英语长句切分有方

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  英语是形合的语言,这就意味着英语中含有大量的长句。英语中的长句如同枝繁叶茂的参天大树,其中的诸多并列成分、非谓语结构、从句以及修饰成分等构成 了大树的枝叶,使英语句子显得错综复杂。分析长句首先从整体上把握句子结构,按照句子各个层次进行切分(即把英语中的长句分解成两个或两个以上的句 子),分析各个层次间的逻辑关系,而后按照汉语特点和表达方式正确译出原文含义,无需过分拘泥于原文的句法结构。
高健先生毕生致力于英语文学尤其是散文的研究和翻译,是国内卓有成就的英美散文翻译家,其译作精致周到、隽美考究,值得翻译爱好者研究学习。本文即撷取高健先生英美散文译作中的例句,与大家一起探究英语长句的翻译方法。
切分并列结构
英语的长句常含有并列结构,这些并列结构可能由短语构成,也可能由从句或句子构成。英译汉时通常会酌情对这些并列结构进行切分,然后逐层叙述。我们来看下面的例句。
例1
It rained in the morning, but the afternoon was clear and glorious and shining, with all the distances revealed far into the heart of Wales and to the high ridges of the Welsh mountains. (Sunday before the War)
译文 前晌有雨,但过午天即放晴,空气澄鲜,艳阳高照,视觉绝佳,远处威尔士的溪壑隈 ,遥岑翠微,一时尽收眼底。
分析 英文原文中用三个并列形容词(clear and glorious and shining)来描述雨后景象。译者在这里将三个形容词切分为三个小句子(天即放晴,空气澄鲜,艳阳高照),勾画出一幅令人心旷神怡的场景。英文中的并 列介词短语(into the heart of Wales and to the high ridges of the Welsh mountains)说明了风景在视野中能够延伸的范围,译者将其切分为两个四字短语(溪壑 ,遥岑翠微),增添了语言的艺术美。
例2
It is not wild, though it looks into the wildness of Wales, but all its cultivation, its orchards and hopyards and fields of golden wheat, seem to have the beauty of time upon them, as if men there had long lived happily upon the earth with no desire for change nor fear of decay. (Sunday before the War)
译文 它一点也不荒芜,但却能远远延伸到威尔士的那些未开发的地域;这里的一切作物,它的果园、麻场以及金黄面地似乎无不具有着时光所赋予的一种悠久之美,也或许因为他们世世代代便熙熙和和于斯土之上,既无意于变迁,也无畏乎败落。
分析 英文原文结尾的“no … nor …”结构(no desire for change nor fear of decay)体现了两个名词词组(desire for change和fear of decay)之间的并列关系。译者同样将这两个并列词组进行切分,将其译为“既无意于变迁,也无畏乎败落”,语言顺畅,对仗工整,读来很上口。
例3
Battles have been fought, kings have died, history has transacted itself,—but, all unheeding, Dreamthorp has watched apple-trees redden and wheat ripen, and smoked its pipe and quaffed its mug of beer and rejoiced over its new-born children, and with proper solemnity carried its dead to the churchyard. (Dreamthorp)
译文 多少战役烟消火灭了,多少国王陨落下世了,历史上盈满着事件——但对这一切,梦屯这里却全然不闻不知,其所关心者,只是果红麦熟,有烟有酒,如何为他们新生之儿道喜祝贺和端肃如仪地将死者的灵柩运往墓地。
分析 英文原文开头追古溯今,感慨万千,用了三个并列句(battles have been fought, kings have died, history has transacted itself),译文同样用三个独立的小句子来翻译,展现了原文的气势和情感。与历史的变迁形成鲜明对比的是,作者理想中的梦屯(Dreamthorp) 却始终诸事如常、不问世事变迁。作者用了多个以and连接的动词短语来描写梦屯这一副安宁的图景。在处理这些and连接的并列结构时,译者将前三个动词短 语(watched apple-trees redden and wheat ripen and smoked its pipe and quaffed its mug of beer)译为两个四字短语(果红麦熟,有烟有酒),而将后两个并列成分译为一个完整的句子,读来顺畅、自然。
例4
If Swift reminds you of a French canal, Dryden recalls an English river winding its cheerful way round hills, through quietly busy towns and by nestling villages, pausing now in a noble reach and then running powerfully through a woodland country. (An Author’s Tip to Authors)
  译文 如果说斯威夫特使你联想到的是一道法国的人工运河,戴登所唤起的则是一条英国的天然河流,欣然快活地蜿蜒迂曲于山峦之间、闹市之侧与孤村之旁,时而地势高亢,水缓流平,时而越野穿林,波澜壮阔。
分析 本句将Dryden(戴登,英国17世纪诗人)比作一条英国的大河,之后用了三个平行的-ing分词结构进行详细地叙述(winding its cheerful way round hills, through quietly busy towns and by nestling villages; pausing now in a noble reach; running powerfully through a woodland country)。译者对这三个并列的分词结构进行切分处理,将其译为独立的句子。整个译文读起来流畅、自然,充满动感,这还归功于译者对后两个分句进行 的进一步切割,将pausing now in a noble reach分译为“时而地势高亢,水缓流平”,将running powerfully through a woodland country分译为“时而越野穿林,波澜壮阔”。如此的分译使译文结构对仗、行文优美。
切分从句
英语中有各种各样的从句,包括定语从句、状语从句、名词性从句等,这些从句构成了英语句子错综复杂的枝蔓。译者在进行英译汉时可将各种英语从句切分为独立的汉语小句,在译文中逐层展开叙述。
例1
