本文编译自 PoliLingua 2022 年 5 月 3 日发布的文章 How hard is it to perform a Chinese to English translation
接下来，作者认为以下 8 个因素可以说明，为何中翻英那么难？
1. Character placement 书写方向
What makes Chinese tricky is the direction of writing.
让中文变得棘手的原因是书写方向？Excuse me? 我有点惊讶，这也是困扰？
Right to left, left to right, or up and down, are the options you might be presented with. This means that the translation project can get really tough, especially when dealing with Mandarin paired with a linear type of writing.
2. Pinyin 拼音
It is not a piece of cake to get Pinyin from the first glance. The tone used by the speaker is crucial. For example, "猪 (zhū)" means "pig," but "珠 (zhū)" means "pearl ". So, let’s make sure not to spread confusion when sticking a tone to the speech.
3. The complexity of Grammar 语法很复杂
Now, imagine studying Russian grammar. Next, add some extra difficulty and try to understand Chinese grammar, as a beginner.
What makes it so challenging? Firstly, there is no singular or plural form.
Secondly, it lacks verb conjugation to indicate tenses. This means that you should figure it out by getting the context.
4. Idioms 成语
The translation gets even more sinuous when trying to transform the way of thinking of two languages. This is due to the frequent use of indirect expressions. After all, Chinese is closely intertwined with tradition and culture, which reflects directly on localization.
Oftentimes, especially for technical writings a proper reading is required, as the meaning can seem incomprehensible at first.
Besides, difficulties might arise when describing things too, considering the fact that English people prefer to depict an object directly. For example, “big yellow moon” could have the equivalent in Chinese “silver plate in the sky”. Same thing, different words.
举例说明，比如黄色的大月亮，英文只要说 big yellow moon 就行，而中文会说（月满如银盘）“silver plate in the sky”~
5. Sentence Construction 句子结构
In Chinese, there are two types of sentences: simple and complex. The first one is made out of subject, predicate and object. Compared to English, the predicate isn’t always a verb, sometimes being represented by an adjective.
Broadly speaking, the complex sentence is composed of combinations of simple ones.
In Chinese, the subject is often omitted in a sentence. The verb or adjective can be at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence. In addition, adjectives are not always used as modifiers. They can also be used as verbs and nouns. Such complexity of grammar can drive translators crazy when trying to translate from English to chinese and vice versa.
6. The use of Chinese characters 中文的组合千变万化
In a nutshell, the meaning of a single symbol can change dramatically when combined with another one. Let’s illustrate this in an example: 開 in Cantonese translates as “to open something”, while 心 signifies “heart.” Mixed together, we obtain the expression “to open your heart,” (開心 ), and combined, as a word, will mean “happy.”Simply put, if you learn a new character, it increases your vocabulary exponentially.
比如，开表示 to open something, 心表示 heart，开心应该是 to open your heart, 但是组合起来，开心的意思却是“happy”？百思不得其解呀！
7. Vocabulary Size 词汇量大
Chinese vocabulary is much larger than English vocabulary. For example, there is no direct equivalent for a single word like 餐馆 in English.
Determining the cultural sensitivity of a language can optimize translation quality to a great extent. If a Chinese translation is replicated word-for-word rather than paying attention to the cultural context, the message risks to sound offensive or simply unfaithful to its original intent.