Dimensions of Fidelity in Translation with Special Reference to Chinese
Yuen Ren Chao 趙元任
|Prière de ne pas fumer||Original|
|'Prayer of not a step to smoke'||Literal translation|
|'Request of not smoking'||Grammatical but not idiomatic|
|'No smoking, please'||Idiomatically acceptable|
|'No smoking'||The usual sign|
There is one usage by which a literal
translation is applied to a smoother form than a word-for-word translation.
To quote again from Catford, adding a comparison with Chinese, we
English: It's raining cats and dogs Original French: II est pleuvant chats et chiens Word-for-word tr. II pleut des chats et des chiens. Literal tr. II pleut à verse. Free (idiom.) tr. Chinese: Ta sh shiahj mhau her gooumen. 他是下著貓和狗們. Shiahj mhau goou ne. 下著貓狗吶. (Yeu dah de jeanjyr sh) shiah mhau shiah goou Ie. (雨大的簡直是)下貓下狗了. Chingpern dah-yeu Ie. 傾盆大雨了.
Note that the French and the Chinese
happen to agree literally, too.
A word of warning should be said here
against the strong temptation to use an interesting literal translation
at the cost of fidelity in the other dimensions. If a translation is
both literal and idiomatic, well and good, as in the French and Chinese
above. Again, in: Ta bu hwai hao-yih
(他不懷好意) 'He doesn't harbor good intentions,' the equating of hwai
with 'harbor' is very apt. When 'The style is the man' is translated
as Wen ru chyi ren (文如其人), it is fairly close, though the Chinese
is in wenyan, while the English is neutral in that respect. When,
however, Shiawhuah! (笑話!) is equated to 'Ridiculous!' then
there are problems. For while the Chinese can be used either as non-polite
or as insulting language, the English can only be the latter if applied
to the person being spoken to. Even more subtle are the shades of differences
between donq₀syyle 
(凍死了) and 'frozen to death.' Most of the time, both are used either
in the literal sense or as a hyperbole and the Chinese form with or
without neutral tone can be used either way too. But depending upon
context, one may be idiomatic in one but not in the other language.
A very important dimension of fidelity
which translators often neglect is comparability in frequency of
occurrence, or the relative familiarity of the expressions in the
original and the translation. Too great a discrepancy in this respect
will affect fidelity, even though the translation is accurate in other
respects. As is well known in information theory, the less often a thing
is talked about, the more it means to talk about it. Sometimes the very
things one talks about may be a familiar thing in one culture and strange
and exotic in another. In such a case, if the thing is the main topic
of the discourse, it cannot be helped. An account of a game in the World
Series can very easily be translated into Japanese, but would make poor
reading in Chinese, in which terms about soccer are heard every day,
but not those of baseball. However, in cases where a familiar expression
is used casually as a figure of speech, then sometimes a translation
by a different figure of speech of the same import but with a comparable
degree of familiarity will result in a higher degree of overall fidelity
than an apparently faithful translation which is very unfamiliar. For
example, to speak of reaching the third base might be rendered, in Chinese,
as reaching the 'listening stage' in a game of mahjong, where the
apparently 'free' translation has greater fidelity, because it is
a better match in the frequency of occurrence. Technically, the third
base is in Chinese dihsan leei
(第三壘). But at the lecture on these problems of translation, at which
there were probably thirty or forty Chinese-speaking members of the
audience, I asked how many had heard the expression dihsan
leei and not one of them raised his hand. My daughter, Rulan Pian,
was in the audience, but did not raise her hand, because she had just
learned the term that same afternoon, as I had myself.
Before continuing with the consideration
of the other dimensions, let us consider for a moment one aspect of
the translation which has to do with the dimension of size, literalness,
and frequency, namely the phenomenon of calque,
or translation borrowing. In ordinary borrowing from one language to
another, a foreign word or expression is taken over and adapted to the
phonemes of the borrowing language, as for example, English menu
['meniu] or ['meiniu] from French menu
[məny], or English chopsuey from Cantonese dzaapsöy
(雜碎). In such cases, whether there is a change of meaning or not—and
usually there is—no translation is involved. In translation borrowing,
on the other hand, one translates the constituent parts of foreign words
and makes up new combinations, thus forming neologisms. For example,
the German noun for telephone
is Fernsprecher, tele- translated as fern-
and -phone freely translated as -sprecher.
