Strategies for Language Translation | Dissertation
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The present dissertation is largely based on research in the field of translation. Translation is an influential valid feature of our society, and it symbolizes one of the most important aspects in shaping the upcoming course of the planet. . The translator's tasks are complex and refer to his/her abilities of dealing with every aspect of the process of translation. The power of translator lies in his/her responsibility for his/her end product.
I chose this topic because I believe translation is part of everyone's life and it has profound implications in our society. The translation is defined and influenced by the type of source text, the target reader's understanding, the context, the translator's skills and the linguistic and cultural differences between the source language and the target language.
My approach is two-fold: a theoretical perspective - A. Theoretical considerations - and a practical one - B. Application. The first part explains what the translator' tasks imply and what factors influence the translational competence, analyzes the characteristics of these skills, offering guidelines and methods of approach for a better understanding. The second part deals with the problems I encountered while translating a part of Ultima noapte de dragoste, întâia noapte de rÄƒzboi by Camil Petrescu.
In the first chapter, “Who are translators”, I shall try to define the translator's profession, what important tools influence the activity of translation as well as what skills a translator should possess in order to be a competent translator. The first subchapter, “Skills of reading and writing” regards the translator's tasks of decoding and encoding a text to offer the correct meaning in his/her translation. The next sub-chapters, “Subject area and Contrastive knowledge” and “Source language and Target language knowledge” describe why a translator should be specialized in various fields and the differences between the two languages regarding the language systems and cultures.
In the second chapter, “Factors that influence the translational competence”, I shall begin by theorizing translational competence, which refers to all those factors that lead to perfection in translation. The first subchapter, “Psychological factors”, underlines the effect of psychology on the process of translation. “Knowledge of translation theory”, the next subchapter, describes the norms of the field of translation, which help the translator to render the overall meaning of the source text and to have the same effect on the readership. The third subchapter, “The quality of translation. Efficiency of text analysis”, analyzes what a translator should avoid in order to ensure a correct translation and to establish the necessary level of quality. “Culture” and “Experience”, the next subchapters refer to how the knowledge of the source and target culture as well as the experience in the field help the translator to make the right decisions in translation.
The second part of the dissertation contains five chapters, which rely on the translation The last night of love, the first night of war. The first chapter, “The process of translation” presents the steps taken in the process of translation. “Source text and Target text analysis” deals with analyzing the extratextual and intratextual factors for each of the two languages. The last chapters “Identification of translation problems” and “Comments on translation” regard what translation problems were found during the translation process and I will discuss as well the translation difficulties and the way they were solved. The last chapter contains the translation of the first part of the novel by Camil Petrescu.
Being a proficient translator may be a quality that comes by nature or by continuous practice. I strongly believe that although theory helps, it is practice that actually leads to perfection in translation.
A. Theoretical considerations
1. Who are translators?
Translation is one of the various means of communication existing and, from this point of view, it is very important because it establishes a connection between at least two languages, two cultures, two nations; at verbal level it helps transferring their characteristic elements from one into the other as well as understanding them. Not giving it importance equates with a total isolation from the rest of the world.
A translation involves three parties, of which the third one, represented by the translator, is the most important. His responsibility is enormous because the burden of transferring the message presses over his shoulders. Knowing a foreign language and the subject is not as important as being sensitive to language and being competent to speak his own language clearly and resourcefully. For a good speaker avoids not only errors of usage but also mistakes of fact and language simply by applying his good sense.
A translator has also to have flair and a so-called “sixth sense”, which is compounded of intelligence, sensibility, intuition and knowledge. S/he perhaps more than any other practitioner of a profession, is continually faced with choices and has to be very careful and extremely fast in making them.
If I were to draw a line between translation and the translator and to state which one's importance is greater, I would say that a translation cannot be achieved without the appropriate person to do it, i.e. the translator. The same applies to the translator, who fades away without the core of his profession. They depend on each other and are vital for the welfare of this world.
An element of great importance for a translator is the professional pride, a consideration higher than money, because s/he can fell her/his work is appreciated. I believe this is the case not only for in-house people, but also for freelancers. Even a high salary would not motivate as much a translator as the pride in the work. The professional integrity comes with the idea of being reliable, involving in the profession and respecting the ethics.
Reliability means doing the job as to meet the user's needs. The translator is in a position of translating the texts that the user needs, in the style the client wants them to be translated, and by a deadline requested by the user. The attempt to become a reliable translator may sometimes bring about assignments that are impossible to achieve for many reasons: the texts are morally inappropriate, the necessary work is consumptive or the experience is not enough to deal with such a text.
The translator involves in his profession in many ways. If s/he participates to courses and conferences in the field, this will consolidate the professional self-esteem that will definitely encourage and motivate them to accept different challenges:
Reading about translation, talking about translation with other translators, discussing problems and solutions related to linguistic transfer, user demands, nonpayment, and the like, taking classes on translation, attending translator conferences, keeping up with technological developments in the field, buying and learning to use new software and hardware − all this gives us the strong sense that we are not isolated underpaid flunkies but professionals surrounded by other professionals who share our concerns. Involvement in the translation profession may even give us the intellectual tools and professional courage to stand up to unreasonable demands, to educate clients and employers rather that submit meekly and seethe inwardly.
