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Translation and Transliteration explained

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Hofmann

This post answers the questions:

What is translation?

What is transliteration?

What's the difference between translation and transliteration?

How do you translate a name into Chinese?

How do you transliterate a name into Chinese?

Why is someone's translation/transliteration different from someone else's?

Now, let's get on with it.

What is translation? Translation is the interpreting of the meaning of a text and the subsequent production of an equivalent text, likewise called a "translation," that communicates the same message in another language. The key word here is "meaning" and not "flavor" or "cooties" or "ninjas" or something.

What is transliteration? Transliteration is the practice of converting a text from one writing system into another in a systematic way. Transliteration is not transcription. Transliteration into Chinese characters is representing the pronunciation of a foreign term or name with Chinese characters that sound similar. The key word is "pronunciation."

What's the difference between translation and transliteration? Simply put, translation preserves meaning across different languages, and transliteration preserves pronunciation across different languages.

How do you translate a name into Chinese?

As the meaning of names is less frequently known, a translator has to get it somehow, perhaps using a proper name dictionary like this and this. After/if they get the meaning, they pick Chinese characters that mean the same thing. Of course, there are often many choices, and good translators are needed to get good characters. If exact matches cannot be found, the translator has to make accommodations. The following is an example of a translation of a name Yaroslav Ivanovsky into Chinese.

"Ivanovsky" means "son of Ivan." As there is no Chinese character that means "son of Ivan," the translator has to make some accommodations. "Ivan" means "Yahweh is gracious." "Yahweh is gracious" is still too long and unreasonable for a surname, so the translator chose to focus on "gracious," and in the end picked 仁 as a surname. "Yaroslav" means "fierce and glorious," which was more convenient for translation. The translator chose to render that as 烈榮. Therefore Yaroslav Ivanovsky was translated as 仁烈榮.

How do you transliterate a name into Chinese? The transliterator has to know how the name is pronounced. Then, they choose characters that sound approximately like the name in that particular Chinese language. They might pick characters out of nowhere, or follow a chart like this. Most non-Sinospheric names are rendered as a transliteration. The following is an example of a transliteration of a name Yaroslav Ivanovsky into Chinese.

Following this table, the transliterator might pick 亞羅斯拉夫 for "Ярослав," and 伊萬諾夫斯基 for "Ивановский." This would be rendered as 亞羅斯拉夫·伊萬諾夫斯基 in a Chinese text.

Why is someone's translation/transliteration different from someone else's? When exact matches can't be found, translators and transliterators have to make accommodations. Therefore, room for interpretation increases, and therefore, room for variation increases. Also, a lot of people give you a transliteration even if you ask for a translation, because transliterations take fewer resources and brain power, because they think you meant that you wanted a transliteration, because most non-Sinospheric names are rendered as a transliteration, and also because they just don't know the difference.

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muyongshi

Now the question is, will those that actually need to read this do so before they post a stupid question. Or should I have the link permanently in my clipboard for when those stupid questions are asked. :roll:

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roddy

Added a link to it to the forum sticky.

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Guest707

Hofmann Thank you very much for explane how translate russian name. But this question about translation, and answer to this questions, was asked in http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/phorum/read.php?3,89687,89687 and then copied here in Chinese-forums.com

muyongshi No one do not asks you to read this topic. If someone ask translations, it is for someone, Not for you :tong

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chrix

Guest, you're new here, so we should cut you some slack, but if you knew Hofmann, you'd know that he doesn't need to rely on cut and pasting from other websites without referencing them. Also, I fail to see how the link you provided is the source for what he wrote.

And also, I'm afraid you don't get what muyongshi is talking about. He's talking about people coming here posing questions about tattoos with Chinese characters etc that completely betray their ignorance about these matters...

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Guest707

chrix Thank you! for your comment.

But I have right to speak because it's my name Mr.Hofmann use as example and because It is I asked to translate my name in http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/phorum/read.php?3,89687,89687

I created this topic!

Mr.Hofmann used this material:

Most of the time' date=' when you ask for a translation, people will give you a transliteration. They choose characters that sound like your name. On the other hand, a translation takes the meaning of your name and chooses characters that mean the same thing.

I'm guessing "Ivanov" means "son of Ivan." "Ivan" means "Yahweh is gracious," so I can give you 仁 (meaning "gracious," among other things) for a surname.

"Yaroslav" means "fierce and glorious." I'll make that 烈榮.

So, my translation of your name is 仁烈榮

chrix If you're blind I can not help you

I am against the fact that my name used in the examples without my permission in http://www.chinese-forums.com Why Mr.Hoffmann do not use other example with name wich not exist? Why to use my name?

Болт вам а не имя :tong

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imron

What you are perhaps neglecting is that Hofmann could well be the author of that post on the other forum. I notice you use a different name here than you used on that forum. Why do you suppose that other people might not do the same?

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chrix

Guest, your post wasn't written very clearly. You seem to be referring to the part about the Russian name, which takes up a small portion of Hofmann's (you don't need to add "Mr." since it's not his real name) post above.

So we're talking about an example here. Boo-hoo. What's the big deal? (And as imron said, who's to say that Hofmann isn't the one who answered your question on that forum over there, he is a Cantonese speaker).

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Guest707

I only want that you change name in example, I only want that you use other example.

I want Mr,Hofmann only use other russian or english name for example in his topic.

To Admin:

I use here in your Forum other nickname becouse I cant register a "Pepsipolo" in your forum.

辭行

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Hofmann
Why to use my name?

I thought it was a good example.

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trien27

Guest, will you be happy if he used "Boris Yeltsin", "Mikhail Gorbachev", "Vladimir Putin", "Dmitry Medvedev" or "Grigorii Efimovich Rasputin" perhaps. Since he must ask for permission, and these were leaders of Russia, USSR, etc... it might take a long time before it's approved. Since he doesn't have time to send these letters and ask for permission, it's only fair. You are not happy that someone used your REAL name. There's a saying in Chinese: 若要人不知, 除非己莫為. If you don't want people to know [or in this case, use it without your permission], then unless you don't do it, otherwise, you can't blame anyone for the consequences!

спасибо! ["Thank"] = 謝 [谢]

До свидания! ["We shall meet again"] similar to 再會 / 再会 or 再見 / 再见.

Have A Nice Day!

Edited by trien27

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