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Understanding Translation Approaches: Pragmatic

  • 05 Pages
  • Published On: 24-11-2023

Translation is the process of replacing an original text (also known as source text) with a substitute text (also referred to as target text) (House 2009:4). Simply put, translation can be described as the transfer of text from one language into another. The translator (the person charged with translating a text) must possess a certain level of competence if the translator is to effectively carry out the job. As simple as translation might seem, the process is complex and comprises many linguistic and extra-linguistic components. As a result of its complexity, a number of linguistic scholars have suggested various approaches through which the translation process can be eased, including the pragmatic approach, the semantic approach and the sociosemiotic approach. The pragmatic approach emphasizes on the importance of the language used, and the semantic approach gives prominence and lays emphasis on the meaning equivalence, while the socisemiotic approach to translation which assumes language to be a realization of the social process stresses the importance of understanding a text’s context. In the recent years, however, the sociosemiotic has emerged as the most popular and widely employed approach and is now considered to be a major solution to the untranslatability problem experienced by translators during the process of translation (House, 2009). Translation studies have been acknowledged for their bringing together of a wide range of fields. Gorlée (1994:133) asserts that translation studies as an inter-discipline (or even trans-discipline) combine approaches from both general and applied linguistics with approaches from general and comparative literary studies, as well as contributions from multiple disciplines including; mathematics, logic and theory (scientific realm) and theology, sociology and social anthropology (humanistic side) (Floros, 2005: 61). Whatsapp Jakobson (1959: 233) suggests that translation involves two similar messages in two different codes. This means that in order for translation to effectively occur, a translator needs to recode the original (or source) text and thereafter transmit it into and as an equivalent message for the culture he or she is targeting. To successfully translate a text, a translator must undertake the translation process in various stages. The translator must first develop familiarity with the original text’s background information. It is important that the translator familiarizes him or herself with the subject of the source text if he or she is not a specialist therein. One key way through which this can be achieved is by consulting reference works, especially if the original text relates to fields such as computer science, medicine, and so on which are rapidly developed (Landers, 2001, p.171; Newmark, 1998). Newmark (1998) and Larson (1998) also suggest the importance and necessity of the translator to consult dictionaries as a way of gathering more information regarding the subject he/she is working on. Besides the consultation of reference books, Bell (1991, p.36) argues that the translator should also develop various types of knowledge, including source language knowledge, source text knowledge, receptor language knowledge, contrastive knowledge and subject-matter language, adding that making and distributing questionnaires to experts in the field or topic, conducting interviews with these experts, reading through journals, articles, books and research works on the topic are other key tools translators can make use of to develop familiarity with the subject matter. Apart from topic/subject familiarity, translators should also acquaint themselves with the background information of the source text, including author information, purpose behind the production of the text, circumstances around its production and the text’s target audience (Larson, 1998, p.520). Second, the translator needs to critically analyse the source text (Larson, 1998). This requires that he reads it repeatedly in order to be well-versed in it, during which the ambiguous parts should be marked out (Landers, 2001; Nida, 2003). It is during this stage that the translator will develop an inclusive translation approach through which the detailed translation will be undertaken (Dickins, Harvey and Higgins, 2002). After analysis of the source text, the translator is deemed fully prepared to commence the process of transferring the source text to target text. With the source text analysis having eliminated any inaccuracies between the source text’s deep and surface level structures, the translator undertakes the production of the first draft of the target text, while noting problematic areas that he/she will need to modify later on (Larson, 1998, p.524). After the first draft, the translator should take some time off (to obtain a fresh, clear mind) before starting to rework the initial draft with more objectivity (Larson, 1998, p.525). At this stage the translator is needed to avoid ill-formed sentences with grammatical errors, poor constructions or wrong word order, as well as avoid verbose and incohesive sentence constructions. The aim of this stage is to ensure that the translator arrives at the closest possible natural equivalent target text that will read naturally to the target audience (Nida and Taber, 2003, p.163). Besides the target text’s naturalness, the translator must also ensure its accuracy. One final stage of the translation process id the testing