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wchao37 Post time: 2018-10-29 14:11
If you say the original Chinese text is old-style Chinese rather than a modern vernacular, then it seems to me that the translator is keeping within the spirit of that older style, translating using an older, more formal English language.
You're right, "verdant" is not a common twenty-first century word - there would be many readers, especially younger readers, who might not know its meaning. It's more nineteenth century poetic, I would say - Tennyson, that kind of poet.
But what we don't know is the subject of the conference - that would influence the translation approach a lot, I would have thought.
Would I understand it if somebody read it to me? Maybe, but less certain. Read by somebody who is not a native speaker in my language? Possibly, but again still less likely.
Would I understand it in context, in particular in a political context? Almost certainly not.
Most languages, most cultures have certain understandings which are inherent in their discourse. The same conference might have heard the translator say, "Let one hundred flowers bloom." The Chinese listeners would know instantly that the statement was not about horticulture, but rather about political expression. Non-native listeners would not pick that up. In the same way, if your original 'verdant trees' statement was a political metaphor, only a dedicated Sinologist would understand it as intended.