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A Comparison of the Syntax of Chinese and English from the Perspective of Translation. David Deterding NIE, Singapore. Chomsky's Principles and Parameters. Principles are fixed. Parameters vary between languages. Analysis of parameters allows us to see the difference between two languages.

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A Comparison of the Syntax of Chinese and English from the Perspective of Translation


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    1. A Comparison of the Syntax of Chinese and English from the Perspective of Translation David Deterding NIE, Singapore

    2. Chomsky's Principles and Parameters • Principles are fixed. • Parameters vary between languages. • Analysis of parameters allows us to see the difference between two languages.

    3. Parameters • Wh Parameter • Null-subject Parameter • Head Parameter

    4. Wh Parameter • In Chinese, the question word does not get moved. It remains 'in situ'. • In English questions, the 'wh' word is moved to the front.

    5. Types of Question • There are two types of question: • Yes/No question: Is it raining? • Wh-question: What are you doing? • We will just consider wh-questions.

    6. 你在做什么? What are you doing?

    7. 你在做什么? What are you doing?

    8. 这本书多少钱? How much is this book?

    9. 这本书多少钱? How much is this book?

    10. 你住在哪儿? Where do you live?

    11. 你住在哪儿? Where do you live?

    12. Wh-movement in 颁 奖 典 礼 • Which question has wh-movement in the translation?

    13. Wh-movement in 颁 奖 典 礼 line 7: 还 有 什 么 好 抱 怨 的。 line 8: What are you complaining about?

    14. Wh-movement in 颁 奖 典 礼 line 7: 还 有 什 么 好 抱 怨 的。 line 8: What are you complaining about?

    15. Null-subject Parameter • Chinese is a null-subject language. If the subject of a clause is predictable, it can be omitted. • English is not a null-subject language. Every finite clause must have a subject.

    16. Null-subjects and translation • In translating from Chinese to English, subjects must be added. • Sometimes the identity of the subject is not clear.

    17. Null Subjects in 七 0 • How many pronouns are there in the Chinese? • How many pronouns are there in the translation? • Could a different choice of pronoun have been made?

    18. Null Subjects in 七 0 • Chinese has no subject pronouns. • English has: I (line 2) and we (line 5) • Could they have been avoided? • Also my (line 1); (but this is a possessive pronoun, not a subject)

    19. Null Subjects in 颁 奖 典 礼 • How many pronouns are there in the Chinese? • How many pronouns are there in the translation? • Which extra pronouns are related to the Null-Subject Parameter?

    20. Extra pronouns in 颁 奖 典 礼 line 4 : 愈 是 想 装 成 不 在 乎, 愈 是 想 损 自 己 几 句。 line 4 : But the more I pretended I didn't care, the more I cursed myself for my reaction,

    21. Extra pronouns in 颁 奖 典 礼 line 4 : 愈 是 想 装 成 不 在 乎, 愈 是 想 损 自 己 几 句。 line 4 : But the more I pretended I didn't care, the more I cursed myself for my reaction,

    22. Possessive Pronouns • In English, a singular count noun must have a determiner before it. • Possessive pronouns are one common type of determiner. • Sometimes extra pronouns arise from this need for a determiner.

    23. Possessive Pronouns in 颁 奖 典 礼 • Find extra possessive pronouns in the translation.

    24. Possessive Pronouns in 颁 奖 典 礼 • line 10 : 在 胸 中 • line 11 : in my mind

    25. Reference in Chinese • The relative lack of pronouns in Chinese results in greater repetition of lexical items. • In English, repetition of lexical items is not allowed. • Try translating 运 动 into English.

    26. Practice 1 说 到 运 动, 真 的 让 我 头 痛。 我 喜 欢 运 动, 又 害 怕 自 己 运 动 时 会 摔 伤, 因 此, 我 比 较 喜 欢 “安 全” 的 运 动, 如 羽 球, 乒 乓 等。 (by 小 兔From Friday Weekly, No 462)

    27. The thought of exercise really gives me a headache. I like exercise, but when I exercise I am frightened I will get injured, and because of this I prefer "safe" exercises like badminton or ping-pong.

