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漫谈英文定语从句的翻译

作者: 卢 洁

  摘 要:英文中有大量的定语从句,在翻译时不仅要正确理解定语从句和句子其它成分之间的语法关系和内在逻辑关系,进行必要的句子结构分析和语义分析,还要根据表达的需要对句式做适当变动和调整,使译文顺畅,符合汉语表达习惯。
  关键词:定语从句 前置 后置 状语
  
  在英文中,用来修饰、限制、说明句中某一名词、代词、名词或代词短语乃至整个句子的从句叫定语从句。在语序上,定语从句置于先行词之后,是句子中起形容词作用的主谓结构。定语从句是英语语言表达中重要的基本句型之一,在英语中大量出现,它的句子有长有短,结构有繁有简,对先行词的限制作用有强有弱,还有的定语从句在逻辑上具有表示原因、结果、让步、目的、条件、假设等意义。
  由于英汉两种语言分属于不同的语系,它们的行文结构存在很大的差异。定语从句虽然在英文中很常见,但却是中文中所没有的结构之一。所以,在将英文中含有定语从句的复合句翻译成汉语时,需要作适当的调整,具有较大的灵活性。在具体翻译时,必须正确体会原文的逻辑概念,合理安排译文的语序,根据其结构和含义采用不同的译法。
  
  一、前置译法
  
  前置译法主要用于限制性定语从句,尤其是一些较短的限制性定语从句。此时,定语从句与它所修饰的先行词关系非常密切,如果分开译会影响主句意思的完整。翻译时可按照汉语定语前置的习惯,将其译成带“的”的定语词组,放在先行词的前面,使译文简洁明了,符合汉语的行文习惯。例如:
  (1)The boy who just went out is my nephew.
  刚出去的那个男孩是我的侄儿。
  (2)The old lady died on the day when her son arrived.
  那个老太太在她儿子到达的那天去世了。
  (3)Objects that do not transfer light cause shadows.
  不透光的物体会造成阴影。
  (4)Shanghai is the place where he was born.
  上海是他出生的地方。
  (5)I know the reason why he came late.
  我知道他来迟的原因。
  (6)I want to buy a watch which is waterproof.
  我想买一块防水(的)表。
  (7)This is the reservoir that we bulit after the flood last year.
  这就是去年洪水过后我们修建的水库。
  (8)Our two countries are neighbors whose friendship is of long standing.
  我们两国是有着悠久友好历史的邻邦。
  除此之外,一些非限制性定语从句,或因结构短小,或因与先行词关系较密切,或因拆译后会造成译文结构松散,在翻译时也可以译成前置定语结构。例如:
  (1)My brother-in-law’s laugh,which was very infectious,broke the silence.
  我姐夫富有感染力的笑声打破了沉默。
  (2)The American businessman,who had long been interested in Chinese products,was invited to visit a development zone in East China.
  早就对中国产品感兴趣的那个美国商人应邀参观了华东地区的一个开发区。
  (3)He likes his sister,who is warm and pleasant,but he doesn’t like his brother,who is aloof and arrogant.
  他喜欢热情愉快的妹妹,而不喜欢冷漠高傲的哥哥。
  (4)Last night I saw a very good film,which was about the French revolution.
  昨晚我看了一部关于法国革命的精彩电影。
  (5)A man,who bites others,gets bitten himself.
  害人者, 反害已。
  
  二、后置译法
  
  后置译法在翻译非限制性定语从句时使用比较普遍。英语中的非限制性定语与先行词的关系较为松散,在文字上一般有逗号与先行词隔开。非限制性定语从句对先行词不起限制作用,有些只是用来对其先行词加以描述、解释或补充说明,在语意上与主句接近于并列结构。翻译时可将其与主句分开,译成一个独立的汉语句子,放在先行词的后面。将非限制性定语从句单独译成一句可以使译文层次分明,并符合汉语简洁、明了的表达习惯。例如:
  (1)She has two brothers,who are both doctors.
  她有两个兄弟,他们都是医生。
  (2)We will put off the party until next week,when we won’t be so busy.
  我们将把聚会推迟到下星期,那时我们不会这样忙。
  (3)They turned a deaf ear to our demands,which enraged all of us.
  他们对我们的要求置之不理,这使我们大家都很气愤。
  (4)I told the interesting story to Jessica,who told it to her husband.
  我把这个有趣的的故事告诉了杰西嘉,杰西嘉又告诉了她的丈夫。
  (5)Nevertheless the problem was solved successfully,which showed that the computations were accurate.
  不过问题还是圆满地解决了,这说明计算很准确。
  (6)Mechanical energy is changed into electric energy,which in turn is changed into mechanical energy.
  机械能转变为电能,电能又转变为机械能。
  (7)He had talked to Vice-President Nixon,who assured him that everything that could be done would be done.
  他和副总统尼克松谈过话。副总统向他担保,凡是能够做到的都会去做。
  另外,有些较长的限制性的定语从句结构相对复杂,若译成前置定语结构往往显得冗长,而且也不符合汉语的表达习惯。在这种情况下,也可译成后置的并列分句。例如:
  (1)A fuel is a material which will burn at a reasonable temperature and produce heat.
  燃料是一种物质,在适当温度下能够燃烧并放出热量。
  (2)Statuses are marvelous human inventions that enable us to get along with one another and to determine where we fit in society.
  身份是人类的奇妙发明,它可以使人们相互之间相处融洽,并使人们得以确定在社会中所处的恰当地位。
  (3)Philosophy is speculative in that it attempts to construct patterns from life experiences that give meaning to reality in the universe.
  哲学的推断性在于试图从生活经历中构筑模式,这些模式给天下存在的万物赋以意义。
  (4)The airline has a booklet that will tell you most of the important things about the trip to Eorope.
  这家航空公司备有一本小册子,小册子会告诉你有关欧洲之行的大部分重要事情。
  (5)Late last century all the universities in the United States adopted the credit system which benefited students a great deal.
  上世纪末,美国所有大学都实行了学分制。学生们从中受益匪浅。
  
