A Translation Quality Assessment of Two English Translations of Nazım Hikmet's Poetry | January 2015 | Translation Journal

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A Translation Quality Assessment of Two English Translations of Nazım Hikmet's Poetry

Translation Journal Quality Assessment

ABSTRACT

Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) is a fast growing sub-field of Translation Studies. It focuses on the relationships between the source text (ST) translated into target text (TT). This study applied House's (1997) TQA model to two available English Translations of some Nazım Hikmet's poetry in order to evaluate the quality of these translations. The errors were identified, classified and the frequency of their occurrences was computed. As House has suggested the errors were categorized into covert and overt errors. Overt errors were further categorized into seven subcategories: 1) Not Translated; 2) Slight Change in Meaning; 3) Significant Change in Meaning; 4) Distortion of Meaning; 5) Breach of the Source Language System; 6) Creative Translation; and 7) Cultural Filtering. According to House's model, poetry has to be translated overtly and deviations will be considered as errors.

The findings of the research, revealed that the first translation by Ruth Christie, Richard Mc Kane & Talat Sait Halman(2007), has fewer errors(95) in comparison with the second translation(123) by Randy Blasing & Mutlu Konuk(2002). Therefore, overall on the basis of the theoretical model utilized, it can be claimed that the quality of first translation is superior to that of the second one.

KEY WORDS

Translation Quality Assessment, Register (Field, Tenor, Mode), Genre, Overt & Covert Translations.

 

1. Introduction

Quality of a translation is a serious concern for Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) approaches. The main issue is how to measure and express this quality. There have been many attempts to find the way(s) in order to tackle these issues and evaluate the quality of a translated work. However, it seems that among these many approaches, only a few of them sound promising. One of the promising approaches was the model provided in (1996) by the German scholar Juliane House.

House's assessment model is based on Hallidayan Systemic-Functional Theory (SFT), but it also draws eclectically on Prague School ideas, speech act theory, pragmatics, discourse analysis and corpus-based distinctions between the spoken and written language. It provides the means for the analysis and comparison of an original text and its translation on three different levels: Language/Text, Register (Field, Mode and Tenor) and Genre.

Thus, according to House, translation would be "the replacement of a text in the source language by a semantically and pragmatically equivalent text in the target language" (House, 1977). Here is an example:

Source Text;

Ben de kendi kendimle konuşuyorum.
Fakat çok can sıkıcı bulduğumdan sohbetimi
                        şarkı söylüyorum karıcığım.

Hem, ne dersin,
o berbat, ayarsız sesim
                        öyle bir dokunuyor ki içime
                                yüreğim parçalanıyor.

Target Text;

So I talk to myself.
But I find my conversation so boring,
                         my dear wife, that I sing songs.

And what do you know,
that awful, always off-key voice of mine
                               touches me so
                                        that my heart breaks.

2.Theoretical Background

TQA is a type of evaluation, but what is “evaluation”? Michael Scriven defines it as follows: “Evaluation is taken to mean the determination of merit, worth, or significance” (Scriven, 2007, p. 1, as cited in Williams, 2009). This definition itself presents a problem: How value or worth is to be defined, be it moral, aesthetic or utilitarian? By extension, “evaluation” involves asking a question that has challenged thinkers from the earliest time: Is a particular thing good? (Williams, 2009)

Just like evaluation in the broad sense, TQA can be quantitative or qualitative: it can be based on mathematical/statistical measurement as in the case of most academic instruments or on readers’ responses, interviews and questionnaires (e.g. Nida,). TQA can be diagnostic determining areas for improvement at the beginning of a course of study, formative, measuring progress and giving feedback during a course of study or summative measuring the results of learning.

In Williams’s (2009) view, TQA cannot and should not be value-free: to be useful, it must be based on criteria of goodness.
Before presenting her model, House explains the theoretical basis on which her model was developed. She starts by saying that it is the essence of translation that meaning be preserved across the two languages involved, and that meaning has three basic aspects: Semantic, Pragmatic and Textual aspect.

The semantic aspect is the most easily accessible from the three aspects and has been given preference by evaluators. However, the pragmatic aspect, that is "the particular use of an expression on a specific occasion" (House, 1977, 27) is very important in translation because translation deals with language in use.

