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A discussion on translation and its aspects

Classical Indian translation is characterized by loose adaptation, rather than the closer translation more commonly found in Europe; and Chinese translation theory identifies various criteria and limitations in translation. In the East Asian sphere of Chinese cultural influence, more important than translation per se has been the use and reading of Chinese texts, which also had substantial influence on the Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese languages, with substantial borrowings of Chinese vocabulary and writing system.

Notable is the Japanese kanbuna system for glossing Chinese texts for Japanese speakers. Though Indianized states in Southeast Asia often translated Sanskrit material into the local languages, the literate elites and scribes more commonly used Sanskrit as their primary language of culture and government.

The internal structure of Chinese characters has a beauty of its own, and the calligraphy in which classical poems were written is another important but untranslatable dimension. Since Chinese characters do not vary in length, and because there are exactly five characters per line in a poem like [the one that Eliot Weinberger discusses in 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei with More Ways ], another untranslatable feature is that the written result, hung on a wall, presents a rectangle.

Translators into languages whose word lengths vary can reproduce such an effect only at the risk of fatal awkwardness. Another imponderable is how to imitate the 1-2, 1-2-3 rhythm in which five- syllable lines in classical Chinese poems normally are read. Chinese characters are pronounced in one syllable apiece, so producing such rhythms in Chinese is not hard and the results are unobtrusive; but any imitation in a Western language is almost inevitably stilted and distracting.

Even less translatable are the patterns of tone arrangement in classical Chinese poetry. Each syllable character belongs to one of two a discussion on translation and its aspects determined by the pitch contour in which it is read; in a classical Chinese poem the patterns of alternation of the two categories exhibit parallelism and mirroring. What does the translator think the poetic line says? And once he thinks he understands it, how can he render it into the target language?

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Most of the difficulties, according to Link, arise in addressing the second problem, "where the impossibility of perfect answers spawns endless debate. At the literalist extreme, efforts are made to dissect every conceivable detail about the language of the original Chinese poem. Some Western languages, however, ask by grammatical rule that subjects always be stated. Without a subject, he writes, "the experience becomes both universal and immediate to the reader.

Littérature, Langues et Linguistique

For poets, this creates the great advantage of ambiguity. According to Link, Weinberger's insight about subjectlessness—that it produces an effect "both universal and immediate"—applies to timelessness as well.

  1. In Britto's translation, the landowners are simply from the "interior" Britto 12 , which is literally correct, but elides the slight possibility of a new kind of identity. The interplay between these two visions continues throughout the novel.
  2. Any possibility of a play of meanings between our country and the country of the mind is lost, as indeed is the suggestion that the true knowledge that can be obtained in this country is just as available to Laura as it was to Voss.
  3. The author explains that it relates to the public with which she works i. This was the biggest, most meaningful importation of foreign thought into Arabic since Abbasid times 750—1258.
  4. Whenever the word foreign is applied to Voss, it is translated as estrangeiro, in a sense that can only be understood as political, as a matter of citizenship. Currently, he is a lecturer at Universidade Federal de Campina Grande.

Dilemmas about translation do not have definitive right answers although there can be unambiguously wrong ones if misreadings of the original are involved. Any translation except machine translation, a different case must pass through the mind of a translator, and that mind inevitably contains its own store of perceptions, memories, and values.

Arab translation initially focused primarily on politics, rendering Persian, Greek, even Chinese and Indic diplomatic materials into Arabic. In terms of theory, Arabic translation drew heavily on earlier Near Eastern traditions as well as more contemporary Greek and Persian traditions.

Arabic translation efforts and techniques are important to Western translation traditions due to centuries of close contacts and exchanges.

Especially after the RenaissanceEuropeans began more intensive study of Arabic and Persian translations of classical works as well as scientific and philosophical works of Arab and oriental origins.

Arabic and, to a lesser degree, Persian became important sources of material and perhaps of techniques for revitalized Western traditions, which in time would overtake the Islamic and oriental traditions.

In the 19th century, after the Middle East 's Islamic clerics and copyists had conceded defeat in their centuries-old battle to contain the corrupting effects of the printing press[an] explosion in publishing.

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Along with a discussion on translation and its aspects secular education, printing transformed an overwhelmingly illiterate society into a partly literate one. In the past, the sheikhs and the government had exercised a monopoly over knowledge. Now an expanding elite benefitted from a stream of information on virtually anything that interested them.

Between 1880 and 1908. The most prominent among them was al-Muqtataf. This was the biggest, most meaningful importation of foreign thought into Arabic since Abbasid times 750—1258. Yet Arabic has its own sources of reinvention. The root system that Arabic shares with other Semitic tongues such as Hebrew is capable of expanding the meanings of words using structured consonantal variations: Educated Arabs and Turks in the new professions and the modernized civil service expressed skepticismwrites Christopher de Bellaigue"with a freedom that is rarely witnessed today.

