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22 - The translation process - part 4

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  At the end of the unit twenty-one, we saw the Torop model with eight types of adequate translations, a model that we provide again here in a lightly different form, adding the numbers corresponding to the descriptions of every type. Torop has preferred to use a poetic text for his examples. However, if we keep in mind what we said about the concept of total translation (see the unit sixteen), it is obvious that, as the translation model must have a universal character, the use of a poetic text as a sample should not create an obstacle.

adequate translation































The first division concerns recoding and transposition, which, we want to recall, distinguishes the transfer of the expression plane (recoding) and the transfer of the content plane (transposition). In this unit, we will deal with recoding translation, while in the next one we will examine the four types of transposing translation.

  Analysis is the part of the translation process that addresses the original (or prototext), while synthesis is the projection of the prototext onto the (potential) metatext (or translated text). If we focus on dominant-oriented analytic recoding, we get what Torop defines

1. macro-stylistic translation. In this type of translation, the dominant is the expression plane of the prototext, on which the construction of the metatext content plane is also based. In the metatext, we observe a compliant preservation of the meter, of the rhymes, of the strophes (if it is a poem), and of every other formal structure.

It is called "macro-stylistic" because while it preserves, reproduces, or reconstructs the stylistic features of the original, it does not focus on single elements, aiming instead to globally reproduce the general style features of the prototext. For example, in this category fall the translations of poems in rhyme that preserve the meter of the original but, of course, have a semantic content which is different from the original. As Nabókov writes in the preface to his famous translation into English of Pushkin's Evgénij Onégin,

To reproduce the rhymes and yet translate the entire poem literally is mathematically impossible 1.

If the translator chooses an autonomous analytic recoding - "autonomous" in the sense that the dominant of the prototext becomes the absolute dominant of the metatext, obscuring every other subdominant - we get what is called

2. exact translation. Unlike the preceding type, the prototext expression plane dominates to the point that nothing else is left in the metatext. Some researchers call this type "interlinear translation".

The prototext style and syntax form completely swallow the metatext, upsetting the phrase construction rules of the receiving language and bending them to conform to the rules of the original language. The result of this translation can hardly be considered a text. It is an only an aid to gain access to the original. The most widespread use of this kind of translation is the publication of poetry with parallel-translated "text" presented near the original version. This is unreadable as such, useful only as an "explication note" to the prototext.
  Passing from analytic recoding to synthetic recoding - i.e. a translation based on the expression plane, but aimed at synthesis, in other words at the product of the translation work, which consequently is also the projection of the text onto a hypothetical, potential reader conjectured by the translator - we meet the first type of translation based on the prototext dominant:

3. micro-stylistic translation. The main purpose of this type of translation is to recreate the individual expressive devices of the author. Under this category fall the exoticizing translations (preservation of the realia [cultural words] which remind the reader the cultural distance of the prototext); the localizing translations (modification of the realia and their substitution by similar cultural words of the receiving culture, so as to obliterate the cultural distance of the prototext); and the tropic translations (reproduction of the single rhetoric figures of the prototext).

This type of translation is called "micro-stylistic" because the translation strategy is not based on the reproduction of the whole formal style of the prototext, but on the reproduction of the single style features, paying careful attention to their potential reception by the metatext Model Reader.
  Our last type of recoding is called autonomous synthetic recoding, in which the prototext dominant becomes absolute, in the metatext, obscuring all other elements (subdominants and secondary elements). Torop calls it

4. quotation translation. In this type of translation, the aim to formally reproduce the expression plane is considered so important that only formal limitations (grammar and syntax) prevent the translator to "copy" the original: lexical precision is the absolute dominant.

The difference between exact translation and quotation translation rests mainly in the fact that the former is interlinear, it does not respect any syntax rules of the receiving language, while the quotation translation is lexically exact, but respects the formal limitations imposed by the receiving language. This is the reason why exact translation is considered analytical (prototext-oriented), while quotation translation is synthetic (it gives a relatively higher priority to readability). Sometimes this kind of translation is called "literal", but we think that this term is too vague and ambiguous to be used in the context of a scientific taxonomy. We will make this point in the third part of this course.
  Until now, we have examined the four types of recoding translation. In the next unit, we will see the other four types of adequate translation, belonging to the transposing-translation group.

Bibliographical references

NABÓKOV V. Foreword. In Eugene Onegin, by Aleksandr Pushkin, edited by Vladimir Nabókov, 4 vol., Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1975. ISBN 0-691-01905-3.

TOROP P. La traduzione totale. Ed. by B. Osimo. Modena, Guaraldi Logos, 2000. ISBN 88-8049-195-4. Or. ed. Total´nyj perevod. Tartu, Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus [Tartu University Press], 1995. ISBN 9985-56-122-8.

1 Nabókov 1975, p. ix.