The Importance of Adequacy in Translation

There are both linguistic and extralinguistic aspects that hinder to reach adequacy in fiction translation. Semantic information of the text differs essentially from the expressive-emotional information of the text but they have one common trait: both can bear and render extralinguistic information. Extralinguistic information often becomes a stone to stumble over by a translator, as it is a lingvoethnic barrier for a fiction translator; Misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the extralinguistic information means to misrepresent:

1.      either what was actually communicated in the SL text, what means the pragmatic core of the SL text may be lost and therefore in the TL text ambivalence may arise for the recipient reader.

2.      or there may be misrepresented the author’s communicative intention, the social context of the scene/situation as well as disposition or relationships of the communication act participants. 

Both semantic and pragmatic inadequacies are flaws which can pose a recipient reader to the problem or cultural misunderstanding and adequate comprehension of the TL text.

The conception of extralinguistic information preconditions and presupposes correct observance of its pragmatic meaning for adequate representation to TL reader. Misrepresentation and ambivalency in the TL text arise due to the selection of semantically inadequate lexical unit for the pragmatic meaning of the SL lexical unit.

The overtone of irony in the SL speech act may serve as a wrong indicator to the translator to misinterpret and misrepresent the social context of the scene/situation as well as dispositions or relationships of the communication act participants.

Therefore, a non-vernacular translator of the SL text may wrongly assume that alternated markers of distance and solidarity in the same speech act can allow selection only of the marker of solidarity in the TL translation, thus leading the recepient reader to even wronger assumptions about the scene-situation.

Realies, which are markers of solidarity and bear national colouring should be transcribed or transliterated, but supplied with comments in the footnotes.

Realies which are markers of either solidarity or distance in the language community other than of the SL text native reader and are represented in the SL text as foreignisms, should be transcribed or transliterated, but be also supplied with comments in the footnotes to the TL reader;

A non-vernacular translator of the SL text may not thoroughly understand the extralinguistic information contained in the SL text, misinterpret the pragmatic meaning of a lexical unit or wrongly deduct on the choice of the adequate correspondence of a SL lexical unit in the TL text.

Why I study English ?

For Europeans of reasoning of English and fixing after him of status of international are not small talks. Many questions still remain opened. How indeed modern English is optimum mean for intercourse of people of different nationalities? Or does he become the threat to the variety of national cultures and languages? Are there another ways (languages) of intercourse in world association?

A necessity in a single language goes from the depth of ages. It is possible to remember the Babylonian tower or comparatively recent attempts to create the common language of esperanto. How history rotined, and that and other was doomed to the failure.

English was taken out by the English emigrants to North America and other parts of the world. In addition, England spread the language in the entire conquered countries former colonies of the Britannic empire. Vividly expressed, England stretched a cultural and linguistic bridge over ocean, connecting continents.

But United States were created by emigrants not only from Great Britain. In this country people stretched from all Europe and from other countries. New nation needed an uniting element which would help to overcome national and linguistic distinctions. This role was executed by English.

But in spite of it, the mother tongues of emigrants were able to transform initial English, making supple him more and opened to the changes. This new language which usually name «American English» crossed Atlantic and got back in Europe in a 20 age, in basic after the second world war.

A language acquired this new look for 150-years-old history of incessant emigration in the USA. In our time American English is language of economic, military and political superpower.

The specific of American English generated the new name for him: the French linguist Azhezh Claude named American English by a «comfortable language» (americain de commodite). It is possible to accede to his very witty submission, that to «world economic power similarly predefined to move forward the language, as well as to conquer markets for the sale of the products, and these two facts are closely associated: distribution of the language opens a road for the export of the products». It is yet easier to accede to that «from all languages on a planet English most flexible and most quickly reactive on changing reality, and he the first reflects these new realities».

An e-mail and Internet is today used in a whole world, and this, indisputably, very comfortable, rapid and effective means of intercourse. People in different countries are forced to adapt to the language and features of electronic facilities communications which were created, naturally, under English . To communicate in other language, they have to come running to the different technical devices. Say, the written above the line characters accepted in the different European languages cannot be used in most programs of e-mail, the same behaves to the Un Roman alphabets (Russian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese and other).

