Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Definition and Kinds of Translation

According to Brislin (1976: 1) translation is a general term referring to the transfer of thoughts and ideas from one language to another, whether the language is in written or oral form, whether the languages have established orthographies or not; or whether one or both languages is based on signs, as with signs of the deaf.
Another expert, Wilss (1982: 3), states that translation is a transfer process which aims at the transformation of a written source language text (SLT) into an optimally equivalent target language text (TLT), and which requires the syntactic, the semantic, and the pragmatic understanding and analytical processing of the source text. Syntactic understanding is related to style and meaning. Understanding of semantics is meaning related activity. Finally, pragmatic understanding is related to the message or implication of a sentence. This definition does not states what is transferred. Rather, it states the requirement of the process.
Nida and Taber (1982: 12) see translating as a process of reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the source language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style. In other words, translation is a transfer of meaning, message, and style from one SLT to the TLT. In the order of priority, style is put the last. Here the things to reproduce (transfer) is stated, message.
Newmark (1991: 27) defines the act of translating very briefly. It is the act of transferring meaning of a stretch or a unit of language, the whole or a part, from one language to another. (The discussion on meaning can be seen at sub-point F. Meaning, Message, and Style.)
According to the purpose, translation can be divided into four types: (a) pragmatic, (b) aesthetic-poetic, (c) ethnographic, and (d) linguistic translation (Brislin, 1976: 3-4). Pragmatic translation is the translation of a message with an interest in accuracy of the information meant to be communicated in the target language form. Belonging to such translation is the translation of technical information, such as repairing instructions. The second type is aesthetic-poetic translation that does not only focus on the information, but also the emotion, feeling, beauty involved in the original writing. The third is ethnographic translation that explicates the cultural context of the source and second language versions. The last type is linguistic translation, the one that is concerned with equivalent meanings of the constituent morphemes of the second language and with grammatical form. Seen from this classification, the translation of literary work should be the aesthetic-poetic one.
The other kinds of translation or translation approach important to review are the ones related to the concept of dynamic translation, semantic translation, communicative translation, and artistic translation.
Dynamic translation tries to transfer the messages or ideas into a target language and to evoke in the target language readers the responses that are substantially equivalent to those experienced by the source text readers (Nida and Taber, 1982 :28). A definition of dynamic translation centers on the concept of dynamic equivalence, that is the closest natural equivalence to the source language message. Hohulin (1982: 15) notices that the definition of dynamic translation contains three essential terms: (a) equivalent, which points toward the source language message, (b) natural, which points toward the receptor language, and (3) closest, which binds the two orientations together on the basis of the highest degree of approximation. Dynamic equivalence approach can be used in the level of translating sentences or group of sentences, because the whole message lies here.
Similar to the above concept is the idiomatic translation developed by Beekman and Callow (in Gutt, 1991: 68). It resembles the dynamic equivalence approach in the sense that it rejects the form-oriented translation and emphasizes that a translation should convey the meaning of the original. A translation, according to this approach, should be faithful to the ‘dynamics’ of the original, or the SL’s ‘naturalness’ of language use and ease of comprehension.
The idea of dynamic translation was first proposed by Nida and Taber and the semantic and communicative translation was by Newmark. He even states that the concepts represent his main contribution to general theory of translation (Newmark, 1991: 10). It seems to be a reaction to the concepts of formal and dynamic equivalence, literal and free translation. In the above dichotomy, the first “pole” of the dichotomy (formal equivalence and literal translation) seems to be condemned for being not be able to transfer the message. Semantic and communicative translation seem to be in the middle of the two poles formal and dynamic translation. (Here formal translation is understood as translation that pursues the formal equivalence and dynamic translation is the one that seeks for the dynamic equivalence. Discussion on the issue of equivalence can be seen in the next sub-point.)
Semantic translation emphasizes the “loyalty” to the original text. It is more semantic and syntactic oriented and, therefore, also author-centered. On the other hand, communicative translation emphasizes the loyalty to the “readers” and more reader-centered. The two concepts are not to be contrasted with literal word-for-word translation which is criticized in the concept of formal translation and literal translation. He sees it as a translation procedure. He states that literal word-for-word translation is not only the best in both communicative and semantic translation, but it is the only valid method of translation if equivalent effect is secured (Newmark, 1991: 10-11).
He further maintains that, in fact, there is no pure communicative or pure semantic method of translating a text. There are overlapping bands of methods. A translation can be more or less semantic as well as more or less communicative. Even a part of a sentence can be treated more communicatively or more semantically. Anyhow he maintains that the more important the language of the text or units of text, e.g. in the sacred texts, the more closely it should be translated. Finally he points out that meaning is complicated, many-leveled, a ‘network of relation’. The more generalization and simplification is done, the less meaning is gotten. From this discussion, it can be argued that the choice between semantic and communicative approach is done in the level of translating sentences or even parts of sentence (Newmark, 1991: 10).
In the area of literary translation, Chukovsky (1984) offers the concept of artistic translation. Like the other types of translation, meaning is a very important point to consider. Yet, style is taken as importantly as the other aspects for style is the portrait of the author; so when a translator distorts his style he also distorts ‘his face’ (Chukovsky, 1984: 20). Besides the meaning, impression on the readers should also be kept the same. This translation expert states that it is essential that the readers of the translation should be carried into the very same sphere as the readers of the original, and the translation must act in the very same nerves (Chukovsky, 1984: 80).
To compare, formal and dynamic translation center on the message of the original, the semantic and communicative translation on whether author-centered or reader-centered, and artistic translation does on the consideration of literary aspects: ideas and style. The concepts are based on different ground. It is clear that the concept of dynamic translation is suitable for translating the Bible. It is so because the concept of dynamic equivalence itself was developed from the practice of Bible translation. As it is known, there are many kinds of text some of which are with the characteristics different from the Bible. The semantic and communicative ones, on the other hand, can be applied at any kinds of text. The case of style is also discussed by Newmark in his hint that “the more important the language of the text or units of text, the more closely it should be translated.” Finally, artistic translation is probably most appropriate for translating certain literary works, like poetry. Maintaining the author’ style accurately is very difficult in certain novels as the translator is confronted with the syntactic system as well as literary convention of the target language

