and Greece and famous of her achievement on literature. The mottos are widely read by people from all over the world; Shakespeare is one of the most famous writers. People have summarized many proverbs from his masterpieces.

Brevity is the soul of wit. (简洁是智慧的灵魂) - Hamlet

One swallow does not make a summer. (只燕不成夏)

Lend your money and lose your friend. (钱财借出,友谊丧失) - Hamlet

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. (一些书可以品味,另外一些可以吞食,少数一些书可以咀嚼和消化) 1.2.4 From the Bible

Britain is a Christian country reined by thearchy as well as the King for a long period in the history. For this reason there are plenty of English proverbs derived from the Bible. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. (以牙还牙, 以眼还眼). This proverb is a quotation from Exodus 21:23-27 in which a person who has taken the eye of another in a fight is instructed to give his own eye in compensation. Freely you have received, freely give. (白白的得来,也要白白的舍去). This one is a quotation from Matthew 10:8. It means that one should let the free things go since he never pays for them.

There are more examples:

Whoever digs a pit may fall into it. (挖陷坑的,自己必掉在其中)

Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them. (凿开石头的,必受损伤;擘开木头的,必遭危险)

More strength is needed but skill will bring success. (得智慧指教,便有益处)

1.2.5 To Convey the Truth

By the forming of the civilization and the society people struggle against the nature as well as the people themselves. Gradually some principles are accepted by the masses and those principles spread far and wide so that more and more people acknowledge them as the truth. Where there is a will, there is a way. (有志者事竟成)

It is one of the most famous English proverbs which encourages people not to loose faith since the strong will leads one to success. If you have the inclination and determination for something, you will always be able to find a way toward the goal. There is nothing hopeless or impossible if you are resolute enough. The proverb has become an accepted wisdom for its spread.(Martin H Manser, 2002: 277)

There are more examples:

A mother’s love never changes. (母爱永不变)

Honesty pays. (诚实必有好报)

Time is money. (时间就是金钱)

History repeats itself. (历史往往重演)

Cheats never prosper. (骗人发不了财)

1.2.6 Loan Proverb

Britain is a country with developed navigation technology from of old and it frequently connects with other continent and countries. Latin used to be popular in England and French was once the official language of England. Therefore, there are a few proverbs from Latin and other languages which reserve their thoughts and wisdoms.

Nothing comes from nothing. (无风不起浪) – Latin proverb

Put the cart before the horse. (本末倒置) – French proverb

Art is long, life is short. (艺术永存,生命短暂) – Latin proverb

Burnt bairns dread the fire. (一朝被蛇咬三年怕井绳) – Russian proverb

Appetite comes with eating. (胃口越吃越大) – French proverb

2 The comparison of Chinese and English proverb

2.1 Subaudition of Proverb

Some proverbs have a subaudition, connotative and profound. If we translate them literally and ignore the original meanings, the version would fail to convey the precise meaning of the original and meanwhile the liquid and fluent words become dead and dull. Therefore, the Chinese proverb which has approximate meaning would make the version vivid and accurate. For example, the man who is born in a stable is not a horse means a person does not necessarily have the stereotypical characteristics of the place where he or she was born, if one translate it like this “在马厩里出生的人不是马” then people may be confused but if the version goes like this “鸡窝里可以飞出金凤凰” then the reader understands at once. Translating in fair weather prepare for the foul to “未雨绸缪”or “居安思危”is much better than “晴天要防阴天”. Translating a man’s word is as good as his bond to “人的话是契约” is too dull and “一言既出,驷马难追” would be more precise.

Some English proverbs use contrast as a rhetorical device in order to emphasize the mood and convince people. E.g.: you may take a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. If one translate it like this “你可以把马牵到河边去,但不能叫它饮水”, the sharp contrast would be neglected. In this kind of situation, the version should be neat and contrastive. “牵马河边易,逼它饮水难” or “老牛不喝水,不能强按头”

Different proverbs refer to different ethics and philosophy, practice makes perfect and all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy this two proverbs convey totally different view on study and work, the former emphasizes on hard working while the latter prefers a balance between work and leisure. You are never too old to learn and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks also make people confused. The former insists that old people should keep learn new things-a philosophy of to learn until death; the latter means that old people might fail to learn new knowledge and skill, the effect is affected by age.

