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This, again, is quite normal—elements of enjoyment and job satisfaction play a vital role in any skilled activity that might be pursued as a career, from music to computer technology. Note, however, that when we talk of proficiency in translation we are no longer thinking merely of the basis of natural talent an individual may have, but of the skill and facility that require learning, technique, practice and experience. Ideally, translators should combine their natural talent with acquired skill.
The answer to anyone who is sceptical about the formal teaching of translation is twofold: students with a gift for translation invariably find it useful in building their native talent into a fully-developed proficiency; students without a gift for translation invariably acquire some degree of proficiency. These are set in bold type when they are first explained in the text, and are listed in the Glossary on pp. Our aims are primarily methodological and practical rather than theoretical, but we believe that methods and practices are at their best when underpinned by thoughtful consideration of a rationale behind them.
Throughout the course, our aim is to accustom students to making two interrelated sets of decisions. The first set are what we shall call strategic decisions. The other set of decisions may be called decisions of detail.
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We have found that students tend to start by thinking about decisions of detail which they try to make piecemeal without realizing the crucial prior role of strategic decisions. This is why, in the practicals, students will usually be asked first to consider the strategic problems confronting the translator of a given text, and subsequently to discuss and explain the decisions of detail they have made in translating it. Naturally, they will sometimes find during translating that problems of detail arise which lead them to refine the original strategy, the refined strategy in turn entailing changes to some of the decisions of detail already taken.
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This is a fact of life in translation, and should be recognized as such, but it is no reason for not elaborating an initial strategy: on the contrary, without the strategy many potential problems go unseen until the reader of the translation trips up over the inconsistencies and the obscurities of detail. Before we do this, however, we should note a few basic terms that will be used throughout the course. Defining these now will clarify and simplify further discussion: Text Any given stretch of speech or writing produced in a given language and assumed to make a coherent, self-contained whole.
Source language SL The language in which the text requiring translation is couched.
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Target language TL The language into which the original text is to be translated. Source text ST The text requiring translation. With these terms in mind, the translation process can, in crude terms, be broken down into two types of activity: understanding a ST and formulating a TT. While they are different in kind, these two types of process do not occur successively, but simultaneously; in fact, one may not even realize that one has imperfectly understood the ST until one comes up against a problem in formulating or evaluating a TT.
In this way, ST interpretation and TT formulation go hand in hand.
Nevertheless, for the purposes of discussion, it is useful to think of them as different, mutually separable, processes. The component processes of translation are not qualitatively different from certain ordinary and familiar processes that all speakers perform in the normal course of their daily lives. For a start, comprehension and interpretation of texts are commonplace processes that we all perform whenever we listen to or read a piece of linguistically imparted information.
The act of understanding even the simplest message potentially involves all the beliefs, suppositions, inferences and expectations that are the stuff of personal, social and cultural life. Understanding everyday messages is therefore not all that different from what a translator must do when first confronting a ST— and it is certainly no less complicated. For instance, suppose that a mother asked her son to get the blue biro from the top lefthand drawer of the bureau, and he responded by giving her a black biro that happened to be handy.
She would be justified in thinking that he had not understood her message fully, as he had evidently not paid attention to a number of details in it. Yet he could not be accused of a total lack of comprehension, because he did register and respond to the one salient fact that he had been asked for a biro.
In everyday communication, evidence that a message has been understood may come from appropriate practical response. Another measure of how precisely a message has been understood is appropriate linguistic response.
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Appropriate linguistic response includes such simple things as returning a greeting correctly, giving a satisfactory answer to a question, or filling in a form. While none of these are translationlike processes, they do show that the element of comprehension and interpretation within the translation process involves what can be a perfectly ordinary, everyday activity requiring no special skill or power of intellect, only an average native command of the language used. There is, however, another kind of ordinary, everyday linguistic response that is rather similar to translation proper.
GIRL: O. Can I go? DAD: Just a minute. GIRL: Guess who.
DAD: Oh, I see. And what time does it start? DAD: Right. But I want you back here by And you come right in and go to bed when you get home, is that clear? No hanging around at the door saying goodnight for hours on end. What did your Dad say? GIRL: He says we can go as long as we come straight back at quarter past midnight—and as long as we behave ourselves.
In this commonplace verbal exchange, the girl gives ample evidence of having understood very precisely what her father has said. This twofold process is strongly reminiscent of translation proper. Extracting information by way of comprehension and interpretation from a given text, and then re-expressing the details of that information in another text using a different form of words is what translators do.
The only real difference between this example and translation proper is that both ST and TT are in English. We shall follow Jakobson in referring to the reporting or rephrasing of a text in the same language as intralingual translation Jakobson, , pp. In the same article Jakobson also talks of inter-semiotic translation ibid. This is another commonplace, everyday process, as can be shown in a banal example: A What does your watch say? Verbalizing this non-linguistic message is simply a way of translating, not from one language to another, but from a non-linguistic communication system to a linguistic one.
This is another reason, then, for arguing that everybody is a translator of a sort. Another common process of interpretation that bears a similarity to translation proper is an intralinguistic process whereby one expands on a particular text and its contents. This type of expository interpretation can, as here, easily develop into a full-scale textual exegesis that tries to analyse and explain the implications of a text perhaps with the addition of cross-references, allusions, footnotes, and so on.
The first and third examples above represent two extremes on a continuum of translation-like processes. At one end, the TT expresses only a condensed version of the ST message; we shall call this gist translation. At the other end, the TT is far more wordy than the ST, explaining it and elaborating on it; we shall call this exegetic translation. Both gist translation and exegetic translation are, of course, matters of degree. Half-way between these two extremes there is, in principle at least, a process that adds nothing to, and omits nothing from, the message content of the ST, while couching it in terms that are radically different from those of the ST.
In form of expression ST and IT are quite different, but in message content they are as close to one another as possible. We shall call this ideal process rephrasing.
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The attainability of ideally precise rephrasing is a controversial question that will continue to occupy us in what follows. From the examples just cited, it is clear that precision is a relative matter. We shall return to this in Chapter 2, in discussing the concept of translation loss. So far, then, we have suggested that there are three basic types of translation-like process, defined according to the degree in which the IT abstracts from, adds to, or tries to reproduce faithfully, the details contained in the ST message.
It should be added that there are two important respects in which these three types of process are on an equal footing with one another, as well as with translation proper. First, they all require intelligence, mental effort and linguistic skill; there can be no substitute for a close knowledge of the subject matter and context of the ST, and a careful examination and analysis of its contents. Second, in all three cases, mastery of the TL is a prerequisite. It is salutary to remember that the majority of English mother-tongue applicants for translation posts in the European Commission fail because of the poor quality of their English McCluskey, , p.
In a translation course, TL competence needs as close attention as SL competence.