Translation of political literature and terms
Studying the translation methods of political literature and political terms, their types and ways of their translation. The translation approach to political literature, investigating grammatical, lexical, stylistic and phraseological difficulties.
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Ellipsis involves the omission of an item. In other words, in ellipsis an item is replaced by nothing. This is a case of leaving something unsaid which is nevertheless understood. It doesn't include every instance when the hearer or reader has to supply missing information, but only those cases where grammatical structure itself points to an item or items that can fill the slot in question. Here are some examples of ellipsis:
The United States donated two millions dollars and Britain one and a half millions pounds. (omitted item: donated in second clause).
Here are four strategies. Choose any of them. (omitted item strategy)
Use of synonymy pairs is characterized to all styles of written speech of English language. Preserving such synonymy pair is accepted as pleonasm and it is absolutely superfluous even when translating official documents that demand preciseness. For example:
The Treaty was declared null and void.
Договор был объявлен недействительным.
Condemned by almost all members of the United States, and regarded as an outcast and criminal system by the vast majority of mankind, it (apartheid) is able to exist and defy censure solely because of the aid and support given to it by the Western imperialist countries.
Апартеид осуждён почти всеми членами ООН, и подавляющее большинство человечества считает эту систему преступной. Апартеид существует благодаря помощи и поддержке империалистических государств Запада.
In this example are used two synonymy pairs: outcast and criminal, aid and support. In the first case преступный sufficiently renders the essence of both synonyms. The lexical meaning of the attribute outcast - изгнанный, отверженный doesn't fit to this context neither owing to norms of combinability nor to the power of its meaning. The second pair of synonyms can be preserved without any difficulty - помощь и поддержка. The participle given is omitted for its meaning is supplied by case flexion.
The battle was fierce while it lasted.
Бой был жесток.
Time complex object in this in this case functions as a cliche and doesn't have corresponding equivalent in Russian.
So we can see that in the majority cases of translation some piece of political literature we have make necessary changes. We should remind you that it is not always an English sentence completely corresponds to the Russian one. Very frequently the structure of a Russian sentence absolutely differs from the one English. It has different word order, parts of the sentences and pretty often differs even the order of sentences. In some instances, parts of speech expressed in English are translated into Russian by the help of different parts of speech. You should remember that the compressed way of expression in the English can not be followed in Russian and we therefore have to «decompress» them so that to make the easy to perceive and understand, e.i. we have to add some words or expressions or even sentences in whole. Nevertheless, some differences in usage of some specific features make us leave some elements unsaid while translating the whole. And all these cases are explained by grammatical transformations we have just investigated.
2.2 Lexical difficulties of transformation
Every word in a language carries some concrete notion. The semantics of a word reflects different signs of the subject and the relation of its meanings to other objects it denotes. The semantics of a word includes word perception characteristic to the studied language, being more precise to the bearers of the studied language. When studying the reality of some object we can identify that its name reveals its functions which finds the reflection in the semantics of the word. Lets take as an example the word glasses - очки. In English it reveals the substance of which the object is made and in Russian firstly it reveals its function - second eyes - очи.
Despite distinguishing all kinds of differences we should say that, both languages sufficiently reflect one and the same perception of reality. Therefore the difficulty stylistic devices represents to a translator is based on word play, if in corresponding words of both languages are featured different signs.
The second reason, causing lexical difficulties to translation of political literature is the difference in the semantic volume of a word. In every language a word exists in a close connection with the lexical-semantic system of a given language. It may have various kinds of lexical meanings (lexical-semantic) variants; it may widen or narrow its meaning and make it more abstract or concrete.
The third reason presenting lexical difficulties in translation the difference in combinability. Words in languages have some definite relation characteristic only to the given language. It should be mentioned that word combinability is possible if words point to similar objects they denote. This difference of word combinability in various languages is very important; therefore some types of combinability are easily accepted in one of language and are completely unacceptable in other languages.
Last but not the least is the accepted usage of words in a language. It is, of course related to the development of a given languages and formation of its lexical system. Every language worked out its own cliches and some set expressions used by speakers, nevertheless those word expressions are not phraseological units but they possess complete form, which, in comparison with the phraseological units, are never broken by adding some introductory words or substitution of some of its elements.
Translation studies showed that there are cases when due to the distinguished signs a word acquires wider semantic volume and can not be covered by corresponding equivalent in the target language. Let us take teenager for example: etymologically it is related to the numerals from thirteen till nineteen. The Russian подросток does not semantically cover its meaning in complete volume for its is narrower in its meaning. Therefore the word teenager is usually translated by different words - подросток, юноша, and in plural as молодёжь.
Difference in the semantic structure of a word represents one of the main reason causing lexical difficulty in translation. These difference are related to peculiar features of separate words or word groups. And it is quite natural that this matter covers a wide range of examples. Practically, even identical words in different languages are not always equal in their meaning, they never correspond completely. Most often is the correspondence of first lexical-semantic variants of such words - their primary meaning - then we have various lexical-semantic variants for the course of development of these words was of different nature.
This is characterized by different functioning of a word in language, different in usage and combinability, but even the primary meaning of an English word maybe wider of the corresponding one in Russian.
The semantic structure of a word predefines the possibility of its contextual use, and the translation of contextual meaning presents a hard task to translators.
Contextual meaning of a word in many instances depends on the character of semantic context, on the semantics of the words combining with it. Occasional meanings, suddenly originated in the context are not always arbitrary - its is based into the semantic structure of the word. In contextual usage of a word in poetry or prose - often point to the author's penetration into the depth of the word's semantic structure. For paradigmatic and semantic relations are characteristic to any words and the lexical potential of words can be revealed in both cases. But revealing these potentials of words is closely connected with the specificity of lexical-semantic aspects of every language and here forth we may observe the difficulty of translation of contextual meaning of words. What is possible in one language maybe impossible in another because of its difference in semantic structure and its usage.
In an atomic war women and children will be the first hostages.
The word hostage according to different dictionaries has got only one meaning - заложник. But in the given instance the hostage acquired the meaning жертва. Its contextual meaning probably exists in its paradigmatic meaning; any hostage may get killed therefore while translating this example we have to use the word жертва since заложник is not used in the given contextual meaning.
Первыми жертвами в атомной войне будут женщины и дети.
A very interesting contextual meaning of exploitation will be given in the following example:
Britain's worldwide exploitation was shaken to the roots by Colonial Liberation Movements.
The contextual meaning of the word originated metonymically - any colonial system lives on exploitation, which comprises basis of colonial power. The corresponding Russian эксплуатация can not be used in this contextual meaning, the contextual surroundings of exploitation (worldwide, shaken to the roots) also prevents it. The only possible variant of translation is by means of metonymic transposition - substitution:
Колониальное могущество Англии было подорвано (потрясено до основания) национально-освободительным движением во всех колониях.
Contextual meaning of a word is always effective semantically and stylistically owing to its unexpectedness as well. It often used in stylistic purposes and therefore a translator runs into two obstacles: he should avoid (нивелировка) and at the same time not to break the norms of translation.
The most difficulty presents the translation of emotional coloring that demands lexical changes. There is a wide range of words in a language that besides their logical meaning have emotional meanings or co-meaning. One should not mix emotional co-meaning with the multiple meaning words. Emotional meaning of words usually presents in paradigmatic meanings of words, that is it is objective and but subjective, like in the words: hate, love, friendship. But it is not an exception when emotional meaning originates from contextual usage. Emotional meaning, based in the word is usually created by association - positive or negative - which a word causes and the associations that exist in it despite the context of perception.
A peculiar group of words demanding transformation in translation are the words that possess different volume of meaning in Russian and English languages. To this group belong international words, some words of human perception, mental activity.
But we should mention that the words that belong to these groups are of different semantic structure. International words and the words of human perception, mental activity represents polysemantic words in English.
International words are words that are used in a wide range of languages in one or several forms. These words express scientific and social-politic notions. The volume meaning of these words does not usually coincide (except term-words). Though it is well-known that they comprise the false-friends of translators and the mistakes in their translation are frequent. These mistakes are caused not only by difference in their semantic structure but by the difference of their usage as well which demand lexical changes:
We are told that television this autumn will give a massive coverage to the General Election.
Сообщают, что нынешней осенью передачи по телевидению будут широко освещать парламентские выборы.
The word massive along with the meaning массивный, has other meanings like массовый, грандиозный, огромный, широкий and so on. For example: massive success - огромный успех, massive problems - важные проблемы.
Since international words possess wider meaning volume they are more used in English if comparing to Russian:
Never before in the history of the world have there been so many persons engaged in the translation of both secular and religious materials.
Ещё никогда в истории человечества столько людей не занимались переводом как светской, так и духовной литературы.
Russian words религиозные материалы are absolutely unacceptable in this case because of their different usage. In this instance the usage plays the main role though their meaning is identical in both languages.
Lexical transformations are also caused by necessity to concretize a word while translating. It is characteristic to English language the availability of words with wide spread meaning. They can be nouns, adjectives and verbs, for example: thing, point, stiff; nice, fine, bad; to say, to go, to come, to get.
Translation of these words depends on the context, which helps to identify their concrete meaning. Usually they are translated by various Russian words that have concrete meaning (importance). Practically it refers to verbs - to verbs of speech and verbs of movement. Concrete lexical meaning(importance), this or that the lexical-semantic variant of a verb depends on structure and lexical meaning of words that distribute them.
At the by-election victory went to the Labor candidate.
На дополнительных выборах победа досталась лейбористам (победу одержал кандидат от лейбористской партии).
Among nouns of wide meaning a special group comprises abstract nouns, that frequently demand concrete definitions in translation. So, for example, despite the presence of a word президентство in Russian - English word presidency usually refers to the words a пост президента or президентская всласть.
An ageing Speaker cannot take on the burdens of the presidency.
Престарелый спикер не может взять на себя бремя президентской власти (в случае смерти президента).
The use of words of abstract meaning strongly differs in various languages. Therefore follows the necessity of concrete definition in translating.
The Saigon regime used every form of pressure and violence to compel a reluctant electorate to go to the polls.
Сайгонский режим прибегал ко всем видам давления и насилия, чтобы заставить упрямых избирателей принять участие в выборах.
Sometimes it is necessary to concretize some word due to different qualitative distinction (valeur) the generalizing words have in languages. The following words belong to them: meal and трапеза that usually illustrate the this phenomenon and the words limbs and члены, from which limbs is widely common, and Russian word the члены has much narrower usage.
In the given translation, besides concrete definition of руки and ноги, we also had to use fixed word phrase.
The following problem which demands careful consideration in lexical transformations of translation is problem of word combinability. In all languages there are typical norms of word combinability. The concept of norm is relative, on the one hand, with system of language, and on the other hand, it is closely connected with speech, in which the originality of speech formation is displayed. Each language can form uncountable number new word combinations that will be understood by its bearers. In any language there exists generally accepted tradition of word combinations, which do not coincide with the corresponding tradition of word combinations in the other languages.
And it makes look for similarly accepted word combinations in the target language. The main part combined words usually coincides in translation, but the second one is frequently translated by a word possessing other logical meaning, but performing the same function, as for example, trains run - поезда ходят, rich feeding - обильная пища.
Labor Party protests followed sharply on the Tory deal with Spain.
За сообщением о сделке консервативного правительства с Испанией немедленно последовал протест лейбористской партии.
The wider is the semantic volume of a word, the wider is its combinability, thus due to this feature it can interact with various word forms and word combinations. And this features enables the translator to use his creativity in translation.
Along with traditional combinations in languages unexpected combinations are also possible, but they are quite clear, for they follow generally accepted semantic models of word combinability. This phenomenon - the connection of words with completely various semantic features - is peculiar to all languages, but in each language it has various rules and traditions. In English language such unexpected word combinations are formed very easily. It is probably caused by conversion and easiness in formation of new words in various ways, heterogeneity of languages vocabulary and some other reasons. Not only poets and writers, but also journalists frequently create unexpected word combination that makes their statements significantly vivid and original. The unexpectedness of word usage is closely connected with expressiveness of the statement.
Unexpected usage of word combinations hardens the task of translators, for words interrelate in combinations not only with one word, but also with a large number of other words of the sentence, for example:
The use of an adjective sharp in this context is unexpected: none of its meanings given in dictionaries gives the description of a hand. The difficulty of its translation is aggravated by presence of the second definition white, which excludes translation by words костлявый and сухой.
