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Sentential issues in translation

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Presentation on theme: "Sentential issues in translation"— Presentation transcript:

1 Sentential issues in translation

2 The sentential level Different grammatical arrangements create different assumptions in the listener or reader as regards the communicative purpose of an utterance.

3 For example Go>>>> Command No Way>>>> an expression of refusal or disbelief

4 Textual Variables on The sentential level:
From the point of view of Arabic/ English translation, there are three major non-syntactic features of the sentence: 1. Prosodic features such as intonation and stress 2. Theme and rheme 3. foregrounding and backgrounding

5 1. Prosodic features. In spoken texts , a number of different sentences, marked for different purposes, can be created purely through intonation and stress—even though they comprise the same words

6 Stress can similarly be used in English to express different shades of meaning. English is able to stress words fairly freely in speech Examples: I know that man…. The neutral or the unmarked I know that man

7 Arabic, though it uses stress in the same way, does not exhibit the same freedom to shift stress within the sentence as English. Arabic can shift word order fairly freely. أكل الرجل السمك

8 A lot of the features of the spoken sentential level disappear in written texts because the sentential level in written language is relatively impoverished. Written English, of course, has punctuation marks. a. My cousin who lives in Bristol visited us last week. b. My cousin, who lives in Bristol, visited us last week.

9 In (a) the relative clause who lives in Bristol identifies which out of a number of possible cousins is intended. This is known as a “defining or restrictive clause”. In the second sentence, by contrast, the relative clause who lives in Bristol merely provides further information about a cousin who is already assumed to be identified. This is known as a “describing or non restrictive relative clause”.

10 Punctuation in Arabic is even less systematic than punctuation in English. Traditionally, Arabic had no punctuation whatsoever, and one still occasionally comes across modern books without punctuation. However, modern books of classical Arabic texts often have punctuation added.

11 Arabic sentences are often much longer than typical English ones, forcing the Arabic /English translator to find appropriate ways of adding sentences breaks in the TT.

12 2. Theme and rheme Ayatollah Khomeini was the son of a cleric. He was born in 1903 in the small town of Khomein in Isfahan province.  The information given by 'he' in the second sentence is predictable. It refers to some one already mentioned before in the context (Given information) so its is the theme.

13 was born in 1903 in the small town of Khomein in Isfahan province, by contrast, is unpredictable; the information here is New, so it is the rheme. The above example illustrates a general tendency, which is of Arabic as well as English, for theme to precede rheme. This can be regarded as a 'natural order'in that it mirrors the order of things in the real world; when we are trying to work out something new, we start with what is known and proceed from there to what is not known.

14 Sentence stress The general tendency in both Arabic and English is for stress to fall on a word in the rheme. This correlation between rheme and sentence stress can also be seen on the relatively rare occasions in English where rheme comes first in the sentence.

15 Example, What happened to you? 1. I got a stung by a bee. 2. A bee stung me.  Where rheme preceded theme in English, as in A bee stung me the sentence tends to carry a certain emotional charge.

16 Emphatic preposing: It is important to distinguish between initial rhemes, which involves sentence stress, and preposed emphatic elements. In the early sixties, Ayatollah Khomeini led the movement against the Shah of Iran's 'White Revolution'

17 Revolution: carries the main sentence stress: the end of the rheme
Sixties: carries a secondary stress (a rising pitch). This is called phrasal stress or clausal stress in the case of a clause.

18 Arabic, Like English, makes use of preposed emphatic themes
Arabic, Like English, makes use of preposed emphatic themes. In Arabic, however, anything which comes before the verb in a sentence which contains a verb may be a preposed emphatic theme. Thus in sentences which have the word order SV, the subject may be emphatic.

19 Theme-rheme translation issues
In terms of Arabic-English translation the distinction between thematic and rhematic information is most problematic where it proves difficult or impossible to reproduce roughly the same word order in English as in the original Arabic

20 If the word order of the original Arabic can be roughly maintained in the English, this will often reproduce the original theme-rheme structure, because English and Arabic both have a tendency to start with the most thematic element and end with the most rhematic element .

21 This general principle is illustrated by the following:
و بنى هذا الجسر مهندسون مصريون. This bridge was built by Egyptian engineers.  Here, the Arabic and English structures seem rather different; the Arabic is active and the English passive. However, the same basic order of ideas is maintained in both—'bridge' first and 'engineers' next. The only difference here is that Arabic has the verb right at the beginning, whereas English 'was built' comes after the subject بنى

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