On the other hand, in the verb telephonieren,
there is direct borrowing from the Greek (except for the addition of
the German verbal suffix). Another example is German Einfluss,
from Latin in + fluens.
Sometimes, especially in translation borrowings of phrases instead of
compound words, the borrowings may be so naturalized that most users
are hardly aware of their foreign origin. Examples are: 'That goes
without saying' < Ça va sans dire,
or the colloquial 'How goes it?' < Wie
geht's? 'Long time no see,' however, is not a translation borrowing,
since Hao jeou bu jiann Ie (好久不見了), if translation-borrowed, would
come out as 'Good long not met.'
Much more tricky are what I call skewed
translation borrowings. By a skewed translation borrowing I mean one
in which you translate a foreign word with meanings A, B,
C, D, etc. with a certain native word for meaning A
and then, instead of choosing other suitable words for the other meanings
B, C, D, etc., just go on using the same native word for
A mechanically whenever you see the foreign word. The result amounts
to an importation of foreign meanings which the native word never had
before. Present-day Chinese is full of such skewed translation borrowings,
Old meaning Added meaning weimiaw (微妙) 'delicate (of things)' 'delicate (of situations)' chyangdiaw (強調) 'stress (in pronunciations)' 'to emphasize' chingsuann (清算) 'liquidate (accounts)' 'liquidate (persons)' Iiisheangde (理想的) 'ideal (adj. of idea)' 'ideal (perfect)'
Such borrowings always take time before
they are quite naturalized and are mostly limited to journalistic language
or discourse in a journalistic style. Some of the new ones appearing
in headlines, especially in overseas Chinese newspapers, are hardly
intelligible without reading on in the text or retranslating them into
the source language. For example, one headline says that the crime rate
in San Francisco had a shihjiuhshinqde
(戲劇性的) decrease last month. It made no sense to me until I realized
that shihjiuhshinqde did not mean 'theatrical,' but 'dramatic':
there was a dramatic decrease in crime rate. Another news item, about
a manifesto concerning the hydrogen bomb signed by Bertrand Russell,
Albert Einstein, and others, said in Chinese: 'Ever since the tests
at Bikini, lianghao de dangjyu (良好的當局)—excellent administrators—unanimously have pointed out the
danger that a war of hydrogen bombs can destroy the whole of mankind.'
I had to read the column twice before I realized that what they called
lianghao de dangjyu was a skewed translation borrowing of 'good
authorities,' good authorities have pointed out etc. To be sure, this
sort of lazy man's translation is constantly being committed by students
in foreign language classrooms. But when a new meaning becomes established,
even though through foreign influence, it becomes part of the language—shall
I say lingo?—whether you like it or not. But I am sure that excellent
administrators for 'on good authority' is still unintelligible
at the present stage.
To continue with the consideration
of dimensions of fidelity, another dimension in which a translator may
fall into the trap of what may be called false fidelity is the presence
of obligatory categories in languages. A noun in English has
to be either singular or plural, a verb either present or past. A friend
in German has to be either male or female. A cousin in Chinese has to
be not only either male or female but also either on the father's side
or on the mother's side, either older or younger than oneself. What
a translator has to do is of course to omit the obligatory distinctions,
whether lexical or grammatical, if they are not obligatory in the translating
language and if they are not relevant in the context. For instance,
Chinese beau (表) is an adjective for relatives of different
surnames and mey (妹) is a female relative of the same generation
younger than oneself. But if the obligatory distinctions do not
matter in a certain context, then the combination beaumey
can very well be undertranslated simply as 'cousin,' otherwise one
would have to say things like: 'Good morning, my femalecousin-on-mother's-or-
It is easy enough to take care of such
striking and obvious cases of obligatory categories, but it is the less
obvious cases that are more tricky and more easily mislead the translator.