    28. The thought of exercise really gives me a headache. I like exercise, but when I exercise I am frightened I will get injured, and because of this I prefer "safe" exercises like badminton or ping-pong.

    29. The thought of exercise really gives me a headache. I like sport, but then I am frightened I will get injured, and because of this I prefer "safe" activities like badminton or ping-pong.

    30. Practice 2 大 小 不 同、 各 色 各 样 的 风 筝 令 人 眼 花 缭 乱, 一 下 子 也 无 从 选 择。 虽 然 精 贵 的 风 筝 特 别 吸 引 人, 我 还 是 替 大 家 选 了 最 便 宜、 简 单 的 纸 风 筝。 理 由 是, 你 们 毕 竟 是 初 试 者, 就 先 学 会 把 简 陋 的 风 筝 送 上 天, 才 攀 缘 上 等 的 风 筝 吧。 (by昭 伟, from Friday Weekly No 638)

    31. There were so many different sizes and shapes of kites to choose between that for a moment I could not make up my mind. Although the expensive kites were attractive, I decided on the cheapest and simplest kites for everyone. As you were just beginners, it was best to practice with a simple kite before progressing to a more elaborate kite.

    32. There were so many different sizes and shapes of kites to choose between that for a moment I could not make up my mind. Although the expensive kites were attractive, I decided on the cheapest and simplest kites for everyone. As you were just beginners, it was best to practice with a simple kite before progressing to a more elaborate kite.

    33. There were so many different sizes and shapes of kites to choose between that for a moment I could not make up my mind. Although the expensive ones were attractive, I decided on the cheapest and simplest for everyone. As you were just beginners, it was best to practice with a simple model before progressing to something more elaborate.

    34. Strategies Used • substitution : kite  one • omission : kite Ø • more general term : kite  model • pronoun : kite  something

    35. 颁 奖 典 礼 • Find an instance where lexical repetition in Chinese is avoided in the English translation.

    36. 颁 奖 典 礼 • line 1:自 从 报 纸 公 布 了 某 文 学 奖 的 得 奖 名 单, 而 我 确 信 我 的 名 字 就 在 名 单 之 上 后 • line 1: When the newspaper announced the results of the literary prize and I confirmed that my name really was among the winners

    37. 七 0 • Find an instance where lexical repetition in Chinese is avoided in the English translation.

    38. 七 0 • Line 1 : 坐 很 慢 的 慢 车 • Line 1 : on a slow train

    39. 七 0 • Find an instance where lexical repetition in Chinese is retained in the English translation. Why do you think this is?

    40. 七 0 • lines 8-10 : 农 业 的 气 味, 手 工 业 小 镇 的 气 味, 性 欲 被 禁 锢 的 气 味, 军 队 纪 律 的 气 味, 多 淀 粉 质 毂 类 而 少 肉 食 的 气 味 • lines 11-14 : the smell from the farms, the smell of small towns full of home-based industries, the smell of forbidden sex, the smell of military discipline, the smell of a diet high in carbohydrates and low in meat

    41. Head Parameter • Every phrase has a head. • In English, the head of the phrase tends to be at the start: English is a head-first language. • In Chinese, the head of the phrase is always at the end: Chinese is a head-last language.

    42. 我喜欢的书

    43. 我喜欢的书 books that I like

    44. 我喜欢的书 books that I like

    45. 他去过的地方

    46. 他去过的地方 places he has been to

    47. 他去过的地方 places he has been to

    48. 颁 奖 典 礼 • Find an instance where a head-last phrase in Chinese is translated as a head-first phrase in English.

    49. 颁 奖 典 礼 • line 1: 某 文 学 奖 的 得 奖 名 单 • line 1: the results of the literary prize

    50. 七 0 • Find an instance where a head-last phrase in Chinese is translated as a head-first phrase in English.