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泰戈尔《飞鸟集》一句诗句误译的分析和对翻译的启示
Thread poster: nigerose
nigerose  Identity Verified
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Dec 1, 2008

“Do not seat your love upon a precipice because it is high”

诗句误译的分析和对翻译的启示



偶然发现,泰戈尔《飞鸟集》诗句“Do not seat your love upon a precipice because it is high”被严重误译。网络查询发现被翻译成“不要因为峭壁是高的,便让你的爱情坐在峭壁上”。Google发现,“繁体中文和简体中文网页中,约有 4,950 项符合 ‘不要因为峭壁是高的,便让你的爱情坐在峭壁上 ’的查询结果(2008年1月26日上午)。可见这个错误译文已经在网络上广为传播了。

我不能理解这个译文所表达的意思,以我理工科学生的逻辑思维来看毫无逻辑。从英语语法来分析,发现这个译文是严重的误译。

我发现,这个诗句隐藏着三个语法现象,只有正确分析句子的语法,才能正确理解诗句的含义。

第一个语法现象在于“not …because…”的搭配。这是英语中一种特殊搭配,not有时候修饰它后面的动词,有时候却修饰because,需要进行逻辑判断和通过上下文确定。比如,“They did not come to the hospital because they wanted to see me.”这个句子,不是“他们没有到医院来,因为他们想来看我”的意思,因为逻辑上讲不通,这里的not修饰because,因此应该是“他们到医院来,不是因为要看我(而是为了其他原因)”的意思。

具体到这个诗句,译文把not理解为修饰because而不是动词seat,即不是翻译成“不要让你的爱情坐在峭壁上,因为它很高”,而是翻译成“不要因为峭壁是高的,便让你的爱情坐在峭壁上”。后一翻译似乎比前一翻译显得有些哲理,所以看来对诗句中not…because的理解是正确的。

但这个诗句还有两个句法现象值得注意,即诗句的第二个语法现象是,it究竟指代love还是precipice? 第三个语法现象是,high和precipice是取基本义“高”和“峭壁”还是取其引伸义?

我认为在这个诗句中,it应该指代love而不是precipice,也就是说“it is high”是指“your love is high”而不是指“the precipice is high”。high和precipice也不是取基本义而是取其引伸义,high的意思是“强烈的;很大的(指程度、数量、大小等)”、“猛烈的,强劲的”、“ (精力、兴致等)方酣的”、“兴高采烈的,兴奋的”这些引申义,precipice的意思是“濒危点,危险或灾难性情况的边缘”这个引伸义。

因此,整个诗句应该理解和翻译成:“不要因为你的爱情炽热而使它(你的爱情)置于危险的边缘”,可见,这个诗句是要表达这样的忠告:不要因爱而疯狂!。

从这个诗句可见,我们在阅读和翻译时不能不假思索,望文生义,而应深入语法、深入句子所表达的思想内容,这样才能正确地理解和翻译。


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wherestip  Identity Verified
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Poetry Dec 1, 2008

nigerose,

Poetry, by its very nature, is open to different interpretations. I'm sorry to say that I tend to disagree with your analysis, especially solely from a grammatical standpoint.


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ShelleyX  Identity Verified
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:) Dec 1, 2008

I agree, and I don't think they refer to love as "high" in Tagore's time. Not even today when some words are so casually used.

wherestip wrote:

nigerose,

Poetry, by its very nature, is open to different interpretations. I'm sorry to say that I tend to disagree with your analysis, especially solely from a grammatical standpoint.





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nigerose  Identity Verified
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not seems like a poetic sentence Dec 2, 2008

wherestip wrote:

nigerose,

Poetry, by its very nature, is open to different interpretations. I'm sorry to say that I tend to disagree with your analysis, especially solely from a grammatical standpoint.






“不要因为峭壁是高的,便让你的爱情坐在峭壁上”。
Do you think this translation seems like a poetic sentence?


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Alan Wang  Identity Verified
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poem Dec 2, 2008

"Do not seat your love upon a precipice because it is high"

我理解这句意思是: 不要让你的爱情坐在峭壁上,因为它很高

I think the simpler the better (the more valid translation), especially for poem.


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nigerose  Identity Verified
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love is high Dec 2, 2008

ShelleyX wrote:

I agree, and I don't think they refer to love as "high" in Tagore's time. Not even today when some words are so casually used.

wherestip wrote:

nigerose,

Poetry, by its very nature, is open to different interpretations. I'm sorry to say that I tend to disagree with your analysis, especially solely from a grammatical standpoint.





Flirting, kissing, hugging, loving
That is what everybody wants
Searching and searching all your life
Suddenly you find someone to live for
When the love is high and everything is great
You never imagined I could be so good
Then it’s like a dagger has been stabbed
Into your back
http://sjonni.bloggar.is/sida/35286/

Oh, my sweet Marie
I wait at your cue
The sands have run out
For your lady and me
When love is high, my love
Wedlock is nigh, my love
Life is secure with lady Jane
http://www.ebookee.com.cn/Lyrics-lady-jane_17944.html

And the lights are way down low
The fire of love is high
We found it, yes we found it
Oh we found it, oh we found it
Sweet love you and I
http://www.dollyon-line.com/archives/lyrics/wefoundit.shtml


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wherestip  Identity Verified
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诗句 Dec 2, 2008

不要图高而把你的爱情放在悬崖峭壁上

不要追求高而把自己的爱情置于悬崖峭壁上


"To seat something" used as a transitive verb could have the meaning of putting that something in a certain place. In this instance, I myself would have translated the term into 放置在 or 安置于.



http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/seat

5. To fix firmly in place: seat an ammunition clip in an automatic rifle.




"Precipice", I would have translated into 悬崖峭壁.



http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/precipice

1. An overhanging or extremely steep mass of rock, such as a crag or the face of a cliff.




I made up a few sentences with similar construction that perhaps could show how I interpret the usage by the author/poet ...


Do not purchase the item at this store because it is prestigious

Do not send the package 3rd class mail because it is economical

Do not have the party at this restaurant because it is convenient/nearby

Do not excuse yourself from the issue because it is expedient


In this last example the "it" clearly refers to the whole sub clause of excusing oneself from an issue, which brings up a point about the use of "it" ... A lot of times, "it" does not have to specifically refer to an actual entity. Loosely speaking, this could be said of all the above sample sentences, including the original one from the poem.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/it



4. (used to represent a concept or abstract idea understood or previously stated): It all started with Adam and Eve. He has been taught to believe it all his life.
5. (used to represent an action or activity understood, previously mentioned, or about to be mentioned): Since you don't like it, you don't have to go skiing.
6. (used as the impersonal subject of the verb to be, esp. to refer to time, distance, or the weather): It is six o'clock. It is five miles to town. It was foggy.
7. (used in statements expressing an action, condition, fact, circumstance, or situation without reference to an agent): If it weren't for Edna, I wouldn't go.
8. (used in referring to something as the origin or cause of pain, pleasure, etc.): Where does it hurt? It looks bad for the candidate.
9. (used in referring to a source not specifically named or described): It is said that love is blind.
10. (used in referring to the general state of affairs; circumstances, fate, or life in general): How's it going with you?
11. (used as an anticipatory subject or object to make a sentence more eloquent or suspenseful or to shift emphasis): It is necessary that you do your duty. It was a gun that he was carrying.



Sorry if I'm belaboring some basic stuff.



[Edited at 2008-12-03 11:31 GMT]


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wherestip  Identity Verified
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Chinese rendering Dec 2, 2008

nigerose wrote:


“不要因为峭壁是高的,便让你的爱情坐在峭壁上”。
Do you think this translation seems like a poetic sentence?




nigerose,

No, I don't. But that is a different issue than the issue of mistranslating the source text, which personally I don't think this translation is guilty of.



[Edited at 2008-12-02 20:31 GMT]


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ShelleyX  Identity Verified
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high love Dec 2, 2008

Thanks for your quotes, I never know one could say love is high (I admit my experience and knowledge is limited), though being conservative both in English usage and as a person, I personally most probably would not use it.


nigerose wrote:

ShelleyX wrote:

I agree, and I don't think they refer to love as "high" in Tagore's time. Not even today when some words are so casually used.

wherestip wrote:

nigerose,

Poetry, by its very nature, is open to different interpretations. I'm sorry to say that I tend to disagree with your analysis, especially solely from a grammatical standpoint.