The textual aspect has been frequently neglected though it is a very important aspect because all the references such as substitutions, anaphora, ellipses, etc. that make up the different ways of text functions account for the textual meaning that should be preserved in translation.

According to House(1977), the equivalence sought should be an equivalence of function, that is both source and translated texts must present the same function and the text's function can only be made explicit through a detailed analysis of the text itself.

This is the basis for the model, and what makes it different from other criteria for establishing equivalence is the fact that those criteria relied either on the writer's intention, an item that is not open to empirical investigation, or on the reader's responses, which present problems to be measured. The function of a text would then be "the application (cf. Lyons, 1969, 434) or use of what the text has in the particular context of a situation" (House, 1977, 37).

Thus, each text is an individual text embedded in a unique situation, and in order to characterize the text's function it is necessary to refer the text to the situation. To accomplish this, the notion of situation has to be broken down into the following specific situational dimensions (register) analysis: (House, 1977, 45)

A. Field,
Subject Matter: It can be a Novel, Poem, Play,… .
Social Action: It can be Specific, General, Popular, … .

B. Tenor,
Writer's or Translator's Provenance and Stance,
Social Role Relationship: Symmetrical means the text contains features indicating solidarity and equality between addresser and addressees; and, Asymmetrical means the text contains features indicating authority relationship between addresser and addressees.
Social Attitude: The text contains features indicating the degrees of social distance or proximity – or in other words, five styles of formality: frozen, formal, consultative, casual and intimate.

C. Mode,
Medium: is Simple if it is written to be read and Complex if it is written to be heard.
Participation: is Simple if it means monologue or Complex if it means addressing a large community;
Function:
According to "Longman Dictionary of Teaching and Applied Linguistics"(2010) language is often described as having the following major functions:

A descriptive function(or ideational function, in Halliday's framework), which organizes a speaker's or writer's experience of the world and conveys information which can be stated or denied and in some cases tested.

A social function(interpersonal function in Halliday's term), which is used to establish, maintain and signal relationship between people.

An expressive function, through which speakers signal information about their opinions, prejudices, past experiences and so forth; and

A textual function, for creating written and spoken texts.

House also relies on her native speaker intuition and on the judgments of other native speakers, which are taken as presumptions. House (1977) believes that equivalence relations between two languages are not absolute but they fall on a scale of more or less equivalent items which runs from more to less probable. This degree of probability can only be judged by a subjective, hermeneutic element as the native speaker intuition.

House suggests that researchers should prepare separate profiles for ST and TT; when the source text's and the translation text's profiles do not match, there is an error. House describes two types of errors:

Covert errors: those which result from a mismatch of one situational dimension with a similar one in TT, and
Overt errors: those which result from a non-dimensional mismatch. Such errors can be divided into seven categories of:

Not Translated
Slight change in meaning
Significant change in meaning
Distortion of meaning
Breach of the SL system
Creative translation
Cultural filtering

The above section can be given through Tables 1, 2, and3.

Figure 1

Figure 1.(House, 2009, p.35)

Figure 2

Figure 2.

In the present research two English translations of some of Nazım Hikmet's poetry will be assessed through Juliane House's TQA(1996) model.

This is an academic enquiry and we are trying to discover possible differences between two translations, using one of the best known theoretical models. We aimed to find out which translation is better. At the same time, this study provided a chance to test the feasibility of one of the well known theoretical models, i. e. House's model.

2.1.Translation of Poetry

Within the field of literary translation, more time has been devoted to investigating the problems of translating poetry than any other literary mode. Many of the studies purposing to investigate these problems are either evaluations of different translations of a single work or personal statements by individual translators on how they have set about solving problems. Rarely do studies of poetry and translation try to discuss theoretical problems from a pragmatic perspective, and yet it is precisely that type of study that is most valuable and most needed.

The pragmatic studies are favored by professional translators' while the theoretical models are the work of linguistics. The most important criteria which is stressed by professional translators is "the need constant reworking and the reassessment of the translated text in an attempt to make it correspond to the original text on all levels, or rather on as many levels as possible" (Baker, 2004, p. 172). Few theories can deal with the complexities of poetry translation involved in all levels which might provide good criteria for assessing such translations. Beaugrande(1978) states that "certainly the very uneven quality of much translated poetry suggest the pressing need for more definite and regular procedures" (cited in Baker, 2004, p. 172). In translation of poetry, various levels should be considered on the basis of poem's functions.

Stylistic analysis of literary texts, especially in the case of poetry, is an essential factor as it distinguishes literary translation from other form of translation. In addition, literary works have specific values called the aesthetic and expressive values. The aesthetic function of the work shall emphasize the beauty of the words (diction), figurative language, metaphors, etc. While the expressive functions shall put writer's thoughts, emotion, etc (or process of them) forward. As one genre of translation, poetry has something special compared to the others. In a poem, the beauty is not only achieved with the choice of words and figurative language like in novels and short stories, but also with the creation of rhythm, rhyme, meter, and specific expressions and structures that may not conform to the daily language. In short, the translation of poetry needs 'something more' than translating other genres of literature.


2.2. Methods of Translation of Poetry

Regarding the translating poetry, there are two main opposing groups: one that believes it is necessary to create interlingual translations of poems that will stand on their own as poems in the target culture (TC), and another that believes it is impossible to create a translation of a poem that within it holds the recognizable original, thus meaning that it is only possible to render the content literally in prose: "I want translations with copious footnotes, footnotes reaching up like skyscrapers to the top of this or that page so as to leave only the gleam of one textual line between commentary and eternity" (Nabokov, 1955, p. 83).

It is paradoxical that if the goals of a poetry translator were to try to translate all the facets of the original, the task would be an impossible one, yet for the translator to attempt anything less than a complete rendering of the original in the target language would be an admittance of the impossibility of poetic translation.

2.3. Theories Behind the Model

House's model draws on pragmatics, functional and systemic linguistics, register theory, stylistics, discourse analysis, the notion of equivalence and the concepts developed in the Prague school of language and linguistics (House, 1996, p. 29). In particular, the model draws on Halliday's (1973) view of the functions of language, as well as Crystal and Davy's (1969) situational dimensions of texts.

In Halliday's (1973) Systemic- Functional Theory language is seen primarily as an act and social activity, and as such is dynamic in nature. A central part of this activity is linguistic selection, which is done at all levels of a language system. This means that at any given situation a group of expressions exist, which can be used to convey a meaning. From that group the language user chooses the expression which is the most appropriate in such situations. The choice is made on the basis of language user's experiences, values and beliefs. Furthermore, the situation affects the way meaning is expressed (Halliday and Hasan, 1976, p. 28).

According to Halliday and Hasan, the functions of language include "the ideational, interpersonal and textual function" (1976, pp. 26-27). Firstly, the ideational function deals mostly with denotation, and it refers to the way we use language: "how we talk about actions, happenings, feelings, beliefs, situations, states and so on, the people and things involved in them and the relevant circumstances of time, place, manner and so on" (Lock, 1996, p. 9). That is, it focuses on how the text represents the external/internal reality: a certain happening by a certain person at a certain situation in the reality. The ideational function has two subfunctions: a)Experiential and b)Logical. The experiential part deals with the representation of experience, and the logical part is concerned with logical relations which are not directly drawn from experience (Halliday and Hasan, 1976, p. 26). The experiential part deals with ideas or content, whereas the logical part is concerned with logical relations between the ideas (Bloor and Bloor, 2001, p. 9).

The second language function, the interpersonal function, refers to how we use language to communicate with other people. In other words, interpersonal meanings focus on the interactivity of the language and concerns the ways in which we act upon one another through language. In either spoken texts or written texts, an interlocutor expects to tell something to his listeners/readers via a text. It focuses on the relationship between a speaker and a listener. Finally, the textual function refers to the way language relates to the situation and the way language is used to connect things which are said or written in the real world. In other word, textual function deals with "the way in which a stretch of language is organized in relation to its context" (Lock, 1996, p.10). The textual function entails the resources language has for text creation, in the sense that the text is "operationally relevant and cohering within itself and with the context of situation" (Halliday and Hasan, 1976, p. 27).

Thus a thorough sentence and text analysis presupposes that all these three levels of language are taken into account. In grammatical description these three language functions are described by different terminology: transitivity system corresponds to the ideational function, modality system to the interpersonal function and thematic system to the textual function (Munday, 2001, p. 91).

