Creativity in Translation Essay
Creativity in Translation
1. Introduction Translation has been defined as follows: “The replacement of textual material in one language by equivalent textual material in another language. ” (Schjoldager 2008: 17) However, most translators will argue that translation is much more than that. And I will too. Translation has many purposes and many different audiences – and therefore, the same text can have several different translations. But do translators take advantage of the option of being creative when translating? This project will try to respond to this particular question. 2. Problem statement.
With reference to the hypothesis and questions beneath, this project will focus on how and why creativity can be used in translation. The aim is to examine how creative translators are when translating different text types. The degree of creativity used in translation varies enormously when translating different text types. How can creativity in translation be defined? Why can a translator be creative in some text types – and not in others? Which role does the culture of the target group play?
3. Method and delimitation This project will constitute an empirical case study of different translated texts by means of a comparative analysis of the source texts1 and target texts2. Initially, the notion of translation will be defined using primarily Anne Schjoldager’s, Hans Vermeer’s, Christiane Nord’s and Katharina Reiss’ theories on the subject. Different relevant and important terms will be explained for use later in the analysis.
Creativity in relation to translation will then be defined and also, I will determine and delimitate this project’s definition of creativity by suggesting ‘a model of creativity in translation’. This part will be based on Schjoldager’s aforementioned theories as well as Loffredo and Perteghella’s theory on creativity and translation. Subsequently, I will analyse eleven translated texts of the types: journalistic texts, advertising texts, tourism texts and technical texts, in order to determine their level of creativity.
Using Anne Schjoldager’s models of macro- and microstrategies and Christiane Nord’s theories of extratextual and intratextual factors, the textual analyses will include genre determination, 1 From now on termed ’ST’. 2 From now on termed ’TT’. Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst
———————————————————————————————————————————————— Page 4 of 35 accounting of the communicative situation and purpose as well as elaboration on the microstrategies used by the translator. The TTs will be compared to their STs in order to decide which microstrategies have been applied in the process of translation. The approach to analysis will be the same for all eleven cases as this will produce the most reliable result when discussing the outcome. In selecting the texts for analysis I have distinguished between actual translation and copywriting.
Thus, all the TTs are clearly translations of a ST, and the data consists entirely of texts that have been translated from Danish to English. As a supplement to the analysis, I have included a quantitative counting of the creative microstrategies applied in each TT. The purpose of this counting is solely to provide an illustrative representation of the occurrences of creative strategies in the TTs. Given that the body of empirical data in this project is relatively small, it will only allow me to attempt to come to inductive conclusions founded on generalisations which I base on individual instances and existing theory.
In other words, this study can only constitute an indication, and a larger data basis would be necessary for deriving results of greater veracity. 4. Introduction to translation theory 4. 1. Defining translation In order to carry out precise analyses of the translated texts, the concepts involved must be clearly defined. Therefore, this introductory part of the project will elaborate the notion of translation and important concepts which will be employed in the succeeding parts. 4. 1. 1. The skopos theory The skopos theory is the best known functional approach to translation, and it has had great influence on professional translation.
Skopos is the Greek word for ‘Intention’, ‘purpose’ or ‘function’ and Vermeer, who evolved the theory uses this term to emphasise the purpose with the TT, which he sees as the most important factor in the translation process (Vermeer 2000: 224). The claim of the theory is that, exactly like all other communication, translation requires a purpose (skopos) and the translator of course have to abide by this. The so-called ‘skopos rule’ (Schjoldager 2008: 154) says that it is important for all translators to translate conscientiously and always in accordance with a given skopos.
However, one ST can have several ‘skopoi’ since the different parts of it can be translated for different reasons. This project will use the notion of skopos in the sense described by Schjoldager (2008: 154); the aim of the TT. Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst.
4. 1. 2. Presuppositions Another essential notion in translation theory is the one of presuppositions. According to Nord (2005: 106), ‘presuppositions comprise all the information that the sender expects (=presupposes) to be part of the receiver’s horizon. ’ This project will adopt Nord’s interpretation of the term, and presuppositions are therefore regarded as the elements of the communicative situation – in this case, the texts – which are known to both sender and reader and which do not need to be mentioned explicitly. When translators translate a text, they are receivers of the ST and therefore share the implicit presuppositions of the source culture. Hence, the presuppositions do not ‘appear’ until a text is translated and targeted at new receivers in the target culture (Nord 2005: 106). 4. 1. 3. Reiss’ text types.
Katharina Reiss’ notion of text types mainly focuses on different texts’ functions in the culture they were produced in and how these functions can be reflected in the translation of the text. She defines translation as the functionally equivalent text of the source text in the target culture. So, her idea of translation depends on the function and creation of the equivalent of it in the target culture. Reiss defines three main functions; Informative, expressive, and operative3. The functional characteristics of the three text types are depicted in the table below. Text type: Informative Expressive Operative.
Language function Informative (representing objects and facts) Expressive (expressing sender’s attitude) Appellative (making an appeal to text receiver) Language dimension Logical Aesthetic Dialogic Text focus Content-focused Form-focused Appellative-focused TT should… Transmit referential content Transmit aesthetic form Elicit desired response Translation method ‘Plain prose’, explicitation as required ‘Identifying’ method, adopt perspective of ST author ‘Adaptive’, equivalent effect Functional characteristics of text types and links to translation methods (Reiss in Munday 2008: 73).
3 Reiss also includes the audiomedial text type which will be excluded here as it only concerns visual and spoken texts etc. Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Page 6 of 35 4. 2. Macrostrategy In order for the translator to decide how to translate a given text, he would have to estimate which macrostrategy would be appropriate. A macrostrategy can either be ST oriented or TT oriented.
A translator should always decide which macrostrategy to employ to a TT with respect to the skopos of the ST. Anne Schjoldager (2008: 71) suggests that the translator should take three aspects into consideration which will help deciding on a macrostrategy. She has set up the three aspects in the model below: ST oriented macrostrategy TT oriented macrostrategy Focus on source-text form and content Focus on target-text effect Communication of somebody else’s communication Mediation between primary parties in a communication Overt translation Covert translation A model of macrostrategies (Schjoldager 2008: 72)
If the translator is expected to focus on form and content of the ST, to be a communicator of someone else’s communication and to make the translation overt, the result will be a ST oriented translation. On the contrary, if focus is on the effect of the TT, the translator functions as a mediator and produces a covert translation, the result is a TT oriented translation (Schjoldager 2008: 71-72). 4. 3. Microstrategies After having decided on the macrostrategy, the microstrategies must be considered by the translator.
The microstrategies applied in the text tell us something about how the translator has chosen to deal with specific problems or issues. That is, at the micro level, i. e. in connection with words, phrases and sentences (Schjoldager 2008: 89). The strategy at micro level decides how the ST should be translated in order to produce an appropriate TT. Below is Anne Schjoldager’s ‘Taxonomy of microstrategies’. A more elaborate account of the microstrategies relevant for the analysis will be presented later in connection with my definition of creativity in translation (cf. section 5. 2). Direct transfer Transfers something unchanged. Calque Transfers the structure or makes a very close translation.
Direct translation Translates in a word-for-word procedure. Oblique translation Translates in a sense-for-sense procedure. Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Page 7 of 35 Explicitation Makes implicit information explicit. Paraphrase Translates rather freely. Condensation Translates in a shorter way, which may involve implication (making explicit information implicit). Adaptation Recreates the effect, entirely or partially.
Addition Adds a unit of meaning. Substitution Changes the meaning. Deletion Leaves out a unit of meaning. Permutation Translates in a different place. A taxonomy of microstrategies (Schjoldager 2008: 92) 5. Creativity in translation In order to answer the question ‘how can creativity in translation be defined’, this project will suggest a model of creativity in translation, based on Anne Schjoldager’s taxonomy of microstrategies above, Loffredo and Perteghella’s theory on creativity and my own characterisation of creativity.
According to Loffredo and Perteghella (2006: 9) ‘creativity is still regarded as a spontaneous process readily associated with a special individual and a sort of freedom, which is sustained by an individualistic conception of authorship… According to this conception, the author freely expresses his thought and feelings in writing. ’
This project, however, will have a somewhat narrower definition of creativity. The twelve aforementioned microstrategies posed by Anne Schjoldager can be divided into more and less creative strategies. Characteristic for some of them is that they do not alter, add or remove any linguistic or semantic meaning when applied to the TT.
This goes for direct transfer, calque, direct translation and oblique translation4 which all translates close or very close to the ST (Schjoldager 2008: 93-99). Therefore, I do not consider these creative microstrategies, and texts translated using solely these cannot be considered creative translations. On the contrary, the remaining eight strategies do all in some way add to the level of creativity when applied in a translation. Though the semantic meaning is by some means rendered, there are linguistic changes when employing these strategies. Within these eight creative strategies, the degree of creativity varies as well.
The model of creativity classifies the strategies explicitation, condensation and deletion as slightly creative since they merely involve elaborating on existing 4 To some extent, oblique translation can also be regarded a creative strategy, as smaller linguistic changes can occur in connection with the use of it. Though, in this project, I have chosen not to include it as a creative strategy. Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst ————————————————————————————————————————————————
Page 8 of 35 meaning, shortening text and taking out meaning. The top five strategies, however, are rewriting semantics of the ST or adding meaning which cannot be directly inferred from the ST. Therefore, I regard these as slightly more creative. A creative translation, though, still renders more or less all ST meaning, and this is what I find distinguishes actual translation from e. g. copywriting. 5. 1. Model of creativity High degree of creativity. Non-creative 5. 2.
The creative microstrategies This section will shortly outline the important features of the above mentioned creative microstrategies; that is, the topmost eight in the model of creativity. 5. 2. 1. Explicitation Explicitation makes implicit information explicit, to put it briefly. In literary translation, the strategy is often used to make texts more cohesive, but it is also seen in other kinds of translation. It is used when there is a need to expand on something, e. g. cultural bound references or presuppositions not shared by the TT audience. What makes this strategy creative is the fact that a unit of meaning is added to the text; although it can be directly inferred from the ST (Schjoldager 2008: 99-100).
Permutation Adaptation Paraphrase Addition Deletion Condensation Explicitation Oblique translation Direct translation Calque Direct transfer Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Page 9 of 35 5. 2. 2.
Condensation Condensation translates a ST unit in a shorter way which may involve making explicit information implicit; implicitation. Condensation renders the already existing contextual meaning in a shorter way and is therefore only considered slightly creative. (Schjoldager 2008: 102). 5. 2. 3. Deletion Deletion is leaving out a ST unit of meaning from the TT. The unit is completely taken out and is not implicitly present, as is the case in condensation (Schjoldager 2008: 108).
In that way, this microstrategy is somewhat creative although not considered one of the most creative. 5. 2. 4. Addition When a unit of meaning is added to the TT, Schjoldager (2008: 104-105) refers to it as addition. The added unit cannot be directly deduced from the ST, thus, addition is different from explicitation and is also slightly more creative. 5. 2. 5. Paraphrase By paraphrasing, ST meaning is rendered, though quite freely. The TT elements can seem somewhat different to those of the ST but the contextual meaning of the elements corresponds.
It can be hard to define just how the two units of meaning correspond; however, there is no doubt that they do (Schjoldager 2008: 100-101). Therefore, this strategy can be considered creative. 5. 2. 6. Adaptation Adaptation is one of the most creative strategies as it does not necessarily render any contextual meaning, but rather recreates the effect of a ST item in the TT.
It is applied, for example, where cultural references in the ST cannot be translated or explicated. It is somewhat similar to oblique translation and paraphrase, but is more creative and is often applied, where the translator wants to ‘imitate the source-text author’s thinking process’ (Schjoldager 2008: 103). That is, the translator ‘adapts’ the text to the TT audience and culture. When applying this strategy to larger units in a translation, it can be discussed whether it is actual translation or copywriting. Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst.