Flirting, kissing, hugging, loving
That is what everybody wants
Searching and searching all your life
Suddenly you find someone to live for
When the love is high and everything is great
You never imagined I could be so good
Then it’s like a dagger has been stabbed
Into your back
http://sjonni.bloggar.is/sida/35286/

Oh, my sweet Marie
I wait at your cue
The sands have run out
For your lady and me
When love is high, my love
Wedlock is nigh, my love
Life is secure with lady Jane
http://www.ebookee.com.cn/Lyrics-lady-jane_17944.html

And the lights are way down low
The fire of love is high
We found it, yes we found it
Oh we found it, oh we found it
Sweet love you and I
http://www.dollyon-line.com/archives/lyrics/wefoundit.shtml


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nigerose  Identity Verified
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thanks a lot Dec 3, 2008

wherestip wrote:

不要图高而把你的爱情放在悬崖峭壁上

别求高而把自己的爱情置于悬崖峭壁上

(也许"好高" 更通俗些?)







Thanks a lot for your belabouring


I insist on my understanding and translation as follows.
“不要因为你的爱情炽热而使它(你的爱情)置于危险的边缘”,可见,这个诗句是要表达这样的忠告:不要因爱而疯狂!。

Because the original sentence as a poetic sentence used the uncommon meanings of the common words to express a thought that would otherwise be explicitly expressed using other words with a straightforward meaning. I think this is poem, though I don't know much about poem.

BTW, I did not first get my understanding of the meaning of the original sentence because I used my knowledge of English grammar. I got it by intuition.


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nigerose  Identity Verified
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don't be so modest Dec 3, 2008

ShelleyX wrote:

Thanks for your quotes, I never know one could say love is high (I admit my experience and knowledge is limited), though being conservative both in English usage and as a person, I personally most probably would not use it.




This forum is a place for us to discuss and learn from each other. That's why I posted my article.

At first, I also did not know one could say love is high. But I tried to google "love is high" or "high love" and I got my quotes as above.

Google is really a great help to us translators. I feel it is especially helpful in my C-E translation because I am not a native English speaker.


[修改时间: 2008-12-03 01:08 GMT]

[修改时间: 2008-12-03 01:09 GMT]


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
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所引用的譯文沒有錯誤 Dec 3, 2008

起碼它的意思是準確的﹐符合翻譯的最基本要求。措辭和意境屬於另外的範疇﹐不能因為譯文藝術性差強人意就判斷它是誤譯。

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nigerose  Identity Verified
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貌似直译 Dec 3, 2008

jyuan_us wrote:

起碼它的意思是準確的﹐符合翻譯的最基本要求。措辭和意境屬於另外的範疇﹐不能因為譯文藝術性差強人意就判斷它是誤譯。


你这个说法好像专利翻译界的"直译"原则。但过分直译,可能会曲解原文。


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wherestip  Identity Verified
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Most everyone has an opinion Dec 3, 2008

nigerose wrote:


I insist on my understanding and translation as follows.
“不要因为你的爱情炽热而使它(你的爱情)置于危险的边缘”,可见,这个诗句是要表达这样的忠告:不要因爱而疯狂!。

Because the original sentence as a poetic sentence used the uncommon meanings of the common words to express a thought that would otherwise be explicitly expressed using other words with a straightforward meaning. I think this is poem, though I don't know much about poem.

BTW, I did not first get my understanding of the meaning of the original sentence because I used my knowledge of English grammar. I got it by intuition.



nigerose,

You are certainly entitled to your own intuition and opinions. You're not alone in this regard.



[Edited at 2008-12-03 12:30 GMT]


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pkchan  Identity Verified
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翻譯有如反芻regurgitation Dec 3, 2008

翻譯是什麼?翻譯就有如動物在進食後,進行消化,繼而反芻。在這過程中,有兩個不同的見解,一是『改用中文寫』,另一種是『用中文改寫』,在這兩端,當中所能操作的空間是非常廣闊的。如科學、專利翻譯首先要求是精確、嚴謹,是比較接近『改用中文寫』的這一端,而文學詩歌,是則重神韻、意境,容許有較大的『發揮』,是接近『用中文改寫』那一種。在商業社會,翻譯作為一種商品與金錢的交易,當然是要服從顧客的要求。若要反潮流,除了要『教育』顧客,還要花不少時間與精力,去說服他們,接納譯者的『發揮』及『改寫』,有時效果不大,反而會令人失望,唯一的想法就是轉行算了。話說回來,泰戈尔的《飞鸟集》,翻譯應屬可以盡情『發揮』的那一種,無需要太執著個別字眼上的意思,說好高慕遠的愛情也好,危若懸崖的愛情也好,反正已不能問泰戈尔,各自表述就是。

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泰戈尔《飞鸟集》一句诗句误译的分析和对翻译的启示

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