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润界本地化告诉你,数字“三”在英语中的不同用法

  • 作者:润界君
  • 发表时间:2019-08-09 09:36
  • 来源:润界本地化

数字“三”十分奇妙。“三”可组成各自独立又相互联系的整体。时间(time)分为现在(present)、过去(past)和将来(future)三个阶段。空间(space)由长(length)、宽(width)和高(height)三维(three dimensions)组成。

人们希望用一个尽可能小的数字表现尽可能广泛的代表性。“一”太少,“二”不够,“三”正好。汉语有一些带“三”的格言和俗语正好体现了这种广泛的代表性。例如:

1. 三人行必有我师。

(1)If three of us are walking together, at least one of the other two is good enough to be my teacher.(直译)

(2)In the company of three, I can always find a teacher./ You can always find something to learn from the people who keep you company.(意译)

2. 三个臭皮匠,顶个诸葛亮。

(1)Three humble cobblers with their wits combined can equal Zhuge Liang, the mastermind.(直译)

(2)There is always wisdom in a crowd of people.(意译)

3.举一反三。

(1)You can infer other three things from one fact.(直译)

(2)From one sample you may judge the whole./ You can draw inferences about other cases from one instance./ You can just mention one example which serves for the rest.(意译)

“三”还可以暗示一种极限。下面的汉语例句表示最高极限(maximum),即“最多”(at most)。

4. 三句话不离本行。

(1)He never utters three sentences without talking about his own work.(直译)

(2)He can hardly open his mouth without talking shop./ He never begins a talk without referring to his own line./ You are talking shop all the time./ You are really a shop talker.(意译)

5. 富不过三代。

(1)A rich family cannot remain rich for more than three generations./ The wealth of a family will not last three generations.(直译)

(2)Great men’s sons seldom do well.(意译)

6. 事不过三。

(1)Anything undesirable that has happened more than three times must not be tolerated.(直译)

(2)Enough is enough./ Something undesirable that is happening should stop.(意译)

英语也有带 three的谚语,体现了这种广泛的代表性,即“许多”(many)、“所有的”(all)或“每一个”(every)。例如

7. 三人知,天下晓。

When three know it, all know it.(直译)

What is known to three is known to everybody. (意译)

8. To him that does everything in its proper time, one day is worth three.事事及时做,一日胜三日。

而下面的英语谚语则表示最低极限(minimum),即“至少”(at least)。

9.It takes three generations to make a gentleman. 历经三代才能造就一个有教养的人。(直译)/十年树木,百年树人。(意译)

“三”表示反复的最多次数,汉语的“一而再,再而三”和“再三”的意思是“一次又一次”,英语可以译为 again and again, over and over again, time and again, repeatedly。例如:

10. 他再三向我道歉。He said sorry to me again and again.

“三”的反复性还表现为“全面”(in an all-round way),进而表示“仔细”(carefully)或“谨慎”(prudently)。“三思而行”的意思不是“思考三次”,而是“全面、仔细和谨慎地思考”。例如:

11. 三思而行。

(1)Think thrice before acting.(直译)

(2)Think in an all-round way before acting./ Think over the matter carefully before acting./ Think with prudence before acting./ Look before you leap.(意译)

12. To him that does everything in its proper time, one day is worth three. 事事及时做,一日胜三日。

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