Various Translation Techniques
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I would like to start this blog by telling you a story of what actually happened once in our office. A prospect had called our office and wanted to get further information regarding our costs per word and translation services and asked one of our new Account Managers if we had “one of those translation machines”. She answered, even though she didn´t know the response, that “yes, we have one of those”. After she ended the phone conversation with the prospect she asked her colleague, whether we had a translation machine and she was told that we did. She went over to the fax machine to check it out, thinking it was the translation machine, and acted very impressed that you could just insert a document in one language and it would come out translated. Later she was told that it was a joke, and she thought it was funny herself. You might be thinking why I am telling you this story, but translating texts into other languages is not that easy, and there are certainly no machines that can do that for you, as explained above. Here are the different translation techniques used by professional translators and the Translation Industry: Borrowing: This is when words are taken from one language and used in another without translation.
A good example would be the word “trottoir” from French (used in German) or “Frankfurter” from German (used in English). Calque: This is when a phrase is borrowed from another language and literally translated word-for-word. Literal Translation: This is a word-for-word translation, however this works only in some languages and in other languages it doesn´t work. Transposition: This is when parts of speech change their sequence when translated. Modulation: This is when a phrase is used that is different in the source and target text, but represents the same idea. Equivalence: This is when the text has to be expressed in a completely different way, meaning it is the exact opposite of literal translation. This takes place with slogans or advertising material.
Adaptation: This is when a definition in the source text does not exist in the target language, due to cultural differences. Compensation: This is when something cannot be translated, and therefore the meaning that is lost, is then expressed somewhere else in the target or translated text. A good example would be “tu” and “vous” in French, but in English there is only “you”. It is very important to remember that translation does not only involve the translation of one word to another, or two languages, but that it also involves 2 cultures and very often certain adaptations need to take place in order for the translation to make sense.
Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
To avoid falling into the trap of a literal translation (an exceedingly strict adherence to the source text’s composition and grammatical structure), which is justifiable only in some isolated cases, we generally use a variety of methods. These are almost always done automatically, without knowing which approach we are using or what it is called. These strategies, which are quite useful when we cannot find the perfect structure to match the original, are: ADAPTATION: a cultural or social element from the original text is replaced with a different, but corresponding element in the translation. This is usually something that is more familiar to the intended audience.
This is valuable when translating poetry, plays and advertising. LOAN: this is an untranslated word from the original language (usually written in italics). Examples: fiesta, loco. CALQUE: is the creation of a neologism with the source language’s structure. Example: fútbol, a word created from the English “football.” MODULATION: the message’s form is altered by a change in perspective or semantics. A phrase’s angle is adjusted so that it sounds better in the target language: • Original in English: It is not difficult to show.
• Literal Spanish translation: No es difícil de demostrar. • Modulated Spanish translation: Es fácil de demostrar. TRANSPOSITIONING: changing one part of speech for another without changing the meaning of the message. • Original in English: After he comes back.
• Literal Spanish translation: Después de que él regrese. • Transposed Spanish translation: Después de su regreso. EQUIVALENCY: using a word whose meaning is a synonym of another word in the source. Tags: calque, literal translation, modulation, translating poetry, transpositioning Posted in English Language Translation, For the Spanish Translator, Spanish
Language Translation | 8 Comments »
Many people believe that translation is an easy thing and all you have to do is to change words from the source text into the equivalent words of a target text. However, this is not true since some phrases, if translated literaly, would make no sense. Translation is a very complicated process which has to consider many factors – the genre and the style of the original text, the translator’s competence, the timeline allocated to the project and many more. There is a great number of useful translation tips available online and offline, yet every translator has their own reliable methods and techniques, built on expertise and time. Here, we summarized the most essential translation tips that can come in handy both for the oral translation and the written translation.
Oral Translation Tips
Interpreting – simultaneous, consecutive and whispering – is considered to be the most difficult type of translation. To achieve great results in this domain, an interpreter is expected to (a) have a high level of competence in different areas, (b) understand and critically analyse the translated information, (c) know how to highlight the key elements in the text, (d) constantly enrich their professional vocabulary, etc. The personal features of an interpreter – such as a quick reaction, clear articulation, and bright mind – are also of great importance.
The most essential interpretation tips are as follows:
In advance familiarize yourself with the topic of the speech Note down main points of the speech – it’ll help you when interpreting Translate and clarify the meaning of special terms and key words prior to interpreting Establish friendly relations between you and the speaker at a consecutive translation Remember to pronounce words distinctly and clearly
Produce a brief summary at the end of the speech – it helps to clarify conclusions React quickly and be ready to work under pressure
Enjoy what you are doing ..:-) there won’t be a second chance Transmit a clear message to the target audience
Written Translation Tips
Written translation is completely different from any other type of translation. As a rule, there is no need to react instantly – you can take your time, think, choose a better variant, use a dictionary, consult a specialist, etc. Like any other translation it should convey the meaning and the music of the source language. Also, you need to be very accurate with the language and give proper weigh to stylistic features.
The most important translation tips are as follows:
Translate meaning not words!
Rely on your wits and savvy – it can prove to be helpful when translating a difficult text Ask a specialist or a native speaker to proofread your translation so that it sounds natural Never accept a project which you know is not within your abilities Skills and translation expertise come with time – remember it! Language nuances do matter when making a professional translation A good translation is worth taking time for!
The way documents are organized in one country may not be understood in another Emulate the original style of the author, be it humorous, wordy, with colloquial or scientific language, etc.|
Translation procedures, strategies and methodsby Mahmoud Ordudari | AbstractTranslating culture-specific concepts (CSCs) in general and allusions in particular seem to be one of the most challenging tasks to be performed by a translator; in other words, allusions are potential problems of the translation process due to the fact that allusions have particular connotations and implications in the source language (SL) and the foreign culture (FC) but not necessarily in the TL and the domestic culture. There are some procedures and strategies for rendering CSCs and allusions respectively.The present paper aims at scrutinizing whether there exists any point of similarity between these procedures and strategies and to identify which of these procedures and strategies seem to be more effective than the others.
Keywords: Allusion, culture-specific concept, proper name, SL, TL. 1. Introductionranslation typically has been used to transfer written or spoken SL texts to equivalent written or spoken TL texts. In general, the purpose of translation is to reproduce various kinds of texts—including religious, literary, scientific, and philosophical texts—in another language and thus making them available to wider readers.If language were just a classification for a set of general or universal concepts, it would be easy to translate from an SL to a TL; furthermore, under the circumstances the process of learning an L2 would be much easier than it actually is. In this regard, Culler (1976) believes that languages are not nomenclatures and the concepts of one language may differ radically from those of another, since each language articulates or organizes the world differently, and languages do not simply name categories; they articulate their own (p.21-2).
The conclusion likely to be drawn from what Culler (1976) writes is that one of the troublesome problems of translation is the disparity among languages. The bigger the gap between the SL and the TL, the more difficult the transfer of message from the former to the latter will be.The difference between an SL and a TL and the variation in their cultures make the process of translating a real challenge. Among the problematic factors involved in translation such as form, meaning, style, proverbs, idioms, etc., the present paper is going to concentrate mainly on the procedures of translating CSCs in general and on the strategies of rendering allusions in particular. 2. Translation procedures, strategies and methodsThe translating procedures, as depicted by Nida (1964) are as follow: I. Technical procedures: A. analysis of the source and target languages; B. a through study of the source language text before making attempts translate it; C. Making judgments of the semantic and syntactic approximations. (pp. 241-45)
II. Organizational procedures:
constant reevaluation of the attempt made; contrasting it with the existing available translations of the same text done by other translators, and checking the text’s communicative effectiveness by asking the target language readers to evaluate its accuracy and effectiveness and studying their reactions (pp. 246-47).Krings (1986:18) defines translation strategy as “translator’s potentially conscious plans for solving concrete translation problems in the framework of a concrete translation task,” and Seguinot (1989) believes that there are at least three global strategies employed by the translators: (i) translating without interruption for as long as possible; (ii) correcting surface errors immediately; (iii) leaving the monitoring for qualitative or stylistic errors in the text to the revision stage.
Moreover, Loescher (1991:8) defines translation strategy as “a potentially conscious procedure for solving a problem faced in translating a text, or any segment of it.” As it is stated in this definition, the notion of consciousness is significant in distinguishing strategies which are used by the learners or translators. In this regard, Cohen (1998:4) asserts that “the element of consciousness is what distinguishes strategies from these processes that are not strategic.”Furthermore, Bell (1998:188) differentiates between global (those dealing with whole texts) and local (those dealing with text segments) strategies and confirms that this distinction results from various kinds of translation problems.Venuti (1998:240) indicates that translation strategies “involve the basic tasks of choosing the foreign text to be translated and developing a method to translate it.”
He employs the concepts of domesticating and foreignizing to refer to translation strategies.Jaaskelainen (1999:71) considers strategy as, “a series of competencies, a set of steps or processes that favor the acquisition, storage, and/or utilization of information.” He maintains that strategies are “heuristic and flexible in nature, and their adoption implies a decision influenced by amendments in the translator’s objectives.”Taking into account the process and product of translation, Jaaskelainen (2005) divides strategies into two major categories: some strategies relate to what happens to texts, while other strategies relate to what happens in the process.Product-related strategies, as Jaaskelainen (2005:15) writes, involves the basic tasks of choosing the SL text and developing a method to translate it.
However, she maintains that process-related strategies “are a set of (loosely formulated) rules or principles which a translator uses to reach the goals determined by the translating situation” (p.16). Moreover, Jaaskelainen (2005:16) divides this into two types, namely global strategies and local strategies: “global strategies refer to general principles and modes of action and local strategies refer to specific activities in relation to the translator’s problem-solving and decision-making.”Newmark (1988b) mentions the difference between translation methods and translation procedures. He writes that, “[w]hile translation methods relate to whole texts, translation procedures are used for sentences and the smaller units of language” (p.81). He goes on to refer to the following methods of translation: * Word-for-word translation: in which the SL word order is preserved and the words translated singly by their most common meanings, out of context.
* Literal translation: in which the SL grammatical constructions are converted to their nearest TL equivalents, but the lexical words are again translated singly, out of context. * Faithful translation: it attempts to produce the precise contextual meaning of the original within the constraints of the TL grammatical structures. * Semantic translation: which differs from ‘faithful translation’ only in as far as it must take more account of the aesthetic value of the SL text. * Adaptation: which is the freest form of translation, and is used mainly for plays (comedies) and poetry; the themes, characters, plots are usually preserved, the SL culture is converted to the TL culture and the text is rewritten. * Free translation: it produces the TL text without the style, form, or content of the original.
* Idiomatic translation: it reproduces the ‘message’ of the original but tends to distort nuances of meaning by preferring colloquialisms and idioms where these do not exist in the original. * Communicative translation: it attempts to render the exact contextual meaning of the original in such a way that both content and language are readily acceptable and comprehensible to the readership (1988b: 45-47).Newmark (1991:10-12) writes of a continuum existing between “semantic” and “communicative” translation. Any translation can be “more, or less semantic—more, or less, communicative—even a particular section or sentence can be treated more communicatively or less semantically.” Both seek an “equivalent effect.” Zhongying (1994: 97), who prefers literal translation to free translation, writes that, “[i]n China, it is agreed by many that one should translate literally, if possible, or appeal to free translation.
“In order to clarify the distinction between procedure and strategy, the forthcoming section is allotted to discussing the procedures of translating culture-specific terms, and strategies for rendering allusions will be explained in detail. 2.1. Procedures of translating culture-specific concepts (CSCs)Graedler (2000:3) puts forth some procedures of translating CSCs: 1. Making up a new word. 2. Explaining the meaning of the SL expression in lieu of translating it. 3. Preserving the SL term intact. 4. Opting for a word in the TL which seems similar to or has the same “relevance” as the SL term.Defining culture-bound terms (CBTs) as the terms which “refer to concepts, institutions and personnel which are specific to the SL culture” (p.2), Harvey (2000:2-6) puts forward the following four major techniques for translating CBTs: 1. Functional Equivalence: It means using a referent in the TL culture whose function is similar to that of the source language (SL) referent.