Белая, сухощавая рука мадам лежала на широком колене Адама.
In the given translation the sense of the sentence has been rendered but the unexpectedness of the used word was lost.
The last feature of lexical transformation to be discussed in this Paper is traditional word usage for every language and which causes frequent lexical transformations. This traditional usage is to some extent related to another approach to the phenomena of reality. For example:
The military base is built on terraces rising from the lake.
For Russian the traditional use will be:
Военная база построена на террасах, спускающихся к озеру.
In this case preposition is omitted in translation because as the originality of the English word usage required complete transformation.
To the traditional word usage can also be referred the so-called cliches - order, and the cliches in wider sense.
Long live America!
Да здравствует Америка!
The assault of the castle was followed by continuous bombing. Loss of life was uncountable.
За штурмом крепости последовала длительная бомбардировка. Жертвы были бесчисленны.
The Commonwealth countries handle a quarter of the world's trade.
На страны Британского содружества приходится четверть всей мировой торговли
As you can see from the examples given above - in translations corresponding Russian cliches are also used.
2.3 Stylistic difficulties of translation
In the previous chapters we carefully considered the grammatical and lexical transformations that occur while translating political literature from English into Russian. And we have figured out that most of these reasons are rooted in national and cultural settings of both languages.
Practically, stylistic devices in almost all languages are similar still though their functions in speech vary. Identical stylistic devices are used differently in languages; they perform different functions and have different value in stylistic system of their language what actually explains their necessity when transformations in translation occur. The stylistic changes are as necessary as grammatical or lexical ones. While applying some grammatical or lexical transformation in translation the translator is guided by principle of rendering grammatical of lexical meaning. When rendering stylistic meaning of the source text a translator should be guided by the same principle - to recreate in translation the same impression that might be left by the original text.
A translator should not try to preserve the stylistic device given in the sentence, but reproduce its function in the target language.
We should not forget that almost all stylistic devices are multi functional. It is like when polysemantic words in English and Russian languages do not coincide in their lexical-semantic variants and the same is when differ the function of identical stylistic device. Thus when comparing stylistic devices we can easily identify complete correspondence, partial correspondence and even sometimes absence of correspondence and their functions.
To illustration it we can compare alliteration in the English and Russian languages. The function of alliteration coincides in both languages - in this function alliteration is one of the basic devices of poetic speech. However the usage of alliteration for pleasant sounding in prose is more characteristic for the English language, than for Russian. The second function of alliteration is logical. Alliteration emphasizes close relationship between components of the statement. Especially brightly alliteration shows the unity of an epithet with an attributed word.
The third function of alliteration in English language - to attract attention of the reader - is widely used in the names of literary works, newspaper headings and often in articles.
The use of alliteration is a convincing acknowledgement that various functions of stylistic devices in different languages do not always coincide in usage.
We have already discussed functional translation of stylistic devices. But it is extremely important to distinguish in the translated text original and imagined alliterations so that to avoid unnecessary emphasizing and to keep stylistic equivalence which presents necessary component of adequate translation. there is a constant danger to smooth and de-color the original text or, on the contrary, to make translation brighter and stylistically colored. But sometimes a translator consciously applies some « «smoothing» or neutralization in other words.
Repetition as you know is a more widespread stylistic device in the English language, than in Russian.
In some cases repetition as the stylistic device should be necessarily kept in translation, but for the difference in combinability and various semantic structures of polysemantic words or words of wide meaning in English and Russian languages the translator has to change and replace some of elements.
The repetition is widely used with stylistic purposes in newspaper publicity. In these cases the translator is compelled to apply stylistic changes, make substitution or omission.
A policy of see no stagnation, hear no stagnation, speak no stagnation has had too long a run for our money.
Слишком долго мы расплачиваемся за политику полного игнорирования и замалчивания застоя в нашей экономике.
The triple repetition of no stagnation has been omitted in translation, though is partially compensated by the use of synonymic pair at a word (stagnation), but neutralization is evident in translation. The neutralization happened when translating the phraseological unit to have (too long) a run for our money.
Among stylistic devices used in political literature rather frequent there are synonymic and alliterated pairs. The use of such pairs is traditional for all styles of the English language including business style as well. When translating official documents such pairs are frequently by one word. For example, the just and equitable treatment of all nations from UN Charter is given in Russian as справедливое отношение ко всем нациям, for in Russian there is no absolute synonym for the word just.
Metaphor is used in all emotionally - colored styles of speech. However in style of fiction the metaphor always carries original character, whereas in political literature the original metaphor is used rather seldom and basically - copied metaphors. Nevertheless in advanced clauses of the English and American political literature, the purpose of which is to assure, to make people believe and to impress the reader, that is to force him to agree with the point of view given in the article, one can often see rather bright and colorful metaphors.
Sometimes the difficulty of translation of metaphor consists in translating some word combination or a phraseological unit, which does not have figurative equivalent in Russian.
We have already discussed the necessity of neutralization of means of expressiveness when translating English or American politics. Let us consider the problem of extended metaphor. The extended metaphor represents a chain of the logically connected figurative components. Sometimes such components of the extended metaphors pass through the whole clause. The below-mentioned example is taken from clause of the American observer James Reston.
The latest official explanation of the President's Indochina policy is that «he is backing out of the saloon with both guns firing», but there is a catch to this.
He insists that the guys in the white hats keep control of the saloon before he leaves town. He wants a non-communist bartender, and a non-communist sheriff, and a secure non-communist town before he rides away into the sunset of November, 1972.
In the final paragraph of the article the elements of one metaphor are partially repeated: but all this is a little more complicated than «backing out of the saloon».
The images of this extended metaphor are taken from so-called «western» - of film about cowboys in «wild» West. In this case all elements of the developed(unwrapped) metaphor, perhaps, can be kept in translation.
Согласно последнему официальному объяснению политики президента в отношении Индокитая, «он хочет выбраться из бара, пятясь к двери и отстреливаясь из двух пистолетов». Но за этим кроется что-то еще.
Он хочет, чтобы парни в белых шапках следили за порядком в баре до тех пор, пока он не уедет из города. Он хочет, чтобы бармен не был коммунистом и чтобы шериф не был коммунистом и чтобы город заведомо не был в руках коммунистов. И только тогда он поскачет навстречу ноябрьским сумеркам 1972 года.
And at the end of clause - «но все это несколько сложнее, чем пятясь к двери, выбраться из бара».
However there are cases, when the preservation of all figurative components of the developed (unwrapped) metaphor is impossible, as well as preservation of both components of synonymic pair, for it would break the stylistic norms of Russian.
Being purely linguistic and stylistic device - metonymy is used more and more in political literature, perhaps, even more than metaphor. Metonymy translation presents one of numerous problems for the use of metonymy significantly differs in English and Russian languages. Due to this fact the translator is often forced to go back to the primary meaning of a word, that is to the meaning that was firstly created by metonymy.
It is a widespread case of metonymy usage - substitution of concrete notion by an abstract one, which can not always be preserved.
«It (the flood) has hurl us a great deal,» the Pakistan Prime Minister told correspondents last week as he toured the destruction in the flooded provinces. («Newsweek»)
«Наводнение нанесло нам огромный ущерб», - сказал корреспондентам премьер-министр Пакистана, на прошлой неделе во время поездки по пострадавшим от наводнения районам.
Concerning the translation of comparison as a stylistic device, the difficulties arise only if the words of English and Russian languages are various in the semantic structure. We have already considered in the chapter of lexical transformations the question of translation of such terms and now we would like to give the example of stylistic comparison.
Instant history, like instant coffee, can sometimes be remarkably palatable. At least it is in this memoir by a former White House aide who sees L.B.J. as «an extraordinarily gifted President who was the wrong man from the wrong place at the wrong time under the wrong circumstances».
Современная история, как и такой современный продукт, как растворимый кофе, иногда может быть необыкновенно приятна. По крайней мере, такой ее преподносит в своих мемуарах бывший помощник президента Джонсона, считающий его «исключительно одаренным президентом, который был неподходящим человеком, из неподходящего места (штат Техас), в неподходящее время, при неподходящих обстоятельствах».
In order to preserve this playing comparison, the interpreters were forced to apply additional words.
We discussed above the importance of articles in translation and now we should mention once again that they can serve in stylistic purposes.
An expressiveness gets the definite article, before a indefinite pronoun one.
