Translation in the light of theory and practise Essay
Translation in the light of theory and practise
With each author, a translator must put on a mask. He must be an actor, with the ability to play every role in the work he translates. Emil Basat. With the development of civilization the necessity of building relationships with people from different cultures becomes clearly perceptible. However, there are barriers and these are the language barriers that cause inconvenience in communication. The world would not be the same place if those barriers were not overcome.
There would not be opportunities for international business correspondence, tourism, marketing and trading, culture contacts, exchange of knowledge in the fields of medicine, education, economics, physics, astronomy, etc. Those achievements are mainly due to the possibility for establishing a connection between different countries. The appearance of translation makes this possible. How can translation be defined? According to the Oxford Advanced Learners’ dictionary, to translate is: To express the meaning of speech or writing in a different language.
Translation can be defined as: The process of changing something that is written or spoken into another language. Often translation is considered to be rendering the meaning of a text into another language as it is intended by the original author. On the one hand, common sense tells us that this ought to be an easy task since one ought to be able to say something in one language as accurately as in another. On the other hand, one may see it as something complicated, artificial and fraudulent because by using another language one is pretending to be someone s/he is not.
Hence in many types of texts (legal, administrative, literary, etc. ) the challenge is to transfer as many SL (Source Language) words to the TL (Target Language) as possible. The pity is, as the famous French expert in the field of translatology Georges Mounin (1965:11) wrote, that the translation cannot simply reproduce the original or be the original. Thus, the first task of every translator is to translate. When describing translation, the first thing to be mentioned is that it is a science that combines theory and practice i. e. there are theoretical rules which should be applied.
However, the practice of translation is something subjective because to a great extent it depends on the translator and his/her knowledge and experience. Each of us can learn the theory of translation even though it may take great efforts but not everyone can become a good translator or interpreter. A good specialist was born with a talent to feel not only the foreign language but also his/her native tongue. Before one starts to translate they must be absolutely confident in their abilities and to know the lexical and grammatical rules of their own language.
Every word is nothing if we do not know how, where and in what context to use it. And this process starts from the theory and finishes with a lot of practice. As we know the language is a dynamically developing system that is liable to extending and removing of vocabulary, changes of grammatical rules and appearance of new ones as well. If we want to be perfect in translating, as a whole, we should never stop learning. Having specified what translation is and what are its basic features, I would like to continue with the methods (the theory part) of translation.
The central problem of translating has always been whether to translate literally or freely. Up to the beginning of nineteenth century, many writers favoured some kind of “free” translation: the spirit, not the letter; the sense not the words; the message rather than the form; the matter not the manner. Then at the turn of the nineteenth century, when the study of Cultural Anthropology gained popularity, it was suggested that the linguistic barriers were insurmountable. The view that translation was impossible gained some currency, and according to its followers, translation, if attempted at all, must be as literal as possible.
The argument was theoretical and issues such as the purpose of translation, the nature of the readership, the type of text, were not discussed. Very often, the writer, the translator and the reader were considered to be identical. Now the context has changed, but the basic problem remains. We can divide the translation methods in the following way: SL methods: TL methods: Word-for-word translationAdaptation Literal translationFree translation Faithful translationIdiomatic translation Semantic translationCommunicative translation (see Newmark 1988) Word-for-word translation is often described as interlinear translation, where there is one-to-one correspondence between TL and SL words.
The SL word-order is retained. The aim is to translate SL words by their overall meaning when taken out of context. Every culture-specific word must be translated literally. Thus word-for-word translation either helps one understand the mechanics of the SL or construes a difficult text as a pre-translation process. For example: He came > Той дойде.
Literal translation (also known as direct translation) is the rendering of text from one language to another word-for-word rather than conveying the sense of the original. The SL grammatical constructions are converted to their nearest TL equivalents but the lexical items are again translated out of context. In translation theory, another term for literal translation is metaphrase; and for phrase (sense) translation is paraphrase. A literal English translation of the German word kindergarten would be children garden, but in English the expression refers to the school year between pre-school and first grade.
Literal translation in which the individual components within compound words are translated separately to create new lexical items in the TL is called calquing (a process also known as loan translation). For example, in English beer garden from German biergarten. With faithful translation one attempts to reproduce the precise contextual meaning of the original taking into account the constraints of the TL grammatical structures. Cultural words are transferred and the degree of grammatical and lexical deviation from SL norms is preserved. This kind of translation attempts to be completely faithful to the original.
Much has been said and written about the notion of faithfulness in translation, as for example the sexist comment that translation is like a woman: if it is faithful it is not beautiful and if it is beautiful it is not faithful, as if being both faithful and beautiful were mutually exclusive. Obviously, like everything else, faithfulness depends on how you define it – a principle of loyalty or honesty or a matter of exactness and accuracy or both; and also it depends on what it is related to – the word or its meaning; the SL or the TL; the ST (Source Text) or the TT (Target Text); the author or the reader.
If one, for instance, is asked to translate in another language the idiomatic expression It is raining cats and dogs >Вали като из ведро, one would not think that by translating it literally they would be saying the same thing as when an English person normally says it, and that the listener would understand what one is talking about. Faithfulness to the words, therefore, is not enough. Although some people might say that interpreting is just making a personal comment instead of translating faithfully, in order to translate a message, one needs to interpret it.
Semantic translation differs from faithful translation as far as the aesthetic value of the SL text is concerned, which means compromising on meaning where appropriate so that no assonance, word-play, repetition or other stylistic devices appear in the final version. Less important cultural words are translated by culturally neutral words or functional terms but not by cultural equivalents. Adaptation is the “freest” translation method and that is why it is also known as “free translation”.