In the world there are thousands, and even ten of thousands of different languages. It is possible even to say – how many people so much and languages. About some did not hear. But for today almost all try to study English. Why? It is an interesting question. Fashion, interest, utility or….? I do not know as all, but I want to study English, because consider that this the necessity. He will help me in life, at work and on rest. How? Yes all very simply. English is acknowledged by an international language and exactly him study many. If I will depart to travel (optionally to England), without knowledge of English, to me it will be very difficult to socialize with local habitants and will travel difficultly. And if I will depart, even to France, by English will be able to avoid a lot of problems. For example: to settle down in a hotel, to pass to the place necessary to me, to order a meal in a restaurant and etc On the face of it it does not even seem a problem, but, not knowing a language, make attempt do all of it!

During work I also need knowledge of English. Suppliers, firms with which do we co-operate mainly are abroad, and as you think, I will conduct with them negotiations? Well certainly and here I will be rescued by this wonderful language! We go along is the personal life. I very want to lead friends above-ground in other countries and except for as in English I with them to socialize to not smog (certainly, if I will not know their mother tongue).

To also me is opened much other possibilities, for example, I will be able to work abroad.

Knowledge of English can help me with honour to go out from any situation practically in any point of earth and, certainly, in those 60 countries of world, where the English became the major language of business and intercourse. For 377 million persons English is first and basic, and yet for 98 millions is the second language.

Ancient and Modern Pronunciations

We cannot be sure exactly how the ancient Romans pronounced their Latin, although the discipline of Historical Linguistics has given us a reasonably good idea of their general spoken practice. The early borrowings from Latin into various languages give some idea of the Roman pronunciation, for example Gothic “wins” meaning ‘wine’ was borrowed from Latin “vinum”; this shows the -w- pronunciation of -v- in Latin clearly, at least at the time that the borrowing took place.

In English speaking countries, two problems arise: First, are we to pronounce -v- as -w- is pronounced in English, or like English -v-? And then are we to say -ch- for Latin -c-, palatalizing the consonant before the fronted vowels, as in Italian, or pronounce it like English hard -k-? Teachers trained in the tradition of the Catholic Church will generally use the fricative -v- and the palatalized -ch-, others will use the other sounds, which the majority of modern scholars feels to be more authentic. A great deal of heat, if not light, has been spent on the problem of the “correct pronunciation of Latin”. Probably most students will go with the method that their teachers use., but whichever way you follow, remember that this is a matter of scholarship, not of religion or faith. If there is any overriding parameter of judgment, it should probably be on the side of convenience, but in the last analysis the student who is really concerned with the way Latin may have sounded, as a part of his esthetic appreciation of a poet like Vergil, must try to find out the best way, so far as he can determine it, and follow it.

One person finds it ludicrous to read Vergil with an accent which appeared a thousand years after the poet’s death; but another reads Vergil the way Dante read him, thinking this is good enough for him. Here as elsewhere de gustibus non disputandum est.

But if you are going to try to read Latin authentically, be sure you do not aspirate the stop-consonants, which is one of the oddities of English which makes the study of English so far for most others. It is virtually necessary to say “arpor” for ‘tree” in order to avoid the Anglicized “arbhor”. We know from grammarians that the Romans said “urps” for the city of Rome, and this is probably typical of their general pronunciation of the stop consonants. Furthermore, you should not use that nondescript English -r-, but roll your -r- broadly, as most of the Romanic language do. Whether it is a tongue trill, or a throat rumble is not important, so long as it isn’t an English vanishing- consonant with a tongue flap (like “berry” pronounced ‘Betty’) or an American hybrid.

More important is the matter of the pronunciation of verse, for which see Section 14) of this supplement for a full discussion. The substitution of stressed accent in the place of genuinely LONG vowels is arbitrary and quite against the nature of both Greek and Latin poetry, which was length-conscious without any special attention to stress. If this process is justified by saying that it is a habit, understand that it is a bad habit, and please cut it out. Substituting STRESS for LENGTH is about as sensible as tapping your foot every time you hear a Chinese rising tone.

