Theories of Translation Essay
Theories of Translation
1. Introduction Translation, oral or written, is probably as old as the spoken or written word. Throughout the ages, famous writers have tried their hand at “the art of translating“. Translation is usually defined as the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by the means of an equivalent target-language text. It can be also described as an expression of a sense from one language to another as well as transmission of a written or spoken language to another. However, it is a very broad notion that can be comprehended in a lot of various ways. It is also a multi-staged, creative process.
Translation offers us the experience and attitudes of another culture or mentality. We cannot imagine a world without the translations of literary master pieces from all countries. The role of translation is to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers among nations. It is a key process in the development of global connectedness. A translator has several identities. First, a translator is a reader, who should know the text and its social and cultural background. He/she should also try to understand the original author`s feelings and thoughts about life and art.
Secondly, a translator is a writer, because he must master two or more languages, and have the professional writer`s knowledge about the languages. Thirdly, a translator is a creator who is able to understand the source text well and to recreate the text which is faithful to the source text. If he is a real artist and a good craftsman, his work may even surpass the original. Fourthly, a translator is a researcher. The literature translation is dependent on literature study, which is the premise of translation. A translator`s four identities are mixed and integrated.
Nevertheless, regardless of the degree of embellishment, translation cannot avoid altering the work. An American professor, scholar, linguist and polyglot, Werner Winter wrote that perfect translation was impossible. In his opinion, words, like marble, have certain intrinsic qualities that are indivisible from the form they take. That`s why he compares the translator to a sculptor who attempts to replicate a marble statue without the benefit of marble. But, translation is a worthwhile enterprise, despite the built-in flows. Because of our curiosity about other cultures, translation will likely never go out of fashion.
Globalization overcomes spatial barriers, thus resulting in the mobility of people and objects; and a proper contact between different linguistic communities. It is manifested not only in the creation of global market, but also in the significance of travel and international movement of people (mass tourism, business travelling, migration and exile) and in the consolidation of a global communication system that distributes images and texts to any place in the world. These developments emphasize the significance of translation, which has been a key of global communication for decades.
Some language theorist emphasize that translation has been neglected in the current literature on globalization. However, although the practice of translating is long established, the study of the field developed into an academic discipline until the second half of the twentieth century. Before that, translation had normally been an element of language learning in modern language courses. (Munday, 2001:7). The globalization theory focuses on mobility and deterritoriallzation, trying to obscure the complexities involved in overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers and to make the role of translation less important.
However, many scholars indicate that translation helps us not only to get a better insight into the world, but to get to know ourselves better. The practice of translation comprises the selection and importation of cultural goods from outside a given circuit, and their transformation into terms which the receiving community can understand, if only in linguistic terms, and which it thus recognizes, to some extent, at least, as its own. And because each translation offers its own, over determined, distinct construction of “otherness” of the imported text, we can learn a great deal from these cultural constructions – and from the construction of self which accompanies them.
The paradigms and templates which a culture uses to build images of foreign offer privileged insight into self- definition. (Riccardi, 2002:17). 2. Theories of Translation There are many translation theories because translating can be viewed from a lot of various perspectives. Some translators claim that they have no theory of translation. But many linguists emphasize that every translator has his own theory of translation. Some persons object to a theory of translation; first of all, because it seems unnecessary or even misleading.
This is seriously true of some wrong theories of translation, but everyone has a theory of translation as to what one should do, how it should be done, and why. Such a theory may be overt or covert; it may be well defined or only vaguely felt. The truth of the matter is that everyone does have a theory of what one should do in translating, and many of these theories are quite inadequate. Good translations inevitably represent effective theories; in other words, organized sets of principles and procedures. A theory, however, is more than simply a list of rules, for no list could ever cover everything which a translator must or can do.
