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词典:翻译的双刃剑—— 从一篇开幕式致辞的英译失误谈起

—— 从一篇开幕式致辞的英译失误谈起

  摘要: 照搬词典与意合思维是英汉互译的大忌。词典翻译不同于语用翻译:前者往往是孤立静止的,后者则是灵活多变的。文章还指出,大型投资洽谈会以及诸如此类的社会活动,一定要十分注意翻译质量。须知,拙劣的翻译会招来拙劣的印象。
  关键词:翻译、词典、意合、开幕式致辞

  翻译查词典天经地义,但翻译靠词典,就遗患无穷了。道理不言自明,仅凭英汉词典,“His face is very red”肯定翻译成“他脸很红”或“他红光满面”,而在交际语境下该句十有八九应该译成:“他气得脸色通红”。
  笔者手头一份由宁德市投资洽谈会组委会秘书处印发、由市委书记在“海峡西岸经济区2007年宁德投资洽谈会”开幕式上致辞的英文翻译稿(以下简称《致辞稿》),粗略统计,仅翻译硬伤就多达10余处,加上文辞欠妥,拼写错误,总数不下几十处。一个邀请了八方宾客和外国友人参加的市级大型投资洽谈会的开幕辞,居然出现如此严重的翻译失误,无疑警示我们:翻译领域陷阱密布,希望靠词典蒙混过关,难矣。当然,本文目的不在纯粹指误,更不是批评嘲笑,而是希望透过对错误的分析,探讨英-汉翻译中存在的普遍性、趋同性问题,以引为鉴戒。
  1、英语不逮,母语替代
  外语不逮者率尔操觚历来是翻译的大忌,但如果这些人偏偏又抱着侥幸心理,以为借助词典就可过关斩将,那就错上加错了。《致辞稿》中有这样一段话:
  1)宁德将成为海西东北翼“北承南联、对接两洲,西进东出、内外拓展”的桥头堡。
原译:Ningde will be the bridgehead of the west economy zone’s northeast wing to “undertake northern industry and link to the south, connect to the two deltas, exploit the west and explore the east, develop both from inside and to outside”.
  “海西东北翼”其实指的是“海峡西岸经济区东北角(部)”。此“翼”非彼“翼”,怎么可以照套wing(鸟翼)呢?“北承南联、对接两洲,西进东出”到底讲的是什么?undertake northern industry and link to the south就是“北承南联”吗?根据BBC English Dictionary,“undertake”的意思是:When you undertake a task or job, you start doing it and accept responsibility for it.(p.1232)该词的主语一般是“人”,也只有“人”才能“accept responsibility for sth”(对……负起责任)。至于把“内外拓展”译成“develop both from inside and to outside”,更是照搬词典的“中国式英语”。可以说,原文整句翻译语焉不详,让人不得要领。不过,尽管语焉不详,借力词典和汉语语感的痕迹却清晰可见。本文作者试改译如下:
  参译:Ningde will become the bridgehead “that links the north and the south, joins the two delta areas, becomes a passage for the east and west , and expands towards hinterlands and overseas” in the northeast pole of the West Coast Economic Zone of the Taiwan Straits.   
  2)我们热忱欢迎海内外朋友前来参观考察、旅游度假、投资兴业、分享商机。
原译:We sincerely to welcome friends from home and abroad to visit and inspect Ningde, go traveling and vacationing to Ningde, invest and boom industry in Ningde, and share business opportunities here together.
  这又是一句典型的英语不逮,母语替代的误译例子。汉语原文中出现了多个四字格,可谓平仄协调,音韵合拍。由于汉字的象形性、单音性特点,汉语可以轻而易举地组成四字格,念起来琅琅上口。然而,这种句式结构也往往容易出现冗词赘字,语义重复,甚至“因韵害意”的现象。举个最简单例子,“称心如意,喜上眉梢”怎么译?拘泥表层语义者势必译成:after one’s own heart and happiness appear on the eyebrows. 殊不知,在中国人看来音韵合拍的这句话,在英美人的思维中却冒出了问题:所谓“称心如意”,其实就是“称心”或者“如意”;“喜上眉梢”仅是“喜悦”而已,硬说“喜悦”爬上“眉梢”而不上别处,不符逻辑。所以,凡理解这句话真实意思的英美人绝对不会照词典直译,而是避开字面意,转而译成be happy and satisfied。这便是汉英两个民族在思维和语言表达上的一大区别。回到上面这句误译,句中要么是语病,要么太罗嗦。比如,“We sincerely to welcome friends”就明显犯了语法错误;“go traveling and vacationing to Ningde”也不对,go traveling和vacationing怎么能共用一个介词“to”?此外,英语有说vacationing to(某处)的吗?再说,作为东道主的宁德市委书记对着嘉宾说“go traveling to Ningde”,妥当么?把“投资兴业”按词典直译成“invest and boom industry”,怎么讲都称得上拙劣翻译。笔者试改译如次:
  参译:We cordially welcome friends from home and abroad to Ningde for visits and inspections, tourism and vacationing, investment and prosperity, and sharing business opportunities.
  行文至此,笔者禁不住想起宁德市福鼎京生宾馆内令人困惑的类似翻译,试列举数例:
  (1)安全疏散示意图
  Security Scattering Sketch Map.
  (2)★红点表示阁下所在位置
  ★Point profess your excellency.
  (3) 如若发生火灾及紧急情况下,请您切勿惊慌。本宾馆拥有先进的消防安全避险设施,可确保您安全转移。
  Please don’t worry if a fire is occurring. Our hotel have owned succour scattering facilities to sure your transmitted safely.
  以上这些译文,英美人看了不啼笑皆非才怪!句(1)纯粹就是从词典上逐字照抄。 英语的习惯表达应该是: Fire Escape Sketch。句(2)的英译更是搞笑,如果将它倒译回中文,则是“红点表示阁下”。岂不怪哉!要知道,your excellency一般情况下只用于非常正式场合的尊贵客人,比如国家元首、外国使节等等。笔者的改译是:
  ★红点表示阁下所在位置:The red star ★ indicates where you are.
  至于句(3),那不只是搞笑的问题,简直要误事的。“Please don’ t worry if a fire is occurring”的意思是:“火灾时请不要担心”。火灾发生时怎能不担心(don’ t worry)呢?句  
(3)后半部分的译文更是让人莫名其妙,字比句次地照字直译,恐怕只有译者自己才清楚究竟是什么意思。本来想叫外国客人别担心,老外看到这种译文想必会担心得更厉害。请看笔者的参考译文:
  参译:Please keep calm(或:do not panic)if a fire occurs. Our hotel has been equipped with advanced fire-escape facilities that can ensure your safe escape.

  2、望文生义与“意合翻译法”
  汉字是象形字,又是方块字,汉字这种象形、单音、独立自足的特点自然使得单个的汉字成了基本语音单位,同时也成为视觉上的认知单位。人们可以直接通过对汉字所蕴涵的“意”、“象”进行认知,所以,在汉字语境下“望文”有时真的能“生义”,正如鲁迅先生所言:中国人“写山曰嶙峋嵯峨,状水曰汪洋澎湃”(鲁迅,1981)。可是,将这种中国人对待汉字的认知表达方式照搬进英语就大谬不然了。请看例:
  3)宁德独特的地理气候条件,造就了众多天然画廊的自然风光和极富特色的人文景观。
  原译:Its unique geological and climate conditions create many natural gallery-like scenery and characteristic human culture scenery.
  “geological”指的是什么?根据Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 它的意思是:“of, relating to or based on geology”(p. 513)译成汉语即“地质(学)的”。译者明显是望文生义,误把“地理的(geographical)”译成了“地质的(geological)”。除此之外,原译的动词时态也用得不对。笔者改译如次:
  参译:Ningde’s unique geographical and climate conditions have helped created many natural gallery-like and cultural scenic spots.
  我们不妨再找出两个望文生义的译例:
  4)今年,“闽东北亲水游”线路被中央电视台评选为“CCTV全国完美假期十佳线路”之一。    
  原译:This year the “Northeast Fujian Aquatic Ecological Tourism” routine was honored as one of “CCTV national ten perfect vocation routines” by the China central TV station.
糊涂的译者把“线路(route)”译成了“日程(routine)”,把“假日(vacation)”译成了“职业(vocation)”。风马牛不相干的词汇怎么会扯到一起来了?其实还是望文生义在作祟!译者很可能平时就没有弄清楚“route”与“routine”,“vacation”与“vocation”的语义关系,翻译时更是“以其昏昏,使人昭昭”。除了这些“形似”字词外,该译文用Aquatic Ecological Tourism对译“闽东北亲水游”中的“亲水游”也让人见笑。须知,Aquatic指的是:“existing or happening in water”(BBC English Dictionary p. 50),其汉语意思则是:“水生的,水中(进行)的”,跟“亲水游”中的“水”是两码事。笔者的改译是:
  参译:This year, the route of “the Water-loving Tour in Northeast Fujian” has been chosen one of “The Ten Best National Perfect Vacation Routes of CCTV” by the Central Television Station.
  5)即以钢铁、火电、核电、精细化工、建材为主的能源、原材料产业群
  原译:The first is the energy and raw material industry group, mainly including steel and iron, fire power, nuclear power, fine chemicals, construction material industry.
  “火电”如果能够译成“fire power”,那么,“他发火了”是不是也可以译成“He caught fire”呢?这就是被戏称为“意合翻译法”的名堂。分明是有了这样的翻译套路,一位学者才轻而易举地用一则最简单的英语玩笑,考倒了一大群大学生。这个玩笑是:请在“good、quite good、most good、very good、fairly good”中,按程度次序排出“最good、次good 、第三good、、、、、、”(张传彪,2005) 结果是,几乎所有在场的同学,甚至英语老师们,都认定“most good”最good。而天底下压根儿就没有“most good”!笔者试将上句改译如下:
  参译:The first is the energy and raw material industry group of steel and iron, thermal power, nuclear power, fine chemicals and building materials.
类似的“意合翻译”在《致辞稿》中还可找出许多,不妨再看两例:
  6)最后,衷心预祝“海西”2007年宁德投洽会取得圆满成功!祝愿各位领导、各位嘉宾身体健康、工作顺利、事业发达、家庭幸福!
  原译:Finally we sincerely wish 2007 “West Coast” Ningde Investment Symposium held successfully, wish the leaders and guests health well, work smooth, career prosperous, and family happy!
  这段译文基本上都按词典上的释义,以“意合翻译”的方式进行。比如:“工作顺利”之译work smooth,“家庭幸福”之译family happy,等等。由于字体结构的特点,汉字不可能有字(词)形变化,而汉语也不像英语那样依靠严密的语法规则来组词构句,它只须通过字词粘合就可按事理逻辑关系进行语义运作。诚如张传彪教授所指出:“(因此)汉字成了富含理据、独立自足、自我关照的,集形、音、义于一身的基本语言单位,从而能在组词构句时粘合灵活,意合自如。一句‘他不怕辣’,可以随意改成‘他辣不怕’,‘不辣他怕’,‘ 他怕不辣’,‘ 辣他不怕’,而意思却几乎不变。”(张传彪,2004)然而,同样的意合手段移用到英语中,就根本行不通。请看本文作者是怎样改译的:
  参译:Finally I sincerely wish the 2007 Ningde Investment and Trade Fair of the West Coast Economic Zone of the Taiwan Straits a success! I also wish all the leaders and guests good health, smooth work, prosperous career, and a happy family.
  7)在2006年首届浙商投资博览会上,宁德荣膺2006浙商(省外)最具投资潜力城市,成为全国十个获此殊荣的城市之一。
  原译:In the first Zhejian Businessmen Investment Exhibition, Ningde got the honor of the most potential city for investment, as one of the ten cities which got this honor in China.
  原译用to get对应“荣赓”和“成为”两个汉语动词,其实也是“意合翻译”的一种表现形式。道理很简单,在汉语原文中,“荣赓”就是“光荣地获得(got)”,“成为”则是“取得(got)某种荣誉称号”。基于这种深层母语“意合思维”,所以,译者就很自然地反复采用to get来表示“荣赓”和“成为”的动作。请看笔者的改译:
  参译:In 2006 during the First Investment Fair of Zhejiang Businessmen, Ningde received the honor of being the most potential city for investment outside Zhejiang Province, becoming one of the ten cities that have obtained such honors in the country.