———————————————————————————————————————————————— Page 10 of 35 5. 2. 7. Permutation Permutation is mostly used in literary translations. It translates ST effects in a different place in the TT. It is applied when a given ST effect cannot be rendered in the TT for linguistic or stylistic reasons. Hence, the effect is recreated somewhere else in the TT (Schjoldager 2008: 109). 5. 2. 8. Substitution Again we are dealing with a rather creative strategy as substitution involves changing the meaning of a ST unit.
The TT unit is clearly a translation of the ST, but the semantic meaning has changed (Schjoldager 2008: 106). 6. Approach to analysis In order to comment on the level of creativity in the translated texts, an analysis of both extratextual and intratextual factors must be carried out. According to Nord (2005: 43-141), the extratextual factors are aspects concerning e. g. sender, audience, medium and text function, while the intratextual factors involve subject matter, content, genre and register.
In my analyses of the TTs, I will take both extratextual and intratextual factors into consideration, as well as discuss the macro- and microstrategies applied in the translations. The extratextual analysis will be partly inspired by Reiss’ theories on text types, and I will also make use of Anne Schjoldager’s above-mentioned ‘Model of macrostrategies’ and ‘Taxonomy of microstrategies’.
The analysis will be carried out with awareness of the fact that all microstrategies cannot be ‘placed in watertight boxes’ and conclusions will therefore be drawn on the basis of a somewhat subjective interpretation of the microstrategies. 6. 1. The data The eleven texts have been chosen in an attempt to cover different text types and genres within different fields. Because of the limited time and lack of space, it is only possible to include a restricted number of texts in the analysis, which is why I have chosen four different types and analysed two or three examples within each.
In all cases, I assume that the texts have originally been written in Danish and then translated into English given that only texts from Danish companies have been selected. All STs and TTs have a length of approximately one standard page and can therefore be considered rather short texts. The data is typical data, representative of many other texts of the same type as they are chosen more or less randomly from their natural context. Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst ————————————————————————————————————————————————
Page 11 of 35 7. Analysis 7. 1. Journalistic texts Journalistic texts belong partly to Reiss’ ’informative text type’. Journalistic texts, such as news paper articles and press releases perform the function of communicating ‘information, knowledge opinions etc. ’ (Munday 2008: 72) as facts must be reported correctly.
Of course, the journalistic text type is a vague term and certain texts within the category will also be characterised by the expressive and operative function according to the field and skopos of the text.
This section will comprise analysis of three texts within the journalistic type; a press release, a news article and a business article. 7. 1. 1. Analysis of ‘DSB wins fourth rail contact in Sweden’ The text which is of the written medium was published on DSB’s website. It is a press release informing readers about DSB’s new rail contract in Sweden. The receivers of the text, the readers, are foreign users of DSB’s website and in particular those with an interest in DSB’s business concern and in business in general.
The text is a translation of the Danish press release ‘DSB vinder fjerde togkontrakt i Sverige’, and I assume that it is translated by a professional translator (Schjoldager 2008: 29). It is an interlingual translation as the Danish article has been translated into another language: English. When readers of the press release enter the English website of DSB, the translation will appear covert to them, but since it is obvious that DSB is a Danish company and their corporate language is Danish, readers should be aware of the fact that they are reading a translation, and I will categorise the translation as more overt than covert (Schjoldager 2008: 31).