Being a translator does not mean only being involved in a work that s/he loves but also earning a living. Professional translators know the quality of their work and they will charge their clients according to this criterion. Of course, the amount of money is proportional with the volume of their assignments and the speed they work with. Probably translators are expected to translate fast; usually in-house translators translate fast, but the work in an agency is different from that of a freelancer. Freelancers have a different rhythm of their work and, if they do translations faster, this will bring more money for them. Of course, if one translates for pleasure and amusement, there is no need for being fast. They savor every step in the process and tend to deal with one paragraph for hours.
Many factors influence the translation speed. One of them is typing speed. It helps the translator to write rapidly his/her ideas on the computer. Another factor of importance is the degree of text difficulty. A difficult text will slow down the process of translation and will take much more time do it. The continuous practice and experience makes the translator to process easily the difficult words and structures. The same situation is for how the familiar the text will be for the translator. Other factors that interfere in the process of translation are the personal style and the general mental state of the translator.
The use of translation memory software is very helpful for a translator and increases the translation speed. Besides these advantages, many things should be taken into account: if the volume of translation is reduced, this will not warrant the cost of the software. Usually, in-house translators use this software. Large corporations usually need a great volume of translations and address to them and not to freelancers. This software is helpful only with texts in digital form; it is not helpful in the case of literal translation. However, freelancers who work for different agencies and who have a high-volume of assignments say that the use of translation memory software is very helpful though it is not very creative.
1.1. Skills of reading and writing
The translator's knowledge of translation theory and the skills of reading and writing a text are definitely of paramount importance for the quality of the translation. The ethics of translation speak about the way in which a translator should understand the text that needs to be translated, how to recognize the author's intention in order to render the appropriate message into the target language. The translator has to analyze the text linguistically, culturally, philosophically, even politically, if necessary. The first step is to get a general reading and then a closer one to establish the characteristics of that text. The translator has to know how to identify the author's attitude to the subject matter. S/he also must pay special attention to the type of language that is used, grammatical structures, register, rhetorical function, genre, the use of modals and especially to the needs and expectations of the target audience. It is known that all these ethical rules are taught because they do not come instinctively. Usually, if they come naturally, they surely come by experience. A professional translation often arises at the subliminal level due to the fact that the translator has an analytical feeling which helps him/her finding the solutions to those problems that are somehow similar to precedent situations. The novice translators are taught analytical guidelines to help them becoming familiar with the rules and, at the same time to become proficient, without being aware of it. The wheel of experience shows how this analysis of the brain becomes a sort of second nature for the translator during the process of translation. Another reading guideline for the translator is to decide the emotional tone and the degree of formality of the source text. Determining the audience of the target text shows how the target language should be structured, deciding to whom it is addressed, to the educated, the average literate audience or others. Children are a special audience and the message is different according to the age, the degree of familiarity with the stories, the amusement that the translation provokes and many others. Eugene Nida explains how the ability of decoding a text should work:
Decoding ability in any language involves at least four principal levels: (I) the capacity of children, whose vocabulary and cultural experience are limited; (2) the double-standard of new literates, who can decode oral messages with facility but whose ability to decode written messages is limited; (3) the capacity of the average literate adult, who can handle both oral and written messages with relative ease; and (4) the unusually high capacity of specialists (doctors, theologians, philosophers, scientists, etc.), when they are decoding messages within their own area of specialization. Obviously, a translation designed for children cannot be the same as one prepared for specialists, nor can a translation for children be the same as one for a newly literate adult.
The translation has to be the same with the translator's intention and point of view and the translator always has to keep in mind the target language readership. The translation of colloquial and intimate phrases are always problematic for the translator and they should be translated carefully. The grammatical analysis helps the translator to understand the relationships between the words and at the same time to help him/her to get the message of the author. It becomes crucial to find the correct meaning of the grammatical constructions given the fact that one construction may have many interpretations or meanings. The problem becomes acute in the case of idioms because they need a special approach when they need to be translated. Eugene Nida and Charles Taber mention the difficulties that arise when translating these expressions:
Idioms are typically constructed on quite normal grammatical patterns of phrase structure, but the meaning of the whole idiom is not simply the sum of the meanings of the parts, nor can one segment the meaning (in the many cases where it is complex) and assign a definable portion of the meaning to each grammatical piece (e.g., a morpheme). [...] one must treat the entire expression as a semantic unit, even though in the surface structure of the grammar it obeys all of the rules applicable to the individual pieces.
Writing skills are as important as reading skills and refer to the ability of writing in a clear and proper form. Translators have to be familiar with different styles of writing according to each domain, as well as with those conventions regarding editing.
The skills of reading a source language text are significant qualities for a translator and help him understanding the original text and delivering a translation in an appropriate and correct style. Reading the source text is the first step in the process of translation and the better the translator understands the meaning of the author's intention, the clearest he will render the message into the target language. The understanding of the source text represents a primary ability necessary in the process of translation, followed by a combination between other skills, which will be presented in this chapter.
1.2. Subject area and contrastive knowledge
Translators must be aware of the importance of being specialized in various subject fields, such as: medical translation, legal translation, financial translation, technical & IT translation, scientific translation, marketing and PR translation, website translation and others. The knowledge of a certain subject area helps the translator to deal with words and constructions that are specific to that domain. Many translators have the courage to say that their knowledge of translation theory allows them to accept texts that need to be translated from different fields. It is somehow premature to say that, especially by a beginner in the field of translation. Of course, an experienced translator may deal easily with this type of texts, but ideally, one should have in mind the necessary training in a particular field.
