Native English-speaking Translators’ Strategies for Rendering Four-character Chinese Idioms --- Using Taiwan Panorama as an Example
Idioms are often referred to as the crystallization of language, and can frequently be found in classic literary works, folktales, and modern publications. Idioms can reflect the features of a language and culture, and thus idioms vary from culture to culture or from language to language.
On account of cultural and linguistic differences, idioms in a certain language or culture are likely to bewilder people outside that language or culture. Four-character Chinese idioms are employed extensively in the past and at present. For translators ...view middle of the document...
Hence, the publication is an eligible subject for the research. The study seeks to engender helpful insights into selecting translation strategies for dealing with four-character Chinese idioms.
According to Mona Baker in A coursebook on translation (2002), idioms are “at the extreme end of the scale from collocations in one or both of these areas: flexibility of patterning and transparency of meaning.” (p.63) By pointing out the two characteristics, Baker indicates that idioms often are rigid in their forms, and their meanings may not be deducted by construing each word literally. Liu & Wu (劉桂蓮、吳松林2001) support this concept by indicating that the whole meaning of an idiom does not necessarily come from the meaning of each character combined. Hence, literal translation of each word of an idiom usually will not get the idea across. That is to say, literal translation of a Chinese four-character idiom into English may not produce the desirable meaning as intended.
Baker (2002) writes that the main difficulties in translating idioms or fixed expressions can be briefly summarized into four aspects. The first one is that an equivalent in the target language is absent. Next is that a similar counterpart in the target language may have a dissimilar connotations. The third aspect is that it’s hard to find a translation output that corresponds to the source idiom both in form and in meaning. The last one is that context and frequency of using an idiom is different in the source and target languages.
Other than Mona Baker, many Chinese language scholars have dedicated a number of papers to Chinese-English idiom translation (Chiang 江艷，2008；Hsu 徐靜怡，2008；Tsui崔淑珍，2001；Wang 王冰心，1997；Yu 喻家樓，2003；Hsieh謝敏，2007). Among them, Liu (劉彩蘭 2005) notes that the translating idioms has remained a hard nut due to the fix forms and figurative meanings of idioms. Mu & Shang (穆婉姝、商學君 2008) put forth that because of geographical, cultural, historical, and religious factors, many scholars regard translating idioms as a difficult part of the translation job. Apparently, factors that complicate the process of translating Chinese idioms are a shared concern by many researchers. From the abundance of studies, one can form the idea that topics related to translating Chinese idioms have been discussed extensively and received a great amount of attention.
To address these difficulties and factors in the process of translating Chinese idioms, study by Liu & Wu (劉桂蓮、吳松林2001) recommends four coping strategies for translators to follow, which include literal translation, liberal translation, combination of literal and liberal translation, and using an idiom of similar meaning and form. The four strategies are also supported by several other research papers (Tsui崔淑珍，2008；Hsu 徐靜宜，2008；Teng 鄧曉峰，2005). According to these studies, the nature of a Chinese idiom will dictate which strategy to employ.
These existing studies just merely...