Translation and relevance gutt
1 / 34

TRANSLATION AND RELEVANCE ( Gutt ) - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

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.

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'TRANSLATION AND RELEVANCE ( Gutt )' - sinclair

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
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.

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?


Relevance theory by sperber and wilson
RELEVANCE THEORY (by Sperber and Wilson)

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.


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."



  • Jokes are intended to be funny

  • The humorous effect depends on linguistic epression

  • Jokes depend on allusiveness, word games etc. rather than explicitness

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.

Cultural relativism
Cultural relativism particular reference can be explained in a footnote.

  • e.g. Sapir-Whorf

    The way we see the world is determined by the language we speak


    what about translatability?

Ex: particular reference can be explained in a footnote.


  • culture-boundphenomena (carol-singing°, A-levels, passeggiata*, fuori corso)

  • set expressionswhich are rooted in the folk historyof the culture (BoxingDay, in bocca al lupo),

  • differentwaysofviewing the same reality (toccare ferro = eng. ?...)

  • * trad. lett. walk, butthisdoesnot express the cultural shadeofmeaningdistinguishingthem

    (itisnotan English habit, formeteorologicalaswellastraditionalreasons)

  • ° carolas a Christmas songexists in Italianbut the act of going from door to door singingthemdoesnot.

A few more examples
A few more examples particular reference can be explained in a footnote.




infancy (0-2)/

childhood (2-12)

  • il rosso dell’uovo

  • infanzia (0-12)

CAFFE’ particular reference can be explained in a footnote.


  • Ristretto

  • Corretto

  • Macchiato

  • Espresso

  • Lungo

SNOW particular reference can be explained in a footnote.

Eskimoshavesixwaystorefertosnow, correspondingtodifferentsituations (falling, on the ground, soft, drifting…)


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.

Malinowski particular reference can be explained in a footnote. Context 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 particular reference can be explained in a footnote.

  • "the way of life and its manifestations that are peculiar to a community that uses a particular language as its means of expression",

    thus acknowledging that each language group as its own culturally specific features.

Peter particular reference can be explained in a footnote. 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 particular reference can be explained in a footnote. Newmark for dealing with cultural gap:

  • 1) Naturalization:A strategy when a SL word is transferred into TL text in its original form.

  • 2) Couplet or triplet and quadruplet:Is another technique the translator adopts at the time of transferring, naturalizing or calques to avoid any misunderstanding: according to him it is a number of strategies combine together to handle one problem.

  • 3) Neutralization: Neutralization is a kind of paraphrase at the level of word. If it is at higher level it would be a paraphrase. When the SL item is generalized (neutralized) it is paraphrased with some culture free words.4) Descriptive and functional equivalent:In explanation of source language cultural item there is two elements: one is descriptive and another one would be functional. Descriptive equivalent talks about size, color and composition. The functional equivalent talks about the purpose of the SL cultural-specific word.

  • 5) Explanation as footnote:The translator may wish to give extra information to the TL reader. He would explain this extra information in a footnote. It may come at the bottom of the page, at the end of chapter or at the end of the book.

  • 6) Cultural equivalent:The SL cultural word is translated by TL cultural word

  • 7) Compensation:A technique which is used when confronting a loss of meaning, sound effect, pragmatic effect or metaphor in one part of a text. The word or concept is compensated in other part of the text.

Institutional terms
Institutional terms particular reference can be explained in a footnote.

  • May differtovaryingdegrees in form or functionfromcountrytocountry due tohistorical or politicalreasons

    • simplytranscribed (Foreign Office, Serie A)

    • “translation couplet in apposition” (binomio traduttivo: etichetta traduttiva + traduzione) (Newmark): cassa integrazione (Italianredundancyfund), by-election (elezione suppletiva in Gran Bretagna

    • Transparenttranslationwherepossible (standardisedtranslations under the influenceof EU): La Camera dei Comuni, ItalianSenate

      • Sometimesevenwhenthereis no realequivalent in the TL (Lega Nord Northern League)

        Riskypractice in casesofconceptualgaps: certificato di residenza and stato di famigliahave no equivalent in English because the referentdoesnotexist.