… this is the one way we can achieve success in elections.
…это единственный способ достигнуть победы на выборах.
The given synonyms compensate render the stress contained the original text.
There is another kind of stylistic transformation - actualization - which involves transition of something simple into something unusual, strange. It reveals potential expressiveness put in the lexical morphologic and syntactic means of a language.
Actualization of the passive form often occurs while translating political literature but it is not as colored as in the translations of fiction.
The General Assembly was gaveled to order by its outgoing President.
Уходящий со своего поста председатель Генеральной Ассамблее навел порядок в зале, энергично стуча молотком.
The expressiveness and emphasis created by the passive form of the verb that had been formed as a result of conversion are compensated by lexical means. The compressed nature of sentence was lost for the verb to gavel has two semantic components one of action and an instrument that were to be rendered in translation.
Now from everything that has been discussed above we can infer that the usage of some of stylistic devices in English is peculiar - and bears specific national character, therefore their direct translation in many instances is impossible. Moreover, the impression left by some of stylistic device maybe different in both languages, compare soft panic and тихая паника. It can be explained not only by national features of stylistic means and devices of some of the language but by the their multi functioning character also - that do not always coincide - as it was shown on the matter of alliteration. This is the main criteria causing the necessity of stylistic transformations that involve substitution and changes. Therefore we should warn the future translators and interpreters that it is not important to classify the device itself but the point is to be able to realize their ongoing effect and to identify the purpose of their application in the translation they are working on.
2.4 The difficulty of translation of set phrases and idioms
As far as idioms and phraseological units are concerned in translation, the first difficulty that a translator comes across is being able to recognize that s/he is dealing with an idiomatic expression. This is not always so obvious. There are various types of idioms, some more easily recognizable than others. Those which are easily recognizable include expressions which violate truth conditions, such as It's raining cats and dogs, throw caution to the winds, storm in a tea cup, jump down someone's throat, and food for thought. They also include expressions which seem ill-formed because they do not follow the grammatical rules of the language, for example trip the light fantastic, blow someone to kingdom come, put paid to, the powers that be, by and large, and the world and his friend. Expressions which start with like (simile-like structures) also tend to suggest that they should not be interpreted literally. These include idioms such as like a bat out of hell and like water off a duck's back. Generally speaking, the more difficult an expression is to understand and the less sense it makes in a given context, the more likely a translator will recognize it as an idiom. Because they do not make sense if interpreted literally, the highlighted expressions in the following text are easy to recognize as idioms (assuming one is not already familiar with them):
This can only be done, I believe, by a full and frank airing of the issues. I urge you all to speak your minds and not to pull any punches.
Provided a translator has access to good reference works and monolingual dictionaries of idioms, or, better still, is able to consult native speakers of the language, opaque idioms which do not make sense for one reason or another can actually be a blessing in disguise. The very fact that s/he cannot make sense of an expression in a particular context will alert the translator to the presence of an idiom of some sort.
There are two cases in which an idiom can be easily misinterpreted if one is not already familiar with it:
(a) Some idioms are 'misleading'; they seem transparent because they offer a reasonable literal interpretation and their idiomatic meanings are not necessarily signalled in the surrounding text. A large number of idioms in English, and probably all languages, have both a literal and an idiomatic meaning, for example go out with ('have a romantic or sexual relationship with someone') and take someone for a ride ('deceive or cheat someone in some way'). Such idioms lend themselves easily to manipulation by speakers and writers who will sometimes play on both their literal and idiomatic meanings. In this case, a translator who is not familiar with the idiom in question may easily accept the literal interpretation and miss the play on idiom.
(b) An idiom in the source language may have a very close counter
part in the target language which looks similar on the surface but has
a totally or partially different meaning. For example, the idiomatic question Has the cat had/got your tongue? is used in English to urge someone to answer a question or contribute to a conversation, particularly when their failure to do so becomes annoying.
Apart from being alert to the way speakers and writers manipulate certain features of idioms and to the possible confusion which could arise from similarities in form between source and target expressions, a translator must also consider the collocational environment which surrounds any expression whose meaning is not readily accessible. Idiomatic and fixed expressions have individual collocational patterns. They form collocations with other items in the text as single units and enter into lexical sets which are different from those of their individual words. Take, for instance, the idiom to have cold feet. Cold as a separate item may collocate with words like weather, winter, feel, or country. Feet on its own will perhaps collocate with socks, chilblain, smelly, etc. However, having cold feet, in its idiomatic use, has nothing necessarily to do with winter, feet, or chilblains and will therefore generally be used with a different set of collocates.
The ability to distinguish senses by collocation is an invaluable asset to a translator working from a foreign language. It is often subsumed under the general umbrella of 'relying on the context to disambiguate meanings', which, among other things, means using our knowledge of collocational patterns to decode the meaning of a word or a stretch of language. Using our knowledge of collocational patterns may not always tell us what an idiom means but it could easily help us in many cases to recognize an idiom, particularly one which has a literal as well as a non-literal meaning.
Once an idiom or fixed expression has been recognized and interpreted correctly, the next step is to decide how to translate it into the target language. The difficulties involved in translating an idiom are totally different from those involved in interpreting it. Here, the question is not whether a given idiom is transparent, opaque, or misleading. An opaque expression may be easier to translate than a transparent one. The main difficulties involved in translating idioms and fixed expressions may be summarized as follows:
(a) An idiom or fixed expression may have no equivalent in the target language. The way a language chooses to express, or not express, various meanings cannot be predicted and only occasionally matches the way another language chooses to express the same meanings. One language may express a given meaning by means of a single word, another may express it by means of a transparent fixed expression, a third may express it by means of an idiom, and so on. It is therefore unrealistic to expect to find equivalent idioms and expressions in the target language as a matter of course.
Like single words, idioms and fixed expressions may be culture-specific. Formulae such as Merry Christmas and say when which relate to specific social or religious occasions provide good examples.
Basnett-McGuire (1980: 21) explains that the expression say when 'is… directly linked to English social behavioral patterns' and suggests that 'the translator putting the phrase into Russian has to contend with the problem of the non-existence of a similar convention in either culture'. Less problematic, but to some extent also culture-specific, are the sort of fixed formulae that are used in formal correspondence, such as Yours faithfully and Yours sincerely in English. These, for instance, have no equivalents in Arabic formal correspondence. The same mismatch occurs in relation to French and several other languages but in Russian we have similar expression Ваш верный!
Idioms and fixed expressions which contain culture-specific items are not necessarily untranslatable. It is not the specific items an expression contains but rather the meaning it conveys and its association with culture-specific contexts which can make it untranslatable or difficult to translate. For example, the English expression to carry coals to Newcastle, though culture-specific in the sense that it contains a reference to Newcastle coal and uses it as a measure of abundance, is nevertheless closely paralleled in Russian by в Тулу со своим самоваром. Both expressions convey the same meaning, namely: to supply something to someone who already has plenty of it.
An idiom or fixed expression may have a similar counterpart in the target language, but its context of use may be different; the two expressions may have different connotations, for instance, or they may not be pragmatically transferable. To sing a different tune is an English idiom which means to say or do something that signals a change in opinion because it contradicts what one has said or done before. To go to the dogs ('to lose one's good qualities') has a similar counterpart in German, but whereas the English idiom can be used in connection with a person or a place, its German counterpart can only be used in connection with a person and often means to die or perish.
An idiom may be used in the source text in both its literal and idiomatic senses at the same time. Unless the target-language idiom corresponds to the source-language idiom both in form and in meaning, the play on idiom cannot be successfully reproduced in the target text.
An idiom or fixed expression may have a similar counterpart in the target language, but its context of use may be different; the two expressions may have different connotations, for instance, or they may not be pragmatically transferable. An idiom may be used in the source text in both its literal and idiomatic senses at the same time. Unless the target-language idiom corresponds to the source-language idiom both in form and in meaning, the play on idiom cannot be successfully reproduced in the target text.
Using idioms in English and American politics is very much a matter of style. Languages such as Arabic and Chinese which make a sharp distinction between written and spoken discourse and where the written mode is associated with a high level of formality tend, on the whole, to avoid using idioms in written texts. Fernando and Flavell discuss the difference in rhetorical effect of using idioms in general and of using specific types of idiom in the source and target languages and quite rightly conclude that 'Translation is an exacting art. Idiom more than any other feature of language demands that the translator be not only accurate but highly sensitive to the rhetorical nuances of the language'.
2.5 Samples of translation
Blitzkrieg молниеносная война.
Comprehensive Programme of Disarmament n Всеобъемлющая программа разоружения.
International Nuclear Information System n международная система ядерной информации.
National Guard n Национальная гвардия.
abet resistance v оказывать поддержку движению сопротивления (vi).
abrogated a treaty v расторгнул договор (vi).
1. abrogating a convention n расторжение договора.
2. abrogating a convention v расторгающий договор (vi).
absolute rule n самовластие.
absolute war n решительные боевые действия.
accelerate upon an agreement v ускорять достижение соглашения (vi).
1. adhering to treaty provisions n соблюдение положений договора.
2. adhering to treaty provisions v соблюдающий положения договора (vi)
adjustment of disputes n урегулирование разногласий.
administration of peace-keeping operations n осуществление операций по поддержанию мира.
bar the way to war v преграждать путь к войне (vi).
basic war plan n основной стратегический план.
beam the opposition v подавлять сопротивление (vi).
brush blaze n локальная война.
brush fire war n местная война.
call to the colors v объявлять мобилизацию (vi).
carried the day v одержал победу (vi).
challenge to the world community n вызов международному сообществу.
change in a policy n смена политики.
chemical warfare agreement n соглашение о запрещении химического оружия.
circumvention of an agreement n обход соглашения.
claims to world superiority n притязания на мировое господство.
comparison of military expenditures in accordance with international standards n сопоставление военных бюджетов по международным стандартам.
compensation allowance n денежная компенсация.
competitive co-existence n сосуществование в условиях соперничества.
completion of talks n завершение переговоров.
compliance with commitments n соблюдение обязательств.
conduct an arms race v вести гонку вооружений (vi).
conduct diplomacy v проводить дипломатию (vi).
conduct of disarmament negotiations n ведение переговоров по разоружению.
consolidation of peace n укрепление мира.
construction of all-embracing system of international secutity n создание всеобъемлющей системы международной безопасности.
consultative board n консультативный совет.
contending nation n воюющее государство.
contest the air v оспаривать господство в воздухе (vi).control agency n орган управления.
convene a meeting v созывать совещание (vi).
convene the UN Security Council v созывать Совет Безопасности ООН (vi).
conventional armament n обычное вооружение.
desperate situation n отчаянное положение.
detentist n сторонник разрядки международной напряженности.
deterioration of resistance n ослабление сопротивления.
deterioration of resistance n ослабление сопротивления.
diminished international tension n спад международной безопасности.
diplomatic attack n дипломатическая атака.
diplomatic co-operation n дипломатическое сотрудничество.
diplomatic decision n дипломатическое решение.
disarmament issue n проблема разоружения.
disarmament negotiation n переговоры о разоружении.
disaster control n меры по ликвидации последствий нападения.
1. drafting an agreement n составление текста соглашения.
2. drafting an agreement v составляющий текст соглашения (vi).
ease international tension v смягчать международную обстановку (vi).
entered into alliance v вступил в союз (vi).
established an organization v создал организацию (vi).
financial service n служба финансового довольствия.
graves registration service n похоронная служба.
1. heading off the arms race n воспрепятствование гонке вооружений.
2. heading off the arms race v воспрепятствовавший гонке вооружений (vi).
implement a goal v осуществлять цель (vi).
in-depth assessment n глубокая оценка.
isolationist posture n изоляционистская политика.
large-scale production n крупномасштабное производство.
1. leading to positive solutions n приведение к положительным результатам.
2. leading to positive solutions v приводящий к положительным результатам
legal branch n юридическая служба.
ligitimate rights n законные права.
maintain mastery v удерживать господство в воздухе (vi).
maintain neutrality v соблюдать нейтралитет (vi).
maintain stability v поддерживать стабильность (vi).
maintained a status quo v сохранил статус-кво (vi).
making demands v выдвигающий требования (vi).
1. managing non-compliance n урегулирование вопроса о несоблюдении.
2. managing non-compliance v урегулировавший вопрос о несоблюдении
mandatory embargo n обязательное эмбарго.
meet an aggression v отражать нападение агрессора (vi).
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