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[ 2019-02-27 ]

<談文論譯>Historic (具歷史意義的) 與 historical (歷史上的)   蘇正隆

這兩天忙著審訂一份臺北市定古蹟解說牌文稿的英譯,其中出現不少historic,historical,「歷史人物及事件」和「歷史建築、古蹟」之類的字眼。原來的英譯水準不錯,但有時historic和 historical用得不夠精確。譬如:「(歷史)古蹟」正確譯為 historic site,但「歷史建築」譯為 *historical building 則有待商榷,應以historic building 為宜。

Writing Explained 網站有一則分辨兩者用法的詳細解說:Historic vs. Historical: What's the Difference? - Writing Explained

Historic means famous or important in history.
  • The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a historic moment for all of mankind.
  • We are standing on a historic site; this is where the battle of Gettysburg took place.
  • Authorities say a fire that destroyed a historic New Jersey synagogue appears to be accidental. –The Washington Post
In other words, a historic event is an event that has great significance. A historic building is a building that has great significance and so on and so forth.
A landmark decision would properly be called a historic decision, since both indicate a decision of great importance and significance.

Historical is defined as of or relating to history; concerned with past events.
  • The new law removed historical protections that were given to small businesses.
  • Countless historical documents and artifacts were destroyed during the bombing of Berlin
  • BBC America’s powerful new historical drama “The Last Kingdom” tells the story that made England possible, and with it the flourishing of Anglo-Saxon culture and law that underpin America as well. –The Wall Street Journal
  • Something that is historical is simply something that happened in the past, regardless of its significance.
As William Safire once said, “Any past event is historical, but only the most memorable ones are historic.” 

Common Mistakes When Using Historic and Historical
  • There are good historic correlations between high interest rates and low rates of inflation. (Incorrect)
  • There are good historical correlations between high interest rates and low rates of inflation. (Correct)
  • No one expected such a historical ruling from the Supreme Court Justices. (Incorrect)
  • No one expected such a historic ruling from the Supreme Court Justices. (Correct)

總結

Historic 指「具歷史意義的」(something that is very important or significant in history);Historical 指「歷史上的」refers to something that took place in the past, regardless of importance. (Jerome Su, Feb 22, 2019)
就像中文的「反映」問題,針對問題,有所「反應」,必「須」滿足所有「需亅求,現在連不少作家也分不清。英美人士也常見將 historic 與 historical 混淆,從 Google 近10年使用統計看來,historic 與 historical 兩字的界限越來越模糊,因此教學説明可以,不宜拿來出考題。
(Jerome Su, Feb 22, 2019, Revised Feb 23, 19)