Translation is ultimately a human activity which enables human beings to exchange ideas and thoughts regardless of the different tongues used. Al Wassety (2001) views the phenomenon of translation as a legitimate offspring of the phenomenon of language, since originally, when humans spread over the earth, their languages differed and they needed a means through which people speaking a certain language (tongue) would interact with others who spoke a different language.
Translation is, in Enani’s (1997) view, a modern science at the interface of philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and sociology. Literary translation in particular is relevant to all these sciences, audio-visual arts, as well as cultural and intellectual study Translation is, in Chabban’s words (1984:5), “a finicky job,” as it has not yet been reduced to strict scientific rules, and it allows for the differences that are known to exist between different personalities. Translation is a heavily subjective art, especially when it deals with matters outside the realm of science where precisely defined concepts are more often expressed by certain generally accepted terms.
In the final analysis, translation is a science, an art, and a skill. It is a science in the sense that it necessitates complete knowledge of the structure and make-up of the two languages concerned. It is an art since it requires artistic talent to reconstruct the original text in the form of a product that is presentable to the reader who is not supposed to be familiar with the original. It is also a skill because it entails the ability to smooth over any difficulty in the translation, and the ability to provide the translation of something that has no equal in the target language.
In translation, the richness of vocabulary, depth of culture, and vision of the translator could certainly have very conspicuous effects on his/her work. Another translator might produce a reasonably acceptable version of the same text, which, however, may very well reflect a completely different background, culture, sensitivity, and temperament. Such differences cannot, in Chabban’s view (1984), detract from the merit of either translator. This is simply because translation is decidedly a more difficult job than creation.
The question of the possibility of translation is widely regarded as crucial to any understanding of what language is. If translation is not possible, then what is it that language does? Translation is possible in the sense that we humans have been doing it (or claiming to have done it) for many thousands of years, but we have been doing so without any assurance that the message sent was indeed the message that was received. If I ask you to open the window and you then do just that, it may not be too presumptuous to think that the message has successfully been translated, but in the case of a great many possible linguistic instances — probably the vast majority — that sort of unambiguous confirmation is not possible.
Even in the present case, your “compliance” with my request may be the result of sheer coincidence, of my misunderstanding of what you’ve done, or of some entirely extraneous factor.
Translation between languages is not the whole of translation, but it is an especially illuminating limit case of a much broader phenomenon. The need to translate the spoken word (either within or between languages) presents serious practical difficulties for a great many people on a day-to-day basis. However, it is written texts that most profoundly present the theoretical problem of translation; a “literal” translation would be inconceivable in an entirely oral culture. Indeed, the notion of “fidelity” to an “original” must be quite different in an oral culture than it is in a print-dominated culture.
In addition, written texts raise the question of the “translation” between speech and writing. The creation of alphabets and the writing down of oral traditions authorize or at least permit the separation of the linguistic medium from its significant content — after all, a “translation” has already occurred, in the writing down of the spoken word. Either content or medium may change, independently of the other. This is why Socrates attacked writing, in the Phaedrus: writing is both powerful and dangerous — it is magical — and the possibility that translation will transform the words beyond recognition threatens the search for truth.
Only two centuries after Socrates distinguished between the living, seminal word that arises from the dialectic of minds, and the poisonous written word that kills the memory, Jewish scribes translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. This was at a time when what Walter Ong calls chirographic culture was growing rapidly in importance, a time in which alphabetic writing was becoming more and more influential upon the Mediterranean world, although oral culture still dominated. It was to this cultural transformation, and the attendant threat of the loss of meaning, that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam– religions on which the written word has had tremendous influence — responded in their different views of the translatability of scripture.
The question of translation has profound theological dimensions. The question of scripture” — its nature, meaning, and authority — is inseparable from that of translation.
Even in our modern world, readers tend to regard the original work — whether “holy scripture” or secular literature — as superior to as as and more authoritative than any of its translated versions. In Islam this tendency reaches an extreme. Muslims believe that Allah dictated his revelation through Mohammed in Arabic, and the only true or proper Quran is the Quran in Arabic. Arabic is the one divine language. The material body of the text and its meaning are held to be inseparable, and the problem of translation is eliminated, because the possibility of valid translation is denied. Or rather, the problem is disguised and absorbed into the larger hermeneutical problem– the more general question of the text’s meaning.
In contrast, the Jewish and Christian traditions permit from a very early date — with the Septuagint (ca. 200 BCE) and the New Testament (first century CE) – the translation both of the language and of the concepts of the Hebrew Scriptures. Hebrew is thought of as the holy language in at least some Jewish communities, and Jews remain ambivalent toward the status of the Torah in translation. In one legend concerning the writing of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, God favors this act of translation through the miraculous unanimity of the seventy translators’ work.
However, in another account, God’s disapproval of the translating is manifested through unnatural darkness over the earth.
In the oldest stratum of the Hebrew Scriptures, the story of the Tower of Babel (Gen.11:1-9) implicitly denies that any human language is the language of God and explicitly asserts that “the language of all the earth” has been “confused” by God. The multiplicity of languages is a punishment (or gift?) from God: translation is both necessary and impossible. It is the goal of the Kabbalah, the mystical rabbinic reading of the scriptures, to find reflected in our post-Babelian human languages, and especially the languages of the Torah, echoes of the true language of God.
Because the Hebrew alphabet (in pre-Masoretic form) has no vowels, the writings cannot be spoken without an interpretative addition on the part of the reader. The gulf between the written and the oral is far greater than for an English or Greek text. By itself the Hebrew text is nonsense and dependent upon vocalization for signification, and yet as canon it is always prior to speech, to any authoritative interpretation. Here the distinction between the material, written text and its meaning is quite evident. Meaningful language arises out of meaningless difference.