Take the innocent-looking or sounding sentence: 'He put on his hat
and went on his way.' In nine cases out of ten, a French, a German,
or a Chinese student of English would translate it 'faithfully'
with the pronoun 'his' in both places, whereas if he were to start
composing the message in his own language, say in Chinese, he would
probably just say: Ta dayle mawtz
Of course if overtranslation of obligatory
categories is written and gets read on a large scale, it can establish
a new usage, at first as a neologism, then as an accepted new style.
Thus, starting with an imperfect knowledge of the uses of tense in English,
a Chinese translator adds mechanically the suffix Ie
whenever he sees a verb in the past form, even though in his own talk
and writing he does not use the suffix Ie
in many instances of reference to the past. Again, he uses a preposition
bey (被) for 'by' whenever he sees a passive voice in the English
verb, unaware of the fact that Chinese verbs have no voice and the direction
of action of a verb works either way, depending upon context, and also
forgetting that the preposition bey
for passive action is used only before verbs with unfavorable meanings.
However, once this sort of translatese is written often enough, it gets
to be written in originals, even when no translation is involved. When
this happens, it constitutes what in linguistics is known as structural
borrowing, that is, instead of borrowing specific words or phrases discussed
above, one borrows functional ('empty') words or a whole type of
structure. So nowadays, one suffers not only scolding and beating but
also being praised or rewarded.
Besides the translation or omission
of obligatory categories, there is also the natural tendency, unless
one is on guard against it, to translate noun for noun, verb for verb,
or in the case of phrases, nominal for nominal expressions, verbal for
verbal expressions, etc. Other things being equal, this will of course
be a contributing factor toward fidelity. But since other things are
never equal, they must all be considered and given no more than proper
weight. For example, quelle merveille!
is a nominal expression, but to render it as 'what marvel!' would
be too strong, nor is it comparable in the dimension of frequency of
occurrence. Instead, 'how marvelous !' would have a higher degree
of overall fidelity, even though it is an adjectival and not a nominal
expression. Likewise, the adjectival phrase jen
taoyann (真討厭) is better translated by the nominal phrase 'what
a nuisance' than the adjectival phrase 'how annoying.' So is
jen haowal (很好玩ㄦ), an adjectival phrase, better translated by the
nominal phrase 'what fun,' whereas the corresponding adjectival
phrase 'how funny' would be entirely wrong. In Luen daw
nii le (輪到你了) 'It's your turn now,' luen
is a verb and 'turn' a noun. In Nah
sh shyunhwan de (那是循環的) 'It's a vicious circle,' shyunhwan
de is an adjective and 'circle' a noun, with 'vicious' understood
in the Chinese. A translator would be strongly tempted to translate
keeren (可人), which has a nominal root, as 'personable,' which,
however, is not as accurate as 'lovable,' with a verbal root.
Sometimes, especially in clichés and
proverbs, the most faithful translation will be of an entirely different
structure. In Woo terng (我疼), woo
is subject, but in 'It hurts' the 'me (understood)' is object.
Chii yeou tsyy lii (豈有此理) is a whole sentence in wenyan,
but used in speech as an adjective and should be translated as 'ridiculous.'
'I wish' followed by a contrary-to-fact clause could be equated
to Woo yuannyih…, as in Woo
yuannyih nii bye nemmyanql long
(我願意你別那麼樣ㄦ聾) 'I wish you were not quite so deaf,' but a closer translation
is ... (nah) dwo hao ([那]多好), preceded optionally by woo
yuannyih. Huu tour sher woei (虎頭蛇尾) lit. 'Tiger's head, snake's
tail' is a phrase of two nominal expressions; its equivalent 'anticlimax'
is one noun. Jiin-shanq tian hua
(錦上添花) and 'carrying coals to Newcastle' are fairly close in structure,
but its counterpart in Chinese sheue-lii
sonq tann (雪裏送炭), a verbal phrase, has its best equivalent in 'A
friend in need is a friend indeed,' which is a full sentence.
Sometimes, not only the form classes
do not need to correspond, but even radically different categories of
linguistic elements may turn out to be the best translational equivalent.
