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英语----英语商务合同的翻译特征

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I Introduction

1.1 Background

 With the constant development of commodity production and trade, businesscontract English and its written style are gradually changing in the business cycle.These changes can be seen in business contracts, leases, agreements, and guaranteesand so on. Business contract has legal status once signed by the parties involved.Therefore it requires a good knowledge of both business English and legal English,Martin Joos once summarized five variants of English according to its degree extent,i.e. frozen style, formal style, consultative style, casual style and intimate style. Thepurpose of communication is the key factor to decide the style of language, therebydifferent communication goal calls for different kinds of writing styles. Businesscontract belongs to the frozen style or the most formal styles. This style is graduallyshaping up with the boom of world economy and trade in the long history.

1.2 The Significance of the Research

 With China's carrying out the policy to promote the reforming and opening to theoutside world, the establishment of market economy, the frequent communication withforeign countries, there are more and more opportunities for us to communicate withthose countries whose official language or mother tongue is English. During the courseof international economic cooperation, many business activities have been performedbetween Chinese and foreign partners, mainly including technological introduction,foreign trade, international finance, direct foreign investment, international tourism,business advertisement, business contract translation, etc.    When communicating with individuals or organizations  from the Englishspeaking countries, especially legal or business persons, one of the most important andnecessary segments is to sign English contracts with them after the several rounds ofnegotiations by face to face telephone or other electronic means. So contract is playinga key role in business persons' daily life.
The  language  used  in  business  contracts  is  a  special  type  of  Englishlanguage--Business English. Business English is the very language used for businesspurposes. English for business purposes has formed its special style in language andstylistics in business activities. It is a business-based variable which is identified withand accepted by those who are involved in international business. One should have adeep study on the linguistic features and translation principles of business Englishbefore getting down to contracts English.
 

II Features of Business English

 2.1 Vocabulary and Contents Features
     There is a good few business professional vocabularies in some kinds ofeconomic professionals, such as international trade, international finance, internationalcommercial law, corporate governance and so on, which can not be found out the exactcommentary in ordinary English dictionaries (Bhatia V. K.1993). Take the world"libor". as an example; it is an international financial professional vocabulary. Theworld is usually regarded as the basic standards for the international financial marketsto establish the international lending rates, which means "London Inter Bank OfferedRate" (Bussmann, H.1996). As the international financial market development, theusage of this term has gradually developed into the abbreviations form and itspronunciation will be used in a new way. Then people have forgotten its archetype,while its abbreviations form can not be found in the ordinary dictionary.
Some specialized vocabulary indeed can be found in general dictionary, but theystill can not explain their specific meanings in Business English. For example, the "nayorigin" can be explained in general dictionaries as negative meaning, which does notbelong to common vocabulary, and it is used usually for the veto in the meeting vote.The meaning of the world "origin" is the birthplace, which should be interpreted as"unspecified origin" in the international trade professional (Krashen, S.1985). Thereare also similar words as follows: status inquijy, a standing credit, market niche, duediligence, debit note, legal entity, common law, etc.
 Business English has been frequently used, serving for some  industriesauthoritative institution, economic parameters and the names for the famous world'sleading banks, government agencies and financial institutions. The word building ofthese proper nouns is out-of-order. If you would like to find their exact translation fornames, you have to look up in the Economic Professional English Dictionary. Take thegovernment agencies and financial institutions for example: BOC (Bank of China),BOI (Thai Board of Investment), BOJ (Bank of Japan), BMZ (German Ministry ofEconomic Cooperation), Citibank (First National City Bank of New York), CITIC(China National Trust and Investment Corporation) and CITS (China InternationalTravel Services), as well as some industries authoritative institution and economicparameters:  Dow Jones industrial  average,  NASDAQ (National Association ofSecurities Dealers Automated Quotations),JASDAQ (Japanese Association ofSecurities Dealers Automated Quotation Systems) and so on.