Some have obvious differences on language character and culture background and at the same time the object of the metaphor is quite different. However they are identical on subaudiences. When we translate this kind of proverbs, to maintain the subaudience and change the form is a good idea. The version conveys the original

meaning and holds the structure. Two can play the game(孤掌难鸣); speak of the devil, and he appears (说曹操,曹操就到); the grass is greener on the other side of the hill (这山望着那山高).

2.2 Religion

Both English and Chinese proverbs are deeply affected by religions thought, but there are also distinctions. English proverb is affected by Christianity which reflects the ethics and rules.

E.g.:

No respecter of persons. (一视同仁)

M an proposes, God disposes. (谋事在人成事在天)

And the Chinese proverb is related to Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, for example: “养儿防老, 积谷防饥” is the thoughts of Confucianism, “不看僧面看佛面” is from Buddhism and “饶人不是痴,过后讨便宜” refers to Taoism. Religion is an aspect of people’s spiritual life; it may deeply affect a nation. There are also many proverbs about religions of Chinese and English proverbs. In Chinese we have “借花献佛”, “无事不登三宝殿”, “乐极生悲”and etc. The thoughts of Confucianism occupy an important place as well. The ancestors had left great treasures: “严于律己,宽以待人”, “恭敬不如从命”, “身在福中不知福” and “天下兴亡匹夫有责”. In western countries people believe in God, God is the only spirit with supremacy. So there are also plenty of proverbs related to Christianity: Nature does nothing in vain. (造物主无所不能); God helps those who help themselves. (上帝帮助自助的人); In the right church, but in the wrong pew. (进对了教堂,但坐错了椅子)

2.3 Values

The theme of western value is individualism, relative to the society, they emphasize on the self-reliance and liberty. Don’t put your finger in the pie. It tells people to care about their own business but not to interfere the others. Trying to be efficient and optimistic is their attitude on time. The proverb time is money is similar to “一寸光阴一寸金” literally, but the former states an impression to create wealth as much as one could within a limit time. Punctuality is the soul of business reflects an attitude of time. Affected by individualism, the westerners pay close attention to the privacy as

the age, income, religion is all seen as secret. Just like the proverb of An Englishman’s home is his castle. Traditionally Chinese people do not have that many “secrets”. Compare with the individualism, Chinese people advocate collectivism for the thousands of years of domination by the feudal dynasties. “一个好汉三个帮” and “众人拾柴火焰高” embodies a typical power of collectivity.

2.4 History and Culture

In the English and Chinese proverbs, lots of words are related to specific history and culture background. So a good understanding of the background is necessary.

The following two proverbs have the similar meaning but the former is related to Christianity and the latter is about history.

Speak of angels and you will hear their wings.

说曹操,曹操就到.

The proverb Love is Blind which is derived from western mythology Eros compares with 情人眼里出西施the Chinese version has an obvious historical trace. The bread never falls but on its buttered side and “人倒霉,吃豆腐也塞牙” shows different styles of living. Don’t carry goals to Newcastle and “要倒贩槟榔到广东”are similar but with different backgrounds. Newcastle is a coal-shipping port in Britain and Guangdong is rich in areca. Furthermore, there are English and Chinese proverbs since one is from daily life and the other is from history or culture background: Men leap over where the hedge is lowest and “雷公打豆腐,专拣软的欺”; Two heads are better than one and “三个臭皮匠赛过诸葛亮”

3 Methods of proverbs translation

Since language is a way to express culture, the Chinese and English proverb reflects their cultural features. The purpose of translation is to express the meaning of the original article faithfully. As cultures are not identical, so the translator should notice the subaudiance which is the meaning of the proverb. Literal translation and free translation are two modern and proved methods of translation and the author thinks these two are not isolated, which means they are closely connected. We can not say a translation is completely literal or free, sometimes the two methods are combined. If literal translation could convey the meaning of the original proverb then it is perfect, otherwise only free translation can deliver the hidden meaning and also

make the version vivid and attractive.

3.1 Literal Translation

Literal translation is to translate the proverb word-for word and reserve the original character, metaphor and image. Sometimes we are attracted by the vivid and smart descriptions between the lines when we read English texts and literal translation is the only way of presenting these beauties of language to the readers. Literal translation is the main way to translate English proverb. For example, Among the blind the one-eyed man is king (盲人国里,独眼为王), though we have a Chinese version of “山中无老虎,猴子称大王” but the English proverb conveys the same meaning in a totally different way. We can see the cultural difference here and experience the English taste.

Further examples:

Blood is thicker than water. (血浓于水)

He who laughs best who laughs last. (谁笑到最后,谁笑得最好)

Knowledge is power. (知识就是力量)

In order to explain why literal translation should be the main method of transition, we can see more examples:

An unfortunate man would be drowned in a teacup. (倒霉的人经不起一点风浪) (人一倒霉,一杯茶也能淹死)

The devil may get in by the keyhole, but the door won’t let him out. (魔障一生,便难降服) (魔鬼可以从锁孔里出来,但开着门也请不出去)

Blind the sack before it is full. (凡事适可而止) (袋子要在装满前扎住)

Draw not your bow till your arrow is fixed. (三思而后行) (箭没搭好,先别拉弓) A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. (十佘不如一现) (双鸟在林,不如一鸟在手)

Old birds are not to be caught with chaff. (有经验的人不易上老圈套) (秕糠捉不到老鸟)

Catch the bear before you sell his skin. (不要高兴的太早) (没有捉到熊,别想先卖皮)

Experience keeps no school, she teaches her pupils singly. (只有亲身取得的才是经验) (经验不办学校,她只单个教练)

When the cat’s away, the mice will play. (阎王不在,小鬼跳梁) (猫不在,老鼠成精)

Learn to creep before you leap. (按部就班,循序渐进) (先学爬,后学走)

Two versions are offered for translation of the above-mentioned proverbs, the literal translated ones have successfully reserve the original meanings and images and the free translated ones are lack of freshness and foreign tastes. Consequently the author feels that literal translation should be frequently used.

3.2 Free Translation

3.2.1 Free Translation in different English and Chinese proverbs

Literal translation is not the only method of translating English proverbs. There are usually some metaphors or descriptions hard to understand for Chinese readers since the referred stories are related to specific backgrounds. Then another method of translation –free translation –should be applied which means we can change the image into another image that people are familiar with, so that we can transmit the purpose of the article and translate the hidden meaning.

For example:

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

If we translate it literally, the reader might be confused: why it is in Rome, not somewhere else? In fact, its hidden meaning id “do as the local people do”. So we translate it into “入乡随俗”. It will be more vivid if it is translated “到什么山,唱什么歌”. But, we should choose the translation depend on the context.

We know “dragon” has different meaning in English and Chinese culture. So, when we translate Like father, like son to the Chinese proverb “龙生龙,凤生凤”. Some Chinese words are simple with many meanings. Something unexpected may happen any time is a normal proverb, but we can make it this way: 天有不测风云. The English proverb the dog that will fetch a bone will carry a bone. When it is translated into Chinese, the word “dog” and “bone” cannot be translated literally. We must give up its literal meaning and its figurative and translate its hidden meaning: “当着你说别人坏话的人,也会说你的坏话.”

There are also some other examples which should use free translation:

It is an ill wind that blow nobody good. (对忍忍有害之事,天下少有)

Every man has a fool in his sleeve. (人人都有糊涂之时)

3.2.2 Free translation in similar proverbs in English and Chinese

There are many same and similar proverbs in English and Chinese. They have the same literal meaning and subaudience as the author has mentioned. The figurative of this kind of proverbs is almost the same so they can be directly translated.