of the translation, whereby the translator tests every section, paragraph, chapter or page he has translated in order to correct problematic areas and ascertain the target text’s intelligibility, translation accuracy and stylistic equivalence (Nida and Taber, 2003, p.163). Popovic (1975: 16), who was inspired by Jakobson (1959), opines that literary text does not comprise of only a combination of verbal signs, but is rather a linguistic system that is culturally loaded, and which should be subjected to a thorough examination before the translation process can be undertaken. To this, he adds that the semiotic aspect of translation involves the differences that arise, and which are met during and within the translation process; these differences are a result of the different spatial and temporal realizations of the texts being translated (Popovic 1975: 16). Therefore, semiotic has been identified as an important aspect that plays a critical role in the process of translation (Hodge and Kress, 1988). Translation semiotic, as a component of translation, has offered a different perspective to the problems of translatability, ranging from linguistic questions to the broader role of the text to be translated as a cultural artifact. Additionally, the analysis of semiotics gives the translator the appropriate means through which to manage and handle signs when translating text of any kind including fiction. Thus, semiotic analysis is one of the key steps that contributes to the understanding of texts in their entirety, and also enables translators to highlight/describe the complicated process of communication involving cultures and the translation of sign systems. With regard to this, Gorlée (1997: 82) describes translation as a mostly self-referential iconicity affair- meaning that in the world of objectual reality or discourse of the source text and target texts, the space between text-external and text-internal reality, and between creative tension and mutual constraints of the immediate object with the dynamical object is experimented. Order Now Gorlée (1994:10), elsewhere, proposes the possibility of assimilating translation to semiosis or sign activity, given that semiotics studies the communication and interpretation of meanings that comprise one or more signs, and this is more or less similar to the issues that are addressed by translation studies. In stressing how important semiotics is to translators, Nöth (1990: 476) asserts that semiotics provides translators with the theoretical tools through which they can analyze the signs and communication process, and that semiotics broadens the horizon of analysis of the verbal message in its narrower sense through to the multiple persuasive communication codes used. Gorlée (2004: 129), in reference to Jakobson’s (1959: 232), mentions three categories of the necessary knowledge required for a translator that are intralingual translation, interlingual translation, and intersemiotic translation, where Gorlée (2004) describes semiotranslation as a complex metadisciplinary concept that influences how the competence of a translator is defined. She states that a professional translator must learn and internalize a wide variety of the associations and combinations in relation to intralingual translation (individual language), interlingual translation (language pairs), and intersemiotic translation (interactions between non-verbal signs and language). Hatim and Mason (1990: 105), posit that translation could be considered as the process through which one semiotic entity is transformed to another under various conditions of equivalence with regard to pragmatic action, semiotic codes and overall communication requirements. A sociosemiotic approach usually investigates the impacts of the socioculatural dimensions on language itself. These reflections are manifested on both levels the surface and the deep language structure. Finding an adequate cultural and stylistic equivalence in rendering modern Arabic fiction English creates a serious challenge to translators. Translating fiction requires an understanding of text, context and social structure which sociosemiotic theory calls for (Halliday, 1978). My research explores the importance of the sociosemiotic approach in the process of fiction translation. The theoretical base of this approach is the theory of language sociosemiotics developed by Halliday (1978). In relation to the sociosemiotic approach to translation, language is perceived to be the realization of a society’s social process. Halliday (1978), who coined and first introduced the term social semiotics, suggests that it is difficult if not impossible to separate language from the society. In this sense, he views language, which is a means through which people interact, as a ‘social semiotic’ since it must be taken into account in the social context. Therefore, he asserts that since language and society make up a unified concept, they must be investigated together and as a whole (Halliday (1978). As such, in order to understand and interpret a text, it is important that its context is carefully considered since all texts written through language are context-dependent and no text can stand or exist on its own. Thus, the understanding of a text calls for the reconstruction of the text’s context. Halliday (1978, p.14) suggests that it is language which makes individual human beings become part of a group, adding that the society comprises of relations rather than participants, and that these relations determine social roles.

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