As a student who has studied translation studies for nearly three years, I have noticed that my attitudes towards translation both in theories and practices and my skills on translation are developing from time to time. When I was in the first class of translation studies in China, I simply assumed that translation is a skill of vocabulary and response. However, I have already aware that translation is not only more than a skill of vocabulary and response, but a progress requires vocabulary, background information and consciousness of the translators. Among all the resources I have come across in my studies, two books made a great difference on me: In Other Words: a coursebook on translation by Mona Baker and Introducing Translation Studies by Jeremy Munday. The different translation theories in these two books, especially the equivalence and the skopos theory, has made up my consciousness as a translator even though I am still in a junior level of studying translation and these theories has altered my way of reading and understanding in my study here in Britain. They lead me to the progress that understanding is more than just checking the meaning of every single word.
â…¡ The influences that these two books brought to my study and my translating practice
2.1 The non-equivalence in In Other Words: a coursebook on translation and the Roman Jakobson's theory in Introducing Translation Studies
People from different cultures have different expectations about what kind of language is appropriate to certain situations. "There is no one-to-one correspondence between orthographic words and elements of meaning within or across languages."(Baker, 11)The lack of equivalence at word level causes many translation problems. According to Mona Baker's book, the common problems of non-equivalence are: (a) culture-specific concepts; (b) the source-language concept is not lexicalized in the target language; (c) the source-language word is semantically complex; (d) the source and target languages make different distinctions in meaning; (e) the target language lacks a superordinate; (f) the target language lacks a specific term; (g) differences in physical or interpersonal perspectives; (h) differences in expressive meaning; (i) differences in form; (j) differences in frequency and purpose of using specific forms; (k) the use of loan words in the source text. I came across some of these problems in my translation project. For instance, in my original text in that project, one sentence is that : é£žè¿‡äººé-´çš„æ- å¸¸, which I translated into: after flying through the uncertainty of man's world. Even though "fly through" was the translation of "é£žè¿‡", in Chinese, "é£žè¿‡" did not only mean the action of fly but it pointed out the whole flying progress had been done by adding the word "è¿‡", which means "è¿‡" has two meaning in this phrase: through and after that. This is the "the source-language word is semantically complex" problem of non-equivalence stated by Mona Baker, and I chose to add the word after to maintain the meaning. I never thought of there are differences between English and Chinese in describing the action of flying until I started to translate this text, and Baker's theory leaded me to figure out the exact reason. Baker's statement: "the choice of a suitable equivalent will always depend not only on the linguistic system or systems being handled by the translator, but also on the way both writer of the source text and the producer of the target text", really encouraged me to dig deeper about the differences and distinction between Chinese and English, and reminded me of what I was supposed to be as a translator. Meanwhile, in order to be a well-trained translator, I should be a well-learner of English at first, which means before I understand the problems of non-equivalence caused in translation, I have to understand the equivalence and non-equivalence happen between English and Chinese. At this point, Roman Jakobson's theory of the nature of linguistic meaning and equivalence in Jeremy Munday's book was the catalyst to help me to comprehend the whole process of understanding, analysing and translation. When I was in China, it was very possible that since most of the English books I was reading were all written by Chinese people, I did not come across any difficulties in understanding the meaning and it never occurred to me that I might not understand the meaning or points of any sentences or passages even if I know the meaning of every single word. After I started my study here in Britain, I did find that I cannot understand my textbook even though there were not many new vocabulary which stopped me reading. I was puzzled and frustrated and thought my English was extremely awful. It was fortunately that I finally come across the information about the equivalence, which helped me out of my frustration. Understand that the differences in whole language structures, I should not follow the meaning of every single word but consider the system of English language and use an "English mode" to think about the English books and using an "English mind" to explore the messages rather than attempting to find the translation every time, in other words: train myself to think in the way which the native English speaker do. No matter how I much study I have done here, there is always space for improving; especially I am till an early learner of English for now. It is a promotion for me to combine the different and related theories in my study.
