Site Search Contact Us Site Map Home

When these situations obtain, the translator resorts to the strategy of 'oblique' translation.

(Literary) translation is piquantly and intensely inexact. Consider the translation novelty paradox, for instance. The translation novelty paradox states that the translation shouldn't seem too new so that it looks unacceptably unreadably odd in the target language; it should on the other hand be new enough so that if there is nothing new, then why would one welcome it into the fold of the target language? One wonders if it is possible to lay one's finger on the point where it is not too new but is new enough. Steiner puts it beautifully when he says the Hermeneutics of translation is based on a conception of translation not as a science but as an 'exact art' but with precisions that are 'intense but unsystematic'. There are things that one can say for sure about translation. We have for instance definitely moved ahead of the days when translation meant taking the source language text, and placing it as it is in a different language. (We are here talking about literary translation) We are beginning to site translation in a three dimensional space where there is give and take between the two texts. Literature no Three inhabits this third dimension. An extreme example is the cannibalistic view of translation proposed by the Brazilians which says that the translator devours the source text, and letting it through his consciousness, comes up with a new creation: an original of an original, an original which would not have existed but for the source language text but which is not simply source language sensibility in a new garb! The new creation is source language text-driven but is much more than a change of the container. The new creation is a complex of a coming together of two different thought movements, taking the life-energies of the ST and making them reemerge in a nourished revitalized TT. The understandable argument that that is no translation is losing force. Consider the following statement by Even-Zohar "Translation is no longer a phenomenon whose nature and borders are given once for all, but an activity dependent on the relations within a given culture" Or Levine (1991:3) who says, "A translation should be a critical act…creating doubt, posing questions to the reader, re-contextualising the ideology of the original text." Translation is no longer then a straightforward, uncritically blinkered change of the container. Equally importantly, translation is no longer a second order, marginal activity that belongs properly to the footnotes of creativity, literature and history but is a vital, culturally vibrant, potentially thought-stimulating and change-inducing process. It is a relocational phenomenon par excellence typifying, in the high-speed, multi-ethnic, barrier-breaking, neighbourhood that the world is today, 'locational disjuncture' exemplified by particularly twentieth century phenomena like immigration, diaspora and a general but striking shrinking of space and time.

Eugene Nida's three-stage system of translation ( from Nida, E. A. and C. R. Taber (1969:33) captures the basic process :

Nida attempted to move translation to the modern scientific era from the often stagnant and sterile literal vs free translation debate by bringing in the science of language into translation. The translator might well be unwittingly doing what Nida says he does. But from the point of view of the translator translating with the text in front of him, the goal in mind should be what is called 'equivalence'. Although there are reservations expressed in certain quarters about the usefulness of this concept, there is no doubt that 'equivalence' and 'equivalent effect' are key concepts in translation. At the different levels of the word, the phrase, the sentence, the paragraph and the discourse, equivalence and equivalent effect are the overriding aims in the translator's mind. Unless one is thinking of the Brazilian cannibalistic view of translation in whose case it would be appropriate to speak of some kind of manipulated or processed, redone equivalence.

Formal and dynamic equivalence: As the term suggests formal equivalence is equivalence at the level of form. Since the focus in formal equivalence is on the form of ST, this is ST-oriented. As Nida says (1964a:159) , "..One is concerned that the message in the receptor language should match as closely as possible the different elements in the source language" Dynamic equivalence on the other hand is equivalence which is not tied down to the ST form, but is much wider. It caters to the receptor's linguistic and cultural needs. The translation is thus tailored accordingly. Dynamic equivalence is otherwise called 'pragmatic equivalence' or 'communicative equivalence'. Dynamic equivalence is based on what is called 'equivalent effect' which is achieved when 'the relationship between receptor and message is substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message' Nida (1964a) . Dynamic equivalence which is receptor oriented allows adaptations in grammar, lexicon and cultural information which it considers essential to achieve naturalness in TL.A natural consequence of this is that the 'foreignness' of the ST is minimized which of course is subject to criticism. Nida also says that to achieve equivalent effect where there is conflict between content and form, 'correspondence in meaning must have priority over correspondence in style'

For Nida, the success of a translation depends on achieving equivalent response. This is one of four requirements of a translation. These four requirements are :

1. making sense.
2. conveying the spirit and manner of the original
3. having a natural and easy form of expression.
4. producing a similar response.

There are cases where it is impossible to achieve equivalent effect or equivalent response, which is clearly one of the irremediable limitations of inter-linguistic translation. One such case is when meaning is bound up in form. In articles in META (Quian Hua 1992, 1993) this was shown for Chinese, which has a different word order than English. Giridhar, in an article in 'Language and style' (1991) showed that if literary meanings are a function of linguistic form as is often the case in Joyce, for instance, structurally equivalent translations couldn't capture these meanings because languages may differ in linguistic form.

Catford and translation 'shifts'

In Catford's own words (2000: 141), translation shifts are 'departures from formal correspondence in the process of going from the SL to the TL'.
Catford considers two kinds of shift:

1. Level shift - something which is expressed by grammar in one language and lexis in another.
2. Category shifts - are subdivided into four kinds:
Structural shifts- involve shift in grammatical structure
Class shifts- comprise shifts from one part of speech to another
Unit shifts or Rank shifts- where translation equivalent in TL is at a different hierarchical linguistic unit of sentence
Intra-system shifts- shifts that take place when the SL and TL possess approximately corresponding systems but where 'the translation involves selection of a non-corresponding term in the TL system'.

Catford's book is an important attempt to apply to translation advances in Linguistics in a systematic fashion. But the analysis of intra-system shifts betrays some of the weakness of his approach. The final chapter on the limits of translatability is very useful according to Henry, (1984) . Of particular interest is Catford's assertion that translation equivalence depends on communicative features such as function, relevance, situation and culture rather than just on formal linguistic criteria.

Koller has a typology of equivalence, which is

Previous Next
| About the site |  About Translation |  Translator Education |  Tools |  Translation Today: E-zine |
|  Professional Translation |  Inlan: The e- translator |  News & Events |  Other links |