The term "translation" can be generally defined as the action of interpretation of the meaning of a text, and production of an equivalent text that communicates the same message in another language.
In geometry and physics, translation is the relocation of the position of points or objects.
In cellular reproduction, translation is the first stage of protein biosynthesis. Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text
Translation is the replacement of textual material in one language (SL) by equivalent textual material in another language (TL). (Catford, 1965)
Translation is rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended the text. (Newmark, 1988: 5)
Translation is 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 lexicon and grammatical structure which are appropriate in the receptor language and its cultural context. (Larson, 1984: 3)

·  The Process of Translation
"Here, then, is the full process of translation. At one point we have a writer in a room, struggling to approximate the impossible vision that hovers over his head. He finishes it, with misgivings. Some time later we have a translator struggling to approximate the vision, not to mention the particulars of language and voice, of the text that lies before him. He does the best he can, but is never satisfied. And then, finally, we have the reader. The reader is the least tortured of this trio, but the reader too may very well feel that he is missing something in the book, that through sheer ineptitude he is failing to be a proper vessel for the book’s overarching vision."
(Michael Cunningham, "Found in Translation." The New York Times, Oct. 2, 2010)
: an act, process, or instance of translating: as a : a rendering from one language into another; also : the product of such a rendering b : a change to a different substance, form, or appearance : conversion c (1) : a transformation of coordinates in which the new axes are parallel to the old ones (2) : uniform motion of a body in a straight line
: the process of forming a protein molecule at a ribosomal site of protein synthesis from information contained in messenger RNA — compare transcription 3

Translation is a process that involves the transfer of a message from one language to another. This process includes a set of activities based on other disciplines related to language, writing, culture and linguistics.

Text linguistics is concerned with the way how parts of text are organized and related one to another to form a comprehensive meaning so it is useful to analyze the translation process and the meaning transfer from a source language to a target language.

As translation process is a multi-disciplinary process, it suggests three major activities run simultaneously:
  • Transfer of information from the source language to the target language.
  • Synch-analysis of text for the translation and research of subject-matter.
  • Continuous self-development and learning.
During the translation process, translators establish equivalences between a source text and a target language that is why this process can be expressed as interpreting the meaning of the source text and re-encoding this meaning in the target language.

First, to extract the meaning of a text the translator must recognize the section of text that will be processed as a cognitive unit that means "Translation units" which can be a word, a phrase or even one or more sentences. Although it can be seen as a simple procedure, it is a complex cognitive operation for that reason translators need in-depth knowledge to re-extract the meaning in the objective language.

Actually, many sources maintain that the translator's knowledge of the objective language is more important, and requires being deeper, than its knowledge of the source language. For this reason, many translators translate into a language of which they are native speakers so this process needs good knowledge about the grammar, syntax, idioms and semantics of the origin language.

Factors influencing the quality of translation
Translating is probably the most complex process so its quality depends on a number of factors, which are crucial to the process and these factors must be systematically considered. There are key factors in the three most important areas: linguistic, culture and personal conditions.
  • Linguistic factors
    Linguistic factors exert a direct and crucial influence so each of the linguistic factors such as phonological, lexical, syntactic and textual, can interfere with translation because interlingua differences is a main source of translation difficulties.

  • Cultural factors
    Translation works as a cultural bridge between two worlds and makes communication possible between different linguistic communities due to two languages are not similar to be considered as the same social reality so translation will always be influenced by two cultures.

  • Personal factors
    Professional and psychological conditions of translators have a direct influence on the translated text so they must have personal competences and personal attitudes.
Note: Using machines for the translation process is helpful but not recommended when you want accurate translations.

(how do we start translating)
(Newmark, 1988: 21)
You start translating sentence by sentence, for say the first paragraph or chapter, to get the feel and the tone of the text, and then you deliberately sit back, review the position, and read the rest of the SL text.  (when you trust your intuition)
You read the whole text two or three times, and find the intention, register, tone, mark the difficult words and passages and start translating only when you have taken your bearings.  (when you trust your power of analysis)