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非华人干英译中的活儿,会是怎么样的?
Thread poster: redred

redred  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:07
English to Chinese
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Aug 26, 2005

通常提供工作offer的公司,都要求译员的母语是目的语,然而,综观Chinese Kudoz,同胞们在那里熙熙攘攘,其中也不乏外国人,也就是说,他们有时也做英译中的活。有一些外国人,在中国工作和生活多年,普通话甚为流利,通过电话,只听其声不见其人,根本无法区别国人与否。汉语的HSK考试,以拼音为教化,促进通过者的普通话发音达到标准。但是,对于口语之外的笔译工作,可能会是另一码事。类似于,我们有些人长于说英语,而不擅写,或反之。In a word, 非华人干英译中的活儿,会是怎么样的?

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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:07
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普通的题材, 应该无甚区别 Aug 26, 2005

我就曾被客户说过做CHINESE TO ENGLISH 比英语为母语的人质量还好.

其实不是水平好, 是花的时间多.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:07
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借地儿用用 Aug 26, 2005

突然看见美国除了我们这些做实物的译者外, 还真有在翻译上做学问的大家, 比如马元曦, 那是20多年前和胡文仲遍大学英语专业教材的, 比较文学博士.

很多人在美国读汉语博士然后混个大学汉语的教职,这我知道, 但马元曦这种情况目前知道的就她一个.

BTW, 在美国大学教汉语很爽的. 有了教授职位, 可以自己设置课程,自己开课, 会什么就讲什么, 根本不用在做什么学问.


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Last Hermit
Local time: 05:07
Chinese to English
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不能一概而论 Aug 26, 2005

  既然我们有些华人可以做汉译英,那末,外国人也应该可做英译汉。但窃以为,只限于与社会政治无关的领域。至于文学,这个坛上恐怕没有人可以胜任。须知道,中国文学的堂奥,能知其一二者已经不多,遑论可操刀做英译汉者。
  至于想通过电话知道对方是不是中国人,只须考他/她一些非常有中国特色的词汇便知,如“干部”、“职工”、“集体职工”、“全民职工”、“爱卫办”、“严打”、“兑换券”、“粮票”、“布票”等等。但前提是,您首先要知道:)这些词汇,莫说老外,连香港人恐怕也是十个有九个不知道。俺相信文哲也不知道。如果更深一点,可以问对方“大陆突然冒出许多‘老人活动中心’,都是干些什么的?”呵呵,这个问题恐怕不光文哲答不出,这里有绝大部分人答不出,尤其是现在“曹营”的人。

redred wrote:

通常提供工作offer的公司,都要求译员的母语是目的语,然而,综观Chinese Kudoz,同胞们在那里熙熙攘攘,其中也不乏外国人,也就是说,他们有时也做英译中的活。有一些外国人,在中国工作和生活多年,普通话甚为流利,通过电话,只听其声不见其人,根本无法区别国人与否。汉语的HSK考试,以拼音为教化,促进通过者的普通话发音达到标准。但是,对于口语之外的笔译工作,可能会是另一码事。类似于,我们有些人长于说英语,而不擅写,或反之。In a word, 非华人干英译中的活儿,会是怎么样的?


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 05:07
English to Chinese
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翻譯人必須克服之處 Aug 26, 2005

Last Hermit wrote:

  既然我们有些华人可以做汉译英,那末,外国人也应该可做英译汉。但窃以为,只限于与社会政治无关的领域。至于文学,这个坛上恐怕没有人可以胜任。须知道,中国文学的堂奥,能知其一二者已经不多,遑论可操刀做英译汉者。
  至于想通过电话知道对方是不是中国人,只须考他/她一些非常有中国特色的词汇便知,如“干部”、“职工”、“集体职工”、“全民职工”、“爱卫办”、“严打”、“兑换券”、“粮票”、“布票”等等。但前提是,您首先要知道:)这些词汇,莫说老外,连香港人恐怕也是十个有九个不知道。俺相信文哲也不知道。如果更深一点,可以问对方“大陆突然冒出许多‘老人活动中心’,都是干些什么的?”呵呵,这个问题恐怕不光文哲答不出,这里有绝大部分人答不出,尤其是现在“曹营”的人。


