On C-E Translation of Public Signs

Topics: Translation, Language, Literal translation Pages: 9 (2425 words) Published: November 19, 2010
On C-E Translation of Public Signs
from the Perspective of
Newmark’s Translation Theory

I. Introduction
Translation of public signs has always been a focus of people engaged in the translation profession. With the rapid growth of our country, this issue has become more important. Experts from home and abroad in translation career have made great contributions to the translation of public signs. In Chinese-English Translation of Signs, the coauthors-Wang Yin and Lv Hefa comment on both the right and false translation of public signs from the aspect of indication, public behavior, notice and touring, etc. In A Dictionary of Public Signs, the coauthors-Lv Hefa and Shan Liping illustrate various examples of public signs. Lv Hefa analyzes the language features of public signs and the specific sentence pattern of public signs In Chinese Science and Technology Translators Journal. Moreover, he expresses that in Chinese-English public signs’ translation, the primary method is to translate them word for word. If there is no target language, which is in correspondence with the source language, the translator should translate them in accordance with the language features of the source language. The overseas researches on this topic are mainly concerned with the following respects. Peter Newmark has indicated language functions, text-categories and text-types, in A Textbook of Translation, which is of great help in translation of public signs. And in Approaches to Translation, he puts forward the concept of Semantic Translation and Communicative Translation, which can be applied in the process of translation. Many scholars have done the research from the perspective of the norm of translation. Instead, this thesis will be developed from the view of the relationship between the translation of public signs and Peter Newmark’s theories, his Communicative Translation and Semantic Translation in particular.

II. Overview of Public Signs
A. Definition of Public Signs
Various definitions of public signs have been put forward by many experts, two of which can demonstrate the essence of public signs. 1). “a thing that indicates that something else exists, is happening, or may happen; a signal, gesture, or notice giving information or an instruction” (Catherine Soanes 2004: 843). 2). “Signs are anything from the simplest way-finding or information ‘marker’ to the technically sophisticated communication of a message. Signing affects everybody-travelers, shoppers, visitors, drivers, etc, whether in the course of business or pleasure” (Barry Gray 2007: 1). B. Basic Features of Public Signs

Public signs enjoy mainly three features. 1). Public signs are internationalized. There is no doubt that economically booming and populated cosmopolitan cities are the center of the information exchange. 2). The scope of public signs’ users is very clear. They are business people, tourists and diplomats etc., who use English as their mother tongue or as a second language. 3). The equivalence of communication. When doing translation, translators should take different culture backgrounds into consideration. C. Status Quo of Translation of Public Signs

Correct use of a language reflects the extent of a country’s civilization. We are striving to build a harmonious society, but there still exist many false translations of public signs in our country. The problems mainly consist of three respects. 1). Loss of the original meaning. For instance, a public sign “老年旅行服务中心” has been translated as “Agedness Travel Service Heartland” in Taiyuan. Having read this translation, people will not know its true meaning. Because the translation of this Chinese public sign is “衰老旅游服务腹地”. The correct translation of this public sign should be “Senior Citizens Travel Services”. Such kind of translation will mislead visitors, let alone bring them convenience. 2). Inappropriate translation and the cultural gap between China and western countries. For example, “入口”is...
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