How to explain the word "li" to a foreign friend?

It can be "courtesy" and "etiquette" or "ceremony" and "ceremony".

In ancient Chinese philosophy, "ritual" is the general term for social order.

Many Chinese ideological and cultural terms with rich meanings like "li" can hardly find corresponding or similar words in foreign languages, and these concepts can best reflect Chinese values ​​and ways of thinking.

It can be said that a deep understanding of these ideological and cultural terms is inseparable from a true understanding of China.

Foreign translation of terminology, active voice

  With the development and progress of social economy, China's comprehensive national strength and international status are increasing day by day, and it has also attracted more and more attention from the international community.

Overseas scholars and lovers of Chinese cultural studies often face the problem of lack of literature related to Chinese thought and culture.

This phenomenon is more prominent in some non-English-speaking countries.

  "I teach the course 'Modern and Contemporary Chinese Thought' at school. We are very short of Spanish documents related to Chinese humanities and social sciences, and I can only provide relevant English translation materials to students." Pafont-Bellisson said that reading English-translated materials is not conducive to students' accurate grasp of the meaning of the original Chinese text. Therefore, authoritative ideological and cultural foreign translation reference materials are very necessary for him and his students.

  "Take the idiom 'A lesson from others' as an example. A foreign friend thought this word meant to install a mirror behind the car in front so that the car behind can be seen." Huang Youyi, executive vice president of the Translators Association of China, said, "Like There are still many examples that make people laugh and cry. If we don’t grasp the power of interpretation of Chinese culture in our own hands, it is easy to cause many misunderstandings.” Only by actively introducing and showing the true meaning of Chinese ideological and cultural terms to the world can we open up to the world. The door to a correct understanding and understanding of Chinese thought and culture.

  Huang Youyi also pointed out that from the perspective of translation history, translators are always concerned about strong cultures.

Those translators who grew up in Western culture, especially those whose mother tongue is English, are unlikely to spend a lot of time and energy sorting out Chinese ideological and cultural terms.

"The right to speak is earned by oneself, not sent by others."

  In 2014, the "Chinese Ideological and Cultural Terminology Propagation Project" (hereinafter referred to as the "Terminology Project") was officially launched to organize, translate and disseminate ideological and cultural terms at the national level.

"In the database of Terminology Engineering, terms are presented in a bilingual form, including entries, definitions, and citations, to help readers understand these concepts more comprehensively." Zhang Siying, deputy editor-in-chief of Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, said, "We expect Overseas readers can apply these translation methods in translation or writing, making it gradually become their discourse for expressing China."

It is not easy to polish "translation"

  Translating ideological and cultural terms is not simply translating each word into a foreign language, but requires the translator to express it in a foreign language as accurately as possible on the basis of a full knowledge and understanding of the connotation of the term.

"Or it's 'two steps'—from classical Chinese to vernacular, and from vernacular to foreign languages." Zhang Siying said.

  "In fact, there are very few translators who can do this 'two-step process'. Therefore, the engineering team realizes terminology translation through collaboration. The terminology project has specially set up three subject groups of philosophy, literature and art, and history, as well as a foreign language translation review group. Experts and scholars in the subject group are responsible for screening terms, using 200 to 300 modern Chinese characters to explain the meaning of each term, and at the same time matching each term with 1 to 2 quotations, and each quotation is presented in the form of a contrast between classical Chinese and vernacular. This is' The first step'. The proofreading team is responsible for the 'second step'. After the translator completes the preliminary translation, the terminology project invites sinologists to polish it, and then the proofreading experts revise and finalize the draft. This is a process of repeated deliberation." Zhang Siying Said that such a complicated process is rare in the translation of other types of texts.

  In the specific translation practice, there are still many difficulties in term translation.

Ai Kai, a foreign expert in terminology engineering and a professor of history at the University of Chicago, believes that the biggest difficulty in the translation of ideological and cultural terms is that it is difficult to accurately find corresponding expressions in English for many polysemy concepts in classical Chinese.

"Usually a word consisting of one or two characters can be translated by more than a dozen words in English. If we want to explain this word comprehensively and accurately, we need a relatively long text." Ai Kai said.

In the face of such polysemous one-character or few-character terms, terminology engineering usually adopts transliteration and supplementary paraphrase, and also attaches free translation when necessary.