2.4. The Model for Translation Quality Assessment by House (1997)

As mentioned before, the initial questions in House's (1996) model for translation quality assessment are in three issues that she considers important in translation evaluation. The first one is relationship between the source and target text. The second is the relationship between texts (or features of the texts) and the persons involved as regards how they perceive the texts. The third one is finding these relationships to determine which texts are translations and which ones are originals.

House (1996) revised her model for translation quality assessment on the basis of her earlier model published in (1996) which was developed for situational functional text analysis and translation assessment. The model which will be used in the present study is the revised version, published in 1996. The revised model adopts some of Crystal and Davy's categories (situational dimensions), and some Hallidayan concepts (House, 1996, p. 107). The revised model aims at providing a statement of the functional equivalence between the source and the text, based on linguistic- pragmatic evidence. Before functional equivalence can be established, texts must be appropriately analyzed. House suggests that "the source text is analyzed prior to the translation" (1996, p. 37). The reason for this is that only the source text analysis can give a precise idea of the equivalence which is to be searched for in the translation. The source text analysis "results in a statement of the individual textual function of the text" (House, 1996, p. 110).

2.5. The Complete Model

The resultant revised model consists of four levels: "function of the individual text, genre, register and language/ text" (1996, p. 107). The summary of the complete model for translation quality assessment can be seen below in Fig.3. which shows the basic structure of the model. In sum, the model divides Language/Text into Field, Tenor and Mode, which together form the Register. Register and Genre in turn make up the Individual Textual Function.

 

Figure 3

Figure 3. (House, 1996, p. 108)

2.6. Nazım Hikmet , The Romantic Communist

Nazım Hikmet (1902-63), who spent much of his adult life in prison or exile for his subversive writings, was born into an aristocratic family in Salonica. Both his grandfathers were high-ranking Ottoman soldiers, and he was educated in a French school and the naval academy. Hikmet was drawn first to the nationalist movement under Mustafa Kemal, who had led the Turks at Gallipoli and established an alternative government in Ankara after the imperialist carve-up of the Ottoman empire. It was Kemal (later known as AttaTurk, father of the Turks) who told Hikmet to “write poetry with a purpose” (Korner, 2008).

Subsequently inspired by the socialist system in the Soviet Union, Hikmet travelled to Moscow where he met Mayakovsky and Meyerhold and later studied at the Communist University for the Workers of the East, before returning home in 1924 after Turkish independence had been won. He had by then joined the Turkish Communist Party and his politics made him a target for the authoritarian government. He was imprisoned frequently from 1929 onwards and in 1938 he was given a 28-years sentence for inciting revolt in the armed forces – sailors had been found reading and discussing his poetry.

In 1949 an international campaign was launched for his release, headed by Tristan Tzara and Louis Aragon, and in 1950 he was awarded a peace prize in absentia in Warsaw, which he shared with Paul Robeson and Pablo Neruda. After his release that year as part of a general amnesty, in poor health he fled to the Soviet Union to evade military conscription and lived in Moscow till his death, travelling widely and campaigning for peace.

After decades in which even his name was banned, Hikmet’s books are now available in Turkey, and two of his poems are included in Turkish schoolbooks. But it took a petition of half a million signatures in 2001 to restore his Turkish citizenship in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Despite writing his first poems in syllabic meter, Nazım Hikmet distinguished himself from the "syllabic poets" in concept. With the development of his poetic conception, the narrow forms of syllabic verse became too limiting for his style and he set out to seek new forms for his poems.

He was affected by the young Soviet poets who advocated Futurism. On his return to Turkey, he became the charismatic leader of the Turkish Avant-garde poetry, producing streams of innovative poems, plays and film scripts. Breaking the boundaries of the syllabic meter, he changed his form and preferred writing in free verse which was in harmony with the rich vocal properties of the Turkish language.

He has been compared by Turkish and non-Turkish men of letters to such figures as Federico García Lorca, Louis Aragon, Mayakovsky and Pablo Neruda. Although his works bear resemblance to these poets and owes them occasional debts of form and stylistic device, his literary personality is unique in terms of the synthesis he made of iconoclasms and lyricism, of ideology and poetic diction.