  3、结语
  鉴于汉字是当今世界上唯一不属于表音体系的文字,所以,英、汉两种语言从文字形态到语法体系都截然迥异。中国人从事英汉/汉英翻译所面临的问题,跟英美人从事英法/法英或英德/德英翻译所面临的问题是大不相同的。前者属于语系之间的语言转换,后者则是同根同源的不同语言之间的转换。有鉴于此,笔者深感英汉互译中照抄词典之弊端,意合思维之弊端,望文生义之弊端。解决办法何在?无他,多读,多练,多借鉴。万万不可迷信词典,更不可率尔操觚。
  还有一点虽然跟翻译本体无关,却不能不说。那就是类似“海峡西岸经济区2007年宁德投资洽谈会”开幕式这样有大批外宾参加的,有一定影响的场合的翻译,千万要慎重。有关部门切不可草率点将,以为“抓到手的都是鱼”。要知道,拙劣的翻译会招来拙劣的印象。要不然,首都北京就无需大张旗鼓地清理公示语误译了。

  参考文献:
  [1]BBC English Dictionary[Z],Glasgow: BBC English and HarperCollins Publishers Ltd,1993
  [2]鲁 迅,自文字至文章[A]. 鲁迅. 鲁迅全集(9)[C]. 北京:人民文学出版社,1981:344   
  [3]Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary[Z], Massachusetts, U.S.A. 1983
  [4]张传彪,汉字背景:一支无形却无处不在的手[J],疯狂英语教师版,2005(12):34
  [5]张传彪,从汉字本源看中西方诗歌发展轨迹之迥异[J],解放军外语学院学报,2004(6):79

词典:翻译的双刃剑
龚帆元:
(宁德师范高等专科学校英语系,福建宁德 352100)
Dictionaries: a Double-edge Sword for Translation
——A talk beginning with the pitfalls of the English translation of an opening speech

Gong Fanyuan
(English Department of Ningde Teachers College, Ningde, Fujian 352100)

  Abstract:Just copying the dictionaries and parataxis thinking are the taboos for English to Chinese and Chinese to English translations. The dictionary translations are different from the pragmatic translations: the former is generally made literally and in no context at all while the latter is often done flexibly and in a pragmatics-oriented way. This article points out that great importance should be attached to translation for these activities such as large-scale investment fairs and the like. It is obvious that shoddy translation will bring awful images.
  Key words: translation, dictionary, parataxis, opening speech

  龚帆元(1961-),宁德师范高等专科学校英语系副教授,福建寿宁人,研究方向:英汉语言文化对比与翻译
  Tel: 13859604683 josephgong@126.com