This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
However, it can be said that translation has been all over perceived as an important constituent and tool for enriching our knowledge and cross any boundaries between different languages. We can say that translation is the most forceful instrument when taking into account the fact that without it we wouldn't have had this great possibility to achieve new concepts, ideas or interpretations from other cultures.
According to Peter Newmark, translation is "rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended the text". This definition, in my opinion, even if quite simple, is very accurate and it basically comprises what any translation actually aims at. Furthermore, Newmark also came to the idea that "common sense tells us that this ought to be simple, as one ought to be able to say something as well in one language as in another".
Translation is an instrument of education, a fundamental factor for human development and its goal is not easy at all, since it has to reach readers whose cultural and educational level is different from that of the readers of the original. Daniela Seleskovitch, interpreter and writer, wrote that "everything said in one language can be expressed in another". I agree with her assumption, because a good translator can indeed render everything from one language into another, but while translation is always possible, it may certainly not have the same impact as the original.
Since we agreed upon the importance of translation, we should also take into consideration the person that makes this possible, namely the translator. Translator is probably one of the most vaguely defined professions around the world, but it is known for sure that they are the ones who enable the "communication" between people who don't speak the same language. Translation has its own excitement and interest, but while a satisfactory translation is always possible, a good translator is never satisfied with it, since he/she thinks it can usually be improved. An experienced translator knows that translation involves more than languages. It involves a person's specialized training, life experience, education background and last but not least the ability to represent the source language concept in the target language. I think it takes a lifelong process to be a qualified translator, because the more translations you do, the more you feel you have so much to improve.
"At a time when people and ideas, and culture and business, seem to increasingly cross the barriers of language, translation from one language to another becomes a necessary part of the action, with that action being neither transparent nor automatic. Translators make choices about how to move the text across the barriers behind which cultures have evolved characteristic linguistic ways of seeing and thinking, of encoding and protecting their cultures. All throughout history, we can see the creativity of individual translators as they sought to push their texts through filters of culture and language."
(The Journal of American History, Willi Paul Adams and David Thelen, March, 1999)
Some principles of translation have been formulated and they are still considered rules for the practicing translator. One of these principles includes the fact that the translator should first of all understand perfectly the content and intention of the author whom he/she is translating. The best way to reach this is by reading all the sentences or the text completely so that the message from the source text is rendered as clearly and natural as possible in the target text. Another principle mentions the fact that the translator should have a perfect knowledge of the language from which he/she is translating and an equally excellent knowledge of the language into which he/she is translating.
Any translator should avoid the tendency to translate word by word, because by doing so the meaning of the original is destroyed and the beauty of the expression is ruined. The goal is to translate what the source language author meant, not what he wrote.
"Among the most common mistakes of inexperienced translators is that of trying to squeeze every last kernel of meaning from the SL text. This is usually the result of an overly zealous concern for "fidelity" to the original, but more often than not the effect is to produce an odd-sounding TL version that is a far cry from the author's intent." (Clifford 55)
If in earlier times, the main focus was on the translation of literature, in today's globalised world, the provision of a vast number of services is practically unthinkable without a whole team of translators.
Quoting Cristina Miron in E.A. Poe's Poetry in Romanian. A Critical Translation Study, "the translation is not only a conversion of the formal characteristic of a text, by preserving the content, but is also implies the conversion of a certain socio-cultural reality". Therefore, I believe that translation is a continuous process aimed to allow us to acquire not only the text in its simple or complex form, but something more than this, the real values and ideas of an entire culture. Eventually, the translator should convey the thought and emotion of the original text.
1.1. Brief Historical Background
According to Suka Joshua in Studies in Translation, "the history of translation is the history of literary innovation and during the recent decades the literary translation has been drawing great public and academic interest". Cicero and Horace had an important contribution in the history of translation. Both of them made the distinction between word-for-word translation and sense-for-sense translation. They considered that both language and literature were enriched through translation and their remarks on translation practice influenced the generations of translation that followed up to the twentieth century.
Among the earliest words for a translator were in Greek hermeneus and in Latin interpres. Both terms carry the sense of an intermediary activity between two distinct languages or speakers. Regarding the etymology of the word translation, it derives from the Latin word translatio meaning "to carry across" or "to bring across".
The philosopher and translator George Steiner divided the history of translation into four periods. The first period extends from the Roman translators Cicero and Horace to Alexander Fraser Tytler who said that translation should, on one hand, "entirely represent the ideas and the style of the original" and, on the other hand, "possess the ease of the original composition". The second period which extends up to Paul Valéry is characterized by hermeneutic methodology of approach, based on the art of text interpretation. The third period is characterized as a period in which linguistics and communication theory were introduced into the study of translation. The fourth period begins in the early 1960's and is characterized by a reversion to hermeneutic inquiries into translation.
Since educated people had more and more access to the information conveyed by books and not only, they wanted to grasp knowledge both from the works written in their native tongue, but also from those written in foreign languages. Therefore, the process of translation became essential. This process gained form and order through the rendering of the Bible. The Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek before the Christian era. Translation acquired further significance with the emergence of Christian missionaries.
