Translating Barriers From English to Vietnamese

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We have chosen randomly one of the topics provided by our course teacher for translating from English to Vietnamese. The topic is all about the celebration of Halloween which is found the most popular around the world in these days. Inevitably, we have some certain difficulties in translating the topic, particularly limitations in culture, religion, history and geography can be the barriers to us succeeding the translating tasks.

          The first thing to be discussed about the translation is the difficulty in comprehending the practice of culture and religion. It is especially true that for those of translators who do not know anything about the culture or religion the language which he or she translates from. Apparently, we have encountered such a problem when translating the topic about the culture aspect, namely “Halloween”. For example, a word “Samhain” appeared in the first line of the source text can be an obstacle of translation. In fact, to some extent, we do not know the word is and of course, we might misinterpret the core meaning of the word. Another clear example is that when we encounter the phrase “go-a-souling”, it seems like a good idea to separately translate word by word; yet, the meaning of the phrase makes no sense related to the topic if it is separated. The two above-mentioned examples are of cultural and religious practice. In order to solve the problem, we have put some helpful hints of the translation theory into reality, especially referential meaning by referring to specific cultural situation and specific context.

          In addition to the obstacle of culture and religion, we face a great challenge of history and geography when doing the translation. There is no doubt that some words like “New England”, “East Village” and “West Village” are completely new to us; that is the reason we have to deal with their meaning since we do not know where the locations are and how they are natively called. As a result, a piece of accurate translation cannot be successfully obtained. Another good instance is that some historical identities such as Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, just to name a few might be all little-known to us. Accordingly, we do not have any ideas and clues of how to address them and where they are from. However, by using the encyclopedia, we considerably solve out the problem because the encyclopedia help us out explaining some relevant points in connection with the history and geography as well.   

          In conclusion, we have some obstacles in the translation of festival “Halloween” in terms of culture, religion, history and geography. After all, with the indispensable assistance of theory translation, namely referential meaning, we duly complete the translation paper and meet the deadline for handing-in.


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