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 »  Articles Overview  »  Art of Translation and Interpreting  »  Literature and Poetry  »  FROM TEXT TO THE SPIRIT WITHIN - ASSESSING THE FUNCTIONALITY OF MIORITA AS A TARGET TEXT


By Camelia Frunză | Published  02/27/2006 | Literature and Poetry | Recommendation:
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Camelia Frunză
English to Romanian translator
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We first note that functionalist approaches have both a prospective and a retrospective view on the process of translation. They give priority to the skopos of the translated text, thus having an evident prospective dimension � a fact that clearly differentiates them from other orientations that exploit solely the source text (ST) when a translation decision needs to be made. Consequently, the mere fact that they are normative and evaluative as they provide guidelines for and assess text functionality in the TC, we may very well state that they also have a retrospective dimension.
We have taken up Christiane Nord�s (1991, 1997) functionalist model as a landmark in our analysis. We find it interesting to note that Nord�s prospective dimension � that presupposes a more detailed and more complex analysis of the source text and its context, a process in which the purpose of the translation process plays a leading part, is to a certain extend similar to Bantaş�s (Bantaş and Croitoru 1998:57) model of TOTA. In this case, the analysis of the text is oriented towards the translation process. It also includes seven stages that need to be followed by any translator among which we may mention the semantic decoding of the message and the multilateral as well as competent analysis of the original
If regarded from a retrospective outlook, Nord�s model is able to evaluate a target text that already exists in the target culture to estimate its context of reception in the target culture.
Our intention is also justified by the fact that this is one of the first attempts at providing the translator with a method aimed at helping to evaluate the decision he/she takes during his/her enterprise. What is more, the model under discussion is not only pragmatic but functional as well. All translators aim at producing a translation that is both functional as well as loyal. Nord highlights the fact that this can be achieved if we take into account three operations: 1 � the translation brief; 2 � the ST analysis; 3 � the classification and hierarchization of translation problems. We shall further investigate these three courses of action with reference to the translation of Mioriţa which was performed by W. D. Snodgrass, Simone Drăghici and Ioan Popa.


1.1. We should first clarify the fact that the translation brief is also referred to as �translation instructions� (Nord 1991) and is extremely valuable when dealing with a translation task. In fact it presupposes the gathering of information about the intended text functions , about the target text addressees, potential time and place of text reception and the means and motivation for the production or reception of a target text.
1.2. Mioriţa is viewed by all Romanian scholars as the absolute masterpiece of the Romanian folklore. It is indeed called by everyone as being the outmost proof of the genius existing within the Romanian spirit as it not only speaks about the millenary existence of a people but it also embodies an entire philosophy of life and death. Therefore, it should be obvious that Mioriţa is not an ordinary ballad. If we are to compare it to other ballads, we may notice that it has a lyrical character and not an epical one. This may be due to the fact that, unlike the popular literature of other nations in which the narrative is usually long, this is not something to be frequently encountered within the framework of Romanian folk literature. In our case, the lyrical character of the ballad is due to its theme, its symbolism and the fact that its origin might be that of a popular lament. This may explain the fatalism seen by some as it is a stated fact that the popular lament embodies a posthumous reconstruction of incidents that caused the death of a certain person. Thus, if we take into account its structure we may notice that it can be divided into an epical part in which all events are narrated and a lyrical and a dramatic one in which we are presented the thoughts and the feelings of the shepherds facing death.
1.3. We believe that all these considerations need to be included in a prospective translation brief. We should also note that such a translation brief may be in oral but also in written form. Its being taken into consideration can be of great service for the translation operator as it is decisive in orienting the translator�s choices so as to accomplish a satisfactory translation.


We should emphasize the fact that the ST analysis implies the investigation of the factors that determine its communicative function. Nord (1991) distributes these factors, which require a thorough analysis, into three classes: extra-textual, intra-textual, extra-textual overlapping intra-textual.
2.1. The extra-textual factors that ought to be considered are Sender (who transmits), Recipient (to whom), Medium (how is the message conveyed), Place (where), Time (at what time), Motive (the reason why the text was produced) and Function (to what purpose). Of all these factors, we decided to consider only the first one.
We may venture to state that in our case the history of the Romanian people is the Sender. Thus, a clue as to the starting point of this ballad is given by times when the shepherd that did not account for his duties and obligations towards his flock was put on trial according to a shepherd�s code and condemned to death (Fochi 1987)). This is the incipient form and it originated in Transylvania as the variants from this region contain this motif only. Then, it was known throughout the Moldavian territory the epic and was enriched with the motif of charmed ewe-lamb. It seems that the motif of the old mother was introduced in Walachia. The last part in which death is seen as a wedding, was influenced by the lamentations that were performed at the burial of unmarried youths (DLR 1979:578). Thus, one may say that Mioriţa is the most authentic representation of Romanian spirit. As we have previously asserted, the ballad embodies within itself an entire philosophy of life and death. It is called the most authentic representation of the Romanian spirit, as its author is not just a single person. Mioriţa is not the outcome of a sudden sparkling of an unrevealed genius. Its artistic perfection was not searched for, nor was it invented by an anonymous author in the supreme moment of inspiration. Its art was indeed excelled during the process of telling.
One of the most important aspects is the fact that the Sender had the ability of finding in everyday language the right words that would impress a public ready to grab a taste of what was to be exposed. Besides, the mere fact that researchers have encountered over a thousand variants circulating within the Romanian territory in regions that are practically different in their folkloric productions is a clear manifesto of the extraordinary vitality that this theme has in our folklore.
2.2 Intra-textual factors, significant to the investigation, are Subject Matter (the general message of the text), Content (what ideas are contained in the text), Presupposition (what ideas are implied by the text), Composition (how are they organized), Lexis( making use of which words�), Sentence Structure (�sentences), Suprasegmental Features (purpose of bolds, italics, underlined words, etc.) and Non-Verbal Elements (pictures or even blank spaces).
In terms of Subject Matter, the ballad has a relatively simple plot, i.e. two shepherds are envious on a third one, as he is wealthier and plan to kill him by nightfall. However, a charmed ewe reveals the prospective murder. We need to note here that this very fact underlines a first significance to the whole ballad, i.e. the eternal battle between good and evil. How everything ends, we are not revealed that; we do not know whether he will indeed be murdered or not; but we know his attitude and his thoughts when facing near death. This in fact is the most impressive part of the whole text as it is close to the soul of the readers. It is at this point that the anonymous creator manages to make the reader or better said the listener compassionate with the tragic fate of the Moldavian shepherd.
In terms of Composition, the beginning of the ballad has an epical character whereas the second one is lyrical. It is the exposition, the stage at which we are informed why and how the characters have come involved in this situation. If we are to speak about the Content, we may say that the first sequence presents where everything is to take place in such a manner that the reader is under the impression that all events will occur in a fairytale-like place. The equilibrium in the first part is disrupted by introducing the idea of the initiating action, a scheme between the Vrancean and the Hungarian shepherds to murder the Moldavian one as he is the one to posses more flocks �Handsome, long-horned sheep,/ Horses, trained and sound,/ And the fiercest hound�. The anonymous author presents data in a detached way with only one exception when he shows empathy ; the structure used in the ST is called in Romanian dativ etic but, as the English language doesn�t posses such a structure, the only way to compensate for this loss was to employ a quantitative hendiadys.
ST �Ca să mi-l omoare // Pe cel Moldovan�
TT �To ambush and slay/ The Moldavian;�
2.3. With the third class we decided to take into consideration, we need to refer to the impact of the text on its readers. In this case, we talk about the category of Effect, which relates the text and its situation to its recipient. We should thus, identify the feelings that are stirred up in the soul of a Romanian.
For example, the atmosphere in the first lines of the poem is one of tranquility specific to Romanian landscapes; in addition to this, the reader has the feeling that he is at the beginning of time. This serene atmosphere is represented in the ST with the help of two metaphors of which only one is rendered in the TT ( the 1st verse only introduces the reader into a simple geographical landscape and there is no trace tranquility or serenity whatsoever)
ST �Pe-un picior de plai // Pe-o gură de rai�
TT �Near a low foothill // At Heaven�s doorsill�
Or to give another example, the anonymous author used a tense which in Romanian is called viitor popular, i.e. a fi să mor. In rendering this into the English language one should definitely preserve the idea of uncertainty as we are not exactly revealed whether murder will indeed take place. The Moldavian shepherd regards death as something natural � even if he might die of a horrible death � as he is making plans for all dear to him; what is more he wants that all rites be followed as required by tradition.
