III. Criteria of Translation

Speaking of criteria of translation, as early as in the Tang Dynasty, the learned Monk Xuan Zang designed criteria of translation with emphasis placed on accuracy and general knowledge. In the Qing Dynasty, Yan Fu established a three character standard in translation: faithfulness, expressiveness and elegance, which are similar to "Triness" by Herbert Rotheinstein. Faithfulness, expressiveness and gracefulness which are considered the golden rule in the field of translation.

After the May 4 th Movement, Lu Xun proposed: faithfulness and smoothness as the criteria of translation.

Shortly after the birth of New China, quite a lot of translators put forward various criteria, such as faithfulness, smoothness, accuracy, fluency and so on ...

Still, some people made diverse interpretations to Yan Fu's three-character criteria of translation as:

Faithfulness — being faithful
expressiveness — being explicit
elegance — elegant in words
“信”— 忠于原文
“达”— 明确详尽
“雅”— 措辞优雅

Which is different from Yan's own definition:

faithfulness — narrate the original article clearly
expressiveness — express the context smoothly
elegance — use the character standard, syntax before the Han Dynasty
“信”— 达旨(将原文说明)
“达”— 前后引衬,以显其意(译文通顺明白)
“雅”— 尔雅(用汉以前字法、句法)

IV. Methods of Translation

In translation from English into Chinese, the principal methods used are:

1. Literal translation (metaphrase)
2. Literal translation (paraphrase)
3. Transliteration (translation according to pronunciation)
1. 直译
2. 意译
3. 音译

The last one, however, is scarcely used unless it is absolutely necessary. Transliteration is mainly used in translating proper nouns, such as names of persons, places, scientific terms and etc. Whether a translation will be faithful to be the original in all the aspects depends on the possibility of finding the closest, the most natural equivalence. And it also depends on to a great extent a good command of the transformation of the key sentence and the choice of surface structure by a translator.


1. He bent solely upon profit.
A. Surface:他只屈身于利润之前。
B. Shallow:只有利润才使他低头。
C. Deep:他惟利是图。

2. We are here today and gone tomorrow.
A. Surface:我今天在这里,明天就到别处了。
B. Shallow:今日在世,明日辞世(死去)。
C. Deep:人生朝露。

3. John is tall like I am the queen of Sheba.
A. Surface:约翰高得像是示巴皇后。
B. Shallow:约翰高的话,我就是示巴皇后。
C. Deep:要说约翰个头高,没那回事。

*上述几句中的Translation C在翻译时打破了原句结构,实则是看到了句子中更深层的东西。我们可以说在翻译过程中,当神与形矛盾而又无法同一时,应重神似,有时不得不牺牲形式。

4. Their accent couldn't fool a native speaker.

5. Truth lies at the bottom of the decanter.

6. Darkness released him from his last restraints.

7. How much did you suffer?
"Plenty," the old man said. —The Old Man and Sea
“一言难尽。 ”老头说。

8. How many winter days have I seen him, standing blue-nosed in the snow and east wind!

9. The thought that Huck might have failed was intolerable, agonizing.