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《中华人民共和国合同法》部分条款英语译文研究1
 
1999年3月15日第九届全国人民代表大会第二次会议通过了《中华人民共和国合同法》,将于1999年10月1日起实施,取代《中华人民共和国经济合同法》、《中华人民共和国涉外经济合同法》和《中华人民共和国技术合同法》。同时,中国法制出版社出版发行了《中华人民共和国合同法》中英文对照本。《合同法》英文本的翻译质量总体上来说不是很高,有不少不当和错误之处,以下是对《合同法》《总则》部分第一至十六条的英语译文的分析和研究,指出了其中的不当和错误之处,并给出了参考译文。部分参考译文借鉴了网上论坛Chinese Contract Law Forum (网址:www.cclaw.net)的译法,在此表示感谢。
 
本文引用的国际立法包括联合国国际贸易法委员会第29届会议于1996年6月通过的《联合国贸易法委员会电子商业示范法》(UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce,标识为UNCITRAL),《联合国国际货物销售合同公约》(United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods,标识为CISG),《商事合同通则》(UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts,标识为UNIDROIT)。
 
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原文:总则
原译:General Provisions
拟译:General Principles
解释:(选词)“总则”和“一般规定”在英语文本中都译成了general provisions,应当有所区别。
 
原文:第一章 一般规定
原译:Chapter 1 General Provisions
拟译:不变
解释:如UNIDROIT: Chapter 1 General Provisions
 
原文:第一条  为了保护合同当事人的合法权益,维护社会经济秩序,促进社会主义现代化建设,制定本法。
原译:Article 1  This Law is formulated with a view to protecting the lawful rights and interests of the parties to contracts, maintaining the social economic order and promoting the progress of  the socialist modernization drive.
拟译:This Law is formulated in order to protect the lawful rights and interests of the parties to a contract, safeguard socio-economic order, and promote socialist modernization.
解释:
1.(语法)社会经济秩序Social economic order从语法上讲应当改为social and economic order,因为英语的两个形容词连用要用and连接起来。另外,汉语的“社会经济秩序”是否指“社会的经济秩序”?《合同法》的立法目的来看,应该主要是维护经济秩序,果真如此的话,是否应当统一为socio-economic order?原译文“社会经济秩序”的译法有social economic order, socio-economic order等。再者,如果“社会经济秩序”仅指“社会秩序”,那么是否可以就把它翻译为economic order?第七条“…损害社会公共利益”当中的“公共”就是一个赘词,没有必要翻译为public interests of the society,更不能翻译为social and public interests或socio-public interests。
2.(选词)社会主义现代化建设:socialist modernization drive当中的drive表示一项轰轰烈烈的“运动”,给人以一夜之间建成社会主义的感觉。如to launch a drive for mechanization 发起机械化运动。把drive去掉更为简洁。Modernization本身就表示一个过程。
3.(单复数)contract用单数还是复数?单数和复数均可以表示泛指,单数强调任何一个合同,复数强调所有的合同。从国外相关立法来看,用单数似乎更为普遍,如UNIDROIT Principles。
4.(简洁)用动名词还是不定式?不定式更为简洁,尤其是几个不定式连用时更能显示出来。
 
原文:第二条  本法所称合同是平等主体的自然人、法人、其他组织之间设立、变更、终止民事权利义务关系的协议。
原译:Article 2  A contract in this Law refers to an agreement establishing, modifying and terminating the civil rights and obligations between subjects of equal footing, that is, between natural persons, legal persons or other organizations.
拟译: A contract is an agreement reached between subjects with equal status, including natural persons, legal persons and other organizations, for the purpose of establishing, modifying and terminating a relationship of civil rights and obligations.
解释:
1. (漏译)“关系”没有翻译出来。
2. (选词)“平等主体”原译为Subjects of equal footing,意思是“地位平等的主体”,是对原文的解释,因为如果译为equal subjects意思似乎不够明确。但footing一词似乎在法律中不如status常用(Black's Law Dictionary当中查不到法footing一词),所以建议改为subjects with equal status。至少应该把of变为with。
3. (简洁)between subjects of equal footing, that is, between natural persons, legal persons or other organizations比较罗嗦,可以更加精炼一些:between subjects with equal status, including natural persons, legal persons and other organizations。
4. (and/or)如果不做第3点的修改,至少把that is变为i.e.(注意i.e.后面要跟逗号),把or变为and/or,即between subjects with equal status, i.e., between natural persons, legal persons and/or other organizations;这是注意把or变成了and/or,因为如果用or,意思可以理解为between natural persons, between legal persons, or between other organizations.这显然不符合事实,因为还有自然人合法人等之间签订的合同。
 