No longer was legitimate knowledge defined by texts in the religious schools, interpreted for the most part with stultifying literalness. It had come to include virtually any intellectual production anywhere in the world.

Spencer's view of society as an organism with its own laws of evolution paralleled Abduh's ideas. John Dryden Transparency is the extent to which a translation appears to a native speaker of the target language to have originally been written in that language, and conforms to its grammar, syntax and idiom. John Dryden 1631—1700 writes in his preface to the translation anthology Sylvae: Where I have taken away some of [the original authors'] Expressions, and cut them shorter, it may possibly be on this consideration, that what was beautiful in the Greek or Latin, would not appear so shining in the English; and where I have enlarg'd them, I desire the false Criticks would not always think that those thoughts are wholly mine, but that either they are secretly in the Poet, or may be fairly deduc'd from him; or at least, if both those considerations should fail, that my own is of a piece with his, and that if he were living, and an Englishman, they are such as he wou'd probably have written.

Depending on the given translation, the two qualities may not be mutually exclusive.

  • The slightly ironic touch portrayed by the image of a typical Berber man wearing the classic symbol of a Frenchman, namely a blue beret, may not be entirely lost on a TT reader yet without understanding the historical and cultural background the depth of the irony of comic paradox may be lost;
  • The cultural implications for translation require a full understanding of the notion rather than an emphasis on the original SL reference;
  • Indeed, the historical and cultural facts are unlikely to be known in detail along with the specific cultural situations described;
  • This is another reference which has strongly attached associations due to the same cultural and historical factors and the meaning is only fully understandable if these associations are known;
  • These three words, into, your and country - are manipulated throughout the dialogue that follows.

The criteria for judging the fidelity of a translation vary according to the subject, type and use of the text, its literary qualities, its social or historical context, etc.

Friedrich Schleiermacher The criteria for judging the transparency of a translation appear more straightforward: Nevertheless, in certain contexts a translator may consciously seek to produce a literal translation.

Translators of literaryreligious or historic texts often adhere as closely as possible to the source text, stretching the limits of the target language to produce an unidiomatic text. A translator may adopt expressions from the source language in order to provide "local color". Current Western translation practice is dominated by the dual concepts of "fidelity" and "transparency". This has not always been the case, however; there have been periods, especially in pre-Classical Rome and in the 18th century, when many translators stepped beyond the bounds of translation proper into the realm of adaptation.

Lawrence Venuti Adapted translation retains currency in some non-Western traditions.

  • Thus two types of ideal reader may be distinguished;
  • Mrs Bonner feels pity for "one who had been born a foreigner" White 17 , that is, not a subject of Queen Victoria;
  • Supported by Towsend ibid;
  • By translating as "in the cool of the evening," the same positive aspect may be maintained on the TT reader as in the SL country;
  • Writing, translating, publishing, reviewing and recommending are all performed by adults.

The Indian epic, the Ramayanaappears in many versions in the various Indian languagesand the stories are different in each. Similar examples are to be found in medieval Christian literature, which adjusted the text to local customs and mores.

Many non-transparent-translation theories draw on concepts from German Romanticismthe most obvious influence being the German theologian and philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher.

In his seminal lecture "On the Different Methods of Translation" 1813 he distinguished between translation methods that move "the writer toward [the reader]", i. Schleiermacher favored the latter approach; he was motivated, however, not so much by a desire to embrace the foreign, as by a nationalist desire to oppose France's cultural domination and to promote German literature.

In recent decades, prominent advocates of such "non-transparent" translation have included the French scholar Antoine Bermanwho identified twelve deforming tendencies inherent in most prose translations, [30] and the A discussion on translation and its aspects theorist Lawrence Venutiwho has called on translators to apply "foreignizing" rather than domesticating translation strategies.

Dynamic and formal equivalence The question a discussion on translation and its aspects fidelity vs. The latter expressions are associated with the translator Eugene Nida and were originally coined to describe ways of translating the Biblebut the two approaches are applicable to any translation.

By contrast, "formal equivalence" sought via "literal" translation attempts to render the text literally, or "word for word" the latter expression being itself a word-for-word rendering of the classical Latin verbum pro verbo —if necessary, at the expense of features natural to the target language.

There is, however, no sharp boundary between functional and formal equivalence. On the contrary, a discussion on translation and its aspects represent a spectrum of translation approaches. Each is used at various times and in various contexts by the same translator, and at various points within the same text—sometimes simultaneously.

Competent translation entails the judicious blending of functional and formal equivalents. Back-translation[ edit ] A "back-translation" is a translation of a translated text back into the language of the original text, made without reference to the original text. Comparison of a back-translation with the original text is sometimes used as a check on the accuracy of the original translation, much as the accuracy of a mathematical operation is sometimes checked by reversing the operation.

But the results of such reverse-translation operations, while useful as approximate checks, are not always precisely reliable. In the context of machine translationa back-translation is also called a "round-trip translation. He published his back-translation in a 1903 volume together with his English-language original, the French translation, and a "Private History of the 'Jumping Frog' Story". The latter included a synopsized adaptation of his story that Twain stated had appeared, unattributed to Twain, in a Professor Sidgwick's Greek Prose Composition p.

An example involves the novel The Saragossa Manuscript by the Polish aristocrat Jan Potocki 1761—1815who wrote the novel in French and anonymously published fragments in 1804 and 1813—14. Portions of the original French-language manuscript were subsequently lost; however, the missing fragments survived in a Polish translation that was made by Edmund Chojecki in 1847 from a complete French copy, now lost.

French-language versions of the complete Saragossa Manuscript have since been produced, based on extant French-language fragments and on French-language versions that have been back-translated from Chojecki's Polish version. Some of them survive only in Renaissance Latin translations from the Arabic, thus at a second remove from the original. To better understand Galen, scholars have attempted a back-translation of such works to reconstruct the original Greek. For example, the known text of the Till Eulenspiegel folk tales is in High German but contains puns that work only when back-translated to Low German.

This seems clear evidence that these tales or at least large portions of them were originally written in Low German and translated into High German by an over-metaphrastic translator.

Similarly, supporters of Aramaic primacy —of the view that the Christian New Testament or its sources were originally written in the Aramaic language —seek to prove their case by showing that difficult passages in the existing Greek text of the New Testament make much better sense when back-translated to Aramaic: Due to similar indications, it is believed that the 2nd century Gnostic Gospel of Judaswhich survives only in Copticwas originally written in Greek.

John Dryden 1631—1700the dominant English-language literary figure of his age, illustrates, in his use of back-translation, translators' influence on the evolution of languages and literary styles.

Dryden is believed to be the first person to posit that English sentences should not end in prepositions because Latin sentences cannot end in prepositions. As Latin does not have sentences ending in prepositions, Dryden may have applied Latin grammar to English, thus forming the controversial rule of no sentence-ending prepositions, subsequently adopted by other writers.

A language is not merely a collection of words and of rules of grammar and syntax for generating sentencesbut also a vast interconnecting system of connotations and cultural references whose mastery, writes linguist Mario Pei"comes close to being a lifetime job. Viewed in this light, it is a serious misconception to assume that a person who has fair fluency in two languages will, by virtue of that fact alone, be consistently competent to translate between them.

Translation, like other human activities, [45] entails making choices, and choice implies interpretation. And there, my dear, I beg you to let yourself be guided more by your temperament than by a strict conscience.

  1. Each syllable character belongs to one of two categories determined by the pitch contour in which it is read; in a classical Chinese poem the patterns of alternation of the two categories exhibit parallelism and mirroring. One of them is simply odd-the metaphorical "cold, nebulous country of the stars" White 391 being equated with a geopolitical unit -, but the others are quite misleading.
  2. Approaches to the translation of childrens literature.
  3. On a semantic and cultural level, there are several potential problems for a reader not corresponding to the criteria of the ideal reader.
  4. Unsurprisingly, this ambivalence is absent from Britto's translation. This commonality has nothing to do with having been born in the colony of New South Wales, nor indeed with feeling any particular sense of belonging there.
  5. This association may be due to the required changes and adjustments to the creation of the message that will be targeted at a new audience, as the sociolinguistic needs of this new audience are configured differently from the source text audience. In recent decades, prominent advocates of such "non-transparent" translation have included the French scholar Antoine Berman , who identified twelve deforming tendencies inherent in most prose translations, [30] and the American theorist Lawrence Venuti , who has called on translators to apply "foreignizing" rather than domesticating translation strategies.

Part of the ambiguity, for a translator, involves the structure of human language. Psychologist and neural scientist Gary Marcus notes that "virtually every sentence [that people generate] is ambiguousoften in multiple ways.

Our brain is so good at comprehending language that we do not usually notice. Ambiguity is a concern to both translators and, as the writings of poet and literary critic William Empson have demonstrated, to literary critics.


Ambiguity may be desirable, indeed essential, in poetry and diplomacy ; it can be more problematic in ordinary prose. A translator may render only parts of the original text, provided he indicates that this is what he is doing.

But a translator should not assume the role of censor and surreptitiously delete or bowdlerize passages merely to please a political or moral interest. Translating like analytic philosophy compels precise analysis of language elements and of their usage.

In 1946 the poet Ezra Poundthen at St. Elizabeth's Hospitalin Washington, D.