Criteria for a good translation
A good translation is one that carries all the ideas of the original as well as its structural and cultural features. Massoud (1988) sets criteria for a good translation as follows:
- A good translation is easily understood.
- A good translation is fluent and smooth.
- A good translation is idiomatic.
- A good translation conveys, to some extent, the literary subtleties of the original.
- A good translation distinguishes between the metaphorical and the literal.
- A good translation reconstructs the cultural/historical context of the original.
- A good translation makes explicit what is implicit in abbreviations, and in allusions to sayings, songs, and nursery rhymes.
- A good translation will convey, as much as possible, the meaning of the original text (pp. 19-24).
El Shafey (1985: 93) suggests other criteria for a good translation; these include three main principles:
- The knowledge of the grammar of the source language plus the knowledge of vocabulary, as well as good understanding of the text to be translated.
- The ability of the translator to reconstitute the given text (source-language text) into the target language.
- The translation should capture the style or atmosphere of the original text; it should have all the ease of an original composition.
From a different perspective, El Touny (2001) focused on differentiating between different types of translation. He indicated that there are eight types of translation: word-for-word translation, literal translation, faithful translation, semantic translation, adaptive translation, free translation, idiomatic translation, and communicative translation. He advocated the last type as the one which transmits the meaning from the context, respecting the form and structure of the original and which is easily comprehensible by the readers of the target language.
El Zeini (1994) didn’t seem satisfied with such criteria for assessing the quality of translation. Hence she suggested a pragmatic and stylistic model for evaluating quality in translation. She explains that the model “places equal emphasis on the pragmatic component as well on the stylistic component in translation. This model covers a set of criteria, which are divided into two main categories: content-related criteria and form-related criteria” and expected that by following these criteria, “translators will be able to minimize the chance of producing errors or losses, as well as eliminate problems of unacceptability” .
Translation problems can be divided into linguistic problems and cultural problems: the linguistic problems include grammatical differences, lexical ambiguity and meaning ambiguity; the cultural problems refer to different situational features. This classification coincides with that of El Zeini when she identified six main problems in translating from Arabic to English and vice versa; these are lexicon, morphology, syntax, textual differences, rhetorical differences, and pragmatic factors.
Another level of difficulty in translation work is what As-sayyd (1995) found when she conducted a study to compare and assess some problems in translating the fair names of Allah in the Qu’ran. She pointed out that some of the major problems of translation are over-translation, under-translation, and untranslatability.
Culture constitutes another major problem that faces translators. A bad model of translated pieces of literature may give misconceptions about the original. That is why Fionty (2001) thought that poorly translated texts distort the original in its tone and cultural references, while Zidan (1994) wondered about the possible role of the target culture content as a motivating variable in enhancing or hindering the attainment of linguistic, communicative and, more importantly, cultural objectives of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) education. Hassan (1997) emphasized this notion when he pointed out the importance of paying attention to the translation of irony in the source language context. He clarified that this will not only transfer the features of the language translated but also its cultural characteristics.\
The translator’s work
Enani (1994:5) defines the translator as “a writer who formulates ideas in words addressed to readers. The only difference between him and the original writer is that these ideas are the latter’s”. Another difference is that the work of the translator is even more difficult than that of the artist. The artist is supposed to produce directly his/her ideas and emotions in his/her own language however intricate and complicated his/her thoughts are. The translator’s responsibility is much greater, for s/he has to relive the experiences of a different person. Chabban (1984) believes that, however accurately the translator may delve into the inner depths of the writer’s mind, some formidable linguistic and other difficulties may still prevent the two texts from being fully equivalent. Therefore we do not only perceive the differences between a certain text and its translation, but also between different translations of the same text
On the procedural level, El Shafey (1985:95) states: “A translator first analyzes the message, breaking it down into its simplest and structurally clearest elements, transfers it at this level into the target language in the form which is most appropriate for the intended audience. A translator instinctively concludes that it is best to transfer the “kernel level” in one language to the corresponding “kernel level” in the “receptor language.”
Translation skills for novice translators
The present study suggests four main macro-skills for any translator who begins his/her work in the field of translation. These are: reading comprehension, researching, analytical, and composing skills. These macro-skills include many sub- or micro-skills that need to be mastered.
While we are translating, we do not think of our activity as being broken down into phases. After doing our first translations, many automatic mechanisms come into plays that allow us to translate more quickly; at the same time, we are less and less conscious of our activity.
1.The first phase of the translation process consists of reading the text. The reading act, first, falls under the competence of psychology, because it concerns our perceptive system. Reading, like translation, is, for the most part, an unconscious process. If it were conscious, we would be forced to consume much more time in the act. Most mental processes involved in the reading act are automatic and unconscious. Owing to such a nature-common and little-known in the same time-in our opinion it is important to analyze the reading process as precisely as possible. The works of some perception psychologists will be helpful to widen our knowledge of this first phase of the translation process.
When a person reads, his brain deals with many tasks in such rapid sequences that everything seems to be happening simultaneously. The eye examines (from left to right as far as many Western languages are concerned, or from right to left or from top to bottom in some other languages) a series of graphic signs (graphemes) in succession, which give life to syllables, words, sentences, paragraphs, sections, chapters, and texts.
Simply reading a text is, in itself, an act of translation. When we read, we do not store the words we have read in our minds as happens with data entered using a keyboard or scanner into a computer. After reading, we do not have the photographic or auditory recording in our minds of the text read. We have a set of impressions instead. We remember a few words or sentences precisely, while all the remaining text is translated from the verbal language into a language belonging to another sign system, which is still mostly unknown: the mental language.