2.2 The dynamic equivalence and skopos theory in Introducing Translation Studies
Dynamic equivalence is based on Nida's theory of "the principle of the equivalent effect", which means that "the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and message."(Munday, 42) In other words, dynamic equivalence is the way that the translator restructures the whole message which is need to be delivered according to the receptor's linguistic needs and cultural expectation, aiming at complete naturalness of expression. (ibid) Skopos theory is a source text based way of translation which "has to be negotiated and performed" and which "has a purpose and result" (Munday, 79), which means that this way of translation is to let the reader of the translation to choose the words, styles or detailed information of the version of translation when the message from the source text is delivering. The original text is able to be translated into very different versions according to the different needs of varied readers. These two theories played a very significant part in my real practice of translation. In my translation project which I chose a lyric as my source text, I had two versions of translation according to the singable requirement and the exact meaning requirement. In the "meaning version", I used dynamic equivalence to achieve the goal of expressing the feel of reliance in English. Another example that these two theories work together well for me is in the translation of some promotion materials from a charity I am working for. The charity is aiming at attract more attention to those poor students who are facing drop out in some desolate areas in China and it is organizing a charity night to achieve this aim. Another reason for this night is that the May fourth international youth day is coming. I was asked to translate a passage promoting this night and the constitution of this charity. The Chinese material is written in a very highly spiritual tune picturing the fighting spirit of the youth and a lot of the paragraphs related to the details of the Chinese May fourth movement, such as the people and slogan and the historical meaning of that movement. When I was asked to translated the material I did not realized how hard project it was. Those detailed information of Chinese May fourth movement is aware by every Chinese student since it is a very important part of our history lessons in high school and the target reader of this translation is clearly not Chinese students, which meanings if I wish to translate this material, there is larger additional information I have to add to the translation. After thought completely about who are the target readers and how much information they have about this special event, I decided to use dynamic equivalence to achieve the aim of promoting the charity night. I had to give up numbers of sentences which the slogans and spirit play a large part of their structure and replace them of some neutral sentences contain the information of that movement. Those sentences are brilliantly built in Chinese language structure but once translated into English, they are nothing but some strange phrases combination. I ran through my whole procedure of translation and handed in my translation of that material to the charity, all of them had a same conclusion: even though this translation is completely different from what it was in Chinese, it achieved the goals of helping the English speaker understanding the May fourth movement and what we are working for. The constitution is much easier to translate since the rules are always statements without the feelings from the writers. The requirement of this style of passage is always to make the information delivered as completely as possible. No matter who will be the readers, it works as rule forever and it is the only one material I ever come across that no matter who is the translator, it is always the same more or less.
One year ago when I was in the transition class in China, we were trained to use a same system to translate almost every material: analyzing, transferring, reorganizing and checking. The details might be different between everyone's translations simple because everyone had different feelings towards certain material and there is no obvious evidence of the exact aim of translation. I never thought about the questions such as who will be the readers of my translation. When I look at my translation work I did at that time, I find that it takes me more time to think before I start to translate and certainly that I look for more background information about the material and the writer to help me understand the message of the source text. It is obviously that I achieve a very different version of translation from the old one. I cannot guarantee that the new version is much better than the former one, one thing I am sure about is that I have already facing the material with an attitude of translator rather than a Chinese English learner playing with the words game. I made my progress after studying these theories and I have learnt to use them in my real practice. Even though some of them mostly work on the western languages systems and have problems dealing with the Chinese language, I still find them useful in my study, not only in translation but in the way I understand English. I am not able to define that whether a translator could be better than the resources, but what I discovered is that they work much better together in helping me understand English and my translation study than using only one of them.
Baker, M. (1992), In other words: a coursebook on translation, New York: Routledge
Munday, J. (2001), Introducing Translation Studies, New York: Routledge