From perspectives of grammar and culture, critically discuss similarities and differences between English and Chinese with reference to translation
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Language and literature translation has been a common phenomenon in the modern times as a result of the increased interaction among people from difference cultures. This interaction calls for the need for translation of the different languages to facilitate easy communication. The situation has led to different scholars and writers to come up with different definitions of translation. In the book ‘Translation and Translating. Theory and Practice.’ Bell Roger considers translation as an activity that is intended to convey the meaning of a specific linguistic discourse from a given language to another. Translation focuses more on the linguistic discourse rather than the grammatical structure and words according to Bell (Bell 1991, 78).
Linda and Srella in ‘Success with Language’ appreciate translation as being a key tool in helping students to be effective language learners. To them, learning a completely new language can end up being a daunting prospect thus the act of translation has to as affective as possible. The two define translation as an act of having a given language being rendered into another one. The transfer should at no time change the meaning of words, ideas or phrases in question. The book encourages the use of ICT support language translator’s and software’s as they are convenient and more effective (Hurd and Murphy 2006, 21).
Newmark Peter in his book “A Textbook of Translation’ defines translation as the communication of a source-language text meaning using a target language equivalent text. This involves a spill-over of usage and idiom of source language into the target language. By doing this, the target language remains substantiated. Peter insists that the act of translation has to take into consideration the loanwords and calques of the source-language to enrich the target language. This is useful as it makes meaningful and effective connection possible among group of people and persons by interpreting the exact phrase and words. Peter’s work of translation is mostly associated with spot translation of words that are spoken than written words (Newmark, 2006, 78). Venuti Lawrence on the hand defines translation as the transmittal of text that is being written from one language to another in his book ‘The Translation Studies Reader’. Translation is the written version of interpretation in spoken word (Venuti 2004, 45).
Translation can also be considered as an act of conveying of the meaning of a given text in a way that is free from grammatical and spelling errors. This act should be done with professionals as it is not as easy as it meets the eye. During translation, the meaning of a given set of words is best explained as the contribution of that phrase that can function or make the meaning of linguistic utterances or the whole sentence where that phrase or word occurs. The implication of a given word during translation in governed by the external idea or object that particular phrase or word is meant to refer and the utilization of particular phrase or word in a particular context, in a particular way and in particular context (Kwok 2011, 23).
In relation to translation, there exist several differences and similarities between Chinese and English in relation to culture and grammar. The two languages belong to different kingships making use of different kingship terms and development. The cultural difference existing between English and Chinese language results from consanguinity, family structure, courtesy principle, patriarchy concept and cultural adaption. The comparative features and usage bring out the cultural difference between English and Chinese. Chinese and English kingship terms differ from one another as they both reflect the East and West cultures (Kwok 2011, 78).
During the translation between the two languages, the written form regarding logographic language like Chinese stands out as independent especially from how it sounds. English is totally different from Chinese as it is an alphabetical language meaning it uses certain connections between spoken and written forms. The difference in the writing styles between English and Chinese result in difference in translation strategies. The difference in orthography between these two languages influences the levels of cognitive writing processes like word recognition and perception. This means that it will be easier to translate to English language from Chinese than it is the other way round. This is due to the logographic of the Chinese language that require heavier alphabetical codes. Reading English language is more comprehensive than reading a Chinese text though there exist different degree levels of transfer met-cognitive and cognitive knowledge across the act of translating these two languages (Mundey 2011, 89)
The tense aspect between English and Chinese are different in their morphologically distinct tenses whether past or present. For example, there is no marker indicating the future tense on an English verb as such events are mostly expressed through the use of ‘will’ or ‘shall’ as auxiliary verbs. This is different from Chinese language as there exist markers to indicate future tense. The past remains distinguishable from the present and future with the use of internal modifications of verbs. The tense used in these two languages are distinguishable in their progressive aspects.
English language also expresses other aspectual distinctions in the way the structure of its sentences are constructed. Such a structure will highlight current expectation or intention. Chinese sentences structure can accommodate any tense depending on the context used. This makes its translation to another language hard as it is not easy to tell the tense in which the text is written. This can be closely related to the difference in culture between the two languages in the use of kingship words.