Translation – Significance and Scope

Posted on

The in-depth study of Art of Translation demands more attention not because it paves way for global interaction and offers an excellent opportunity to undergo socio-cultural survey of various languages and their literatures but also gives an opportunity to establish some kind of relevance it has in the study and area of Literary Criticism. Translation Studies can very safely be included as an important genre in the domain of Literary Criticism since translation is an art prompting to peep into the diversified lingual, cultural and literary content of a source language and thus highlighting/appreciating the essence and niceties of the literature of that particular translated language. In the context of Indian Studies, keeping in view the multilingual and pluristic cultural nature of our country,translation has an important role to play. It is through translation that we can look into the rich heritage of India as one integrated unit and feel proud of our cultural legacy. The relevance of translation as multifaceted and a multidimensional activity and its international importance as a socio-cultural bridge between countries has grown over the years. In the present day circumstances when things are fast moving ahead globally,not only countries and societies need to interact with each other closely, but individuals too need to have contact with members of other communities/societies that are spread over different parts of the country/world. In order to cater to these needs translation has become an important activity that satisfies individual, societal and national needs.

It goes without saying that the significance and relevance of translation in our daily life is multidimensional and extensive. It is through translation we know about all the developments in communication and technology and keep abreast of the latest discoveries in the various fields of knowledge, and also have access through translation to the literature of several languages and to the different events happening in the world. India has had close links with ancient civilisations such as Greek, Egyptian and Chinese. This interactive relationship would have been impossible without the knowledge of the various languages spoken by the different communities and nations. This is how human beings realised the importance of translation long ago. Needless to mentiuon here that the relevance and importance of translation has increased greatly in today’s fast changing world. Today with the growing zest for knowledge in human minds there is a great need of translation in the fields of education, science and technology, mass communication, trade and business, literature, religion, tourism, etc.

Defining Translation

Broadly speaking,translation turns a text of source language(SL) into a correct and understandable version of target language(TL)without losing the suggestion of the original. Many people think that being bilingual is all that is needed to be a translator. That is not true. Being bilingual is an important prerequisite,no doubt, but translation skills are built and developed on the basis of one’s own long drawn-out communicative and writing experiences in both the languages. As a matter of fact translation is a process based on the theory of extracting the meaning of a text from its present form and reproduce that with different form of a second language.

Conventionally, it is suggested that translators should meet three requirements, namely: 1) Familiarity with the source language, 2) Familiarity with the target language, and 3) Familiarity with the subject matter to perform the job successfully. Based on this concept, the translator discovers the meaning behind the forms in the source language (SL) and does his best to reproduce the same meaning in the target language (TL) using the TL forms and structures to the best of his knowledge. Naturally and supposedly what changes is the form and the code and what should remain unchanged is the meaning and the message (Larson, 1984).Therefore, one may discern the most common definition of translation, i.e., the selection of the nearest equivalent for a language unit in the SL in a target language.

Computers are already being used to translate one language into another, but humans are still involved in the process either through pre-writing or post-editing. There is no way that a computer can ever be able to translate languages the way a human being could since language uses metaphor/imagery to convey a particular meaning. Translating is more than simply looking up a few words in a dictionary. A quality translation requires a thorough knowledge of both the source language and the target language.

Translation Theory, Practice and Process

Successful translation is indicative of how closely it lives up to the expectations as: reproducing exactly as for as possible the meaning of the source text,using natural forms of the receptor/target language in such a way as is appropriate to the kind of text being translated and expressing all aspects of the meaning closely and readily understandable to the intended audience/reader.Technically, translation is a process to abstract the meaning of a text from its current forms and reproduce that meaning in different forms of another language. Translation has now been recognised as an independent field of study. The translator can be said to be the focal element in the process of translation. The writer/author becomes the centre, for whatever he writes will be final, and no two translators translate a text in the same way. It is genegally believed that a writer to know the intricacies of the TL in which he may wish to translate. As a matter of fact, it is not the writer of the SL text who asks someone to translate his works into the TL; it is primarily the interest of the individual translator which prompts him to translate a work into his mother tongue. A successful translator is not a mechanical translator of a text but is creative as well. We may say that he is a co-creator of the TL text. . In fact, for a translator knowledge of two or more languages is essential. This involves not only a working knowledge of two different languages but also the knowledge of two linguistic systems as also their literature and culture.Such translators have been seen to possess various qualities which we shall briefly discuss later.

Linguiustically,translation consists of studying the lexicon, grammatical structure, communication situation, and cultural context of the source language and its text, analyzing it in order to determine its meaning, and then reconstructing the same meaning using the lexicon and grammatical structure which are appropriate in the target language and its cultural context. The process of translation starts with the comprehension of the source text closely and after discovering the meaning of the text, translator re-expresses the meaning he has drawn out into the receptor/target language in such a way that there is minimal loss in the transformation of meaning into the translated language.This entire process could be graphed as under:-

Overview of the translation task

In practice, there is always considerable variation in the types of translations produced by various translators of a particular text. This is because translation is essentially an Art and not Science.So many factors including proficiency in language,cultural background, writing flair etc.determine the quality of translation and it is because of that no two translations seem to be alike if not averse.