The theory is an organized set of principles pointing the way to finding proper solutions. (Jin and Nida, 2006:7). Translation theorists are usually worried about differences between literary and non-literary text, between poetry and prose, etc. There are many different theories of translation. One reason for that is the fact is that the process of translating can be seen from a lot of various points of view. The other reason is that translating has existed since the beginning of human history.
Many language experts point out that traditional translation theorists divided translation into two types. Traditional translation theorists divided translation into two types: literary and non-literary. In literary translation (i. e. , the translation of literature) the translators were both concerned with “sense” and “style”. But in non-literary translation the emphasis was on sense. It was meant not to be “word for word” but “sense for sense” translation. In the later half of the twentieth century with the advent of Structuralism, Deconstruction and Reader-Response Criticism, Translation Studies took a new turn. (Das, 2008:27).
Even nowadays, despite the great variety of translation theories, we don`t have any complete theory of translation. The main reason for that is the fact that translating is utterly a process which depends upon numerous disciplines: neurophysiology, communication theory, psychology, cultural anthropology and linguistics. Actually, it seems inappropriate to speak of “theories of translation”, since all that has been achieved are several sagacious perspectives on this complicated attempt. If we want to understand the nature of translation, the processes and procedures associated with all kinds of translations must be the center of our attention.
Besides, we should point out different attitudes towards the complex task of translating, particular directions which provide good comprehension of interlingual communication. The four major perspectives on the problems of translating are: the philological perspective, the linguistic perspective, the communicative perspective and the sociosemiotic perspective. They should be regarded as complementary and supplementary. On the other hand, they show a historical development of translation. When there are differences in translation, we ask ourselves which of several translations should be the right translation.
However, many scholars emphasize that different translations at different points in time “reflect different style and different ideas about translation”. (Rubel and Rosman, 2003:14). 3. Philologucal Perspective on Translation During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe, the philological perspective on translation was first and foremost concentrated on “faithfulness” of translation. The philological theories of translation were based on a philological approach to literary analysis and they were concerned with all kinds of stylistic features and rhetorical devices. This approach emphasizes: 1.
the source of the thematic and formal features of the text; 2. the stylistic peculiarities of the author; 3. the thematic strructure. The philological approach to translation is source-oriented, author-centered and it does not examine the reasons that account for certain translation behaviour. The philological theories of translation have been concerned primarily with literary texts. Generally, the scholar`s discussions were about the degree of freedom that should be allowed, particulary in the case of Bible translation. Nevertheless, many translators accomplished masterly in combining sensitivity to style.
Ocatavio Paz explained the most imprtant limitations of the philological perspective. In the field of verbal expression, Paz defines the function of words both in a poetic and prose text and ”here again the emphasiz is on the recognition of the plurality of meaning”. (Schulte and Biguenet, 1992:7). Words create connotations that reflect multiple ways of interpreting the text. A lot of language experts protested strongly against the domination of philology and its methodology in translation theory, with the result that many people began to recognize the necessity of a more linguistic orientation for translation theory and practise.
4. Lingustic Perspective on Translation The developement of linguistic perspective can be attributed to two principal factors: 1. the application of the rapidly expanding science of lingustics to several different areas of intellectual activity (language learning, cognitive antrophology, and semiotics), and 2. machine translation. Linguistic theories of translation are based on a comparision of the linguistic structures of source and receptor texts rather than on a comparision of literary genres and stylistic features. Linguistic approach refers to the approach which makes linguistics the key in translating.
Linguistics and the growth of linguistically oriented theory are closely related. Linguistic perspective reflects the trend of language study. Translation studies fought for a proper place of its own. Linguistic approach has largely contributed to the initial scientifization of translation studies. Through the use of transformations, Noah Chomsky and his collegues added a new influental sphere to language structure. Several philosophers have made their indirect improvements of the linguistic perspective as well. A lot of books on translating and on correlations in language structures were published during this period.
