English to Chinese translator: 3 Criteria

Among the many criteria for judging translation criteria, “faithfulness, “expressiveness” and “elegance”, proposed by Chinese scholar, and well-known English to Chinese translator, YAN Fu, is probably best known.

The first criterion “faithfulness” requires translators to translate the meaning of source text as accurate as possible into target language. This is the most basic and fundamental rule. Without faithfulness, there is simply no point of discussing its expressiveness and elegance.

The second criterion states that the translation needs to be “expressive”. That is to say, the translated text needs to read naturally in the target language. This requires the translator to pay special attention to the linguistic, and especially sentential differences between two languages. Trying to stick to the English sentential structure in translation usually made translated text not easy to read. This is probably the most common mistakes that beginner to intermediate English to Chinese translators make.

The third and last criterion that YAN Fu proposed is “elegance”. This means that the translation not only needs to be accurate and readable in the target language, but also has to be read elegantly, or beautifully. This this very hard to achieve, and general business translation, it is most often not honored, because it is very hard to do, and even harder to do it under a deadline. With that said, the English to Chinese translation of many brand names, does requires this level of excellence.

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