On 22 November 1950, the World Council of Peace announced that Nazım Hikmet was among the recipients of the International Peace Prize along with Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, Wanda Jakubowska and Pablo Neruda. Persecuted for decades by the Republic of Turkey during the Cold War for his communist views, Nazım Hikmet died of a heart attack in Moscow on 3 June 1963 at 6.30 am while picking up a morning newspaper at the door at his summer house in Peredelkino away from his beloved homeland. He is buried in Moscow's famous Novodevichy Cemetery, where his imposing tombstone is even today a place for pilgrimage by Turks and many others from around the world.

3.Method:

In order to apply House's model, some 59 poems which had two English translations were selected from the original Turkish book of "Nazım Hikmet, Bütün şiirleri". That is to say, the criterion for the selection of 59 poems was the fact that only these poems had two English translations available. Then the original text is compared with its two English translations. After that both types of errors of: a. overt and b. covert are identified. The evaluation of the poems started with this presupposition that, since the original Turkish book is a literary work, it is tied to ST or Turkish language and it must be translated overtly according to House's (1996) model of translation quality assessment. House's model (1996) is commonly applied in translation quality assessment by following these steps in chronological order:

  1. Doing a register analysis to get the source text profile;
  2. Describing source text genre realized in register;
  3. Giving a statement of the function of the source text related with ideational and interpersonal meanings;
  4. Treating the target text in the same way as the source text was treated;
  5. Comparing the two text profiles to produce statement of "inequivalence" which is categorized according to the genre and the situational dimension of the genre and register. The errors found are categorized into 'covertly erroneous errors' to distinguish them from 'overtly erroneous errors' which are denotative mismatches or target system errors;
  6. Providing a statement of quality with reference to the translation result; and
  7. Categorizing the translation results into seven subcategories of: not translated, slight change in meaning, significant change in meaning, distortion of meaning, beach of the TL system, creative translation and cultural filtering.
  8. Summarizing errors in the form of tables to confirm the error quantity and providing concluding remarks about translations' quality.

4.Data Analysis and Results

As mentioned before, errors are of two kinds: overt and covert. In regards the covert errors we have encountered two mismatches in two of the categories as mentioned below and for discovering overt errors we have analyzed each translation through seven subcategories of overt errors.

4.1.Defining covert errors:

4.1.1.Source text profile:

The details of the components of the theoretical model of the present research are given here once, and the same definitions will be utilized for the analysis of all of the source materials throughout the study.

Field: The register category of field deals with the subject matter and social action of a text. The subject matter or content of these poems are for example: "Bir Cezaevinde, Tecritteki Adamın mektupları" and accordingly social action of the text is general and popular.

Tenor: The first situational dimension under the register category of tenor is author's provenance and stance. It refers to the author's position on a social scale, realized by social dialect and author's intellectual and affective position in relation to the content of the text and in relation to her/his communicative task. Regarding these aspects it should be mentioned that the author's provenance and stance is a political poet. The second situational dimension under tenor is social role relationship which is divided into symmetrical and asymmetrical. It is obvious that the poet uses common words and phrases to convey his meaning, therefore in this case the social role relationship is asymmetrical. The third situational dimension under tenor is social attitude. The text under investigation seems to be informal as for example the informal words are numerous.

Mode: It is divided into medium and participation. As the text investigation is written to be read and to be heard (as the vocal artists have produced many CDs for the poems) so the medium of the text is both simple and complex. The text is a monologue but as the poet indirectly addressees the readers, so the participation of the text is complex according to the theoretical model outlined above.

Genre: The genre of the text in a political poem.

Function of the text: About the source texts function, it can be stated that, the texts' function is Ideational.

Finally, the summary of the analysis of these poems as the source text is given in Table 1. below.

Table1. Source Text Profile

Modern Political Poem

Subject Matter

Field

Register

General and Popular

Social Action

Communist Activist

Author's Provenance and Stance

Tenor

Asymmetrical

Social Role Relationship

Intimate

Social Attitude

Simple- Complex

Medium

Mode

Complex

Participation

 

Political Poem

Genre

Ideational

Function

4.1.2.Target texts profile:

Field: The subject matter or content of these poems in the target language is "Letters from a Man in Solitary"

Tenor: The first situational dimension under the register category of tenor is author's provenance and stance. Regarding the text under investigation, it can be said that the provenance and stance of the translator, is a university instructor. The second situational dimension under tenor is social role relationship which is divided into symmetrical and asymmetrical. It is obvious that in this case the translated texts are informal and have considered the readers more or less unequal, so the social role relationship is asymmetrical. The third situational dimension under tenor is social attitude. In this regard the translated texts seem to be informal according to the basic tenets of the present study.

Mode: It is divided into medium and participation. As the text is written to be read, the medium of the text is simple. The text is monologue but as the text indirectly addresses the readers, so the participation of the text is complex.

Genre: Regarding the genre of target text, it can be stated that the target text genre is also, poem.

Function of the texts: About the target text's function, it can be stated that, the target texts' function is ideational.

The summary of the analysis of the target texts is given below in Table 2.

Table 2. Target Texts Profile

Modern Poem

Subject Matter

Field

Register

General and Popular

Social Action

University professor

Translator's Provenance and Stance

Tenor

Asymmetrical

Social Role Relationship

Intimate

Social Attitude

Simple

Medium

Mode

Complex

Participation

 

Political Poem

Genre

Ideational

Function

In sum, the covert errors identified were the mismatch between the author's provenance and stance (communist poet) and that of the translators (university professor)which are distinguished with a (*)mark. The other mismatch considered was in the medium category under mode, i.e. the ST has been written to be read and to be heard by audiences but, the translated texts are just to be read. In the below analyses and throughout the entire work, the same definitions of the constituents of a profile have been utilized.

After the summary of the profile of TT, Table 3. below gives the results of comparison of ST & TT side by side.

Table 3. Comparative Side by Side Profiles of ST & Two TTs

Target Text Profile

Source Text Profile

 

Subject Matter

Field

 

Subject Matter

Field

 

Social Action

 

Social Action

*

Translator's Provenance and Stance

Tenor

*

Author's Provenance and Stance

Tenor

 

Social Role Relationship:

       Symmetrical

       Asymmetrical

 

Social Role Relationship:

        Symmetrical

        Asymmetrical

 

Social Attitude

 

Social Attitude

*

Medium:

   Simple

   Complex

Mode

*

*

Medium:

   Simple

   Complex

Mode

 

Participation:

   Simple

   Complex

 

Participation:

   Simple

   Complex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adopted from House, 1997, p. 108

4.2.Defining overt errors

In the following part, the overtly erroneous errors will be analyzed. As it was stated above, overt errors are categorized into seven subcategories:

  1. Not translated
  2. Slight change in meaning
  3. Significant change in meaning
  4. Distortion of meaning
  5. Breach of the language system
  6. Creative translation
  7. Cultural filtering

Accordingly, the poems have been analyzed on the basis of these seven categories and the errors are identified by underlining. After the analysis, the results of the application of House's (1996) model will be explained. It should be mentioned that, the source material under investigation was selected from "Nazım Hikmet, Bütün Şiirleri (2010)". The 1st TT, is "Beyond the Walls translated by Ruth Christie, Richard McKane & Talat Sait Halman(2007)" and the 2nd TT, is "Poems of Nazım Hikmet translated by Randy Blasing & Mutlu Konuk(2002)".

1) The category Not Translated: This category comprises those words/ expressions which are not translated either because of translator's negligence or not being able to translate.

Example 1:
ST: Bayıldım Paraguay türkülerine.
1st TT: I have a passion for Paraguayan songs.
2nd TT: I liked them.
Discussion: In the second English translation above, it is obvious that the underlined phrase on ST has not been translated and has been omitted from the translation.
Example 2:
ST: Ben kurtarıp kellemi nida ve sual işaretlerinden,
1st TT: Saving my skin from exclamation and question marks,
2nd TT: ……………………………………………. .
Discussion: The second translation has skipped the translation.
Example 3:
ST: Oturdum ekmeğimi yerim : karşımda sen oturursun,
1st TT: I sit down to eat my bread: you're sitting facing me.
2nd TT: I eat my bread: you sit across from me;
Discussion: The translation of word Oturdum doesn't exist in the second translation.