Generally seen, the translator of this text has mostly made use of the microstrategies direct translation and oblique. These render the content of the TT very close to the ST and are therefore not considered creative strategies according to my definition of creativity (cf. chapter 5). However, there are a few examples of deletion and explicitation (appendix 1). Microstrategy ST TT Deletion ‘(… )der ligger i det centrale Sydsverige lige syd for Sveriges n?m ststorste so Vattern. …
Appendix 2 and 3 The Danish sentence ‘(… )der ligger i det centrale Sydsverige lige syd for Sveriges n? ststorste so Vattern. ’ has been left out in the English translation. This is an example of deletion. As the TT is Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Page 12 of 35 probably intended for foreigners who might not have any knowledge of the geography of Sweden, the translator has most likely found the information irrelevant and simply left it out. It does not change the meaning or effect of the ST, and so, the translator is free to be a bit creative and delete it. Apart from the few instances of deletion and explicitation, the press release has been translated in a fairly ST-oriented way.
The skopos of the TT, and perhaps of press releases in general, is assumedly to be solely informing people of news and new initiatives of the company. In other words, this is an example of a predominantly informative text type. Moreover, one could imagine that a big company like DSB would attempt to standardise all official communication with its customers and other stakeholders, regardless of the native language.
7. 1. 2. Analysis of ’Claims of bribery at tax authority’ The text is an online news paper article published at www. politiken. dk on March 24 2010, and it is a translation of the Danish text ‘Eks-kontorchef: Skattechef fik store middage af firma’. It is an article informing about bribery at the Danish tax authority SKAT. The target audience – both of the Danish and the English version – are readers of politiken. dk and perhaps in particular those with an interest in business matters and the company SKAT.
The TT is a written, interlingual translation and presumably, the ST has been translated by a professional translator (Schjoldager 2008: 29). When readers of the article enter the site with the English news, the translation will appear covert to them. Though they might be aware of the fact that the TT is a translation, it is of no significance to them as they are not expected to know the ST (Schjoldager: 32). Therefore, the translation can be categorised as covert. The translation of this text is characterised by the use of quite a few creative strategies (appendix 1)).
The TT is as such not very close to the ST, but still, it must be categorised a translation since more or less all information communicated by the ST is included in the TT as well. Some of the strategies which make this translation rather creative are addition, deletion and especially paraphrase. In this analysis, though, I will only include a few examples of paraphrase, as an assessment of them all would be too extensive. Microstrategy ST TT Paraphrase Eks-kontorchef: Skattechefer fik store middage af firma Claims of bribery at tax authority Appendix 4 and 5. Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst ————————————————————————————————————————————————
Page 13 of 35 The first creative strategies are seen in the headline and the subheading. The Danish headline ‘Eks- kontorchef: Skattechefer fik store middage af firma’ is translated into ‘Claims of bribery at tax authority’. The ST meaning is rendered, though in a slightly different way. The ST headline has an agent; namely the ‘eks-kontorchef’ who claims the bribery. Whereas the TT headline expresses the action with a noun.
That is, the translator has chosen not to just apply direct translation even though it is possible. He has translated it in a more creative way by using the strategy of paraphrase. Microstrategy ST TT Paraphrase Tidligere kontorchef advarer i Jyllands- Posten om bestikkelse i Skat. Former tax authority department head goes whistleblower. Appendix 4 and 5. Also the subheading has not been translated by means of the more direct, non-creative microstrategies. Again, the ST meaning is rendered but in a way that is difficult to define precisely.
The Danish sentence contains more explicit information and also, the term ‘goes whistleblower’ is sort of a fixed expression which gives the phrase a negative ring. Nevertheless, it does not add or take out meaning and therefore, it can be considered a creative translation. The examples of paraphrase together with the other creative microstrategies applied by the translator make the TT appear creative. As an article, the ST must still be considered an informative text type, and the TT is too, although the translation is somewhat TT oriented.
7. 1. 3. Analysis of ‘Vestas lands massive turbine order’ This TT is a translation of the Danish version ‘Vestas scorer historisk stor ordre’, which is found at www. politiken.
dk; a Danish news website. It is a business article dealing with a new big turbine order of the Danish company Vestas. The target audience, therefore, consists of non Danish- speaking users of the website with an interest in Vestas’ businesses or in business in general.
