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Say It Right Series

Translating Problems

Posted by maxiewawa September 19, 2007 in the Group General Discussion.

Today I had my first translation lesson at university. My teacher and I had quite a difference in views. A lot of my classmates agreed with my teacher, which I really didn't understand. I thought I'd run it past everyone at CPod and see what they thought.

The passage in English was: "They say that cars and trucks going very fast past each other make the air turn anticlockwise. The air in tornadoes turns anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. So cars in the USA must drive on the left."

The translation was "他们说高速行驶中的汽车和卡车互相交叉经过时,会使气流逆时针方向转起来。在北半球龙卷风是逆时方向旋转。所以,在美国必须在左边开车。“

I thought this translation was correct. But teacher told us that we needed to link the sentences together. So where we have "在北半球龙卷风是逆时方向旋转” teacher suggested we add ’也‘ to make it 在北半球龙卷风也是逆时方向旋转的。

She explained that to put the sentences so bluntly in 汉语 would sound awkward, and that it wasn't clear that they were linked. She said that it sounded more natural with the 也 included. I agreed with her that it sounded more natural but my viewpoint was that since the original text didn't make that connection (that the wind made by cars and the wind of cyclones spin in the same direction) , we shouldn't either.

I'm not sure my teacher understood. She kept referring to the fact that in Chinese it wouldn't be natural to write that sentence (在北半球龙卷风也是逆时方向旋转) without a 也。She said that we weren't just translating words but meaning. I thought that the English was awkward, blunt, and not natural sounding, and that the Chinese translation should be too.

I guess my opinion is that it's not for a translator to infer or add anything, even when something seems awkward or wrong. And adding 也 implies something that just isn't in the original text.

What do you think? To summarize, does

 "They say that cars and trucks going very fast past each other make the air turn anticlockwise. The air in tornadoes turns anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. So cars in the USA must drive on the left."

Equal  

"他们说高速行驶中的汽车和卡车互相交叉经过时,会使气流逆时针方向转起来。在北半球龙卷风是逆时方向旋转。所以,在美国必须在左边开车。“

Or

"他们说高速行驶中的汽车和卡车互相交叉经过时,会使气流逆时针方向转起来. 在北半球龙卷风也是逆时方向旋转。所以,在美国必须在左边开车。“

I realise it's just one word, but I really think it's a no brainer, and was surprised how many of my classmates didn't agree. 

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