Zhang Siying gave an example, "The transliteration of the character 'Qi' is 'Qi'. In addition to the interpretation, a free translation of 'Vital Force (the power of life)' is also added here."

  The first principle of terminology translation is "faithful to the original text".

However, due to the polysemy and richness of many terms, although the complete translation of a term is accurate, it may become lengthy, which is far from the concise and concise characteristics of Chinese.

Ai Kai believes that translation should achieve the interpretation of the overall meaning rather than word-for-word translation.

For example, "Confucius used 'Xing Guan Qun Resentment' to summarize the main functions of The Book of Songs. The previous translation was very long, not like a term, but more like a paragraph. After discussing with Chinese experts, we put 'Xing Guan Qun Yuan' into The translation of 'is identified as 'Stimulation (inspiration), Contemplation (thinking), Sociability (social interaction), and Criticism (criticism)' four words."

  Different problems will also be encountered when translating terminology for different target languages.

Xue Qingguo, professor of the School of Arabic at Beijing Foreign Studies University, introduced that both Chinese culture and Arabic culture belong to the traditional oriental culture with a long history and profound heritage.

Therefore, some Chinese ideological and cultural terms can find similar or similar words in Arabic.

For example, the word "ren" is translated as "Muru'ah", which means "perfect personality", and "benevolence" also focuses on "person" in Confucianism, and the two have a high degree of correspondence and fit.

Even so, "There are still many words in Arabic that seem to be similar to Chinese terms, but in fact have a large difference in connotation. If they are copied directly, it may cause misreading, which requires special attention when translating." Xue Qingguo said.

Exchange and learn from each other, moisten things silently

  From the perspective of terminology, terms generally have the characteristics of systematization, univocity, and definition, but many Chinese ideological and cultural concepts do not meet these requirements.

"We can understand these terms as key concepts of ideology and culture." Zheng Shupu, a researcher at the Russian Language, Literature and Culture Research Center of Heilongjiang University, believes, "We can't cut our feet and fit our feet, draw a prison, and exclude concepts that do not meet the requirements of terminology. Outside. For example, 'harmony is valuable' itself is not a word, but a propositional judgment. However, this expression that explains the important principles of Confucianism in dealing with interpersonal relationships cannot be discarded. As long as it has communication value, foreign translation is meaningful."

  Zheng Shupu also pointed out that foreign translation will inevitably bring about the problem of shifting meaning, and there is no absolute correctness.

A good translation is only widely accepted after being tested in practice.

In this process, communication is more important than being correct, and communication can promote a deeper understanding.

  "Studying and translating Chinese ideological and cultural content has given me a deeper understanding of Chinese culture." Shen Ruizhi, a young Thai scholar, also gave an example, "'poison' in traditional Chinese medicine texts may sometimes refer to 'medicine'. This It made me gradually realize that the 'black and white' thinking habit of modern Western culture divides everything very clearly. In contrast, Chinese culture is more inclusive and dialectical."

  Since communication is one of the most important purposes of foreign translation of ideological and cultural terms, who are we communicating with?

Huang Youyi believes that it is those "foreigners who want to learn a little bit of Chinese culture".

"They want to know what Chinese concepts such as 'ritual' and 'heaven' are. These concepts are not clear in one or two sentences. At this time, refer to the terminology book, and it will be clear." Huang Youyi said, although the interpretation of each term There are only two or three hundred words, but it condenses the research efforts of Chinese scholars for many years.

  Terminology translation can lay a basic knowledge framework and semantic foundation for the Chinese discourse system.

The translation of ideological and cultural terms fully demonstrates Chinese values, ways of thinking, philosophy and humanistic spirit to the world, and promotes exchanges and mutual learning between cultures.

The dissemination effect of foreign translation of ideological and cultural terms will not be immediate, but every effort made by relevant researchers and translators has contributed to enhancing the international community's understanding of China.

"In this process, of course we need to redouble our efforts, but we also need to be patient. It is unrealistic for foreigners to accept our 5,000-year-old culture at once. The subtle influence of 'moisturizing things silently' has the effect of going out of the culture. It may be better." Zheng Shupu said.

(Our reporter Yin Zehao)