  • The particular reference can be explained in a footnote. mostdifficult are individuallexicalitems and expressionsthatcontain a potentiallyincomprehensible or misleading cultural aspect.

    Consider the cultural implicationsof the following:

    • Breakfast/colazione (whatiseaten?)

    • Barrister/avvocato (what are theirduties?)

    • Terraced house/villetta a schiera (wholives in it?)

  • Once identified, strategiesfordealingwithsuchterms:

    • Transcription(baseball, cricket, pizza, lasagne)

    • Literal/transparenttranslation (basketball=pallacanestro, napoletano=Neapolitan)

    • Providedwith a couple (porcini = ediblemushrooms)

    • Providedwith a triplet (tiramisù=pick-me-up, Italiancream and coffee dessert dish)

  • Where particular reference can be explained in a footnote. suchepedients are notpossible, resortto:

    1) paraphrase

    2) annotatedexplanations

    3) deletion, if the term’s omissiondoesnotdetractfrom the essentialmeaning:

  • The boys were out playingconkers

    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

Culture bound elements
Culture bound elements particular reference can be explained in a footnote.

They can bereferredto:

  • Extralinguisticelementsof reality (topografia, flora e fauna, istituzioni sociali etc.),

    • Extralinguistic Culture-bound Reference (ECR): reference that is attempted by means of any culture-bound linguistic expression, which refers to an extralinguistic entity or process, and which is assumed to have a discourse referent that is identifiable to a relevant audience as this referent is within the encyclopedic knowledge of this audience.

  • Pragmatic and intralinguisticelements(such as idioms, proverbs, slang and dialects)

  • both

More examples
More examples… particular reference can be explained in a footnote.



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…

  • A merenda mangiavano castagne, o pane con olio e aceto, e poi se avevano finito i compiti potevano scendere a giocare in piazzetta… (I.SVEVO)

  • At tea-time they ate chestnuts, or bread with oil and vinegar, and then, if they had finished their homework, they could go and play in the small piazza (TRANSLATION)

  • Translator has to be: poi se avevano finito i compiti potevano scendere a giocare in piazzetta… (I.SVEVO)

    • Bilingual / bicultural

  • To catch

    • Allusion (cultural reference):

      tacit reference to another literary work, to another art, to history, to contemporary figures, or the like .

possibili strategie: poi se avevano finito i compiti potevano scendere a giocare in piazzetta… (I.SVEVO)

  • ricorso a una traduzione “standard”;

  • ricorso a una traduzione letterale, senza curarsi del significato connotativo o contestuale;

  • nota aggiunta all’interno del testo, in cui il traduttore aggiunge in maniera non intrusiva informazioni (sulle fonti etc.) che l’autore, dal suo punto di vista della LP, non ha ritenuto necessarie;

  • ricorso a note a piè di pagina, nota introduttiva o altre spiegazioni non inserite nel testo, ma fornite a parte come informazioni aggiuntive;

  • inserimento di marche interne al testo per segnalare attraverso strutture marcate dal punto di vista sintattico la presenza di prestiti;

  • sostituzione con un elemento della LA;

  • spiegazione dell’allusione tramite parafrasi;

  • ricreazione dell’allusione, tramite una fusione di più tecniche: costruzione creativa di un passaggio che suggerisca le connotazioni dell’allusione o altri effetti da essa creati;

  • omissione dell’allusione.

Allusion 1
Allusion 1 poi se avevano finito i compiti potevano scendere a giocare in piazzetta… (I.SVEVO)

  • The most creative strategy for the translator is that of replacing allusion with an element of the TL

  • It is vital that this element is for the addressee of the TL what the original was for the addressee of the SL, so a reproduction of an allusion of the same lexical field should be attempted and the theme/topic and the fundamental characteristics should be preserved.

How to translate this strip
How to translate this strip? replacing allusion with an element of the TL

  • Stick a sentence into Sally’s bubble to make the cultural assumption explicit (“… as T. Roosvelt once said…” ? It would ruin the joke

  • Put an eplanatory note? The effect wouldn’t be achieved (intellectual recognition but not emotive response)

    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”.

task replacing allusion with an element of the TL

  • Try and translate the strip