Consideration Of Functional Equivalence English Language Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Translating Shakespeare, the great English literary artist, is by no means an easy task. According to Serpieri it requires a translator of at least an excellent knowledge of the historical period and of the theatre which staged that world and its contradictions and a theoretical competence in the peculiarities of dramatic discourse in order to render the virtual theatricality of speeches which have to be delivered and move on stage. To translate the discourse marker why, a seemingly plain word, is no less easier than to translate those relatively complex expressions or culture-bound words. In the Shakespeare's 23 plays, why enjoys a high-frequency use, mainly in dialogues and sometimes in monologues. And as discussed in previous chapters, there are both similarities and disparities between Liang Shiqiu's, Zhu Shenghao's and Fang Ping's translations of DM why in Shakespeare's plays.

Nida (1964) once stated that differences in translations can generally be accounted for by three basic factors in translating: (1) nature of the message, (2) the purpose or purposes of the author and by proxy, of the translator, and (3) the type of audience. Thus, apart from linguistic factors, non-linguistic factors should be taken into consideration. In this chapter, factors including consideration of the principle of functional equivalence, translation purposes, the target readership/audience, and drama translation for stage will be discussed one by one to interpret three translators' styles in translating DM why.

5.1 Consideration of Functional Equivalence

There are actually no definite criteria for what an ideal translation should be. Indeed, arguments over translation differ from one to another, and this will accordingly influence in many ways the reproduction of translated versions in the target language. Nida (1964: 243) suggests that the "communicative context" (circumstances involved in the original communication, including time, place, author, audience, and intent), and the "cultural context of the source language" must be considered in translation to establish dynamic equivalence. According to Reiss, the ideal translation would be one "in which the aim in the TL (target language) is equivalence as regards the conceptual context, linguistic form and communicative function of the SL (source language) text" (Reiss, 1989: 161, cited in Nord, 2001: 9). It can be inferred that various text features of the source text are important for the translator to abide by, thus, functional equivalence is emphasized.

It has been found that in terms of functional equivalence, on the one hand, all the three translators have done quite a satisfactory job. They have paid close attention to achieving the functional equivalence between the ST and TT, the rate of realizing the functional equivalence being 81.97% for Liang, 70.21% for Zhu and 77.80% for Fang. On the other hand, they differ with each other in the selection of Chinese equivalents, the adoption of certain translation methods, and the reproduction of certain subcategories of DM why's functions.

Procedurally speaking, translating DM why involves two major steps: first, to identify DM why's specific functions in different situations; second, to adopt an appropriate Chinese equivalent in the target language given the functions concerned. Considering that why is most frequently used in oral conversations and textual dialogues such as plays and novels, another two questions need be answered to accomplish a good translation: 1) what is the illocutionary function of why in a specific context, or the effect produced by the use of why in the given context; 2) whether a Chinese word or expression can realize the same illocutionary function.

In some cases, DM why's pragmatic or interpersonal functions in the ST are not necessarily expressible through the adoption of a similar discourse marker in the TL Therefore, the three translators will make certain adjustment while rendering the functions of the DM why instead of simply finding a word as its equivalent, say, "噫" . As House (2006a: 64) pointed out, translation should be more "comprehensively conceived, rather than merely be related to the authorial intention of the source text." The operation of a number of pragmatic dimensions is to be seen as contributing to overall functional equivalence together with ideational equivalence.

It can be inferred from the three translators' dealing with why that they all place emphasis on the functional equivalence between the ST and the TT and consider such dynamic equivalence as an important principle of translation. They unanimously attempt to find a Chinese DM/interjection to replace why directly so that both the formal and contextual effects can be reproduced in the translations. When failing to realize that through a Chinese equivalent, they are all aware of other approaches, turning to other Chinese expressions or translation methods like omission to keep consistent with the hidden criteria of functional equivalence behind the scene.

5.2 Consideration of Target Readership

The translator should interpret the ST not only with regard to the sender's or the author's intention, but with regard to its compatibility with the target situation. To make an objective judgment of a translation, especially a comparison between two or more versions, the consideration of the target reader is indispensable. Since different readers have their individual expectations towards the translated texts, the consideration of the reader contributes to the translation products during the translation process. Therefore, the assessment of the quality of a translation merely from the linguistic perspective is far from enough. What's more important is to assess from the pragmatic perspective with the consideration of the target readership.

