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翻译天地| 军事文本中那些暗藏玄机的表达

2021-11-16

  英文版军事类书籍中不乏专业性较强的特色术语与表达。它们看似简单易懂,实则暗藏玄机。要将这些表达恰如其分地译成中文,往往考验译者的脱壳能力。

  您或许有过这样的经历:英语句子中的单词都认识,但翻译时却感到无从下手。那么,不妨跳出原文语义层面的束缚,从虚实角度加以变通,或许就能破解玄机、豁然开朗。

  我们来看一看关于无人机领域的几个例子。文中隐去原句出处等细节信息,对两版译文进行比较并进行思路拆解,供译者参考。

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  【化虚为实】

  抽象表达具体化

  例:> UAV controllers now gained the ability to observe “pattern of life,” and to select the optimum time to engage the target, ideally without civilians nearby. The age of the drone now dawned.

  译文a:如此一来,无人机管制官能够凭此观察敌方的“生活方式”,并选择最佳时机与目标交战,确保不误伤周围的平民。于是,无人机的时代拉开了序幕。

  译文b:如此一来,无人机操控员就能将敌方的“一举一动”尽收眼底,并选择最佳时机攻击目标,避免误伤周围平民。至此,无人机时代拉开了序幕。

  原句中“pattern of life”的字面意思是“生活方式”。译文a将这种抽象的表达直接截取词典释意对号入座,是一种机械、单调的转换,使译文显得突兀。“观察敌方的生活方式”过于笼统,实际脱离了语境。而脱离语境的翻译是毫无意义的。同时,原文想要突出无人机侦察能力这层含义也会损失殆尽。

  当然,为了正确领会原文内涵,查词是一道重要工序。对pattern of life进行查询后,我们发现,Wikipedia对于pattern-of-life analysis有如下解释:

  Pattern-of-life analysis is a method of surveillance specifically used for documenting or understanding a subject's habits. This form of observation is generally done without the consent of the subject, with motives including but not limited to security, profit, scientific research, regular censuses, and traffic analysis.

  我们又将这一表达放到武装无人机(armed drone)领域进行了搜索。在美国联邦党人法律和公共政策研究学会网站(https://fedsoc.org/)上,得到了这样的描述:

  The pattern of life analysis allows drone operators to predict when a target vehicle is likely to be in a sufficiently remote area to greatly reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties.

  由此可见,pattern of life analysis有助于确定无人机的打击时机,以尽可能避免平民伤亡,与原文表述相仿。为此,译文b加以变通,将“生活方式”这一抽象表达具体化,改为“一举一动”,将无人机的侦察实力展现在读者眼前,使原文明晰化,加深读者印象,虽貌离而神合。

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  【化实为虚】

  具体概念抽象化

  例1:> As a scarce resource, they were most often provided to very senior headquarters or favored special operations units. Senior leaders at times became enamored with the “soda straw” view provided by UAVs, to the neglect of more comprehensive situational awareness.

  译文a:作为稀缺资源,无人机往往只提供给高级别的总部或被看好的特种部队。有时,高层领导会过度依赖无人机提供的“饮料吸管”视图,而忽视了更全面的态势感知。

  译文b:作为稀缺资源,无人机通常供高级指挥部或被推荐的特种部队使用。有时,高级指挥官会过度依赖无人机的“狭隘”视野,而忽视了更全面的态势感知。

  译文a将“soda straw”直接译成“饮料吸管”。在汉语中,这一具体表达并无任何引申含义。若照搬词典释意,可能会令译文难以卒读。英译汉时,首先考虑采用保留源语言文化色彩的异化译法,以增加译文的可读性,比如armed to teeth(武装到牙齿),但是,若异化不了,则需考虑虚化。从网上的资料中,我们可以查到关于“soda straw”的相关解释:

  If operators assess that the first missile missed they would maintain the close-up field of view (often analogized to “looking through a soda straw”) to fire a second missile at the target.

  One concern was the “soda straw” effect of viewing the world through the tight focus of the camera lens and thus missing important nearby activity.

  由此可见,“soda straw” view的内涵实为narrow field of view,即将无人机摄像机镜头类比为管子,引申为“狭隘”之意。“looking through a soda straw”也与中文里的“管中窥豹”同理,指狭窄而片面的视角。但在中文语境下,“吸管视图”并无“管中窥豹”的引申含义。因此,译文b将实意虚化,以传达出原文内涵,使译文通顺、达意。

  例2:> As the glass ceiling of a kind of old boys’ network of drone users came crumbling down in 2020, the overall picture was still of a powerful America and a bunch of other countries trying to keep up.

  译文a:2020年,无人机使用国之间类似于“老男孩网络”的玻璃天花板被打破,整体来看,美国仍然实力雄厚,同时其他不少国家奋起直追。

  译文b:2020年,无人机使用国之间曾建起的“关系网”如同玻璃屋顶般轰然崩塌。因此,从整体来看,美国在无人机领域仍然实力雄厚,而其他不少国家也在奋起直追。

  译文a将“old boys”译为“老男孩”。从网络释义来看,“老男孩网络”这种说法的确存在。牛津词典对old boy network的解释如下:

  (especially in the past) the situation in many British companies, government departments and branches of the armed forces where people give jobs and other privileges to 'old boys' (= former students) of the public school or university that they went to (often disapproving).

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  由此可见,old boys’ network通常指校友关系网,含贬义。本例的前文概述了无人机的研发与使用,即此前全球大多数国家都并无自主研发的无人机,而是向美国、以色列等无人机强国进行采购,使用国之间由此建立起采购关系网。而放在本例语境之下,“老男孩网络”这一说法经不起推敲,无法准确传达意境。

  因此,化实为虚,译为“关系网”就能让读者一目了然。从逻辑层面来讲,本例中“关系网”的破裂也顺理成章了。

  总之,面对军事文本中那些暗藏玄机的英文表达,巧用虚实转换技巧,或许能让译文增色不少。

  【本期稿件来源】翻译中心 Vivian

  【文中资料来源】

  https://fedsoc.org/commentary/publications

  https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/predator-drone-transformed-military-combat