How to Deal with Ellipsis in English-Chinese Translation
I. Purpose and Significance
With the development of globalization, the world’s political, economic and cultural communications are becoming increasingly frequent. Therefore, the role of translation cannot be ignored. However, the differences between English and Chinese cultures that are reflected in the two languages pose considerable difficulty.
It is acknowledged that when doing translation one can not translate word for word, or sentence by sentence. Therefore, we must use some translation strategies such as amplification, ellipsis, conversion and so on. Ellipsis as one of the basic translation methods plays an essential role in English-Chinese rendition. Translators apply it in order to make their versions more coherent and understandable.
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s English-Chinese Dictionary, ellipsis means leaving out a word or words from a sentence deliberately, when the meaning can be understood without them. Ellipsis in translation does not mean cutting some content from the original articles. What could be omitted are words that are useless in translated works or else they will make the versions redundant or disobey the manner of expression in another language.
Some words and phrases are useless in Chinese but necessary in English. Articles in English are the most significant phenomenon from this aspect. They are very important in English, but we can hardly see any reflection of this part in Chinese. Ellipsis is designed on the basis of faithfulness to the original text, making it more fluent, smooth, concise, thus conforming to idiomatic Chinese. The paper will explore ellipsis in English-Chinese translation from five aspects, which are ellipses of pronouns, conjunctions, articles, prepositions, modifications, so as to achieve smoother and clearer communications among China and English-speaking countries.
Another famous theory to explain ellipsis is Economy Principle. Economy Principle was put forward by Chomsky (1991,1993, and 1995) in his Generate Crammer. It maintains that language and linguistic study follow Economy Principle, which means using the least effort to express the most information. This principle just coincides with ellipsis in function.
In this thesis, I think that brevity is the most obvious and common function of ellipsis, especially in daily language. And in both English and Chinese, people advocate brevity. Shakespeare once remarked, “brevity is the soul of wit”, and in Chinese there are numerous idioms like “yan jian yi gai” (meaning compendious). However, apart from the function of brevity, ellipsis embodies other functions which are also pretty common in the two languages but less noticed.(Hua Xianfa,2002)These functions distribute in both English and Chinese unevenly and represent great colorfulness of language. Exploring other functions of ellipsis and searching for functional recreation in translation will be of much benefit to both English to Chinese and Chinese to English translation.
I found that when Chinese authors try to analyse ellipsis in English to Chinese translation, they always initially put articles in the list. They consider that it is a common phenomenon that Chinese always leave out personal articles. While it is obviously different in English that almost every sentence has a subject, we can see articles fluently. That is because when we translate from English to Chinese, personal articles can be omitted, even though sometimes it may appear once, it can also be omitted if necessary. Furthermore, if the objects can be seen obviously, personal articles should also be omitted. However, it never happens in English. From this point, it is not only allowable but also necessary when we translate personal articles which are objects in sentences into Chinese.
In my point of view, the development of society has in some way has deliberately promoted the way of people’s thinking, translation system has become more and more perfect, people from all over the world have enjoyed the convenience. However, we can not neglect that there are still some problems in this field in China, and we have less influential Chinese translators in the world. Therefore, we still have a long way to go in translation.
III. Feasibility Analysis
This academic paper is a feasible project and the reasons are as follows:
1.I have great interests in the way of English-Chinese translation.
2.I have already studied translation methods and have been familiar with the functions and applications of ellipsis .
3.I have collected enough references both Chinese and Western on ellipsis in
translation and do a scrupulous study of the relationship between them.
4.I have a carefully planned schedule and have worked out a detailed outline of this thesis.
5.I have acquainted myself with the correct format, a clear and complete structure required by the academic paper, and my adequate English competence will enable me to write in fluent and precise English.
6.My instructor is a qualified translator who is familiar with the subject I havechosen.
IV. Problems of the research and solutions
Despite the references I have collected and read, a thorough study of ellipsis in English-Chinese translation from the point of freely using still needs far more. What’s more, owing to the limited ways of getting references in Xinjiang, I will have to make full use of my present resources. Also, this is the first time I have ever written such a serious academic paper. I am therefore a learner and lack the needed training and experience.
(1) I shall make full use of my already acquired references which come from books, magazines and the Internet as well.