Greek, for instance, is a language so redundant with rich efflorescence, so tumid with luxuriant growth and overgrowth of all kinds, that our temperate language, unless it allow itself to run into sheer madness, must often refuse to follow it. (The Lyrical Dramas of Aeschylus)
译文 举例来说,希腊语即具有着一种繁缛浮夸、处处生花似的特质,每每予人以枝条纷披、丛簇恣肆的葱茏丰腴之感,而我国语言则比较稳健平和,如果不想弄成笑话,有些地方便不宜一概模仿。
分析 英文原文可以分为以下三个层次① greek, for instance, is a language so redundant with rich efflorescence, so tumid with luxuriant growth and overgrowth of all kinds;② that our temperate language must often refuse to follow it;③ unless it allow itself to run into sheer madness。其中①中用两个“so + adj.”结构来描述希腊语的特点,在译文中这两个结构分开阐述;①和②构成“so … that …”结构,汉语中前后两部分切分开来表达;③是unless引导的表假设的状语从句,译文中同样将其译为独立的短句。
例2
The mind at rest beside that light, when the house is asleep, and the consequential affairs of the urgent world have diminished to their right proportions because we see them distantly from another and a more tranquil place in the heaven where duty, honour, witty arguments, controversial logic on great questions, appear such as will leave hardly a trace of fossil in the indurated mud which presently will cover them—the mind then certainly smiles at cleverness.
译文 一颗有此光明为伴的心灵是会安息下来的,而此时整个院落都在沉睡,这个紧张世界的一切有待完成的杂事冗务也都已退缩至其恰当的分寸,其原因为,我们此刻对 这些的观照乃是来之于那迢递的天庭的高处的,其地湛然宁静一片,而那里的种种,诸如责任、荣誉乃至对一些重大问题的各类妙论与巧辩等等,都将在这带顽土梗 之上几乎留不下一丝痕迹,甚至还会迅即被此土 所覆盖湮没——而心灵小觑聪明的原因也即在此。
分析 英文原文可以分为以下七个层次① the mind at rest beside that light;② when the house is asleep;③ and the consequential affairs of the urgent world have diminished to their right proportions;④ because we see them distantly from another and a more tranquil place in the heaven;⑤ where duty, honour, witty arguments, controversial logic on great questions appear such as will leave hardly a trace of fossil in the indurated mud;⑥ which presently will cover them;⑦ the mind then certainly smiles at cleverness。其中,②是when引导的时间状语从句;④是原因状语从句;⑤是where引导的定语从句,修饰名词短语a more tranquil place in the heaven;⑥是定语从句,which指代the indurated mud。译文中将这些错综复杂的分句全部切分开来,将其译为独立的句子,逐层表达原文复杂的意思。
  例3
We may follow any mood, we may look at life in fifty different ways—the only thing we must not do is to despise or deride, out of ignorance or prejudice, the influences which affect others; because the essence of all experience is that we should perceive something which we do not begin by knowing, and learn that life has a fullness and richness in all sorts of diverse ways which we do not at first even dream of suspecting.
译文 我们尽可以乘兴而行和任情而动,我们尽可以对人生换上它五十种不同的看法——但是唯一不可以做的即是,无论出于无知抑或偏见,不可以对影响或左右其他人的 一些作用力量有轻蔑表示或嘲弄做法,原因是,一切经历的本质特征即在于,我们必须能从其中弄明白一些东西,而这些,我们在一开始时是会有所不知的,再有还 一定得认识到,生活之丰盛之富赡往往表现为多种多样的复杂形势,而我们起初对这一切是会连做梦也梦想不到的。
分析 本句的句法结构分析如下① we may follow any mood;② we may look at life in fifty different ways;③ the only thing we must not do is to despise or deride the influences which affect others;④ out of ignorance or prejudice;⑤ because the essence of all experience is;⑥ that we should perceive something;⑦ which we do not begin by knowing;⑧ and learn that life has a fullness and richness in all sorts of diverse ways;⑨ which we do not at first even dream of suspecting。其中,①和②是并列的句子,可分开来译;④在英文原文中是③的状语结构,原文将③中的动词(despise or deride)和宾语(the influences which affect others)分隔开了,在翻译时将④这一状语结构放在动词之前,把动词和宾语结合起来翻译;⑤是原因状语从句,⑥是表语从句,⑦和⑨是定语从句,这几 个从句都可以译为独立的汉语句子;⑥和⑧中的谓语动词为并列关系,译者在翻译时也注意译出这层关系。