LECTURE IV Translation Theory and Text Linguistics I

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LECTURE IV
Translation Theory and Text Linguistics I
Concentrating on the text – what does it mean in the
translation process?
Translators have never translated anything else but texts and the result of
translation has never been anything else but a text.
Sámuel Brassai (1800-1897): „...Instead of the useless struggle and wrestling
with words, which in the majority of cases is doomed to failure, turn your
attention to the sentence. Your phrases should awaken the reader of your
translation to the same thought, image and emotion as was the intention of the
author of the original. Then your translation will be a true one even if a
dictionary editor would not take the courage to put the words in the translated
sentence next to those in the original...”
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics II
Disregarding the text: 50s – early 70s
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methods of linguistics used for the study of a huge number of specialised texts
translated from one language into another → researchers treating texts with
neglect, looking for equivalents between SL and TL at lower levels (words,
phrases, grammatical structures);
mainly Russian TTists (Retsker, Fyodorov and others): search for regular
correspondences valid independently of situation, context and text;
Positive aspect: called the attention to the presence of objective regularities in
translation, an activity seemingly made up of a series of subjective decisions;
Limitations: only the two linguistic systems taken as a basic point of
departure, predicting translation problems behind each particular
difference between the two languages in question;
TT in the 50s-70s has more to do with contrastive linguistics than TT
proper.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics III
Returning to the text
Text linguistics appearing in the late 60s/early 70s – overlap with TT;
Eugène Albert Nida – Charles Russel Taber: The Theory and Practice of Translation (1969)
- a milestone in translation research emphasing the importance of making the text a
central issue: special tools in each text to mark some relations that vary from language
and appear in units longer than a sentence
8 universal features of text to be taken into account in translation:
1.
the marking of the beginning and the end of a discourse
2.
the marking of major internal transitions
3.
the marking of temporal relations between events
4.
the marking of spatial relations between events and objects
5.
the marking of logical relations between events
6.
the identification of participants
7.
highlighting, focus, emphasis, etc.
8.
author involvement
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics IV
Research methods of text lingusitics increasingly applied to TT in the 70s/80s:
study of internal text structure vs various text types (external approach)
The internal text structure approach
Leonora Chern’achovskaya in Perevod i smyslovaja struktura ‘Translation and
semantic structure’ (1976): transfer procedures are dictated not by the lexical
and grammatical differences between the two languages but by the drive for
the preservation of the semantic structure: topic (what is already known) ,
comment (new information) and focus (the emphatic part within the
comment): different linguistic expressions in languages.
This semantic structure (the invariant of translation) must be preserved at
all costs in the lexical and grammatical transfer procedures.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics V
Text types as points of departure (the external approach)
Mainly in Germany;
Katharina Reiss: set up an übersetzungsrelevante Texttypologie
‘translation-oriented text typology’ in her book Möglichkeiten und
Grenzen der Übersetzungskritik ‘Possibilities of and Limits to Translation
Criticism’ (1971)
Three basic functions of language: description, expression and appeal.
One of them is generally predominant:
• description - in content-focused texts
• expression - in form-focused texts
• appeal – in appeal-focused texts
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics VI
The translation of content-oriented texts
Press news, commentaries, instruction manuals, patent descriptions, lists
of goods, studies, theses, presentations, etc. convey information on the
real world;
the translator’s primary task is to reflect the SL content as fully as
possible, using the most common tools of the TL so that the reader’s
attention should not be distracted by anything.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics VII
The translation of form-oriented texts
In this text type it is not just what its author says that matters but also the
way the author’s message is formulated.
Different kinds of texts: literary prose works (essays, biographies,
reviews), prose fiction (short stories, novels) and all poetic genres
The translator’s primary task is to reflect the form as faithfully to the
original as possible, and content is of secondary importance. As the
form is very closely related to the SL, it cannot be blindly transposed
into the TL.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics VIII
The translation of appeal-oriented texts
Both the content and the form aim to elicit some response from the reader,
likes or dislikes, to urge the reader to take a specific action (e.g.
shopping) or to give up an activity (e.g. smoking, drug-taking).
Commercials, advertisements, propaganda texts, political slogans, partisan
appeals, etc.