It is a procedure whereby the translator replaces a term with cultural connotations, those connotations being restricted to the readers of the original language text, with a term which has corresponding cultural connotations that would be familiar to the target text readers. That method is mostly used for comedies, plays or poetry. The deplorable practice of having a play or poem literally translated and then rewritten by an established dramatist or poet has produced many poor adaptations, but other adaptations have “rescued” period plays.
Adaptation was used in the translation of the Belgian comic book by Georges Remi The Adventures of Tintin, where Tintin’s trusty canine sidekick Milou is translated as Snowy in English, Bobbie in Dutch, Kuttus in Bengali, and Struppi in German; likewise the detectives Dupont and Dupond become Thomson and Thompson in English, Jansen and Janssen in Dutch, Jonson and Ronson in Bengali, Schultze and Schulze in German, Hernandez and Fernandez in Spanish, ?? and ?? (Duben and Dupeng) in Chinese, Dyupon and Dyuponn in Russian and Skafti and Skapti in Icelandic.
Free translation reproduces the matter without the manner, or the content without the form of the original. Usually it is a paraphrase much longer than the original, a so-called intralingual translation1, often prolix and pretentious, and not a translation at all. Idiomatic translation reproduces the “message” of the original but tends to distort nuances of meaning by preferring colloquialisms (words, phrases, or paralanguage that are employed in conversational or informal language but not in formal speech or formal writing) and idioms where these do not exist in the original.
Examples are given below – non-idiomatic phrases in the right column and their idiomatic equivalents on the left: I do not remember you. I do not have my eye on you. I am already ready to go. I have already buried my eye. I will ask a favor of you. I will put your eyelid. I remember you. My eye is hard on you. He is spoiled. His ear is rotten. I ate in you absence. I ate in you tooth cavity. The same translation principles apply for idioms as well as for other figures of speech.
Sometimes it is necessary to translate with a non-figurative expression, but sometimes a good target language idiom may be used. The translator has to recognize the idioms or other figures of speech of the source text first. The real problem comes when translating an idiom literally, since the result will usually be a meaningless phrase in the target language. The last method of translation that I would like to discuss is the communicative translation.
It attempts to render the exact contextual meaning of the original in such a way that both the content and the form are readily acceptable and comprehensible to the readership. We can also add to the above mentioned translation methods the service translation, plain prose translation, information translation, cognitive translation, academic translation, etc. (Bell: 1991) However, when translating, one thing is certain – the final product must make sense. The question that needs to be asked now is “What is it that translators need to know and be able to do in order to translate?
” i. e. what is meant by translation competence. We may begin by making the perhaps obvious point that the translator needs to process the text to be translated. Given that we have just spent some time outlining the knowledge and skills required in text-processing, we already have the answer to our question. The translator must, as a communicator, possess the knowledge and skills that are common to all communicators but, and this is the issue in this section, in two languages (at least).
The translator’s knowledge base contains the following five distinct kinds of knowledge: target language knowledge, text-type knowledge, source language knowledge, subject area knowledge and contrastive knowledge. Or in other words, the translator should have considerable knowledge and understanding in both the source and target language, and also in the specific area of those languages (economic, science, technology etc. ) It can be concluded that translating theory can help us to abstract the meaning of a text from its forms and reproduce it with the different forms of a second language.
Translation, then, consists of studying the lexicon, the grammatical structures, the communicative situation, and the cultural context of the source language text, analyzing it in order to determine its meaning, and then reconstructing this same meaning using the lexicon and the grammatical structures which are appropriate in the receptor language and its cultural context. In practice, there is considerable variation in the types of translations produced by translators. Some translators work only in two languages and are competent in both.
Others work from their first language to their second language, and still others from their second language to their first language. Summarizing all mentioned above, a good theory is based on the information gained from practice. A good practice is based on а carefully worked-out theory. The two are interdependent. And as Friedrich Nietzsche, a famous German philosopher said: To use the same words is not a sufficient guarantee of understanding; one must use the same words for the same genus of inward experience; ultimately one must have one’s experiences in common. Works cited: Bell 1991: Roger Bell. Translation: theory and practice.
Boston: Addison Wesley Publishing Company. Newmark 1988: Peter Newmark. A textbook of translation. New York and London: Prentice Hall. Информация за автора: Михаела Иванова Митева е родена на 19 януари 1992 година в град Варна в семейство на начална учителка и инженер-програмист. Прекарва детството си в град Добрич. Началното си образование завърша в ОУ „Добри Чинтулов“ гр. Варна, където ? се заражда интересът към писането на разкази и стихотворения. Продължава образуванието си в Национална гимназия по хуманитарни научи и изкуства „Константин Преславски“ в гр. Варна, където изучава английкси и руски език.
Мотивирана от испанската култура и литература, авторката решава да кандидатства във IV Езикова гимназия „Фредерик Жолио Кюри“, където завършава средното си образувание с испански и английски език. В момента е студентка трети курс във Великотърноски университет „Св. св. Кирил и Методий“, специалност Приложна лингвистика: английски и китайски език. Mihaela Ivanova Miteva was born on January 19th, 1992 in a family of a primary teacher and an engineer. She spent her childhood in the city of Dobrich. She graduated her elementary degree at Dobri Chintulov elementary school in Varna where her passion in writing of novels and poems firstly arose.
She continued her education at the National high school of humanities and arts Konstantin Preslavski, Varna where she participated actively in literary competitions and also studied English and Russian. Attracted by the Spanish culture and literature, the author decided to apply at Forth language high school Frederic Joliot-Curie where she eventually received her secondary education with Spanish and English. Now she is a third-year-student at St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria. Her major is Applied Linguistics: English and Chinese.