Hans. J. Vermeer (1989) put forward "Skopos Theory", which can be simplified as "the end justifies the means". It tries to liberate the translation from the confinement of the source text. The aim is to explain the translation activity from the point of view of the target language. As the agent of translation activity, the translator's translation purpose and attention to the target readership will influence his or her choice of translation methods and translation strategies. Bassnett (2006: 30) also advocated that the emphasis in translation should be on the reader or listener, and the translator must tackle the SL text in such a way that the TL version will correspond to the SL version. If the translator aims to be a faithful messenger and preserve more original flavor, foreignization will be preferred over domestication. If the purpose of translation is to increase the intelligibility and acceptability of the original work among the target reader, the translator will tend to use equivalents that are familiar to the reader or adapt the translation to the target language and culture. Liang Shiqiu, Zhu Shenghao and Fang Ping have different translation purposes, which lead to the differences in their translation styles in rendering the DM why.

Liang aims at signifying and introducing the linguistic and cultural differences of the foreign text into China. He emphasizes the utter fidelity to the source text and constantly pursues the preservation of genuineness of the original work. His purpose is to introduce the foreign culture to Chinese readers, especially those educated intellectuals and literary scholars. As Liu Bingshan states, the Chinese version by Liang Shiqiu is a guide for the readers who have a knowledge of English to study the original works of Shakespeare(Liu Bingshan, 2000: 244) and unlike Zhu's wish to make Shakespeare's works available to common people, Liang's purpose of translation is to arouse readers' interest in the original text. Thus, he frequently adopts literal translation and the foreignization strategy to be as loyal to the source text as possible at both a semantic, syntactic, pragmatic and interpersonal level. In the translation of DM why, Liang's translations mostly achieve the expected equivalence in general, not only in terms of semantic equivalence, but in terms of functional equivalence which is fairly reflected in the communicative effects the TTs leave upon the readers. The most frequent Chinese equivalent he chose is "噫" either to realize the discourse-constructing function of why or to render various kinds of emotions conveyed by why. The other Chinese words use by Liang include "哼" to express the speaker's anger and dissatisfaction, "å-‚" to arouse the hearer's attention, "唉" to convey the speaker's pity and sadness. Moreover, Liang sometimes used Chinese conjunctions in accordance with the logic relations implicitly inferred through why in the ST, such as "可是" to make it explicit the adversative relation, and "那么" to express the suppositional relation.

Liang takes syntactic constituent as the basic translation unit, and tries to keep faithful to the original texts with least spoiling of the original style. Besides, Liang's translations primarily cater to the lovers of literature, especially those passionate for Shakespeare and his works in particular. His target readers are assumed to bear a goal of probe into Shakespeare and his art, and to study the dramatic texts mainly as a written discourse, rather than merely as a script to be acted out on the stage for theatric performance. Thus, his intended readers are somewhat limited to the literary circle, and the target texts are typical of literariness, readily available for literary appreciation.

By comparison, Zhu's ultimate aim of the translation is to popularize Shakespeare's works among Chinese ordinary people. In addition, Zhu deemed his translations of Shakespeare's plays as a play in Chinese readily available to be acted out. Zhu once remarked on this great task: "While translating this book, I tried best to maintain the verve of the original works to the utmost. When failing to achieve this, I yielded to resemblance. Yet lucidity and fluency are highly preferred in my translations for faithful reproduction of the original style. As for word-for-word translation, I personally think poorly of this mechanical rendition. Where the original text largely differs from the Chinese version in grammar, I'd rather adjust the sentence structure of my translation for the sake of intelligibility. After I have translated each part, I would go through my translation as if I were one of the audience and see if there were any ambiguity. Then I would act out the translated text as if I were the actor to see if the translation reads smooth and sounds harmonious in tone and intonation".

As for Zhu's translations, it takes no expert to find out that he used quite frequently a variety of Chinese interjections to render the DM why. Interjections like "å•Š", "嘿", "å-³å“Ÿ", "好", "哼", "å’¦", "å-‚", "å-¨", "å“Ž", "哦", "å-", "噢", "å-¯", are of wide use, both in written language and colloquialism, especially in conversations to construct the discourse and express certain kinds of emotions. These Chinese counterparts are commonly used by the average people, thus, easier for the general public, the target readers intended by Zhu, to understand and accept. Besides, to make the English masterpieces within the understanding of the ordinary readers, Zhu spared no efforts to render the original in such a way that the readers could feel the translations as if it were written in their familiar language. This effect is achieved through his adoption of certain colloquial expressions such as "可不是å-? ", "这样说来", "你这你这", "告诉你吧", etc. Through such domesticating translation, the gap between Chinese readers and western culture is narrowed and the assimilation of foreign culture into Chinese culture is achieved.

Fang Ping advocates the multi-dimensional reproduction of the artistic beauty of Shakespeare's plays not only for reading but for performing, since his target readership includes "eye readers" and "ear readers" at the same time (Fang Ping, 2000: 66). As Fang states, "in the translation of Shakespeare's plays, what should be emphasized include the artistic form of the language and the unbreakable connection between form and content. The repetition of the meaning of the ST is not enough. The translator should try to be faithful to the ST in more aspects like voice, mood, image, etc." (Fang Ping, 2000: 67) He also illustrates that "a translator, especially a translator translating and introducing Shakespeare must try to find his/her fulcrum. My translating principle during my long-term translating practice is that literal translation should be given priority; free translation is a necessary supplementary method".

There are 83 varieties in Fang's translations of DM why, 46 more than Liang Shiqiu's and 16 more than Zhu Shenghao's. It can be inferred that Fang's translations of DM why is more flexible and diverse. Fang Ping sometimes makes adjustments when translating why since he intends to explicate the implications and a simple Chinese interjection cannot realize that. For example, he uses "这么说" to indicate the suppositional relation, "本来嘛!" , "还说呢", and "真是的" to confirm and strengthen the speaker's former utterances, "要知道" to initiate further explanation with the unsatisfied mood, "跟你说吧" to focus the interlocutor's attention, "妙啊" to explicate the speaker's appreciation and excitement, "这话怎么说" to request for clarification, etc. At the surface level, Fang's frequent use of such colloquial expressions instead of monotonous use of one-word interjections like "咳", "呃" would lead to somewhat low degree of formal equivalence between the ST and the TT. However, the previous analysis shows that thanks o this approach, a wide range of pragmatic and/or interpersonal functions at deep levels are explicated and reproduced through these expressions so that the reader/audience are able to feel the similar effects as why arouse among the source language audience. Thus, it can be seen that Fang Ping endeavors to transmit the content, spirit, arts and culture embodied in Shakespeare's plays among Chinese readers and audience in an all-round way.

The distinct translation purposes and/or target-reader orientations set by the three translators beget the observable disparities and their uniqueness in dealing with the translation of the English discourse marker why in the Shakespeare's 23 plays. To be specific, with the consideration of target readers and personal translation pursuits, the translators will intentionally or subconsciously make their translations achieve certain effects that conform to the reader's expectations and personal visions of their translations.

5.3 Consideration of Drama Translation

The duality of drama translation partly determines its diction. Unlike novels or essays, drama to a degree must find its life on the stage before the audience, therefore, whether the translation is performable and speakable are a crucial issue in drama translation. Nida (2000: 128) puts it in this way "the translation of a drama to be read in the quiet of one's home is generally quite different from one which is designed to be acted on the stage. The former type of translation can afford to have relatively close, formal correspondences, since significant differences or problems in understanding can be explained in footnotes. But there is no time or place for footnotes in a stage performance". Therefore, necessary adjustments must be made for the sake of stage.

Drama refers to a genre of literature which mainly consists of dialogues. The primary ingredients of drama are characters, represented by players; action, described by gestures and movement; thought, implied by dialogue and action; spectacle, represented by scenery and costume; and finally, audience, who respond to his complex mixture. The term "drama" is used in an inclusive way that emphasizes both its literary nature and its potential as stage performance. Most commonly, drama is classified into tragedy, comedy, farce and historical plays.

The majority of plays have been produced for stage performance, and their ultimate receptors are supposed to be the audience in the theatre. Since a play contains stage directions and portraits of characters that are in great details, it can also be read privately as any other literary works, yet its original intention and full potential can only be fulfilled and realized by acting it out.

The nature of drama demands that the reader of a drama should have more work to do than does the reader of a novel or a poem. S/he must see it in the mind's eye and hear it in the mind's eye. However, because of this limitation the audience is thus offered with a greater opportunity to explore and appreciate the work. Drama translation, as a branch of literary translation, can be either performance-oriented or reader-oriented. The former depends much on the extra-linguistic situation while the latter focus mainly on the written form. Thus, when translating plays for performance, the translator should consider more about whether the translation is performable and speakable on stage, if the purpose of his translation relates to stage performance.

