Identification of the Most Used Translation Strategies in the Persian Translation of Abrams's "A Glossary of Literary Terms" Based on Baker's Taxonomy | July 2015 | Translation Journal

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Identification of the Most Used Translation Strategies in the Persian Translation of Abrams's "A Glossary of Literary Terms" Based on Baker's Taxonomy

Maryam Naderi Shiadeh
Department of Foreign Languages, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

Amir Marzban
Assistant Professor, English Department, Islamic Azad University, Qaemshahr Branch, Iran

Identification of the Most Used Translation Strategies in the Persian Translation of Abrams

Abstract

The focus of the present product oriented, qualitative and quantitative thesis was to identify the type and the most used translation strategies while rendering English literary technical terms into Persian, based on Baker's (1992) taxonomy. For the purpose of this study, "A Glossary Of Literary Terms" by Abrams (2008), and its translation "فرهنگ توصیفی اصطلاحات ادبی" by Sabzian (2009), were selected as the corpora of the study. For the next step, all of the 228 main entries of the mentioned book and their first Persian equivalents were extracted and analyzed to see which Baker's (1992) translation strategies have been applied by the renderer to translate the entries, then the frequency and percentage of the most used translation strategies were calculated. Research findings showed that the translator used 5 strategies in rendering the entries and the mostly used strategy was "translation by a more general word (superordinate)" (69.29%), and the least used strategy was "translation by paraphrase using related words" (0.87%).

Keywords:Bilingual Dictionary, Translation Strategies, Baker's Taxonomy.

 

1. Introduction

Translation plays an important role in the modern world. Chute believes that "Without translation, our world would narrow mercilessly" (cited in Miremadi, 1991, p. 21). Newmark defines translation as "a craft consisting in the attempt to replace a written message and/or statement in one language by the same message and/or statement in another language" (Newmark, 1981).

Finding equivalents to transfer the same meaning of a source language (S L) text in a target language (TL) is not always an easy task.According to Catford (1987), translation is the replacement of a textual material in one language (SL) by an equivalent textual material in another language (TL).

Nida and Taber (1982:12) see translating as a process of reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the SL messages first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style. In other words translation is a transfer of meaning, message andstyle from oneSL textto the TL text. In the orderof priority, style is putthe last.Here the things to reproduce (transfer) is stated, message.

Translation is needed not only for SL texts, but also for SL technical terms.

Nielson (1994) states that lexicographers write, compile and edit dictionaries for both print and online publication. They may work on one of the following types of dictionaries:

  • dictionaries for native speakers;
  • dictionaries for learners of a special language;
  • technical dictionaries,for example law;
  • bilingual dictionaries, for native speakers or learners of the language.

According to Nielson (1994) bilingual lexicographers translate words and expressions, rather than defining them. Daily tasks of a bilingual lexicographer include:

  • translating words and expressions in both directions,for example from English to French and from French to English;
  • discussing and resolving problematic translations with native-speaking editors;
  • writing grammatical and cultural supplements included in some editions of translation dictionaries;
  • constructing 'help pages' to include pictures and labels, e.g., listing the parts of a computer;
  • conducting market research with book retailers, students and teachers.

Translators use different frameworks to translate specialized terminology. The present research was going to identify the most frequent Baker's strategies applied by Saeed Sabzian Morad Abadi in for rendering the 9th edition of "A Glossary Of Literary Terms" compiled and written by Meyer Howard Abrams and Geoffrey Galt Harpham (2008), published by Rahnama (2009). The above mentioned glossary contains specialized words and their equivalents related to literary technical terms.

 

2. Statement of the Problem

Newmark (1991: 27) defines the act of translating briefly. It is the act of transferring meaning of a stretch or a unit of language, the whole or a part, from one language to another. According to the purpose, translation can be divided into four types: pragmatic, aesthetic-poetic, ethnographic, and linguistic translation (Brislin, 1976: 3-4). Pragmatic translation is the translation of a message with an interest in accuracy of the information meant to be communicated in the TL form. Belonging to such translation is the translation of technical information, such as repairing instructions. The second type is aesthetic-poetic translation that does not only focus on the information, but also the emotion, feeling, beauty involved in the original writing. The third is ethnographic translation that explicates the cultural context of the SL and TL versions. The last type is linguistic translation, the one that is concerned with equivalent meanings of the constituent morphemes of the TL and with grammatical form.