Last Hermit,

那麼武斷,我絕對不敢。最簡單的道理是:天下無人萬事通。每個人懂得的東西都是有限的,所有從事翻譯工作的人必須不斷學習。只是生也有涯,每個人都得乖乖選擇自己想要專精的領域。

Stéphane Corcuff 寫的或翻譯的中文,你大概從來沒有讀過,所以你會以為關於社會政治方面的東西,外國人無法翻譯。其實那方面的東西和其它領域一樣,都是有意用功深入即有可能進入狀況的。如 "干部"、"职工"、"集体职工"、"全民职工"、"爱卫办"、"严打"、"兑换券"、"粮票"、"布票"等等,其實我略知一二。這是由於我原本就對中國社會變遷有興趣的緣故,所以不懂的可以找人問清楚。有點像我三十年前還在台灣當學生時,有一位德國漢學家當我的德文老師,我翻譯德國戲劇小說時遇到社會狀況描述有不懂的地方,由他解釋給我明白,而他翻譯具有台灣特色的白先勇的台北人和黃春明或王楨和之類的鄉土小說家的東西時,遇上一大堆詞語都是非台灣本土人所不能解讀的,那就得由我向他解釋個一清二楚才能翻譯成德文。

語文這種東西必有指涉,再艱澀也要有指涉,而且也必定可以解說個一清二楚;那些無法向別人解說而寫出來的東西是唬人的東西,像 "科技渴望社會" 或 "科技渴望性別" 這一類不知所云的表達法,倒不如乾脆說 "翻譯渴望全知全能" 來得清楚明白些!

從來是先產生社會現象,然後才有語文的描述。這是所以說 "語言即生活" 的緣故。我一向主張:最佳的翻譯實務是由譯出和譯入語文的母語者合作的實務。背後的道理不難理解。雖然不在俄羅斯生活,有些東西很快就可以進入狀況而能翻譯,有些東西非得由俄羅斯人解說之後才有辦法翻譯。不在台灣生活,讀我寫的一些政論文章一定會一頭霧水;即使在台灣生活,不關心政治變遷,也很有可能看不懂我使用的詞語或描述。同樣情況發生在我讀中國政論類文章時。因此,我總會私下和某些生活在中國的人溝通那類文字的內容,以便不產生誤解。

在同一種語文裡都已經有那麼多我們不見得懂的東西,更何況是不同地區、不同文化背景、不同生活習性所產生出來的語文描述?老實說,單單英文也有好幾種不同的表達方式。和香港或新加坡人說英語,畢竟和英國人或美、加、紐、澳地區的人不同。和拉美各地方的人說西班牙語,絕對與西班牙各地不同。實在不足為奇。不過,這正是翻譯人必須克服之處。這不是誰的外文程度好壞的問題,而是求知求學的態度和方法的問題。其方法則在此已經隱含,無需贅述。

Wenjer

[Edited at 2005-08-26 17:04]


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redred  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:07
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TOPIC STARTER
地道 Aug 26, 2005

Wenjer前辈的意思是本土人士做译入语那项工作,会更为地道一些。

Last Hermit,比我们更懂中国的“中国通”确实存在,但是,学习和研究英语的华人,比学习和研究中文的洋人,数量要庞大得多。凤毛鳞角的“中国通”们,一旦均分到芸芸众生中,事实上也没多少个。

通过电话交流以为该老外是同胞,见面时才知是外国人.说明他普通讲得很流利.干什么要通过电话考查人家?你看错了.