Despite such nature of plays, Liang is likely to make few adaptations and conversions to loosen his cling to his translation principle: absolute faithfulness to the original. He'd rather seek help from footnotes to increase readability and intelligibility. After all, his ultimate purpose is to evoke readers' interest in the original works of Shakespeare.

In contrast, Zhu emphasizes that he often acts as if he was the actor on the stage and evaluates whether the intonation reads smooth and the syllable is well distributed. With those unsatisfactory words and sentences, he often cudgels his brains for days. He obviously takes serious consideration of its adaptation to the stage. However, Liang mainly lays emphasis on the faithfulness to the original and readability with an array of helpful notes. It is pointed out in the former section of target readership that Zhu stated in the preface to his translation that "one has to think from the perspective of an actor, testing the lines for fluency and harmony of tones" (quoted from Wu Jiemin,1990:264) as his translation purpose is to universalize Shakespeare's plays among Chinese common people through the performance on stage so that everyone can appreciate the greatness of Shakespeare in a direct way.

Similarly, Fang Ping points out that Shakespeare is first a professional dramatist and then a litterateur. However, he found that only a few Chinese translators were aware of the truth that it would be more justified not to treat Shakespeare's plays as pure literary works. From the moment of their birth, these plays are for performance on the stage not for reading in the room. Thus, Fang suggests translating Shakespeare's plays from the viewpoint of a dramatist rather than a literature scholar. And this is the core of Fang's translation thoughts on rendering Shakespeare's plays into Chinese. And this can explain why Fang Ping's translations are more varied than Liang and more consistent with the original in terms of functional equivalence than Zhu at the same time.

Consequently, the medium for transmitting Zhu's and Fang's versions could be through stage while Liang's cannot be without adaption. This also leads to their disparity in reproduction of the original text, including the realization of DM why.

In a word, the driving factors leading to the differences in the three translators' styles in translating why mainly lie in the translators' same or different considerations of functional equivalence, target readership/audience and drama translation. Though the three translators differ a little in the status of realizing overall functional equivalence, it is still quite salient that they are unique in adopting distinct translation methods to achieve specific literary effects in their translations.

Chapter 6 Conclusion

Based on the aforesaid analyses of the statistics and instances extracted from the parallel corpus, it reveals that the application of corpora in translation studies facilitates not only the studies on translations in general, but also the studies on specific issues in translation in particular, such as the corpus-based study of the Chinese translations of discourse marker why in Shakespeare's plays by Liang Shiqiu, Zhu Shenghao and Fang Ping.

With the assistance of a corpus, the paper probes into the three translators' translations of DM why from the perspective of functional equivalence, not only at the semantic level, but at the discourse and pragmatic levels. On the basis of statistic analysis and illustration of certain representative instances, this thesis provides a quantitative study of the three Chinese versions in terms of DM why's different functions in ST and the effects via why's "equivalent" Chinese expressions in the TT. By comparing the three Chinese translations, it finds that the three translators share a lot of similarities in achieving the holistic functional equivalence between the ST and the TT, but still bear significant differences. As illustrated in Chapter 5, the reason for the disparity is attributed to Liang Shiqiu's, Zhu Shenghao's and Fang Ping's different translation purposes, distinct orientations of target readers and different considerations of drama translation: Liang's translation aims to keep as faithful as possible to the original text in terms of structure and functions, and are targeted at the lovers of literature; Zhu's translation purpose is to popularize Shakespearean plays among the general public as if was acted on the stage; while Fang endeavors to reproduce the holistic artistic beauty of Shakespeare's plays on the stage, thus, he emphasized translation for performance.

Corpus Translation Studies helps a lot in furthering the advances and progress of translation studies as a whole, especially when the studies are targeted at specific issues that are hardly generalizable only from the prescriptive angle or based on the researchers' intuition and induction. With the edge in greater availability and accessibility to authentic corpora, the corpus-based approach to translation studies can make the relevant studies more objective and inclusive.

In a word, with the development of corpus linguistics and Corpus Translation Studies, the studies of the Chinese translations of Shakespeare's works and other literary masterpieces, the researches on the comparison between Chinese translations and Chinese originals etc., can be conducted and are expected to achieve significant fruits in translation studies.