Unnaturalness in English Vietnamese Translation

Topics: Translation, Language, English language Pages: 51 (17572 words) Published: March 7, 2010


Lê Phương Lan
A THESIS Presented to The English Department In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Bachelor of Arts


ng Xuân Thu, M.A.

May 2006 - Hanoi


Unnaturalness in English – Vietnamese translation: causes and cures by

Lê Phương Lan
The purpose of this graduation thesis has primarily been to define and describe mistakes - the translation unnaturalness - frequently seen in English - Vietnamese translation which, does not completely ruin the whole work though, may confuse or puzzle readers of the target language. To further develop the argument, the thesis works out some of the major causes of unnaturalness in English - Vietnamese translations by not only students of English but also people who practice translating as their profession. Each cause is presented with typical examples taken out from published materials like newspaper articles, translated literary works, and students’ translation exercises as well as assignments. The thesis then boldly suggests possible solutions, i.e. a number of strategies translators and would-be translators can employ to address or, at least, minimize these common mistakes .


First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to all those who gave me the possibility to complete this thesis. I want to thank the English Department of Hanoi University of Foreign Studies for giving me permission to commence this thesis in the first instance and to do the necessary research work. I am deeply indebted to my supervisor Mr. stages of this research for and writing of this thesis. My classmates from class FA1 – 2002 supported me a great deal and I want to thank them for all their support, cooperation and valuable suggestions. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to other fellow students of the English Department for providing me their translation exercises and assignments to use as references. Especially, I am obliged to my friends who looked closely at the final version of the thesis for English style and grammar, correcting both and offering suggestions for improvement. Finally, I cannot fully express my gratitude to all the people whose direct and indirect support helped me complete my thesis in time. ng Xuân Thu whose reference

materials, support, stimulating suggestions and encouragement helped me in all


Table of Contents
1. Introduction 1.1 Rationale 1.2 Literature review 1.3 Aims and scope of the thesis 2. Unnaturalness in English – Vietnamese translation 2.1 What is unnaturalness in translation? 2.2 Classification of mistakes that cause unnaturalness in English – Vietnamese translation 2.2.1 On linguistic aspects At word level At phrase level At sentence level Linguistic untranslatability 2.2.2 On cultural aspects Translation of idioms and fixed expressions Translation of implications and classic references Cultural untranslatability 3. Causes of unnatural translation 3.1 Subjective causes 3.1.1 Insufficient language competence Insufficient target language (Vietnamese) competence Insufficient source language (English) competence 13 13 14 21 23 28 30 30 34 36 38 38 38 38 40 7 7 8 10 12 12


3.1.2 Inadequate cultural background 3.2 Objective causes 3.2.1 Linguistic differences between English and Vietnamese

41 42 42

3.2.2 Cultural differences 4. Translation techniques to avoid unnaturalness 4.1 Accommodation 4.1.1 What is accommodation? 4.2.2 Types of accommodations 4.2 Some suggested techniques 4.2.1 Overcoming linguistic problems Choose the right word Choose the right structure Dealing with linguistic untranslatability 4.2.2 Overcoming cultural problems Cultural substitutions Dealing with cultural...

References: 10. Lê Huy Trư ng,
ng ình Thi n, & Tr n Huy Phương (1998)
of the English Language. Hanoi: Education Publishing House. 11. Lê Văn S (2003). Translation and Grammar. Hanoi: Culture and Information Publishing House.
McCarthy, Michael, & O’Dell, Felicity (2004) English Idioms in Use (Lê Thành Tâm, & Lê Ng c Phương Anh, Trans.) Ho Chi Minh City: Ho Chi Minh City Publishing House.
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