The mental processing of the read verbal material is of a syntactical nature when we try to reconstruct the possible structure of the sentence, i.e. the relations among its elements. In contrast, it is of a semantic nature when we identify the relevant areas within the semantic field of any single word or sentence; and it is of a pragmatic nature when we deal with the logical match of the possible meanings with the general context and the verbal co-text.
The difference between a reader and a critic is negligible: the reader trying to understand has the same attitude as the critic, who is a systematic, methodical, and self-aware reader. While reading, the individual reads, and perceives what he reads, drawing interpretations and inferences about the possible intentions of the author of the message.
Holmes (1988) suggested that the translation process is actually a multi-level process; while we are translating sentences, we have a map of the original text in our minds and, at the same time, a map of the kind of text we want to produce in the target language. Even as we translate serially, we have this structural concept so that each sentence in our translation is determined not only by the original sentence, but also by the two maps—of the original text and of the translated text—which we carry along as we translate.
The translation process should, therefore, be considered a complex system in which understanding, processing, and projection of the translated text are interdependent portions of one structure. We can therefore put forward, as does Hnig (1991), the existence of a sort of “central processing unit” supervising the coordination of the different mental processes (those connected to reading, interpretation, and writing) and at the same time projecting a map of the text to be.
Novice translators as well as student translators are advised to master the following basic reading comprehension skills.
- Read for gist and main ideas.
- Read for details.
- Identify the meaning of new words and expressions using one or more components of the structural analysis clause; prefixes, suffixes, roots, word order, punctuation, sentence pattern, etc.
- Identify the meaning of new words and expressions using one ore more of the contextual analysis; synonyms, antonyms, examples, etc.
- Identify the writer’s style: literary, scientific, technical, informative, persuasive, argumentative, etc.
- Identify the language level used in the text: standard, slang, religious, etc.
- Identify cultural references in the choice of words in the text.
Culture and intercultural competence and awareness that rise out of experience of culture, are far more complex phenomena than it may seem to the translator. The more a translator is aware of complexities of differences between cultures, the better a translator s/he will be. It is probably right to say that there has never been a time when the community of translators was unaware of cultural differences and their significance for translation. Translation theorists have been cognizant of the problems attendant upon cultural knowledge and cultural differences at least since ancient Rome. Cultural knowledge and cultural differences have been a major focus of translator training and translation theory for as long as either has been in existence. The main concern has traditionally been with words and phrases that are so heavily and exclusively grounded in one culture that they are almost impossible to translate into the terms – verbal or otherwise – of another. Long debate have been held over when to paraphrase, when to use the nearest local equivalent, when to coin a new word by translating literally, and when to transcribe. All these “untranslatable” cultural-bound words and phrases continued to fascinate translators and translation theorists.
The first theory developed in this field was introduced by Mounin in 1963 who underlined the importance of the signification of a lexical item claiming that only if this notion is considered will the translated item fulfill its function correctly. The problem with this theory is that all the cultural elements do not involve just the items, what a translator should do in the case of cultural implications which are implied in the background knowledge of SL readers?
The notion of culture is essential to considering the implications for translation and, despite the differences in opinion as to whether language is part of culture or not, the two notions of culture and language appear to be inseparable. In 1964, Nida discussed the problems of correspondence in translation, conferred equal importance to both linguistic and cultural differences between the SL and the TL and concluded that differences between cultures may cause more severe complications for the translator than do differences in language structure. It is further explained that parallels in culture often provide a common understanding despite significant formal shifts in the translation. According to him cultural implications for translation are thus of significant importance as well as lexical concerns.
Consider cultural implications for translation. According to him, a “gloss translation” mostly typifies formal equivalence where form and content are reproduced as faithfully as possible and the TL reader is able to “understand as much as he can of the customs, manner of thought, and means of expression” of the SL context. Contrasting with this idea, dynamic equivalence “tries to relate the receptor to modes of behavior relevant within the context of his own culture” without insisting that he “understand the cultural patterns of the source-language context”. According to him problems may vary in scope depending on the cultural and linguistic gap between the two (or more) languages concerned.
It can be said that the first concept in cultural translation studies wascultural turn that in 1978 was presaged by the work on Polysystems and translation norms by Even-Zohar and in 1980 by Toury. They dismiss the linguistic kinds of theories of translation and refer to them as having moved from word to text as a unit but not beyond. They themselves go beyond language and focus on the interaction between translation and culture, on the way culture impacts and constraints translation and on the larger issues of context, history and convention. Therefore, the move from translation as a text to translation as culture and politics is what they call it a Cultural Turn in translation studies and became the ground for a metaphor adopted by Bassnett and Lefevere in 1990. In fact Cultural Turn is the metaphor adopted by Cultural Studies oriented translation theories to refer to the analysis of translation in its cultural, political, and ideological context.
Since 1990, the turn has extended to incorporate a whole range of approaches from cultural studies and is a true indicator of the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary translation studies. As the result of this so called Cultural Turn, cultural studies has taken an increasingly keen interest in translation. One consequence of this has been bringing together scholars from different disciplines. It is here important to mention that these cultural theorists have kept their own ideology and agendas that drive their own criticism. These cultural approaches have widened the horizons of translation studies with new insights but at the same there has been a strong element of conflict among them. It is good to mention that the existence of such differences of perspectives is inevitable.
In the mid 1980s Vermeer introduced skopos theory which is a Greek word for ‘aim’ or ‘purpose’. It is entered into translation theory in as a technical term for the purpose of translation and of action of translating. Skopos theory focuses above all on the purpose of translation, which determines the translation method and strategies that are to be employed in order to produce a functionally adequate result. The result is TT, which Vermeer calls translatum. Therefore, knowing why SL is to be translated and what function of TT will be are crucial for the translator.
In 1984, Reiss and Vermeer in their book with the title of ‘Groundwork for a General Theory of Translation’ concentrated on the basic underlying ‘rules’ of this theory which involve: 1- A translatum (or TT) is determined by its skopos, 2- A TT is an offer of information in a target culture and TL considering an offer of information in a source culture and SL. This relates the ST and TT to their function in their respective linguistic and cultural context. The translator is once again the key player in the process of intercultural communication and production of the translatum because of the purpose of the translation.
In 1992, Coulthard highlightd the importance of defining the ideal reader for whom the author attributes knowledge of certain facts, memory of certain experiences … plus certain opinions, preferences and prejudices and a certain level of linguistic competence. When considering such aspects, the extent to which the author may be influenced by such notions which depend on his own sense of belonging to a specific socio-cultural group should not be forgotten.
Coulthard stated that once the ideal ST readership has been determined, considerations must be made concerning the TT. He said that the translator’s first and major difficulty is the construction of a new ideal reader who, even if he has the same academic, professional and intellectual level as the original reader, will have significantly different textual expectations and cultural knowledge.
In the case of the extract translated here, it is debatable whether the ideal TT reader has “significantly different textual expectations,” however his cultural knowledge will almost certainly vary considerably.
Applied to the criteria used to determine the ideal ST reader it may be noted that few conditions are successfully met by the potential ideal TT reader. Indeed, the historical and cultural facts are unlikely to be known in detail along with the specific cultural situations described. Furthermore, despite considering the level of linguistic competence to be roughly equal for the ST and TT reader, certain differences may possibly be noted in response to the use of culturally specific lexis which must be considered when translating. Although certain opinions, preferences and prejudices may be instinctively transposed by the TT reader who may liken them to his own experience, it must be remembered that these do not match the social situation experience of the ST reader. Therefore, Coulthard mainly stated that the core social and cultural aspects remain problematic when considering the cultural implications for translation.
Equivalence in Translation
1.1 Vinay and Darbelnet and their definition of equivalence in translation
Vinay and Darbelnet view equivalence-oriented translation as a procedure which ‘replicates the same situation as in the original, whilst using completely different wording’ .They also suggest that, if this procedure is applied during the translation process, it can maintain the stylistic impact of the SL text in the TL text. According to them, equivalence is therefore the ideal method when the translator has to deal with proverbs, idioms, clichés, nominal or adjectival phrases and the onomatopoeia of animal sounds.
With regard to equivalent expressions between language pairs, Vinay and Darbelnet claim that they are acceptable as long as they are listed in a bilingual dictionary as ‘full equivalents’. However, later they note that glossaries and collections of idiomatic expressions ‘can never be exhaustive’. They conclude by saying that ‘the need for creating equivalences arises from the situation, and it is in the situation of the SL text that translators have to look for a solution’. Indeed, they argue that even if the semantic equivalent of an expression in the SL text is quoted in a dictionary or a glossary, it is not enough, and it does not guarantee a successful translation. They provide a number of examples to prove their theory, and the following expression appears in their list: Take one is a fixed expression which would have as an equivalent French translation Prenez-en un. However, if the expression appeared as a notice next to a basket of free samples in a large store, the translator would have to look for an equivalent term in a similar situation and use the expression Échantillon gratuit .
1.2 Jakobson and the concept of equivalence in difference
Roman Jakobson’s study of equivalence gave new impetus to the theoretical analysis of translation since he introduced the notion of ‘equivalence in difference’. On the basis of his semiotic approach to language and his aphorism ‘there is no signatum without signum’ (1959:232).
Roman Jakobson suggests three kinds of translation:
- Intralingual (within one language, i.e. rewording or paraphrase)
- Interlingual (between two languages)
- Intersemiotic (between sign systems)
Jakobson claims that, in the case of interlingual translation, the translator makes use of synonyms in order to get the ST message across. This means that in interlingual translations there is no full equivalence between code units. According to his theory, ‘translation involves two equivalent messages in two different codes’ (ibid.:233). Jakobson goes on to say that from a grammatical point of view languages may differ from one another to a greater or lesser degree, but this does not mean that a translation cannot be possible, in other words, that the translator may face the problem of not finding a translation equivalent. He acknowledges that ‘whenever there is deficiency, terminology may be qualified and amplified by loanwords or loan-translations, neologisms or semantic shifts, and finally, by circumlocutions’. Jakobson provides a number of examples by comparing English and Russian language structures and explains that in such cases where there is no a literal equivalent for a particular ST word or sentence, then it is up to the translator to choose the most suitable way to render it in the TT.
There seems to be some similarity between Vinay and Darbelnet’s theory of translation procedures and Jakobson’s theory of translation. Both theories stress the fact that, whenever a linguistic approach is no longer suitable to carry out a translation, the translator can rely on other procedures such as loan-translations, neologisms and the like. Both theories recognize the limitations of a linguistic theory and argue that a translation can never be impossible since there are several methods that the translator can choose. The role of the translator as the person who decides how to carry out the translation is emphasized in both theories. Both Vinay and Darbelnet as well as Jakobson conceive the translation task as something which can always be carried out from one language to another, regardless of the cultural or grammatical differences between ST and TT.
It can be concluded that Jakobson’s theory is essentially based on his semiotic approach to translation according to which the translator has to recode the ST message first and then s/he has to transmit it into an equivalent message for the TC.
1.3 Nida and Taber: Formal correspondence and dynamic equivalence
Nida argued that there are two different types of equivalence, namely formal equivalence—which in the second edition by Nida and Taber (1982) is referred to as formal correspondence—and dynamic equivalence. Formal correspondence ‘focuses attention on the message itself, in both form and content’, unlike dynamic equivalence which is based upon ‘the principle of equivalent effect’ (1964:159). In the second edition (1982) or their work, the two theorists provide a more detailed explanation of each type of equivalence.
