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论英语谚语的特点与翻译

来源:  作者:潘碧  [字体: ]

Contents
Acknowledges   ii
Contents   iii
English Abstract   iv
Chinese Abstract   v
Part I
Introduction   1
Part II
Characteristics of English proverbs   1
1. Many eloquence characteristics   2
2. Deep thought and moral   3
3. Bright ethnic and geographical characteristics   4
Part III
Cultural backgrounds of English proverbs   5
1. Traditional customs   5
2. Religion   7
3. Historical stories and literary works   8
Part IV
Translation methods of English proverbs   10
1. Literal translation   10
2. Free translation   11
3. Substitution translation   12
4 .Combination of literal and free translation   14
Part V
Conclusion   16
References   18


Abstract
The author of this paper tries to prove that English proverbs, which are the gems of the English language, have such close relations to British culture that they truly reflect the colorful life of British people throughout history. From the perspective of language form, English proverbs are characterized by religious structure, concise form, deep moral, bold image, unique geography and ethnic characteristics, and from the perspective of cultural backgrounds, they are associated with religious beliefs,habits and customs,fables and myth,and culture and art. So it is not an easy job for our Chinese people to translate English proverbs precisely. In the end of the paper, the author proposes four translation methods of English proverbs: literal translation,free translation,substitution translation,literal translation combined with free translation.

Key words: English; proverb; translation; culture


摘   要
     英语 谚语是英国人民智慧的结晶。作者从语言形式上介绍了英语谚语的特点:简练的文字,短小的形式,鲜明的比喻,深刻的寓意,具有鲜明的民族特色和地方色彩等。同时,作者从文化背景方面介绍了英语谚语的产生与英国的传统习俗,宗教信仰,典故及其文学作品有关, 正是以上这些因素使得英语谚语翻译比较困难。最后,作者分析了英语谚语的四种翻译方法:直译,同义谚语套用法,意译,直译与意译相结合。

关键词:  英语;谚语;翻译;文化

Part I
Introduction
Like other nation’s proverbs, English proverbs are the essence of English people’s wisdom. A well-translated English proverb can not only teach, enlighten and persuade people, but also can enrich our Chinese language and culture. So it is necessary to study a nation’s proverbs when we try to study its language and culture.
English proverbs have many characteristics, such as religious structure, concise form, deep moral, bold image, unique geographical and ethnic characteristics. These characteristics make difficulties for us to translate English proverbs if we want to keep the original proverb’s language form and taste. 
Moreover, 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. If we do not know these cultural backgrounds, we cannot understand the English proverb’s connotation and cannot translate them precisely. To our Chinese people with a little cultural knowledge about English, it is very difficult for us to understand and translate English proverbs. So when studying English, we should try to study its culture firstly.
In order to present an adequate translation of a proverb,we can use the four translation methods flexibly:literal translation,free translation,substitution translation,literal translation combined with free translation.When translating, we should try to choose a proper translation method firstly. Secondly, we should translate the proverb’s connotation. Meanwhile, we should try to keep the original proverb’s form.
  In this paper, the author aims to introduce the characteristics of English proverbs, and discuss the four translation methods and thEir advantages respectively.

 
Part II
Characteristics of English proverbs
English proverbs have the same characteristics like the other nations' proverbs. They are produced orally by farmers, hunters, workers, sailors, housewives, etc, so they conclude British people’s experience of fighting with the society and nature, and have the function of teaching, enlightening, and persuading people. English proverbs possess the following characteristics.

1. Many eloquence characteristics
1.1 Oral and concise words
We all know that English proverbs are produced by British working people orally, so the words of English proverbs are very concise and oral. When we translate them, we should try our best to keep the original proverb’s oral characteristic. For example, “Bad workmen quarrel with thEIr tools.”拙工咎器.(彭小红,2005). Obviously, we can see that the translation is more formally, and it will lose its oral characteristic. So the above one should be translated like this, “拙工常怨工具差” , which will be easier for people to recite.
Now we will give two kinds of translations of some English proverbs. From these translations, we can see that the second translation is more popular, and is easier for people to recite.
1. Well begun is half done.
能言其始,事已成半。(良好的开端是成功的一半。)
2. Waste not, want not.
俭以防匮。(不浪费,不愁缺。)
3. A good beginning makes a good ending.
欲善其终,必先善其始。(有了好的开始,才有好的结果。)
4. A danger foreseen is half avoided.
预见其患,则患不足惧。(预见了危险,就等于防备了一半。)
 
1.2 Syntax structure and rhythm
Moreover, when we read proverbs, we will find that the syntax structure of English proverbs is compact and symmetrical; and the rhythm is gentle and united. For example, “You may take a horse to the water, but you can not make it drink” (陈红玉,2002) . If we translate it like this, 你把马牵到河边去,但不能叫它饮水, it will lose the characteristics of concise words, symmetrical and compact syntax structure and gentle rhythm. So it is better for us to translate like this, 牵马河边易,逼马饮水难.
Proverbs have the characteristics of concise and oral word, symmetrical and compact syntax structure and gentle rhythm. Therefore, when we translate them, we should try our best to keep these characteristics. Only in this way, can the translation have the taste of proverb.
 
