The question is about translation industry – if translation industry originated centuries ago is there any possibility that something new will appear in the field? Have any new effective translation techniques appeared?
Let’s admit it is a very disputable question. On one hand, there have been thousands of scholars who have an incredible experience, hundreds of approaches, a dozen of effective translation techniques. On the other hand, all these methods and techniques got adjusted to the recent demands of society and gained a high level of professionalism.
In general, the purpose of translation is to reproduce various kinds of texts—including religious, literary, scientific, and philosophical texts—in another language and thus making them available to wider readers.
Today, we want to talk about tips that are well-known though they can make the translation process more sophisticated and even more efficacious.
Technical procedures included into the process of translation:
- analysis of the source and target languages;
- a thorough study of the source language text before making attempts translate it;
- making judgments of the semantic and syntactic approximations.
Organizational procedures are the following:
- constant reevaluation of the attempt made;
- contrasting it with the existing available translations of the same text done by other translators
- checking the text’s communicative effectiveness by asking the target language readers to evaluate its accuracy and effectiveness and studying their reaction
What is the difference between a translation method and a technique?
It’s very simple: a method is applied to the entire text to be translated, while the technique may vary within the same text according to each case and depending on the specific verbal elements to be translated.
Direct Translation Techniques
Direct translation techniques are used when structural and conceptual elements of the source language can be transposed into the target language. They include:
- Literal Translation
Borrowing is the taking of words directly from one language into another without translation. Many English words are “borrowed” into other languages; English also borrows numerous words from other languages;
Borrowing is one of the main effective translation techniques that involves using the same word or expression in the original text in the target text. The word or expression borrowed is usually written in italics. This is about reproducing an expression in the original text as is. In this sense, it is a translation technique that does not actually translate.
A calque or loan translation is a phrase borrowed from another language and translated literally word-for-word. You often see them in specialized or internationalized fields such as quality assurance. Some calques can become widely accepted in the target language. The meaning other calques can be rather obscure for most people, especially when they relate to specific vocations or subjects such as science and law. An unsuccessful calque can be extremely unnatural and can cause unwanted humor, often interpreted as indicating the lack of expertise of the translator in the target language. When a translator uses a calque, he or she is creating or using a neologism in the target language by adopting the structure of the source language.
Usually, this is called a word-for-word translation or metaphrase. Literal translation can be used in some languages and not others depending on the sentence structure. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. And because one sentence can be translated literally across languages does not mean that all sentences can be translated literally.
This means a word-for-word translation, achieving a text in the target language which is as correct as it is idiomatic. A literal translation can only be applied to languages which are extremely close in cultural terms. It is acceptable only if the translated text retains the same syntax, the same meaning and the same style as the original text.
Oblique Translation Techniques
Oblique translation techniques are used when the structural or conceptual elements of the source language cannot be directly translated without altering the meaning or upsetting the grammatical and stylistic elements of the target language.
These effective translation techniques include:
- Reformulation or Equivalence
This is the process where parts of speech change their sequence when they are translated. It is in a sense a shift of word class. This technique introduces a change in grammatical structure. Grammatical structures are often different in different languages. Transposition involves moving from one grammatical category to another without altering the meaning of the text. This requires that the translator knows that it is possible to replace a word category in the target language without altering the meaning of the source text.
Modulation is also one of the main effective translation techniques. It is about changing the form of the text by introducing a semantic change or perspective. Modulation consists of using a phrase that is different in the source and target languages to convey the same idea. It changes the semantics and shifts the point of view of the source language. Through modulation, the translator generates a change in the point of view of the message without altering meaning and without generating a sense of awkwardness in the reader of the target text. It is often used in the same language.
Reformulation or Equivalence
Here you have to express something in a completely different way, for example when translating idioms or advertising slogans. The process is creative, but not always easy. This is a translation procedure that uses a completely different expression to convey the same reality. Through this technique, the interpreter can translate the names of institutions, interjections, idioms or proverbs.
Adaptation (cultural substitution or cultural equivalent) is a cultural element which replaces the original text with one that is better suited to the culture of the target language. This achieves a more familiar and comprehensive text. Adaptation is an expression in a familiar or appropriate way for one language culture of something specific to another language culture. It is a shift in cultural environment. It involves changing the cultural reference when a situation in the source culture does not exist in the target culture.
Since 1950s, several authors, specializing on translations have established other effective translation techniques, such as explicitation (introducing specific details in the text of the target language), collocation (using a sequence of words that usually go together in the target language) and compensation (where an allusion or reference does not appear in one part of the text as in the source version, but later in the target text).
In general terms, an interpreter resorts to a compensation when he is unable to translate something, and the meaning that is lost is expressed somewhere else in the translated text. Peter Fawcett defines it as: “…making good in one part of the text something that could not be translated in another”.
Effective translation techniques are not good or bad in themselves, they are used functionally and dynamically in terms of:
- The genre of the text (letter of complaint, contract, tourist brochure, etc.)
- The type of translation (technical, literary, etc.)
- The mode of translation (written translation, sight translation, consecutive interpreting, etc.)
- The purpose of the translation and the characteristics of the translation audience
- The method is chosen (interpretative-communicative, etc.)
Whatever technique is chosen, the translator may encounter problems in the translation process, either because of a particularly difficult unit or because there may be a gap in the translator’s knowledge or skills. The translator exercises a degree of choice in his or her use of indigenous features, and, as a consequence, successful translation may depend on the translator’s command of cultural assumptions in each language in which he or she works.