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I have been practising Chinese by trying to read some articles in the Chinese section of the BBC News site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/simp/. (I am making quite heavy use of Pleco Reader for this, I can only recognise about half the characters unaided.) The advantage of using the BBC is that after I have struggled through the Chinese I can compare my understanding with the original article, which of course is written in natural English.

For example, I looked at this report about the South African elections:

在南非结束种族隔离20年之际,该国民众踊跃参加国民议会大选投票。 民众在投票站外排起长队,特别是1994年南非结束白人少数统治后出生的年轻人投票选举的情绪很高。

这也是南非第一位黑人总统曼德拉去世后的首次大选。

虽然受到一些腐败的指控,预计执政的非国大将第5届连续赢得大选。 预计非国大将赢得60%的选票。 南非总统祖马也有望蝉联总统,再次执政5年。 记者们说,反对党可能在这次大选中获得更多的支持,但不足以改变自1994年以来非国大主导南非政坛的格局。

Do people consider that this is written in natural, idiomatic Chinese?

I have noticed that the translated articles often seem to be phrased in a much more repetitive way than the original English. Is this just standard style for Chinese news reports, or is it some kind of artifact of translation?

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It is quite news-like formal Chinese. "the translated articles often seem to be phrased in a much more repetitive way than the original English." Could you give some example? –  songyuanyao May 8 at 6:54
    
This paragraph reads fine. But some of the news articles sound too colloquial to me. The Chinese edition of New York Times is more formal. –  user58955 May 8 at 10:24
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The example you have quoted is fairly standard "translated text". You can tell it by the usage of attributive clauses, e.g. "...1994年南非结束白人少数统治后出生的...". In natual Chinese, there's no such kind of clauses and hence sentences are usually short. However in translation you have to be faithful to the original context, therefore many English grammar got awkwardly translated into Chinese. Since Chinese has been heavyly affected by huge amount of translated text in last decades, people started to get used to these awkward grammar. Still, it is recommended to avoid it. I recall there's a term coined for it, "translationese".

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Sometimes it is called 翻译腔. –  zsf222 May 9 at 13:41
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Not perfect, but almost native Chinese.

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