There is a very common grammatical form in Chinese consisting of a predicate,
which may be a verb or an adjective, followed by the verb 'to be'
sh(yh) (是), then followed by a repetition of the same predicate,
as in hao sh hao (好是好). One can analyze this as '(as for being)
good, (it) is good.' But this is really explaining the Chinese to
a student of the language and not actually translating it. How then
would you translate sentences of this type? Well, you translate this
Chinese formula of words into an intonation in English. The English
intonation which fits this Chinese formula best is what Harold E. Palmer
 calls 'the swan,' so-called because its time-pitch graph makes
a double turn like the neck of a swan. The plain statement Hao
means 'It's good': but in the form Hao
sh hao it means 'It's good (but).' It is of course also
possible to render this formula by such phrases as 'to be sure,'
or the more colloquial 'all right,' as in '(It's good) all right',' (with a low rising intonation), but the swan intonation
is about as faithful a translation of the Chinese formula as any translation
by the use of words. In extreme cases, language is even translated by
non-language, such as gesture, as mentioned above.
Similar to the problem of obligatory
categories, there is the problem of translating the endless varieties
in different cultures of the subcategories of things and qualities,
units of measure, money and coinage, names of colors, and the very names
of numbers themselves. English has no juotz
(桌子) 'table' – 'desk'; no shia
(蝦) 'shrimp' – 'prawn' – 'lobster'; no che
(車), since 'vehicle' would be out of style in most contexts;
no ta (他), though current Westernized writing differentiates
他: 她: 它; there is not even ren
(人), and 'man' often has to serve as 'woman.' When you call
a woman huay-ren (壞人) you can neither call her 'bad woman,'
nor 'bad man,' and 'bad person' would again be out of style,
and you may have to settle for 'bad girl.' There are four equally
common auxiliary verbs in Chinese: neng, keen,
keeyii, and huey (能, 肯, 可以, 會), with overlapping equivalences with
English 'can' and 'may,' with keen
equatable to the awkward and therefore less frequently used 'be willing
to.' There is only one word 'hot' for both tanq
(燙) for temperature and lah
(辣) for the taste. Among Chinese dialects, the sentence in Mandarin:
Jeh tang tay tyan, keesh bu gow shian
(這湯太甜, 可是不狗鮮) 'This soup is too sweet, but not tasty enough' would
be difficult to translate into Cantonese without some circumlocution,
as both tyan and shian
would be called dhim (甜) in Cantonese. In names of colors there
is no 'brown' in Chinese and there is no ching
(青) in English. Many languages have no word for a length comparable
to a yard, and the conception of teen-age would not be translatable
unless the language happens to have a common feature from thirteen to
nineteen. It is easy enough to translate such items, even with a high
degree of accuracy, if it is a matter of giving the mathematical, physical,
or economic equivalents. But since such expressions are often used for
other than their purely quantitative import, fidelity in the other dimensions
such as function, idiom, frequency, etc. will have greater weight. For
instance, for a language with no word for dozen, 'a couple of dozen'
will appear better as 'a couple of tens' than as 'about twenty-four.'
Incidentally, such linguistic and cultural differences sometimes even
affect wholly non-linguistic matters. Thus, it is not only often difficult
to translate 'quarter' into a language that has a dollar-like unit
but divides it into five twenty-cent pieces, but the existence of the
quarter (or 20-cent piece, as the case may be) actually affects the
prices of things that can be conveniently sold over the counter-and
in slot machines!—so that the dimension of frequency will be affected
in the translation of such items. Nobody would have said pas
un sou if there had not been such a coin as the sou.
Nobody would have said meiyeou
ig benqtz (蚌子) if there had not been such a coin as the square-holed
Style is another dimension in which
too much discrepancy will obviously affect the fidelity of translation.