(2) I shall value my own original thoughts and mainly rely on detailed analysis that I have read from the books which have closely idea with my purpose.
(3) When I have difficulties in the writing process, I shall consult my instructor and seek for help.
V. Necessary conditions
1. Our university and school of foreign languages have provided the basic study and research conditions and facilities, including books and journals in the library and reading rooms.
2. The Internet is another source of information and on the campus we have easy access to the Internet.
3. I have been assigned an instructor to guide me through the whole process of planning and writing.
A. A Brief Introduction of Ellipsis in Translation
B. What Should We Pay Attention to When Dealing with Ellipsis
C. The Reason Why Ellipsis Is So Widely Used in Translation
1. Chinese Expressions Are Much Briefer Than That of English
II. Literature Review
Long before, some people began to learn other countries’ languages to understand others cultures. In China, Xuanzang was the first translator who not only translated the Sanskrit sutras into Chinese, but introduced the first Chinese writings to foreign countries, making foreigners understand China’s ancient culture. Meanwhile, he was the first to translate Lao Tse's works into Sanskrit. Indian scholars had a high opinion of Xuanzang, "In China, there is no such great translator, and also in the human cultural history, we can only say that Xuanzang is the first great translator."(Ye Lang, 2008) We can say that it was Xuanzang who motivated people to know the different parts of the world, their cultures and the peoples who live there. Then, some big countries such as America, China, and so on became a melting pot.(Gu Zhengkun, 2000) People have imperceptibly spent thousands of years in knowing each other.
With China’s entry into WTO and its open-up policy, cross-cultural exchanges are increasingly frequent between this country and others. A lot of foreign tourists come to visit China. While traveling, these foreigners are not satisfied with the translations of the scenic spots. Sometimes, they even feel confused. A lot of problems exist in the translation, such as misuse of words, poor expression of meaning and so on. All of these poor translations do harm to our country’s international image, and cause a lot of inconveniences for the foreign visitors. (Ma Zuyi, 2000). I am fond of tourism and being a free tourist like the others who are good at enjoying their wonderful lives. The love of tourism makes me feel the need to improve the translation. But every time when I have a trip, many unsuitable translations of the names of those scenic spots will embarrass me. Tourism is part of intercultural communication, so proper translation of the scenic spots become more and more important to our country.
Communication plays a significant role in the globalized society. In order to know each other better, people from all over the world have tried a verity of ways. Of course, translation is one of them. All translators have done their best to make the translated works more consistent with the needs of people.(Gu Jinming, 1997) From my perspective, they really have done a great job. And I want to retrospect the cause of their development. After a thorough evaluation, I choose a branch of translation—ellipsis in translation from English to Chinese, then I did the following jobs.
I put all my researches and other stuffs together, and then I found that it is a common case in English and Chinese which draws much academic interest. In 1976, Halliday and Hsan classified ellipsis into nominal, verbal and clausal ellipsis. This classification exerts great influence in academic circle. Thereafter, ellipsis in Chinese and English has been studied according to this theory, which is based on different layers of structure. This kind of study underlines differentiations and similarities of ellipsis in Chinese and English.
2. English Grammar Is Wee-Knit and Complete in Sentence Structure
II. The Principles of Ellipsis
A. Omitted Words Must Be Useless And Unnecessary in the Translated Works
B. The Meaning of the Omitted Words Is Implied in the Test
C. Omitted Words Which Are Self-Evident
Ш. The Functions and Applications of Ellipsis
A. The Coherence of the Meaning of Expression
B. The Coincidence of the Manner of Expression
1. Ellipsis of Articles
a. Ellipsis of Definite Articles
b. Ellipsis of Indefinite Articles
2. Ellipsis of Prepositions
3. Ellipsis of Pronouns
a. Ellipsis of Personal and Impersonal Pronouns
b. Ellipsis of Indefinite Pronouns
c. Ellipsis of Relative Pronouns
4. Ellipsis of Conjunctions
a. Ellipsis of Coordinating Conjunctions
b. Ellipsis of Subordinate Conjunctions
5. Ellipsis of Rhetoric
a. Ellipsis of Repeated Words
b. Ellipsis of Synonyms