The unit is designed to provide the learners with some basic principles of translation which will be generally useful to translation courses in universities and colleges, to help the learners avoid some errors they may encounter when they translate a text, to provide the learners with essential English sentence patterns that could be very useful for the learners in learning and practicing translating and to provide the learners 20 assignments related to the theory they have learned.
The desire of the author is to make available the principles of translation which have learned through personal experience in translation and teaching translation, and through interaction with colleagues involved in translation projects in many universities in Central Vietnam. Since it is assumed that the students will be speakers of Vietnamese language, many of these exercises involve translating from or into their mother tongue. The material is presented in a way that it can be used in a self-teaching situation or in a classroom.
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An attempt has been made to keep technical terms to a minimum. When technical vocabulary is used, every effort is made to clarify the meaning of such vocabulary or to provide its meaning in Vietnamese. This has been done so that the unit can be used by any student translator, even though his exposure to linguistic and translation theory has been minimal. This is an introductory unit. The lessons give an overview presenting the fundamental principles of translation and the rest of the unit illustrates these principles.
The overriding principle is that translation is meaning-based rather than form-based. Once the learner has identified the meaning of the source text, his goal is to express that same meaning in the receptor/target language. Many examples of cross-language equivalence are used to illustrate this principle. Since the coursebook has been written for the students to learn either by themselves in their distant learning course or in class with a teacher, there will be a coursebook and 20 assignments.
By the end of the course, the students will be able to: 1. obtain general knowledge of the principles of translation . 2. get familiar with and effectively use the English sentence patterns in their translations. On the completion of this coursebook, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Ton Nu Nhu Huong for her encouragement. I would also like to be grateful to Dr. Tran Van Phuoc and other colleagues of the College of Foreign Languages and the English Department for their kind help. Errors are unavoidable in this coursebook.
Therefore, I appreciate and welcome any criticism on the course book. Hue, June 24th, 2001 Nguyen Van Tuan 2 CHAPTER 1: LESSON 1: 1. What is translation? THEORY OF TRANSLATION FORM AND MEANING 1. 1. Translation is the expression in another language (target language) of what has been expressed in one language (source language), preserving semantic and stylistic equivalencies. (By Roger T. Bell). 1. 2. Translation is the replacement of a representation of a text in one language by a representation of an equivalent text in a second language. (By Roger T. Bell).
The author continues and makes the problems of equivalence very plain: Texts in different languages can be equivalent in different degrees (fully or partially different), in respect of different levels of presentation (in respect of context, of semantics, of grammar, of lexis, etc. ) and at different ranks (word-for-word, phrase-for-phrase, sentencefor-sentence). However, languages are different from each other; they are different in form having different codes and rules regulating the construction of grammatical stretches of language and these forms have different meanings.
To shift from one language to another is, by definition, to change the forms. Also, the contrasting forms convey meanings which cannot but fail to coincide totally; there is no absolute synonym between words in the same language, why should anyone be surprised to discover a lack synonym between languages. Something is always „lost? (or might one suggest „gain?? ) in the process and translators can find themselves being accused of reproducing only part of the original and so „betraying? the author? s intentions. Hence the traitorous nature ascribed to the translator by the notorious Italian proverb: “ Traduttore traditore”.
Faced by a text in a language, we are able to work out not only the meaning of each word and sentence but also its communicative value, its place in time and space and information about the participants involved in its production and reception. We might take, as a light-hearted model of the questions we can ask of the text, the first verse of a short poem by Kipling. I keep six honest serving men; (They taught me all I knew); Their names were What? And Why? And When? And How? And Where? And Who? What? is the message contained in the text; the content of the signal. Why? rients us towards the intention of the sender, the purpose for which the text was is used. (Informing, persuading, flattering, etc. ) When? is concerned with the time of communication realized in the text and setting in its historical context; contemporary or set in the recent or remote past or future. 3 Where? is concerned with the place of communication, the physical location of the speech event realized in the text. How? refers to whether the text is written in a formal or informal way. Who? refers to the participants involved in the communication; the sender and receiver. . 3. Translation is rendering a written text into another language in a way that the author intended the text. (By Bui Tien Bao- Hanoi National University) “ Translators are concerned with written texts. They render written texts from one language into another language. Translators are required to translate texts which arrange from simple items including birth certificates or driving licences to more complex written materials such as articles in journals of various kinds, business contracts and legal documents. ” (Bui Tien BaoHanoi National University). 1. 4.
Translation, by dictionary definition, consists of changing from one state or form to another, to turn into one? s own or another? s language. (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 1974). Translation is basically a change of form. When we speak of the form of a language, we are referring to the actual words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, etc. The forms are referred to as the surface structure of a language. It is the structural part of language which is actually seen in print or heard in speech. In translation the form of the source language is replaced by the form of the receptor/target language.
But how is this change accomplished? What determines the choices of form in the translation? The purpose of this lesson is to show that translation consists of transferring the meaning of the source language into the receptor language. This is done by going from the form of the first language to the form of the second language by a way of semantic structure. It is meaning that is being transferred and must be held constant. Only the form changes. The form from which the translation is made will be called the source language and the form into which it is to be changed will be called the receptor language.
Translation, then, consists of studying the lexicon, grammatical structure, communication situation, and cultural context of the source language text, analyzing it in order to determine its meaning, and then reconstructing this same meaning using the lexicon, grammatical structure which are appropriate in the receptor language and its cultural context. Let us look at an example. Assume that we are translating the Vietnamese sentence ‘‘ C? m ¬n b? n ®· giop ®i t«i tEn t? nh. ’’ into English. This Vietnamese sentence has the verb ‘giop ®i tEn t? nh’, but to convey the same meaning in English one would use a noun phrase: „ your kind help?.
To do effective translation one must discover the meaning of the source language and use the receptor language forms which express the meaning in a natural way. It is the purpose of this unit to familiarize the learners with the basic linguistic and sociolinguistic factors involved in translating a text from a source language into a receptor language, and to give them enough practice in the translation process for the development of skills in cross-language transfer. 4 2. Characteristics of language which affect translation There are certain characteristics of languages which have a very direct bearing on principles of translation.
First, let us look at the characteristics of meaning components. Meaning components are packaged into lexical items, but they are packaged differently in one language than in another. In most languages there is a meaning of plurality, for example the English -s. This often occurs in the grammar as a suffix on the nouns or verbs or both. In Vietnamese, however, plurality is expressed in an isolated word ‘ nh‚ng/c? c’. Many times a single word in the source language will need to be translated by several words. For example, a projector was called the thing that shows pictures on the wall by the Chipara Bolivia.
Second, it is characteristic of languages that the same meaning component will occur in several surface structure lexical items. In English, the word „sheep? occurs. However, the words „lamb? ,? ram? and „ewe? also include the meaning „sheep?. They include the addition meaning components of young (in „lamb? , adult and male in „ ram? and adult and female in „ewe?. In Peru, „lamb? would need to be translated by „sheep its child? , „ram? by „ sheep big? and „ewe? by „sheep its woman?. Third, it is further characteristic of language that one form will be used to represent several alternative meanings.
This again is obvious from looking in any good dictionary. For example, the Reader? s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary gives 54 meanings for the English word „run?. Most words have more than one meaning. There will be a primary meaning-the one which usually comes to mind when the word is said in isolation-and the secondary meaningthe additional meanings, which a word has in context with other words. In English, we can say „ the boy runs? , using „run? in its primary meaning. We can also say „ the motor runs, the river runs, and his nose runs? , using runs in its secondary meanings.
This principle is not limited to lexical items for it is also true that the same grammatical pattern may express several quite different meanings. For instance, the English possessive phrase „my house? may mean „the house I built? , „ the house I rent? , „the house I live in? , or the house for which I drew up in my plans.? Only the larger context determines the meaning. Notice the following possessive phrases and the variety of meanings: my car my brother my foot my singing my book my village my train ownership kinship part-whole action ownership or authorship ( the book I own, or, the book I wrote) residence ( the village where I live) use (the train I ride on) Whole sentences may also have several functions. A question form may be used for a nonquestion. For example, the question: “ Mary, why don? t you wash the dishes? ” has a form of a question, and may in some context be asking for information, but it is often used with the meaning of command rather than a real question. A simple English sentence like “ He made the bed. ” May mean either “He made (as a carpenter would make) the bed”, or “ He put the sheets, blanket, and pillows in neat order on the bed. Just as words have primary and secondary meanings, so grammatical markers have their primary function and often have other secondary functions. The preposition „on? is used in English to signal a variety of meanings. Compare the following uses of „on? with the corresponding form used in Vietnamese. John found the book on the floor. nhµ. John found the book on mathematics. m«n to? n. John found the book on Tuesday. tho Ba. John found the book on sale. ®ang bµy b? n. John t? m thEy cuen s? ch tr? n sµn John t? m thEy cuen s? ch viOt vO John t? m thEy cuen s? ch vµo John t? m thEy cuen s? ch
Compare also the following uses of ‘ by’ John was stopped by the policeman. John was stopped by the bookstand. In the first, by is used to signal the meaning that the policeman is the agent of the action. In the second, by is used to signal that the bookstand is the location. We have seen that one form may express many meanings. On the other hand, another characteristic of languages is that a single meaning may be expressed in a variety of forms. For example, the meaning “ the cat is black” may be expressed by the following: the cat is black, the black cat, and, the cat, which is black, depending on how that meaning relates to other meanings.
In addition, the meanings of “ Is this place taken? ” “Is there anyone sitting here? ” and “ May I sit here? ” are essentially the same. Also, the meaning is essentially the same in the following English sentences: Others blamed John because of the difficulty. Others blamed John for the difficulty. Others blamed the difficulty on John. Others said John was responsible for the difficulty. 6 Others accused John of being responsible for the difficulty. We have seen that even within a single language there are a great variety of ways in which form expresses meaning.
Only when a form being used in its primary meaning or function is there a one-to-one correlation between form and meaning. The other meanings are secondary meanings or figurative meanings. Words have these extended meanings and in the same way grammatical forms have extended usages (secondary and figurative function). This characteristic of “skewing”; that is, the diversity or the lack of one-to-one correlation between form and meaning is the basic reason that translation is a complicated task.
If there were no skewing, then all lexical items and all grammatical forms would have only one meaning and a literal word-for-word and grammatical structure-for- grammatical structure translation would be possible. But the fact is that a language is a complex set of skewed relationship between meaning (semantics) and form (lexicon and grammar). Each language has its own distinctive forms for representing the meaning. Therefore, in translation the same meaning may have to be expressed in another language by a very different form.
To translate the form of one language literally according to the corresponding form in another language would often change the meaning or at least result in a form which is unnatural in the second language. Meaning must, therefore, have priority over form in translation. It is meaning that is to be carried over from the source language to the receptor language, not the linguistic forms. For example, to translate the English sentence “ he is cold hearted” i. e. His heart is cold (meaning „he is unfeeling, has no emotional sympathy.? ) literally into Mambila in Nigeria would be understood to mean, “ he is peaceful, not quick-tempered. And if translated literally into Cinyanja in Zambia, it would mean, “ he is frightened. ” The nature of language is that each language uses different forms and these forms have secondary and figurative meanings which add further complications. A word-for-word translation which follows closely the form of the source language is called a literal translation. A literal translation does not communicate the meaning of the source text. It is generally no more than a string of words intended to help someone read a text in its original language.
It is unnatural and hard to understand, and may even be quite meaningless, or give a wrong meaning in the receptor language. It can hardly be called a translation. The goal of a translator should be to produce a receptor language text (a translation) which is idiomatic; that is one which has the same meaning as the source language but is expressed in the natural form of the receptor language. The meaning, not form is retained. The following is a literal translation of a story first told in the Quiche language of Guatemala: “It is said that being one man not from here, not known where the his or the he comes where.
One day the things he walks in a plantation or in them the coastlands, he saw his appearance one little necklace, or he thought that a little necklace the very pretty thrown on the ground in the road. He took the necklace this he threw in his mouth for its cause that coming the one person another to his behind ness, for his that not he encounters the one the following this way in his behindness not he knows and that the necklace the he threw in his mouth this one 7 snake and the man this one died right now because not he knows his appearance the snake or that the he ate this not this a necklace only probably this snake. Now compare the above with the following less literal translation of the same story: “ It is said that there once was a man not from here, and I do not know his town or where he came from, who one day was walking in a plantation (or in the coastlands). He saw a little necklace, or rather, what he thought was a very pretty little necklace, lying on the road. He grabbed this necklace and threw this into his mouth because there was someone coming along behind him, and he did not want the other person to see it. He did not know that the necklace he threw into his mouth was really a snake.
The man died in short order because he did not recognize from its appearance that it was a snake. He did not know that what he had put in his mouth was not a necklace, but rather a snake. ” In the first, each quiche word was replaced by the nearest English equivalent. The result was nonsense. In the second translation, the natural forms of English lexicon and grammar were used to express the meaning of the Quiche story. Below the story is again rewritten in a more idiomatic English style. “I am told that there once was a stranger from some other town who was walking in a plantation along the coast.
As he walked along he suddenly saw a very pretty little necklace lying on the road. He snatched up this necklace and threw this into his mouth because there was another person walking behind him and he did not want him to see the necklace. The stranger did not know that the necklace was really a snake. The man died immediately. He died because he did not realize that it was a snake. He did not know he put a snake into his mouth rather than a necklace. ” Anything which can be said in one language can be said in another. It is possible to translate. The goal of the translator is to keep the meaning constant.
Wherever necessary, the receptor language form should be changed in order that the source language meaning should not be distorted. Since a meaning expressed by a particular form in one language may be expressed by quite a different form in another language, it is often necessary to change the form when translating. 3. Notes Form-based translation: Meaning-based translation: chuyOn t¶i Source language: Receptor language: Context: Principle of translation: Meaning component: d? ch dua vµo h? nh thoc hay cEu troc d? ch dua vµo nghUa, dua vµo nei dung cCn ng«n ng? gec ng«n ng? d? ch v? n c¶nh/ ng? c¶nh nguy? n t? c d? h/ku thuEt d? ch thµnh te nghUa 8 Lexical: Surface structure: Deep structure: Meaning/ sense: Primary meaning: Secondary meaning: Literal translation: One-to-one correlation: Figurative meaning: Function: Idiomatic translation: (thuec vO) to vung cEu troc bO m? t cEu troc s©u/cEu troc ng? nghUa nghUa nghUa chYnh/nghUa gec nghUa ph? i sinh d? ch tong to met quan hO met ®ei met nghUa bang choc n? ng d? ch ®ong, d? ch s? t nghi· 4. Self-study 4. 1 Questions for discussion 1. What is translation? What definition do you think is the most appropriate? Can you give your own definition of translation? 2. What is a literal translation?
Can you give some examples of literal translations? 3. What is an idiomatic translation? Give some examples of idiomatic translations. 4. What characteristics of language affect translation? 5. What are the secondary meanings? Give ten sentences, each of which contains a word used in a secondary sense. 6. What is the primary meaning? Give ten sentences, each of which contains a word used in a primary sense. 4. 2 Exercises A. Identify change of meaning versus change of form. Some of the following pairs of sentences differ in their form. Some differ in meaning. Indicate if the primary change is in the form or in the meaning.
Example: They robbed the old man. The old man was dropped by them. Answer: Change of form 1. The students like to study translation. The students like studying translation. 2. I bought a pair of horseshoes. I bought a pair of leather shoes. 3. He saw the bird. He heard the cat. 9 4. Phillip went walking. Phillip took a walk. 5. Go to bed. I want you to go to bed. 6. I came; I saw; I conquered. I came, saw, and conquered. 7. Two weeks later he came. After two weeks he came. 8. There is a table in the book. There is a book on the table. 9. The young man had an English grammar book stolen. An English grammar book was stolen from the young man. 0. He was awaken by a thunderclap. A thunderclap awakened him. B. List as many grammatical forms as you can which realize the same meaning as the one given below. Then put the same meaning into a language other than English in as many forms as you can. Example: the cat is black the black cat the cat, which is black 1. the jug water 2. John bought a car 3. a hot day 4. mother? s long blue dress 5. Peter? s house C. All of the following have the same grammatical form. With the change of lexical items, there is a change of meaning which is signaled by that lexical item, apart from the referential meaning of the word itself.
What meaning is signaled in each of the following possessive phrases? Answer by restating. How can that meaning best be expressed in another language which you speak? Example: The man? s car – the man owns the car The man? s eye – the eye is part of the man 1. the doctor? s office 2. the doctor? s patient 3. the doctor? s book 4. the doctor? s brother 10 5. the doctor? s hand 6. the doctor? s house D. For each pair of sentences, state whether the two sentences are 1. the same in meaning or 2. different in meaning. Example: (a) It rained all night. (b) Rain fell all night. (a) There is a book on the table. b) There is a table on the book. 1. (a) John was very surprised when he heard the news. (b) The news very much amazed John when he heard it. 2. (a) It was a hot day. (b) The day was hot. 3. (a) Peter? s house (b) The house that belongs to Peter 4. (a) He remained silent. (b) He did not say anything. 5. (a) I bought cloth to make Mary a new dress. (b) I bought a new dress for Mary. 6. (a) I bought vegetables in the market. (b) I bought tomatoes and onions in the market. 7. (a) My parents are well. (b) My mother and father are well. 8. (a) John is ill: he has a bad case of malaria. (b) John is very ill indeed. . (a) There are four rooms in the house. (b) The house has four rooms and a kitchen at the back. 10. (a) In my opinion, the government is doing well and making many improvements in the country. But there are many people who do not agree that this is so. (b) Opinions are divided concerning the government. Some say they are doing well and making many improvements in the country. Others do not agree. LESSON 2: KINDS OF TRANSLATION 1. Literal versus idiomatic 11 Because a given text has both form and meaning, as discussed in the previous lesson, there are two main kinds of translation.
One is form-based and the other is meaning-based. Form-based translations attempt to follow the form of the source language and are known as literal translation. Meaning-based translations make every effort to communicate the meaning of the source language text in the natural forms of the receptor language. Such translations are called idiomatic translations. An interlinear translation is a completely literal translation. For some purposes, it is desirable to reproduce the linguistic features of the source text, as for example, in a linguistic study of that language.
Although these literal translations may be very useful for purposes related to the study of the source language, they are of little help to speakers of the receptor language who are interested in the meaning of the source language text. A literal translation sounds like nonsense and has little communication value. For example: Vietnamese: Literal translation: Mei b? n vO nhµ t«i ch¬i Invite friend about house me play. This literal translation makes little sense in English. The appropriate translation would be: Would you like to come to my home?
If the two languages are related, the literal translation can often be understood, since the general grammatical form may be similar. However, the literal choice of lexical items may the translation sounds foreign. The following bilingual announcement was overheard at an airport ( Barnwell 1980:18) Literal English: Madame Odette passenger with destination Domda is demanded on the telephone. This English version is a literal translation of the French. French: Madame Odette, passager µ destination de Domda, est demande? au telefon. An idiomatic translation into English would be: Miss Odette, passenger for Domda.
You are wanted on the phone. Except for interlinear translation, a truly literal translation is uncommon. Most translators who tend to translate literally actually make a partially modified literal translation. They modify the order and grammar enough to use acceptable sentence structure in the receptor language. However, the lexical items are translated literally. Occasionally, these are also changed to avoid complete nonsense or to improve the communication. However, the result still does not sound natural. Notice the following example from a language in Papua New Guinea: Ro abombo ngusifu pamariboyandi.
I my heart fastened-her. (literal) (modified literal) I fastened her in my heart. 12 The modified literal translation changes the order into English structure. However, the sentence still does not communicate in clear English. An idiomatic translation would have used the form: “ I never forgot her. ” Or “ I? ve kept her memory in my heart. ” A person who translates in a modified literal manner will change the grammatical forms when the constructions are obligatory. However, if he has a choice, he will follow the form of the source text even though a different form might be more natural in the receptor language.
Literal and modified literal translations consistently err in that they choose literal equivalents for the words, i. e. lexical items being translated. Literal translations of words, idioms result in unclear, unnatural, and sometimes nonsensical translations. In a modified literal translation, the translator usually adjusts the translation enough to avoid the nonsense and wrong meanings, but the unnaturalness still remains. Idiomatic translations use the natural forms of the receptor language, both in the grammatical constructions and in the choice of lexical items. A truly idiomatic translation does not sound like a translation.
It sounds like it was written originally in the receptor language. Therefore, a good translator will try to translate idiomatically. This is his goal. However, translations are often a mixture of a literal transfer of the grammatical units along with some idiomatic translation of the meaning of the text. It is not easy to consistently translate. A translator may express some parts of his translation in very natural forms and then in other parts fall back into a literal form. In one translation, the source text said, ‘‘ NhiOu du kh? ch n-ic ngoµi ®· giii thiOu cho chong t«i vO kh? ch s? n H-¬ng Giang. ’ It was translated, “ Many foreign tourists have introduced us about Huong Giang Hotel. ” It would have been translated idiomatically, “ Huong Giang Hotel has been recommended to us by a number of foreign tourists. ” The translator? s goal should be to reproduce in a receptor language a text which communicates the same message as the source language but using the natural grammatical and lexical choices of the receptor language. The basic overriding principle is that an idiomatic translation reproduces the meaning of the source language in the natural form of the receptor language. 2.
Translating grammatical features Parts of speech are language specific. Each language has its own division of the lexicon into classes such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and so on. Different languages will have different classes and subclasses. It will not always be possible to translate a source language noun with a noun in the receptor language. For example, English has many nouns which really refer to actions while Vietnamese prefers to express actions as verbs rather than nouns. In one translation, the source text said, “ There is a general agreement that the government has given top priority to education. It was translated, ‘‘ Ca met su ®ang y chung r»ng chYnh phn ®· dµnh nhiOu su -u ti? n cho gi? o doc’’. This would 13 have been translated idiomatically, ‘‘Ai cong ®ang y r»ng chYnh phn ®· dµnh nhiOu -u ti? n cho gi? o doc. ’’ Similarly, a translator in Papua New Guinea was asked to translate the Eight Point Improvement Plan for Papua New Guinea. One point reads, “Decentralization of economic activity, planning and government spending, with emphasis on agricultural development, village industry, better internal trade, and more spending channeled through local and area bodies. Such sentences are very difficult for translators who want to translate into the native language of the country. Words such as Decentralization, activity, planning, government spending, emphasis development, trade would have to be rendered by verbs in most languages. When verbs are used, then, the appropriate subject and object of the verb may need to be made explicit also. The form in the receptor language is very different from the source language form and yet this kind of adjustment, using verbs rather than using nouns, must be made in order to communicate the message.
An idiomatic translation was made which used verbs as in the following. “The government wants to decrease the work it does for businesses and what it plans and the money it spends in the capital, and wants to increase what people and groups in local area do to help farmers and small businesses whose owners live in the villages, and help people in this country buy and sell things made in this country and to help local groups spend the government? s money. ” Most languages have a class of words which may be called pronouns.
Pronominal systems vary greatly from language to language and the translator is obliged to use the form of the receptor language even though they may have very different meanings than the pronouns of the source language. For example, if one is translating into Kiowa (USA), the pronouns will have to indicate a different between singular, dual and plural person even though the source language does not make this three-way distinction. Or if a translator is translating into Balinese, he must distinguish degrees of honor even though nothing in the source language indicates these distinctions.
He will need to understand the culture of the Balinese and the cultural context of the text he is translating in order to choose correctly. In English, the first plural pronoun we is often used when the real meaning is second person you. The reason for the use of we is to show empathy and understanding. The nurse say to the sick child, “ It? s time for us to take our medicine now. ” Or the teacher says, “We? re not going to shout, quietly to our we? ll walk places. ” Clearly , the pronouns do not refer to the nurse or the teacher but to the children whom she is addressing you.
In translating these pronouns into another language, a literal translation with first person plural would probably distort the meaning. The translator would need to look for the natural way to communicate second person and the feeling of empathy carried by the source language. Grammatical constructions also vary between the source language and the receptor language. The order , for example, may be completely reserved. The following simple sentences from Vietnamese is given with a literal English translations: Ch? seng e ®©u? You live where ? 14 C« Ey th-eng m? ? o s¬ mi v¶i silk mµu xanh ci nha. She often wears a shirt silk blue small. It will readily be seen that understandable translations into English requires a complete reversal of the order: She often wears a small blue silk shirt. It is not uncommon that passive constructions will need to be translated with an active construction or vice versa, depending on the natural form of the receptor language. For example, Vietnamese people tend to use active constructions to express their ideas whereas English people prefer to use passive constructions.
English: Vietnamese: (active) English: A: What has happened to all your money after the will was settled and the business was sold? (passive) B: The usual thing, false friends, fast-living style and bad investment. Vietnamese: A: ChuyOn g? ®· x¶y ra vii toµn be se tiOn mµ b? n ca ®-ic sau khi gi¶i quyOt xong chuyOn choc th- vµ b? n ®i c¶ s¶n nghiOp. (active) B: Cong lI th-eng t? nh th«i, b? n bI gi¶ dei, ? n ch¬i hoang ®µn vµ ®Cu t- sai chc. The above translated sentences are only examples to show some types of grammatical adjustments which will result if a translator translates idiomatically in the source language.
Certainly, there will be times by coincidence they match, but a translator should translate the meaning not concern himself with whether the forms turn out the same or not. Nguyen Du is considered to be a great poet. ( passive) Ng-ei ta xem NguyOn Du lµ met nhµ th¬ vU ®? i. 3. Translating lexical features Each language has its own idiomatic way of expressing meaning lexical items. Languages abound in idioms, secondary meanings, metaphors, and other figurative meanings.
For example, notice the following ways in which a fever is referred to ( literal translations are given to show the source language form): Greek: Aguaruna: Vietnamese: The fever left him. He cooled. He cooled. Or: The fever was no more in him. 15 Ilocano: The fever was no more in him. The English translations of all six would be : His fever went down, or His temperature returned to normal. All languages have idioms, i. e. a string of words whose meaning is different than the meaning conveyed by the individual words. In English to say that someone is bullheaded means that the person is „stubborn?.
The meaning has little to do with bull or head . Similarly, in Vietnamese to say that someone is cong ®Cu cong c? means that the person is „stubborn?. The meaning has little to do with ®Cu or c?. Languages abound in such idioms. The following are a few English idioms using in and into: run into debt, rush into print, step into a practice, jump into a fight, dive into a book, stumble into acquaintance, fall in love, break into society. In spite of all these combinations, one cannot say the following break into debt, fall into print, rush into a fight, dive into debt, etc.
The combinations are fixed as to form and their meaning comes from their combination. A literal word-for-word translation of these idioms into another language will not make sense. The form cannot be kept, but the receptor language word or phrase which has the equivalent meaning will be the correct one to use in the translation. The following idioms occur in Vietnamese. In the first column is a literal translation from Vietnamese. In the second is an idiomatic translation. The literal English is misleading. LITERAL I don? t have my eye on you. He is as strong as a buffalo. I have buried my head into my business. IDIOMATIC I don? remember you. He is as strong as a horse. I have been busy with my work. Translators who wants to make a good idiomatic translation often find figures of speech especially challenging. A literal translation of strong as a horse might sound really strange in a language where the comparison between a strong person and a horse has never been use as a figure of speech. In Vietnamese it would be more natural to say strong as a buffalo. Similarly, a literal translation of blind as a bat might sound really strange in a language where the comparison between a blind person and a bat has never been use as a figure of speech.
In Aguaruma it would be more natural to say blind as a fox. There is a legend in which the sun borrowed the fox? s eyes and then returned to heaven taking the fox? s good eyes with him and leaving the fox with the sun? s inferior eyes. That is why they say, when the fox is trying to see, he stretches back his head and looks with his throat. Figures of speech are often based on stories or historical incidents. Names of animals are used metaphorically in most languages. But the comparison is often different and so the figure will be misunderstood unless some adjustment is made.
