Literal translation

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What is a literal translation?Varieties of close translationThe translation of poetryFaithful and False friendsWords in their contextElegant variationsBack-translation Test (BTT)Accepted translationConstraints on literal translationNatural translationThe role of context

What is a literal translation?A literal translation is a translation that follows closely the form of the source language.It is also known as Word for Word translation.Newmark agrees that this technique is the best option for translating texts where the form is as important as the content such as great speeches, autobiographies, literary works.

Common features of this translation procedureMaximal closeness to the SL meaning and structure.

Conformity to the TL grammar.

DisagreementsSome authors assume that literal translation lead to a bad translated text, a translated text where the SL structure is reflected in an exaggerated and unwanted way.

On the other hand, Vinay & Darbelnet explained, My thesis is, however, that literal translation is correct and must not be avoided, if it secures referential and pragmatic equivalence to the original. It can be used when other techniques have failed.Examples:

Varieties of close translation 1. WORD-FOR-WORD TRANSLATION (CLOSE TRANSLATION) = Transferring SL grammar and word order as well as the primary meanings of all SL words He works in the house - now Il travaile dans la mansion maintenant 2. ONE-TO-ONE TRANSLATION (CLOSE TRANSLATION) = Each SL word has a corresponding TL word, but their primary (isolated) meanings may differ. Hacer un examen take an exam Word- for-Word translation


one word to one word (un beau jardin a beautiful garden) collocation to collocation (make a speech faire un discours) clause to clause (when that was done quand cela fut fait) to sentence to sentence (The man was in the street Lhomme tait dans la rue)

The translation of poetryAccording to Newmark;The translation of poetry is the field where most empahasis is normally put on the creation of a new independent poem,and where literal translation is usually condemned.In translating a poem, one of the literary genres, the translator are also likely to face similar problems:linguistic, literary and aesthetic, socio-cultural problemsThe first step to deal with these problems is to find the deep (underlying) structure. According to Newmark, the useful procedure is to find the logical subject first, and then the specific verb. If the two important elements are discovered, the rest will fall into place. After that the translator can reconstruct the structure in the TL as closely as possible to the original structure. Besides, the structure of each phrase or clause should be examined clearly also. Example: A poem Ini kali tidak ada yang mencari cintadi antara gudang, rumah tua, pada cerita tiang serta temali, kapal, perahu tidak berlaut,menghembus diri dalam mempercaya mau berpaut(Kasbolah, 1990: 4)1.This time there's no one looking for loveamong the sheds, old houses, near the taleof the masts and riggings. Ships (and) boats (that) have not gone to seaare puffing themselves (out) in the believe (they) will be united.(Kasbolah, 1990: 13)2.This time no one's looking for lovebetween the sheds, the old house, in the make-believeof poles and ropes. A boat, a prau without waterpuff and blows, thinking there's something it can catch(Kasbolah, 1990: 12)

The translations of the first line both are good in the sense that they put the adverb, "this time" first, but the translation of the main clause in the second translation is better for it tries to maintain the poetic structure of the line.

The further we read the lines, the better we can catch the importance of maintaining the structure as an attempt to maintain the beauty of the poem. And finally we may agree that the second translation is more successfully in maintaining the poetic structure.Faithful and false friendsWe must not be afraid of literal translation, or, in particular, of using a TL word which looks the same or nearly the same as the SL word.

But 'theatre is theatre, is Theater, is teatro and is teatr\ only in Czech is it divadlo (the same applies to 'music, where the Czech is hudba).

The translation of objects and movements is usually more literal than that of qualities and ways of moving.

Many common adjectives of feeling cut up meaning in their own way, so that we cannot trust a transparent translation of 'sincere', 'loyal, 'trivial*, 'important', 'truculent', 'brutal'; only one or two like 'excellent and 'marvellous' are usually transparent.And again, the more general and abstract words ('phenomenon', 'element', 'affair') may or may not be translated transparently; there is often a shift at that abstract level (quality as 'property') but the translation is still usually one-to-one.

In general, there are more faithful friends and we must not hesitate to use them, since any other translation is usually wrong. This presupposes that, in context, the readership of O and T have similar interest and language levels. Otherwise the translation may well be different.

So, everything is translatable up to a point, but that there are often enormous difficulties.

Words in their contextI find you in every woods and gardens.The wordswoodsandgardenare collocates, and the Indonesian equivalents are very similar,hutanandkebun. Even the form is very much similar, the translator must examine first whether the meaning is the same. As it is known, the word woods in US is not exactly the same ashutanin Indonesia in term of the characteristics, area, location, etc. In addition,gardenis not always the same askebun. It may meantaman. The clear examination can only be done if the translator understands the contextual meaning.

Elegant VariationsElegant variation inpoetrymay occur because of a translators need to use a word which fits thescansionandrhyme patternof the phrase or sentence.Example Bendicks of Mayfair have established a reputation respected throughout the world for the manufacture of chocolate confectionery of the highest qualify. Bendicks of Mayfair' ont etabli leur reputation, reconnue dans le monde entier, pour la confection de ckocolats de la plus haute quality. The translation is lexically and grammatically literal, but for 'confectionery', which has to be changed and is satisfactorily conflated with 'manufacture, and the two unnecessary elegant variations, leur and reconnue.Back-translation testA source language word should not be translated into a target language word which has another obvious one-to-one equivalent in the source language.Back translation involves the translation of a text which itself is a translation back into the original language.

the meaning of the term in the back translation does equal the meaning of the original source.

English source:to impair Spanish translation:afectar English back translation:to affect

Accepted TranslationSome transparent institutional terms are translated literally in at least Western European languages even though the TL cultural equivalents have widely different functions: 'President', 'Senate', 'Prefect', 'Chancellor, 'Mayor For these institutional terms, a translator must be careful about translating the terms directly into the TL, if they already exist but have quite different functions in the TL culture,

Constraints on literal translationIf a perfectly natural SL unit produces a clumsy literal translation, e.g. itne parvenait pas a se digager de sa surprise as 'he wasn't succeeding in freeing himself from his surprise, Then the translation is 'wrong', however expressive the rest of the SL text ;'he was unable to rid himself of his feeling of surprise', 'he couldn't overcome his SurpriseNatural Translation I'heure est venue or les maisons basses: if you insist you would not normally say 'the hour has come only 'the time has comewhat we might find an acceptable literal translation of an ordinary language unit is that you find it unnatural.

The Role Of ContextContext of situation is closely related to various texts. Certain situational context asks for certain text and in return, certain text creates certain context. In the process of translation, the meaning system is largely determined by the context.Studies in register analysis are of significance to translators. In the translation process, first, through the analysis of the linguistic feature of the SL, its register can be identified and thus the determination of its context of situation is possible. Second, in the production of the TL, the proper words and expressions in the TL should be chosen so that the corresponding context of situation can be reestablished in the TL. Seeking the equivalence of meaning is in fact seeking the equivalence of situational context. In translation, equivalence should not be based on one aspect of meaning; the translator must pursue the right equivalence. Since the complete identity of situational context and meaning system between cultures is impossible, the complete equivalence is equally impossible.


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