A translator, in order to translate technical specialized terms, should have a great knowledge of the field of those terms in addition to the knowledge of the ST and the TT writing systems, and should follow some principles to be sure that he/she rendered the terms correctly or not.According to Krings (1986: 263-275) or Lorscher (1996: 76-81) translation strategies are usually defined as the procedures leading to the optimal solution of a translation problem.

The researcher aimed to identify Baker's translation strategies (1992) used by the translator in rendering the bilingual English-Persian "A Glossary Of Literary Terms".

3. Research Question

The research aims give rise to the following question:

Q1: What are the types/frequencies of Baker's strategies used by the translator while translating "A Glossary Of Literary Terms"?

 

4. Definition of the Keywords

4.1 Bilingual Dictionary

A bilingual dictionary or translation dictionary is a specialized dictionary used to translate words or phrases from one language to another (Nielson, 1994).

4.2 Translation strategies

A translator uses a strategy when he/she encounters a problem while translating a text. Krings (1986:18) defines translation strategy as "translator's potentially conscious plans for solving concrete translation problems in the framework of a concrete translation task".

4.3 Baker's Taxonomy

Baker (1992) lists eight strategies that professional translators use to cope with the problematic issues in translation tasks:

  1. Translation by a more general word: This is one of the most common strategies to deal with many types of nonequivalence. This, she says, is "one of the commonest strategies for dealing with many types of non-equivalents, particularly in the area of propositional meaning" (Baker, 1992: 26). As Baker believes, it works appropriately in most, if not all, languages, because in the semantic field, meaning is not language dependent.
  2. Translation by a more neutral/ less expressive word: This is another strategy in the semantic field of structure.
  3. Translation by cultural substitution: This strategy involves replacing a culture-specific item or expression with a TL item considering its impact on the target reader. This strategy makes the translated text more natural, more understandable and more familiar to the target reader. The translator's decision to use this strategy will depend on:
    1. The degree to which the translator is given license by those who commission the translation
    2. The purpose of the translation
  4. Translation using a loan word or loan word plus explanation:
    This strategy is usually used in dealing with culture-specific items, modern concepts, and buzz words. Using the loan word with an explanation is very useful when a word is repeated several times in the text. At the first time the word is mentioned by the explanation and in the next times the word can be used by its own.
  5. Translation by paraphrase using a related word:
    This strategy is used when the source item in lexicalized in the TL but in a different form, and when the frequency with which a certain form is used in the source text is obviously higher than it would be natural in the TL.
  6. Translation by paraphrase using unrelated words: The paraphrase strategy can be used when the concept in the source item is not lexicalized in the TL. When the meaning of the source item is complex in the TL, the paraphrase strategy may be used instead of using related words; it may be based on modifying a super-ordinate or simply on making clear the meaning of the source item.
  7. Translation by omission: This may be a drastic kind of strategy, but in fact it may be even useful to omit translating a word or expression in some contexts. If the meaning conveyed by a particular item or expression is not necessary to mention in the understanding of the translation, translators use this strategy to avoid lengthy explanations. There are various reasons for this to happen, for instance, when the omission of such a word or expression does not hamper the meaning of the source text.
  8. Translation by illustration: This strategy can be useful when the target equivalent item does not cover some aspects of the source item and the equivalent item refers to a physical entity which can be illustrated, particularly in order to avoid over-explanation and to be concise and to the point.

 

5. Limitations and Delimitations of the Study

The researcher selected "A Glossary Of Literary Terms" translated by

Sabzian (2009). The book contains technical terms for the Persian speaking students, researchers, and lexicographers in the field of literature. It was beyond the scope of this study to analyze the whole text of the book, so the researcher only concentrated on the translation of the main entries which are used by literature specialists and students as keywords.

There were totally 228 entries. Some of the entries had more than one equivalent. The researcher observed only the first equivalents in order to have more accurate results.

It is obvious that there are different translation strategies, but in this study the researcher just focused on Baker's strategies used in translating the above mentioned book.

