13 May, 2011

Translation strategies

Translation strategies I: methods and procedures
1. Introduction
Having looked at Phase 1the analysis phase – of the process of translating, we will now turn to
Phase 2the transfer phrase – as we look at different strategies and methods of translation.
The purpose of translation methods and procedures – and of translating itself – is to achieve maximal equivalence, or equivalent effect.

2. Equivalent effect
Equivalent effect is virtually the same as maximal equivalence. The term “equivalent effect” refers to the target text having the same effect on the target text reader as the source text has on the source text reader. Note that, the term “maximal equivalence” does not imply this focus on the readership, but, like maximal equivalence, a totally equivalent effect is impossible to achieve. But, with a high level of naturalness, among other things, it is possible to, at least, achieve optimal equivalence.

3. Translation methods vs. translation procedures

Translators distinguish between global translation strategies and local translation strategies:
  • global translation strategy (translation method): the overall strategy you apply to a text as a whole – the primary choice you have to make here is how close to the source text you want your target text to be.
  • local translation strategy (translation procedure): strategies you apply in the translation of individual expressions in the source text, such as words, grammatical constructions, idioms etc.)
4. Global translation strategies / translation methods
You have to make the choice between imitative translation and functional translation – the first  striving to retain as much of the purely formal aspects of the source text, and the latter aims at getting the message of the source text across, even if it takes drastic changes in the formal aspects of the text.
Newmark lists the following translation methods, which essentially fall along a cline of focus, one extreme being total focus on the source text/language and the other extreme being total focus on the target text/language:
  1. ST/SL focus (imitative translation), and
  2. TT/TL focus (functional communication)

ST/SL focus (imitative translation) includes:
a. word-for-word translation: preservation of word order and as literal translation as possible of individual words, including cultural words.
b. literal translation: apart from as literal as possible translation of individual words, grammatical structures are converted into the nearest target language equivalents.
c. faithful translation: stays, if possible, within the constraints of the grammatical structures of the target text, but draws on certain contextual factors.
b.  idiomatic translation: makes use of idioms and colloquialisms that are not present in the source text.
c.  free translation: focuses on the content of the target text rather than the form, which means that the same content is expressed in the target text but with very different grammatical structures if need be.
d. adaptation: the freest form of translation and more of a target language/culture based  interpretation of the source text than a translation as such, this is sometimes called document design.

5. Local translation strategies / translation procedures
   Lundquist lists seven translation procedures, while Newmark lists a whole bunch of them. Here is an overview which integrates the Lundquist's and Newmark's procedures into one list:

I.   Direct procedures, 
II. Indirect procedures, and
 III. Others.

 I. Direct procedures:
a. Literal translation: word-for-word translation.
b. Transference / loan: transferal of a word or expression from the source language/text directly into the target text without translating it at all.
c. Translation loan: retention of syntactic construction, but translation of the words in it.
d. Through translation: literal translation of collocations and combinations – the difference between this and translation loans is that in through translation, you strife for literal translation and a higher degree of formal retention.
e. Naturalization: basically transference in which you apply target language spelling and
morphology (and pronunciation) to the expression or word in question.
II. Indirect procedures:

a. Equivalence: here, you focus on equivalence in meaning in the perspective of the reader of the target text – this means that you may sacrifice equivalent in form, or you may have to choose something which is note exactly the same thing as in the source text, but which is the closest get to it in the target language.
a.1 Cultural equivalent: translating a culturally rooted word in the source text/language with a roughly equivalent culturally rooted word of the target language/text – note, this is what Lundquist calls “tilpasning”
a.2 Functional equivalent: translating a word in the source language/text with a functionally equivalent target language word (i.e. a word which has the same meaning).
a. 3 Descriptive equivalent: translating a source language/text word using a description of the concept it refers to in the target language.
a. 4  (Near) synonymy: translating a source language/text word or expression with a target language expression that is nearly, but not completely, functionally equivalent.
a. 5 Reduction/expansion: adding or removing elements in translation (essentially a type of shift).
a. 6 Paraphrase: amplification or explanation of meaning in target text.
a. 7 Compensation: making up for the loss of something in the source text, by adding something else in the target text
 b. Shifts: this is when you use:

b.1 Transposition: translation of a source language/text expression into a target language expression which involves change in grammatical structure or in word class.
b.2 Modulation: change of viewpoint or substantial conceptual concept in the translation, for instance, using the name of a category for a specific member of the category, using a part for the whole (and vice versa), active for passive, changing polarity etc.
b.3 Componential analysis: splitting up a lexical unit into meaning atoms and translating those.

III. Others:

a. Recognized translation: using a well-known accepted target language translation for  a specific source language institutional term.
b. Translation label: provisional target language translation of a source language term that does not have any conventional translation in the target language. 
Based on: http://www.hum.aau.dk/~kim/BoT10/bot5.pdf
Basics of translation, 2010 SIS English-Aalborg University.
Peter Newmark, A Textbook of Translation New York: Prentice Hall, 1988) 69, 81-93;
Jean-Paul Vinay and J. Darbelnet, Stylistique comparée du français et de l’anglais (Paris: Didier,1973);
Jean Delisle et al., ed. Translation Terminology. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins,1999.

d. semantic translation: more emphasis on naturalness than in faithful translation, and translation of certain cultural words into neutral equivalents in the TL.

TT/TL focus (functional communication) includes: 
a. communicative translation: aims at reproducing the exact message of the source text content-wise and context-wise but with emphasis on naturalness and acceptability/comprehensiveness to the target text readership.