Adequate translation and the role of context

  1. Adaptive Transcoding. Types of Translation
  2. B) Suggest the methods of translation into Ukrainian of the names of English and foreign companies in the sentences below.
  3. Branches in translation studies
  4. By Ways of Word-for-Word or Loan Translation
  5. C. Match the words in the left-hand and the right-hand columns into combinations. Give their Russian translation.
  6. Change of the parts of sentence in translation

The importance of the context and the situation in which a speech event is taking place was stressed in studies revealing the difference between texts produced as speaking and those produced in writing [Biber 1988]. The author introduced the terms highly explicit context-independent reference and nonspecific, situation-dependent reference. It is reasonable to apply these terms to segments of a text where a translator / interpreter deals with them as matters of reference and so he can also rely on the varying degree of dependence of a unit of translation upon a context. According to the dependence on the context translation practice points at the two classes of units the translation of which differs a lot: the so-called context-free and context-bound units. The translation of the former group is more or less independent of a context and the consituation as they possess a more or less constant meaning which is easy to translate outside a context. Context-free units of translation are mainly found among proper names of various types usually comprising common nouns, precision lexis including some technical terms used in particular fields of human activity, units of weights and measures, etc (e.g. the Cape of Good Hope - Мис доброї надії, keystroke - натискання клавіші) as well as some monosemantic words and phrases from neutral word stock (milliner - капелюшник, to lisp - шепелявити ).

The majority of units of translation, however, prove to be difficult or even impossible to translate outside a context as they are polysemantic or semantically non-differentiated, so their correct translation can be achieved only in a certain context. It is hard to overestimate the truism that "no grammar or dictionary is of very much use to the translator as only a context in the fullest linguistic-cultural sense, certifies meaning" [Steiner 1977: 357].

Depending on the character of a context it is possible to distinguish between linguistic and extralinguistic contexts, horizontal and vertical contexts.

Linguistic contexts can further be subdivided into two kinds when their size is taken into account: macrolinguistic and microlinguistic. A microlinguistic context is a minicontext the boundaries of which are usually confined to the immediate environment of a unit of translation which is typically a word-group. This can best be illustrated by polysemantic words used in a concrete context (cf. ash has at least 4 dictionary correspondences [NERD]), but when it is ised in the microcontext to turn to ashes the choice of the proper correspondence offers no difficulty: розлетітися в прах). The importance of a microcontext is hard to overestimate when translating a word which acquires a particular contextual (usual or occasional) meaning in a certain (fixed or variable) context, e.g .. consumer may be translated as 1) винищувач, 2) споживач, 3) клієнт; замовник; покупець; абонент; передплатник; 3) біол. консумент, But within the fixed microcontext consumer electronics it is translated as побутова електроніка.

A macrolinguistic context by definition exceeds the limits of the immediate environment and stretches into a sentence, a group of sentences, a paragraph, a chapter or even the whole book. For example, it is insufficient to know the immediate environment of the word state when it is used in the word combination in several states in order to properly make out its meaning and translate it correctly, but the boundaries of the sentence will be quite enough to cope with this task, "The Democratic party candidate won the election in several southern states ". The importance of the whole book in the process of correct understanding and adequate translation of its segments is easy to prove in regard to titles, e.g. the title of the novel "Five Go Adventuring Again"By Enid Blyton can be clearly understood and translated only in a macrolinguistic context made up by several books of the world-famous series of books for teenagers; the given title refers to the 2-nd book of this set and can be translated in the following way: «Нові пригоди прекрасної п'ятірки». The title of one and the same book can be translated in a variety of ways depending on proper understanding of its textual implications, cf. «Наталка » by D. Fonvizin was translated by English translators in various ways: "The Minor", "The Infant", "The Young Hopeful".

Extralinguistic context can also vary in its size and volume stretching from the actual context of situation to the knowledge of background information. To understand this complex phenomenon it is helpful to take into account in translation various divisions of it suggested by prominent Russian and foreign linguists: practical context (E. Nida) which includes various circumstances of communication (participants, their relations, attitude to circumstances, etc), life situation (N.N. Amosova) or 'Предметна обстановка' (Ya.I. Retsker) which implies not only objects of reality and relations between them, but also a broader context (the country, the historical time), context of situation (B.K. Malinovski) which embraces not only the actual situation in which an utterance occurs, but the entire cultural background against which a speech event has to be set, speech situation (Ya.I. Retsker) which reflects the author's identity, a source which publishes a TL text, takes into account the addressee and the readers for whom it is meant, the desirable effect it is supposed to make, vertical context (O.S. Akhmanova, I.V. Gubbenet) which includes the knowledge of culture, history, geography. These approaches to the conception of context have one important feature in common despite differences in terminology and accent on its various aspects: they "burst the bonds of mere linguistics" in the wording of B. Malinovski and carry over into the analysis of the general conditions under which a language is spoken. The demand to study any language spoken by a people living under conditions different from ours "in conjunction with the study of their culture and of their environment" is hard to overestimate in translation studies and practice of translation viewed from an ethno-cultural angle in an ethno-cultural context. Very often the knowledge of the context of situation is no less important than linguistic contexts of both types in the process of translation. The actual context of situation is rather a complicated structure since it includes the place, time, conditions of communication, participants in intercourse, the character of a message, e, g. a very familiar expression "Hear! Hear!" can adequately be translated as «Патріотична пісня Правильно! »When it is used in BrE in Parliament or in a meeting to say that you agree with a person who is speaking [LDCE].

Background knowledge is a broad category which embraces any kind of knowledge related to the world in which nations exist. So it can include universal information which is possessed by speakers of any language, and nationally-specific and culturally relevant information which is a property only of some nation or nations. In translation which is viewed as an act of intercultural communication of utmost importance is a nationally specific aspect of a SL unit or utterance which is not known to TL readers and has to be added in order to prevent loss of implied information.

Prof. Mednikova E.M. claims that extralinguistic implicit information, both universal and nationally specific, can not be easily perceived as it presupposes the reader's intellect, erudition, knowledge. If the reader is not prepared most of the implicit textual information is wasted on him. So the volume of extralinguistic information including the so-called universal depends on a person's cognitive abilities.

For purposes of translation it is possible to follow the division of extralinguistic information into two kinds: information of the 1-st level that relates to the knowledge of the situation and its characteristics mentioned above and information of the 2-nd level that refers to the background knowledge. Background knowledge may stand for varied extralinguistic information related to the knowledge of the history, geography, literature, customs and traditions, politics, etc.

This classification should be supplemented by R.K. Minyar-Beloruchev's approach to the so-called information store ( «інформаційний запас») That he refers to the volume of information associated by a recipient of a message with a linguistic sign or an object denoted by it [Миньяр-Белоручев 1999]. The author distinguishes between five degrees of information store moving from minimum information sufficient to refer a linguistic sign to a certain sphere of life to a maximum amount of information which presupposes the broadest possible knowledge about an object in question.

In view of the differences in the volume of knowledge possessed by the average readers an experienced translator finds it necessary to resort to various means of compensation for insufficient knowledge. It is obvious that the information store of the average reader can not be measured precisely so some of the translator's comment may appear quite unnecessary while others too superfluous. The character and volume of the translator's comment may in the final analysis influence the levels of understanding in intercultural communication.

Depending on their position such means can be classified into intextual and extratextual.

Intextual devices are introduced into a TLT in the form of explanations, comment, insertions, etc. E.g. For desert, you got Brown Betty which nobody ate. - На солодке подали «руда Бетті», пудинг з патокою, тільки його ніхто не їв.

Extratextual means of compensation are supplied outside the text proper in the form of a translator's notes and commentary, e.g. "The first dog I ever had was called Prince. I called him after the Black Prince". «Мою першу собаку звали Принц. Я назвав її на честь Чорного принца ». This sentence might be not quite meaningful to an unprepared reader, especially a Russian one who may not know particulars of the British royals; so the following extratextual comment made by the translators (Е. Голишева і Б. Ізак) and a comment writer (Ю. Г. Кларк) seems absolutely necessary: прізвисько принца Уелльського, старшого сина англійського короля Едуарда III, прозваного так через колір своєї збруї. Відомий тим, що вчинив звірячу розправу над жителями французького міста Лімож (Limoges).

Thus, for the obvious reasons a translator has to make an extensive use of various sources dealing with special branches of knowledge, countrystudy books, linguacultural dictionaries, encyclopedia and other reference materials that help him to identify extralinguistic information and look for adequate means of rendering it properly in order to prevent loss of vital information.

The role of context in translation depends on several linguistic and extralinguistic factors. To linguistic factors refer the following:

1) the character of a unit of translation (whether it is polysemantic or monosemantic, its semantic volume, connotational components, etc);

2) the type of semantic correlation of English and Russian words;

3) the number and types of TL correspondences for a given unit of translation.

In keeping with these factors a context may play a very insignificant role in translating proper and geographic names, some terms, and other varieties of precision lexis which refer to cases of full semantic coincidence and have constant regular correspondences in TL (e.g. Gulf Stream - Гольфстрім; double spacing - подвійний інтервал; To whom it may concern - За місцем вимоги).

The role of context is important when dealing with polysemantic words when both linguistic, including the type of text, and extralinguistic contexts have to be taken into account, e.g. Her case is quite different - З нею справа йде зовсім по-іншому.

Finally, the role of a context is hard to overestimate when translating a word which undergoes great contextual semantic changes when it is impossible to use a dictionary correspondence, e.g. In an atomic war women and children will be the first hostages. Жінки і діти будуть першими жертвами в атомній війні.

In view of these factors a translator has to resort to occasional contextual substitutions when in a certain context it is impossible to use ready dictionary correspondences of a unit of translation. It may be due to the following reasons:

1) to retain the necessary pragmatic effect, i.e. make a sentence meaningful to a TL reader, e.g. .. he said, glancing at a gentleman just entering, arrayed in a high hat and Prince Albert coat ... (Th. Dreiser)

... Сказав, глянувши на джентльмена в циліндрі і довгому двобортному сюртуку ... (пер. М. Волосов).

2) to take into account combinability of words in TL, e.g. When she came to her own rooms, Carrie saw their comparative insignificance (Th. Dreiser). Коли Керрі повернулася додому, їй відразу кинулася в очі відносна убогість її квартирки (Пер. М. Волосов).

3) to create a proper stylistic effect, especially when it is connected with nationally specific images, associations, etc. e.g. You'll like him yourself, he is such a foolish old Polly (In English old Polly stands for a tame parrot (Chambers). Тобі він сподобається, він - така кумедна мавпа.

Various types of contextual substitutions will be discussed in detail alongside other kinds of translation transformations.

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