ST � Şi de-a fi să mor�
TT � If I�m doomed to death�
As one can easily notice, the translation operator did not exactly manage to preserve the idea of uncertain future because he chose to render it using a first type conditional � of probable condition. A more appropriate equivalent sentence would have been that of second type conditional � of improbable condition. What is more this imperfection is reinforced by the use of the verb doom which basically carries the following meaning:� to make someone or something certain to fail, be destroyed, doom someone/something to something�(� MED)
2.4. We have now reached the point when we can state that all these factors that we have analyzed so far are unyieldingly interconnected, a fact that leads to the conclusion that the investigation of one can actually throw light on the others.


3.1. With the third aspect that we decided to take into consideration we feel bound to remark that such a stage may help the translator locate the potential difficulties of a text that is to be rendered in a target language. We should also point out that the term translation problems is of an extreme frequent occurrence in translational discourse. As pointed out by Dimitriu (2002:89) �translation problems may derive either from the reception of the source text or from the production of the target text and also during the source text analysis which precedes translating�.
What is more they are of a dual nature, i.e. pragmatic � due to source text situation and style, speech act and illocution or even culture, and semantic � referring to the denotation or the connotation of a lexical unit.
3.2. According to Nord (1991) translation problems could be classified as:
A) Pragmatic � a case in which there are dissimilarities between the source and the target communicative situations. This type of problems may be raised by incongruities existing between the functions of the source text and the target text or by different cultural terms.
B) Cultural � a case in which the cultural norms that guide the verbal and non-verbal behavior of the two cultural communities that interact are dissimilar.
For example, the word �c�ne� in the source text does not relate to a specific breed. We get from the enlarged context or from our cultural background patterns that it is a shepherd dog. The word �hound� renders this lexical unit. A briefest glance in a general encyclopedia will let us know that its being used is not exactly appropriate. The same information may be retrieved from a dictionary - �a dog used for hunting other animals or for racing; informal - a dog of any type� (�MED). We may resort to hound if we agree to a certain extend of informality on the part of the speaker. If we do that, we cannot allow the use of a formal lexical unit, i.e. peerless, after two lines! We must therefore find if not an informal equivalent, at least a neutral one.
ST �Stăp�ne, stăp�ne,// �-ţi cheamă ş-un c�ne,//Cel mai bărbătesc//Şi cel mai frăţesc,�
TT �Master, master dear,// Call a large hound near,//A fierce one and fearless,//Strong, loyal and peerless.�
C) Linguistic � that focus on the specificity of the two languages that are brought together during the translation operation.
Our objection with the following translation comes from the fact that the lexical units used in the target text have no reference to sheep.
ST � � Mioriţă laie, // Laie, bucălaie�
TT �Ewe-lamb, dapple-grey, // Muzzled black and grey,�
We should point out the fact that �laie� is defined by DEX (1984: 486) as a lexical unit belonging to the folklore stock and denominating the color �black or black mixed up with white�. �Bucălaie� on the other hand is explained by DEX (1984: 100) referring to a sheep having white wool and all extremities black or dark brown. It is true that dictionaries are sometimes misleading but �dapple-grey� is not used to refer to sheep as �a dapple-grey horse is light grey with spots of darker grey� (�MED) and nor is�muzzle�(ibid.). This means that one cannot render the complete image existing in the source text if the target text will be given these equivalents.
D) Text-specific � that refers to the source text proper, or to be more specific, to the presence in the source text of certain stylistic devices that need to be rendered in the target language in such a manner that the message is not distorted.
We could take as an example the instances when the anonymous creator makes use of the two out of three total metaphors existing in the ST. Their meaning is not overtly given to the reader who is to interpret the received data. The variants given by the target text, manage to preserve the intended sense but not the effect on the reader as such a cultures-specific element as m�ndră crăiasă already transposes the reader into a fantastic world, something that the target text tries to achieve using the word princess, a word that does not manage to preserve the same effect.