In this process, the researcher investigated Baker's taxonomy on the translation of the entries of the book and their equivalents but not the explanations. The researcher asked two raters to evaluate the equivalents on the basis of Baker's strategies for more reliable statistics.

 

6. Significance of the Study

The significance of this study was to analyze what Baker's translation strategies were mostly applied by the translator in translating the literary technical terms of Abrams's "A Glossary Of Literary Terms" (2008).

The findings of this research will be useful for technical translators, lexicographers and students of translation studies. Moreover, individuals who are interested in translation may be motivated and would gain ideas about the translation strategies and the reasons of why those strategies were used.

7. Corpus

The corpora of this research were two books. The monolingual corpus was the ninth edition of "A glossary Of Literary Terms" written by M. H. Abrams and Geoffrey Galt Harpham, published by Rahnama in 2008, in 393 pages. This book defines and discusses terms, critical theories, and points of views that are commonly applied in classifying, analyzing, interpreting, and writing the history of works of literature. The component entries, together with the guides to further reading included in most of them, are oriented especially toward undergraduate students of English, American, and other literatures.

The second corpus of the study was the Persian translation of the Abrams (2008) called "فرهنگ توصیفی اصطلاحات ادبی", translated by Saeed Sabzian Morad Abadi, published by Rahnama (2009) in 541 pages. This book contained 228 entries that were the aim of the study.

 

8. Theoretical Framework

The framework of the present study was Baker's (1992) taxonomy. The researcher measured the frequency and percentage of Baker's translation strategies used by the translator of "فرهنگ توصیفی اصطلاحات ادبی" in the translation procedure. Baker’s (1992) eight strategies of translation are as:

1. Translation by a more general word (superordinate);

2. Translation by a more neutral/less expressive word;

3. Translation by cultural substitution;

4. Translation by using a loan word or a loan word plus an explanation;

5. Translation by paraphrase using related words;

6. Translation by paraphrase using unrelated words;

7. Translation by omission;

 

This research was a descriptive one. The aim of the research was to analyze and describe the applied strategies used by the translator to deal with literary entries. At first the translations of all of the entries were reviewed, and the strategies were identified based on Baker's model (1992).

In the qualitative phase the researcher and two raters both holding an M.A degree in English translation studies, analyzed the data, distinguished and categorized the translation strategies based on Baker's (1992) model.

In the quantitative phase, the most used strategy used by the translator based on Baker's (1992) theoretical framework was calculated and presented in percentages. It must be mentioned that the researcher, herself, numerated each Baker's strategies from 1 to 8 and used it as the numerical value.

 

10. Data Analysis

In the present research, after analyzing the entries and their translations, the results were shown in tables. Then the most used strategies were determined.

The frequencies and percentages of the strategies were shown in the table 10.2.1, and in the figure 10.2.2.

10.1 Examples of the Used Baker's Strategies

In this part the researcher presented some examples of her findings.

10.1.2 Example 1 of the Used Baker's Strategies

No.

Word

Translation

1

pantomime and dumb show

نمایش ایمایی و نمایش صامت


In the above example Baker's fifth strategy was used by the translator. The fifth strategy is "translation by paraphrase using related words". Paraphrasing is the most common translation technique when there are no formal equivalents. Using a related word means "when the concept expressed by the source item is lexicalized in the TL but in a different form, and when the frequency with which a certain form is used in the ST is significantly higher than would be natural in the TL." (Sin-wai, 2004).

10.1.3 Example 2 of the Used Baker's Strategies

No.

Word

Translation

2

gothic novel

رمان گوتیک

In the above example, number 4 strategy "translation by using a loan word or loan word plus explanation" was applied to the word. This strategy is usually used in dealing with culture-specific items, modern concepts, and buzz words. Using the loan word with an explanation is very useful when a word is repeated several times in the text. First time the word is mentioned by the explanation and later it can be used by its own.