The TT is a written, intralingual translation from Danish to English, in all probability translated by a professional (Schjoldager 2008: 29). Users of the site with English news might be aware of the fact that the TT is a translation but like the previous example, it is of no significance to them as they are not expected to know the ST (Schjoldager 2008: 32).
Hence, the translation will appear covert to them. Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L. F. Holst ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Page 14 of 35 The English TT is marked by several creative strategies of the kinds addition, deletion and explicitation (appendix 1). It is somewhat similar to the ST in both form and content, but many details have been altered or conformed to the target audience. Microstrategy ST TT Deletion Gl? de hos Vestas … Deletion Aktion?
rerne begejstrede … Appendix 6 and 7. The above examples of deletion show that the two subheadings in the Danish ST has been left out in the TT which in fact is the case of many of the English news stories at politiken. dk. The example below is a very typical case of explicitation which is often found in relation to proper nouns and titles etc. which are presupposed by the source audience.
Here it is the Danish company Vestas that has been explained to the foreign readers who might not share the presupposition that it is a Danish company. Microstrategy ST TT Explicitation Vindmollefabrikanten Vestas har faet sin storste enkeltstaende ordre nogensinde Denmark’s wind turbine giant Vestas has landed its biggest single order ever. Appendix 6 and 7.
The above examples, together with the additional cases of creative translation, do not make the TT appear as creative as one would think. This is probably due to the fact that, although there are many instances of creative translation in the text, the strategies applied do not belong to the most creative microstrategies; that is, the topmost strategies in the model of creativity (cf. section 5. 1).
Therefore, the translation must be considered fairly ST oriented, with only the alterations required by the culture of the target audience. 7. 1. 4. Initial conclusion The three analyses of journalistic texts show that the degree of creativity in the translations varies within this text type. The press release from DSB is translated quite close to the ST seeing that mostly non-creative strategies have been applied. The article from politiken. dk about SKAT, though, has been applied several creative strategies.
This is also the case of the third article about Vestas, although the strategies employed belong to the slightly less creative ones, and therefore the Creativity in translation – a study of various source and target texts June L.
F. Holst ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Page 15 of 35 translation does not appear that creative. Even though the three texts all include elements of creativity, they are still associated with the informative text type, as the TTs do transmit the referential and conceptual content of the ST (cf. section 4. 1. ). The analysis could have included more different types of journalistic texts and articles; as for instance sports journalism and entertainment.
That might have shown higher degrees of creativity since these kinds of texts belong more to the expressive, TT oriented texts which aim to transmit the effect of the ST rather than the form and content (Munday 2008: 74). 7. 2. Tourism texts ‘The tourist brochure is an operative text. Its dominant function is to present material in such a way that it attracts attention and invites patronage. ’ (Snell-Hornby in Anderman & Rogers: 1999: 95). The above extract concerns tourist brochures but can apply to all forms of tourism texts in general.
Snell-Hornby argues that the main focus of tourism texts is the appeal to the audience, and that they are culture bound. That is, their purpose and effect varies with the reader (Mary Snell-Hornby in Anderman & Rogers: 1999: 95). According to Reiss (Munday 2008: 73), the tourist text is one of the hybrid text types since it provides information about a subject, attempts to persuade readers to visit a certain attraction, and at the same time it can have expressive features.
In this section, three tourism texts from the web will be analysed. 7. 2. 1. Analysis of ’Petzi moves into Tivoli Gardens’ The text is a translation of the Danish ST ‘Rasmus Klump flytter ind I Tivoli’.
It was published on the website of the Danish amusement park, Tivoli, with the aim of informing tourists about a new attraction, Petzi’s World. Therefore, the target audience of this TT is tourists visiting Denmark or foreign people living in Denmark who plans to pay a visit to Tivoli. The TT is a written, interlingual translation and most likely, the ST has been translated by a professional translator commissioned by Tivoli (Schjoldager 2008: 29). Tourists entering the website are almost certainly aware of the fact that Tivoli is a Danish corporation; thus they know that they are reading translated texts when choosing the English version of the website.