2. Deep thought and moral
Like other proverbs, English proverbs imply deep thought and moral. They usually express people’s noble thought, and they can teach, encourage, enlighten and persuade people, like people’s good friends and motto. For example,
1. Fish and guests smell in three day.
鱼不过三日鲜,言不过三日亲。
2. A wise man thinks all that he says; a fool says that entire he thinks.
智者思其所言,愚者言其所思。
3. Learning is better than house and land.
学富五车胜过万贯家财。
4. A hedge between keeps friendship green.
  君子之交淡如水。
5. All that glitters is not gold.
  闪亮的不一定都是金子。
6. Complacency is the enemy of study.
  学习的敌人是自己的满足。
7. Failure is the mother of success.
  失败是成功之母。
8. Knowledge makes humble, ignorance makes proud.
  博学使人谦虚,无知使人骄傲。
9. No rose without a thorn.
  没有不带刺的玫瑰。
10. Pleasure comes through toil.
   苦尽甘来。

3. Bright ethnic and geographical characteristics
English proverbs are based English cultural backgrounds. When we read English proverbs, we cannot stop to imagine the English history, geography, customs, politics, economy, etc. Obviously, English proverbs have bright ethnic and geographical characteristics. Therefore, when we translate this kind of proverbs, we should try our best to keep the original proverbs' ethnic and geography characteristics. Now we will take some proverbs as examples following with two kinds of translations. We can compare which one is better to keep the ethnic and geographical characteristics of proverbs.
1. Talk of the devil and he is sure to appear.
说到魔鬼,魔鬼就到。(说曹操,曹操到。)
2. Two heads are better than one.
两个人的头脑总比一个的好。(三个丑皮匠顶个诸葛亮。)
3. Beauty lies in lover’s eyes.
情人眼里出美人。(情人眼里出西施。)
4. Do not cross the bridge until you come to it. 
船到桥头 自然 直。(不要杞人忧天。)
5. Never offer to teach fish to swim.
不要教鱼儿游水。(不要班门弄斧。)
We all know that “曹操 ,诸葛亮,西施,杞人,鲁班”are the unique people in Chinese history. If we choose the second translation, our Chinese people will make a misunderstanding that there are also曹操 ,诸葛亮,西施,杞人,鲁班 in Britain. On the contrary, the first kind of translation implies the bright ethnic and geographical characteristics, and people can easily know that they are English proverbs but not Chinese ones.

Part III
Cultural backgrounds of English proverbs
Proverbs are based a nation’s unique cultural backgrounds. Human culture has much in common, but also has much in difference. The differences of the traditional customs, religions and historical stories and some other literature works make proverbs have strong cultural characteristics. If we want to master a foreign language, we must know the specialty of the foreign country’s cultural backgrounds. In the following part, we will talk about the cultural backgrounds of English proverbs: traditional customs, religion and historical stories and some other literature works, which will help us understand the English proverbs well, then translate them precisely and faithfully.

1. Traditional customs
   Every nation has its own traditional culture, in which its own traditional customs, are different from others. These differences reflect the bright national feeling and characteristics. For example, people from different nations have different feelings to the same animal.
1.1 Bat
In China, bat stands for “happiness”. Because in Chinese, the pronunciation of “蝠 ” is the same as “福”(happiness), Chinese people think that bat is a lucky thing meaning happiness. On the contrary, bat stands for an unlucky thing in Britain, which we can see from many English proverbs. For example,“ As blind as a bat. 有眼无珠”.
1.2 Dog
In China, although some people feed dogs, most people abhor and despite this kind of animal psychologically. They often compare dogs with bad people or some disgusted things. On the contrary, Englishmen like dogs, because they think that dogs can hunt with them and look their homes. They regard dogs as their companions and pets. Therefore, in many English proverbs, British people often compare dogs with people. For example,
1. Beat the dog before the lion.                            
杀鸡给猴看。
2. Better be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion.
宁为鸡头,勿为凤尾。
3. Love me, love my dog.
爱屋及乌
4. Every dog has its day.
凡人皆有得意时。
5. Let the sleeping dog lie.
别惹是生非。
6. Barking dogs do not bite.
吠犬不咬人
7. Dog does not eat dog.
同类不相残.
8. A good dog deserves a good bone.
有功者受赏.
1.3 Dragon
Dragon is an imaginary animal with wings and claws, able to breathe out fire. In China, dragon is regarded as an auspicious deity standing for emperor. So Chinese people adore it very much, and compare themselves with dragon, such as“炎黄子孙”,“龙的传人” and “望子成龙”. But in British mythology, dragon is a fierce and cruel animal with four feet, which is a synonym of evil. So dragon is a derogatory sense in Britain. For example, to sow dragon’s teeth,播下不和的种子;to chase the dragon. 服用鸦片/海洛因。

