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常见中文俗语英译技巧 [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2006-2-24 09:56:43 |Display all floors
许多中国人爱用俗语、成语、俚语。由于中美两国文化、风俗、思想、习惯的差异,如果照字直译,或把单字「堆在一起」,老外听了, 也许就会「满头雾水」、「迷迷糊糊」,成了他们所说的「只有你们中国人听得懂」的「中国英文」(Chinese English)。

在此,把一些常见的中文俗语与一般老外的说法相对比较,或许可供有兴趣的读者参考。

1. 人山人海:有人直译为:People mountain people sea.
这就是「中国英文」,老外很难理解。他们指「人多」时,通常只说:「There is a large crowd of people.」如果看到电影院门前大排长龙,也只说:「There is (was) a long movie line.」

不过在诗词用语 (poetic expression) 里,老外也有使用:「a (the) sea of faces」,颇有咱们「人山人海」的味道。例如:

Looking out upon the sea of faces, Mr. A delivered a touching speech.(望着一片人山人海的听众, A先生发表一篇动人的演说。)
Standing at his podium, President Clinton saw a sea of faces waving at him.(柯林顿总统站在讲台上看到人山人海的人群挥手向他致意。)
可见,说话者通常要在台上或高处,才有「人海」的感觉。因此,可以说:I saw a sea of faces from the top of the building. 但在平地的人群中,就不说:「I saw the sea of faces.」也不说:「There is a sea of faces.」只说:「I saw a large crowd of people.」

2. 家家有本难念的经:有人译成:Every family cooking - pot has a black spot. (意思是:每个家庭的锅子都有黑色的污点)
这样说法,老外恐怕不能充分了解。不过老外最常的说法是:

Many families have skeletons in the closet. (许多家庭的衣柜里都有骨骸) (骨骸就是指家丑)
或者说:
Every family has its own source of shame. (每个家庭都有自己的丑事)
说白些,就是:
Every family has its own problem.

3. 天下无不散的宴席:有人直译为:There are no feasts in the world which do not break up at last.
老外听后,也许很难体会其中意义。如果按照美语说法,也许更易理解:

All good things come to an end. (意思是:所有好的事情,总有结束的一天。)
假如是指好友最后也有分别的一天,那么可以说:

Eventually, all bosom friends will drift apart. (bosom friend 是指知心的好友)

4. 平时不烧香,临时抱佛脚:有人照字直译为:When times are easy, we do not burn the incense,but when the trouble comes, we embrace the feet of the Buddha.
这种说法,老外也会「一知半解」。美语里一般说法是:

Worship God every day; not just in times of adversity. (要每天敬拜神,不是只在困难时。)
对学生也可以说:
If you study hard every day, exams will not seem overwhelming. (如果你每天用功,考试就不会形成压力。)

5. 挂羊头,卖狗肉:有人照字直译为:He advertises mutton, but sells dog's flesh. 或 He hangs up a sheep's head at the shopfront and sells dog meat.

这两种译法,恐怕老外都难理解,尤其谈到「狗肉」,他们更会「反感」,因为狗是他们最爱的宠物,不过老外倒有相近的说法: He applied bait-and-switch factics in business. (他经商的策略是先引诱顾客来,再改变货物的品质。)
(Bait-and- switch 当名词用) (也可不用连字号)
This store uses bait and switch policy.

或者简单的说:
Let the buyer be aware! (让消费者提高警觉) ; 或
Say one thing and do another.

6. 一言既出,驷马难追:有人译成:One word lets slip and four horses will fail to catch it. 或 A statement that once let loose cannot be caught by four galloping horses.
这两种说法,中文味道嫌重,老外未必理解。不过他们倒有类似的说法:

A word once let go cannot be recalled.
或者说:
You can not take back what you have said. (你说出的话,就不能再收回来。)

7. 祸从口出,言多必失:有人译为:The mouth is the gate of misfortune and evil.
老外听了,恐怕不能完全理解。最好说成:

Careless talk leads to trouble. (不小心说话,会带来麻烦); 或
The less said the better. (说的愈少愈好)
甚至也可以说:
Shut the mouth and open the eyes. (闭嘴少说,张眼多看。)

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Post time 2006-2-24 10:12:46 |Display all floors
Excellent, luxgum, more posts like yours, more we learned

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Post time 2006-2-24 11:38:50 |Display all floors
push

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Post time 2006-2-25 00:39:43 |Display all floors
learn a lot

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Post time 2006-2-25 18:47:23 |Display all floors

Thanks

Thanks! How helpless they are

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Post time 2006-2-27 18:28:24 |Display all floors
Interesting~~~Thanks for your share
Vouloir, c'est pouvoir!*(.".)*

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