Incidentally much the same misfortune has accrued to the sensitive and lovely Classical Greek language, where a perfectly attested pitch inflection of a musical fifth (marked by an acute accent in the Alexandrian period for the benefit of benighted foreigners like us) is regularly replaced by a heavy stress. This identical stress is also used for the circumflex, which loses its double-length and up-and-down musical inflection, so reminiscent of Swedish. And (believe it or not!) this same stress is used for the grave, which is nothing more than the replacement of an acute by a low (barytone) at base level, and is so marked in some extant papyri on every syllable for real dunderheads in the Alexandrian schools. But for the pig-headed, caution to the winds!

If you did these thoughtless things to modern Bengali, people would fail to understand you, or jeer if you persisted. But since the Classical peoples are not around to defend themselves, it look like a case linguistic open-season on whatever is around. But the bottom line: You are losing authenticity, and more important a large measure of esthetic appreciation.

The Importance of Culture in Translation

ImageThe definition of “culture” as given in the Concise Oxford Dictionary varies from descriptions of the “Arts” to plant and bacteria cultivation and includes a wide range of intermediary aspects. More specifically concerned with language and translation, Newmark defines culture as “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 has its own culturally specific features. He further clearly states that operationally he does “not regard language as a component or feature of culture” in direct opposition to the view taken by Vermeer who states that “language is part of a culture” . According to Newmark, Vermeer’s stance would imply the impossibility to translate whereas for the latter, translating the source language (SL) into a suitable form of TL is part of the translator’s role in transcultural communication.

The notion of culture is essential to considering the implications for translation and, despite the differences in opinion as to whether language is part of culture or not, the two notions appear to be inseparable. Discussing the problems of correspondence in translation, Nida confers equal importance to both linguistic and cultural differences between the SL and the TL and concludes that “differences between cultures may cause more severe complications for the translator than do differences in language structure” . It is further explained that parallels in culture often provide a common understanding despite significant formal shifts in the translation. The cultural implications for translation are thus of significant importance as well as lexical concerns.

Lotman’s theory states that “no language can exist unless it is steeped in the context of culture; and no culture can exist which does not have at its centre, the structure of natural language” . Bassnett  underlines the importance of this double consideration when translating by stating that language is “the heart within the body of culture,” the survival of both aspects being interdependent. Linguistic notions of transferring meaning are seen as being only part of the translation process; “a whole set of extra-linguistic criteria” must also be considered. As Bassnett further points out, “the translator must tackle the SL text in such a way that the TL version will correspond to the SL version… To attempt to impose the value system of the SL culture onto the TL culture is dangerous ground” . Thus, when translating, it is important to consider not only the lexical impact on the TL reader, but also the manner in which cultural aspects may be perceived and make translating decisions accordingly.

Finding your style!

“Keeping your clothes well pressed will keep you from looking hard pressed.”

-Coleman Cox

The words people write are very much like the clothes they wear. You could say that the major role of clothes is to protect us from the elements. However, if we pause to think of the role they play, we will see that keeping us warm (or cool) is only one facet. Just as it is important to put a period at the end of each sentence, it is also important to wear a tie to a formal event or a dark suit to a funeral. Likewise, if you are going to go swimming you would most likely wear a bathing suit. In many cases, the kind of clothes that we according to the occasion and the way that we wear them can make all the difference.

Like it or not, people judge other people based on appearances. A natty suit at a job interview may not get you the job in and of itself, but it is likely to help rather than hinder you. If you button the top button of your shirt you were considered to be a nerd. So this might not help a young man on a date, even though the shirt and the young man are nice.

Language works very much the same as clothes. There are usually many ways and many words to express your ideas. You may be understood if you use any of the options available to you. However, according to how you phrase your thoughts and your intended audience, the impression you make may greatly vary.

We as translators are also writers, and as writers we are entitled to our own style. Open any book and read any paragraph. You will immediately recognize that the author has his or her own way of writing. We can write longish sentences broken up with semicolons and connecting words like therefore, although and however, or we can chop them up into smaller units that end with a period. We can choose whether we want to use words that are cognates of the source language such as marvelous for maravilloso, or we can decide to use a word such as wonderful instead. Sometimes we will have choices and other times we are constrained. Let us look at some different situations and how they may be handled.