For example, when someone is called a pig in English, it usually means he is dirty or a greedy eater. In Vietnamese, it has different meanings. It could means that the person is stupid or that the person is a greedy. Care would need to be taken if pig were used metaphorically or a wrong meaning might result in the receptor language. 16 Some lexical combinations of the source language may be ambiguous. The meaning is not clear. For example, “ It is too hot to eat,” could mean any of the following: The food is too hot to eat; the weather is too hot for us to feel like eating; the horse is too hot after running a race and does not want to eat.
In the process of making an idiomatic translation, such ambiguities must often be resolved and only the intended meaning communicated. 4. Conclusion It is obvious that translation is a complicated process. However, a translator who is concerned with transferring the meaning will find that the receptor language has a way in which the desired meaning can be expressed even though it may be very different from the source language form. Considering the complexity of language structures, how can a translator ever hope to produce an adequate translation?
Literal translation can only be avoided by careful analysis of the source language: by, first of all, understanding clearly the message to be communicated. A translator who takes the time to study carefully the source language text, to write analysis of it, and then to look for the equivalent way in which the same message is expressed naturally in the receptor language, will be able to provide an adequate, and some times brilliant translation. His goal must be to avoid literalisms and to strive for a truly idiomatic receptor language text.
He will know he is successful if the receptor language readers do not recognize his work as a translation at all, but simply as a text written in the receptor language for their information and enjoyment. 5. Notes Form-based translation : Meaning-based translation: Literal translation: Idiomatic translation: Interference : Mother-tongue interference: To make adjustments: Translating grammatical features: Parts of speech: Subclass: Indo-European language: Pronominal system: d? ch dua vµo h? nh thoc d? ch dua vµo nghUa d? ch tong to met d? ch ®ong nghUa su can thiOp su can thiOp cna tiOng mN ®I hiOu ®Ynh/ ®iOu chOnh ®? tr-ng ng? ph? p d? ch to lo? i nham nha ng«n ng? En-? u hO theng ®? i to 6. Self-study 6. 1 Questions for discussion 1. What are the differences between a literal translation and an idiomatic translation? 2. What should you do to translate a text idiomatically? 17 3. What grammatical features should be considered when you translate a text? Give some examples to support your ideas. 4. What lexical features should be considered when you translate a text? Give some examples to support your ideas. 5. Why do you have to take the time to read the source language text carefully before translating it? . 2 Exercises A. In each of the following pairs of sentences, which is more idiomatic English, a or b? How would the meaning be expressed idiomatically in the language you speak? 1. (a) The storekeeper said that we will refund your money. (b) The storekeeper promised to refund our money. 2. (a) A certain boy told me this little story at a party. (b) He is one boy. He told the one little story. This is a game he said. 3. (a) An International Alphabet would inevitably bring about a spelling reform as well. How many children have shed hot tears about spelling? b) An International Alphabet would inevitably bring about a spelling reform ,too. And how many hot children? s tears have not been shed on spelling? 4. (a) He then reported his misfortune to the police, who are searching diligently for the thief. (b) He then his mishap reported to the police, who are the thief searching intensively B. Look for literalisms in the following translations into English and underline the words or phrases that do not sound natural in English. Suggest a more idiomatic way of saying it. All of these examples are from published translated material. 1.
The third-year students often visit the schools in the city for the attendance of the class. 2. Foreign tourists usually at Kinh Do Hotel for their friends have introduced to them very much about this hotel. 3. Since the USA abolished the embargo against Vietnam, many foreign countries have been investing in Vietnam. 4. After saying lies many times, he lost our belief in him. 5. Hue is famous about its delicious dishes and beautiful landscapes. 6. The participants discussed about the causes of pollution environment. 7. Every time my mother goes to work , I feel my house absent anybody. 8.
One thing makes me proud of my village is a large green field that provides one part of life for people. 9. A robbery took place of a motorcycle rider at Kampung early yesterday morning. 10. I left my village for three years, a time not long but like a century. C. Each of the following are sentences written by some Vietnamese who are not yet fluent English speakers. The forms used shows examples of how their mother-tongue language 18 structures have been carried over into English. The same information is then given in parenthesis in idiomatic English. What changes were made in correcting the English?