TRANSLATION AND RELEVANCE ( Gutt ). Equivalence is largely text-based. Translation processes, however, imply cognition. Cognitive analysis of the translation process has shifted the focus from TEXT to MENTAL PROCESSES. One of the main features of cognition is INFERENCING.
Equivalence is largely text-based.
Translation processes, however, imply cognition.
Cognitive analysis of the translation process has shifted the focus from TEXT to MENTAL PROCESSES.
One of the main features of cognition is INFERENCING.
Example from Newsweek, 2001:
Serge Cardin, a Canadian MP, had to apologize to the House for humming the theme song from The Godfather while Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano, who is of Italian descent, addressed Parliament.
Why did the MP have to apologize? Is it for ‘humming’, which is a breach of parliamentary formality?
What is the relevance of the reference to the Godfather? Is it just because this film is a classic?
Why did the author mention ‘Italian descent’?
Which are the relevant parts of this extract?
What do you infer?
INFERENCE INVOLVES CONTEXT
Communication starts with a STIMULUS (verbal or non verbal) = humming a song
This stimulus guides the hearer (or reader) towards a precise meaning intended by the speaker (INFORMATIVE INTENTION).
Communication and relevance would be compromised if the interaction of stimulus (humming a tune), contextual assumptions (Godfather – Mafia – corrupt minister – Italian descent…) and interpretation (ethnic offence) were disturbed for any reason.
This is what (often) happens when we do not see the point of a joke or the irony of something.
RELEVANCE AND TRANSLATION
What is the following? What is the source language? Try to translate it in our ‘culture’.
Three friends - Aboriginal, Jew and Australian, spend each night together drinking beer in an outback (entroterra) pub.
One night as they're leaving, a road-train (AusEng autotreno) comes through the town and kills all three. The next day, the publican (oste) is surprised to see the Australian - who assumed dead - walked through the door.
The Australian tells him, "Well, we were all killed, but when we got to the pearly gates (le porte del paradiso), St. Peter said we could come back to earth if we pay him $20.""Well, obviously, you paid up, but what happened to your friends?""The jew's trying to haggle him down to $10, and the aboriginal is trying to convince him that the government will pay for it."
TRANSLATING JOKES IS ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING WORKS.
JOKE TRANSLATION IS NO JOKE!!!
As far as humour is concerned, no matter how well the translator knows the target language, cultural references and polysemous items may involve them in long and complicated explanations, after which the recipient rarely reacts with a laugh.
Thus, a common linguistic code is definitely not all that is needed in order to appreciate humour.
Language and culture are intertwined and without shared knowledge between sender and recipient, a common linguistic code will be almost of no help.
Julia Roberts, an Englishman and a Frenchman were all sitting in the same train compartment. Nothing much happened until the train went into a tunnel.
Through the darkness could be heard the sound of a loud slap and a cry of pain. When the train emerged from the tunnel, Julia Roberts and the Englishman were sitting perfectly normally, but the Frenchman was rubbing his cheek and nursing a swollen eye.
Julia immediately thought: “The Frenchman must have tried to kiss me when we went in the tunnel, but kissed the Englishman by mistake and got a slap for his pains.”
The Frenchman thought: “The Englishman must have tried to kiss Julia and she slapped me by mistake.”
And the Englishman thought: “That is great. Every time we go into a tunnel, I can smack that French prat!”
What sociocultural implication is in this joke?
There is the sociocultural implication of the ever lasting rivalry between the English and the French. To find the joke funny, you need to be aware of the never ending English-French mental war within an English person. In fact, there is another joke that says that “Sure sign that you’re English is that you’re still mentally at war with Germany, France, Scotland, the American colonies, the Danes, the Celts, the Vikings, and the Romans”.
There was an Irishman, and Englishman and Claudia Schiffer sitting together in a carriage in a train going through Tasmania. Suddenly the train went through a tunnel and as it was an old style train, there were no lights in the carriage and it went completely dark.
Then there was this kissing noise and the sound of a really loud slap.
When the train came out of the tunnel, Claudia Schiffer and the Irishman were sitting as if nothing had happened and the Englishman had his hand against his face as he has been slapped there.
The Englishman was thinking: “The Irish fella must have kissed Claudia Schiffer and she missed him and slapped me instead.”
Claudia Schiffer was thinking: “The English fella must have tried to kiss me and actually kissed the Irishman and got slapped for it.”
And the Irishman was thinking: “This is great. The next time the train goes through a tunnel I’ll make another kissing noise and slap that English bastard again!”
Prince Charles was out early the other day walking the dog. When a passerby said: “Morning”, Charles said: “No, just walking the dog.”
What kind of plays are there in this joke?
Is it easy or difficult to translate it?
This joke is particularly difficult to translate because it plays on two levels: the linguistic and the cultural one. In translating such a joke, one needs, first of all, to understand the core of the joke and then try and transfer it to the target language.
Yet, the cultural context has to be explained first: on the one hand, Prince Charles is part of the present British Royal family, more precisely, he is the son of Queen Elizabeth; and on the other hand, it must be said that the joke describes the event as taking place somewhere immediately after his wife, Lady Di’s death.
On a linguistic level, the phonemic resemblance between the verb to mourn, inits continuous aspect – mourning andthe noun morning, which belongs to the greeting “Good morning”, but which in familiar English may be left as such.
The linguistic part will be very difficult to render into Italian because of the obvious lack of phonemic coincidence of the two words.
Try to translate the joke
Yet, as far as the cultural aspect is concerned, the particular reference can be explained in a footnote.
Nonetheless, the footnote will merely isolate what is a part of a broader cultural identity (Lady Di’s relation to his husband, her life and her role played in the British Royal Family, her accident, her death etc) and while explaining what the small circle may signify they will still leave in the dark – take for granted – the general background which gives energy and relevance to the small details.
The way we see the world is determined by the language we speak
what about translatability?
(itisnotan English habit, formeteorologicalaswellastraditionalreasons)
Eskimoshavesixwaystorefertosnow, correspondingtodifferentsituations (falling, on the ground, soft, drifting…)
LAMB OF GOD
In BibletranslationforEskimositwastranslatedas the SEAL ofGod
SHAKESPEARE’S SONNET ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ cannot be semantically translated into a language where summers are unpleasant.
MalinowskiContext of culture
CULTURE = the system of values, beliefs, conventions, which maintain cohesiveness within a particular group
Anyone communicating in their native language express themselves in language that reflects their cultural upbringing => their view of the world.
Awareness of cultural differences /similarities is essential to the interpretation of meaning => is essential to translation
Newmark (1988) definition of ‘culture’ as
thus acknowledging that each language group as its own culturally specific features.
Peter Newmark also categorized the cultural words as follows:
1) Ecology: flora, fauna, hills, winds, plains
2) Material Culture: food, clothes, houses and towns, transport
3) Social Culture: work and leisure
4) Organizations , Customs, Activities, Procedures, Concepts:
• Political and administrative• Religious• artistic
5) Gestures and Habits
Some strategies introduced by Newmark for dealing with cultural gap:
Riskypractice in casesofconceptualgaps: certificato di residenza and stato di famigliahave no equivalent in English because the referentdoesnotexist.
Consider the cultural implicationsof the following:
3) deletion, if the term’s omissiondoesnotdetractfrom the essentialmeaning:
1. I ragazzi erano fuori a giocare con le castagne d’India
2. I ragazzi erano fuori a giocare a ‘conkers’ (un gioco inglese nel quale i bambini stanno uno con una castagna d’India a penzoloni da un filo, mentre l’altro cerca di rompere la castagna dell’avversario con la propria facendola roteare nell’aria)
3. I ragazzi erano fuori a giocare
They can bereferredto:
On September 30°, XXXX YYY, aged 89 years, beloved wife of ZZZZ, much loved mother of KKKK.
Funeral service in (place) on (date) at (time)
E’ mancata all’affetto dei suoi cari
La ricordano a quanti l’hanno conosciuta e amata i figli X con Y, Z con K, e i nipoti tutti.
I funerali avranno luogo il giorno … alle ore … presso la chiesa…
tacit reference to another literary work, to another art, to history, to contemporary figures, or the like .
“Speak softly and carry a big stick; (you will go far)”. (not everybody knows this historical reference but it has now the force of a sayng/proverb)
Robin Lakoff observes:
“The difference between telling a joke right and ruining it by eplaining the punch line. The hearer of a ruined joke can still see that it was funny, but it is not funny to him”.