As Harvey (2000:2) writes, authors are divided over the merits of this technique: Weston (1991:23) describes it as “the ideal method of translation,” while Sarcevic (1985:131) asserts that it is “misleading and should be avoided.” 2. Formal Equivalence or ‘linguistic equivalence’: It means a ‘word-for-word’ translation. 3. Transcription or ‘borrowing’ (i.e. reproducing or, where necessary, transliterating the original term): It stands at the far end of SL-oriented strategies. If the term is formally transparent or is explained in the context, it may be used alone. In other cases, particularly where no knowledge of the SL by the reader is presumed, transcription is accompanied by an explanation or a translator’s note. 4. Descriptive or self-explanatory translation: It uses generic terms (not CBTs) to convey the meaning. It is appropriate in a wide variety of contexts where formal equivalence is considered insufficiently clear. In a text aimed at a specialized reader, it can be helpful to add the original SL term to avoid ambiguity.
The following are the different translation procedures that Newmark (1988b) proposes: * Transference: it is the process of transferring an SL word to a TL text. It includes transliteration and is the same as what Harvey (2000:5) named “transcription.” * Naturalization: it adapts the SL word first to the normal pronunciation, then to the normal morphology of the TL. (Newmark, 1988b:82) * Cultural equivalent: it means replacing a cultural word in the SL with a TL one. however, “they are not accurate” (Newmark, 1988b:83) * Functional equivalent: it requires the use of a culture-neutral word. (Newmark, 1988b:83) * Descriptive equivalent: in this procedure the meaning of the CBT is explained in several words. (Newmark, 1988b:83) * Componential analysis: it means “comparing an SL word with a TL word which has a similar meaning but is not an obvious one-to-one equivalent, by demonstrating first their common and then their differing sense components.” (Newmark, 1988b:114)
* Synonymy: it is a “near TL equivalent.” Here economy trumps accuracy. (Newmark, 1988b:84) * Through-translation: it is the literal translation of common collocations, names of organizations and components of compounds. It can also be called: calque or loan translation. (Newmark, 1988b:84) * Shifts or transpositions: it involves a change in the grammar from SL to TL, for instance, (i) change from singular to plural, (ii) the change required when a specific SL structure does not exist in the TL, (iii) change of an SL verb to a TL word, change of an SL noun group to a TL noun and so forth. (Newmark, 1988b:86) * Modulation: it occurs when the translator reproduces the message of the original text in the TL text in conformity with the current norms of the TL, since the SL and the TL may appear dissimilar in terms of perspective. (Newmark, 1988b:88) * Recognized translation: it occurs when the translator “normally uses the official or the generally accepted translation of any institutional term.” (Newmark, 1988b:89) * Compensation: it occurs when loss of meaning in one part of a sentence is compensated in another part. (Newmark, 1988b:90)
* Paraphrase: in this procedure the meaning of the CBT is explained. Here the explanation is much more detailed than that of descriptive equivalent. (Newmark, 1988b:91) * Couplets: it occurs when the translator combines two different procedures. (Newmark, 1988b:91) * Notes: notes are additional information in a translation. (Newmark, 1988b:91)Notes can appear in the form of ‘footnotes.’ Although some stylists consider a translation sprinkled with footnotes terrible with regard to appearance, nonetheless, their use can assist the TT readers to make better judgments of the ST contents. Nida (1964:237-39) advocates the use of footnotes to fulfill at least the two following functions: (i) to provide supplementary information, and (ii) to call attention to the original’s discrepancies.A really troublesome area in the field of translation appears to be the occurrence of allusions, which seem to be culture-specific portions of a SL. All kinds of allusions, especially cultural and historical allusions, bestow a specific density on the original language and need to be explicated in the translation to bring forth the richness of the SL text for the TL audience.
Appearing abundantly in literary translations, allusions, as Albakry (2004:3) points out, “are part of the prior cultural knowledge taken for granted by the author writing for a predominantly Moslem Arab [SL] audience. To give the closest approximation of the source language, therefore, it was necessary to opt for ‘glossing’ or using explanatory footnotes.” However, somewhere else he claims that, “footnotes … can be rather intrusive, and therefore, their uses were minimized as much as possible” (Albakry, 2004:4). 2.2. Strategies of translating allusionsProper names, which are defined by Richards (1985:68) as “names of a particular person, place or thing” and are spelled “with a capital letter,” play an essential role in a literary work. For instance let us consider personal PNs. They may refer to the setting, social status and nationality of characters, and really demand attention when rendered into a foreign language.There are some models for rendering PNs in translations.