Formal correspondence consists of a TL item which represents the closest equivalent of a SL word or phrase. Nida and Taber make it clear that there are not always formal equivalents between language pairs. They therefore suggest that these formal equivalents should be used wherever possible if the translation aims at achieving formal rather than dynamic equivalence. The use of formal equivalents might at times have serious implications in the TT since the translation will not be easily understood by the target audience (Fawcett, 1997). Nida and Taber themselves assert that ‘Typically, formal correspondence distorts the grammatical and stylistic patterns of the receptor language, and hence distorts the message, so as to cause the receptor to misunderstand or to labor unduly hard’ .
Dynamic equivalence is defined as a translation principle according to which a translator seeks to translate the meaning of the original in such a way that the TL wording will trigger the same impact on the TC audience as the original wording did upon the ST audience. They argue that ‘Frequently, the form of the original text is changed; but as long as the change follows the rules of back transformation in the source language, of contextual consistency in the transfer, and of transformation in the receptor language, the message is preserved and the translation is faithful’ (Nida and Taber, 1982:200).
One can easily see that Nida is in favour of the application of dynamic equivalence, as a more effective translation procedure. This is perfectly understandable if we take into account the context of the situation in which Nida was dealing with the translation phenomenon, that is to say, his translation of the Bible. Thus, the product of the translation process, that is the text in the TL, must have the same impact on the different readers it was addressing. Despite using a linguistic approach to translation, Nida is much more interested in the message of the text or, in other words, in its semantic quality.
1.4 Catford and the introduction of translation shifts
Catford’s approach to translation equivalence clearly differs from that adopted by Nida since Catford had a preference for a more linguistic-based approach to translation and this approach is based on the linguistic work of Firth and Halliday. His main contribution in the field of translation theory is the introduction of the concepts of types and shifts of translation.
Catford proposed very broad types of translation in terms of three criteria:
- The extent of translation (full translation vs partial translation);
- The grammatical rank at which the translation equivalence is established (rank-bound translation vs. unbounded translation);
- The levels of language involved in translation (total translation vs. restricted translation).
We will refer only to the second type of translation, since this is the one that concerns the concept of equivalence, and we will then move on to analyze the notion of translation shifts, as elaborated by Catford, which are based on the distinction between formal correspondence and textual equivalence. In rank-bound translation an equivalent is sought in the TL for each word, or for each morpheme encountered in the ST. One of the problems with formal correspondence is that, despite being a useful tool to employ in comparative linguistics, it seems that it is not really relevant in terms of assessing translation equivalence between ST and TT. For this reason we now turn to Catford’s other dimension of correspondence, namely textual equivalence which occurs when any TL text or portion of text is ‘observed on a particular occasion … to be the equivalent of a given SL text or portion of text’. He implements this by a process of commutation, whereby ‘a competent bilingual informant or translator’ is consulted on the translation of various sentences whose ST items are changed in order to observe ‘what changes if any occur in the TL text as a consequence’ .
As far as translation shifts are concerned, Catford defines them as ‘departures from formal correspondence in the process of going from the SL to the TL’ (ibid.:73). Catford argues that there are two main types of translation shifts, namely level shifts, where the SL item at one linguistic level (e.g. grammar) has a TL equivalent at a different level (e.g. lexis), and category shifts which are divided into four types.
Four types of category shift:
- Structure-shifts, which involve a grammatical change between the structure of the ST and that of the TT;
- Class-shifts, when a SL item is translated with a TL item which belongs to a different grammatical class, i.e. a verb may be translated with a noun;
- Unit-shifts, which involve changes in rank;
- Intra-system shifts, which occur when ‘SL and TL possess systems which approximately correspond formally as to their constitution, but when translation involves selection of a non-corresponding term in the TL system’. For instance, when the SL singular becomes a TL plural.
Catford was very much criticized for his linguistic theory of translation. One of the most scathing criticisms came from Snell-Hornby (1988), who argued that Catford’s definition of textual equivalence is ‘circular’, his theory’s reliance on bilingual informants ‘hopelessly inadequate’, and his example sentences ‘isolated and even absurdly simplistic’ .She considers the concept of equivalence in translation as being an illusion. She asserts that the translation process cannot simply be reduced to a linguistic exercise, as claimed by Catford for instance, since there are also other factors, such as textual, cultural and situational aspects, which should be taken into consideration when translating. In other words, she does not believe that linguistics is the only discipline which enables people to carry out a translation, since translating involves different cultures and different situations at the same time and they do not always match from one language to another.
1.5 House and the elaboration of overt and covert translation
House (1977) is in favour of semantic and pragmatic equivalence and argues that ST and TT should match one another in function. House suggests that it is possible to characterize the function of a text by determining the situational dimensions of the ST.In fact, according to her theory, every text is in itself is placed within a particular situation which has to be correctly identified and taken into account by the translator. After the ST analysis, House is in a position to evaluate a translation; if the ST and the TT differ substantially on situational features, then they are not functionally equivalent, and the translation is not of a high quality. In fact, she acknowledges that ‘a translation text should not only match its source text in function, but employ equivalent situational-dimensional means to achieve that function’ .
Central to House’s discussion is the concept of overt and covert translations. In an overt translation the TT audience is not directly addressed and there is therefore no need at all to attempt to recreate a ‘second original’ since an overt translation ‘must overtly be a translation’ .By covert translation, on the other hand, is meant the production of a text which is functionally equivalent to the ST. House also argues that in this type of translation the ST ‘is not specifically addressed to a TC audience’ .