One may jazz up serious literature into modern slang, but that would
be parody and not translation. Today's style in one language can of
course be best translated in today's style in another, especially if
the subject is one which is being talked about today. If it is a text
of a past age, the translation leads to problems. I have already mentioned
the problems involved in translating the Bible, and whole treatises
have been written about them. For example, that very readable book,
Trials of the Translator by Ronald Knox (New York, 1949), is mainly
concerned with such problems. As for the age of the languages involved,
there is no necessity, or even special virtue, in matching period with
period. Must one, for example, translate The Divine Comedy
in the language of The Canterbury
Tales? If such a translation already exists in its own right, well
and good, but there is no special virtue as to fidelity in matching
periods as such. Moreover, what if the text to be translated, say the
Chinese classics, was written long before the age of the translating
language, say before the formation of what might be called the English
language? The wise course in such a case, and this is the course that
has been commonly adopted by most translators of the older texts, is
to write in as timeless a style as possible. This practice, to be sure,
may involve a loss of color and life, but it will at least be free from
suggesting the wrong color. It is true that in the long run what seems
timeless to the translator of one age will eventually be dated and that
is why there had to be retranslations of important works, as people
have done with the Bible and as John Ciardi has been doing with his
'Englishment' of the Paradiso. The important thing about
handling the older texts is that one should at least avoid the use of
local color and narrowly dated expressions. For nothing gets as easily
off color as that which is full of local color and nothing so quickly
out of date as that which is right up to date.
An extremely important but often neglected
dimension of fidelity is what might be called the sound effects of the
language. I refer to such elements as length, symmetry, and, in the
case of verse, meter, rhyme, and other prosodic elements. Now, since
the semantic range of words and the obligatory categories of two languages
never coincide, if all that is in the original has to be accounted for,
the translation will necessarily be longer; but in trying to include
everything and not to lose anything in the original, the translator
will unavoidably add extraneous elements because of overlapping categories
in the translating language. In practice, therefore, a translator will
have to make a compromise between the sins of omission and the sins
of commission and try to take into account all the dimensions of fidelity,
including that of aiming at comparability in length. Take the French
expression for talking nonsense et
patati et patata. If you translate it as 'gibberish,' it will
sound rather weakish; 'yak yak' is better, since it has a more similar
pattern, and 'yakety yakety' will be even closer to the sound effects
of the French et patati et patata.
Translating Woode shin putelputelde
tiaw (我的心撲忒ㄦ撲忒ㄦ的跳) as 'My heart palpitates' seems to give a pretty
close sound effect, but 'My heart goes thumpety thump' has the advantage
of comparability in length and style. To quote from John Ciardi: 
Every word has a certain muscularity.
That is to say, it involves certain speech muscles. Certainly any man
who is word-sensitive is likely to linger over the difference between
the long-drawn Italian carina
and the common, though imprecise, American usage 'cute' when applied
to an attractive child. The physical gestures the two words invite are
at least as different as the Italian child's goodbye wave ('Fa
ciao, carina') with the palm of the hand up, and the American
child's ('Wave bye-bye') with the back of the hand up.
Even street names have to be translated
with due regard to comparability in length. One writer, in making fun
of the street name 'Avenue of the Americas,' says: 'Yes, this
is the Street-of-the-Great-Leap Forward -of-our -glorious -People's
-Commune -System -over -the -Capitalist-Butchers-of-the-
In translating songs to be sung to
the same melody, the requirement of sound effects is of course even
more strict. Take, for example, the first two lines of Schubert's
|-Es||-ist||+der||Va —||ter||mit||sei —||nem||Kind.|
|'A||+lov —||ing||fa —||ther||with||his||+young||child.'|
Here the words marked + and - are those
which have been added or omitted, respectively, for reasons of rhyme
and rhythm. (Note also the bad stress pattern in 'his young.') The
preceding is still a fairly close translation. In the Haiden-Röslein,
however, the demands of rhyme and rhythm are so strong that there is
even no point in counting the pluses and minuses, as can be seen in
the opening lines:
|Rös —||lein||auf||der||Hai —||den,|
|'When||her||beau —||ties||he||de —||scried,'|
|Sah's||mit||vie —||len||Freu —||den.|
|'Joy||in||his||heart||was||glow —||ing.' |
At the other extreme, as examples of
sacrifice of sound for the sense is the usual type of translation of
classical Chinese verse, such as that of the Book of Odes
by James Legge or T'ang poems by Arthur Waley, in which the number of
syllables is three or four times that of the original. While the message
and imagery is usually very well conveyed in such translations, they
give the feeling, to us who were raised in the concise and rhythmic
swing of the shorter lines, of big mouthfuls of dough, if indeed not
quite wey ru jyau lah (未如嚼蠟).
