Translating novels

Translating novels is not an easy task because it requires knowledge about the two languages (the source and the target language which in this case are Romanian and English), the two countries cultures and a little bit about the field of translation and translation studies. Not only novels but other literal works and specialized texts require knowledge as well.

Every translator faces difficulties during his work which can be of lexical and cultural kind. Sometimes, a translator has to retranslate a text which was already translated by someone else or he has to rely on what he has which was the case in the second part of this research.

The novel chosen to be translated is Fetele din Olimp: Lacrimi de cristal by Elena Kedros (2008) which was originally written in Italian, but the translator had to rely only on the Romanian version translated by Geanina Tivd (2011) to figure out the Italian culture which Geanina tried to maintain.

The first chapter is divided into two subchapters.

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From the first subchapter we may conclude that there are many translators, professors and linguists specialized in translation studies and in the study of the English language and literature in the Romanian culture who have contributed to the popularization of literature in the two cultures, on the one hand and to the development of good practices and ethics in translation, on the other hand. Thus, translation can be defined as a product, a process, an activity, a result change and on a more recent research as a form of intercultural communication.

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A translator’s tasks depends on the expectations of his receivers and faces many difficulties in his work.

In the Romanian culture, Leon Levichi (1994) is considered to be the pioneer of translation studies because he introduced them. In his book Manualul traductorului he intructs future translators in how to do their work well and how to avoid making mistakes. His works include dictionaries and courses. The second pioneer of translation studies is Andrei Banta? who edited dictionaries in the 1970s with Leon Levi?chi (1994) and authored his own dictionaries in the 1990s. His translations (for details see pag. 9, part 1) include all of Oscar Wilde’s fairy-tales and stories which he included in the volume entitled Toate povestirile.

Another important figure is Dan Duescu who wrote together with Leon Levichi (1994) the course Limba englez for profesor. His translations (for details see pag. 9, part 1) include: Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Chaucher’s The Canterbury Tales and the Romanian ballad Meterul Manole. Daniela Sorea (2006) has contributed in introducing translating studies in the Romanian culture by writing courses for English learners and translators. In her book Translation: Theory and Practice she makes an introduction about translation studies to the students and focuses on how a translator has to read and interpret a text.

Last but not least, George Volceanov contributed in introducing translation studies in the Romanian culture by translating most of Shakespeare’s plays. The Tempest, Hamlet and Twelfth Night to name a few. Other works include Dicionar de neologisme ale limbii engleze, Editura Niculescu, 1998, 2002; Dictionary de argou al limbii engleze, Editura Nemira, 1995 (co-author with Ana Dolores-Doca); Dictionary de argou ?i expresii familiare ale limbii romne, Editura Livpress, 1998 (co-author with Anca Volceanov);

From the second subchapter which focuses on Translation strategies and techniques we may conclude that each translator uses one or several translational techniques, depending on the situation s/he may be in. Linguists such as Eugene Nida (1969), Peter Newmark (1988), Vinay and Darbelnet (1995), Jean Delisle (1999) and Hatim and Munday (2004) described, developed and illustrated these procedures and techniques in order to create a basis for the translational practices which may be amended to the benefit of readers. Thus, Eugene Nida (1969) coined the terms dynamic and formal equivalence, while most of the translation techniques such as the word-for-word translation, the one-to-one translation, literal translation, faithful translation, semantic translation, adaptation, free translation, the idiomatic translation, communicative translation, transference, naturalization, cultural equivalent, functional equivalent, descriptive equivalent, synonymy, through-translation, shift or transposition (recategorisation, denominalisation, recasting), modulation, recognized translation, compensation, reduction and expansion, paraphrase and notes, additions and glosses are referred to in Peter Newmark’s (1988) A Textbook of Translation.

For Vinay and Darbelnet (1995) there are only seven translation procedures which are the following: borrowing, calques, literal translation, transposition, modulation, equivalence and adaptation. The former has the lowest difficulty level while the latter has the highest.

In Jean Delisle’s (1999) Terminologie de la traduction: Translation Terminology. Terminologia de la traduccion. Terminologie der ubersetzung there are differences between translation strategies and techniques (for details see pp. 11-12, part 1). He speaks of deverbalisation, amplification, paraphrase, explicitation and omission.

Last but not least, Hatim and Munday (2004) in their Translation An Advanced Resource Book focus on formal equivalence and mention about other techniques such as adaptation, borrowing, calque, compensation, modulation, nominalization, omission which were discussed by the previous linguists.

The second chapter focuses on the novel Fetele din Olimp by Elena Kedros translated from Romanian into English. It is divided into three subchapters. From the first subchapter which makes a presentation of the novel, we may conclude that Elena Kedros novels are a portal to a world where humans, mythical creatures and deities live altogether. The first book Girls of Olympus: Crystal Tears tells us about the main characters first adventure and real identities as being goddesses in the past.

In the second subchapter which presents the reasons for choosing such a difficult task, the conclusion is that translating the novel and doing the research papers on it were challenging and interesting. The familiar language used by the writer made the novel easy to understand so it was not difficult for me to figure out the plot. In my opinion, Elena Kedros tried to remind her readers that even though the world is changing we cannot ignore mythology and spirituality. Thus, the five themes found in the novel: friendship, loyalty, real identity, teenage life and love are topics which are discussed by many people and some specialists in philosophy, psychology, arts etc.

Last but not least, from the third subchapter we conclude that translating a novel is not as simple as it seems because it requires knowledge not only about its plot, its writer and the time when it was written, but also knowledge about the source language (Romanian, in this particular case) and the target language (English) and the two countries culture. It is important to know what translation strategies and techniques to use because they can ease a translator’s work. Thus, our presentation focused on the following translation techniques:

  • word-for-word translation
  • one-to-one translation
  • literal translation
  • idiomatic translation
  • communicative translation
  • transference
  • synonymy
  • shift or transposition
  • denominalization
  • recasting
  • expansion or amplification
  • notes, additions and glosses

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