2) The category Slight Change in Meaning: This means that there is a little distortion of meaning, partial transference of meaning or not complete faithfulness to ST; but this change in meaning is not so severe as to impair communication.
Example 1:
ST: Havalar soğuk, yaz gelmeyecek.
1st TT: The weather's cold, no sign of summer.
2nd TT: It's freezing out; summer will never come.
Discussion: In this case, in the second translation a slight difference in meaning has taken place because ST is talking about cold weather not freezing weather; therefore, the second translation conveys the meaning of the ST, but there is a slight difference in meaning.
Example 2:
ST: Dünya ve insanları yüreğimde sır ilmimde muamma değildirler.
1st TT: The world and it's peoples are not a secret in my heart nor an enigma in my mind.
2nd TT: The world and it's people are no secret in my heart, no mystery in my science.
Discussion: my mind in the first translation is different from ilmim, which means, my knowledge.
Example 3:
ST: güneşli elleriyle kapımızı çalacak olan
1st TT: That would knock on our door with sunny hands.
2nd TT: Knocking on our door with hands full of sun.
Discussion: Hands full of sun in the second translation has a slight change in meaning.

3) The category Significant Change in Meaning: This category materializes when there is a big difference between the ST and the TT. In the present study few examples of this category were observed.
Example 1:
ST:Memleketim ne kadar geniş:
Dolaşmakla bitmez, tükenmez gibi geliyor insana.
1st TT: My huge sprawling country:
one could wander over it for an age…
2nd TT: So big it seems endless.
Discussion: A significant change is obvious in both translations especially in the second one; even the subject has been omitted from the second translation.
Example 2:
ST: Sol memenin altındaki cevahir!
1st TT: The precious stone under your left breast,
2nd TT: The jewel on the left side of your chest,
Discussion: When something is under some ones breast, it usually means, that something is hidden. This is different from something on some ones chest; so the second translation is significantly different from the ST. The context of the poem indicates that, in this case, a jewel under the breast is a reference to heart in the source text.
Example 3:
ST: Geçtim putların ormanından baltalayarak ne de kolay yıkılıyorlardı.
1st TT: I passed through the forest of idols mowing them down, they were not easy to overturn.
2nd TT: I passed through the forest of idols with my axe- how easily they all came down.
Discussion: The ST is talking about mowing the idols was easy; but the first translation has changed this easy task to a hard job.

4) The category Distortion of Meaning: This category refers to those mistakes which result in complete distortion of meaning of the ST, but it is interesting to note that in the course of present research such a mistake was not found. This finding implies that fortunately both translations were, both grammatical and acceptable and both had succeeded in conveying similar message to target text readers.

5) The category Breach of the SL System: This category is recognized when the TT has deviated from the norms or syntax or grammatical rules of the ST.
Example 1:
ST: komşu kıza bendim telegrafı getiren.
1st TT: The neighbor who brought the telegram to the girl.
2nd TT: I was the one gave the neighbor girl the telegram.
Discussion: In the first translation the active sentence has been translated with a passive voice.
Example 2:
ST: Ama sıralar kırk yıl dayanamaz ya,
1st TT: But, then, benches wouldn't last forty years, would they?
2nd TT: But benches don't last forty years;
Discussion: The first translation has changed the statement to question form.
Example 3:
ST: Şehrinde soğuk yağmurların
1st TT: In the city of cold rains
2nd TT: In this cold, rainy city
Discussion: The second translation has changed the grammatical structure of the SL sentence, and has split the sentence with a comma.

6) The category Creative Translation: In this case, the translator translates the ST somehow freely by adding some extra words/ information which did not exist in the original ST.
Example 1:
ST: Bir daha geri dönmemek üzre yıkılıp gidecekler.
1st TT: They will be destroyed for ever.
2nd TT: And soon they will be dead and gone for good.
Discussion: Both translations are creative translations because the underlined words do not match the ST's words.
Example 2:
ST: Ağaçlar duruyor, eski sıralar ölmüş,
1st TT: The trees are standing, but the old benches are dead,
2nd TT: The trees are still standing, the old benches dead and gone,
Discussion: The phrase and gone which is not mentioned in the ST has been added by the translator.
Example 3:
ST: Önde buzkıran…
1st TT: The icebreaker in front,
2nd TT: The icebreaker leads the way;
Discussion: In the second translation a leader or someone leading the way; is redundant and is added by the translator.