Contrastive knowledge refers to how a translator should be able to find the contrastive elements between the source and target language so as to deliver an accurate message through his/her translation. An analysis should be made at the linguistic level, namely the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic levels, and the literary one. The syntactic level deals with the analysis at the sentence, clause, phrase and word level. The semantic analysis refers to how the translator examines the relationships between the elements found through syntactic analysis. At the pragmatic level, the translator tries to identify the register features of the text which express the intention of the source language author. After these three steps of analysis, follows the stage of synthesis, a stage that starts on the contrary way, with the pragmatic level.
1.3. Source language and Target language knowledge
It is well-known the fact that a translator should possess a good knowledge of both source and target language, in other words, s/he should be a master of the two languages. They have to be fluent in the two languages in order to be able to transmit the proper message and to sound as natural as possible in the target language, using a correct style and terminology. What is also important is to know and apply all the rules concerning editing conventions of the two languages which will help the readability of the target language text.
The booklet entitled ”Bilingual Skills Certificate and Certificate in Community Interpreting” published by the Institute of Linguists gives an interesting definition on bilingualism:
Bilingual service providers are people who possess two sets of skills - language and professional skills, so that they can give the same standard of service in the context of two languages and cultures. In order to provide an equal standard of service to all clients, the people providing the service should have adequate standards of training and qualification in both sets of skills. For example, allowing people to give medical advice or gather information upon which medical decisions are made when they are not qualified and solely on the grounds that they happen to speak French or Urdu is as bad as giving good medical advice which cannot be understood.
One of the risks that translators are dealing with is that of fooling the brain into thinking that the structures used in the target language are correct merely only because they are correct in the source language. This is especially the case of translators who work in their adopted country as a result of the fact that they begin to think like a native. Keeping up with cultural change is the way in which the translator can understand a language properly and s/he can translate it successfully. For this reason it is said that the best translations are done by native speakers, residents in the country where the target language is spoken. If the translator has the possibility to travel to the source language country to work on different tasks, he will be able to date with the source language and culture and at the same time s/he will maintain the knowledge of the mother tongue at the proper level.
The translation always needs to be localized for the intended reader. This is a factor of great importance because it governs choice of language, presentation, the level of the language. The language needs to be elementary but not extremely simple.
A competent translator will always know how to adapt his ear to the target language and will use his intuition when it comes to adjust to target language rules.
2. Factors that influence the translational competence
The language and the process of thinking are not identical phenomena but they are closely linked and interrelated. If we take into account the language as a communicative process, we need to specify that what it is transmitted or communicated is a message, so it is a semantic content. The verbal expression is dependent on choosing the words and the way of phrasing. For example, the verb 'to say' can be expressed by other verbs with an equivalent or words with an approximate meaning: to communicate, to dispose, to inform, to report, to discuss, to talk, to enlighten, to explain, to remember, to advise, to persuade and many others. Communication becomes concrete exactly by using the perfect word, appropriate for a situation. By using the verb 'to say' instead of all the other verbs, we would express ourselves in a generic, graded way, and practically we would not manage to suggest a rich content. In such a situation, a translator will always have to select carefully the words to express the intention and the attitude of the source language writer.
A good knowledge of a foreign language is not sufficient for being a proficient translator. A translator needs to be a translator by his/her nature. There are many skills that I consider to be the most important, for example the knowledge of translation theory, the ability to analyze, compare and convert texts from one cultural domain into another, the experience in the field, the level of implication in the process of translation and many others. Trying to reach an absolute equivalent is impossible even if the translator detains great resources at the linguistic, stylistic and literary level. Psychological factors also affect the process of translation and speak about the level of translator's implication when rendering the message into the target language. The translator's way of expression comes and forms itself at the mental level and, based on a specific developed background affects the quality of the translation.
2.1. Psychological factors
Due to our way of thinking, a man can decide upon the meaning of an object, phenomena or action connected to his environment. This is possible taking into account the new information by reference to the assimilated and systematized background knowledge. This is a part of the mental process involved in the process of translation. The understanding of a translator can be guided by several intentions or points of view. For example, a complex situation, such as translation, which implies natural, economic, geographic and cultural factors, can be understood under different angles. If a translator doesn't have the necessary knowledge s/he cannot decode the meaning of the original text. The translation has to sound as natural as possible, let alone the fact that it shouldn't contain confusing words so as to make harder the reading and understanding of the audience: ”[...]it should studiously avoid the 'translationese' - formal fidelity, with resulting unfaithfulness to the content and the impact of the message.”
The impossibility of making a perfect translation should not become a frustration for the translator. Of course, there will always be persons who will translate better, but maybe in a different style. Showing empathy for a certain author will positively influence his/her work and style of writing. It is unethical for a translator not to be objective inside the translation process. Nevertheless, it is obvious that s/he will think about translation as the experience in the field tells him/her how to do it. Sometimes the experience guides a translator in choosing the words or expressions. Another psychological factor, altering the meaning of the source language text and imposing, consciously or not, a personal viewpoint on the audience is not a good decision for a translator to take. The translator must try to preserve the uniqueness of a culture, its characteristics and norms.
In translation, cultural psychology shows how a concept from a certain historic, social-economic or cultural background of a country or region can be found in another one but does not reflect the same thing as in the first one:
'Phoenix' is a legend in China's miraculous animals, on behalf of 'luck, happiness and elegance', it is believed to ride 'Phoenix' a bike can bring good luck, while in Western culture, the legendary phoenix is a phoenix, a 'regeneration', 'Resurrection' and other means, so that the goods in the West is not surprising that no one is interested.