ST ��m�ndră crăiasă// A lumii mireasă�
TT �A princess- my bride// Is the whole world�s pride�
ST ��la nunta mea a căzut o stea.�
TT �At my wedding, tell/ A bright star fell�
The main idea behind this text is the fact that death perceived as a wedding is not something new to the Romanian reader as it is based on an old custom to perform the burial of a young person in the form of a funeral. Thus, the main hero does not exactly try to hinder his death, the fact itself that the wedding is seen as a combination of elements that belong to the natural environment to those of cosmic value.
3.2. In order to overcome all these problems translators need to resort to different strategies. Among the many strategic pieces of advice given by translator scholars, we stopped at Bell (2000:87) who analyses Savory�s (1969:50) well-known plan that might help a translator create �the perfect translation�. Yet, a quick look at his rules cannot but bewilder a potential translator as they are written as a play upon words rather that as a scientific methodology. These strategies are more than confusing.
However, Bell�s merit (2000:87) lies in the fact that he manages to interpret these strategies in such a way that they are reduced to five, grouping them in terms of their importance for the translation operator in the process of making decisions. So, the translation operator should:
i. reproduce either the forms (lexical or syntactic) or the ideas (semantic content) of the original;
With the following line, the translator chose to render the semantic content of the original to induce into the reader�s imagination the same image existing in the source text. The cultural dissimilarities forced the translator to slightly change the image but still, to keep within the same culture specific framework.
ST� Iar la cap să-mi pui�
TT �There, beside me lay�
ii. preserve the style of the original or adopt a completely new one by either doing away with the structure of the source text or saving it ; a translator may, for instance, choose to render a poem in a target language either in stanzas or in prose.
With the following verses under discussion, the translator has the merit of preserving the same figures of style, i.e. isocolon and anaphora. Then again, we should note that the verb in the TT is elliptic. The structure that is not an alien one and it sounds natural in the English language. One should also note the fact that the TT preserves the same masculine rhyme as well as the interior rhyme existing in the ST.
ST �Unu-i/ moldovan ,// Unu-i/ ungurean,// Si unui-i/ vr�ncean.�
TT �One, Moldavian// One,/ Hungarian,// And one,/ Vrancean.�
In spite of being a schematic presentation of the three shepherds, it is sufficient for a Romanian reader to establish the personality of one shepherd or another. It is very important to mention the fact that ungurean refers to a person from Transylvania and a footnote to notify the reader is extremely useful. Overall, the only shepherd to have a characterization is the one who is to be sled the other two are labeled according to region and according to their actions.
iii. preserve the historic dimension of the style in the original work or to make use of a modern and contemporary style;
Diminutives are for example a defining characteristic of Romanian ballads as they were extensively used in the archaic period of the language. In the English language, diminutives are of rare occurrence. It was almost impossible for the translation operator to preserve the diminutive �ciobanei� the rhythm of the poem would have been changed. Diminutives are a defining characteristic of Romanian ballads and in this case, it was employed to preserve the rhyme. Its being omitted did not change the tone of the original text.

iv. produce a text that reads as an original work that was written in the target language or as a translation
With the following two verses that are examples of syntactic parallelism, not preserved in the target text, the translation operator chose to repeat the verb employing a structure that does not exist in source text, i.e. synonymy, or the so-called amplified quantitative hendiadys. The expression used by the shepherd is specific to the Romanian culture, the word curat is used in its connotation and it is impossible to translate it word-by-word. It is employed in the monologue in the moment when the main hero ask the charmed ewe-lamb to hinder his exact faith. The translator selects an equivalent English expression that manages to preserve the message of the original text.
ST �Să ne le spui lor// Să le spui curat�
TT �Tell then not a breath// Say I could not tarry�
v. add or omit words, phrases, sentences�or try to completely transfer the source text in the target language.
In the following line, for example, one may easily recognize the Romanian so-called �dativ etic� that is a structure impossible to render in the target language, as it is specific to the Romanian language. This structure is used in a moment when everything, all facts are presented in a detached way and in can be accounted by the fact that it marks an effective involvement of the teller and consequently reader in the flow of events. Yet, we want to underline the fact that this is as accurate a translation as possible since the source text hints at stirring up the reader�s sympathy towards the faith of the shepherd. The writer is thus empathetic with the presented situation and manages to induce the very same feeling in the heart of the reader. If �vreau� had been rendered by �want� the situation in the source text would not have been truthfully recreated as the English verb is devoid of any negative connotation. �Mean� on the other hand does that as one of its main meanings is �to intend something bad or harmful� (� MED). Thus, the use of this term in the target text may be said to compensate for the loss of all significance the ethical dative has for the source text.