House sets out the types of ST that would probably yield translations of the two categories. An academic article, for instance, is unlikely to exhibit any features specific to the SC; the article has the same argumentative or expository force that it would if it had originated in the TL, and the fact that it is a translation at all need not be made known to the readers. A political speech in the SC, on the other hand, is addressed to a particular cultural or national group which the speaker sets out to move to action or otherwise influence, whereas the TT merely informs outsiders what the speaker is saying to his or her constituency. It is clear that in this latter case, which is an instance of overt translation, functional equivalence cannot be maintained, and it is therefore intended that the ST and the TT function differently.
House’s theory of equivalence in translation seems to be much more flexible than Catford’s. In fact, she gives authentic examples, uses complete texts and, more importantly, she relates linguistic features to the context of both source and target text.
1.6 Baker’s approach to translation equivalence
New adjectives have been assigned to the notion of equivalence (grammatical, textual, pragmatic equivalence, and several others) and made their appearance in the plethora of recent works in this field. An extremely interesting discussion of the notion of equivalence can be found in Baker (1992) who seems to offer a more detailed list of conditions upon which the concept of equivalence can be defined. She explores the notion of equivalence at different levels, in relation to the translation process, including all different aspects of translation and hence putting together the linguistic and the communicative approach. She distinguishes between:
- Equivalence that can appear at word level and above word level, when translating from one language into another. Baker acknowledges that, in a bottom-up approach to translation, equivalence at word level is the first element to be taken into consideration by the translator. In fact, when the translator starts analyzing the ST s/he looks at the words as single units in order to find a direct ‘equivalent’ term in the TL. Baker gives a definition of the term word since it should be remembered that a single word can sometimes be assigned different meanings in different languages and might be regarded as being a more complex unit or morpheme. This means that the translator should pay attention to a number of factors when considering a single word, such as number, gender and tense.
- Grammatical equivalence, when referring to the diversity of grammatical categories across languages. She notes that grammatical rules may vary across languages and this may pose some problems in terms of finding a direct correspondence in the TL. In fact, she claims that different grammatical structures in the SL and TL may cause remarkable changes in the way the information or message is carried across. These changes may induce the translator either to add or to omit information in the TT because of the lack of particular grammatical devices in the TL itself. Amongst these grammatical devices which might cause problems in translation Baker focuses on number, tense and aspects, voice, person and gender.
- Textual equivalence, when referring to the equivalence between a SL text and a TL text in terms of information and cohesion. Texture is a very important feature in translation since it provides useful guidelines for the comprehension and analysis of the ST which can help the translator in his or her attempt to produce a cohesive and coherent text for the TC audience in a specific context. It is up to the translator to decide whether or not to maintain the cohesive ties as well as the coherence of the SL text. His or her decision will be guided by three main factors, that is, the target audience, the purpose of the translation and the text type.
- Pragmatic equivalence, when referring to implicatures and strategies of avoidance during the translation process. Implicature is not about what is explicitly said but what is implied. Therefore, the translator needs to work out implied meanings in translation in order to get the ST message across. The role of the translator is to recreate the author’s intention in another culture in such a way that enables the TC reader to understand it clearly.
Postcolonialism and Multiculturalism
In 1993 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak was the one who introduced postcolonialism. Post-colonialism is one of the most thriving points of contact between Cultural Studies and Translation Studies. It can be defined as a broad cultural approach to the study of power relations between different groups, cultures or peoples in which language, literature and translation may play a role. Spivak’s work is indicative of how cultural studies and especially post-colonialism has over the past decade focused on issues of translation, the translational and colonization. The linking of colonization and translation is accompanied by the argument that translation has played an active role in the colonization process and in disseminating an ideologically motivated image of colonized people. The metaphor has been used of the colony as an imitative and inferior translational copy whose suppressed identity has been overwritten by the colonizer.
The postcolonial concepts may have conveyed a view of translation as just a damaging instrument of the colonizers who imposed their language and used translation to construct a distorted image of the suppressed people which served to reinforce the hierarchal structure of the colony. However, some critics of post-colonialism, like Robinson, believe that the view of the translation as purely harmful and pernicious tool of the empire is inaccurate.
Like the other cultural theorists, Venuti in 1995 insisted that the scope of translation studies needs to be broadened to take the account of the value-driven nature of sociocultural framework. He used the term invisibility to describe the translator situation and activity in Anglo-American culture. He said that this invisibility is produced by:
- The way the translators themselves tend to translate fluently into English, to produce an idiomatic and readable TT, thus creating illusion of transparency.
- The way the translated texts are typically read in the target culture: “A translated text, whether prose or poetry or non-fiction, is judged acceptable by most publishers, reviewers and readers when it reads fluently, when the absence of any linguistic or stylistic peculiarities makes it seem transparent, giving the appearance that it reflects the foreign writer’s personality or intention or the essential meaning the foreign text_ the appearance, in other words, that the translation is not in fact a translation, but the original.”
Venuti discussed invisibility hand in hand with two types of translating strategies: domestication and foreignization. He considered domestication as dominating Anglo-American (TL) translation culture. Just as the postcolonialists were alert to the cultural effects of the differential in power relation between colony and ex-colony, so Venuti bemoaned the phenomenon of domestication since it involves reduction of the foreign text to the target language cultural values. This entails translating in a transparent, fluent, invisible style in order to minimize the foreignness of the TT. Venuti believed that a translator should leave the reader in peace, as much as possible, and he should move the author toward him.
Foregnization, on the other hand, entails choosing a foreign text and developing a translation method along lines which excluded by dominant cultural values in target language. Ventuti considers the foreignizing method to be an ethno deviant pressure on target language cultural values to register the linguistic and cultural difference of the foreign text, sending the reader abroad. According to him it is highly desirable in an effort to restrain the ethnocentric violence translation. The foreignizing method of translating, a strategy Venuti also termed ‘resistancy’ , is a non-fluent or estranging translation style designed to make visible the persistence of translator by highlighting the foreign identity of ST and protecting it from the ideological dominance of the target culture.
In his later book ‘The Scandals of Translation’ Venuti insisted on foreignizing or, as he also called it, ‘minoritizing’ translatin, to cultivate a varied and heterogeneous discourse. As far as language is concerned, the minoritizing or foriegnizing method of Venuti’s translation comes through in the deliberate inclusion of foreignizing elements in a bid to make the translator visible and to make the reader realize that he is reading a translation of the work from a foreign culture. Foreignization is close adherent to the ST structure and syntax.
Venuti also said that the terms may change meaning across time and location.
In 1996, Simon mentioned that cultural studies brings to translation an understanding of the complexities of gender and culture and it allows us to situate linguistic transfer. She considered a language of sexism in translation studies, with its image of dominance, fidelity, faithfulness and betrayal. She mentioned the seventeenth century image of “les belles infidels” (unfaithful beauties), translations into French that were artistically beautiful but unfaithful. She went further and investigated George Steiner’s male-oriented image of translation as penetration.
The feminist theorists, more or less, see a parallel between the status of translation which is often considered to be derivative and inferior to the original writing and that of women so often repressed in society and literature. This is the core feminist translation that theory seeks to identify and critique the tangle of the concepts which relegate both women and translation to the bottom of the social and literary ladder. Simon takes this further in the concept of the committed translation project. Translation project here can be defined as such: An approach to literary translation in which feminist translators openly advocate and implement strategies (linguistic or otherwise) to foreground the feminist in the translated text. It may seem worthy to mention that the opposite of translation project occurs when gender-marked works are translated in such a way that their distinctive characteristics are affected.
With the spread of deconstruction and cultural studies in the academy, the subject of ideology became an important area of study. The field of translation studies presents no exception to this general trend. It should also be mentioned that the concept of ideology is not something new and it has been an area of interest from a long time ago. The problem of discussing translation and ideology is one of definition. There are so many definitions of ideology that it is impossible to review them all. For instance as Hatim and Mason (1997) stated that ideology encompasses the tacit assumptions, beliefs and value systems which are shared collectively by social groups. They make a distinction between the ideology of translating and the translation of ideology. Whereas the former refers to the basic orientation chosen by the translator operating within a social and cultural context. In translation of ideology they examined the extent of mediation supplied by a translator of sensitive texts. Here mediation is defined as the extent to which translators intervene in the transfer process, feeding their own knowledge and beliefs into processing the text.
In 1999 Hermans stated that Culture refers to all socially conditioned aspects of human life. According to him translation can and should be recognized as a social phenomenon, a cultural practice. He said that we bring to translation both cognitive and normative expectations, which are continually being negotiated, confirmed, adjusted, and modified by practicing translators and by all who deal with translation. These expectations result from the communication within the translation system, for instance, between actual translations and statements about translation, and between the translation system and other social systems.
In 2002, regarding cultural translation Hervey and Higgins believed in cultural translation rather than literal one. According to them accepting literal translation means that there’s no cultural translation operation. But obviously there are some obstacles bigger than linguistic ones. They are cultural obstacles and here a transposition in culture is needed.
According to Hervey & Higgins cultural transposition has a scale of degrees which are toward the choice of features indigenous to target language and culture rather than features which are rooted in source culture. The result here is foreign features reduced in target text and is to some extent naturalized. The scale here is frooom an extreme which is mostly based on source culture (exoticism) to the other extreme which is mostly based on target culture (cultural transplantation):
Exoticism < Calque < Cultural Borrowing < Communicative Translation < Cultural transplantation
The degree of adaptation is very low here. The translation carries the cultural features and grammar of SL to TL. It is very close to transference.
Calque includes TL words but in SL structure therefore while it is unidiomatic to target reader but it is familiar to a large extent.
3) Cultural Borrowing
It is to transfer the ST expression verbatim into the TT. No adaptation of SL expression into TL forms. After a time they usually become a standard in TL terms. Cultural borrowing is very frequent in history, legal, social, political texts; for example, “La langue” and “La parole” in linguistics.
4) Communicative Translation
Communicative translation is usually adopted for culture specific clichés such as idioms, proverbs, fixed expression, etc. In such cases the translator substitutes SL word with an existing concept in target culture. In cultural substitution the propositional meaning is not the same but it has similar impact on target reader. The literal translation here may sound comic. The degree of using this strategy some times depends on the license which is given to the translator by commissioners and also the purpose of translation.
5) Cultural Transplantation
The whole text is rewritten in target culture. The TL word is not a literal equivalent but has similar cultural connotations to some extent. It is another type of extreme but toward target culture and the whole concept is transplanted in TL. A normal translation should avoid both exoticism and cultural transplantation.
In 2004, Nico Wiersema in his essay “globalization and translation” stated that globalization is linked to English being a lingua franca; the language is said to be used at conferences (interpreting) and seen as the main language in the new technologies. The use of English as a global language is an important trend in world communication. Globalisation is also linked to the field of Translation Studies. Furthermore, globalisation is placed in the context of changes in economics, science, technology, and society. Globalization and technology are very helpful to translators in that translators have more access to online information, such as dictionaries of lesser-known languages. According to him such comments can be extended to the readers of translations. Should the target text be challenging for a reader, the internet can help him understand foreign elements in the text. Thus the text can be written in a more foreignising / exoticising manner. He mentioned a relatively new trend wherein culturally bound elements (some, one might say, untranslatable), are not translated. He believed that this trend contributes to learning and understanding foreign cultures. Context explains culture, and adopting (not necessarily adapting) a selection of words enriches the target text, makes it more exotic and thus more interesting for those who want to learn more about the culture in question. Eventually, these new words may find their way into target language dictionaries. Translators will then have contributed to enriching their own languages with loan words from the source language (esp. English).