The more rhythmical is, however, not
necessarily the more concise. Take the no spitting notice on trains
of the Shanghai-Nanking Railway. The Chinese says:
Swei chuh tuu-tarn, 隨處吐痰 'Everywhere spit, Tzuey wei eh-shyi. 最為惡習 Most bad habit. Jih ree ren yann, 既惹人厭 It is loathsome Yow ay weysheng. 又礙衛生 And bad for health. Chejann yuehtair, 車站月台 Stations, platforms, You shiu chingjye. 尤須清潔 Must keep clean, neat. Taang yeou weiJann, 倘有違反 If you violate, Miann chyh moh guay. 面斥莫怪 We will rebuke.'
The translation above is more rhythmic
than literal. But the actual sign in English says in one sentence:
IN THE INTEREST OF CLEANLINESS AND PUBLIC HEALTH PASSENGERS ARE REQUESTED TO REFRAIN FROM SPITTING IN THE TRAINS OR WITHIN THE STATION'S PREMISES
To be sure, in the early days of that
railroad, which was run by foreigners, there were in the Chinese notice
overtones of the civilized management instructing those uncouth country
people how to behave, while the English version was in a language of
equals talking to equals. But the use of rhythmic forms in notices is
very common in Chinese in any case.
When, however, it is a matter of translation
between English and modern spoken Chinese, as I did for the Lewis Carroll
books, I did not have the handicap of having to work with such disparate
states of languages, and the rendering of sound effects was easier without
sacrificing as much fidelity in the other dimensions. In Through
the Looking-Glass  especially, I was able not only to
make point for point in the play on words but also keep practically
the same meter and rhyming patterns in all the verses. Take, for instance,
the first stanza in Jabberwocky:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.
In Mandarin it is:
While this sounds almost like the English—if
Jabberwocky can be called English—all the sounds in it are nevertheless
within the phonemic inventory of the initials, finals, and tones of
Mandarin. When spelt in the National Romanization, it even looks like
the English in places:
Yeou 'tian beirlii, nehshie hwojihjide toutz
Tzay weybial jiinj gorng jiinj berl.
Hao nansell a, nehshie borogoutz,
Hair yeou miade rhatz owdegerl.
And later on, when Humpty Dumpty explains
the etymology of the difficult words, it will of course have to come
out right in the translation. For example, 'in the wabe' is translated
as tzay weybial, since just as 'wabe' comes from 'way before,'
'way behind,' and 'way beyond,' so does weybial
come fromjeybial, neybial, and waybial,
that is, 'this side,' 'that side,' and 'outside.'
In connection with the liberty taken
with the original text for reasons of rhythm, length, etc. is it legitimate
to add what was not in the original beyond just some necessary fillings?
For example, to quote from Through the Looking-Glass
again, when the Lion asks whether Alice is animal or vegetable or mineral:
donqwuh, jyrwuh, kuanqwuh (動物, 植物, 礦物) and the Unicorn says she is a monster,
the only natural translation for the word is guaywuh
(怪物), which, though quite literal, is an overtranslation. Again, when
the penultimate stanza in the epilogue:
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
is translated as:
Beenlai dou sh menqlii you, 本來都是夢裏遊, Menqlii kaishin menqlii chour, 夢裏開心夢裏愁, Menqlii sueyyueh menqlii liou: 夢裏歲月夢裏流:
lines 2 and 3 in the English say the
same thing, while line 2 in the translation which, though it is in the
mood of the poem, has been added rather gratuitously. Perhaps this overtranslation
could compensate a little for the sin of omission in failing to translate
the initial letters in each line of the poem to spell out the name ALICE
Finally, a dimension of fidelity of
practical import which has already been touched upon briefly is the
situation of use of the original language and that of the translating
language, and this often involves the interchange of language and non-language.