Consumer psychology has implications in the way in which the consumers' interests are motivated. Through a good translation, the promotional character of this type of psychology can attract clients or, on the contrary, not even stimulate them at all to buy a product. For example, 'Happy Cakesgiving!', a collocation taken from an advertisement about a special and tasteful cake, remembers about 'Thanksgiving Day', a holiday usually celebrated in the United States and Canada. The construction is very interesting and is in fact an adaptation of the holiday, underlying the importance of it for so many people. It is very hard, if not almost impossible to find an equivalent into Romanian, but a translator may always find a solution to satisfy the audience, adapting somehow the term to the local culture. 'Ziua deliciului' may be a variant with relevance for the Romanian culture, resembling with the structure of 'Ziua mamei' (Mother's Day), 'Ziua Nationala' (National Day), 'Ziua Unirii' (Unification Day) and so on.
The aesthetic psychology works in translation at the pragmatic level. The artistic words and phrases, the combination of structures that reflect the beautiful, the elegant and graceful utterances are to be translated in the same way into the target language. This is a very hard to achieve due to many reasons. One of them is the specific syntax which makes the difference between the languages. Preserving the rhyme of a Romanian text when translating it into English is very difficult. The thematic structure of a text in Romanian is very hard to render into English. If we take the example of a section from Zamolxis, by Lucian Blaga, we will find that is impossible to preserve the elements of rhythm and rhyme.
e.g. MÇŽ-mpÇŽrtÇŽÅŸesc cu câte-un strop din tot ce creÅŸte
ÅŸi se pierde.
Nimic nu mi-e strein,
ÅŸi numai marea îmi lipseÅŸte.
I share a drop of all that waxes and wanes.
Nothing is alien to me,
and the sea alone is absent.
Another reason for which it is very difficult to preserve the style of a specific text is the word order, which does not permit the translator to deal easily with the style of the original. In order to realize the message of the source language text, a translator will have to take decisions regarding what it should reproduce, either the forms or the ideas of the original. My belief is that a good translator will always be able to maintain the stylistic characteristics of a text and to construct structures that will transfer the propositional content and communicate the purpose intended by the source language writer.
2.2. Knowledge of translation theory
In order to gain recognition in the field of translation, a bilingual speaker has to respect the norms that give him the responsibility over a text.
Gideon Toury distinguishes between two groups of norms relevant for the process of translation: preliminary and operational. Preliminary norms deal with two major sets of concerns, which are usually interrelated: those regarding the existence of a definite translation strategy, and those related to the truthfulness of translation. Operational norms refer to the decisions made during the act of translation itself.
A faithful translation depends on the correct selection of the appropriate method of translation. There are many people who wrongly believe that literary translation is more important than the technical one saying that the latter contains specific terms that are easy to translate whereas the first one is far more complex. Any translation is a very complex task and requires the same knowledge and responsibility from the part of the translator. One of the roles of the translator is to assist and fulfill the target readers' expectations. The principle that governs this idea is that a translator should not transmit only the words to the readers, but the ideas of the source language text. The translator's task becomes very difficult to achieve if s/he does not understand properly the referential meaning of a text so as to transfer it correctly to the target language. Another important role of the translator is to produce the same impression on the target readers as the author of the source language produces on his/her own readers. Another guideline stipulated by translation theory is that a translator should correct the misrepresentations, which belong to the extralinguistic reality. S/he has to find if a text has a correct syntax, if it contains stereotype phrases, fashionable general words. If the text is not well written, s/he can interfere in the original text and perform intra- and interlingual translation so as to transmit an appropriate message. A close attention must be paid to word order, false friends, common structures which become unnatural by one-to-one translation, the use of elevated usage of words and idioms or the use of infinitives, gerunds and verb-phrase. The translator should write in his own style and should not use words and expressions that produce an artificial effect on the target text.
2.2.1 Translation methods
Another principle related to the knowledge of translation theory is the use of paraphrase as a solution to those words which do not have an equivalent in the target language, whether they are technical, scientific, literary or institutional terms. In translation theory, to paraphrase means trying to express the signification of a word by amplifying or explaining its meaning:
[…] is a technical term from linguistics and related disciplines, and is characterized by three specific features: (I) it is intralingual rather than interlingual, i.e., it is “another way of sayng the same thing” in the same language; (2) it is rigorous, in that there are no changes in the semantic components: no additions, no deletions, no skewing of relationships, only a different marking of the same relations between the same elements; (3) specifically as it relates to back-transformation, it is aimed at restatement at a particular level, that of the kernels.
This often happens in the case of poorly written texts or it is also a method used in translating the Bible. The latter case implies many debates because paraphrasing the Bible means an interpretation that tends to be subjective due to the translator's point of view regarding religion. Eugene A. Nida points out this idea in his work “Toward a science of translation”:
The dangers of subjectivity in translating are directly proportionate to the potential emotional involvement of the translator in the message. For scientific prose such involvement is usually at a minimum, but in religious texts it may be rather great, since religion is concerned with the deepest and most universal value systems. In some instances it is a translator's own sense of insecurity which makes it difficult for him to let the document speak for itself, and in other instances a lack of humility may prompt him to translate without consulting the opinions of those who have studied such texts more fully than himself.
So, this method includes not only advantages, for the ability to transmit the message, but also disadvantages because it alters the original meaning. By using a paraphrase, the translator can render the meaning of the source language text. Since this is a way to carry in the target text the intention of the author, the paraphrase shows how s/he can remain faithful to the original. Problems about paraphrasing arise when we try to detect its level of fidelity in the process of translation. Every translator will have his/her own way of interpreting the original text and, thus, an original method of paraphrasing. Sometimes trying to eliminate the use of a paraphrase may result in weakening the text. A special attention should be paid to the substantial sense of a translated work after using the paraphrase.
