汉译英时数字翻译的6个注意事项

在汉英笔译和英语写作中,经常会遇到数字;哪些场合用单词表示,哪些场合用阿拉伯数字表示,往往使人难以确定,现行语法书中也极少涉及此类问题。

实际上,以英语为母语的国家,在书写数字时已形成几条约定俗成的规则,现总结如下供读者参考。

1 英美等国的出版社在排版时遵循一条原则,即1至10用单词表示,10以上的数目用阿拉伯数字(也有的以100为界限),这条原则值得我们行文时借鉴。如:

That table measures ten feet by five. 那个工作台长10英尺,宽5英尺。

The traditional pattern of classroom experience at the college level brings the professor and a group of 20 to 30 students together for a 45-to-50-minute class session two or three times a week.
由一个教授和十名学生每周会晤两三次,每次授课时间45到50分钟,是大学程度课堂教学的传统方式。

2 大数目用阿拉伯数字表示显得更简洁明了,但不定数量、近似值用单词表示较恰当。如:

There are 203817 voters on the electoral rolls。选举名单上有203817个投票人。
Nearly thirty thousand voters took part in this election. 近3万个投票人参加了这次选举。

3 遇到日期、百分比、带单位的特殊数字,通常用阿拉伯数字。如:

  1. Maximum swivel of table is l20. 工作台的最大回转角度是120度。
  2. 3rd march l991或3 march l991; a discount of 5 percent(5%的折扣);
  3. purchased 7 yards of carpet(买7码地毯);
  4. ordered 2 pounds of minced steak (订购2磅剁碎的肉).

如果涉及的数目和单位是不定数,可用单词表示。 如:

  1. about five miles per hour(每小时大约5英里);
  2. at least ten yards away(至少有10码远);
  3. hesitated for a moment or two(犹豫了片刻);
  4. i have warned you a hundred times(我已经警告你多少遍了).

4 在科技文章中,数字频繁出现,用阿拉伯数字比用单词陈述更有利。如:

The new engine has a capacity of 4.3 liters and a power out-put of 153 kilowatts at 4400 revolutions per minute。
这台新发动机的容积为4.3升,转速为每分钟4400转时输出功率是153千瓦。
we know that the weight of a cubic foot of air at 0℃,and 76cm,pressure is 0.08l pound, or 12 cubic feet of air weigh a pound.
我们知道,1立方英尺的空气在0摄氏度和760毫米汞柱压力下,重量是0.81磅,也就是说12立方英尺空气的重量是1磅。

5 句首不用阿拉伯数字,句末要尽量避免用阿拉伯数字。

4th July is an important date in American history. 应该写成the fourth of July…
19 couples took part in the ballroom dancing competition. 19对选手参加了交际舞比赛。应改写成:Nineteen couples took…
60% profit was a reported.据报道有60%的利润。应改写成:Sixty per cent profit…
1345 kilograms force was applied at the center point of the bar. 试验时在杆的中点加1345公斤力。可改成When tested, a force of l345 kg was applied…

6 遇到分数,可用带连字符号的单词表示。如:

At 1east two-thirds of the class have had colds. 这个班至少有三分之二的学生患重感冒。
Nitrogen forms about four-fifths of the atmosphere. 氮约占大气的五分之四

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