He considered these entering loan words into TL as an important aspect of translation. Translation brings cultures closer. He stated that at this century the process of globalization is moving faster than ever before and there is no indication that it will stall any time soon. In each translation there will be a certain distortion between cultures. The translator will have to defend the choices he/she makes, but there is currently an option for including more foreign words in target texts. Therefore, it is now possible to keep SL cultural elements in target texts. In each translation there will be a certain distortion between cultures. The translator will have to defend the choices he/she makes, but there is currently an option for including more foreign words in target texts.
The relationship between multiculturalism and postcolonialism appears to be an uneasy one. Multiculturalism deals with theories of difference but unlike postcolonialism, which is to a great extent is perceived to be defined by its specific historic legacies in a retroactive way, multiculturalism deals with the management (often compromised) of contemporary geo-political diversity in former imperial centres as well as their ex-colonies alike. It is also increasingly a global discourse since it takes into account the flow of migrants, refugees, Diasporas and their relations with nation-states. The reason for continuing to focus on multiculturalism, particularly a critical multiculturalism, is precisely because it is so intimately bound up in many parts of the world with those practices and discourses which manage (often in the sense of police and control) ‘diversity’. Within critical theory it has often been an embarrassing term to invoke partly because it is seen as automatically aligned with and hopelessly co-opted by the state in its role of certain kinds of conscious nation – building. As a result, for example, it is consistently rejected by anti-racist groups in Great Britain (Hall, 1995). In the realm of theoretical debate it is often associated with an identity politics based on essentialism and claims for authenticity which automatically reinstates a version of the sovereign subject and a concern with reified notions of origins. Thus it becomes impossible; it seems, to mention multiculturalism and socially progressive critical theory in the same breath. But for all those reasons, because it is a contested term, is exactly why it is crucial to continue to scrutinize the discourses and practices mobilized in the name of multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism purports to deal with minorities and thus implies a relation with a majority, but how these two categories are defined and wielded in relation to each other is highly contested and further complicated by differences in articulation between advanced capitalist countries and the so-called Third World; between ‘settler societies’ and, for example, the European community. In general, the organizing factor for the minorities are such terms as ‘race’, ‘ethnicity’, and ‘indigeneity’ while their origins are causally linked to migration, to colonization and other kinds of subjugation. With respect to ‘race’ it would be more accurate to refer to the processes of radicalization involved in representing minorities than to the existence of unproblematic racial categories. ‘Ethnicity’ as a defining category was initially employed as a differential term to avoid ‘race’ and its implications of a discredited ‘scientific’ racism. Ethnicity was more easily attached to the European migrations which proliferated around the two world wars. In North America, phrases such as ‘visible minorities’ were developed to categorize non-European immigrants who formed part of mass diasporas and neatly encapsulated as well the indigenous groups and those descendants of African slaves who had been an uneasily acknowledged part of the ‘nation’ for many centuries. Hence multi-culturalism is often perceived as a covert means of indicating racialized differences. The need to deconstruct the ‘natural’ facade of racialization is clear when one notes that groups such as Ukrainians in Canada and Greeks and Italians in Australia were designated ‘black’ at various historical stages (Gunew, 1994). Further difficulties encountered by indigenous groups are highlighted in Australia where the Aborigines refuse to be included in multicultural discourses on the grounds that these refer only to cultures of migration, whereas in New Zealand ‘biculturalism’ is the preferred official term because multiculturalism is seen as a diversion from the Maori sovereignty movement. In Canada First Nations are occasionally included in multicultural discourses and practices and are also consistently trapped between the French-English divide. This has complicated continuing debates on cultural appropriation (Crosby, 1994).
1.Discussions must also distinguish between state multiculturalism, dealing with the management of diversity, and critical multiculturalism used by minorities as a lever to argue for participation, grounded in their difference, in the public sphere. Minorities use a variety of strategies to overcome the assimilationist presumptions of most state multiculturalism. Crucial to both areas is the notion of ‘community’ and here women are particularly affected.
According to Nico Wiersema (2004), Cultures are getting closer and closer and this is something that he believed translators need to take into account. In the end it all depends on what the translator, or more often, the publisher wants to achieve with a certain translation. In his opinion by entering SL cultural elements:
a- The text will be read more fluently (no stops)
b- The text remains more exotic, more foreign
c- The translator is closer to the source culture
d- The reader of the target texts gets a more genuine image of the source culture.
In 2004, ke Ping regarding translation and culture paid attention to misreading and presupposition. He mentioned that of the many factors that may lead to misreading in translation are cultural presuppositions.
Cultural presuppositions merit special attention from translators because they can substantially and systematically affect their interpretation of facts and events in the source text without their even knowing it. He pinpointed the relationship between cultural presuppositions and translational misreading. According to him misreading in translation are often caused by a translator’s presuppositions about the reality of the source language community. These presuppositions are usually culturally-derived and deserve the special attention of the translator. He showed how cultural presuppositions work to produce misreading in translation.
According to ke Ping “Cultural presupposition,” refers to underlying assumptions, beliefs, and ideas that are culturally rooted, widespread.
According to him anthropologists agree on the following features of culture:
(1) Culture is socially acquired instead of biologically transmitted;
(2) Culture is shared among the members of a community rather than being unique to an individual;
(3) Culture is symbolic. Symbolizing means assigning to entities and events meanings which are external to them and which cannot be grasped alone. Language is the most typical symbolic system within culture;
(4) Culture is integrated. Each aspect of culture is tied in with all