2.2 Writing Styles Features

 The practical business English writing, especially business letters, commercialcontracts and agreements, relates to the rights and obligations between the contract'sparties, so it must be done right. Once the mistake has been made, it would possiblycause some unnecessary trouble and even lawsuits. For that reason; you should payenough attention. The so-called right does not only indicate that the spelling andpunctuation is correct, more importantly, the content should be consistent with thefacts, as the Specific performance in the facts, data and terminology (Shippey, 2000).For example: "The goods supplied are exactly equal to the sample". But, in fact, it istoo difficult to guarantee that the goods supplied are same as the samples, and that theyare only similarity. Therefore, the statement should be that "the goods supplied aresimilar in quality appeared sample". Another example is that "The contract into effectwill come from Octl (These contracts take effect from October 1)" and "this contractwill come into effect from and including October 1, 2006" (This contracts take effectfrom October 1, 2006, including October 1). In addition, you should pay attention tothe correct use and understanding of commercial terms.
 Brunner (1960) has divided the changes arising from the both parties, includingthe relative position and social relations, broadly into five: frozen, formal, consultative,casual and intimate. Business English is the language serving for business activities,and the parties should not only embody the principles of equality and mutual benefit,but also maintain good symbiosis. So the words used should be internationallyaccepted by the public, as well as they should not be too verbal, too informal, whichshould be between the formal and consultative (Klayman,1994). Then some toosimplistic and colloquial prepositions and adverbs words such as about, if, like, for will be replaced by prepositional phrase in Business English, for example, on the grounds‘that, with reference to, in the event l case吠in the nature以for the purpose of suchand so on, The oral verb phrases used usually, such as go on and add to, will bereplaced by the more formal single verb: continue and supplement.

2.3 Sentence Features

Business activities are usually ecumenical and expeditious, so the sententiousnessis regarded as a very important writing principle and property. It requires expressingthe needs and objectives clearly and concisely, meanwhile to meet the needs ofintegrity and courtesy. Concrete writing should avoid using the long sentences. If youneed to express the reason for something, use the "because" directly, but rather thanthe complicated expression, such as in the view, if the fact that and due to the fact thatand so on: Using simple common vocabulary and avoiding obsolescence commercialterms (Jones, L. and Alexander, R.1994). For example, the word "payment" can beused to express the reward, and it is unnecessary to use such outdated terms"remuneration". Finally, we should pay attention to avert duplication and to control thenumber of words in the text. For example: "We are delighted to receive your letter ofNovember 18 asking whether we can supply you with Art. No6120." (Zhou Fuqiang,2000) Sententiousness often represents in the usage of a lot of abbreviations; of course,these words are instituted by usage and reco加zed by both sides. For example:
 EUC-European Currency Unit; Gds.--Goods;
 Inc.  Incorporated; Incoterms International Commercial Terms, International
Rules for Interpretation of Trade Terms (for your information);
MNC-Multinational Corporation; SMSE-Small and Medium Scale Enterprise;
FDI-Foreign Direct Investment; L & D-Loss and Damage;
 1/T-Income Tax; I/P-Insurance Policy
The stringent logic in Business English principally represents in the majorbusiness contracts and other legal documents which mainly use the long sentences,complex sentences, and complex sentences (Wang Xiaohui, Zhu Yuande, 2001). Forinstance: "Force Majeure ("Excepted Risks") shall mean an occurrence beyond thecontrol and without the fault or negligence of the party affected including,but notlimited to war,hostilities (whether war to be declared or not),invasion,act of foreignenemies, rebellion,revolution, insurrection or military or usurped power,civil war,strikes,riots, commotion or disorder,earthquakes,or any similar operation of forcesof nature as are not within the control of the party affected and which,by the exerciseof reasonable diligence,the said party is unable to prevent or provide against."

