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许渊冲:创新性翻译的真、善、美原则(上)

2018-02-11 16:08     房产     来自:21世纪英语传媒

本文通过《论语》、《诗经》及部分唐诗的翻译实例证明,在翻译中应坚持创新性翻译原则,即在翻译文学作品时,“真”是必要条件,而“美”是充分条件。翻译中的“真”虽然重要,但翻译文学作品时应在保证“真”的基础上,让译作与原作同样“美”,因为文学作品本身应当是一件“美”的事物。


There are more than a billion people who use the Chinese language and less than a billion who use the English language, so the Chinese and the English are very important languages in the world, and the translation from one language into the other may be said to be as important. 


Generally speaking, translators in English-speaking countries translate from one Occidental language into another and it is not difficult to find equivalents between the two languages, so the principle of equivalence is usually followed.


But the Chinese language is an Oriental one in which only half of its vocabulary has equivalents in English. When there are equivalents, the principle of equivalence may be followed in translation. When no satisfactory equivalents can be found, the expressions used by the translator may be better or worse than the original.


Generally speaking, the translation cannot be so good as the original, so the translator should do his best to choose the best expressions to lessen the gap between the two languages. If the translator’s country has a longer civilization than the English-speaking country, it would not be impossible for the translator to overshadow the original by choosing good expressions in his own language. 


What is more, the English language is a scientific one, it is concise, it says what it means, its sense goes as far as the word, this may be epitomized into a formula 1 + 1 = 2; while the Chinese language is an artistic one, it is concise, it may mean more than what it says, its sense may go farther than the word, its formula may be 1 + 1 > 2. 


The difference between science and art makes it possible for art to triumph over science in literary translation. The way how to solve the contradiction between science and art may be creative, so it may be called creative translation.


The theory of creative translation is based on traditional Chinese culture, which includes Confucian and Taoist ideas, represented respectively by two books: the Analects of Confucius translated by Arthur Waley and Lao Zi: the Book of Tao and Teh published by Peking University Press. 


Are the titles of the two classics well translated? The phonetical transcription of the Confucian book is lun(论,discuss)yu(语,speak), while the Analects used by Waley means selected miscellaneous passages, so the title may be said to be an equivalent translation. If the title is changed to Thus Spoke the Master to read like a philosophical work, it may be called a creative translation. If Lao zi:the Book of Tao and Teh(老子:道德经) is changed to Old Master: Laws Divine and Human(老子:天道与人道),it may also be called a creative translation.



The first motto in Thus Spoke the Master is 学而时习之,不亦说乎。(Phonetic transcription: xue er shi xi zhi bu yi yue hu) How to translate this motto into English? Let us read the version of Waley who follows the principle of equivlence:


To learn and at due time to repeat what one has learned,


Is that not after all a pleasure?


“To learn” is equivalent to xue, “and” to er, “at due time” to shi, “to repeat what one has learned” to xi zhi, “not after all” to bu yi, “a pleasure” to yue. So we may say Walay’s version is an equivalent translation. But, as we have just said, the Chinese is an artistic language which may say one thing and mean another. Here “to learn” is said, but xue means “to acquire knowledge”; “to repeat” is said, but xi means to “put into practice”, and what is said is not so important as what is meant. So this motto may be retranslated as follows:


Is it not delightful to acquire knowledge and put it into practice from time to time?


This may serve as an example of creative translation. It is very important for translation theory. If we do not know whether a theory is good or not, we should put it into practice and see the result. This Confucian idea might serve as a base for our theory of creative translation.



Another base for creative translation is the Old Master’s Laws Divine and Human, which also begins with a motto:道可道,非常道。(Phonetic transcription: tao ke tao, fei chang tao)


In this motto there are six phonetic symbols, of which three are tao. The first tao is a noun which may mean way, law, truth, etc. The second tao is a verb which may mean to know or to be known. The third tao used together with chang means wellknown truth or truth known to you. Now let us read the translation of this motto published by Peking University Press:


The Tao that is utterable is not the eternalo Tao;


The first and the last Tao replaced by meaningless phonetic symbols make no sense at all, so it may be replaced by:


Truth can be known, but it may not be a wellknown truth.


If we replace “truth” by literary translation, we may say: Literary translation can be made, it is not transliteration but creative translation.


(未完待续)

内容来源:《21世纪英语教育》287期。

图片来源:网络。

 

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