However, this approach to translation has tended to neglect the semantics of lexical structures. In the second place, this kind of perspective depends too much on the ideal speaker and hearer. There are no such ideal individuals, and the translator must be concerned with the various types of limitations that actual speakers and hearers have. In the third place, linguistic approach to translation neglected verbal communication, and language cannot be discussed as though verbal communication occurs in a cultural vacuum. 5. Communicative Perspective on Translation.
Dissatisfaction with a strictly linguistic approach to translation is evidenced in Eugene Nida`s relating translation to a communicative theory, rather than a specific linguistic theory. The book From One Language to Another (de Ward and Nida, 1986), made the communicative approach predominant. When one proceeds from the level of gramatical categories (which are largely implicit) to the level of words, which are symbols for dynamic and explicit features of culture, one is obliged to interpret the meaning of such linguistic units in light of the cultural context.
That is to say, the meaning of a unit must be described in terms of the sum total of what it signals in all the contexts in which it is used. (Nida, 1975:6). The communicative perspective demonstrates the significance of several fundamental elements, such as: source, message, receptor, feedback, noise, setting and medium. It also analyzes the problem of encoding and decoding. Communicative approach focuses upon various processes in communication and because of that the relation between sociolinguistics and translation is a very natural one.
Any approach to translating established on communication theory has to give great attention to the paralinguistic and extralingustic characteristics of oral and written messages. For persuasive and good outcome, form and content must be inseparable. Eqivavalence is also Nida`s preoccupation. He rejects ”free” versus ”literal” debate in favour of the concept of formal and dynamic eqivalence – a concept that shifts the emphasiz to the target audience. Eugene Nida`s scientific approach has evolved into a quest for a more systematic classifications of all translation theories, which should be based on linguistics, philology and semiotics.
6. Sociosemiotic Perspective on Translation Sociosemiotic approach to translation has been undertaken by de Ward, Nida and Toury. Language must be viewed as a shared set of habits using the voice to communicate. Language experts point out that the existence of shared values and of regular communication patterns requires empirical investigation. To the extent that speakers share knowledge of the communicative constrants and options govering a significiant number of social situations, they can be said to be members of the same speech community.
Since such shared knowledge depends on intensity of contact and communication networks, speech community boundiers tend to coincide with wider social units, such as countries, tribes, religious or ethnic groupings. (Gumperz and Hymes,1986:16). Scholars indicate that members of the same speech community need not all speak the same language nor use the same lingistic forms on similar occassions: All that is required is that there be at least one language in common and that rules governing basic communicative strategies be shared so that speaker can decode the social meaning carried by alternative modes of communication. (Gumprez and Hymes, 1986:16).
On the other hand, the primary concern of the translator is to transfer the meaning of the source language to the target language. Meaning is the point of departure and the end product of translation operations. It is neither possible nor desirible to reproduce every aspect of meaning for every word in a source text. We have to try, as much as possible, to convey the meaning of key words which are focal to understanding and developement of a text, but we cannot and should not distract the reader by looking at every word in isolation and attempting to present him/her with a full linguistic account of its meaning. (Baker,1992:26).
Semiotics is the scientific study of properties of signing systems, whether natural or artificial. In its oldest sense, it refers to the study within philosophy of sign and symbol systems in general. The modern use of the word covers the investigation of patterned human communication in all its modes. Sociosemiotic approach to translation uses a realistic epistemology that describes the real world.
Its starting point is verbal creativity. Sociosemiotic perspective also appreciates the adaptility of the language, the blurred limitations of usage and the ambiguity of meaning, which makes language such a sophisticated tool for dialogue. Besides, this approach is fundamentally interdisciplinary, regarding the multiplicity of codes. In linguistic communication, as in any other communication, there are at least five essential elements involved:
1. the topic (the message transmitted), 2. the code (the system of symbols with which the message is processed and sent out), 3. the sender (the encoder of the message), 4. the receiver (the decoder of the message), 5. the channel of contact (between the sender and the receiver). Each of these categories of sociosemiotic meaning is related primarily to one or more of these five elements.