2. Religion
2.1 Christianity
We all know that Buddhism has great influence on Chinese culture. So there are many Chinese proverbs referring to Buddhism, for example, “借花献佛” “闲时不烧香,临是抱佛脚” . However, Britain is a nation which is influenced deeply by Christianity. There are many English proverbs referring to God, heaven, devil, hell, etc. For example,
1. Go through hell and high water.
赴汤蹈火。
2. God helps those who help themselves.
自助者,神助之。
3. Talk of the devil and he will appear.
  说到魔鬼,魔鬼就到。
4. Man proposes, God disposes.
谋事在人,成事在天.
5. Mills of God grind slow but sure.
天网恢恢,疏而不漏.

2.2 Bible
      We all know that Bible is a book referring to Christianity, and it is also an essential book in every English family. Even though in a small poor village, you will find that there is a Bible in every farmer’s austere house. Obviously, Bible has controlled English people’s spirit and every aspect of their life, which has been reflected in many English proverbs. For example, Forceful as Samson 像参孙一样力大无比, (朱艳,2002). Samson is one of the most famous giants in Bible. He was full of plentiful energy, which God Jehovah gave him. Samson once mangled a lion without any weapon as he ripped a little lamb. Moreover, he once used a jawbone of an ass to kill 1000 Philistines. Unfortunately, Philistines seized him, and they scratched his couple of eyes. With great angry, Samson pushed over Philistine’s house, which just smashed 3000 Philistines. At the same time, he was also smashed by the fallen house. Therefore, in Britain, Samson symbolizes person who is with great energy.
There are many English proverbs coming from Bible. For example,
1. Spare the rid and spoil the child.
  舍不得棍子,宠坏了孩子。
2. Beard the lion in his den.
老虎嘴里拔牙,太岁头上动土。
3. There is nothing new under the sun.
  天地之大,无奇不有。
4. Cast your pearls before swine.
对牛弹琴.
5. Judge not according to appearance.
勿以貌取人.
Bible has figured many people with vivid individuality. Now, we know that Bible plays an important part in British people’s life. If we do not know the literature illusions and proverbs from Bible, we cannot study English well. So, if you want to translate vividly and concisely, please read Bible!It will give you great help.

3. Historical stories and literary works
     We all know that every nation has its own culture and history, so every nation has its own unique literature works. In China, Confucianism and Taoism influence people greatly. However, in Britain, people are influenced greatly by Greece fables, Aesop’s fables and some other literature works, such as Shakespeare’s works, and many proverbs are originated from them. Therefore, if we do not know these historical stories well, we cannot translate precisely. Take an English proverb originated from Aesop’s fables as an example, “Do not be a dog in the manger”站着茅坑不拉屎, (朱艳,2002). The story is like this, a dog grabs the battle’s manger without making good use of it, and it never eats the hay that the cattle wants to eat. So this proverb’s connotation is to satire a person who commandeers wealth, resource and position without making good use of them. Meanwhile, he impediments the other people to own them.
There are many proverbs of this kind. The following are as examples,
1. Do not change horse in the middle stream. 河中莫换马,临阵莫换将。
  It is originated from a historical story in England.
2. He has burnt his bridges behind him. 破釜沉舟,背水一战。
  It is originated from a historical story in Roman.
3. Grasp all, lose all. 欲尽得,必尽失。
  It is originated from Aesop’s Fables
4. Happy is the man who learnt from the misfortunes of others. 前车之鉴,后人之福。
  It is originated from Aesop’s Fables
5. When Greeks meet Greeks, then comes the tug of war. 两雄相争,其争必烈。
It is originated from Greece fables.
6. One falls into Scylla in seeking to avoid Charybdis. 才离狼窝,又入虎口。
It is originated from Greece fables.
7. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. 位高心不宁。
  It is originated from Shakespeare’s famous play- Henry Ⅳ.
 8. Practice makes perfect. 熟能生巧。
  It is originated from English poet, Christopher Anstey. (安斯泰,1724-1805)
9. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. 浅学误人。
  It is originated from one of the most important poets in England, Pope. (薄柏,1688-1744)
10. Curiosity killed the cat.多一事不如少一事。
   It is originated from Thomas Gray, a famous English poet in 18th century. (托马斯﹒格雷 1716- 1771)

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