One of these models is presented by Hervey and Higgins (1986) who believe that there exist two strategies for translating PNs. They point out: “either the name can be taken over unchanged from the ST to the TT, or it can be adopted to conform to the phonic/graphic conventions of the TL” (p.29).Hervey and Higgins (1986) refer to the former as exotism which “is tantamount to literal translation, and involves no cultural transposition” (p.29), and the latter as transliteration. However, they propose another procedure or alternative, as they put it, namely cultural transplantation. Being considered as “the extreme degree of cultural transposition,” cultural transplantation is considered to be a procedure in which “SL names are replaced by indigenous TL names that are not their literal equivalents, but have similar cultural connotations” (Hervey & Higgins, 1986:29).Regarding the translation of PNs, Newmark (1988a:214) asserts that, “normally, people’s first and sure names are transferred, thus preserving nationality and assuming that their names have no connotations in the text.
“The procedure of transference cannot be asserted to be effective where connotations and implied meanings are significant. Indeed, there are some names in the Persian poet Sa’di’s work Gulestan, which bear connotations and require a specific strategy for being translated. Newmark’s (1988a:215) solution of the mentioned problem is as follows: “first translate the word that underlies the SL proper name into the TL, and then naturalize the translated word back into a new SL proper name.” However, there is a shortcoming in the strategy in question. As it seems it is only useful for personal PNs, since as Newmark (1988a:215), ignoring the right of not educated readers to enjoy a translated text, states, it can be utilized merely “when the character’s name is not yet current amongst an educated TL readership.”Leppihalme (1997:79) proposes another set of strategies for translating the proper name allusions: i. Retention of the name: a. using the name as such. b. using the name, adding some guidance. c. using the name, adding a detailed explanation, for instance, a footnote.
ii. Replacement of the name by another: d. replacing the name by another SL name. e. replacing the name by a TL name iii. Omission of the name: f. omitting the name, but transferring the sense by other means, for instance by a common noun. g. omitting the name and the allusion together.Moreover, nine strategies for the translation of key-phrase allusions are proposed by Leppihalme (1997: 82) as follows: i. Use of a standard translation, ii. Minimum change, that is, a literal translation, without regard to connotative or contextual meaning, iii. Extra allusive guidance added in the text, iv. The use of footnotes, endnotes, translator’s notes and other explicit explanations not supplied in the text but explicitly given as additional information, v. Stimulated familiarity or internal marking, that is, the addition of intra-allusive allusion , vi. Replacement by a TL item, vii. Reduction of the allusion to sense by rephrasing,
viii. Re-creation, using a fusion of techniques: creative construction of a passage which hints at the connotations of the allusion or other special effects created by it, ix. Omission of the allusion. 3. ConclusionAlthough some stylists consider translation “sprinkled with footnotes” undesirable, their uses can assist the TT readers to make better judgment of the ST contents. In general, it seems that the procedures ‘functional equivalent’ and ‘notes’ would have a higher potential for conveying the concepts underlying the CSCs embedded in a text; moreover, it can be claimed that a combination of these strategies would result in a more accurate understanding of the CSCs than other procedures.Various strategies opted for by translators in rendering allusions seem to play a crucial role in recognition and perception of connotations carried by them.
If a novice translator renders a literary text without paying adequate attention to the allusions, the connotations are likely not to be transferred as a result of the translator’s failure to acknowledge them. They will be entirely lost to the majority of the TL readers; consequently, the translation will be ineffective.It seems necessary for an acceptable translation to produce the same (or at least similar) effects on the TT readers as those created by the original work on its readers.
This paper may show that a translator does not appear to be successful in his challenging task of efficiently rendering the CSCs and PNs when he sacrifices, or at least minimizes, the effect of allusions in favor of preserving graphical or lexical forms of source language PNs. In other words, a competent translator is wll-advised not to deprive the TL reader of enjoying, or even recognizing, the allusions either in the name of fidelity or brevity.It can be claimed that the best translation method seem to be the one which allows translator to utilize ‘notes.’ Furthermore, employing ‘notes’ in the translation, both as a translation strategy and a translation procedure, seems to be indispensable so that the foreign language readership could benefit from the text as much as the ST readers do.