A Study on Translation of《罗刹海市》from the perspective of Pragmatics


世界家苑 2018年4期


ABSTRACT:Pragmatics is the study of language in use under specific circumstances.The purpose in combing pragmatics and translation is to realize pragmatic equivalence between the originals and translations.The application of pragmatics in translation provides theoretical basis for preserving the image of source language or abandoning the image of source language.

Key words:Pragmatics;translation;Pragmatic equivalence

Pragmatics is a relatively new field in linguistics,which studies particular words in certain situations,and how to understand and use language based on context.Therefore,pragmatics focuses meaning beyond words,which means it not only stresses the importance of context,but also includes speakers in its range of study.A successful translation is directed to produce the consistency in response of source language receptors towards original text and in that of target language receptors towards translated text,so translation cannot avoid dealing with factors of context and language users.Translators serve as a bridge connecting source language and readers.Without context,it is hard for readers to understand ideas of writers of source language work and hence the goal of translation cannot be achieved.For example,輒从梨园子弟,以锦帕缠头,美如好女,因复有“俊人”之号。He used to associate with actors,and with an embroidered handkerchief round his head the effect was that of a beautiful woman.Hence he acquired the sobriquet of the Beauty.First,“梨园子弟”is quite a culture-loaded word which refers to people of acting career,so the translator just translate it into actors to avoid misunderstanding.Then,the translator choose the Beauty for “俊人” because he is aware of the context in which the author praises the outlook of Ma Chun as well as a beautiful woman.

Translation is also a kind of cross-cultural communication activities,which aims to make the various language users perceive and process information with the same or at least similar results.Therefore,pragmatic equivalence must be taken into full consideration.In order to achieve functional equivalence,language should represent their pragmatic meanings in changed language environment,namely pragmatic equivalence.Based on that,we can try to represent all of those in translations to achieve pragmatic equivalence.For example:

遂反以此欺国人.He quickly turned their fear to his own advantage.At here,the translator chooses free translation.He understands what the original conveys.Ma Chun can scare people away with his outlook so he manages to feed himself by this.The translation version successfully expresses authors intention even without adhering to the language form of the original because it refers to the context information.

As a basis of modern translation theories,Pragmatics plays a positive role in promoting and developing the translation theories.Besides its significance for language itself,it also reveals the relation between language and its related factors.As a result,the translator can fully understand the effect that the outside factors place on language differences.


You are my Ulysses,I am your Penelope;though not actually leading a married life,how can it be said that we are not husband and wife?

In this example,the emphasis can be laid on three culture-loaded expressions,namely “征人”,“荡妇” and “琴瑟”.In the text,“征人” and “荡妇” represent "the wayfarer" and "wayfarer's wife",which are replaced by Giles with "Ulysses" and "Penelope" respectively,two characters from Roman and Greek mythology,whom foreign readers are more familiar with and easier to understand.Penelope is Ulysses wife,who is known as a clever and faithful lady.The love between Penelope and Ulysses can help western readers better understand the love between Ma and the princess of dragon palace.As for “琴瑟”,Giles omits its original image and only translates its basic meaning "husband and wife".Although,the basic meaning can be better understood by foreigners,its cultural information is lost.

Dr.He Ziran thinks the essence of pragmatic translation is pragmatic equivalence that translators should express what writers really want to say to make it easy for readers from target language to understand and accept.Pragmalinguistics focus on the relationship between language form and language function,while language form can be vocabulary,grammar,sentence,discourse and others.Pragmalinguistic equivalence means that translators,in principle of fully understanding what writers or speakers want to express,preserve the content in the closest and the most natural equivalence language while overlooking the form of source language.For example,馬骥就用手敲着桌子唱了一曲,主人高兴地说:“真妙啊!你的歌声就像凤鸣龙啸,我从没听到过。” Ma hummed him a tune,beating time on the table,with which he was very much pleased,declaring that his guest had the voice of a phoenix and the notes of a dragon,such as he had never heard before.

The translator rejects the form of source language,like “hummed him a tune,beating time on the table” for “就用手敲着桌子唱了一曲”,“the voice of a phoenix and the notes of a dragon” for “凤鸣龙啸”,but it doesnt undermine the content and is in accordance with English sentence structure and grammar.

Sociopragmatic equivalence refers to that translators are well aware of the social,cultural backgrounds hidden in source language and express these message perfectly in the closest and the most natural equivalence language.It studies people under different backgrounds of culture how to deal with the problem of language use in communication.If we translate “望梅止渴” by exerting pragmaticlinguistic equivalence,it may be“quench ones thirst by thinking of looking at plums”,and by exerting sociopragmatic equivalence,it is “console oneself with false hopes or feed on fancies”.A good example in the article is that:把剑起舞,以煤涂面作张飞。

Then Ma,seizing a sword,began to attitudinise,smearing his face all over with coal-dust.He acted the part of Chang Fei(A famous General who played a leading part in the wars of the Three Kingdom).

In these two examples,the translator adopts the transliteration plus notes,which can both retain Chinese culture and explain the meaning of culture-loaded expressions.

In this example,“张飞” was a military general who served under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty and early Three Kingdoms period.In translating this term,Giles directly makes use of the phonological correspondence,which can better keep their Chinese phonetic flavor.As foreign readers may know nothing about Chang Fei,Giles also adds a note to further explain who he was,which not only compensate for the most important information,but also help the foreign readers know more about China.


[1]Pragmatics is a new approach to translation.It studies how to understand language by taking advantage of context and requires translators to transfer both the implicit and explicit meaning,with readers cognitive environments being concerned,so translators can realize the optimal relevance or pragmatic equivalence.