E.g.:

Practice makes perfect. (孰能生巧)

Example is better than precept. (身教胜于言传)

Easy come, easy go. (来的容易,去的容易)

Strike while the iron is hot. (趁热打铁)

Walls have ears. (隔墙有耳)

Constant dropping wears the stone. (水滴石穿)

Misfortunes never come single. (祸不单行)

Bitter pills may have wholesome effects. (良药苦口利于病)

When wine is in truth is out. (酒后吐真言)

Habit is a second nature. (习惯成自然)

Every man to his taste. (百人吃百味)

Example is better than precept. (身教重于言教)

Harm set, harm get. (害人害己)

The proverbs above have the identical English and Chinese meanings. Literally it is

a kind of free translation as well.

3.3 Combination of Literal and Free Translation

Usually literal translation could not express the meaning precisely and then we had better combine the literal translation and free translation together. For instance, Every bird likes its own nest, we may translate it literally: 每个鸟都爱自己的巢. However it looks a little bit obscure since the reader might be confused about the main idea of the proverb – is it emphasis on “love” or “nest”? So we could translate it this way: 鸟爱自己的巢,人爱自己的家. Thus the reader could clearly understand the meaning –it is trying to tell people how significant the family is.

Let sleeping dogs lie.(睡狗莫惹,量小易怒)To awake a sleeping dog might be dangerous because it will bite you. It is a little vague if we translate the proverb into “不要去惹睡觉的狗”, so we add the derived meaning to make the version more

accurate. And that is a typical example of the combination of the literal and free translation.

And there are more examples:

A bargain is a bargain. (契约终究是契约,成交不可妄毁)

Every cloud has a silver lining. (朵朵乌云衬白底,黑暗之中有光明)

4 Conclusion

Proverb is a treasure of language and also a kind of social phenomenon and closely related to culture. Proverb represents the features of a nation and records culture and its development. A proverb is a short well-known saying that status a general truth, or gives advice.

The English translation of proverb is not easy. Many factors should be concerned just like English culture, Chinese culture while sometimes the two of them are related. Sometimes they have different literal meaning, but the same hidden meaning. All of these are caused by the differences of the two kinds of cultures. We have to realize the importance of the cultural background. There are three different methods of translation –literal translation, free translation and the combination of the two. We can never find a perfect way of translating a proverb so we should apply the three methods flexibly. The purpose is to translate a proverb with faithfulness, expressive and elegance.

However, language is rich and colorful, it differs in thousands of ways, and English and Chinese proverbs are the same. So, an article can’t cover all t he situations that proverbs have, there are more to be studied.

Bibliography

[1]Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language [M]. NY: Macmillan General Reference, 1988.

[2] Martin H.Manser.The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs[M]. NY: Facts on File, Inc, 2002.

[3] Raffel B. The Art of Translating Poetry [M]. New york: New York Press, 1990.

[4] Modern English Dictionary [M]. NY: Longman, 1976

[5] 汪福祥, 伏力. 英美文化与英汉翻译. [M]. 北京: 外文出版社, 2002

[6] 陈文伯. 简明英文谚语习语词典. [M]. 北京: 世界知识出版社, 2004

[7] 谢金良. 英汉圣经名言. [M]. 北京: 商务印书馆, 2002

[8] 成志伟. 中华谚语大观. [M]. 北京: 金盾出版社, 2005

[9] 杨万鹏. 中英文化差异对翻译策略的影响[M], 长江大学学报, 2006:5

[10] 冯建民. 略论中英谚语及其翻译[M]. 萍乡高等专科学校学报, 2008:5

[11] 张毓彪. 英语谚语的分类与翻译[M]. 成都教育学院学报, 2005;6

[12] 金惠康. 跨文化交际翻译续编[M]. 北京: 中国对外翻译出版社, 2004

Acknowledgements

First and foremost, I would like to show my deepest gratitude to my supervisor, Ms. Hou Bohua, a respectable teacher who has provided me with valuable guidance in every stage of the writing of this thesis. Without her enlightening instruction, impressive kindness and patience, I could not have completed my thesis.

My gratitude also goes to those teachers who taught me and helped me during these four years. It is them who help me to attain a lot of basic skills and abundant professional knowledge, which are of great benefit to me in my graduation thesis. Last but not least, I would like to thank all my friends and families, especially my roommates who accompany and support me.