Functional Equivalence, also called dynamic equivalence is a method in which the translator tries to reflect the intention of the author in the source language at the expense of the original grammatical structure. It was Eugene A. Nida who set the approaches relevant to any translation: functional equivalence and formal equivalence. Through these two methods, Nida focuses on the readability of the translations, therefore on the readers as well. The first method comes in favor of a more natural rendering in the target language to help the intelligibility of the text. The words and forms of the source language will not be the same with those of the target language. By contrast with functional equivalence, formal equivalence attempts to reproduce the forms of the source language text sacrificing the naturalness and the clarity of the target language text. This method of translating respects the word order, the grammatical voice and all the general properties of the source language text.
Between the two approaches, Nida considers functional equivalence more useful than formal equivalence because the latter one would function only if addresses to a limited target audience:
A people's cultural security also influences the extent to which they may prefer one or another solution to the problems of formal vs. functional equivalence. I, for example, the people are insecure, they often insist on borrowed words which they do not understand; they will not find acceptable any attempt to substitute more meaningful functional equivalents from their own language. On the other hand, some peoples express their grave cultural insecurity by refusing to admit any borrowed terms. In fact, to preserve their ethnic identity they feel called upon to purge their language of any foreign traces and to keep it pure. Apparently they believe that only in this way can they maintain themselves against foreign cultural domination.
No matter what method a translator relies on, it is impossible to produce a perfect translation. It is important to render into the target language the appropriate message and intention of the source text.
Literal or Word-for-Word translation
Literal translation is the method which does not carry the sense of the source language text but it does with the words. This is a way in which the translators preserve the uniqueness of the original although the chances to sound clear in the target language are reduced. For this reason a literal translation may contain errors due to the strict translation of the words. Problems also may occur while translating word-for-word poetry texts, a process which will not convey the beautiful, the style and all the elements specific to poetry. Depending on what we translate, prose or poetry, literal translation may become a bad practice in translating. Literal translation should be avoided when trying to render a natural expression of the source language text. Although literal translation is the first step into translation, a good translator should disregard this method when the source language text is badly written. Sometimes the best solution in order to gain clarity of the translation is the use of footnotes. Translating idioms through this method is very difficult and the target message will sound unclear.
2.2.2. Translator's tendencies in translation
Jiang Yajun and Ren Zaixin are the authors of an interesting article that presents the trends in translation. I will present the tendencies of translators when they deal with ‘translated English': explicitation, simplification, normalization and leveling. All of them create a more natural text and have clear implications in identifying and forming the style of the translator. The differences between the source and target language can be analyzed from a grammatical, lexical and syntactical point of view in order to see how the features mentioned above work.
By definition, ‘explicit' means ‘entirely clear and unambiguous', and in translation, ‘explicitation' is a concept which defines the translator's tendencies of avoiding ambiguities and misinterpretations in the translation and offering overt information that is implicit in the source language. The implicit information has to be explained in the target language to be better understood by the target audience.
Explicitation goes hand in hand with implicitation, a twin concept of the first, which can occur at the lexical, terminological and sentence level.
Simplification, consciously or not, comes by the same principle of making more readable and comprehensible the translation. It is said in the same article mentioned above that translations are easier to read because they contain more words and characters, fewer lexical words and more commonly used words than originals.
The vocabulary is extremely important for a translator and shows the level of the speaker's education. A rich vocabulary in the source language and the target language is another indicator of simplification. It helps the translator to be able to understand the words and to transfer the information in a proper way.
Normalization means that translations have a tendency to adapt to, or even to amplify, the typical characteristics of the target language. The same article mentions the fact that analyzing this feature may show that translators are not so inventive when they use punctuation in their translations: “they often use a stronger mark to render a weaker one in the original: semicolons or periods for commas and periods for semicolons. This can also be considered an attempt to simplify the text.” Another method to analyze this universal feature is to do it on marked and ungrammatical structures. It is said that this phenomenon occurs especially in interpreting because interpreters have the tendency to correct the ungrammatical structures while they render the information into the target language.
Leveling means that translators have a tendency of using common linguistic features in terms of lexical density, type-token ratio and average sentence length.(footnote see the article) The source language patterns influence the translated texts. If an original text is written in English and is translated into various languages, every version will be different one from another.
2.3. The quality of translation. Efficiency of text analysis
A translator's reputation is determined by the quality of the translations he produces. It is important to find the acceptable level of quality and the person who can be fairly objective to determine this level of quality. First of all, the subject knowledge is very important. Errors of any kind can be rectified through the eyes of a second or third person who revises the translation. A poor quality translation will not satisfy the client so it is ideally to be checked by another person, for example a colleague, if the translator works in a partnership or group. A translator who checks his own translation is subjective because he will have the same ideas in mind. An independent checker will provide an objective point of view. Of course, the checker's comments can be accepted or rejected.
There are cases when the translator's style differs to that adopted by the client. It is well known the fact that every translator has his own style. For this reason we can say that a translation made by ten translators will not be identical but they will be valid.
Translation may be intended for different purposes such as information, publication, advertising and marketing, litigation. When making a translation for information purposes, the level of quality control is lower. The text given by the client contains information that needs to be revealed through the translation.
Due care and attention are required for all translations. The translation
for publication purposes requires a major level of quality control and certain guidelines on layout and presentation must be applied. An independent checker should revise the translation designed for publication.