ST �Vreau să mi te-omoare�
TT �Mean to murder you�
3.4. We should note that the list that we have just presented give some guidelines that are useful if taken into consideration from the very outset of the translation process and followed until the process has drawn to a close.
But we all agree that there is a lot more to the preparation stage that a mere intention of a certain translator to transfer a text from a language culture to another. In fact it is the struggle before the battle that makes the difference. The strategies, or better said the translation steps that we found most useful for a translation operator finding himself in this tormenting stage, are those proposed above. Actually, we speak about the necessity of the inexperienced translator to follow a clearly defined plan in order to master the translation process.
After the source text has been thoroughly analyzed, there comes the difficult task of finding equivalents in the target language. It is not just that one should strive for the best or most appropriate equivalent, the problem is that the translation operator needs to be able to motivate his choice for each target lexical structure he has selected. Once the translation operator has finished his wading through the process of analyzing and disseminating between the two language cultures at work, he/she would better not start translating since, before putting the target text into writing, there is a need for it to be comprehended through empathy. As soon as the text has been comprehended, one may set to writing the rough translation of the source text. What is more, if rough translation corresponds to some �analytic� demands, the final translated text will correspond to some �synthetic� demands. It, more than anything else, needs to be faithful to the spirit and regulations of the target language and culture.

Pe-un picior de plai,
Pe-o gură de rai,
Iată vin �n cale,
Se cobor la vale
Trei turme de miei
Cu trei ciobănei.
Unu-i Moldovan,
Unu-i ungurean
Şi unu-i vr�ncean.
Iar cel ungurean
Şi cu cel vrancean,
Mări, se vorbiră,
Ei se sfătuiră,
Pe l-apus de soare
Ca să mi-l omoare
Pe cel Moldovan
Că-i mai ortoman
Şi-are oi mai multe,
M�ndre şi cornute,
Şi cai �nvăţaţi,
Şi c�ini mai bărbaţi!
Dar cea mioriţă
Cu l�nă plăviţă
De trei zile-ncoace
Gura nu-i mai tace,
Iarba nu-i mai place.
-Mioriţă laie,
Laie, bucălaie,
De trei zile-ncoace
Gura nu-ţi mai tace!
Ori iarba nu-ţi place,
Ori eşti bolnăvioară,
Drăguţă mioară?
-Drăguţule bace!
Dă �ti oile-ncoace
La negru zăvoi,
Că-i iarbă de voi
Şi umbră de voi.
Stăp�ne, stăp�ne,
�-ţi cheamă ş-un cane,
Cel mai bărbătesc
Şi cel mai frăţesc,
Că l-apus de soare
Vreau să mi te-omoare
Baciul ungurean
Şi cu cel vr�ncean!
-Oiţă b�rsană,
De eşti năzdrăvană
Şi de-a fi să mor
�n camp de mohor,
Să spui lui vr�ncea
Şi lui ungurean
Ca să mă �ngroape
Aice pe-aprape,
�n struga de oi ,
Şă fiu tot cu voi;
�n dosul st�nii,
Să-mi aud c�nii;
Aste să le spui,
Iar la cap să-mi pui
Fluieraş de fag,
Mult zice cu drag!
Fluieraş de os,
Mult zice duios!
Fluieraş de soc,
Mult zice cu foc!
V�ntul c�nd a bate,
Prin ele-a răzbate
Ş-oile s-or str�ge,
Pe mine m-or pl�nge
Cu lacrimi de s�nge!
Iar tu de omor
Să nu le spui lor.
Să le spui curat
Că m-am �nsurat
C-o m�ndră crăiasă,
A lumei mireasă;
Că la nunta mea
A căzut o stea;
Soarele şi luna
Mi-au ţinut cununa,
Brazi şi păltinaşi
I-am avut nuntaşi,
Preoţi, munţii mari,
Paseri, lăutari,
Păsărele mii
Şi stele făclii!
Iar dacă-i zări,
Dacă-i �nt�lni
Măicuţă bătr�nă
Cu br�ul de l�nă,
Din ochi lăcrim�nd,
Pe c�mpi alerg�nd,
De toţi �ntreb�nd
Şi la toţi zic�nd:
�Cine-au cunoscut,
Cine mi-au văzut
M�ndru ciobănel
Tras printr-un inel?
Feţişoara lui,
Spuma laptelui
Musteţioara lui,
Spicul gr�ului;
Perişorul lui,
Peana corbului;
Ochişorii lui,
Mura c�mpului!...�
Tu, mioara mea,
Să te-nduri de ea
Şi-i spune curat
Că m-am �nsurat
C-o fată de crai,
Pe-o gură de rai.
Iar la cea măicuţă
Să nu spui drăguţă,
Că la nunta mea
A căzut o stea;
C-am avut nuntaşi
Brazi şi păltinaşi,
Paseri, lăutari,
Păsărele mii
Şi stele făclii!...

Near a low foothill
At Heaven�s doorsill,
Where the trail�s descending
To the plain and ending,
Here three shepherds keep
Their three flocks of sheep,
One, Moldavian,
One, Transylvanian
And one, Vrancean.
Now, the Vrancean
And the Transylvanian
In their thoughts, conniving,
Have laid plans, contriving
At the close of day
To ambush and slay
The Moldavian;
He, the wealthier one,
Had more flocks to keep,
Handsome, long-horned sheep,
Horses, trained and sound,
And the fiercest hounds.
One small ewe-lamb, though,
Dappled gray as tow,
While three full days passed
Bleated loud and fast;
Would not touch the grass.
�Ewe-lamb, dapple-gray,
Muzzled black and gray,
While three full days passed
You bleat loud and fast;
Don�t you like this grass?
Are you too sick to eat,
Little lamb so sweet?�
�Oh my master dear,
Drive the flock out near
That field, dark to view,
Where the grass grows new,
Where there�s shade for you.
�Master, master dear,
Call a large hound near,
A fierce one and fearless,
Strong, loyal and peerless.
The Transylvanian
And the Vrancean
When the daylight�s through
Mean to murder you.�
�Lamb, my little ewe,
If this omen�s true,
If I�m doomed to death
On this tract of heath,
Tell the Vrancean
And Transylvanian
To let my bones lie
Somewhere here close by,
By the sheepfold here
So my flocks are near,
Back of my hut�s grounds
So I�ll hear my hounds.
Tell them what I say:
There, beside me lay
One small pipe of beech
Whith its soft, sweet speech,
One small pipe of bone
Whit its loving tone,
One of elderwood,
Fiery-tongued and good.
Then the winds that blow
Would play on them so
All my listening sheep
Would draw near and weep
Tears, no blood so deep.
How I met my death,
Tell them not a breath;
Say I could not tarry,
I have gone to marry
A princess � my bride
Is the whole world�s pride.
At my wedding, tell
How a bright star fell,
Sun and moon came down
To hold my bridal crown,
Firs and maple trees
Were my guests; my priests
Were the mountains high;
Fiddlers, birds that fly,
All birds of the sky;
Torchlights, stars on high.
But if you see there,
Should you meet somewhere,
My old mother, little,
With her white wool girdle,
Eyes with their tears flowing,
Over the plains going,
Asking one and all,
Saying to them all,
�Who has ever known,
Who has seen my own
Shepherd fine to see,
Slim as a willow tree,
With his dear face, bright
As the milk-foam, white,
His small moustache, right
As the young wheat�s ear,
With his hair so dear,
Like plumes of the crow
Little eyes that glow
Like the ripe black sloe?�
Ewe-lamb, small and pretty,
For her sake have pity,
Let it just be said
I have gone to wed
A princess most noble
There on Heaven�s doorsill.
To that mother, old,
Let it not be told
That a star fell, bright,
For my bridal night;
Firs and maple trees
Were my guests, priests
Were the mountains high;
Fiddlers, birds that fly,
All birds of the sky;
Torchlights, stars on high.�


1. Bantaş, A and Croitoru E. 1998. Didactica traducerii. Bucureşti: Teora
2. Bell, R. 1991. Translation and Translating. Theory and Practice. London: Longman
3. Mioriţa by Snodgrass, Drăghici and Popa in Balade Populare Rom�neşti/ Romanian Popular Ballads ..1980.Bucureşti: Ed. Minerva
4. Dimitriu, R. 2002. Theories and Practice of Translation. Iaşi: Institutul European
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