7) The category of Cultural Filtering: There are some cultural phrases, words or local names and titles, which are untranslatable. In these cases usually the translator tries to find some alternative equivalents according to target culture and intended readers.
Example 1:
ST: asker mektubu dağıtıp ayran içiyorum.
1st TT: The soldier's letter delivered, I'm drinking ayran;
2nd TT: I'm handing out mails to soldiers and drinking kefir.
Discussion: The word, ayran, doesn't have an exact English equivalent. Therefore the second translator has replaced it with the best alternative. The first translation has transferred the exact word into the TT.
Example 2:
ST: suzinâk makamından bir şarkı ağzıyla
1st TT: With an old simple song on my lips,
2nd TT: And singing an old-fashioned lament,
Discussion: Generally speaking, Estern music has seven main categories (Dastghah), and each category has some subcategories (Muğam), which are unfamiliar to Western people. Here in this line suzinak makamı is one of those subcategories, which is untranslatable, and both translators have avoided translating the line.
Example 3:
ST: Kelleci Memedi hatırlıyor musun?
1st TT: Do you remember Kelleci Memed?
2nd TT: Remember "Head" Mehmet?
Discussion: The underlined adjective is a specific local attribute which has several denotations; therefore each translator has chosen a different way to convey a similar meaning.

5.Results and Discussion

House's (1996) model of Translations Quality Assessment was used to assess the quality of two English translations of some of Nazım Hikmet's Turkish poems. In the method part above, it was mentioned that since the original source text is a literary work, according to House's translation quality assessment model it must be translated overtly. In the 59 selected poems, the errors in the two translator's versions were identified and underlined. Therefore, all instances which were not translated overtly were indicated and underlined. Then, the English translations of these poems were compared with the original ST to show the differences.

The summary of findings for overt errors are given in Tables 4 and 5 below:

Table 4.Total Frequency of Different Kinds of Overt Errors in 1st TT

Total

Cultural filtering

Creative translation

Breach of the SL system

Distortion of meaning

Significant change in meaning

Slight change in meaning

Not translated

95

16

32

12

0

2

25

8

Table 5.Total Frequency of Different Kinds of Overt Errors in 2nd TT

Total

Cultural filtering

Creative translation

Breach of the SL system

Distortion of meaning

Significant change in meaning

Slight change in meaning

Not translated

123

15

33

12

0

7

37

19

As it is obvious in the above tables, in the first translation in all 59 poems, we find just 8 words or phrases which are not translated or have been omitted from translation; this rate for the second translation is 19. The numbers of errors under subcategories of slight change in meaning and significant change in meaning are reasonable, comparing with totally 1300 lines of evaluated poetry. The category of distortion of meaning, could not be found in the analysis. This could be due to the high quality of the translations. There were 12 instances of breach in translations of grammatical system for each of the translations. This finding signifies the fact that the syntactic structures had undergone more shift in the process of translation than the lexical items. Finally it should be mentioned that overall according to the theoretical model utilized the first translation enjoys of a better quality than the second one. There were 32 and 33 examples of creative translation in two target texts respectively. This means that the translated texts were not the exact replication of the source text, and the translators had translated these parts freely. There are 16 and 15 instances in the two translations respectively in which the translators had encountered some untranslatable words, titles, place names, or local and cultural phrases. In these cases, the translators presumably have chosen their best alternatives. Sometimes they have not translated these words at all and have kept the original form and sometimes they have found the nearest equivalents, in English language and culture.

6.Implications of the Findings

The purpose of this study was to investigate the Translation Quality Assessment of the translation of some Turkish poetry into English.

  • One of the important implications of the results obtained in this study is that using this model of analysis, students of translation studies can learn how to analyze ST and TT in order to evaluate the quality of the translated text from Turkish into English or any other pairs of languages, for that matter. In fact, knowing the theory is as important as practice in Translation Studies and the students can understand different concepts of different theories when they learn them practically.
  • In addition, comparing the source text with its translation by this model can give an insight in teaching translation because it offers the characteristics of the ST and TT languages. Therefore the findings of this study are hoped to be of help to trainers of translating and those who are interested in the field of Translation Studies.
  • The results of this study can be used by the translators in order to revise their translation specially in the field of literary texts.

 

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