III Principle Discussion of Contract Translation

3.1 Faithfulness

By faithfulness in contract English translation, the author means that the translatorshould transfer the information contained in the source language exactly into theinformation in target language. It does not require the exact consistency in grammarand sentence structure between the source language and target language. In short,faithfulness means information equivalence. Just as Ellis, R.(1993)once put it that itis essentially required that a text should be featured by its style, where the spirit lies.As far as the contract translation is concerned, by faithfulness the author also meansthat the version of a contract should adhere strictly to the original one in terms of style,tone, mood, format, formal and authoritative nature included.    In addition, we should also take cultural transmission into consideration ifnecessary since business occurs globally, which means the focus is on messageequivalence and cultural message not on semantic equivalence. In other words,"faithfulness" in contract English is more or less different from literary translationwhich concerns more with semantic and structural equivalence, apart from positive,rhetoric and negative expressions.
Please look at the following example:
English Version: Neither of the parties hereto shall at any time during thecontinuance hereof deal with any of the shares of the JointCompany owned by it whether by sale, pledge,  gift orotherwise in any manner inconsistent with the carrying out ofits obligations thereunder.
Chinese Version l:在协议有效期之内,任何一方不得采用销售、典当、礼物或者其他方式来处理其在合营公司的任何股份。
 A few expressions in Chinese are not accurately and faithfully interpreted, such as"sale, pledge, gift or otherwise" Therefore, it is obvious that Chinese Version 1conveys some wrong information because the communicative function of ChineseVersion 1 doesn't keep to original information at all. Since faithfulness is primality forbusiness English translation, any mistakes in business English translation may lead tounnecessary trouble or dispute, sometimes even losses. Now let us explain how totranslate certain terms used as faithfully as possible in the above example:
continuance(合同存续时间,合同有效期)
shares(份额、股份、股票)
pledge(抵押、典当)
fixed asset(固定资产)
gift(礼物,赠与、赠送)
If unfamiliar with these terms in business or just pick up the meanings from a dictionary, translators will have difficulties in rendering them exactly into the target language. So as a translator of business English, he or she must possess these abilities,otherwise the principle of faithfulness cannot be realized. Now, the faithful version is given below:
Chinese Version 2:本协议任何一方都不得在协议有效期间,采用出售、抵押、赠送或其他与履行其协议规定的义务不相一致的方式,处理其拥有的合营公司的任何股份。
It is clear that the second Chinese version is better than the first one because the meaning and word choice are more professional, and the sentence and sequence are more faithful to the original business English style. In this sense, the exact message in the SL is successfully conveyed in the TL, which is quite fundamentally required for the business English translation.
Please look at another example:
English Version: The terms and conditions contained herein constitute the entire agreement between the parties and supersede all prior communications, whether oral or written, between the parties hereto with respect to the subject matter hereof and no prior agreement or understanding varying or extending the same shall be binding upon either party hereto.
Chinese Version 1: 本条款为完整条款,双方之前所达成的口头或者书面约定
己不再起作用。如果没有经过双方事先同意而擅自进行更改的条款,对任何一方都没有约束力。
Chinese Version 2: 本合同条款为双方协定的完整条款,从而废除了双方以前就合同内容有关的口头和书面意见。违背本协定,或本协定不包括的一切协议或商定,对双方都无约束力。
is one of the major legal documents, which has legally bindingupon the parties concerned, the language styles in it shall conform to the principles ofstandard and formal. Therefore, the translator should adopt precise, formal wording tomatch the writing styles of legal documents. There are many oral or informalexpressions in Chinese Version 1, which disagrees with the language requirements oflegal documents. In Chinese Version 2, the formal and standard expression styleincreases the seriousness of the intent of both parties.
 English version: In case part of or all know-how of the above mentioned technical contents have been published by the Licensor any third party and Licensee has obtained such publications, the Licensee should no longer be responsible for keeping the opened parts secret and confidential.
Chinese version 1如果上述专有技术资料中的部分或者全部被出让方和第三方公布,受让方对已公开部分则不再承担保密义务.
Chinese version 2如果上述专有技术资料中的部分或者全部被出让方和第三方公布,在受让方取得相应证据之后,受让方对已公开部分则不再承担保密义务。
    In the above sample sentence, the translator cannot omit the necessary parts of theoriginal contents. In the case, the Licensee has to hold the evidence of the documentpublishing in certain medium to avoid his/her responsibility for secrecy keeping.Therefore, "Licensee has obtained such publications" can not be ignored in ChineseVersion. Compared with Version 1, Version 2 is more faithful to the original meaningowing to the translator's adoption of Faithfulness principle

