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Culture and Translation. -David Katan, Translating Cultures, St. Jerome, Manchester, 1999 (Chapters 10-11)

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Presentation on theme: "Culture and Translation. -David Katan, Translating Cultures, St. Jerome, Manchester, 1999 (Chapters 10-11)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Culture and Translation

2 -David Katan, Translating Cultures, St. Jerome, Manchester, 1999 (Chapters 10-11)

3 Interlocutors in each communication event will, usually out-of-awareness, arrange themselves and others along the context scale. Text Context

4 House buying The written sale particulars Advertising -LCC cultures: slogans, wordplay, the text, informative, factual (Naughty but nice = chocolate; By Schhhhhhh … you know who = Tonic water; Just do it = sneakers) -HCC cultures: visuals, aesthetics, feelings, expressive (Oliviero Toscanis pictures for Benetton)

5 Clarity: priority on simplicity KISS principle: keep it short and simple the C-B-S style: clarity, brevity and sincerity Proper words in proper places make the true definition of style (Swift) Be short, be simple, be human (Gowers)

6 -The Economist Pocket Style Guide -Le figure e lo spazio Le figure sono sempre rigorosamente volumetriche, più vicine al rigore spaziale della scultura che alle estenuate cadenze melodiche medio-bizantine. -To induce a feeling, poetic language -Information? Facts? The figures have a disciplined geometry, closer to sculpture than to the sweeping curves of Middle Byzantine.

7 Gli speaker possono restare 7 giorni presso lalbergo -Implied information: the dates, the type of room, paid by conference Single room accomodation for speakers will be paid by the conference organizers for a maximum of 6 nights between 7 th and 16 th July.

8 Formality and informality in the text -Long sentences short sentences -Coordinating conjunctions full stops -Impersonal personal -Formal register informal register -Complicated grammatical constructions simple grammatical constructions -Nominal style verbal style -Baroque constructions clear construction

9 Distancing devices: -It is possible to use the telephone (May/Could/ Can I use the phone?) -It is essential that this is read (You must/should/ought to read this) -This is how it is done (This is how we do it/you should do it) Titles -HCC: the status -LCC: categorization, definition

10 In Germany: Herr Doktor Muller and Frau Doktor Muller In Italy In England: Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms -Buongiorno Signor Presidente -Good morning Mr Donaggio

11 Affective Communication Transmission of information Interpersonal communication HCC: communication implies an affective response LCC: communication does not imply an affective response

12 OrientationLanguagePossible cultural priority IndirectIndirect (conditionals, softners), silence, indirect eye-contact Conflict avoidance Face-saving Harmony Tact and diplomacy Avoidance of power distance DirectDirect (present tense, imperatives), raised voices, direct eye-contact Acceptance of conflict Acceptance of power distance Clarity Immediacy

13 Indirectness and miscommunication HCC: indirect orientation Its not what we say but how Silence is golden Sugar the pill LCC: clear, unambiguous and explicit communication Grice: Cooperative maxims 1) The maxim of quantity: as much information as needed

14 2) The maxim of quality: speak truthfully 3) The maxim of relevance: things that are relevant 4) The maxim of manner: say things clearly and briefly Example of misunderstanding President Nixon and Prime Minister Sato: trade and the Okinawan islands I will deal with the matter in a forward-looking manner Nixon felt betrayed and thought all Japanese polititians liars and utterly untrustworthy

15 Grices cooperative maxims do not function in the same way across cultures Translation: to mediate, to manipulate, the right interpretative frame Example Has my business proposal been accepted? Asian businessmens answers: -If everything procedes as planned, the proposal will be approved (Yes) -We cannot answer this question at this time. (No) -Yes, your approval looks likely, but … (No)

16 The meaning of Yes Yes: not only direct affirmation, the receiver understands Example English: Thank you for your presentation – it was very clear Italian: Yes -Oh, really? -Thank you very much. -Well, thats very kind of you.

17 The meaning of no -The relative frequency of no per half-hour in negotiations: Japanese: 8.4 American: 9 Brazilian: 84.7 The meaning of no is culture bound -American culture: say what you mean -Japanese culture: harmony, no strong statement -Brazilian: a spontaneous expression of feelings. It is negotiable (Unreliable)

18 British indirectness Freedom, respect for privacy, not wishing to impose (listener oriented) Indirect use of language, indirect requests, thank you Italy: self-expression (author oriented), involvement Example (Children) A: Could I have a go on my bicycle, please? B: No. A: (exit crying)

19 Example (Italo Calvino - Colquhoun) -Signorina, - chiese -Dimmi. -Perché piange? -Signorina he asked. -Yes? [not tell me] -Why are you crying? -Imperative: coercive and face threatening act.

20 In Amsterdam Moroccan: I must have one kilo of onions Dutch: Such a thing we ask here politely. HCC: politeness is implicit in the context LCC: politeness in the text (not in the context)

21 Cushioning: a metaphor for the mental process Send this fax: to soften it I need some cushions. - Mediators: to context their interlocutors (familiarity, position, delicacy of the request, the social context, more urgency, good rapport, bad rapport) and be aware of the degree of inderectness required

22 Example (Servegnini) In a restaurant in Bologna I want to change my table And in England? I am afraid this table is not entirely convenient. Semi-serious appropriate translations - Your English is somewhat unnatural = Your English is frightening

23 -I agree up to a point = What a stupidity -Im a bit tired = Im in pieces -Shes not very tall = Shes a short girl -Shes not very nice = Shes unpleasant Resta il fatto che gli inglesi non sempre vogliono dire quello che dicono, e quasi mai dicono quello che vogliono dire.

24 Send this fax, please = Spedisca questo fax Can you … = Mi può spedire questo fax? Could you … = Mi spedisca questo fax, per favore. I wonder if I could ask you … = mi potrebbe spedire questo fax? I was wondering if I could ask you … = mi potrebbe spedire questo fax? Do you think I could ask you to … =

25 Facts/Feelings Expressive or instrumental orientations - Expressive cultures: orientation towards feelings, people, relationships, non-verbal communication -Instrumental cultures: orientation towards facts, self- control, the issues Example A meeting Anglo/American approach: a written agenda, the chair Expressive cultures: ideas, feelings, opinions (Real decisions may have already been made).

26 The Verbalization of Emotion -Internalization of feelings: Children should be seen but not heard. Keep a stiff upper lip. Bite the bullet. Big boys dont cry. Self-control. -The percentage of respondents who would keep their feelings to themselves Italy: 29; USA: 40; UK: 71 (to wear your heart on your sleeve)

27 Verbalization of emotion in British society only takes place after breaking-point. We may think that a Frenchman who curses us in a traffic accident is truly enraged, close to violence. In fact, he may simply be getting his view of the facts in first and may expect a similar stream of vituperation from us in return.

28 Under/Overstatement OrientationLanguagePossible cultural priorities OverstatementHyperboleVisibility of speaker and feelings, full expression of meaning Spotlight in speaker Understatement perceived as: Sign of weakness UnderstatementLitoteSpeaker modesty Listener to construct full meaning Overstatement perceived as: sign of conceit.

29 Examples Job interview Clean-up campaign Keep America Beautiful Keep Britain Tidy Tieni pulito il tuo paese.

30 Turn-taking -Anglo-Saxon verbal interaction is without conversation overlaps -Japanese: silence -Brazilians: overlaps.

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