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liberation  Identity Verified
Chinese to English
Cultural background, fluency, subject matter, proofreading are key Aug 26, 2005

I hope no-one minds if I use English here, as my computer's Richwin for writing Chinese is "dysfunctional," and can often not be "read" by others' PCs. Although my mother language is English, I do feel like a member of the Chinese/English translation community, as I have lived in Mainland China/HK/Taiwan for 20+ years and engaged in translation on-and-off since the late 1970s.
It is now largely accepted in translation circles worldwide that two types of translation require that the translator's mother language and the target language be one and the same: Where the client requires 1) grammatically flawless copy, and 2) literary translation. Number 1 because non-native speakers tend to make grammatical errors that, while perhaps "minor," are still painfully evident to native speakers of the target language, and Number 2 because literary translation requires a certain dexterity and beauty of expression that few non-native speakers of the target language can attain. In literary translation, accuracy is assumed by the reader; but fluency in the written tradition of the target language is perhaps even more important to a "good read".
In my title above, I point out that cultural background, fluency, subject matter and proofreading by a third party are MORE IMPORTANT than the nationality or ethnic background of the translator. I do honestly believe that hard-working non-Chinese-ethnic translators of English can learn to do a good job of translating into Chinese; however, just HOW good depends greatly on how much experience they have living among Chinese speakers and using Chinese as their daily working language.
In particular, highly "logical" material -- legal documents, technical terminology, business plans, for instance -- are MUCH more easy to translate precisely they are so "predictable." During 2004-5, I hosted one-day training for export managers in 30+ cities, all held in Chinese. And I occasionally write long business reports in Chinese. I would be surprised if any listener at my lectures, or readers of my reports, would find major errors in my Chinese. That is due to my experience, but also to the nature of the material: Business is now conducted in very similar lingo in China...and the West.
In fact, although I conduct virtually my entire life in Chinese -- between friends, at work, even the occasional dream -- I rarely translate INTO Chinese. This is not because I see it as "undoable". I simply think it's a relative waste of time, because 1) Native Chinese speakers will work faster than I, and 2) I can make more money and get more satisfaction out of Chinese-to-English projects, some of which will be published worldwide.
Am a bit surprised to see that one of our interlocuteurs believes that China's political or popular street slang is impossible to master. Personally, I don't feel that to be the case. And by the way, gauging a translator's skill by testing his or her ability to interpret on the spot is hardly an effective way of testing his or her WRITTEN Chinese!
During the 1980s and 1990s, I hired, managed and trained perhaps 30-40 Chinese editors, whose job it was to translate technical and commercial material from English into Chinese, for publication in several Chinese monthlies. Understanding of the English text was generally not a problem; it was rendering it in highly fluent and readable Chinese which most challenged my editors! Thus, I remain unconvinced that the translation of 21st century business or technical materials into Chinese can only be well done by Chinese citizens...working by themselves.
To the contrary, my experience is that teamwork is crucial, whether it be in Chinese-to-English, or English-to-Chinese translation. When translating the Chinese novel "Shanghai Baby" (by author Wei Hui), I quickly found I had to tap into the skills of others: I passed my draft translation first to a bilingual, bicultural couple (she Shanghainese, he American) for a basic proofread; then I had a native English speaker go over my translations of the conversations, which I found difficult to express in up-to-date English because they were about romance and bedroom talk -- things I had not experienced in English for over 20 years!

To summarize:

1. For totally fluent and flawless Chinese copy, ideally the translator's mother tongue should be Chinese;

2. However, a native Chinese speaker working alone, without support from bilingual colleagues who can proofread his/her work, may turn out a somewhat inferior product;

3. A non-native speaker of Chinese can produce a high-quality product when translating into Chinese IF he/she has a rich background in Chinese + subject matter is modern and highly logical + he/she employs a professional Chinese-language colleague to proof the translation.

Bruce Humes
bhumes@globalsources.com
Shenzhen, China


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Last Hermit
Local time: 05:07
Chinese to English
+ ...
对不起,俺没说清楚,俺说的是 Aug 26, 2005

  1)本坛外国人可操刀作汉译英文学翻译且水平与文哲相当者。
  2)孤军作战者。二人当作团队论,不在此列。

  但鄙人犯了一个严重错误,“只限于与社会政治无关的领域”是指“汉译英”。前言不搭后语了。俺上班发帖经常出错,诸位鉴谅。

  忘了说一句:据鄙人观察,此坛华人中目前似乎无人可胜任汉英文学翻译。一家之言,但断无冒犯他人之意。

  标准不一,聊备一说吧。

Wenjer Leuschel wrote:

Last Hermit wrote:

  既然我们有些华人可以做汉译英,那末,外国人也应该可做英译汉。但窃以为,只限于与社会政治无关的领域。至于文学,这个坛上恐怕没有人可以胜任。须知道,中国文学的堂奥,能知其一二者已经不多,遑论可操刀做英译汉者。
  至于想通过电话知道对方是不是中国人,只须考他/她一些非常有中国特色的词汇便知,如“干部”、“职工”、“集体职工”、“全民职工”、“爱卫办”、“严打”、“兑换券”、“粮票”、“布票”等等。但前提是,您首先要知道:)这些词汇,莫说老外,连香港人恐怕也是十个有九个不知道。俺相信文哲也不知道。如果更深一点,可以问对方“大陆突然冒出许多‘老人活动中心’,都是干些什么的?”呵呵,这个问题恐怕不光文哲答不出,这里有绝大部分人答不出,尤其是现在“曹营”的人。


Last Hermit,

那麼武斷,我絕對不敢。最簡單的道理是:天下無人萬事通。每個人懂得的東西都是有限的,所有從事翻譯工作的人必須不斷學習。只是生也有涯,每個人都得乖乖選擇自己想要專精的領域。

Stéphane Corcuff 寫的或翻譯的中文,你大概從來沒有讀過,所以你會以為關於社會政治方面的東西,外國人無法翻譯。其實那方面的東西和其它領域一樣,都是有意用功深入即有可能進入狀況的。如 "干部"、"职工"、"集体职工"、"全民职工"、"爱卫办"、"严打"、"兑换券"、"粮票"、"布票"等等,其實我略知一二。這是由於我原本就對中國社會變遷有興趣的緣故,所以不懂的可以找人問清楚。有點像我三十年前還在台灣當學生時,有一位德國漢學家當我的德文老師,我翻譯德國戲劇小說時遇到社會狀況描述有不懂的地方,由他解釋給我明白,而他翻譯具有台灣特色的白先勇的台北人和黃春明或王楨和之類的鄉土小說家的東西時,遇上一大堆詞語都是非台灣本土人所不能解讀的,那就得由我向他解釋個一清二楚才能翻譯成德文。

語文這種東西必有指涉,再艱澀也要有指涉,而且也必定可以解說個一清二楚;那些無法向別人解說而寫出來的東西是唬人的東西,像 "科技渴望社會" 或 "科技渴望性別" 這一類不知所云的表達法,倒不如乾脆說 "翻譯渴望全知全能" 來得清楚明白些!

從來是先產生社會現象,然後才有語文的描述。這是所以說 "語言即生活" 的緣故。我一向主張:最佳的翻譯實務是由譯出和譯入語文的母語者合作的實務。背後的道理不難理解。雖然不在俄羅斯生活,有些東西很快就可以進入狀況而能翻譯,有些東西非得由俄羅斯人解說之後才有辦法翻譯。不在台灣生活,讀我寫的一些政論文章一定會一頭霧水;即使在台灣生活,不關心政治變遷,也很有可能看不懂我使用的詞語或描述。同樣情況發生在我讀中國政論類文章時。因此,我總會私下和某些生活在中國的人溝通那類文字的內容,以便不產生誤解。

在同一種語文裡都已經有那麼多我們不見得懂的東西,更何況是不同地區、不同文化背景、不同生活習性所產生出來的語文描述?老實說,單單英文也有好幾種不同的表達方式。和香港或新加坡人說英語,畢竟和英國人或美、加、紐、澳地區的人不同。和拉美各地方的人說西班牙語,絕對與西班牙各地不同。實在不足為奇。不過,這正是翻譯人必須克服之處。這不是誰的外文程度好壞的問題,而是求知求學的態度和方法的問題。其方法則在此已經隱含,無需贅述。

Wenjer

[Edited at 2005-08-26 17:04]


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Last Hermit
Local time: 05:07
Chinese to English
+ ...
多年前就知道瑞士(瑞典?)有老外精通中文, Aug 26, 2005

  且红学造诣甚高。不记得是不是那位文学院的马氏了。

  俺以为您是翻译公司的PM,想找人地道的中国人干活,但又生怕对方是老外。显然,俺搞错了。

redred wrote:

Wenjer前辈的意思是本土人士做译入语那项工作,会更为地道一些。

Last Hermit,比我们更懂中国的“中国通”确实存在,但是,学习和研究英语的华人,比学习和研究中文的洋人,数量要庞大得多。凤毛鳞角的“中国通”们,一旦均分到芸芸众生中,事实上也没多少个。

通过电话交流以为该老外是同胞,见面时才知是外国人.说明他普通讲得很流利.干什么要通过电话考查人家?你看错了.


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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 05:07
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
Interesting topic Aug 26, 2005

An interesting topic you have there, redred.

I have a few things to say, so please excuse me if it seems I'm treading off the topic:

1. IMHO, it is more of a challenge for non-Chinese to learn Chinese than for Chinese to learn English. For one, the pinyin and characters are both mega-killers. But like you've mentioned there are non-Chinese who are so fluent in their spoken Chinese you'd think they are native. I know of one myself. I knew he was a non-Chinese before I talked to him, but when we really conversed on the phone I was stunned throughout the entire conversation. I grew up with Chinese as one of my frequently-used languages, but I was not as fluent as him. Shame!

2. There are definitely more Chinese translators translating from Chinese into English than non-Chinese translators translating into Chinese. Personally I've not seen any Chinese translations done by a non native Chinese, but I have definitely seen my fair share of English translations done by non English translators. I can understand why so many Chinese translators are translating into English, but I wonder why it is less common for the non-Chinese to translate into Chinese. Could it be a quality-consciousness issue? I used to translate into Chinese (only simple stuff), but I do not anymore for the same reasons as Bruce has mentioned. It took too much of my time and effort, and even with that I was worried I did not do a good job. I had to get a native Chinese to proofread my work, and that was just eating up my time and profit.

3. It does not mean only a native translator can give a good piece of translation. A native English translator can have this really fluent, great-sounding text with no mistakes, but has the source text been faithfully and accurately expressed? Very often when doing proofreading jobs I found the problems lie with the translator's understanding of the source text rather than his or her writing style or grammar.

I know I'm not really answering your question, but the above are just a few points that came to my mind when I read the discussion.

[Edited at 2005-08-27 14:21]


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chica nueva
Local time: 10:07
Chinese to English
Kumarajiva, Matteo Ricci, and Robert Morrison Aug 27, 2005

For foreigners translating into Chinese, check out Kumarajiva, Matteo Ricci, and Robert Morrison.

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chica nueva
Local time: 10:07
Chinese to English
Famous Chinese translators translating into English? Aug 27, 2005

Famous Chinese translators translating into English? I can think of one - Gladys Yang. Any others? Into other foreign languages?



[Edited at 2005-08-27 06:27]


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Last Hermit
Local time: 05:07
Chinese to English
+ ...
Boy! Another boo-boo! Aug 27, 2005

I wanted to say "本坛外国人可操刀作英译汉文学翻译且水平与文哲相当者。"

Note: "外国人" refers to "non-native speakers"

Hope this time I am saying what I intend to say!

[quote]Last Hermit wrote:

  1)本坛外国人可操刀作汉译英文学翻译且水平与文哲相当者。
  2)孤军作战者。二人当作团队论,不在此列。

  


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 05:07
English to Chinese
+ ...
I see your points. Aug 27, 2005

Last Hermit wrote:

  1)本坛外国人可操刀作汉译英文学翻译且水平与文哲相当者。
  2)孤军作战者。二人当作团队论,不在此列。


No problem at all. I see your points.

However, my points would be
1) I feel flattered to be taken as a milestone for measuring others, especially non-natives;
2) No team, no translation. I am saying, there are scarcely any translation without teamwork, because that would be the most stupid thing an agency or a publisher could do. Teamwork is always the safest way to ensure the quality of a translation.

In addition, I've never liked those translators who believe to be better than others and who thus never learn how to achieve higher goals with others in a proper way, to tell the truth.


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