Culture and Chinese Proverbs

Topics: Culture, China, English language Pages: 14 (5103 words) Published: December 21, 2012
Abstract: Proverbs, which derive from life are the condensation and embodiment of the language and culture of a nation. They can reflect geography, history, customs of a nation. So it is necessary to study a nation's proverbs when we try to study its culture . English and Chinese proverbs, being treasures of two different languages, see distinct differences resulted from cultural differences. This essay uses some typical examples to compare and analyze the differences between English and Chinese proverbs from the point of origin, geographical environment, customs, religious beliefs and historical culture, etc. Proverbs are difficult to translate because of their distinctive characteristics and their unique cultural backgrounds. In order to present an adequate translation of a proverb, we can use four translation methods flexibly: literal translation, free translation, equivalent translation and literal translation combined with free translation.  Keywords:: English and Chinese proverbs; culture; cultural differences; translation principles; translation methods  1 Introduction 

Proverbs from life, is a national language and culture, a high degree of concentration and a concentrated expression. The British philosopher Francis

Cultural Differences Between English and Chinese Proverbs and Their Translation Strategies Introduction
Proverbs date back from life. It reflects the marrow of culture. Because of the differences of origins, religious beliefs, humanistic ideals, moral views and life and work experiences, English and Chinese proverbs carry on different cultural characteristics and information. It has everything with culture and can’t be separated from each other. In this paper, I set some typical examples to discuss the cultural differences between English and Chinese proverbs from the respects of religious beliefs, humanistic ideals, moral views and life and work experiences. Due to cultural differences in English and Chinese proverbs, the same words may display different ideals. Translation plays an important role. Be literal translation, free translation or literal translation combined with free translation, it should be in accordance with language features and cultural backgrounds. No matter what method to choose, we must follow it, “Translation consists in reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the source language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style.” (Eugene A. Nida, 1893) 2 Influence of English and Chinese Cultures on Their Proverbs 2.1 Culture and Proverb

2.1.1 What is Culture? What is Proverb?
Different people have different views on culture. Culture derives from the Latin word “culture”, which means “cultivated materials” and “human cultivated nature”. Among various definitions, the first generally accepted and comparatively complete definition is presented by an anthropologist—Sir Edward Tylor in Primitive Cultures (1871). He defines culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society”. Some linguists consider culture as the deed and thought of a society. Some famous translation theorists define culture as the way of life of a peculiar community, which is expressed by a language. Culture, in A New Concise Course on Linguistics for Students of English, means the total of life of a people, including the patterns of belief, customs, objects, institutions, techniques, and language that characterize the life of the human community (戴炜栋,2002:127). No matter what its definition is, culture covers every aspect of our life, from environment to cultivated nature, from social production to spiritual works. Proverb is a short well-known saying that states a general truth or gives advice (霍恩比, 2002: 1192). Proverbs come from life and reflect culture. As Bacon says, “Genius wit and spirit of a nation are discovered by their...
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