The complete indications of sociosemiotic theories of translation, are only now appearing. However, they possess the potential for becoming very important perceptives for more definable and adequate outcomes. 7. Conclusion These four major perspectives on the problems of translating do not ivalidate one another.
On the contrary, they contribute to a better understanding of interlingual communication. These diverse approaches to the problems of translating are essentialy matters of different perspectives. If the focus of attention is on particular texts (and especially if these are of so-called literary quality), the underlying theory of translation is best regarded as philological. If, however, the focus of attention is on the correspondance in language form and content, that is, on the structural differences between the source and receptor languages, the corresponding theory may be regarded as linguistic.
If the focus is on translation as a part of an actual communication process, the corresponding theories may be regarded as communitave. If the focus is on plasticity of language, the corresponding theories may be regarded as sociosemiotic. The purposes of translation are so diverse, the texts so different, and the receptors so varied that one can readily understand how and why many distinct formulations of principles and practises of translation have been proposed.
All who have written seriously on translating agree that translators should know both the source and the receptor language, should be familiar with the subject matter, and should have some facility of expression in the receptor language. In discussing the various theories of translation, it is important to recognize that these theories are seldom developed in comprehensive form. In most cases, the theories are far more implicit than explicit. But, many scholars point out that a good transltion can be recognized very easily.
In fact this type of translation is distinguished by its elegance and concision, its attention to natural word order, to the deployment of clauses and phrases more frequently used than their formal equivalent in source language: a good translation is deft, neat and closely shadowing its original. (Newmark, 1991:34). However, the fact that patterns of human behaviour are constantly subject to change means that literary taste and judgement with respect to types of translation also change. There is, therefore, no permanent set of criteria for judging the acceptability of translation, but change also implies fluctuation in judgement.
Accordingly, one must expect that over a period of time not only will the attitudes of many people change with respect to a translation, but the same individual may react to a particular translation in different ways at different times, depending on his own emotional state or needs. It seems to me that language experts will perhaps invent some new approach to translation. However, despite the fact that scholars have different opinions about perspectives on translation, translation will never cease to exist. Good translators love their work because it is useful and creative.
They love exploring the wods, which are a mirror of their times – of the events, the preoccupations, the inventions and discoveries. Every word represents a treasure of mankind`s wisdom. In my opinion, we can learn so much from the act of translation when we are involved in the process. We can learn about our own writing, our language, foreign language and about language itself. Bibiliography 1. Baker, Mona. (1992). In Other Words. London: Routledge. 2. Das, Bijay Kumar. (2008). A Handbook of Translation Studies. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers &Distributors. 3. Gumprez, John and Hymes, Del.
(1986). Directions in Sociolinguistics. New York: Basil Blackwell Inc. 4. Jin, Di and Nida, A. Eugene. (2006). On Translation. Hong Kong: City University Hong Kong Press. 5. Munday, Jeremy. (2001). Introducing Translation Studies. New York:Routlege. 6. Newmark, Peter. (1991). About Translation. UK:Multilingual Matters. Ltd. 7. Nida, A. Eugene. (1975). Language Structure and Translation. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 8. Riccardi, Allesandra. (2002). Translation Studies: perspectives on emerging discipline. Cambridge: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.
9. Ruber, Paula and Rosman, Abraham. (2003). Translating Cultures. Oxford:Berg. 10. Schulte, Rainer and Biguent, John. (1992). Theories of Translation. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Contents 1. Introduction……………………………………. 1 2. Theories of Translation…………………………3 3. Philological Perspective on Translation……….. 5 4. Linguistic Perspective on Translation…………. 6 5. Communicative Perspective on Translation….. 7 6. Sociosemiotic Perspective on Translation……. 8 7. Conclusion…………………….. 10 8. Bibliography………………….. 12 9. Contents………………………13