原文:婚姻、收养、监护等有关身份关系的协议,适用其他法律的规定。
原译:Agreements involving personal status relationship such as on matrimony, adoption, guardianship, etc. shall apply the provisions of other Laws.
拟译:An agreement involving the relationship of personal status, such as marriage, adoption, guardianship, is governed by other applicable laws.
解释:
1. (单复数)把agreements变为单数更符合习惯。
2. (前置定语不能过多)Personal status relationship变为the relationship of personal status意思更明确。
3. (语法)Such as 为不完全列举,列举完毕不用etc.(注意,即使用etc.,此处还应在圆点后加逗号)。
4.(简洁)On…是修饰agreements的介词短语,与involving并列,实际可以把on去掉,让婚姻等直接修饰the relationship,这样更为简洁。
5. (选词)Matrimony意思是“婚姻关系”,本身包含一种关系,再用它修饰relationship显然不妥,故可改为更通俗的marriage。
6. (滥用) shall在法律中译为“必须”,是强制性的,表示义务。汉语的“应当”应当理解为“必须”,所以译为shall,不能译为should. Should表示原该或最好怎样(否则只好算了)。本句并无“义务”的意思,是平铺直叙,所以用现在时态即可。这是对shall的典型滥用。类似的例子还有许多,如第428条关于本法生效的规定:“本法自1999年10月1日起施行”的原译文是:This Law shall come into force as of October 1, 1999。原因是英语中法律条文对shall的使用非常频繁,从而给翻译者造成一种错觉,似乎不用shall就不是法律。
7. (词的用法)Apply 的两种用法:a. vt. They apply the rules to new members only. 变为被动是The rules are applied to new members only. b. vi. This rule applies to freshmen only.两种用法的共同之处都是将被适用的对象以to短语表示出来。作主语的是人或法律,被适用者无法直接作主语。由此可见,原译文的用法是错误的。应当改为…is governed by the provisions of other laws.或者…is governed by other applicable laws.或者,如果要用apply一词,可以译为:Other laws apply where an agreement involves the relationship of personal status, such as marriage, adoption, or guardianship.
8. (格式)Other Laws并非专有名词,没有必要大写。
 
原文:第三条  合同当事人的法律地位平等,一方不得将自己的意志强加给另一方。
原译:Article 3  The parties to a contract shall have equal status. No party may impose its will on the other party.
拟译:The parties to a contract enjoy equal legal status and one party may not impose its will on the other.
1.(滥用)Shall滥用;have可以用enjoy.
2.(呼应)汉语的“一方…另一方”可以译为one party…the other party,暗含的意思“两方”。这样一来,no party似乎应当改为neither party,以便与the other party 相呼应。但实际情况可能是一个合同包含两个以上的当事人,这样用neither party和the other party显然以偏概全。建议改为One party may not impose its will on the other.这样既可以理解为两方:one party…the other (party),又可以理解为多方:one party…the other (parties)。
 
原文:第四条  当事人依法享有自愿订立合同的权利,任何单位和个人不得非法干预。
原译:Article 4  The parties shall have the rights to be voluntary to enter into a contract in accordance with the law. No unit or individual may illegally interfere.
拟译:A party has the right to enter into a contract voluntarily in accordance with the law, and no entity or individual may unlawfully interfere with such a right.
1. (滥用)Shall的滥用。Shall 表示义务。被赋予的权利不能以义务的形式来表达。应当把shall去掉,改为a party has the right to be voluntary…,或者用a party is entitled to entering a contract voluntarily…
2. (单复数)用单数表示的意思更强调个体,所以parties改为a party.
3. (单复数)这里的“权利”是指一项权利,所以应当改为单数。
4.(词的用法)“干预”interfere是不及物动词,后跟介词with 或in,单独使用使句子显得突兀,可以将介词宾语补充出来,所以,“任何单位和个人不得非法干预”可以译为No entity or individual may unlawfully interfere with such a right.
5.(中国特色)单位制度是中国特殊的制度,除了常见的unit之外很多人尝试了很多种译法,如organization, institution, agency, entity, work place等。这里强调的是个人之外的所有其他组织,没有必要翻译为unit,因为不了解中国国情的人不一定看懂这个词。所以可以选用其他的词。
6. (中国特色) the rights to be voluntary to enter into a contract似乎没有the right to enter into a contract voluntarily通顺和贴近原文。另外,我们经常见到的有“合同自由”的原则,英语叫freedom of contract,《合同法》立法时曾有人建议将此原则包括进去,但最终没有能够写进去。《合同法》中的措辞是“自愿”,不是“自由”,是有它的特殊考虑的。因为“自由”可能给人以无视法律的感觉,我们更强调“依法”,所以用了不同的说法。原译文忠实了这个意思。
 
原文:第五条  当事人应当遵循公平原则确定各方的权利和义务。
原译:Article 5  The parties shall abide by the principle of fairness in defining the rights and obligations of each party.
拟译:The parties must define their rights and obligations in accordance with the principle of fair dealing.
解释:
1.(例证)UNIDROIT: Article 1.7 - Good Faith and Fair Dealing: (1) Each party must act in accordance with good faith and fair dealing in international trade.
2. 如果不看UNIDROIT Principles,原译文可以改为The parties shall abide by the principle of fairness in defining their rights and obligations.
 
