Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that does not belong to the standard English, but it is acceptable in certain social settings. In our daily life, we can see the use of slang in the books, magazines and movies on TV, because slang is related closely to the national culture. The translation of English slang is required the translator to pay attention to the appropriateness of the language and the background culture.
Key words: English slang, daily life, translation, appropriateness, culture
Language is the tool for human beings to communicate with each other, it has no class nature. But it doesn’t mean that people use the same language in different class. The languages used in different class have their distinct characters and color; they can reflect the speaker’s social background, status, artistic culture and industry background. In English, slang is a colorful word. But now, people can use slang in the conversation to make their language to be vivid, humorous and different from others. Especially, the youth keep trying to make new slangs in their conversations. Meanwhile, slang can help the conversation to be easy and friendly. So slang is used widely in our daily life, for instance in the books, magazines and movies. As a widely used language, slang has its own definition, features and ways of translation.
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In a broad sense, idioms may include colloquialisms, catchphrases, slang expressions, proverbs, etc. In the Oxford Advanced Learner’s English-Chinese Dictionary, “slang is very informal words and expressions that are more common in spoken language, especially used by a particular group of people, for example, children, criminals, soldiers, etc. In English, there are Standard Usage, Colloquialism and Jargon. Standard Usage is used by most people in every situation; Colloquialism is used in informal situation, especially in informal conversations. Jargon is the different language used in different professions, ages, etc. Slang seems to be between Colloquialism and Jargon, it is not only the commonly used language among the most people, but also belongs to a social group. Slang is a conversational word with some color which is understood by most people.
Slang has many features by what we can use and understand it easily. Firstly, slang is convenient and concise. Generally speaking, slang is easy, short and attractive; to the contrary, Standard Usage is like stiff and tedious. Most slangs are created by the public in the daily life, so it’s more convenient, expressive and vivid than Standard Usage. For example, if you want to evaluate some food, you will use delicious to praise and terrible to complain in Standard Usage. “Delicious” and “terrible” are polysyllable, their pronunciations are longer. On the contrary, you can use two symmetric and easy words to express, “yummy” and “yukky”. There is another example. “Beer party” can be expressed to “kegger” in slang which is very visual and vivid; both “hop” and “dance” mean dance, but people make a connection between “hop” and “grasshopper crowhops happily in the grass”. Secondly, slang is very humorous. As we all know, the American are humorous and imaginative, so most slang is expressed the American’s wisdom and humor. “The Pentagon” is called “Target A” in the slang, which satirize that America plays Pacific police in the world to interpose the other countries’ domestic affairs. In Chinese, we use “æ¸¸æ³³åœˆ” to describe someone’s waistline is exceed standard, and the American use “lovehandles” to describe it. Thirdly, slang is informal. For example, people always use “telly” to express “television”, some think “telly” is too formal so that they use “goggle-box” or “the one-eye monster” instead. When something is wrong with the television, it can be expressed to “It’s on the blink.” Fourthly, slang is neoteric unstable and fast updated. “The idea what is thought of suddenly” can be expressed to “brain storm”; “firemen” is called “smoke eater”; “airplane” is called “flying coffin”; “people who waste the time” is called “clock watcher”. All these imaginative words are fresh so they are popular. In the modern society, students, servants and fans like to use slang in their daily life, meanwhile, they are not satisfied with the slang, so they always make new slang in their conversation. As time goes by, the new slang will make the old to lose their freshness and it will be replaced. Slang can be divided into two parts by the life, one is a flash in the pan, for instance, “skidoo, peach, skirt, etc.” and the other one can spread widely to become the Standard Usage, for example, “baby-sitter, fire, boss, fan, yes-man, cop, etc.” Finally, slang has synonymity. Slang has many vocabularies to describe the same thing, because every class will provide the new words for slang and it won’t be stopped by too many words which are the same meaning. Slang’s synonymity is expressed on die, drink, money and body etc. For example, “die” can be expressed to “to kick the bucket, to turn it in, to turn one’s toes up, to turn one’s heels, to be agoner, to go up the flame”; “slightly drunk” can be called “fresh, lush, squiffy, tight”; ” very drunk” can be expressed to “soaked, sozzeld, stoned”; “confused with drink” can be called “blitzed, fuddled, woozy”. Besides, “money” can be expressed to “brass, lolly, tin, dash, bees, dough, bread, honey”. In a word, slang’s expressional color and extent are enriched by the plenty of synonyms.
When we understand the features of slang, we can translate and use slang better in our English study and daily conversation. Incontestably, there are some ways to translate slang. Firstly, transliteration is the fundamental way of translating slang. When there is no word to translate slang, we can translate slang based on its pronunciation. For example, “salon, hacker, cool, Hippies and Yuppies” can be translated into “æ²™é¾™ã€é»‘å®¢ã€é…·ã€å¬‰çš®å£«å’Œé›…çš®å£«”. But not all slang can be translated by transliteration, if we can find the proper way to translate, we should avoid using transliteration. Secondly, literal translation is the common way to translate slang. It can keep the content and form of the text; meanwhile, it can help us to understand the western culture. But literal translation is difficult, because we shouldn’t make the readers confused in our translation. For example, “Mark is an old hand in fixing cars.” can be translated into “é©¬å…‹åœ¨ä¿®ç†æ±½è½¦æ-¹é¢æ˜¯ä¸€ä¸ªè€æ‰‹äº†ã€‚” “an old hand” is a slang; it can be literally translated into “è€æ‰‹” which means “be good at”. Literal translation can make the English sentence to be humorous and enrich the Chinese vocabulary. Thirdly, free translation is more common and flexible than literal translation; it keeps the content of the text except the form. For example, “Don’t pull my leg.” may be translated into “ä¸è¦æ‹‰æˆ‘çš„è…¿”, but it should be translated into “åˆ«ç»™æˆ‘å¼€çŽ©ç¬‘”. We must use free translation to instead of literal translation here, because we must pay attention on the meaning of the sentence instead of the form. Finally, replacement is the important way to solve the problem to translating English slang into Chinese. Different countries have different cultures and ways of thinking. We can replace the image to avoid missing the special meaning. For example, cat is the pet of the Europe and it means woman in their culture. So models’ walk is called “catwalk”. In a word, when we meet cat in English sentences, we should translate it into human first. “She called me a copy cat just because my shoes look like hers.” “a copy cat” can be translated into “çœ‹æ ·å¦æ ·çš„äºº”. Actually, there are many ways to translate slang into Chinese. We should keep learning their culture and languages so that we can translate slang better.
Generally speaking, the argument of slang is still existed. Some argue that learning slang will destroy English, we should make it normative. Some support that slang is vivid and humorous so we should learn it. In my opinion, slang is an interesting part of the English learning. If we learn English, we should learn the culture, language and life. Meanwhile, we can learn slang better by learning the features and ways of translation of slang.
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