3.2 Accuracy

 The principle accuracy used by the author indicates that in contract Englishtranslation, the translator should select the precise words and phrases, express thebusiness concept clearly and distinguish different systems of currency, weights andmeasures.   
 Business contract English translation are relative to trades, insurance, investment,payments and the like, which calls for absolutely accuracy. Any carelessness andinexactness shall be avoided in contract English translation. Therefore, the secondimportant principle should be followed in contract English translation is accuracy.
Example 1:
Chinese Version:合资企业的一切商业活动应遵守中华人民共和国法律。
English Version 1:All the business activities of the Joint Venture shall abide by previsions of laws in P. R. China.
English Version 2:  All the business activities of the Joint Venture shall observe previsions of laws in P. R. China.
English Version 3:  All the business activities of the Joint Venture shall comply with previsions of laws in P. R. China.
To translate“遵守”into English, we have three optional words or phrases: abideby, observe and comply with. If abide by or observe is used, the subject of the sentenceshould be the person or party involved. In the above sample sentence, the subject is allthe business activities. Therefore, the accurate word or phrase to translate“遵守”inthis sentence should be comply with.
Meanwhile, there exists certain study of ambiguity of business language that seems to be controversial to the principle of accuracy. But actually the so-called ambiguity emphasizes necessary avoidance of too extreme exactness in legal documents contracts (Li Yu, Zhang Lin, 2003). The purpose of ambiguity is to makecircumstances clearer rather than confusing or ambiguous in meaning and intranslations of this kind can still work. The following two examples willillustrate the explanation:Example 1:
 English Version: Terms of Payment: by irrevocable L/C at 30 days after sight to
reach the sellers 45 days before the date of shipment. The L/C shall remain valid for negotiation in China within 15days after shipment.
Chinese Version 1:付款:不可撤销的30天远期信用证装船前45天开到卖方,装船后第15天前信用证在中国议付有效。
Chinese Version 2:支付方式:买方应当在装船前45天将不可撤销的即期信用证开到卖方。其议付有效期延至装船后巧天在中国到期。
Example 2:
English Version: The goods to be shipped on or before August 25, 2006.
Chinese Version 1:货物2006年8月25日或25日前装船。
Chinese Version 2:货物2006年8月25日前(含25日)装船。
When reading the above two examples (quoted from the Export Contract of Yantai VIV Machiney CO.,LTD. in 2006,we can notice that in the above two examples Chinese Version 1 is normal translation that is not definite and clear in time expressing, which is easy to cause ambiguities while Chinese Version 2 is more professional, so it is easy to understand. It is known to all that ambiguities are not allowed in such circumstances becauseshould be a clear time indicationotherwise dispute will arise in transactions. However, the following two examplescontain fuzziness and fuzziness translation.
Example 1:
English Version: Please make every effort to get the consignment dispatched ASAP.
Chinese Version:请尽力做好妥善安排,以筋壁取袋运。
  Example 2:
    English Version: We hope that you will pay for the shipment in due time.
    Chinese Version:我们希望贵方能够加州付款。
 In other words, in contract English translation, translators are required to carefullyselect clear, precise words and phrases in order to reach the purpose: accuracy. Otherexamples are listed below in translation from Chinese into English for further explanation:
For example:
Chinese Version:如散酒报价降至每升0.65美元,我公司可与贵方定购220
                吨的货物。
English Version 1:If you can lower the price of bulk wine to 0.65 dollars per liter, we can place an order with you for 220 tons.
English Version 2: If you can lower the price of bulk wine to 0.65 US dollars per  liter, we can place an order with you for 220 metric tons.
 (The above example is directly quoted from condence of Yantai Fruit Village Co.Ltd. in 2005.)
  There exist two major differences between English Version 1 and English Version2. The first one is ton--a weight unit, whose the meaning of which varies from country to country. For example:
    In the US, 1 long ton=1:016 tones , 1 short ton=0.9072 tones
    In the UK, 1 long ton=2240 pounds
    In metric system 1 ton=100 kilograms
Therefore, to avoid misunderstanding and possible dispute, the accurate weight unit should be rendered in translation version.