原文:第六条  当事人行使权利、履行义务应当遵循诚实信用原则。
原译:Article 6  The parties must act in accordance with the principle of good faith, no matter in exercising rights or in performing obligations.
拟译:The parties must exercise their rights and performing their obligations in accordance with the principle of good faith.
解释:
1. 同上1。
2.(代词)Rights 和obligations前面加上their似乎更符合英语习惯。
3.(多译)No matter …or …是一个表示强调的句型,原文并无强调的意思,所以没有必要强调。
4. (Shall/must)第5条和第6条原译文一个用了shall,一个用了must,应当统一。
 
原文:第七条  当事人订立、履行合同,应当遵守法律、行政法规,尊重社会公德,不得扰乱社会经济秩序,损害社会公共利益。
原译:Article 7  In concluding and performing a contract, the parties shall abide by the laws and administrative regulations, observe social ethics. Neither party my disrupt the socio-economic order or damage the public interests.
拟译:In concluding or performing the contract, the parties shall abide by relevant laws and administrative regulations and observe social ethics. They may not disrupt socio-economic order or harm public interests.
解释:
1.(And/comma) Observe前面的逗号应当改为and,两者并列加and,这是常识。
2.(主语的一致)Neither party may最好改为they may not,这样与上句的主语保持一致;neither的意思是“两者都不”,有强调的意思,原文并没有。
3.(选词)Damage改为harm更好些。
4.(冠词)“遵守法律”等是指《合同法》之外的其他有关法律,所以可以译为relevant laws,泛指,不用冠词the。
5.(冠词)The socio-economic order, the public interests当中的the都可以去掉,因为order作为不可数名词,本身可以泛指;public interests是复数形式,可以表示泛指。
 
原文:第八条  依法成立的合同,对当事人具有法律约束力。当事人应当按照约定履行自己的义务,不得擅自变更或者解除合同。
原译:Article 8  As soon as a contract is established in accordance with the law, it shall be legally binding on the parties. The parties shall perform their respective obligations in accordance with the terms of the contract. Neither party may unilaterally modify or rescind the contract.
拟译:A lawfully formed contract is legally binding upon the parties. The parties shall perform their respective obligations in accordance with the contract, and they may not arbitrarily modify or terminate the contract.
解释:
1.(多译)译文如果翻译回去就是“一旦依法成立合同,它就必须对当事人具有法律约束力。”可以看出,译文多出了原文没有的意思“一旦”,把原文一句变为两句,显得罗嗦。
2.(滥用)译文中的shall属于滥用。
3.(例证) UNIDROIT: Article 1.3 - Binding Character of Contract: A contract validly entered into is binding upon the parties. It can only be modified or terminated in accordance with its terms or by agreement or as otherwise provided in these Principles.
 
原文:依法成立的合同,受法律保护。
原译:The contract established according to law shall be under the protection of law.
拟译:A lawfully formed contract is protected by law.
解释:(滥用)Shall be under the protection of law当中的shall也是滥用。Under the protection of的措辞也比较罗嗦。
 
原文:第二章  合同的订立
原译:Chapter 2  Conclusion of Contracts
拟译: Formation of a Contract
解释:
1.(选词)formation 表示订立的过程,conclusion表示订立的结果。本章规定的事合同订立的过程,所以用formation,具体到当事人订立了某一合同,可以用conclusion of a contract。
2.(例证)UNIDROIT: Chapter 2: Formation;CISG: PART II FORMATION OF THE CONTRACT
 
原文:第九条  当事人订立合同,应当具有相应的民事权利能力和民事行为能力。
原译:Article 9  In concluding a contract, the parties shall have appropriate civil capacity of right and civil capacity of conduct.
拟译:In concluding a contract, the parties shall have appropriate capacities for civil rights and civil acts.
解释: 
(表述不清)不看原文,你能猜出civil capacity of right和civil capacity  of conduct是什么意思吗?“民事权利能力和民事行为能力翻译为capacities for civil rights and civil acts更为贴切。
 
原文:当事人依法可以委托代理人订立合同。
原译:The parties may conclude a contract through an agent in accordance with the law.
拟译:A party may appoint an agent to enter into a contract on its behalf in accordance with the law.
解释:
(表述不当)用through是“通过”的意思,表示“委托”比较勉强。最好还是翻译为appoint。
 
原文:第十条  当事人订立合同,有书面形式、口头形式和其他形式。
原译:Article 10  The parties may conclude a contract in written, oral or other forms.
拟译:The parties may conclude a contract in writing, orally, or in other forms.
解释:(选词)用in writing代替in written form对句子所作上述处理不一定比原译通顺,但符合UNIDROIT里面用writing表示书面形式的用法,也为以下条款的翻译作了铺垫。