The translation of texts designed for advertising must render faithfully the source text meaning. There are situations when the translation may be perfectly correct regarding all levels of translation but the ‘nuance' of the original text is not rendered properly. The translator needs to take into account the importance of discussing with the client all details regarding the conditions and resources that helped producing the text in the source language. The translator has to understand the idea of the original so that to be able to produce a copy of that text in the target language. It is ideal to find the methods used for marketing applicable in both countries because what sells in one country will not necessarily sell in another one.
When dealing with legal texts the translator has to produce a confident translation. Some clauses may lead to various interpretations and there are certain concepts in legal texts that do not have equivalents in the target language. A helpful element for a translator is to use footnotes at the end of the text. The level of quality control is high and the translated text has to go through an additional checking. The translator takes all responsibility of the translation especially if that is going to be used as evidence in court of law. A translation for information purposes only should contain the following statement right at the end of the work: “Although due care and attention has been given to this translation, it should not be considered a legal document and the original language document takes precedence over this translation in any dispute over interpretation.”
In order to assure a high level of quality control, a translator must be aware of all the quality control operations: translation, glossary compilation, spell checking, proof reading, checking, updating own work with checker's ideas, desk top publishing and incorporation of client's revision of final copy.
Translation is not exactly a quality control operation but it is the starting point towards a final product. The quality of the source text produces the quality of the translation.
It is very helpful to draw up a glossary of unknown or specific terms when reading the text that is going to be translated. A particular attention should be paid to those items that are ambiguous or unclear while proof reading and editing.
Spell checking programs can detect words incorrectly spelt or unrecognizable. There are also programs with additional features such as grammar checking which recognize errors of this type. The disadvantage is that it cannot offer a solution for those words that are out of context. It is ideal to repeat spell checking after editorial changes.
The most complex task in the process of translation is proof reading the translator's own work. The translator has to make sure that everything has been translated and he should check page against page, paragraph against paragraph and so on. S/he should avoid splitting or merging paragraphs. The revision of those items marked for particular attention, names and numbers should be the next step in proof reading. The translation should read as a piece of original text and should recognize the structure and syntax of the source language. Finally, the spell checking should be repeated.
When checking other person's work is easier to see his/her mistakes and for this reason, someone else's revision will be more objective than your own. The same steps are valid in checking process as when proof reading a text. Style is individual in the translation process and criticism regarding this element is not accepted easily. Therefore, when checking another person's text, in order to determine the quality of the translation it is important to see if the translation is correct and if the style is appropriate.
The checker's comments can be accepted or rejected. Technical errors and syntax can be accepted easily but those concerning individual style can be disregarded. The translator should be aware of the fact that there are editing conventions different from one language to another and should apply this rule as often as possible.
Desk top publishing means quality of presentation.
The last mistake in a text is seen right after it is ready for distribution. There are cases when the client wishes to make aesthetic changes or when he is unaware of the fact that a translation may not have the same length as the source language text.
Meeting a deadline is the translator's responsibility and s/he is aware of the adequate time to do a good job. It is unfortunate that the client imposes the translator a deadline without understanding the necessary amount of time in order to do a good translation. This may be the case when the translator makes an additional charge for working extra hours in order to complete the task by a given time.
Splitting a translation between several translators is not an advisable practice. A translation should ideally be one's person responsibility. This avoids conflicts regarding personal style, choice of terminology, editing considerations and many others. A project coordinator can be responsible for the final document. Many problems can be avoided if the translators produce a glossary as the project advances and one of them keeps the glossary updated. The main advantage when working on a common project is that translators can learn from the other members of the team with much more experience. Being a freelance translator and working in isolation does not offer opportunities for improvement. The lack of feedback is a great disadvantage for freelance translators.
If the source text contains omissions, spelling errors or ambiguities, the translator should provide a translation report that would offer constructive comments.
Every translator is or should be aware of the importance of culture in the process of translation. The experience of cultures becomes a translational competence for the translator, who must be aware of the complexities that this entails.
The term culture describes the way of life and its manifestations, peculiar to a community that uses a particular language as its means of expression. Translators always need to pay attention when translating cultural words. First, they need to show respect for all foreign countries and cultures and secondly, we need to recognize the cultural achievements that occur in source language text. I think it is important to focus on cultures, the source culture and the target culture. Where there is cultural focus, there is a translation problem caused by the cultural gap between source language and target language. And I will give here an example. The term ‘dor' in Romanian doesn't have a perfect equivalent in English. Of course, the term can be translated using words such as ‘langour', ‘nostalgia' and so on, but in Romanian the term has a more complex significance. We need to focus on the cultural transposition and not on the transfer of information. Another example shows how a text has been translated by equivalents that would meet the Romanian reader's expectations.
e.g. ‘‘At least one State Highway Department (West Virginia) has adopted a similar specification with alternate methods of quality assurance permitted where necessary data can be accumulated by any producer supplying their projects over a long period.”
,,Cel puÅ£in unul dintre departamentele de stat pentru autostrÄƒzi (West Virginia) a adoptat o specificaÅ£ie similarÄƒ cu metode alternative de asigurarea calitÄƒÅ£ii admise acolo unde datele necesare se pot acumula de oricare dintre fabricanÅ£ii ce realizeazÄƒ un proiect pe o perioadÄƒ mai mare de timp.”
So, a first step in order to achieve a successful translation is that the translator should be bilingual and bicultural.
The main concern of translation theorists was the so-called realia, words and phrases that are strongly grounded in a culture that makes almost impossible to find an equivalent in the target culture. Translation theorists are fascinated by the ‘untranslatability' of such words and long debates are still held over how to find the right equivalent.
Many groups of scholars in the Benelux countries and Israel had explored the impact of culture on the process of translation and how is used under different contexts: colonization, postcolonialism, economics, globalization and others. The problem of the boundary between languages is presented by Anthony Pym:
How might one define the points where one culture stops and another begins? The borders are no easier to draw than those between languages or communities. One could perhaps turn to a geometry of fuzzy sets or maybe even deny he possibility of real contact altogether, but neither mathematics nor ideological relativism are able to elucidate the specific importance of translation as an active relation between cultures.
Although questions like the definition of a culture are commonly thought/thinking to be beyond the scope of translation theory, their solution could become one of translation studies' main contributions to the social sciences. Instead of looking for differentiated or distilled cultural essences, it could be fruitful to look at translation themselves in order to see what they say about cultural frontiers. It is enough to define the limits of a culture as the points where transferred texts have had to be (intralingually or interlingually) translated. That is, if a text can adequately be transferred [moved in space and/or time] without translation, there is cultural continuity. And if a text has been translated, it represents distance between at least two cultures.
Cultural difference also brings about the difference of the language between the time and place a text is written and the time in which that text is translated.
One of the problems translation theorists deal with is that we often tend to believe that if a translator knows the language of a different culture s/he will be able to understand a certain text written in that culture. Knowing a language does not mean we share the same traditions, principles, ideologies, in one word, the same culture. It is hard to believe that an American speaker would be able to understand properly a text written in British English, Scottish English or Irish English, for example. People who speak English all over the world share a common language but a different culture. British colonizers wanted to impose the same language and culture over their colonies but historical references tell us that this process was not that successful.
The differences between people arise under many categories: women and men, adults and children, different social classes, majority and minority members. Sometimes members of the same family, adults and children, do not understand each other. The universalism under which everybody knows the same things and has the same wishes in no longer valid. Under the circumstances of a world that dictate what is normal, rational, civilized and modern, people need to follow the norms that makes them equal. They are forced to conform to those rules that indicate the effect of patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism. In this case, intuitive leaps do not help as much as they would do in other contexts. It is well known the fact that the differences between the categories mentioned above are evident in the process of translation. We do not expect that a man's intuition is correct about a text written by a woman. However, a translator should not restrain his/her own intuitions because by doing this s/he can restrain the creativeness which is necessary in translation. Saying that a translator might understand someone's thoughts, no matter his/her gender, age, does not mean assuming that presumption may be wrong. For translators, the state of uncertainty is somehow normal because they work under the pressure of the professional community. They have to respect the ethical aspects of their job but sometimes the texts pose that many problems in terms of discriminatory issues or the level of sensitivity that the translator has to put in balance and decide how to manage them.
The translators have to take into account the direction of the process of translation: from the hegemonic culture towards the dominated culture and from a dominated culture from a hegemonic culture. If texts of a dominated culture are translated from a hegemonic point of view, the result will sound difficult to interpret, mysterious, hidden. Translated texts from the hegemonic culture towards the dominated one will present itself as very accessible for the readers. For example, translation of works from Europe and North America are very popular for Asian, African and South American readers. On the contrary, Asian, African and South American works are translated in small quantities for specific audiences only. A dominated culture will translate much more of a hegemonic culture than viceversa. The number of books translated out of English into less known languages is larger than those languages translated out of those languages into English. If authors of a book desire to achieve large audiences, they have to write for translation into a hegemonic language.
Professional translators always can refuse to do jobs that they find unethical or impossible to achieve. They have to conform to client's orders and expectations.
Experience is an element of extremely importance for the translation process. Experience may be the knowledge of both source and target languages, knowing how to work with dictionaries, the knowledge of a certain subject matter, the experience of the world, culture or simply the constant practice of the process of translation. For example, we do not know if a competent translator with superficial experience of the target language should rely on his rich experience with dictionaries when translating an easy text from the target language.
A solid experiential grounding in a language can get you through even a difficult specialized text when you have little or no experience of the subject matter; and a good solid experiential grounding in a subject matter can sometimes get you through a difficult text in that field written in a foreign language with which you have little experience. Sometimes knowledge of similar languages and a dictionary can get you through a fairly simple text that you can hardly read at all.
Induction and deduction are essential elements in the practice of translation. These lead to professional competence and a good translator always should be aware of their contribution to the learning process.
Intuitive leaps are an essential element of the translational act. There are situations when we deal with finding the equivalent of a word but our mind offers the solution immediately, it comes out of nowhere and we know for sure that the term is the right one. Our memory finds the context similar with one used in previous situations and recognizes the term as being the right one. This intuitive leap permits us to continue our assignment without worrying that the word may not be the correct one.
The process of remembering and vetting words and phrases, then − the semantic core of the job − is steeped in intuitive leaps. Some of those leaps are solidly grounded in long experience, others in dim memories of overheard snatches of conversation; and it is not always possible to tell the two apart. If a word jumps into your head without dragging along behind it the full history of your experience with it, an educated guess may feel very much like a calm certainty, and vice versa. A good translator will develop a rough sense of when s/he can trust these intuitive leaps and when they need to be subjected to close scrutiny and/or independent testing; but that sense is never more than a rough one, always just a little fuzzy at the crucial boundaries.
