Equivalent effect
Thread poster: Masoud Kakoli

Masoud Kakoli
Iran
Local time: 00:32
English to Persian (Farsi)
+ ...
Sep 28, 2012

The following is a paragraph of "Introducing Translation Studies" by Jeremy Munday (p.44 , section 3.3):

This description of communicative translation resembles Nida‟s dynamic equivalence in the effect it is trying to create on the TT reader, while semantic translation has similarities to Nida‟s formal equivalence. However, Newmark distances himself from the full principle of equivalent effect, since that effect “is in operant if the text is out of TL space and time”. An example would be a modern Biritsh English translation of Homer. The translator (indeed any modern translator, no matter what the TL) cannot possibly hope or expect to produce the same effect on the TT reader as the ST had on listeners in ancient Greece.

Why does Newmark believe that translation of a ST which is out of TL space and time cannot have the equivalent effect?

If you need the full text , click the below:

http://books.google.com/books?id=Q1rfHrpADHsC&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=however%20newmark%20distances%20himself%20from%20the%20full&source=bl&ots=8OD6kRO1oq&sig=x-QyuegqnrUCpV6hM0yNcCmwl6g&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xw5mULORGbP02wXF94H4Ag&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=however%20newmark%20distances%20himself%20from%20the%20full&f=false


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Kaisa Azriouli
Finland
Local time: 23:02
Finnish to English
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Equivalence in the cognition Sep 28, 2012

I believe that what Newmark has remarked among the language users is the cause and the fact that it is very rare to conclude the epistemological message from a personal and cognitive frame of mind to its exact verbal epinome/epistemological transsubject in another language.

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Steven F Smith
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:02
Member (2007)
Japanese to English
A brief thought... Sep 29, 2012

Equivalence across cultural time and space is probably impossible because language is not just denotative but also connotative, bearing cultural and emotional connotations dead, distorted or attenuated in other cultures. A simple word such as 'water' or 'rain' does not just denote a particular substance, but also carries a different web of emotional and cultural associations depending on the climate in which your language and culture evolved.

Place names carry an enormous wealth of assocations which will be unavailable to readers from another region or time. Homer's 'Athens' is little more than a token denoting a physical location to the modern reader, whereas the word 'London' to a Brit - or indeed a Londoner - is potent with meaning.

I'm sure you can think of more examples yourself.

So equivalence of effect would depend on somehow being able to identify and recreate all these secondary meanings. Footnotes, in a historical novel or translation can help a little to convey the significance of certain objects, places, people, power structures, etc., to the reader, but this can never be a substitute for the kind of instinctive cultural knowledge we hold in our heads.


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Masoud Kakoli
Iran
Local time: 00:32
English to Persian (Farsi)
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TOPIC STARTER
Example Sep 29, 2012

Dear Mr.Smith! , would you please kindly give me a more concrete example?

[Edited at 2012-09-29 13:03 GMT]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:02
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
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How about finding yourself an exemple of perfect equivalence? Sep 29, 2012

How could you ever prove that any translation of a culture related text has perfect equivalence? Impossible to prove so this theory should not discussed in scholarly context.

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Shirley Lao  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
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Degree of Equivalence Sep 29, 2012

You may find lots of differences in the connotative meanings of words or concepts across cultures in the following references:

The Cross-cultural Atlas of Affective Meanings:
http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/499s99/yamauchi/crosscultural.htm

Osgood's semantic differential: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_differential

The Language of Pain in Applied Linguistics:
http://www.nla.gov.au/openpublish/index.php/aral/article/viewFile/2013/2396


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James (Jim) Davis  Identity Verified
Seychelles
Local time: 01:02
Italian to English
All is relative Oct 16, 2012

Taken to the extreme Newton's thesis is basically the same as the strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (generally considered unsustainable) that thought determines language with the corollary that translation is therefore impossible. The ancient Greeks believed that rivers and trees were inhabited by or actually were spirits and that the Gods lived on Mount Olympus. We just can't possibly see the world that way so the translation should stick closely to the original and instead of looking for equivalent metaphors should stick to the originals and explain them. The result is an academic text, not an easy read, full of footnotes and historical references. The opposing view put by Nida (also ineherent to Chomsky's theories of linguistics) is that the ancient Greeks (like the ancient Hebrews) were modern homo sapiens and they ate, slept, loved, hated and so on (and when was the last time you walked under a ladder or alternatively swore by a God?) and basically thought and experienced the world in the same way that we do.
To give an example of an equivalent, the classic in Nida's bible translations is to translate "bread" with the staple food in the diet of the target population, such as eating rice together instead of breaking bread. I only really understood "breaking bread" when I ate in Africa standing round a table with one loaf of bread in the middle of it and no cutlery.
Steven Smith says that ancient Athens can't possibly have the same meaning to an Englishman as London does to a modern Brit so don't try. The equivalence communicative approach says quite simply translate Athens with London, the centre of commercial, social and political life for both. Clearly, that would take courage, but done well could make excellent theatre and if the theatre is excellent you can hardly turn round and say that the translation is poor. One translator of Greek drama (I have the book around somewhere) gave the Spartans Scottish accents for example.
However, if you are translating a contract, then forget about Nida, Newton is the guy you need, as close as reasonably possible to the source text, if you want to stay out of court.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:02
Chinese to English
Niche Oct 16, 2012

Very interesting, I'm sure, but I do wish that translators of literature weren't so sure that their niche were the be all and end all for "translation theory/studies".

Anyway - one example might be the cultural meaning of death. In ancient Greece, a heroic death in battle might be the most sought after career move there is - you win honour and money for your family. In modern Britain, any kind of death is regarded as undesirable. And that's a cultural gap that you can never bridge.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:02
Italian to English
The Doric Oct 16, 2012

James (Jim) Davis wrote:

One translator of Greek drama (I have the book around somewhere) gave the Spartans Scottish accents for example.



OK it's silly but there is some slight justification in the fact that the rural dialects, of north-eastern Scotland in particular, have been known as "the Doric" and used in literature for a very long time.



However, if you are translating a contract, then forget about Nida, Newton is the guy you need, as close as reasonably possible to the source text, if you want to stay out of court.



Quite.

"Fitness for purpose" is worth bearing in mind as well as equivalent effect.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Because... Oct 16, 2012

toloue_man wrote:
Why does Newmark believe that translation of a ST which is out of TL space and time cannot have the equivalent effect?


I think you should read this comment about Newmark in the context of Newmark's disagreement with Nida's two types of equivalence. What did Nida say about dynamic equivalence? What does Newmark say about it that is different from what Nida says?

Remember, the whole point of the creation of these terms is to find scientific-sounding words for "literal" translation and "free" translation. The theorist then also has to explain what he means by those terms. Newmark disagrees that that which Nida thinks is possible is indeed possible, but ultimately it is just more of the same because both are trying to define "non-literal" translation.



[Edited at 2012-10-16 18:42 GMT]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:02
Italian to English
Το πνεύμα ή το γράμμα; Oct 16, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:

Remember, the whole point of the creation of these terms is to find scientific-sounding words for "literal" translation and "free" translation. The theorist then also has to explain what he means by those terms. Newmark disagrees that that which Nida thinks is possible is indeed possible, but ultimately it is just more of the same because both are trying to define "non-literal" translation.



You've nailed it Samuel.

The debate over translating "ad spiritum" or "ad litteram" has been going on since the days of the Ancient Greeks.

Since writing only ever conveys part of what the writer actually wanted to say, and its significance is in any case perceived differently by different readers in different contexts at different times, we can look forward to many more variations on this infinitely engaging theme


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:02
Chinese to English
I disagree with everything... Oct 16, 2012

James (Jim) Davis wrote:

However, if you are translating a contract, then forget about Nida, Newton is the guy you need, as close as reasonably possible to the source text, if you want to stay out of court.


Having thought about it a bit more, I don't really agree with this. What does "close" mean here? In my pair, I'd translate very differently for a Chinese lawyer and a British lawyer. I'd translate differently depending whether it's for information, or whether my text was to become an English-language contract.

Giles Watson wrote:

The debate over translating "ad spiritum" or "ad litteram" has been going on since the days of the Ancient Greeks.


And I kinda disagree with this as well. I think it's become a bit of a trope in our profession: two translators disagree - quick, label one of them "literal" and the other one "free"! I've started to feel that these labels hide a lot more than they reveal - that they stunt the debate rather than inform it.

On a couple of occasions I've seen/been involved in big arguments which turned out in the end to hinge on different assumptions about who the target readership was (or what they know). Very closely related to the literal/free question, I find it often makes more sense to think about the level at which a translator is aiming for equivalence: word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, text. And I nearly got into an argument with an editor just last week over a "foreignising" element in a text, and over the use of geographically limited colloquial English (I was for both, paradoxically!).

So, yes, there are certainly themes which crop up repeatedly in the debates over the centuries. But I think that we're now able to think about translation in a lot more interesting ways than just the reductive literal/free contrast. And the Newmark/Nida debate is a part of that expansion of our intellectual palette.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:02
Italian to English
I agree with everything... Oct 17, 2012

Phil Hand wrote:



The debate over translating "ad spiritum" or "ad litteram" has been going on since the days of the Ancient Greeks.



And I kinda disagree with this as well.



So do I, as I thought was clear from the rest of my post



On a couple of occasions I've seen/been involved in big arguments which turned out in the end to hinge on different assumptions about who the target readership was (or what they know).



This goes back to my other point about the importance of "fitness for purpose". You need to know what the purpose of the translation is to be able to work out how to approach it and indeed whether you will be able to add sufficient (customer-perceived) value to make it worth your while doing it in the first place.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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An afterthought (probably a very old thought, though) Oct 18, 2012

toloue_man wrote:
The following is a paragraph of "Introducing Translation Studies" by Jeremy Munday (p.44 , section 3.3)...


I got my hands on a copy of that book and am reading it now. It looks like a very nice introduction to translation science in general, in short chapters.

The fact-checker in me (or: the googler in me) was puzzled by this section from it (page 20):

Thus, St Jerome, the most famous of all translators, cites the authority of Cicero’s approach to justify his own Latin revision and translation of the Christian Bible, commissioned by Damasus, bishop of Rome. In a work that was to become known as the Latin Vulgate, Jerome revised and corrected earlier Latin translations of the New Testament and, for the Old Testament, decided to return to the Hebrew, a decision that was controversial to those who maintained the divine inspiration of the Greek Septuagint.

His translation strategy is formulated in "De optimo genere interpretandi", a letter addressed to his friend, the senator Pammachius, in 395 CE. In perhaps the most famous statement ever on the translation process, St Jerome, defending himself against criticisms of ‘incorrect’ translation, describes his strategy in the following terms:

Now I not only admit but freely announce that in translating from the Greek (except of course in the case of the Holy Scripture, where even the syntax contains a mystery) I render not word-for-word, but sense-for-sense. --(St Jerome 395 CE/1997: 25)

Although some scholars argue that these terms have been misinterpreted, Jerome’s statement is now usually taken to refer to what came to be known as ‘literal’ (word-for-word) and ‘free’ (sense-for-sense) translation. Jerome rejected the word-for-word approach because, by following so closely the form of the ST, it produced an absurd translation, cloaking the sense of the original.


What originally triggered my fact-finding was Munday's claim that Jerome had rejected word-for-word translation because of the reason given by Munday (underlined). I thought: did Jerome give this reason, or is this just Munday's speculation about what Jerome's reason might have been?

Anyway, I found Jerome's writings here. However, my original query was soon forgotten. For after reading the relevant letters, I was even more puzzled, because the statement of Jerome quoted by Munday (italics) is not in a letter about the translation of the Vulgate bible, but in a letter about a *gisting* done by Jerome.

The translation that Jerome was defending by that statement was actually an "intercultural rewrite" that was specifically requested by the owner of the original document, who wanted it for his own private use. When the rewrite became public, critics who did not realise that it was a rewrite treated it as a translation, and of course if you judge a rewrite as a translation, it would look like a very bad, very free translation. In fact, I suspect Jerome's comment about "sense for sense" refers not to sentences or even paragraphs, but to trains of logical thought as a whole (which in those days could run over several pages).

I googled to see if others have had similar insights, and I found an article here that says some interesting things about Nida's interpretation of what Jerome had said. According to that article, Nida believed that the Vulgate was a very free translation (and he thought that Jerome had said so, in the quote above), but it wasn't. The Vulgate was in fact an ultra-literal translation. One criticism against it (from Latin speakers) was that the Latin was too Greek (when translating from Greek) or too Hebrew (when translating from Hebrew).

On a slightly different topic, looking back at the text from Munday's book, I can't help but smile at the methods used by authors to make themselves and their writings look more important. Munday uses the quote-some-Latin trick, when he writes "His translation strategy is formulated in 'De optimo genere interpretandi'...". However, the way Munday writes Jerome's letter's title specifically in Latin creates the impression that this is the actual title of Jerome's text, thereby implying that the quoted statement represents Jerome's method of translating the Vulgate.

The letter's title was in fact added by the editors of a compilation of Jerome's works, much later (not by Jerome himself). And they chose an unfortunate title, for by calling the letter "On the Best Method of Translating" they managed to trick 20th century translation scholars into thinking that this letter is one of Jerome's most important works on translation, when really it was just a wild attempt to save his reputation after having done one very unfortunate, non-standard (perhaps even experimental) "translation" that was originally meant to remain private and not get published.

Samuel


[Edited at 2012-10-18 08:36 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:02
Hebrew to English
Overrated Oct 18, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:

toloue_man wrote:
The following is a paragraph of "Introducing Translation Studies" by Jeremy Munday (p.44 , section 3.3)...


I got my hands on a copy of that book and am reading it now. It looks like a very nice introduction to translation science in general, in short chapters.


That's a very dry book, I struggled to get through it.


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