Translation is, of course, a rewriting of an original text. The discipline of Translation studies brings together work in a wide variety of fields such linguistics, literary studies, history, anthropology, psychology, politics and economics. "Modern " Translation theory , like current literary theory , begins with structuralism and reflects the proliferation of the age. In these lectures, the focus will be on the contemporary approaches to Translation that began in the mid-sixties and continued to be influential today.
The main concern of Translation theory is to determine appropriate Translation methods for the widest possible range of texts. It provides a framework of principles, restricted rules and hints for translating texts and criticizing translations. It also provides a background for solving the problems that arise during the process of translation. According to Holmes (1991), the ultimate goal of Translation theory is to develop a full , inclusive theory accommodating as many elements as it can to explain and predict all phenomena falling within the area of translation.
Roman Jakobson (1959)
Jakobson tries to clarify the point that the meaning of a word or a phrase is a semiotic fact, a linguistic and not a non linguistic phenomenon. He distinguishes between three types of verbal sign interpretation: (1) "intralingual" which means transference of verbal signs into other verbal signs within the same language; (2) "interlingual" which means the interpretation of verbal signs into other verbal signs between two languages; and (3) "intersemiotic" which means an interpretation of verbal signs into verbal and non verbal signs. Jakobson claims that the non-existence of some syntactic patterns in a specific language does not prevent the translator from transferring concepts from one language into others. For him, loan translation, circumlocution , semantic shifts as well as others are the means that translators can employ to cover " deficiencies " in the target language.
Catford's linguistic Theory of Translation
It deals with the analysis and description of Translation process. To him, the theory of Translation is a branch of comparative linguistics since it deals with a certain type of relation between languages. It is essentially a theory of applied linguistics. Catford (1965) defines Translation as " the replacement of textual materials in one language (SL) by equivalent textual materials in another language(TL)." To him , Translation can be either full or partial, depending on the extent of the SL text. In a full translation, the entire SL text is replaced by the TL text. In a partial translation, some part or parts of the SL text are left untranslated. In literary translation, for instance, some lexical items simply get transferred to the TL text for they are regarded as " untranslatable " or for the deliberate purpose of introducing the "local color" into the TL. Translation may be total or restricted depending on the levels of language involved in translation. To him, total Translation is defined as " replacement of SL grammar and lexis by equivalent TL grammar and lexis with consequential replacement of SL phonology / graphology by ( non-equivalent )TL phonology / graphology. Restricted Translation , on the other hand, is performed only at the phonological / graphological level, or at only one of the two levels of grammar and lexis (words). Catford classifies Translation as " rank-bound" and " un-bound " , depending on the rank in a grammatical hierarchy at which Translation equivalence is established. In rank-bound Translation , the TL equivalents are always selected at same rank, e.g. word. It is a bad type of Translation because the equivalents established at a lower rank may not be appropriate at a higher rank. In un-bound Translation , equivalents shunt up and down the rank scale freely. Catford makes a distinction textual equivalence and formal correspondence . A " textual equivalent " is any TL text or portion of text which is to be the equivalent of a given SL text or portion of text. A "formal correspondent" is defined as any TL category which can be said to occupy , as nearly as possible , the same place in the TL as the given SL category occupies in the SL. Catford states that it is necessary for Translation theory to draw upon a theory of meaning; without which certain important aspects of Translation cannot be discussed. According to him , meaning is a property of a language. An SL text has an SL meaning, and a TL text has a TL meaning. The formal and contextual meanings of SL and TL items can rarely be the same. There is no one-to-one relationship between grammatical/lexical items and their contextual meanings of any two languages. Catford distinguishes between linguistic and cultural untranslatability. Linguistic untranslatability occurs due to the lack of formal correspondence between the source and the target language. For example , in English two distinct morphemes" (nominal) plural" and "(verbal) singular" are represented graphologically by (-s) as in eats and cats. The same morphemes may not be occupying equivalent grammatical phenomenon in another language. Cultural untranslatability arises where a situational feature is completely absent from the culture of which the TL is a part . It produces unusual collocations. To sum up , Catford's approach to Translation is purely linguistic and textual. He left out so many contextual factors like the author's and the translator's social and cultural background, his intended audience, his aim in writing or translating the text or the type of the text. In his theory Translation equivalence is to be established at the rank of sentence. The discourse levels beyond the sentence have not been taken care of.
Whereas Catford's approach to Translation is analytic , Nida's approach is intuitive. His theory falls within the framework of transformational generative grammar and componential semantics. He places an emphasis on the role of the receptor in the judgment of the adequacy of a translation, which is based on his/her intuitive response to it. According to Nida, the translator first analyzes the message of the source language into its simplest and structurally clearest forms " kernels" , transfers it at this level, and restructures it to the level in the receptor language which is most appropriate for the audience he intends to reach. Nida's processes of analysis are relatively complex , for they involve three different sets of features: (1) the grammatical relationships between the constituent parts, (2) the referential meanings of the semantic units , and (3) the connotative values of the grammatical structures and the semantic units. Grammatical analysis aims at analyzing the SL text into its kernel , or near kernel-sentences and then finding out how they are related to one another. Thus, all the grammatical relationships between constituent parts are expressed clearly and with ambiguity. Nida suggests the use of other semantically based models such as those developed by Fillmore, Halliday and Langendoen. Nida finds the semantic theory proposed by Katz and Fodor inadequate because it is much concerned with the resolving of ambiguities. So he suggests an analysis of referential meaning. To him , one does not translate words , but bundles of componential features. It is difficult to analyze the connotative meaning of the message and its stylistic features with the same precision involved in analyzing the referential meaning of semantic units. The connotative meaning is based on the personal and emotional response of the receptor. As receptors belong to different cultural backgrounds , they cannot respond in an identical manner to the original message. For Nida In restructuring , one has to consider the problems from three perspectives: (1) the varieties of language or of styles which may be desirable, (2) the essential components and characteristics of these various styles and (3) the techniques which may be employed in producing the type of style desired. After the process of restructuring has been completed , the Translation has to be tested in terms of its accuracy of rendering, intelligibility , stylistic equivalence…etc. Nida states that all good translations tend to be somewhat longer than the originals. This is due to the fact that the translator not only states explicitly everything in the original but also makes explicit what was implicit in the SL text. According to Nida, the ultimate test of a Translation must be based upon three major factors: (i) the correctness with which the receptors understand the message of the original. (ii) the ease of comprehension and (iii) the involvement a person experiences as a result of the adequacy of the form of the translation. To sum up, Nida favors "free" Translation which is "faithful" to the content of the message rather than the form. He argues that formal translators who are manly concerned with correspondences such as poetry to poetry , sentence to sentence are more apt to make mistakes misinterpreting the " intent of the author". Nida's approach to Translation is entirely socio-linguistic and receptor-oriented, taking into consideration contextual or discourse features besides textual or linguistics features. By considering the connotative or pragmatic meaning as the most important one in transferring the message from the SL to the receptor language , Nida propounds a pragmatic theory of translation. Nida's theory of Translation is base on the framework of transformational generative grammar. It considers the SL text and TL text as two surface structures related to each other by back and forward transformations. Nida's theory emphasizes not formal correspondence , but functional equivalence; not literal meaning but dynamic equivalence; not what language communicates , but how it communicates. The limitation in Nida's theory is its exclusive concern with the Bible Translation at the expense of other types of texts. Further it depends on the intuitive response and judgment of receptors who may differ with regard to the correctness any Translation
Holmes dismisses the traditional notion of equivalence and describes the process of translation in a new light. He introduces a new terminology and methodology with which to approach the subject. Holmes adopts the term " metalanguage" . It is a comment on a comment or language turning upon itself. While verse translation is a kind of metaliterature because it comments upon and interprets another text, it also generates a new corpus of metaliterature about its own literariness. Holmes thus introduces the term " meta poem" to designate a given translated poem. Holmes defines four types of translations each relating differently to the original text and belonging to different theoretical traditions. The first type retains the form of the original , the second type attempts to discern the function of the text in the receiving culture. The third type is content-derivative, taking the original meaning and allowing it to develop into its own unique shape in the TL such as Pound's organic free verse translation of Homer in the first canto. The fourth type as Holmes calls it " deviant forms" not deriving from the original poem at all but deliberately retaining minimal similarity for other purposes, for which Holmes gives no examples. For Holmes, the approach of translation is an empirical practice, one which looks at actual translated texts as they appear in a given culture. Holmes breaks translation studies down into three areas of focus: (1) the descriptive branch : to describe phenomena of translations as they are; (2) the theory branch : to establish principles by which these phenomena can be explained ; (3) the applied branch: to use the information gained from (1) and (2) in the practice of translation and training of translators.
Lefevere's " Seven Strategies" for Translating poetry
Lefevere (1975) reveals a similar approach to that of Holmes. He attempts a more empirical and objective approach by taking one source text and describing seven different types of translations based on correspondingly distinct methodologies that tend to govern the process of translation. Each opens up certain possibilities and closes others. (1) phonemic translation which works well in recovering etymologically related words and reproducing onomatopoeia , but shatters meaning. (2) Literal, translation in which the literary value is sacrificed. (3) Metrical translation may preserve the meter but distorts sense and syntax. (4) Prose version avoids sense distortion but the poetic resonance of the text is robbed. (5) Rhyming translations are governed by so many restraints that words end up meaning what they do not mean. (6) Blank verse achieves grater accuracy and a high degree of literariness , but the translated versions are sometimes verbose and clumsy. (7) Finally , the interpretation strategy interprets the theme to make the text easier for reception ,but may do so at the expense of structure and texture.
Polysystem Theory and Translation Studies
Even-Zohar (1978) was the first to introduce the term" polysystem" for the aggregate of literary systems including everything from high or" canonized " forms ( e.g. innovative verse) to low or " non-canonized" forms (e.g. children's literature and popular fiction) in a given culture. Polysystem theorists argue that the social norms and literary conventions in the receiving culture govern the aesthetic presuppositions of the translators and thus influence ensuing translation decisions. They have expanded the parameters of Holmes and Lefevere to the point where translation theory seems to transcend " legitimate" linguistic and literary borders. Even-Zohar say: It is necessary to include translated literature in the polysystem. … No observer in the history of any literature can avoid recognizing as an important fact the impact of translations and their role in the synchrony and diachrony of a certain literature. In all previous models , translations were classified as secondary systems; Even-Zohar shows that such classification may be inaccurate. Even-Zohar outlines three social circumstances that maintain a primary position for translation : when literature is " young" or in the process of being established; when literature is "peripheral" or " weak" or both ; and when literature is experiencing a " crisis" or a turning point. Even-Zohar suggests that when translated literature assumes a primary position , the borders between translated texts and original texts " diffuse" and translation gets liberalized expanding to include versions, imitations and adaptations as well. If the foreign text is radical , the translated text runs the risk of not being incorporated into the literary system of the receiving culture. However, if the new text is victorious , it tends to function as primary literature and both the receiving culture's original literature and the translated literature become enriched. Gentzler says that the advantage of polysystem theory is that it integrates the study of literature with the study of social and economic forces of history. But Gentzler criticizes Even-Zohar's uncritical adoption of the formalistic framework , perpetuating concepts such as " literariness" which underlie , yet seem inappropriate to , Even-Zohar's complex model of cultural systems, for Even-Zohar retains a concept of literary facts based on a formalist value system of defamiliarization perhaps in contradiction to his own thesis of literary texts being culturally dependent .
Translation Studies in Arabic Literature
The first contacts between Arabs and other nations were conducted by merchants who did not care much about lofty ideas or common understanding among nations, but followed a policy of profiteering and exploitation. They used a less amiable trend to develop relationships. A more amiable attitude was developed with the coming of Islam. The Holy prophet Mohammad is quoted to have said, " Seek knowledge even in China". This statement not only indicates the Holy prophet's concern about science and human understanding , but it also perpetuates the conception of the necessity of communication between peoples and nations. People started to understand a life of peace and tranquility can never be reached except through international cooperation and friendship. A significant role in this understanding was played by the voice of translators who made every effort possible to bring about the sense of friendship. All the registers and governmental documents were translated into Arabic during the Umayyad period. Persian , for example , was a language from which the Arabs borrowed freely. Al –Asha over-used the use of Persian words in his poetry. The prince Khalid bin Yazeed was interested in translation and thus encouraged scholars to translate acclaimed works from other languages into Arabic.
Translation in the Abbasids Era
Abbasids ruled from 750 until 1258 A.D. Their caliphate may be seen as the golden age of Islamic civilization. During their era, translation was encouraged by Al-Mamun who founded the so-called House of Wisdom ( Dar al-Hikma) in Baghdad. It is well known that Al- Mamun used to give prominent translators like ( Haneen bin Isac ) equal weight in gold to the weight of the translated text. Haneen bin Isac and Thabet bin Kharra translated so many works in medicine, science astrology, mathematics , philosophy and criticism among others. Haneen's method of translation was not to give word-for-word translation but to understand the source sentence and convey its meaning in Arabic using Arabic words as far as possible. Loan translation was also adopted to incorporate new words from the source languages. Translators made benefit of the high derivational potentiality of Arabic and always sought for new derivational forms. Other translators as Yohana bin Al-Batriq and Eben Al-Homsi used word-for-word translation methods , but their works were less acceptable at that time. Ibn Al-Muqaffa is an Iranian intellectual who attained high administrative position under the Abbasids. He is best known for translating literary works from Persian into Arabic. He translated " Kalilah and Dimnah " during the Al-Mansour caliphate. He aimed to influence the caliph and present to him the advice to stop suppression and do justice.
He is one of the prominent intellectuals in the Abbasids period. He critically studied works of translation and pointed out their merits and demerits. He said that the good translator must have the same cultural background and the same talent as that of the original author. He underestimated translators who highly depended on transliteration and loan translation. Al-Jahez's views on translation , though appeared in the 8th C. , are still influential today. Nida's theory advocates almost the same principles. Al- Jahez also talked about poetic translation. He said that " poetry loses its originality and beauty when translated".
Arabic translations in the Nineteenth Century
Mohammad Ali ,who ruled Egypt from (1805) to (1848), encouraged the use of Arabic in schools and government institutions and established a printing press. He also established the School of Lingua ( Dar al-alsun ) in 1835. It was directed by Rafaa Al-Tahtawi . Selected Egyptian students were sent to study in France and on their return they are assigned to translate western technical manuals on agriculture, engineering, mathematics and military tactics. Khudaiwi Ishmael also played an important role in activating and encouraging translation studies. Many leading scholars contributed to the field of translation at that time such as Butrus Al Bustani , Ibrahim al Yazijee and Najeeb Hadad. Suleiman Al Bustani learnt Greek and excelled in it. He is given credit for translating The Iliad of Homer. Many men of letters also translated many works into Arabic such as Mustafa Al-Manfaluti, Khaleel Mutran, May Zeyada, Tawfeek Al-Hakim and so on. Translation is the Arab world is as old as the Tower of Babel. Though translation was widely practiced in the Arab world many centuries ago, we hardly find any extensive theoretical study on translation