The advantage of the translator is that s/he can have to liberty to ask questions or looking things up in reference books in order to decide upon which words are correct or not. The interpreter works in public and needs to rely on his/her intuition to find on the spot the right word. If the mistakes get corrected, the translator has the possibility to learn from them. If they are not corrected, the translator will not be able to avoid them in the future.
A translator has to know his/her own limits. There are words that are difficult to translate, sometimes problems are insoluble, and the translator has to contact the agency or the client in order to solve the problem. The client, for example, may bring explanation about the content or sense of the text to make the translator understand it better and to be able to offer the right solution. This should happen only after s/he does everything possible and tries to find the answers in all possible ways: searching in dictionaries, encyclopedias, reference books, grammar books.
A good translator is someone who has never quite experienced enough to do her or his job well; just one more language, one more degree, one more year abroad, fifty or sixty more books, and he'll be ready to start doing the job properly. But that day never comes; not because the translator is incompetent or inexperienced, not because the translator's work is substandard, but because a good translator always wants to know more, always wants to have experienced more, never feels quite satisfied with the job just completed. Expectations stay forever a step or three in front of reality, and keep the translator forever restlessly in search of more experience.
Large translation projects are usually done by more than two translators. Each translator has his/her own role in the translational process. Every translator's part will be sent to the other and each translator will check the suggestions presented by the colleague. Each better alternative should have a grammatical rule or a dictionary explanation to support it. Translators compile glossaries of their terminological solutions. Of course, after translators do their job, another in-house person is in charge with the revision of the final product. During collaborations like this one, intuitive leaps are recommended:
One translator doesn't know a word, and so guesses at it; the other translator sees instantly that he guess is wrong, but the guess helps her or him to remember he correct word, or to make a better guess, or to suggest a source that may solve the problem for them. Comparing each other's tentative glossaries so as to maintain terminological consistency, they brainstorm individually and together on various problem areas, and gradually hone and polish the words chosen.
Induction is the method by which translators typically proceed with their assignments and it is generally recognized that practice helps a lot the translator to become an even better one. The induction means subconscious, subliminal mindfulness, a searching contrast-and-compare mentality that comes from the analytical spirit of the translator.
To put that differently, the “mindfulness” that raises experience to an inductive process is an attentiveness, a readiness to notice and reflect upon words and phrases and register shifts and all the other linguistic and nonlinguistic material to which a translator is constantly being exposed − striking or unusual words and phrases, certainly, but also ordinary ones that might have escaped earlier attention, familiar ones that might have shifted in usage or meaning, etc.
Translators collect words and phrases they hear in every day and they note them on note cards, computer files or simply in their mind. They are always prepared to hear and most important they have the capacity to select potentially useful information.
Working inductively is much more useful than doing it deductively, in other words learning and applying rules. During the stage of abduction, the translator tries something that feels right, or potentially right, in deduction the translator imposes rules, laws, models, theories on the new texts, trying to control or anticipate the problems that text will pose:
Deduction begins when the translator has discovered enough “patterns” or “regularities” in the material to feel confident about making generalizations: syntactic structure X in the source language (almost) always becomes syntactic structure Y in the target language.
If the application of certain principles becomes too rigid, the translator's receptivity to novel experiences will be blocked. This has to remain flexible for the new abductions and inductions.
Sometimes the translators find themselves on their own that it is important to translate the meaning of the original and not word-for-word. They learn this through intensive labor, time consuming and long reflection. Of course, a rich experience through their efforts is not useless, since the translators learn things more fully every time they deal with the same problems. They learn how to synthesize and analyze, becoming more experienced translators. Some translators are told the principles that apply in translation from the beginning of their career, but if they do not test them on their own, they will not understand the rule properly. Novice translators should accept easily other's people deductions about translation to broaden the idea of what this field of translation implies.
In conclusion, translation can be taught through precepts, rules and principles but also through the idea of doing and getting feedback. Both processes are important and each translator, as a longlife learner, should show flexibility and contribution for the translation process.
1. The process of translation
1.1. Steps in the process of translation
The first question that arose in my mind was related to the field of the source text selected. At the beginning, I was not sure what kind of text I am going to choose for my dissertation but in the end, I find this book studied in highschool, which I thought to be suitable for the type of translation that I wanted to do.
The second step consisted in reading the text, to see whether I was able to undertake this task or not. I have to admit that there were many parts, which were a mystery for me at that time, mostly because of some terms I did not know how o translate. But I relied on a second reading that I was going to do more thoroughly, with a dictionary at hand.
What followed was the translation proper, which was checked again when I had it finished, marking all the situations where my translation sounded awkward, in order to ask for my supervisor`s opinion. At a certain point I had to resort to the Internet to find some expressions, which were not recorded in the dictionaries I had access to, and for other terms I needed confirmation from people who are familiar with those terms.
2. Source text and Target text analysis
2.1. Source text analysis
2.1.1. Extratextual factors
Extratextual factors refer to the author or sender of the text, the sender's intention, the recipient the text is directed at, the medium the text is communicated by, the place and time of the text production and text reception and the motive for communication. All of them are analysed before reading the text, simply by observing the situation in which the text is used.
The sender of a text is the person or institution who uses the text in order to convey a certain message to somebody else and/or produce a certain effect, whereas the text producer writes the text according to instructions of the sender, and complies with the rules and norms of text production valid in the respective language and culture.
The source text sender is Camil Petrescu, the author of the novel entitled Ultima noapte de dragoste, întâia noapte de rÄƒzboi.
Senders` intention is that of presenting to the readers the intellectual's drama.
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