How, then do we arrive at our own personal writing style when translating? I see three major elements that come into play: The original style, the circumstantial style, and your own personal style as the translator. There must be a happy equilibrium between the three for there to be a clear, concise and cohesive text.   The original style is the most important one. It is the foundation for your target text. Whatever is written in the source language will most likely have a similar and corresponding style in the target language. If the source text is about 18th century Spanish art, you would not do well to translate it so it would read like an informal conversation with a friend (Assuming that this were possible). If the source text is the script for West Side Story, you couldn’t very well translate it using legal language from Spain or a dialect of Spanish that not everyone is familiar with. (You could, but it would not serve the purpose of what is generally accepted.)

There is no point in translating a text if the target audience is unable to understand what you have translated. You are therefore limited by what your target language is capable of expressing and what your target readers are capable of understanding. This is what I call the circumstantial style.


Your personal style is the icing on the cake. It can either make or break a translation. No matter how many dictionaries and software programs you use to do your translation, you are the ultimate creator of the target text. Just as everyone has his or her own way of speaking and writing, each translator has his or her own way of sorting out the source text and giving life to his or her translation. Why should you choose your own style? You as a translator are a one of a kind. You need to use your originality to your advantage and show the world how well you can write and more importantly how well you can convey the source language author’s ideas. For the sake of consistency, it is important to always, or almost always translate a term or phrase the same way according to context, of course. This is especially true if we are talking about the same document, as a sudden shift of gears would be disconcerting to the reader.
As a 21st century translator, you are probably already aware of how fast terminology changes. Do you have a shelf of paper dictionaries that you don’t use because they aren’t up to date and don’t include terms that the people of today use on a daily basis? Consider these words: blog, Internet, World Wide Web, VoIP, and e-mail. How long have they been readily used by the public?
As you read and translate more, your style will also be modified, either consciously or unconsciously. It is important to pair this natural growth with questions, questions and more questions. Be sure to answer as many questions and concerns you have on grammar, meaning, register: in other words all the elments of style you will need. Make lists, contact experts via e-mail and the telephone. Go over old translations and see how you could improve or streamline your style. Read style guides in both your source and target languages.
So take a second look at your wardrobe of translations. Does everything match? Are there things you had better give away? Is there something you should add? You as the wearer have the ultimate choice!Image


What a good interpreter at court should know…

ImageIt is very important to realise that interpretation in a courtroom is probably the most demanding of all forms of interpretation as far as accuracy and responsibility are concerned. Therefore, every interpreter should have a checklist, which they should get back to frequently.
There are several aspects to consider and understand as far as the courtroom is concerned:
Foreign offenders at court:

1. Court interpreters translate for foreign criminal offenders who have committed a crime on the territory of a country they do not reside in.
2. If an offender has been caught in a criminal act on the territory of a foreign country, the legal authorities of that country are to handle the complete procedure from the moment of arrest to the announcing of the sentence.
3. Convicted offenders can serve their sentence in special prison facilities for foreigners or they can ask for transfer to their country of domicile by submitting an appropriate plea.
4. The service of an interpreter is required from the moment the offender is arrested which gives the interpreter the opportunity to familiarise him/ herself with the particulars of the case. That is quite useful because when the trial is about to begin, the interpreter will already have covered the necessary vocabulary, having it much easier in the courtroom.
5. If the interpreter should not have been asked to be present at the moment of interrogation, the first formal encounter with the offender after he/ she has left the police station, will be at the investigative hearing. This is a step in some criminal administration procedures when the offender makes his/ her first statement, when the first minutes are taken down and when the defence lawyer may be chosen. This is also the opportunity for the offender to have his/ her first confidential conversation with the defence lawyer, and that of course includes the presence of the interpreter.
6. In rare cases of minor offences, the offender is released on bail.
7. In cases of serious offences, bail is out of the question as it would be extremely difficult to make the offenders come to court once they have left the country. This means that the offender will be kept in custody during the whole process, that is until a verdict has been reached and an appropriate sentence has been announced.
8. During the time they spend in custody, the defence lawyer is allowed to visit the offender in custody and prepare the defence properly, whereby the service of the interpreter will be required on every such occasion. It goes without saying that the interpreter is burdened with the same client-lawyer confidentiality obligation as the lawyer him/ herself.
9. The interpreter’s role is not just to fulfil a task but to be an essential part of the entire process. Obviously, the responsibility is huge. One wrongly, inaccurately, or imprecisely translated utterance might harm either the legal procedure or the defendant.
10. Sometimes, it may be extremely difficult to maintain an unbiased and objective attitude because the offender could be anything from petty thief to murderer. The interpreter should not be influenced by either the representatives of the system or by the offender. Similarly, the interpreter should not get emotional about the offender because most of them would do anything to go home free. Therefore, the interpreter should maintain the necessary level of professionalism and moral ethics, which will inevitably lead to a successfully accomplished job and a good name!
Interpreters at court:

1. In a real trial, the interpreter usually does not take notes because it is he/ she who may dictate the pace whereby the judge, the prosecutor, the defence lawyer and the accused usually follow.
2. A good thing about the courtroom is that the number of participants is smaller, most often the hearings are closed to the public and it is everybody’s interest to work through the case as accurately as possible.
3. A very important aspect is that the interpreter can always ask for clarification or for an utterance to be repeated. Sometimes even a sign or some kind of eye contact can signal the judge to clarify or repeat an utterance.
4. As far as the defendant is concerned, the interpreter can work with him or her directly by telling him to either speed up or slow down.
5. A good thing to know is that in some courtrooms the interpreter can ask the judge to stand next to the offender making it easier to keep up contact with both him and the judge. All these elements contribute to the fact that the interpreter can interrupt the speakers in order to translate a smaller chunk instead of waiting for them to say too many things, making translation more demanding.
Legalese at court:

1. A trial is much easier to handle than speeches or negotiations but the legal language is more demanding than in any other case of translation.
2. You should constantly work on your vocabulary in both source and target language, practice phrases, be aware that trials can involve murders, drugs, trafficking, accidents, robberies, etc. Naturally, each of the mentioned offences is accompanied by particular vocabulary.
3. Different types of experts and skilled professionals are often summoned, each of them having their particular area of expertise which imposes new semantic challenges. Doctors and pathologists as well as mechanical, road traffic, electric and electronic engineers will be frequent witnesses and they will all speak in court. The interpreter will have to translate their words both in direct confrontation with the judge or just for the sake of clarification to the defendant while he is listening to the statements.
4. The defendant has a right to know what is being said at all times so the interpreter will be doing both consecutive and simultaneous translation, depending on whether the offender is answering to the judge or sitting on his bench and listening to other witnesses. If the simultaneous is too difficult, the interpreter can summarise important aspects of the statements uttered which is even better since it is less demanding for the interpreter and it is less noisy! The defendants mainly opt for it as well because they are interested in the basics only and do not want to bother with details they do not understand or do not refer to something they might object to.
5. The interpreter can also tell the defendants that they can take a look at the minutes on a later occasion and prepare a proper statement or reaction to the witness’s account together with the lawyer.
Final notes

1. The utterances of interlocutors are better translated by retaining the original person of speech. This means that if the speaker tells about something in the first person singular, the translation should be in the first person singular. As much as it might sound awkward, it is easier and much safer to retain the particular person of speech instead of transforming it into a third person.
2. In the case of trials and negotiations, when the interlocutors utter shorter chunks, the person of speech can be switched. The translator can even refer to Mr, Mrs or Miss Something and present their speech in the form of some translated version of their indirect speech.
3. As an interlocutor’s speech gets more complicated, the switching between the relevant persons can result in complicated and inaccurate translations. It needs some practice to get hold of it.

To conclude, though it may seem easy, it is not. It takes a few years of practice to be able to respond to interlocutors and to render accurate translations of their speech. Therefore, interpretation should never be underestimated.

Consecutive interpreting: how fast is your shorthand?

ImageGood note-taking is the key to good consecutive interpreting, as here the interpreter often has to note down the contents of an entire speech, then stand up and deliver the same speech “consecutively” (hence the name) in the target language. This system can be used where booths and simultaneous facilities are not available and avoids a speech being interrupted every few sentences as would be necessary if the speech were interpreted bit by bit. Note-taking systems used by consecutive interpreters are many and varied ‘ some use short-hand, some rely on symbols and others use a combination of both. For example, the symbol for a country is a small square, the symbol for world is a small square in a circle etc. Obviously it’s not possible to have a symbol for every single word or concept, so abbreviated words are also used. The advantage of using as many symbols as possible, apart from the fact that they’re quicker to write down, is that it avoids the interpreter being “tied” mentally to a particular word in the source language and thus removes one of the mental processes which has to take place when one language is being interpreting into another.