Table 10.2.1 Frequencies and percentages of each translation strategy based on Baker's (1992) taxonomy

 

Type of Translation Strategy

Frequency

Percentage

1

Translation by a more general word (superordinate)

158

 

2

Translation by a more neutral/less expressive word

32

 

3

Translation by cultural substitution

7

 

4

Translation by using a loan word or a loan word plus an explanation

29

 

5

Translation by paraphrase using related words

2

 

6

Translation by paraphrase using unrelated words

-

-

7

Translation by omission

-

-

8

Translation by illustration

-

-

Total

228

100 %

 

10.2.2 Figure of the Percentages of Baker's (1992) Translation Strategies

Figure 10.2.2 Percentage of each Baker's (1992) translation strategies used by the translator.

 

The results of the present thesis showed that the strategy of translation by a more general word (superordinate), was applied by the translator more than other strategies (69.29%). Most of the entries concluded in the mentioned book were rendered by applying this strategy. Translation by a more neutral/less expressive word was used for (14.03%), translation by using a loan word or a loan word plus an explanation was used for (12.71%), translation by cultural substitution for (3.07%), and the least frequent strategy, translation by paraphrase using related words was used for (0.87%), and three strategies such as translation by paraphrase using unrelated words, translation by omission, and translation by illustration were not found in the translation.

As a result, the most frequent translation strategy of the study was translation by a more general word, and the least frequent one was the strategy of translation by paraphrase using related words.

The results of the study showed that the translator used five Baker's (1992) strategies to render the 228 literary entries, but he did not use three of them.

11. Conclusion

This study was an attempt to apply Baker's (1992) theoretical framework of translation strategies with concentration on equivalence at word level in analyzing the key entries of Abrams's "A Glossary Of Literary Terms" (2008), translated from English into Persian called "فرهنگ توصیفی اصطلاحات ادبی". The research aimed to find the type and the most frequent translation strategy used in the corpus, also it aimed to find if the most frequently used strategy was compatible with the problematic literary terms or not.

The first objective of this study was to identify the type of translation strategies used in translating the entries of the above mentioned glossary. The study revealed that, there were five strategies employed to translate the entries: "translation by a more general word (superordinate), translation by a more neutral/less expressive word, translation by cultural substitution, translation by using a loan word or a loan word plus an explanation, translation by paraphrase using related words". However, the strategies of "translation by paraphrase using unrelated words, translation by omission and translation by illustration" were not found.

The second objective was to study the frequencies of translation strategies being used in the sampled book. "Translation by a more general word (superordinate)" was realized as the most frequent strategy.

In conclusion, the translator of this study used five translation strategies in translating the literary entries in order to give the equivalent translation, but he used the strategy of "translation by a more general word (superordinate)" as the most frequent translation strategy. These three strategies were not found in the study: "translation by paraphrase using unrelated words", "translation by omission", and "translation by illustration". It can be realized that the used strategies shown in the research could be used in translating literary terms to do a better translation.

 

References

Abrams, M. H. (2008) A Glossary of Literary Terms, Tehran: Rahnama.

Baker, M. (1992)In Other Words: a Coursebook on Translation,London: Routledge.

Brislin, R. W. (1976)Translation: application and research. New York: Gardner Press Inc.

Catford, J.C. (1987) "A Linguistic Theory of Translation: An Essay in Applied Linguistics". OUP

Chesterman, A. (1997) Memes of Translation. The spread of ideas in translation theory. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

House, J. (1977) A Model for Translation Quality Assessment,Tübingen: Gunter Narr.

Kelly, D. (2005) A handbook for translator trainers: A guide to reflective practice. Manchester, UK: St. Jerome.

Krings, Hans P. (1986) “Translation problems and translation strategies of advanced German learners of French.” Interlingual and intercultural communication. Ed. Juliane House and Shoshana Blum-Kulka. Tubingen: Gunter Narr, 1986. 263-275. Print.

Miremadi, S. A. (1991) Theories of translation and interpretation. Tehran: SAMT.

Newmark, P. (1981) Approaches to translation. Tehran: Rahnama.

Nida, Eugene A. & Taber, Charles R. (1982)The Theory and Practice of Translation. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Nielsen, S. (1994) The Bilingual LSP Dictionary. Gunter Narr.

Sin-wai, Chan. (2004) A Dictionary of Translation Technology. The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

سبزیان مرادآبادی. س. (2009) فرهنگ توصیفی اصطلاحات ادبی. تهران: رهنما.

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