3.3 Conventionalization

  As for the principle conventionalization, the author means the translator shouldadopt established usages of trade marks, brand names, business terms, concepts andprofessional jargons only used by business persons and easily understood in businesscircle, that is, they are conventions widely accepted,so that misunderstanding can beavoided.    There are a large quantity of conventional or fixed versions in business Englishconcerning some words, phrases as mentioned in the previous chapter and descriptionsof goods during its long-term development. As translators in this field, they mustfollow these conventional expressions to maintain the same style so that readers canunderstand them. Even if a few versions are not perfect or even not correct; they arestill accepted by businessmen in this field. Don't make an attempt to change them andjust stick to them. It .is no use at all and perhaps can only cause unnecessarymisunderstanding and dispute or even bring some troubles to you if you did.    
Examples for some commodities particularly produced in China:
designed sheepskin cushions:挖花羊皮坐垫
ground-nut kernels:花生仁
raw hides and skins of bovine animals:生牛皮
hand-made paper:土纸
harm melon:哈密瓜
salt preserved meat咸腊肉,
essential balm清凉油
preserved duck egg:皮蛋,
scented tea:花茶
wild vegetables:野菜
hot pickled mustard tuber:榨菜
salted bean curd:豆腐乳
dog-skin plaster:膏药
ass-skin glue:阿胶
 Relatively speaking, the examples given above are not perfect or standardized.But they are adopted for a long time in the circles of China's export practice. Withregard to the conventional expressions or newly-coined set-phrases in business English,translators are required to follow the principles of conventionalization. In this way,they will be competent and qualified translators who worth their salt. In the process of translating business contracts from Chinese into English, theprinciple of "conventionalization" comes in the third place. By conventionalization wemean that contracts should be rendered in normative and idiomatic language in termsof diction and syntax. Otherwise, improper words lead to misunderstanding. Moreover,words and expressions employed in translation should abide by the widely acceptedmeanings in international business. Let's take the Chinese“议付”for instance, whichis a jargon in international banking practices. It should be put into "negotiation", andany substitutes of it may cause ambiguity. From this example, we can come to realizethat the principle of "conventionalization" shows great importance in handling longand complicated sentences. For instance:
Chinese Version:凭全额发票金额的、保兑的、不可撤销的、可转让的即期信用证付款。装船单据应在最晚装运日期之后的巧天之内向议付行提示。
English Version: To be payable by 100% confirmed, irrevocable,  andtransferable sight L/C to reach the Sellers 30 days before thedate of shipment, the shipping document shall be presented tothe negotiating bank within 15 days after the final date ofshipment.   
 It is obviously improper to translate the above statement from Chinese intoEnglish word-for-word. For the purpose of making the translated version conform tothe customary way of formulation in English, we have to make some alterations to thesentence structures of the Chinese version by shifting the pre-modifying elements“保兑的”,“即期”,“议付行”,“全额发票金额的”to post-modi尔ng positions accordingthe English grammar.
Here are some examples about the conventionalized business terms frequently used in Contract English:
TEU (twenty equivalent unit),二十英尺标准
B/D (Bank Draft),银行汇票
B.B(clean bill),光票
B!E(bill of entry or bill of exchange),报关通知单或汇票
F.O(free out)卸货费除外
FPA (free of particular average),平安险
Clean, on board B/L (bill of lading),己装船清洁提单
O/C (Outward Collection),进口托收
S.A. (subject to approval),以批准为条件
Documentary L/C (letter of credit),跟单信用证
Payment in advance,预付款
B/S(bill of sale or balance sheet),资产负债表
CB(cash book),现金账
DB(day book),流水账
WPA (with particular average),水渍险
N.R.T(net registered),注册净吨
 As is discussed above, contract English is featured by conventionalized businessexpressions; so the language of the two translated sentences is found to conform to thepertinent mode of expression and the conventional ways in the target language.Besides, such words as instruct, hold and aforementioned are very formal inconformity to the contract English characteristic of the frozen style. A workman wants to do his work well, he must sharpen his tools. To achieveconventionalized effect in contract English translation, the translator should refer toEnglish literature in international business and trade, professional dictionaries duringthe course of translation. Here are some reference books useful for translators' to referto:
"Formulation and Translation of International Business Contract", Hu Gongshen,Wang Chunhui, Shen Yunzheng, published in 2005妙Foreign Languages
"International Contract”,Karla C. Shippey, J.D. in 2000妙Shanghai Foreign Education Pres

IV Conclusion

 English business translation, the term used by the author, covers translating forbusiness community and for trade and industrial circles. It comes within the orbit ofbusiness English translation but has its own characteristics. Based the analyzed in thisthesis, the author proposes three principles in English business contract translation.First of all, from the meaning aspect, the translated contract should absolutely reflectthe original version. Secondly, form the lexical aspect, the vocabulary should not beambiguous. Last but not least, from the comprehended aspect, the translated languageshould be professional like in target language. That means, the translator should takethe culture transmission into consideration. In conclusion, the principle Englishbusiness contract should comply with   "Faithfulness, Accuracy andConventionalization". Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth. So are these translation principles ofEnglish contract. They will be gradually improved and refined in translation practice inthe future and will be accepted by the translators, scholars and university students.

V Reference

[1]陈福康,《中国译学理论史稿》[M]上海外语教育出版社,2006.
[2]陈小慰,商务语篇的翻译[J]《中国翻译》第3期,91-92a
[3]丁往道,《英语写作手册》[N]北京:外语教学与研究出版社,2004
[4]段梦敏,现代商务英语翻译策略[J]《中国科技翻译》第18卷3期34-36.
[5]方梦之,《翻译新论与实践》[J]青岛出版社,2005(06):62-64.
[6]Ellis, R.Second Language Acquisition and the Structural Syllabus. TESOL Quarterly,1994
[7]Ewer, J. R.& Latorre, G. A course in Basic Scientific English. London: Longman Press.1969
[8]Klayman. Irwin's Business.Boston Richard D. Irwin, Inc.1994
 

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