  三、合成译法
  
  英语中有些限制性定语从句与主句关系十分紧密,并且在意义上突出了全句的重点;而主句仅起结构上的作用,其本身的意义并不突出。这时,可将原句中的主句和定语从句融合在―起译成一个独立的汉语句子。英语中带定语从句的There be…结构和它的变体结构或先行词在逻辑上与定语从句中的动词构成主谓或动宾关系时,汉译时常用这种方法来处理。例如:
  (1)There are some metals that are lighter than water.
  有些金属比水轻。
  (2)There are many people who want to see the film.
  许多人要看这部电影。
  (3)There is a man downstairs who wants to see you.
  楼下有人要见你。
  (4)What's the time you usually go to bed?
  你通常什么时候睡觉?
  (5)Her hair is the same color as her mother's.
  她的头发和她母亲的头发一样颜色。
  (6)ABC is a triangle whose sides are of unequal length.
  ABC是不等边三角形。
  (7)This is the paper mill that they set up in 1980.
  这个造纸厂是他们在1980年建造的。
  (8)I saw a cow that was grazing under a tree.
  我看见一头牛在树下吃草。
  
  四、转换译法
  
  英语中有些定语从句,其表层结构虽为定语,实际上却起状语的作用,兼有状语从句的职能,在逻辑上与主句有状语关系,具有说明原因、结果、目的、让步、假设等含义。翻译时不能只注意定语从句及其所修饰的先行词,而应善于从原文的字里行间发现整个从句和主句的内在联系及它们之间逻辑上的关系,增译“由于”, “结果”,“尽管”,“不论”,“当”等词,将其译成相应意义的汉语偏正复句。例如:
  (1)The newswoman wishes to write an article that will attract public attention to that assassination.
  这位女记者想写一篇文章,以便能够引起公众对那起暗杀事件的注意。(译成目的状语从句)
  (2)Electronic computers, which seems to play the role of a human brain, is often called an electronic brain.
  由于电子计算机起着类似人脑的作用,所以常常被称做电脑。(译成原因状语从句)
  (3)An automatic production line is excellent for the automotive industry where thousands of identical parts are produced.
  自动生产线最适合用于汽车工业,因为那里要生产成千上百个同样的零件。(译成原因状语从句)
  (4)Those who are in favor please hold up their hands.
  如果赞成,就请举手。(译成条件状语从句)
  (5)He insisted on buying another coat,which he had no use for.
  他坚持要再买一件上衣,虽然他用不着。(译成让步状语从句)
  (6)My assistant,who had carefully read through the instructions before doing his experiment,could not obtain satisfactory results.
  虽然我的助手在做试验之前已经仔细阅读过说明书,但他还是未能得到满意的结果。(译成让步状语从句)
  (7)Electronic computers,which have many advantages,cannot carry out creative work and replace man.
  虽然电子计算机有很多优点,但它不能进行创造性的工作,也代替不了人。(译成让步状语从句)
  (8)Friction,which is often considered as a trouble,is sometimes a help in the operation of machines.
  摩擦虽然常被看作是一种麻烦,但有些时候却有助于机器的运转。(译成让步状语从句)
  (9)Rubber is a light,elastic,durable and water-resistant material,which makes rubber industry very important.
  橡胶是一种质轻、富有弹性、经久耐用和防水的材料,因此橡胶工业十分重要。(译成结果状语从句)
  (10)He took Chinese medicine,which relieved her symptoms.
  他服了中药,结果缓解了症状。(译成结果状语从句)
  综上所述,中、英文关于定语修饰语的差别使得我们在翻译时必须善于变通,充分考虑汉语的表达习惯。英文中的大多数定语从句在翻译成汉语时并不译成中文中的定语,而是灵活变通,转换成其他类型的从句或译成各种类型的状语, 并体现他们之间因果、让步、并列等的关系,还有的甚至译成汉语的独立句。这就要求我们在实际的翻译中,不仅要正确理解定语从句和句子其它成分之间的语法关系和内在逻辑关系、进行必要的句子结构分析和语义分析,还要根据表达的需要对句式做适当变动和调整,使译文顺畅,符合汉语表达习惯。
  
  参考文献:
  [1]浩瀚,马光.轻松掌握英语翻译[M]395-398.北京:中国书籍出版社,2001.
  [2]张先刚.英文被动语态的汉译技巧[J].安阳师范学院学报,2006,(3).
  [3]任爱民.定语从句的状语功能例说[J].青海教育,2005,(12).

论文来源:《考试周刊》 2008年第6期
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