The sixteenth century was marked by a serious theory of translation. The French translator and humanist Etienne Dolet was the first to formulate a theory of translation which advocated sense for sense translation, that is translating the meaning of each whole sentence before moving on to the next one. This kind of translation stands in opposition to the word for word translation, that is translating the meaning of each lexical item in sequence. Etienne Dolet in his book The Way to Translate Well from One Language into Another, established some principles for the translator:
the translator should fully understand the sense and meaning of the original text;
the translator should have a perfect knowledge of both source and target languages;
the translator should avoid word-for-word renderings;
the translator should use forms of speech in common use;
the translator should use and order words appropriately in order to produce the correct tone.
The seventeenth century was the great age of French classicism. Translation of the French classics increased greatly in France between 1625 and 1660 and the French writers were in turn translated into English. The accepted impulse of the eighteenth century was to clarify the spirit or sense of the text to the readers. As a result, many translated works were rewritten to fit the contemporary standards of language and taste.
"The development of communication theory, the expansion of the field of structural linguistics and the application of linguistics to the study of translation effected significant changes in the principles and theory of translation during the twentieth century. Good Literature written in any part of the world in any language is now made available to the rest of the world through translation. Apart from works of translation, prominent contributions to the study and theory of translation were made by profound scholars like J.C. Catford, Eugene A. Nida and Peter Newmark." (Joshua 4)
There were several factors that influenced the development of translation, but each era is marked by the appearance of new theorists and fields of research. Every theorist approaches the translation according to his/her viewpoint, the fact that gives its history a changing quality.
1.2. Translation methods and procedures
The main problem of translating has always been whether to translate literally or freely. To the beginning of the nineteenth century, many writers favored the translations which involved the spirit, not the letter, the sense, not the words, the message rather than the form, finally the matter not the manner. The translator has the possibility to use translating procedures that differ in importance according to contextual factors of both source and target language.
Peter Newmark mentions in A Textbook of Translation the difference between translation methods and translation procedures: "while translation methods relate to whole texts, translation procedures are used for sentences and smaller units of language" (81). Moreover he refers to the following methods of translation:
Word-for-word translation - in which the SL word is preserved and the words translated singly by their most common meanings, out of context;
Literal translation - in which the SL grammatical constructions are converted to their nearest TL equivalents, but the lexical words are again translated singly, out of context;
Faithful translation - it attempts to produce the precise contextual meaning of the original within the constraints of the TL grammatical structures;
Semantic translation - which differs from "faithful translation" only in as far as it must take more account of the aesthetic value of the SL text;
Adaptation - it is the freest form of translation, and is used mainly for plays (comedies) and poetry; the themes, characters, plots are usually preserved, the SL culture is converted to the TL culture and the text is rewritten;
Free translation - it produces the TL text without the style, form, or content of the original;
Idiomatic translation - it reproduces the "message" of the original but tends to distort nuances of meaning by preferring colloquialisms and idioms where these do not exist in the original;
Communicative translation - it attempts to render the exact contextual meaning of the original in such a way that both content and language are readily acceptable and comprehensible to the readership.
According to Eugene Nida in Toward a Science of Translating: With Special Reference to Principles and Procedures Involved in Bible Translating, the translation procedures are divided into technical and organizational procedures. On one hand, the technical procedures involve the analysis of the source and target languages, the study of the source language text before trying to translate it and last but not least the judgments of the semantic and syntactic approximations (241-245). On the other hand, the organizational procedures are "a constant reevaluation of the attempt made; contrasting it with the existing available translations of the same text done by other translators, and checking the text's communicative effectiveness by asking the target language readers to evaluate its accuracy and effectiveness and studying their reactions" (246-247).
Vinay and Darbelnet in Munday's Introducing Translation Studies mention seven procedures in translation. They classified them into direct and indirect procedures. The direct procedures are used when structural and conceptual elements of the source language can be transported into the target language and they consist of borrowing, calque and literal translation.
The borrowing procedure is the simplest one since the translator only takes words directly from one language into another without translation (examples: salsa, dollar, tequila, focaccia);
When using the calque procedure, the source language components are retained, but they are literally translated (examples: Adam's Apple, point of view, rest in peace);
Literal translation - Vinay and Darbelent and Newmark state that "literal translation is to translate a word or an expression word for word"; the transfer of the source language structure is possible in cases of direct word correspondence and identical syntactic order.
The indirect translation procedures are used when the structural or conceptual elements of the source language cannot be directly translated without altering meaning or changing the grammatical and stylistics elements of the target language. They consist of transposition, modulation, equivalence and adaptation.
Transposition - Vinay and Darbelent state that transposition is "a change of one part of speech for another without change of sense" (56) which involves replacing one word class from the source language without changing the meaning of the message (example: From the time the baby was born = De la naÅŸterea bebeluÅŸului);
Modulation is basically a change in point of view in order to express the same phenomenon in a different way (examples: as white as a sheet = alb ca varul, as cold as charity = rece ca un sloi de gheaÅ£Äƒ, stage door = intrarea actorilor);
Equivalence - Vinay and Darbelent state that equivalence refers to cases (proverbs) where languages describe the same situation by different structural means (examples: once bitten, twice shy = cine s-a ars cu ciorbÄƒ, suflÄƒ ÅŸi-n iaurt, when the cat is away, the mice will play = când pisica nu-i acasÄƒ, joacÄƒ ÅŸoarecii pe masÄƒ, misfortunes never come singly = o nenorocire nu vine niciodatÄƒ singurÄƒ);