Drama Translation Essay
However, the mission of a translator of a dramatic work is slightly different from any other literary piece. A dramatic text is written in order to be performed on stage. The translator of such a text has therefore to bear in mind that the readers (i. e. the audience in this case) shall not only follow the written form of the script but also and primarily its spoken version. This fact influences the work of a translator to a great extent. He has to chose words that are easily pronounceable by actors and comprehensible to the audience.
At the same time he ought to aspire to maintain the meaning and form of the original as much as possible so that the translation represents the goal and effort of the original author. Each translator aims at a maximal realistic authenticity, including both the inner (author’s and director’s notes) and outer language of the drama. “Translation, the surmounting of the obstacle, is made possible by an equivalence of thought which lies behind the different verbal expressions of a thought. No doubt this equivalence is traceable to the fact that men of all nations belong to the same species.
When an Englishman is thinking of the woman whom he describes as ‘my mother’, a Frenchman is thinking of ma mere and a German of meine Mutter. Among normal people the three thoughts will be very similar and will recall the same memories of tenderness, loving care and maternal pride. In consequence ‘my mother’ can be perfectly translated by ma mere or meine Mutter. ” (Savory 1957, p. 11) Savory (Savory 1957, p. 49) furthermore states twelve rules of a proper translation: 1. A translation must give the words of the original 3. A translation should read like an original work.
2. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. A translation must give the ideas of the original. A translation should read like a translation. A translation should reflect the style of the original. A translation should possess the style of the translator. A translation should read as a contemporary of the original. A translation should read as a contemporary of the translator. A translation may add to or omit from the original. A translation may never add to or omit from the original. A translation of verse should be in prose. 13 12. A translation of verse should be in verse.
There is a close relationship between the author and the translator of a literary work. Both of them have their own style of writing and expressing their thoughts. Nevertheless, the translator shall always be subordinate to the author whose text is considered the base of a dramatic text and its further stage production. “A translation may include any of the idiomatic expressions which are peculiar to its language and which the translator sees fit to adopt; but it needs not, because of this, possess the style which the reader may expect.
Style is the essential characteristic of every piece of writing, the outcome of the writer’s personality and his emotions at the moment, and no single paragraph can be put together without revealing in some degree the nature of its author. But what is true of the author is true also of the translator. The author’s style, natural or adopted, determines his choice of a word, and, as has been seen, the translator is often compelled to make a choice between alternatives. The choice he makes cannot be reflect, though dimly, his own style. What does the reader expect; what does the critic demand?
One of the reasons for a preference for a literal translation is that it is likely to come nearer to the style of the original. It ought to be more accurate; and any copy, whether of a picture or a poem, is likely to be judged by its accuracy. Yet it is a fact in making the attempt to reproduce the effect of the original, too literal a rendering is a mistake, and it may be necessary to alter even the construction of the author’s sentences in order to transfer their effects to another tongue. ” (Savory 1957, p. 54) 3. 1 THE INTENTION OF THE TRANSLATOR The sense of purpose of translator’s work is to maintain, depict and impart the original text; not to create a new piece of work that has no precursor.
Translation aims to reproduce. The art of translation is founded on replacement of one piece of language material by another and thus on an independent creation of all artistic means proceeding from the language. “Translation as a work is an artistic reproduction, translation as a process is an original creation, translation as a type of art is a case on the boundary of art of reproduction and originally creative art. ” (Levy 1963, p. 49)
In the development of the art of reproduction two norms have been applied according to Levy (Levy 1963, p.52): the norm of reproduction (i. e. requirement on authenticity and accurateness) and the norm of “art” (requirement on beauty). This basic aesthetic contrast proves contrapositive to translational authenticity and freedom. The authentic 14 method (i. e. the literal) represents a procedure of work of such translators who aspire to reproduce the original precisely, whereas the free method (adaptative) aims at beauty, i. e. the aesthetics and thought proximity to the reader, and creation of an original work in a target native language.
For a realistic translation both norms are necessary: the translation has to be as exact reproduction of the original as possible but above all it should be a valuable literary piece of work. Newmark depicts the intention of a translator as follows: “Usually, the translator’s intention is identical with that of the author of the source language text. But he may be translating an advertisement, a notice, or a set of instructions to show his client how such matters are formulated and written in the source language, rather than how to adapt them in order to persuade or instruct a new target language readership.
And again, he may be translating a manual of instructions for a less educated readership, so that the explanation in his translation may be much larger than the ‘reproduction. ’” (Newmark 1988, p. 12) The translator is supposed to be creative although his creativity is limited by the field of language. He can enlarge his native literature by creating new expressions (neologisms) or by incorporating foreign expressions into the native background (exotic expressions). Borrowing foreign language means or creating Czech equivalents is not only restricted to the lexical units but also to the stylistic values.
Levy (Levy 1963, p. 69) mentions blank verse, sonnet, ghazal, haiku, and blues in this context. 3. 2 THE TRANSLATION OF A DRAMATIC TEXT The translator of a dramatic text has to respect the speciality of a spoken word. Dialogues do not narrate and depict actions or situations as in prose but they form them. They do not narrate how people meet and make relationships but perform the people acting and communicating with each other. The structure of a sentence of a dialogue is simple as could be, the sentences are usually paratactically connected, often without conjunctions.
Many unfinished sentences and ellipsis may appear. So-called contact words are very important as well. Various modal particles and expressions that might have multifarious context meanings are characteristic of language of a dialogue. In this case dictionaries shall not be that useful for the translator for the language of drama is very specific and often peculiar. 15 In the frame of the artistic translation we further distinguish translations of poetry, prose and drama, which corresponds to the traditional division of artistic genres into lyric, epic and dramatic genres.
What is the quintessence of a dramatic text? Prose narrates events but drama transfers them via speech. Generally, the entire content has to be transposed into dialogues (monologues, polylogues), being accompanied by facial gestures, gesticulation, stagy space and props. The language requirements are higher here than in prose: the direct speech that essentially addresses the spectator has to be able to express – even though indicatively – far more than a dialogue of a novel.
Except for the function of characterization of the protagonists the direct speech substitutes the other items of prosaic text (narrating the past, author’s reflexion, lyric digression etc. ), and at the same time it should sound naturally, for it is intended for a direct audio-visual impact. Kufnerova and Skoumalova (Kufnerova, Skoumalova 1994, p. 140) mention two kinds of a dramatic translation: 1 A piece of drama is translated as a literary text, and is originally intended more or less to be published for readers.
That would be the case of most of the classical texts from Ancient times till 19th and 20th century. The translator proceeds from the original text and attempts to keep the most of its specificity. He is the only responsible and independent creator of the target text. The translator forms the final version of the translation regardless of the potential stage realization. 2 The director asks the translator for translation of a particular play for the setting with original and sophisticated poetics. The target text is exclusively written in cooperation with the particular theatre company.
The original text is not that important any more, production features and a complete director intention predominate. The directors and often the actors themselves consider the text (and often even the original work) a kind of half- ready text, which they adapt during rehearsing the play, not always with a positive result. They create a dramatic text, transform the drama situations and adapt the language. Newmark comes with another theory of translating a dramatic work. According to him, the main purpose of translating a play is to have it performed successfully.
16 “Therefore a translator of drama inevitably has to bear the potential spectator in mind though, here again, the better written and more significant the text, the fewer compromises he can make in favour of the reader. Further, he works under certain constraints: unlike the translator of fiction, he cannot gloss, explain puns or ambiguities or cultural references, not transcribe words for the sake of local colour: his text is dramatic, with emphasis on verbs, rather than descriptive and explanatory.
Michael Meyer, in a little noticed article in Twentieth Century Studies , quoting T.Rattigan, states that the spoken word is five times as potent as the written word – what a novelist would say in 30 lines, the playwright must say in five.
The arithmetic is faulty and so, I believe, is the sentiment, but it shows that a translation of a play must be concise – it must not be an over-translation. ” (Newmark 1988, p. 172) Newmark furthermore mentions Meyer who makes a distinction between dramatic text and sub-text, the literal meaning and the ‘real point’: i. e. what is implied but not said, the meaning between the lines.
Meyer believes that if a person is questioned on a subject about which he has complex feelings, he will reply evasively (and in a circumlocutory manner). Ibsen’s characters say one thing and mean another. The translator must word the sentences in such a way that this, the sub-text, is equally clear in English. Normally one would expect a semantic translation of a line, which may be close to a literal translation, to reveal its implications more clearly than a communicative translation, that simply makes the dialogue easy to speak.
Whilst a great play must be translated for the reading public’s enjoyment and for scholarly study as well as for performance on stage, the translator should always assume the latter as his main purpose – there should be no difference between an acting and a reading version – and he should look after readers and scholars only in his notes. Nevertheless, he should where possible amplify cultural metaphors, allusions, proper names, in the text itself, rather than replace the allusion with the sense. When a play is transferred from the source language to the target language culture it is usually no longer a translation, but an adaptation.
Newmark concludes his thought by suggesting that “some kind of accuracy must be the only criterion of a good translation in the future – what kind of accuracy depending first on the type and then the particular text that has been translated – and what the word ‘sub-text’ with its Grician implications and implicatures can be made to cover a multitude of inaccuracies. ” (Newmark 1988, p. 172) Jan Ferencik (Ferencik 1982, p. 72) was one of Slovak linguistic theoreticians dealing with the field of translating, among others.
He also analyses the translation of a 17 dramatic text and mentions that unlike translation of other genres the translation of drama is characterized by: 1) written character of the text and non-written form of its social realization 2) collective and multistage character of an interpretation of the original in the process of creating the final translation text, on the contrary from the other genres, where the interpretation of the translator is unique and final.
3) dissimilarity of each new social realization, especially on stage, not only in case of various translators and stage producers but also in case of coincident text and coincident stage producers within repeated communication (Stanislavskij – theatre, emotions, improvisation, momentary psychical and biological dispositions of actors, etc. ) excluding the technique of reproduced performances such as television recording, film, sound recording, etc.
A live spectator, who himself becomes one of the interpreters of the performed text, is the participant of communication during a stagy realization. 4) subordination of all the involved to the interpretation of the main concept, which usually means a weaker creative participation of the translator in the resultant communication than while translating other pieces of text Furthermore, Ferencik mentions the chain of communication that relates author, translator, director and finally the audience of a dramatic work.
“The communicative successiveness of translation of a drama, unlike another translational texts, is following: Author – Translator (Interpreter 1) – Dramatic adviser and Director (Interpreters 2) – another involved originators: Scenographer, Composer, Actor (Interpreters 3) – Spectator, Listener (Interpreter 4).
This chain of communication represents the time sequence of creation of a text and its social realization. ” (Ferencik 1982, p. 72) As I have already said, translator’s interpretation of a text is only a base of a scenic interpretation which is, in connection with the presentation of a play, sometimes called director-dramaturgical concept. Naturally, there are differences in the approach to a translational dramatic piece of work, depending on the kind of its scenic realization (professional theatre, amateur theatre, TV dramatization, adopted performance, film adaptation, radio play..) and on subjective characteristics of particular interpreters.
I would like to conclude this sub-chapter by another feature of a dramatic work, which is a dialogue cohesion. Cohesion as one of the linguistic means is to be found in 18 most of text styles and represents a connecting feature. Newmark (Newmark 1988, p. 58) sees a mistake in neglecting the spoken language as part of a separate theory of interpretation. Translators are concerned with recordings of many kinds, particularly surveys, as well as the dialogue of drama and fiction.
Moreover, cohesion is closer in the give and take of dialogue and speech than in any other form of text. Here the main cohesive factor is the question, which may be a command, request, plea, invitation (i. e. grammatically a statement or a command or a question) and where the forms of address are determined by factors of kinship and intimacy, and, regrettably, class, sex and age. Apart from transposing the structure of the sentence (e. g. ‘Could you come? ’ might become Tu peux venir? or Bitte komm), each language has opening gambits semantically reserved for this exchange.