In translating plays from English into Chinese, I have often met with
cases where dialogue has to be translated as stage direction and vice
versa. There is a Chinese character 唉! which in certain contexts every
reader will pronounce as [ɦai]. Now this involves the use of the 'voiced
h,' a non-existing sound in the normal list of Mandarin phonemes and
is therefore on the borderline of language and non-language. To put
it in English, the usual practice is of course simply to write the word
sigh, which is then translating quasi-language and not ordinary
language. One would then be giving a stage direction in place of giving
a translation of the dialogue. Sometimes, during the act of translating
live speech, the situation itself changes before the translation is
finished. Then what should the translator do? If he finishes the translation,
he will be translating a true sentence into a false sentence. If not,
what? Here is what a resourceful airline pilot did in announcing an
emergency landing, presumably on a transatlantic flight. He starts with
Attention, mesdames et messieurs.
C'est votre commandant. Attachez vos ceintures de sécurité et préparez-vous
pour un atterrissage d'urgence.
Achtung, meine Damen und Herren,
hier spricht ihr Flugzeugführer. Bitte, befestigen Sie ihren Sicherheitsgürtel
und bereiten Sie sich auf einer Notlandung vor.
and gentlemen, forget it. Everything is A-OK.
Now is this a translation? And if so,
what is the degree of fidelity?
all the preceding discussions about dimensions of fidelity, treating
them as if they were measurable, independent variables, it must be admitted
that they are really neither measurable nor completely independent.
We are far from reaching a workable quantitative definition of any of
the dimensions, not to speak of formulating a mathematical function
with a view to maximize its value. The present state of affairs
is still what in some of the formal disciplines is known as the pre-systematic
stage, which is just another way of saying that the ideas are still
half-baked. We are still not much beyond the stage, as stated by J.
P. Postgate more than fifty years ago: 'By general consent, though
not by universal practice, the prime merit of a translation proper is
Faithfulness, and he is the best translator whose work is nearest to
his original.' But since nearness is a matter of degree, we are
back to the problem of measurement of fidelity-back where we started.
One useful test is to retranslate the translation into the original
language and see if one can find a better fitting equivalent in the
original language. If one can, then the translation is not faithful
enough, as Mark Twain has well demonstrated. This is to be sure only
a testing procedure and the problem of multidimensionality is still
with us. But so far as that is concerned, in what field of inquiry is
one not troubled with the problem of multidimensionality?
 That is, in so far as pitch characteristics are not a part of the phonemic system of the language being used.
in standard Cantonese, but pronounced Niouyoak
in another southern dialect, presumably spoken by the original transliterator
of this name.
in Cantonese is kimm.
 C. J. Catford, A Linguistic
Theory of Translation (Oxford, 1965), p. 66.
 Probably not as blunt as 'Old
man!' or as deferential as Legge's 'Venerable sir!'
Op. cit., pp. 25-26.
 A subscribed circle indicates optional
neutral tone, that is, either donq-'
syyle or donq.syyle.
The Chinese World, San Francisco, February 14, 1968.
 The Chinese World,
San Francisco, July 11, 1955.
 For details on these terms, see
Y. R. Chao, 'Chinese Terms of Address,' Language
 In my translation of Through
the Looking-Glass, in which the Red Queen objected to Alice's saying
that she had lost her way because all the ways belonged to the queen,
I had of course to render 'her' literally in order to make the point.
 For further details, see CYYY
(Ts'ai Yüan-p'ei Commemorative Volume) 1933, p.148. An example of Yiddish
intonation as a grammatical form is found in Catford, p. 54.
 To be published, according to
a letter from Mr. Ciardi, in 1968 or 1969.
 Saturday Review, October
 Schirmer's Library ed., Vol. 343,
Eng. tr. Th. Baker, 1895, 1923, pp. 214, 228.
 Under the title of Tzoou Daw
Jinqtz Lii (走到鏡子裏), it will form Volume II of Readings in Sayable
Chinese (Asian Language Publications, San Francisco, 1968), where
a better version of the following lines can be found on p. 32, lines
1-4 (first stanza) .
 From a cartoon in Punch,
October 19, 1966, p. 577.
 A beginning in the quantitative
study of quality is found in John B. Carroll's 'An Experiment in Evaluating
the Quality of Translations,' Mechanical Translation and
Computational Linguistics 9.3; 4.55-66 (1966).
 J. P. Postgate, Translation and Translations (London, 1922), p. 3.