Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 13:32:44 +0200 From: Vittoria Prencipe Subject: Translation Today: Trends and Perspectives
Anderman, Gunilla and Margaret Rogers, ed. (2003) Translation Today: Trends and Perspectives, Multilingual Matters.
Vittoria Prencipe, Università Cattolica "Sacro Cuore" di Milano.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK
This book is the result of a Round Table discussion organized at the University of Surrey on October 1st, 1999. It consists of a keynote paper and contributions regarding the eight topics chosen by Peter Newmark as main translation issues in the new millennium. The book is divided into two parts: the first part contains Newmark's summary of his keynote paper, and the discussion. The second part starts with Newmark's full-length keynote paper, "No Global Communication Without Translation", followed by contributions by participants attending to symposium. The topics selected by Newmark are "The nature of translation", "Types and kinds of translation", "Valid and deficient texts", "English as the lingua franca of translation", "Social translation and interpreting", "Later modes of translation", "The assessment of translation", "The university and the market".
In the first paper Newmark tackles the nature of translation. Anyone, he says, can immediately define translation as "taking the meaning from one text and integrating it into another language for a new and sometimes different readership" (p. 55). Such a simple definition hides two very complex concepts, i.e. "meaning" and "message", which determine the kind of translation: a target-oriented one ("communicative translation"), respecting culture and conventions of target language (TL), and a source-oriented one, ("semantic translation"). The paper goes on defining both communicative and semantic translation, and examining their connections with traditional categories like literary, non-literary and social translation. Newmark concludes with a useful overview of the status of Translation Studies.
The following paper, "Some of Peter Newmark's Translation Categories Revisited", by Albrecht Neubert, argues that Newmark's distinction does not refer to different types of translation, but rather represents two complementary methods, operating at different levels of analysis. "In particular semantic translation highlights the attempt of the translator to grasp the full meanings expressed in the source text (SL) and to render as much as possible into the TL version. ... Communicative translation, by contrast, is not about procedures. Its conceptual status is on a much higher level of abstraction. Every text, whether it is a poem or a prosaic message, is a communicative event. ... All translations, in this sense, are communicative acts." (pp. 70-71) According to Neubert, "communicative" and "semantic" are attributes of translations, but what about the so called "social translation"? Neubert doesn't consider it different from any other kind of translation, since he views social texts in same way as technical ones. Thus the jargon of social texts doesn't represent a hindrance to translatability. Finally, translation can achieve contextualization, because it "occurs already in the original, with the translator making expert use of this pervasive feature of monolingual, in fact all, communication" (p. 74).
According to Newmark's definition translation is "a dynamic reflection of human activity". In her paper "Looking Forward to the Translation: On A Dynamic Reflection of Human Activities", Kirsten Malmkjær attempts to develop this view from the perspective of philosophical semantics. The "focus" of the translation process is the source text or, better, the creative process which generates it. This latter element distinguishes translation from monolingual communication: a translated text is influenced by a source text, translation is thus constrained communication. Malmkjær intends both to underline the common features shared by monolingual and multilingual communication, and to differentiate the two process. The common element is that meaning is a function having as arguments the speakers, the hearer, a time, a place, and a more extensive set of circumstances. In this view, meaning is used differently by future users, past users, speakers from various cultures and social classes, so that a message is always in need of interpretation. The difference is not simply the use of two or more languages, but the social and cultural world in which target text hearers live. Thus, translating means connecting two worlds.
The translation process is submitted to the translator's sensitivity and experience. In Marshall Morris' paper, "With Translation in Mind. Communication precedes language", translation acts are viewed as a part of the whole process of communication. Thereby, the fulcrum of the translation process cannot be the text, but the experience on which texts are based. In translating, the following points are essential: (i) the ST "is only part of a larger use of human communication; (ii) the translator has to "come closer to the human truth of the experience on which the texts are based"; (iii) texts are answers to questions formulated in the language of some other person, in some other society, at some other time. The translator should aim at grasping the human question in the writer's mind, to follow his logic and understand the sense his text makes; (iv) the text is only a part of an ongoing relationship; in the context of the original there was something before and will be something after the text the translator has in his/her hands; (v) human experiences are basically the same; "if translators reflect on these experiences, keeping translation in mind", concludes the author , "I believe they will find that their understanding is sufficient for the task, and their experience of translating abundant deeply satisfying" (p. 89-90).
Raquel Merino's paper, "Tracing Back (in Awe) a Hundred year History of Spanish Translations: Washington Irving's The Alhambra" focuses on a view of translation as a critical and evaluative product, presenting a four year research founded on the comparison of the work "The Alhambra" with Spanish translations. The procedure is simple: (i) compile a bibliographical catalogue of Spanish version of Alhambra texts, (ii) build up a database containing a corpus of original editions of the text and a corpus containing its translations, iii) choose a number of characteristics - the number and sequence of the tales, the text of selected opening paragraphs, etc. - to use as a basis of comparison between STs and TTs. The comparison tends to select adaptive translations, defining what is adaptation.