Similarly, each language has marking words that signal a break or end of a subject, such as ‘Right’, ‘Well’, ‘Good’, ‘Fine’, ‘Now’, ‘I see’ (Ach so, Parfait, C’est vrai) and the internationalism ‘O. K. ’ Lastly, there are the tags that are used to keep a flagging conversation going: ‘isn’t it, ‘see’, ‘you know’, which require a standard response. The translator has to bear in mind the main differences between speech and dialogue: speech has virtually no punctuation (‘The sentence is virtually irrelevant in speech’: Sinclair et al. , 1975), is diffuse, and leaves semantic gaps filled by gesture and paralingual features.
As I was working on the translation of Butterflies are free, it has been especially challenging to find an adequate equivalent to various cohesive means. In English it is more natural to use such introductory cohesive links as “you know” and “I mean” whereas in Czech it sounds rather disturbing and that is why I attempted to omit or replace those by more accurate expressions of the Czech language background.
3. 3 THE TRANSLATION OF THE TITLE OF A LITERARY WORK Naturally, the title of any literary work is an essential part and that is why translating the title represents a challenging process for the translator. We, as readers, may find out many important clues out of the title. I have been working with a dramatic text that was already translated by Ivo T. Havlu in 1972.
He translated the title Butterflies are free as “Motyli”. Nevertheless, the title of this play by Leonard Gershe (1969) is based on a quotation by Charles Dickens and on a song sung by Don, one of the protagonists. Havlu leaves the song out but I attempted to 19 maintain the original version and therefore translated the song, with help of a lyricist, in the rhymed form of Czech. We have finally translated the phrase Butterflies are free as “Motyli leti na oblohu“.
Concerning the theoretical background of translating the title of a literary work, Newmark (Newmark 1988, p. 57) distinguishes between “descriptive” titles, which describe the topic of the text, and “allusive titles”, which have some kind of referential or figurative relationship to the topic.
For serious imaginative literature, Newmarks thinks a descriptive title should be ‘literally’ kept (Madame Bovary could only be Madame Bovary), and an allusive title literally or where necessary, imaginatively preserved. Kufnerova and Skoumalova (Kufnerova, Skoumalova 1994, p. 149) grant that the title, being a description, abbreviation or metaphor, is essential part of the translation.
According to them every translator pays attention to the title and rarely makes a mistake there, knowing the whole piece of work. Translation of a literary title is often influenced by the period conception or fashion. In 1920’ there was an effort to naturalize the title, introduce it into the local background, especially in the field of proper names.
The influence of a cultural system of Czech language is displayed even in period habits, that is why it is sometimes necessary to adapt the syntactic structure of the title to the common native forms. Czech language prefers connections of action to nominal linkages. Differences in social mind, knowledge of life and institutions and other extralinguistic means represent a frequent reason for an adaptation of the original version of a literary work. Contemporary literary translation relatively respects the original version of the title of the work in correspondence with the principles of modern science of translation and we can rarely encounter the shifts, alterations or changes.
Literary translations occupy a better position than film works translations that often include mistakes and frequent interventions in the original version and thus substantiate the insufficient competence of young translators and their insufficient responsibility. 3. 4 THE SHIFTS OF MEANING WITHIN THE TRANSLATION OF A DRAMATIC TEXT Within the translation of any piece of text a space for shifts of meaning, stylistic, etc. develops between the source and target language.
The shifts might be unconscious, 20 or intentional and conception. In the second case we speak about a renovation of a translation. The term renovation therefore does not only represent an adaptation of outdated or archaic language, but it also a conscious conception adaptation of a text in a diachronic way and an adaptation to a different cultural and social background as well as to a particular directorial interpretation.
Temporal and spatial distance causes that some features of the original text stop being comprehensible in another society, they are not transmittable via common means and that is why even the realistic translation often requires an explanation instead of a literal translation or only an indication clue.
