User:Deepamishra/TY BA Translation Theory and Practice/Chapter-I

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Unit 1

Nature, Meaning, Scope and Function of Translation

1.0 Objectives

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Definitions of Translation

1.3 Scope and Function of Translation

1.4 Question

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Primary aim of this unit is to introduce the readers to translation and ‘Translation Studies’ Of late ‘Translation Studies’ has acquired the status of an independent discipline. Previously it was considered to be a part of Comparative Literature. Since ‘Translation Studies’ has achieved greater significance in academic and intellectual spheres it is necessary to understand its definitions, its merits and demerits, scope and limitations. This chapter therefore will acquaint the readers with the basic components of translations.

1.1 Introduction

Man is distinguished from other creatures for possessing the quality of time-bindingness which, according to Korzybski, means that one generation of mankind passes on to the succeeding generations the social, cultural and intellectual attainments. This is done through language in the oral tradition through fairy tales and folk-lores as well as through written documents like scriptures and books. But not all the people scattered throughout the earth constituting various subgroups use the same language. This posits the greatest obstacle in the way of inter-linguistic community communication.However translation, without which our world will narrow down mercilessly, has emerged as the most effective means of overcoming the dissimilarity of language amongst nations. Therefore it has become imperative to know the nature and meaning of translation.

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Definitions of Translation

Etymologically translation is a “carrying across” process. The Latin “translatio” is derived from “transferre” where “trans” means “across” and “ferre” means “to carry” or “to bring” something from one place to another place. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary “to translate” means “to put into words of a different language.” In a similar way, The Concise Oxford English Dictionary states, translation is “the act or an instance of translating” or “a written or spoken expression of the meaning of a word, speech book,etc. in another language.”

Thus in translation two languages are concerned such as SL (source language) and the TL (target language). The SL is that form in which the text has been selected for translation into another language which is called the TL.

Scholars of translation studies at different times have given different definitions of translation. A study of these statements reveals the true nature and characteristic of translation. Brislin tells that translation is “the general term referring to the transfer of thought and ideas from one language (source) to another (target) whether the languages are in written or oral form.

Pinhchuck defines translation as a “process of finding a TL equivalent for an SL utterance”.

Wilss says that “translation is a transfer process, which aims at the transformation of a written SL text into an optimally equivalent TL text, and which requires the syntactic, the semantic and the pragmatic understanding and analytical processing of the SL.

Nida is of opinion that “translation consists of rereproducing in the recepter language the closest natural equivalent of the source language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style”.

Bell says that “translation involves the transfer of meaning from a text in one language into a text in another language.”

According to Dr.Johnson translation involves the process of change into another language, retaining the sense.

Catford defines translation as “the replacement of textual material in one language (SL) by equivalent material in another language”Commenting on translation Susan Bassnett states:

Today the movement of people around the globe can be seen to mirror the very process of translation itself, for translation is not just the transfer of texts from one language into another, it is now rightly seen as a process of negotiation between texts and between cultures, a process during which all kind of transactions take place mediated by the figure of the translator.Significantly,Homi Bhaba uses the term ‘translation’ not to describe a transaction between texts and languages but in the etymological sense of being carried across from one place to another.He uses translation metaphorically to describe the condition of the contemporary world,a world in which millions migrate and change their location every day. (p 6)}}

Thus translation as a process of linguistic activity has undergone a change.The emphasis on linguistic approach of the sixties has been replaced by the importance of the text in the seventies and at present ,culture is considered to be the prime factor.

1.3 Scope and Function of Translation

Translation, in the past, was considered to be a second rate activity.It was considered to be more mechanical than creative.Commenting on this aspect Hilaire Bellow writes:

The art of translation is a subsidiary art and derivative. On this account it has never been granted the dignity of original work, and has suffered too much in the general judgement of letters .This natural underestimation of its value has had the bad practical effect of lowering the standard demanded ,and in some periods has almost destroyed the art altogether. The corresponding misunderstanding of its character has added to its degradation: neither its importance nor its difficulty has been grasped. (Bassnett 12)

This general neglect of translation arises because the text in the TL is considered to be inferior to the original SL text. In the earlier centuries this inequality was presented in terms of superior original and an inferior copy. This was the colonial attitude to translation. But today , the situation has changed. Susan Bassnett explicitly demonstrates how the colonial attitude has been replaced by the post-colonial attitude . The colonialist thought their culture to be superior which took possession of an inferior one. So the original was thought to be superior to the TL text.

But the situation has changed with the translation works of Indian , Chinese and Canadian translators along with the writers like Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes which called for a new definition of translation. Explaining the point in clearcut terms, Bassnett writes:

In the new, post-colonial perception of the relationship between source and target texts, that inequality of status has been rethought.Both original and translation are now viewed as equal products of the creativity of writer and translator ,though as Paz pointed out, the task of these two is different.It is upto the writer to fix words in an ideal, unchangeable form and it is the task of the translator to liberate those words from the confines of their source language and allow them to live again in the language into which they were translated .In consequence, the old arguments about the need to be faithful to an original start to dissolve.In Brazil, the cannibalistic theory of textual consumption, first proposed in the 1920s, has been reworked to offer an alternative perspective on the role of the translator, one in which the act of translaion is seen in terms of physical metaphors that stress both the creativity and the independence of the translator. (Bassnett 5)

In the post-colonial context, the translator is nolonger assigned a secondary status.The writer of the SL text and the translator are given the same prestigious position as the creative writer.Moreover,Bassnett states:

The translator is seen as a liberator, someone who frees the text from the fixed signs of its original shape making it no longer subordinate to the source text but visibly endeavouring to bridge the space between source author and text and the eventual target language readership.This revised perspective emphasizes the creativity of translation, seeing in it a more harmonious relationship than the one in previous models that described the translator in violent images of ‘appropriation’, ‘penetration’ or ‘ possession’ .The post colonial approach to translation is to see linguistic exchange as essentially dialogic ,as a process that happens in a space that belongs to neither source nor target absolutely.(Bassnett 6)

In the present context SL text and the TL text both are considered to be original works of art. Translation primarily renders the text of SL to a text in TL. Certainly this enhances the importance of SL text amongst the reader of the TL text. Thus it widens the popularity of the SL text as people speaking the TL would have remained ignorant about it. Apart from this translation has established a link between the present generation mankind with the tradition, culture and intellectual attainments of the people of the past. The works of Homer and Horace have come to us only through translation. Similarly, the Vedas, kalidasa’s Shakuntala and Indian religious scriptures in Sanskrit would never have been popularized in the Western countries. Even without translation, possibly the people of India would have been completely in the dark about the Bible.

Along with acquainting the present generation with the treasures of the past, translation creates a field for dissemination of knowledge. Any new scientific theory, through translation reaches millions and millions of people throughout the globe.

In this age of globalisation, there has been migration of people from one part of the world to the other.Without translation it would have been impossible for such people to know the culture and tradition of the host country nor could they acquaint the people about the sociological and cultural condition of their home country. Thus the greatest role that translation plays in the modern world is that it has become a means of creating international understanding.

1.4 Question

1.Attempt a definition of translation and explain its meaning.

2.Is translation a secondary activity? What are the positive contributions of translation?

3.What do you understand by SL and TL? What do you think to be the role and function of translation in the modern world?

4.What feature is a unique possession of mankind? What would have been the loss to mankind without translation?