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定语从句可以分为限制性定语从句和非限制性定语从句两种,两类定语从句在翻译方法上基本类似, 因此我们把它们放在一起介绍。在翻译定语从句时,我们经常采用下列的翻译方法:

一、前 置 法

把英语原文的定语从句翻译成带“的”的定语词组, 放置于被修饰的词之前, 将英语原文的复合句翻译成汉语的简单句, 这种方法一般用于限制性定语从句比较短的情况。

一些较短的具有描述性的非限制性定语从句也可采用前置法, 但没有限制性定语从句使用得普遍。例如:

例1.For example, one function of friendship seems to fulfill is that it

supports the image we have of ourselves, and confirms the value of the attitudes we hold.

例如, 友谊的一个作用似乎是支持我们在自己心目中的形象, 并使我们持有的价值观念更加坚定。

例2.The first two must be equal for all who are being compared, if any comparison in terms of intelligence is to be made. (92年考题)

如果要从智力方面进行任何比较的话, 那么对所有被比较者来说, 前两个因素 必须是一样的。

例3.The first method is to give a synonym, a word that has nearly the same meaning as the word you wish to define: face for countenance, nervousness for anxiety.

第一种方法是同义词法, 即给出一个与 要释义的词在意义上几乎相同的, 如用face表示countenance, 用nervousness表示anxiety.

例4.Behaviourists, in contrast, say that difference in scores are due to the fact that blacks are often deprived of many of the educational and other environmental advantages that whites enjoy. (90年考题)

相反, 行为主义者认为, 成绩的差异是由于黑人常常被剥夺了白人在教育及其他外界环境方面所享有的许多有利条件而造成的。

例5.The method of scientific investigation is nothing but the expression of the necessary mode of working of the human mind; it is simply the mode by which all phenomena are reasoned about and given precise and exact explanations.


科学研究的方法不过是人类思维活动的必要表达方式, 也就是对一切现象进行 思考并给以精确而严谨解释的表达方式。

例6.A youngster who has no playmates of his age living nearby may benefit greatly from attending nursery school.


二、后 置 法

当定语从句较长时, 如果翻译成前置的定语, 就会不符合汉语的表达习惯, 在这种情况下, 往往把该定语从句翻译成并列的分句, 放置于原来它所修词的后面。另外在处理此类定语从句时,

一般遵循的原则是: 若保留先行词, 则在第二个分句中加以重复, 若省略, 则两个并列分句中均不再保留。当然, 在实№的翻译过程中也有例外。
例1.All the water that flows through the wide pipe in a second must somehow get through a narrow part too, which it can do only by going faster.

在一秒钟内流过粗管子的全部水量, 一定会以某种方式通过细管子, 这只有靠加快流速才能做到。

例2.Perhaps light is some sort of electric wave, whose nature we do not yet understand.


例3.They are striving for the ideal which is close to the heart of every Chinese and for which, in the past, many Chinese have laid down their lives.

他们正在为实现一个理想而努力, 这个理想是每个中国人所珍爱的, 在过去,许多中国人曾为了这个理想而牺牲了自己的生命。

例4.This will be particularly true since energy pinch will make it difficult to continue agriculture in high-energy American fashion that makes it possible to combine few farmers with high yields.


这种困境将是确定无疑的, 因为能源的匮乏使农业无法以高能量消耗这种美国耕种方法继续下去了, 而这种耕种方式使投入少数农民就可获得高产成为可能。

例5.“In short”, a leader of the new school attends, “the scientific revolution,as we call it, was largely the improvement and invention and use of a series of instruments that expanded the reach of science in innumerable directions.”


新学派的一位 袖人物坚持说:“简而言之, 我们所称谓的科学革命, 主要指一系列器具的改进、发明和使用, 这些改进、发明和使用使科学发展的范围无所不及。

例6.The food supply will not increase nearly enough to match this, which means that we are heading into a crisis in the matter of producing and marketing food. (91年考题)

食品的供应将赶不上人口的增长, 这就意味著我们在粮食的生产和购销方面正陷入危机。


英语中有些定语从句, 兼有状语从句的职能, 在逻辑上(即意义上)与主句有状语关系, 说明原因、结果、让步、假设等关系, 翻译时应善于从英语原文的字里行间发现这些逻辑上的关系,然后翻译成汉语中相应的偏正复合句。例如:

例1.He did not remember his father who died when he was three years old.

他不记得他父亲了, 因为他父亲死时他才三岁。

例2.However, iceberg water could be extremely cheap for some countries when compared with desalination, a process which requires much more fuel

and much more money.

不过, 对某些国家来讲, 用冰山化水比海水脱盐相比, 费用可能极为便宜, 因 为脱盐过程 要更多燃料和更多的资金。

例3.Anyone who thinks that rational knowledge need not be derived from perceptual knowledge is an idealist.

如果认为理性知识不必由感性知识得来, 那他就是一个唯心主义者。

例4.…it was not until sixty years ago that a method of extracting aluminum ore was found which could lead to a cheap large-scale process. (88年考题)

……直到60年前人们才找到开采铝矿的方法, 从而使低成本、大规模冶炼金属铝成为可能。
例5.In office, figures, lists and information are compiled which tell the managers or heads of the business what is happening in their shops

or factories. (85年考题)

在办公室里, 工作人员将各种数据、表格和信息加以汇编, 以便让经理或主管人员了解他们的商店或工厂目前正在发生的情况。

例6.Liquids, which contains no free electrons, are poor conductors of


各种液体, 由于不含有自由电子, 是热的不良导体。

我们讲了定语从句的各种翻译方法,在这里我们还 要提醒大家,在翻译含有定语从句的句子时,我们应该特别注意在分析句子的结构上面下工夫,务必要搞清定语从句所修饰的先行词是哪一个。下面我们结合一个实例加以说明:

In fact a basic amount of movement occurs during sleep which is specifically concerned with preventing muscle inactivity.




basic amount of movement和sleep, 一般来讲,定语从句往往修饰离它最近的那个名词,但是在这个句子中,却不是这样,因为,如果是修饰sleep,

我们就会翻译成上面的句子,但是从句子的意义来看讲不通,因此,这个定语从句是修饰前面的a basic amount of movement应该翻译为:


由此我们可以看出,确定定语从句的先行词是极为重要的,做出正确的判断的关键在于分析句子的结构和熟悉划线的句子所出现的上下文。另外,我们还 要注意一些比较复杂的定语从句结构,也就是那些定语从句里又含有定语从句的情况,在翻译这类句子时我们应该注意灵活运用我们在前面讲述的一些翻译技巧,尤其要注意分析各个定语从句之间的关系,例如:

Behaviourists suggest that the child who is raised in an environment

where there are many stimuli which develop his or her capacity for appropriate

responses will experience greater intellectual development. (90年考题)

上面句子的骨干结构为:Behaviourists suggest that the child … will experience … development,


然后在这个定语从句中又有一个由which引导的定语从句,修饰前面的名词stimuli, 这就构成了一个一套三的定语从句结构,在翻译成汉语时,考虑到定语从句太长,我们 要将个别的定语从句分开来翻译,这样我们可以将此句翻译为: