Presentation on theme: "The Translator’s Perspective Ian Mason Heriot Watt University."— Presentation transcript:
The Translator’s Perspective Ian Mason Heriot Watt University
Case studies - 1 Police investigation of train massacre in Spain, 11 March 2004. Italian police place microphones in flat of suspect, Rabei Osman Sayed. They intercept Osman’s conversations and translate them from Arabic. The evidence is used by Spanish prosecutors.
Spanish translators dispute the Italian translations and accuse translators of “adjusting the translation to a context which did not exist”. –El Mundo 30.05.07
Italian version “The thread of the Madrid operation was mine, you understand?...The trains… all were my group. I wasn’t actually with them but on the 4 th I contacted them and got all the details”
Spanish version “All my friends have gone, some died in God’s path in Afghanistan. I won’t hide from you the Madrid operation they have just done… the Madrid train that exploded”. “Ah yes” “It was my people who did it… our people… I wasn’t with them but I knew about it but exactly what was going to happen they didn’t tell me”.
Legal perspective A prosecution case is often based upon exact words spoken by an accused person.
Case studies - 2 Iraq War: case for Weapons of Mass Destruction. US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, presented to the UN Security Council on 05.02.03 recordings of three intercepted conversations between Iraqi military officers, with an English translation.
Signs and sign values What is the exchange value of these tokens in Arabic? What is their exchange value within the restricted genres of the Iraqi military? What was the set of indicators and assumptions available to the translator? What is the value of the distinction between ‘ammunition’ and ‘ammo’ in English? What does (not) constitute ‘ammo’? What ST sign triggered the TT distinction?
Assumptions about translation In international diplomacy, business, public service and among general public: –Automatic; input = output Among Translation Studies scholars: –Choice: range of possible versions. –Even the word “equivalence” is unsafe because it implies that such a thing is possible.
Formal and Dynamic Equivalence Equivalence of form and content –Versus Equivalent effect on readers of ST and TT
Overt and Covert Translating Overt: –TT addressees not being directly addressed (by ST); –ST tied to SL community and its culture; –ST directed towards SL addressees but of interest to TL readers. Covert: –ST not specifically aimed at SL readers; –TT enjoys status of an original in TL culture –ST and TT have equivalent purpose. House (1997)
Documentary and Instrumental Classification according to TT function: A documentary translation aims at reproducing in TL (aspects of) a communication between a SL producer and a SL audience. An instrumental translation aims at producing in TL a new communication between SL producer and TL receivers, using (aspects of) ST as a model. Nord (1997)
Foreignization and Domestication Domestication: –Aim = fluent syle; –Minimize strangeness of ST for TT readers; –Translator’s presence invisible. Foreignization: –Retain foreignness of ST; –Break TL conventions; non-fluent style; –Register linguistic/cultural difference.
Question for discussion In the light of these distinctions and Remembering our rejection of the ‘Code model’ of communication: How can we describe what has happened in the two case studies we began with?
These translators confuse instrumental with documentary translating These pairs of strategies are not usually a matter of free choice: –Depends on design (interpersonal and intertextual) –Pragmatic focus: what was actually said?
Translators’ strategy Some fields and genres: 1.The Bible/The Qur’an 2.A Government directive/ legislation 3.Websites 4.Press agency reports 5.Film subtitling 6.Instructions for assembly of equipment 7.Tourist brochures
1. Holy, ‘sensitive’ texts Depends on purpose: –Preserve the “word of God” or –Communicate with, appeal to readers in a different cultural environment.
2. Government directives Many governments have to interact with more than one language community. TT has to be legally valid in each TL. Concern to avoid any chance of dispute of the meaning of a text.
3. Websites ‘Localisation’ –Many translation agencies say this is the largest part of their business; –Involves conforming to TL cultural norms and meeting user expectations; –May take place within one language, e.g. USA > UK.
4. Press agency reports Localisation Adjustment according to assumptions of mutual manifestness. May involve deletions as well as additions.
5. Film subtitling Target audience needs to follow the thread of a dialogue; Target audience does not necessarily need to know what ST speakers actually said; Focus can change when: –Jokes –Understanding depends on words spoken
6. Assembly instructions Instrumental translating: –ST words are of no relevance to TT readers; –What counts is being able to assemble the equipment; –Focus on ‘perlocutionary effect’ or reader response. –Can be co-written instead of translated.
7. Tourist brochures Instrumental translating –ST can be changed in order to appeal to TL community. –In some cases, what appeals within one cultural community is of less interest in another community –Example: Island of Jersey (UK)
Ethics of translation ‘Foreignization’ largely an ethical recommendation by Venuti. Similar ethical issues involved in other cases, e.g. dialogue interpreting.
Immigration interviews (Polish/English) SL: skoły (‘school’) TT: ‘an English course’; ‘a car mechanics course’
Medical consultation Pat. No this thing happens then depending on - on the circumstances - of life Int. (to Pat)Well at- at this particular moment do your life circumstances cause you pain once a week or- or more often? Pat. Sometimes more often Int. (to Pat) Sometimes more often. (to Doc) Once or twice a week maybe: and (to Pat) And th- this thing- this is related to stress right? Pat. Yes Int. (to Doc) Sometimes the chest pain is stress- related sometimes it’s exertion related. Bolden (2000)
Question How do we know how receivers respond to particular translations? Very little research into the effect on readers of different translations.
Example of European Parliament translation Irish member of parliament expresses regret for what ‘we’ did in ‘my country (“we closed down our railways”) and suggests what ‘we’ as Europe should do. French translation reduces mention of ‘we’, presents events as just happening (without a human cause) and introduces element of obligation (“the railways had to be closed down”).
Experiment: reader response Multiple-choice test: ‘Who was responsible?’ –Answers depended on which version of text had been read. Summarising test. –Respondents re-used structures they had read, even when not repeating content they had read.
Conclusion All these examples and distinctions have relevance for translator training. Need to reflect variety of genres and functions in pedagogical situation.