Accommodation in Translation

Translation turns a communication in one language into a correct and understandable version of that communication in another language. Sometimes a translator has to take certain liberties with the original text in order to re-create the mood and style of the original.This,in other words is called ‘accommodation.’ This has three dimensions: cultural accommodation; collocation accommodation; ideological accommodation; and aesthetic accommodation.Accommodation is considered a synonym of adaptation which means changes are made so the target text produced is in line with the spirit of the original. Translation is not merely linguistic conversion or transformation between languages but it involves accommodation in scope of culture, politics, aesthetics, and many other factors. Accommodation is also translation, a free, rather than literal, kind of translation. Moreover, it is inevitable in practice if the translation is to maintain the source message’s essence, impact, and effect. There is an interesting saying: A translation is like a woman: if it is faithful, it is not beautiful; if it is beautiful, it is not faithful. That is to say if you want to be faithful with the text while translating you are bound to lose the beauty of the translated text and if you try to maintain the beauty of the translated text you are sure to be unfaithful with the original text.. Faithfulness was once considered the iron rule in translation process but over the years when we take a closer look, accommodation, or adaptation, is found in most published translations and it has become a necessity too since keeping in view the averse cultural/lingual/geographical/historical/political diversifications and backgrounds of various languages and their literatures, accommodation,if not compromising, is almost obligatory. Accommodation, too, has to be carried out very sensibly, more especially when it comes to translating poetry or any such text which is highly immotive and artistic in nature.For example translating poetry has never been so simple. Robert Frost once said, “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” This is a sufficient evidence of the difficulty involved in translation of poetry. Because poetry is fundamentally valuable for its aesthetic value, therefore, aesthetic accommodation becomes an art instead of a basic requirement. A good poetry translator with a good measure of accommodation and adequate knowledge of aesthetic traditions of different cultures and languages, can be better appreciated by the target reader and can achieve the required effect.

Qualities of a good Translator

A good translator should have adequate knowledge of the SL(source language) from which he is translating into the TL which is generally his mother toungue/target language. In order to produce an accurate translation of the SL text he should have command over the grammatical, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic features of the SL. In addition to this it is necessary that he is well-conversant with the socio-cultural contexts of both the SL and the TL. A good translator should be the author’s mouthpiece in a way that he knows and comprehends fully whatever the original author has said in his text. One of the generally accepted characteristics of a good translation is that it should resemble the original text or come as close to the SL text as possible. It should appear like the original in the TL translation within the usual social and cultural settings with some minor accommodation, if necessary,of course.

Usually it is also believed that the job of a translator is a mechanical one-a simple rendering of the SL text into a TL text. But it is not so. The translator has to perform a really difficult task. It is in a way more difficult and complicated than that of the original writer. A creative writer composes or pens down his thoughts without any outward compulsion. A translator has to confine himself not only to the SL text but a host of other factors also intervene in the process of translating the TL.

A good translator must have an adequate knowledge of the subject or area to which the SL text relates so that the translator is able to capture the spirit of the SL text. If he does not have an in-depth knowledge, he may not be able to produce an accurate translation suitable for its intended purpose. For example, if you want to translate the Bible or the Gita or any other religious text, you must have adequate knowledge of those religious and theological works.

A good translator should be careful of the choices that he makes in using the TL. He should translate in the style, which is appropriate for the target audience. The style should be such that it appears to be natural and spontaneous to the TK readers. The translation in the TL should not sound alien.

A translator does need certain tools to help him out in moments of difficulty. These tools can be in the form of good monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, encyclopedias, e-dictionaries, glossaries of technical and standard works, etc. pertaining to the SL text.

A good translator must have patience and should not be in a hurry to rush through while translating any text. He should not hesitate in discussing with others the problems that he may come across. Morever, he should not shy away from conducting micro-research in order to arrive at proper and apt equivalents.

In short, a good translator should be a competent and proficient bilingual, familiar with the subject/area of the SL text chosen for translation. He should never try to insert his own ideas or personal impressions in the TL text. His objective should be to convey the content and the intent of the SL text as exactly as possible into the TL text. The job of a translator is very rewarding and intellectually stimulating

Finally,a few words(based upon my close understanding about translation study and activity) for up-coming translators and translation-lovers.To translate from one language into another has never been an easy endeavour.It is an exercise both painstaking and cumbersome and only those who have engaged themselves with translation work can realize the complex character of this Art. I have been associated with translation work for over three decades translating from English, more especially, from Kashmiri/Urdu into Hindi and back.

1-A good translator ought to be a good writer.

2-You needn’t translate everything that has been written, you need to translate the best only.

4-A good translator adjusts/accommodates and not compromises with the original text.

5-Translators are like ambassadors representing and exchanging the best of their literary world.

5-Art of translation is as old as makind, don’t you translate your thought before you speak it out? Some more suggestions:

1-Try to get into the mind of the writer.

2-Check your translation twice or may be thrice before finalizing the script. Put the original passage “aside” and listen to/read your translation with your ear “tuned in”, as if it were a passage originally written in the TL.

3-If your material is highly technical, with vocabulary that is distinctive to a discipline, it is important that the translator has at least some background or experience of that discipline. A good translator of poetry and drama may be a bad choice for a chemical engineering or biotechnology text.

4-If you have a native speaker of your target language handy, particularly one who is familiar with the subject, that person could be as useful as your teacher for final script-review. Take his assistance without fail.

A few more guide lines for the translators:

Do not try to find difficult equivalent words in the hope that this will add to the perfection of your translation.

Every language has its own punctuation rules and differ in many ways; take care to punctuate correctly.

Check your translation two or three times at the end.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *