26 September 2008

Where theory and practice meet

Reading notes on Can Theory Help Translators?: A Dialogue Between the Ivory Tower and the Wordface by Andrew Chesterman and Emma Wagner:

~ p. 2: "[W]e theorists should seek to be descriptive, to describe, explain and understand what translators do actually do, not stipulate what they ought to do. From this descriptive point of view, it is the translators that are 'up there', performing an incredibly complex activity, and the theorists are 'down here', trying to understand how on earth the translators manage. These theorists see themselves as studying translators, not instructing them." (AC)

~ p. 8: Transposition: "This means changing the word class." (AC)

~ p. 9: Deverbalization: "It means simply that a translator or interpreter has to get away from the surface structure of the source text, to arrive at the intended meaning, and then express this intended meaning in the target language." (AC)

~ p. 10: "Roughly speaking, iconicity is the matching of form and meaning, so that the form reflects the meaning or the experience that is being described." (AC) A unification of form and content?

~ p. 15: AC: "Reverence for the source text, and the consequent insistence on literal translation, is also evident in the ideas of some modern literary translators. Nabokov is a good example."

EW: "With all due respect to Nabokov, this reminds me of the 'reverence' (or lack of confidence) we see in newly recruited translators who are overawed by the subject matter. Too scared to admit that they don't really understand a text, they translate it literally in the hope that the Real Experts will be able to make something out of it."

I'm reminded of a former post of mine from two years ago--"When fidelity is treasonous".

~ p. 16: St. Jerome as "the patron saint of translators": "When criticized for his translations by St Augustine, because they changed traditional wordings in places, he is said to have replied that 'God is on the side of the scholar'." (AC)

~ p. 20: The translator as victim of divided loyalties: "It is not always possible to be loyal to both the original writer and the readers. Sometimes it has to be one or the other." (EW)

~ p. 57: Dividing translation strategies into three groups: "Search," "Creativity," and "Textual". (AC)

~ p. 68: "Distancing is something all translators, and indeed most other creative people, know about. It means stepping back mentally from what you are creating to get a better perspective on it." (EW)

~ p. 79: Two of the best motivational strategies for translators: "Respect and variety". (EW)

~ pp. 81-82: "It reminds me of Anthony Pym's definition of translation competence (in Pym 1992b: 175ff.), which goes roughly like this: a translator needs two abilities (apart from obvious language skills, etc.). One is the ability to come up with several possibilities, several potential equivalents. The second is the ability to select the best one, for the purpose in hand. The first skill needs divergent intelligence, imagination, creativity; the second needs convergent intelligence, the ability to criticize, analyze, compare, assess." (AC)

~ p. 86: "Yes, 'Never translate alone!' is an excellent guideline." (EW)

~ p. 100: "Once we had started the job, however, some of the translators suggested that one useful theoretical concept that we could use was Christiane Nord's distinction between documentary and instrumental translation (see Chapter 4), where documentary translation 'shows what the original says' and instrumental translation 'does what the original tries to do'." (EW)

~ p. 114: Eurodicautom--a "Large multilingual term bank" (EW)

~ p. 121: It's funny that it's the academic in this discussion that tends to argue for machine translations...

~ p. 127: CELEX--a "database containing all language versions of EU Regulations, Directives, Recommendations and so on." (EW)

~ p. 131: Fire Ant and Worker Bee--an "on-line problem page" for translators.

~ p. 134: the European Society for Translation Studies

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