The explanation is necessary if the reader cannot understand a word, idiom etc. that was present in the original version. Levy (Levy 1963, p. 82) implies that it is not correct to explain an indication, continue and complete a pause, or to sketch in the situation that has not been intentionally made clear in the original. Usage of indication is hereafter appropriate if we cannot use a full expression because the language material has become the artistic means and thus can be preserved.
Slovak linguist Popovic mentions the shifts of a translation within his theory of expression: “An elaboration of the theory of expression becomes a starting point for a systematic evaluation of shifts in the translation, forms a basis of objective classification of the differences between the original and the translation. The demand to identify in the text every stylistic means from the structural point of view helps us to estimate in theory of translation that which represents an equivalent.
A system of means of expression enables us to evaluate linguistic means in the stylistic analysis in the context, i.e. not isolated, but in their relation to the system of qualities of expression. This must be assumed if we wish to undertake a theoretical investigation of conformities and differences that arise when an original work is translated. Such generalizing evaluation of means in the frame of the single categories an expression and of the qualities of expression makes it possible for us to qualify explicitly, more precisely and systematically, the shift of expression, the relation between the language of the original and that of the translation.
” (Popovic 1968, p. 238) Within my translating I have encountered several shifts of meaning. As the play was written in the 1960’ it was very demanding to concentrate on renovating the language and at the same time on preserving the original features to a certain extent so that the shifts could not represent such an interference of the original (Jill, for example, is mentioning Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix and Rolling Stones as her contemporaries and I therefore could not transfer the whole script into the present time. ).
21 3. 5 THE RENOVATION OF A TRANSLATION Every translation, not depending on the genre, gets outdated after a period of time. As the language develops, new words arise and are borrowed from other languages and it is therefore necessary to replace, renovate or adapt the original expressions. Renovation of a translation constitutes the total of the shifts – of time, place, semantics, composition etc. Depending on the extent of the shifts the final text might even lose its original character of a translation and become a text of different, new qualities.
As I have already mentioned, the renovation is not a prerogative of dramatic texts only. No type of artistic translation can do without any level of renovation, especially without time-language shift. Every translation of a literary work which has not originated simultaneously with the original, which happens very often, requires a certain level of such shifts that may be called renovation. Renovation is a usual creative procedure which is not understood as a deconstruction of the semantic identity of the original.
In case the translator extends the amount of shifts for a time – language reasons, such a procedure is perceived as deconstruction of subject composition and is thus called “modification”, “free translation”, “free processing”, etc. Is it conceivable to qualify the limits of renovation of a translation? Is it possible to say the extent of renovation shifts that are considered to be an acceptable translational procedure arising from a rationale concept? What are the limits of an arbitrariness of the translator and groundless deformation of a text?
It is therefore necessary to approach the quality, legitimacy and artistic adequacy of each translation individually. Concerning the dramatic texts, it is essential to examine the interest of all interpreters in the final version of a text. Ferencik (Ferencik 1982, p. 79) suggests that the “artistic” time flies differently than the absolute “cosmic” time and the absolute time is not every time corresponding with the “social” time. That is why it might be useful to shift the time frame of the action forward and reach the physical time via the artistic and social time means after a relatively short period since the composition of dramatic texts.
It may also be necessary to shift the localization of the action and change the names of some characters, especially those that are conditioned by means of time renovation or real existence. 22 Finally, the critique has thus to judge the extent of translator’s and producers’ preservation, refinement or declension of the original intention of the author. It might happen that a dramatic work gets deformed because of ill-conceived renovation to such an extent that it becomes more an awkward parody of a comedy than a socially impressive piece of work.
Consequently it is essential to be very careful when choosing the appropriate renovation means, to maintain their level and choose such means that correspond to author’s poetics. Savory describes the renovation of a translation as follows: “Art, proverbially, is long, so that translation, in so far as it is an art, should be in like manner timeless, persistently reappearing as an inevitable response to the stimuli felt by succeeding generations.
An artist in oils or water-colour does not refrain from making a picture of Mapledurham Mill because it has been drawn and painted so many times already; he regards this fact as one more reason for his, the latest, attempt. In the same way writers have always been ready to express in their own language the passages, from epigrams and couplets to epics and long books, originally written in other tongues. Of subsidiary importance is the fact that a fresh translation of any work of literary merit is welcomed because the existing translations sound antiquated, or are obsolescent; and this is a factor which cannot be neglected or forgotten.
There are fashions in literature and changes in literary taste, so that a rendering of Virgil which satisfied the Elizabethans of the sixteenth century will not necessarily appeal to the Elizabethans of the twentieth. There should be small need for hesitation on the part of anyone who considers embarking on a worthwhile translation, and one of the most unmistakable signs of the literary interests and activities of the present day is the popularity and the plentifulness of new translations. ”
(Savory 1957, p. 28) Newmark (Newmark 1988, p.172) suggests that a translator of drama in particular must translate into the modern target language if he wants his characters to ‘live’, bearing in mind that the modern language covers a span of, say, 70 years. If one character speaks in a bookish or old-fashioned way in the original, written 500 years ago, he must speak in an equally bookish and old-fashioned way in the translation, but as he would today, therefore with a corresponding time-gap – differences of register, social class, education, temperament in particular must be preserved between one character and another.
Thus the dialogue remains dramatic, and though the translator cannot forget the potential spectators, he does not make concessions to them. 23 3. 6 LANGUAGE AND STYLE As Newmark (Newmark 1995, p. 123) implies, for the translator, language is a code which he is well aware he will never break, a system he cannot wholly grasp, because it is lexically infinite. All he can do is make assumptions about it, in accordance with the benefits he derives from it, depending on the yield that suits the users at the time; the assumptions, like the sense of the words, will change continuously.
“The translator is frequently faced with too little extralinguistic reality and too much linguistic ambiguity – words either too far out of their usual collocations or so frequently in them that they become meaningless cliche, fitting as loosely as yale keys in the huge locks of their context. ” (Newmark 1995, p. 123) Concerning the Czech background, Kufnerova and Skoumalova (Kufnerova, Skoumalova 1994, p. 72) describe the Czech language as significantly different from other European languages that exist also outside Europe (Russian, English) in which we cannot find general colloquial form of the language as in Czech.
On the other hand, there are many informal expressions, dialects, slang and social dialects. Czech and partly German create a special area in Europe where general colloquial informal language is often used. In artistic translations this general colloquial Czech language does not appear without the stylization. That can be achieved via various techniques, but all of them tend to keep the appearance of such features in the text, so that they would fulfill their function and would not disturb the reader, or spectator.
In my translation I have let Jill and finally also Don use such general colloquial Czech expressions although the original version had not always clearly stated those. I have done so in order to keep the unity and originality of the text. Slang represents a specific language field within each language and a specific problem of translators to be solved. It often includes emotional elements and thus characterizes the speaker. According to Knittlova (Knittlova 2000, p. 111) the collation of slang words that have various system relations in different languages is very difficult.
In slang (especially of young people) we can notice an effort to be outlandish and to exaggerate expressive gestures. Slang wants to shock, provoke, it is a sign of revolt or disobedience. It is presented via overexposing some categories of expressions, hyperbole, metaphorical phraseology, colloquial metaphors, irony, comicality, folk expressions and above all playfulness with the language. Several studies have been written about English standard and sub-standard slang.
The term “slang” denotes partly 24 a special diction, partly highly colloquial language or jargon of a particular social class, a group or a period. In dictionaries the stylistic categorization of words or phrases that do not belong to a formal language is denoted by “slang”. However, the boundary between slang and colloquial English is rather movable and indistinct. Slang is an extract of colloquial language, it is not tied in with the rules of standard English, but it is rated as vivid, colourful, more full-bodied as for the diction and more flexible. It arises by a natural need of creation of new words that emotionally affect the utterance and express a subjective evaluation of the reality.
Nevertheless, slang is not a secret code, an English speaker understands it easily but does not consider it something quite correct. Knittlova concludes that it is therefore a distortion of style if a translator replaces the English slang by offensive words or even by vulgarism. A style of any written piece of work is affected both by the personality of the writer and by the period of history he lives in. Translation includes the bridging of time as well as the bridging of space.