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文化典籍翻译:《论语》英译本赏析

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《论语》是中华典籍的精华,也是中华文化典籍向世界传播的最早的典籍之一。迄今为止,中外学者翻译的《论语》已达数十个版本。其中较为著名的是理雅各(James Legge),辜鸿铭译本,汉学家亚瑟?威利(Arthur Waley)译本。理雅各和威利两位译者谙熟中国传统文化,对中国的典籍有比较精深的研究。本文将赏析两位大家的《论语》英译本,体会两位名家各自的特点和匠心。

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子曰:“温故而知新,可以为师矣。”

理译:The Master said, “If a man keeps cherishing his old knowledge, so as to continually to be acquiring new, he may be a teacher of others.”

威译:The Master said, He who by reanimating the Old can gain knowledge of the New is fit to be a teacher.

解析:两个译文中的对“温故”的翻译值得借鉴。没有使用常见的review等词,理译选用“cherish”含有“珍爱、珍惜”的意思,而威译选用“reanimate”更富有“使得老的知识获得新的力量”的意思。

  
子欲居九夷。或曰:“陋,如之何?”子曰:“君子居之,何陋之有?”

理译:The Master was wishing to go and live among the nine wild tribes of the east. Some one said, “They are rude. How can you do such a thing?” The Master said, “if a superior man dwelt among them, what rudeness would there be?”

威译:The Master wanted to settle among the Nine Wild Tribes of the East. Someone said, I am afraid you would find it hard to put up with their lack of refinement. The Master said, Were a true gentleman to settle among them there would soon be no trouble about lack of refinement.

解析:此段译文,威译更为贴切原文。“陋”在文中的含义并非“粗鲁”的意思,而是指“未开化,不高雅”的意思,所以理译为“rude”略显不恰当。再者,“如之何”应理解为“怎么好住”,并不是“怎么办”的意思。

  
季康子问政于孔子。孔子对曰:“政者,正也。子帅以正,孰敢不正?”

理译:Chi K’ang asked Confucius about government. Confucius replied, “To govern means to rectify. If you lead on the people with correctness, who will dare not to be correct?”

威译:Chi K’ang-tzu asked Master K’ung about the art or ruling. Master K’ung said, Ruling is straightening. If you lead among a straight way, who will dare go by a crooked one?

解析:这两段译文都较为准确地表达的文意。但威译本在语言气势上更好地还原了文本。原文读起来掷地有声,一身正气。再者,此处对于“问政”的翻译值得借鉴。威译的翻译为“ask about the art of ruling”极其贴切。

  
叶公问孔子于子路,子路不对。子曰:“女奚不曰,其为人也,发愤忘食,乐以忘忧,不知老之将至云尔。”

理译:The Duke of Sheh asked Tsze-lu about Confucius, and Tsze-lu did not answer him. The Master said, “Why did you not say to him, — He is simply a man, who in his eager pursuit (of knowledge) forgets his food, who in the joy of its attainment forgets his sorrows, and who does not perceive that old age is coming on?”

威译:The “Duke of She” asked Tzu-lu about Master K’ung (Confucius). Tzu-lu did not reply. The Master said, Why did you not say “This is the character of the man: so intent upon enlightening the eager that he forgets his hunger, and so happy in doing so, that he forgets the bitterness of his lot and does not realize that old age is at hand. That is what he is.”

解析:威译对“发愤忘食,乐以忘忧”存在一定误译。此处,“发奋”为好学,“乐”应指获取知识时的欣喜。

  
宰予昼寝。子曰:“朽木不可雕也,粪土之墙不可圬也;于予与何诛?”子曰:“始吾于人也,听其言而信其行;今吾于人也,听其言而观其行。于予与改是。”

理译:Tsai Yu being asleep during the daytime, the Master said, “Rotten wood cannot be carved; a wall of dirty earth will not receive the trowel. This Yu! — what is the use of my reproving him?” The Master said, “At first, my way with men was to hear their words, and give them credit for their conduct. Now my way is to hear their words, and look at their conduct. It is from Yu that I have learned to make this change.”

威译:Tsai Yu used to sleep during the day. The Master said, Rotten wood cannot be carved, nor a wall of dried dung be trowelled. What use is there in my scolding him any more? The Master said, There was a time when I merely listened attentively to what people said, and took for granted that they would carry out their words. Now I am obliged not only to give ear to what they say, but also to keep an eye on what they do. It was my dealings with Tsai Yu that brought about the change.

解析:两段译文都做到了“信”,忠实原文。两种译文各有千秋。前者语言凝练,表达简约,后者句式灵活,语言生动。比如“朽木不可雕也,粪土之墙不可圬也”这句,使用Nor连成一句,更显紧凑。

《论语》作为文言文文化典籍,翻译难度可见一斑,译者在追求“信达雅”的基础上,更要在正确理解原文的基础上,再开始翻译。而对于文化典籍的翻译不仅考察英语功底,更是对汉语语言功底的考量。


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