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What is Translation? Tuna Tunalıoğulları TEFL 496 26.03.2012.

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Presentation on theme: "What is Translation? Tuna Tunalıoğulları TEFL 496 26.03.2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is Translation? Tuna Tunalıoğulları TEFL

2 Q? What is translation?

3 Rationale for the Chapter It’s meaning is by no means straightforward. This is the word translation itself whether conceived as a process or as a product. Translation is not easy to define and because of this like many other important terms it is often used without definition.

4 Definition A popular view of translation is that it involves a transfer of meaning from one language to another, and this is reflected in it’s Latin root “translatum” a form of the verb “transferre” which means to “carry across”. As an inevitable consequence of it is the notion of translation loss, the fact that in translation not everything can be “carried across”. Yet as translation is necessary to communicate between languages, and loss is inevitable, this hyperbolic characterization as betrayal seems both unfair and inaccurate.

5 The Quest for Equivalence Most linguistics have found the notion of meaning transference unsatisfactory and preferred instead the weaker notion of equivalence, replacing the idea of translation as: The transference of meaning from one set of patterned symbols into another. (Dostert 1955) With one of translation as: The replacement of textual materials in one language by equivalent textual material in another language. (Catford 1965)

6 Levels of Equivalence A language can be analysed as existing on a number of hierarchical levels. Phonology or graphology. Morphemes and lexical items (words). Sentences. Semantics (meaning).

7 These properties of language can be considered at a formal level without reference to the was in which language is used. When considered as an act of communication in context any actual use of language has a pragmatic meaning. This is influenced not only by the participant’s processing of its linguistic forms but also by the context, including the immediate situation, other modes of communication, gestures or images, participant’s background and cultural knowledge, their thoughts, emotions and intentions.

8 To avoid confusion two further terminological points need to be made, concerning the meanings of utterance and sentence, and text and discourse. 1.What is utterance? 2.What is sentence? Utterance refers to a strecth of language used by somebody in context to do something. It may or may not be grammatically complete or conform to grammatical norms. Sentece is reserved for grammatically complete units regarded purely formally without reference to context. Many utterances are also sentences, but not all sentences have been utterances.

9 1.What is text ? 2.What is discourse? Text is any stretch of language considered in isolation from its context. Discourse is any stretch of language, written or spoken, considered in context.

10 Equivalence of Meaning In the popular view of translation, something in one language is a translation of something in another language because they mean the same, not because they sound the same or maintain the same word order. To put this in terms of level equivalences, a general assumption is that the semantic level should take precedence over all others. A translation refers to the same events in the real or fictional world as the original.

11 The upshot of Catford’s theory of situational equivalence is that translation is a series of choices about what to include and exclude. But this does not particularly help the translator or the students. Describing the semantics and linguistics of the original, though it may be a useful insight into what the choices are, is not itself a procedure for making such choices. In search of principles for making such choices, translation theory turned to pragmatics.

12 Pragmatic Equivalence In addition to referring to facts abut the world, utterances also perform social actions. Pragmatic theory concentrates on how receivers of messages, by relating what is said to its context, interpret what the sender s trying to do with their words. The literal semantic meaning of an utterance is only one component in this interpretation. Others include participants' background knowledge, the situation and shared social conventions. Reproducing the literal meaning of an original in other words does not guarantee that a translation will have the same effect.

13 Example In English “thank you” often indicates acceptance of an offer, but in French “merci” is commonly a refusal. Such functions are formulaic and simply need to be learnt. The field of cross-cultural pragmatics has been much concerned with such differences, the misunderstandings which arise from them, and how the speaker of the language might recognize the intended function, as opposed to just the literal meaning, or an utterance in another language.

14 Russian linguist Komissarov devised a neat scheme by which a translator’s main aim should be to ensure that the pragmatic function of translation and original is equivalent, and then work down through the levels of language, trying to ensure that there is equivalence at each of them, but abandoning the attempt once a level is reached where there is not.

15 Functional and Discoursal Equivalence Actual translation is much more likely to tackle extended texts, and even the translation of a single utterance will take place in a communicative context where meaning is affected by what is said and written before and after it as well as the extra linguistic context. Current translation theory has focused upon such discourse issues, making particular use of the systemic functional linguistics of Michael Halliday, paying particular attention to the discourse level and how socio-economic values and power relations are manifest in lexico-grammmatical choices. Attention is focused in particular upon the overall purpose of the source text with references to Halliday’s three macro-functions the text’s encoding of a view of the world, of the relation between speakers and how parts relate to each other to create an overall effect of coherence.

16 Equivalent Effect “That translation is the best which comes nearest to creating in ts audience the same impression as was made by the original in its contemporaries.” (Rieu 1953) This elevates what pragmatic theorists call perlocution – the overall effect of a text – to the main criterion of equivalence. Known as the equivalent effect principle” (Newmark 1981), this doctrine however brings with it all sorts of complications. Firstly and most obviously is the problem of identifying the audience. Rieu’s view was that the relevant audience should be “the contemporaries” of the original. This implies that these contemporaries are homogenous and ignores the fact that a text may be read or heard in many different times and places and by many different people, for each of whom it may have a different effect.

17 Even if we establish one individual reader as “ the audience”, their interpretation may vary with mood and experience, and where they are reading. Secondly, there is the problem of what to do if a literal translation may have a different effect on readers from that of the original. Thirdly, there is the problem that if creating “the same impression” on the reader is the measure of success, then a translation will need constantly to adjust itself to new or different readers.

18 Equivalence Across Levels The problem for all attempts to deal with translation at different levels whether linguistic, semantic or pragmatic is that rather than meaning being found at one level or another, the levels interact to create meaning, often in unpredicted ways. Truth to one level entails betrayal at another, leaving the translator with the inevitable task of prioritizing one aspect of the original over another. Translation theory, while it describes the problem, offers no clear principles as to what should be sacrificed. It may say that choices have to be made but not which ones in specific circumstances. This dilemma is most clearly in evidence where there is significance in the choice of a linguistic form which usually has arbitrary and conventional relation to its meaning but takes on significance in a particular context.

19 Levels of Equivalence and Learners Not all types of translation equivalence are equally relevant to all learners. Learners’ encounters with translation should follow a similar trajectory to translation theory. There is a pedagogic argument for keeping beginner’s attention focused mainly upon semantic equivalence, leaving attention to issues such as functional and discoursal equivalence to increase through the intermediate stages, becoming a major focus of attention for advanced students. In this way strategies for coping with advanced translation problems will be firmly based on an understanding of literal semantic equivalence, rather than used as an avoidance strategy.

20 Q? What do you think about the role of translation and translator?

21 Thanks for Listening


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