Important to convey the function of the text in the TL, not the content or
the form of the SL text.
Advertising a product may require different references from country to
country, and the SL form may also have to be changed in order for the
text to preserve its appellative function.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics IX
Marieke De Mooij: Translating Advertising Painting the Tip of an
Iceberg
The Translator, Vol.10, No 2 (2004) 179-98
Effective advertising uses a culturally appropriate advertising style. In
Europe and Asia these styles are very different from US advertising
style, of which rhetoric is an integral part. It is not only languages that
vary across the globe; consumers’ needs and the way advertising
appeals to these needs, also do.
E.g., the Coca-Cola Company, a prototypical global advertiser, decided in
2000 to get closer to local markets.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics X
De Mooij 2
„Translating advertising copy is like painting the tip of an iceberg and hoping the
whole thing will turn red. What makes copy work is not the words themselves,
but subtle combinations of those words, and most of all the echoes and
repercussions of those words within the mind of the reader. These are precisely
the subtleties which translation fails to convey. Advertising is not made of
words, but made of culture.”
Advertising across cultures
In different cultures people have different structures of knowledge about objects,
events, people or phenomena.
American advertising theory: advertisements viewed as persuasive
communication.
Asian countries: its role is to build a relationship between the company and the
consumers. An indirect approach serves that purpose better than a direct
approach which turns consumers off instead of persuading them.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XI
De Mooij 3
Language
Ideal global ad: the same everywhere and in English
Assumption: most people know enough English to understand the message.
2nd best approach: to translate advertising
Advertising, however, is more than words:
The spread of English as a 2nd language is overestimated.
E.g. a UK commercial for Bacardi Breezer aired in the Netherlands – reference to
a tomcat. Tomcat in Dutch: kater, also ‘hangover’ (probably not intended to be
communicated as an effect of the alcoholic beverage advertised). The tomcat
in the advert is asked whether he has been chasing birds (‘chasing women’ in
English), a wordplay hardly understood by most people in the Netherlands.
“Philips invents for you” understood as to mean “Philip invites you”.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XII
De Mooij 4
English is the only language in the world that spells I with a capital letter.
There is no Chinese or Japanese equivalent for the English I: different
words used to refer to the self depending on the situation, the speaker’s
and listener’s gender, age and other social attributes.
Ultimate consequence: the more meaningful advertising is in its source
culture, the less translatable it becomes.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XIII
De Mooij 5
Transferring brand names
Can be hazardous: Ford Nova in Spanish ‘doesn’t go’
Transferring/translating brand names into Chinese: 3 ways
1/ pronunciation-oriented, without any specific meaning: Nokia →
Nuojiya;
2/ creating a meaningful name: Coca-Cola → kekou kele ‘tasty and
happy’, Hewlett Packard → Hui ‘benefit’, pu ‘popular’;
3/ replacing a brand name with another one with the desired attributes:
Finnish machinery brand name Kone → Tong Li ‘general power’
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XIV
De Mooij 5
Conclusion
A concept or idea relevant for one culture isn’t necessarily relevant for
others. Historically, much attention has been paid to advertising copy
because of the Anglo-European heritage of advertising practice and
theory. This has made people belive that most advertising can be
translated.
Changing beliefs: if advertising is translated at all, the translator should
closely cooperate with the copywriter and not only translate but also
advise about culture-specific aspects of both languages.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XV
The translation of audio-medial texts
The text comes across to the recipient (viewer, listener) through a channel
whose peculiarities have to be taken into account:
radio and TV genres, theatrical works from operetta through musicals to
opera, from comedy to tragedy. E.g., translating the lyrics of a song,
the translator must not stick to either the content or the form of the
original if its TL version does not correspond to the melody and
rhythm of the music or it cannot be sung at all. (See My Fair Lady in E
and H: The rain in Spain stay mainly in the plain...)
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XV
The Rain in Spain…
• Servants: Poor Professor Higgins!
Poor Professor Higgins! Night and day
He slaves away! Oh, poor Professor
Higgins!
All day long On his feet; Up and down
until he's numb;
Doesn't rest; Doesn't eat;
Doesn't touch a crumb! Poor Professor
Higgins!
Poor Professor Higgins! On he plods
Against all odds;
Oh, poor Professor Higgins! Nine p.m.
Ten p.m.
On through midnight ev'ry night.
One a.m. Two a.m. Three...! Quit,
Professor Higgins!
Quit, Professor Higgins! Hear our plea
Or payday we Will quit, Professor
Higgins!
Ay not I, O not Ow, Pounding pounding
in our brain.
Ay not I, O not Ow, Don't say "Rine,"
say "Rain"...
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Eliza: The rain in Spain stays mainly in
the plain!
Henry: By George, she's got it! By
George, she's got it!
Now, once again where does it rain?
Eliza: On the plain! On the plain!
Henry: And where's that soggy plain?
Eliza: In Spain! In Spain!
The three: The rain in Spain stays
mainly in the plain!
The rain in Spain stays mainly in the
plain!
Henry: In Hartford, Hereford, and
Hampshire...?
Eliza: Hurricanes hardly happen.
How kind of you to let me come!
Henry: Now once again, where does it
rain?
Eliza: On the plain! On the plain!
Henry: And where's that blasted plain?
Eliza: In Spain! In Spain!
The three: The rain in Spain stays
mainly in the plain!
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XVII
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Lenn délen édes éjen édent remélsz!
(Henry Higgins) Lenn délen édes éjen
édent remélsz.
(Eliza Doolittle) Lenn délen édes éjen
édent remélsz.
(Henry Higgins) Helyes a beszéd!
Helyes a beszéd!
(Eliza Doolittle) Lenn délen édes éjen
édent remélsz.
(Henry Higgins) Remekül beszél!
Remekül beszél!
Kérek egy é-t egy széles é-t!
(Eliza Doolittle) Meseszép! Meseszép!
(Henry Higgins) Lenn tenger és fent
ég!
(Eliza Doolittle) Kék ég! Kék ég!
(Mindenki) Lenn délen édes éjen édent
remélsz.
És énekelve édesebbet remélsz.
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(Henry Higgins) Hol harsány
hegedűk hangját
(Eliza Doolittle) Hegedűk hetykén
húzzák
Egy hetyke h, és keskeny é.
(Henry Higgins) Kérek egy é-t egy
széles é-t!
(Eliza Doolittle) Meseszép!
Meseszép!
(Henry Higgins) Lenn tenger és
fent ég!
(Eliza Doolittle) Még kék! Még
kék!
(Mindenki) Lenn délen édes éjen
édent remélsz.
És énekelve édesebbet remélsz.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XVIII
The Typology of Specialised Texts I
Vannikov Yu. V. : 12 features by which scientific and special technological texts
can be identified and can serve as points of departure for the translator.
1/ On the basis of linguistic organisation:
1/1. Rigorously organised texts with a strictly bound linguistic
formulation.
1/2. Texts with a soft structure allowing the translator greater variety.
2/ On the basis of the functional style:
2/1. Scientific texts
2/2. Technical texts
2/3. Official texts
2/4. Legal texts
2/5. Journalistic texts
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XIX
The Typology of Specialised Texts II
3/ On the basis of functional register
3/1. Scientific texts
3/1.1. Academic texts
3/1.2. Texts intended for instuction
3/1.3. Encyclopedic texts
3/2. Technical texts
3/2.1. Technical descriptions
3/2.2. Instructions
3/2.3. Technological-informative texts
3/3. Official texts
3/3.1. Official instructions
3/3.2. Management texts
3/3.3. Official correspondence
3/4. Legal texts
3/4.1. Technical documentation
3/4.2. Description of inventions
3/4.3. Texts of patent management
3/5. Journalistic texts
3/5.1. Scientific journalism
3/5.2. Popular science texts
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XX
The Typology of Specialised Texts II
4/ On the basis of manner of expounding
4.1. Narrative texts
4.2. Descriptive texts
4.3. Explianatory texts
4.4. Argumentative texts
5/ On the basis of logical content
5.1. Exposition/Discussion
5.2. Justification
5.3. Conclusion
5.4. Definition, etc.
6/ On the basis of subject-related contents
6/1. Texts in exact sciences
6/2. Texts in natural sciences
6/3. Texts in social siences
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XXI
The Typology of Specialised Texts III
7/ According to the manner of communication
7/1. Texts intended for oral communication
7/2. Texts intended for written communication
8/ According to genre (within the scientific style)
8/1.1. Book
8/1.2. Monograph
8/1.3. Article
8/1.4. Dissertation
8/1.5. Lecture
8/1.6. Study
8/1.7. Presentation
8/1.8. Contribution
9/ According to the primary or secondary character of the information
9/1. Primary information
9/2. Secondary information
9/2.1. Report
9/2.2. Annotation
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XXII
The Typology of Specialised Texts IV
9/ On the basis of the primary or secondary nature of the information
9/1. Primary information
9/2. Secondary information
9/2.1. Report
9/2.2. Annotation
9/2.3. Review
9/2.4. Bibliographical description
9/2.5. Bibliography
10/ On the of features of style and expression
10/1. Stylistically rich/colourful texts
10/2. Stylistycally poor/not colouful texts
11/ On the basis of general pragmatic features
11/1. Texts addressed to SL readers
11/2. Texts addressed to TL readers
11/3. Texts addressed to any audience
12/ On the basis of specific pragmatic features
12/1 Informative texts
12/2 Normative texts
12/3 Instructive texts
12/4 Systematising texts
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XXIII
Comment on Vannikov’s classification
Author’s aim: to rationalise the translation process,
it suggests some theoretical stand: the description of the main features of a
text means a solution to the problems of translation.
But: no matter how carefully the aspects of text description and
classification are selected, this will explain just a tiny bit of why the
translator has applied this or that method of transfer, because:
the internal organisation/structure/coherence of a text depends on a large
number of rules that are typical of the given language and are
independent of text types.
It is the similarities and dissimilarities between the internal structures of
texts in the SL and TL that the translator should bear in mind.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XXIV
Attempts to integrate the two approaches:
• Aim of translation is of primary importance,
• Cultural transfer role of translation,
• Fidelity and coherence (intratextual and intertextual) are of secondary
importance,
• Shifts in translation: external, i.e. open and visible organisation
(cohesion) vs. internal, i.e. logical/content-related organisation
(coherence). Shifts in cohesion are necessary in translation, shifts in
coherence are treated as mistakes.
• Transfer in 2nd language acquisition: incorrect transfer of mothertongue features to the foreign language,
• Transfer in translation: incorrect transfer of mother-tongue textual
features from the SL text to the TL one.
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Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XXV
Research into „quasi-correctness”
Explores the differences between authentic/primary and translated/secondary
texts: subtle and hardly perceptible on the sentence level, the whole of the
translated text is (slightly) odd („translationese”).
Derives from:
1/ the difference in coherence devices between SL and TL (e.g., pronouns);
2/ slight shifts in emphasis, distortions in functional sentence perspective, shifts in
topic-comment relations;
Research on “translationese” is different from traditional interference research:
1/ studies the influence of a foreign language on the level of the whole text (not
just words, phrases or grammatical structures),
2/ object of research: texts produced by professional translators in their native
language (not mistakes made by learners of a foreign language at any stage of
their studies
Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XXVI
Scepticism to text-level approach
Peter Newmark: A Textbook of Translation (Newmark 1988: 36-7)
“Many translators say you should never translate words, you translate
sentences or ideas or messages. I think they are fooling themselves.
The SL texts consist of words, that is all that is there, on the page”.
In his opinion, it is the advancement of text linguistics that makes
translator researchers take the text as a basic unit. The everyday
practice of translation, however, reveals that the translator always tries
to select the smallest possible unit for translation and resorts to the
whole text only if he is stopped by some difficulty or wants to check
the end-product.
Translation Theory and Text Linguistics XXVII
The central role of text linguistics in translation studies
TT has adopted the key terms of text linguistics.
Basil Hatim, Ian Mason: Discourse and the Translator (1993):
explaining terms such as text, discourse, cohesion, coherence,
anaphoric/cataphoric reference, context, etc.
Mary Snell Hornby: Translation Studies – an Integrated Approach:
three types of translation: literary, general, and special + several subtypes from the
Bible to scientific-technical texts.
Central role attributed to text linguistics, from which arrows point to all text types.
“Of basic importance is text linguistics in all its aspects, from the analysis of the
macrostructure, thematic progression and sentence perspective to coherence
and cohesion.” (34-5)

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