In Piotr Kuhiwczak's paper "The troubled Identity of Literary Translation", the author compares the translator's task to that of the writer and of the critic. Traditionally, writing or commenting is considered more important then translating. But which are the competences of translators and which is the relation between translation studies and literary studies? The author points out that translation is both a creative and critic work, in that it requires the translator to know the original work, the author, the original culture, and it requires him to perform a creative effort in rewriting the source text.
The fulcrum of Gunnar Marguson's paper, "Interlinear Translation and Discourse à la Mark Twain" is Twain's view of German language compared to English through a word for word translation. This method has been appropriately described by Newmark. Adopting the same procedure, Marguson concentrates on the structural differences between English and German. The paper comes to an end listing the transformations needed to obtain English texts from German texts, and proposing another reform: if the capitalisation of nouns were abolished, German could have "shorter sentences and more relative clauses, making it easier for us to steer a correct course through the German syntactic landscape" (p. 136).
In his contribution, "Meaning, Truth and Morality in Translation", Martin Weston adopts a meaning-use view on translation. Weston analyses three models of linguistic translation in which an "abstract" meaning is transferred from SL text to TL text. He bases his critique on the abstractness of this conception and proposes a more concrete notion of meaning as the use to which language is put. Thus, the aim of the translator is to look for the equivalent use of an expression in two or more different language.
Asymmetry in translation strategies is due to the extension of a specific language. English, for example, is accessible to speakers of many languages and commonly used in multilingual contexts as a second language for communication. David Graddol, in his contribution "The Decline of Native Speakers" underlines that the increasing use of English as "lingua franca" decreases the authority of the native speaker, who, since Chomskian generative grammar, had the difficult task of safeguarding grammatical "correctness".
Can a dominant L2, like English, influence the syntactic construction and style of other languages? This is the question on which the paper by Juliane House, "English as Lingua Franca and its Influence on Discourse Norm in Other Languages" is based. It is the result of a longer research founded on a "...systemic-functional theory; it involves reconstructing the cognitive processes involved in producing translations and parallel texts and describing the embeddedness of these texts in their sociocultural contexts" (p. 168). The languages examined are French, English and Spanish, and texts are scientific, economic and computer science manuals; the analysis methodology is Halliday's grammar. The results of comparison show the differences between the three languages and give some evidence for the existence of cultural or contextual filters preventing linguistic contamination.
"Multilingualism is not a problem. It is a fact" (p. 190). This is the starting point and the conclusion of Ann Corsellis' analysis in the paper, "Interpreting and Translation in the UK Public Services: The Pursuit of Excellence versus, and via, Expediency". The author analyses the needs, obstacles and possible solutions for public services interpreting and translation in the UK. This field does not receive the appropriate consideration in the UK, as in the other so called monolingual countries. At the end of her research Corsellis proposes a particular collaboration between three principal groups: public service personnel, linguists and the potential users of the services. This collaboration, however, can only be possible as the result of the awareness of a monolingual societies turning into a multilingual one.
"Audiovisual Translation" is the topic of the next paper "Audiovisual Translation in the Third Millennium", by Jorge Díaz Cintas. The aims of audiovisual translation are various and very different; this contribution focuses on dubbing, voice-over, and subtitling. An actual revolution in the audiovisual translation was the introduction of DVD. This new film distribution format can hold up to eight versions of the same film dubbed into different languages and some 32 different possibilities for subtitles. "What is beyond doubt" concludes the author "is that this area of translation is set to undergo further changes in coming years. At the same time, our perception of translation as consumers will also change. ...audiovisual/multimedia translation will be the translation sub-discipline of this brand new millennium" (p. 203).
As new modes of translation emerge, the need for more clearly formulated and uniformly applied methods of assessment of translation and interpreting competence becomes greater. This is the topic of the contribution by Stuart Campbell and Sandra Hale, "Translation and Interpreting Assessment in the Context of Educational Measurement". The authors set out to survey the literature concerned with research in educational measurement, and in the ways of testing translators' competences, coming to the conclusion that many of these competences are quite well verified. However, two of them are absent from the research literature, validity and reliability. Campbell and Hale plead for a more valid approach to testing, given that translation and interpreting are socially very important jobs.
The problem of translator and ethic is the one addressed by Gerard McAlester in his contribution "A Comment on Translation Ethics and Education". The Translator's Charter (1986) published by the International Federation of Translators (FIT) prescribes in Clause 3, that the translator "shall refuse to give a text an interpretation of which he does not approve, or which would be contrary to the obligations of his profession". But the situation is not so simple: can the translator gloss historical and authoritative texts or correct informative texts? The answer can be double: Martin Weston argues that the translator's commitment is to text, according to McAlester, instead, it is to his own conscience.
This collection is rich of suggestions for translators, translation scholars, linguists and literary scholars. The contributions are a starting point in such a vast field of research, the various themes being only indicated and not theoretically developed. Bibliography is up to date and the book can be considered as a useful tool to grasp the different aspects of TS in contemporary research.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
THE REVIEWER Vittoria Prencipe, Ph.D. works as a postdoctoral researcher in the field of Translation Studies at the UniversitÃ Cattolica "Sacro Cuore", Milan (Italy). Her current research deals with the application of Igor Mel'cuk's model to the field of linguistic translation.