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Review of  Translation Today

Reviewer: Vittoria Prencipe
Book Title: Translation Today
Book Author: Gunilla Anderman Margaret Rogers
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
Linguistic Field(s): Translation
Issue Number: 14.1640

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Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 13:32:44 +0200
From: Vittoria Prencipe
Subject: Translation Today: Trends and Perspectives

Anderman, Gunilla and Margaret Rogers, ed. (2003) Translation Today:
Trends and Perspectives, Multilingual Matters.

Vittoria Prencipe, Università Cattolica "Sacro Cuore" di Milano.


This book is the result of a Round Table discussion organized at the
University of Surrey on October 1st, 1999. It consists of a keynote
paper and contributions regarding the eight topics chosen by Peter
Newmark as main translation issues in the new millennium. The book is
divided into two parts: the first part contains Newmark's summary of
his keynote paper, and the discussion. The second part starts with
Newmark's full-length keynote paper, "No Global Communication Without
Translation", followed by contributions by participants attending to
symposium. The topics selected by Newmark are "The nature of
translation", "Types and kinds of translation", "Valid and deficient
texts", "English as the lingua franca of translation", "Social
translation and interpreting", "Later modes of translation", "The
assessment of translation", "The university and the market".

In the first paper Newmark tackles the nature of translation. Anyone,
he says, can immediately define translation as "taking the meaning from
one text and integrating it into another language for a new and
sometimes different readership" (p. 55). Such a simple definition hides
two very complex concepts, i.e. "meaning" and "message", which
determine the kind of translation: a target-oriented one
("communicative translation"), respecting culture and conventions of
target language (TL), and a source-oriented one, ("semantic
translation"). The paper goes on defining both communicative and
semantic translation, and examining their connections with traditional
categories like literary, non-literary and social translation. Newmark
concludes with a useful overview of the status of Translation Studies.

The following paper, "Some of Peter Newmark's Translation Categories
Revisited", by Albrecht Neubert, argues that Newmark's distinction does
not refer to different types of translation, but rather represents two
complementary methods, operating at different levels of analysis. "In
particular semantic translation highlights the attempt of the
translator to grasp the full meanings expressed in the source text (SL)
and to render as much as possible into the TL version. ...
Communicative translation, by contrast, is not about procedures. Its
conceptual status is on a much higher level of abstraction. Every text,
whether it is a poem or a prosaic message, is a communicative event. ...
All translations, in this sense, are communicative acts." (pp. 70-71)
According to Neubert, "communicative" and "semantic" are attributes
of translations, but what about the so called "social translation"?
Neubert doesn't consider it different from any other kind of
translation, since he views social texts in same way as technical
ones. Thus the jargon of social texts doesn't represent a hindrance to
translatability. Finally, translation can achieve contextualization,
because it "occurs already in the original, with the translator making
expert use of this pervasive feature of monolingual, in fact all,
communication" (p. 74).

According to Newmark's definition translation is "a dynamic reflection
of human activity". In her paper "Looking Forward to the Translation:
On A Dynamic Reflection of Human Activities", Kirsten Malmkjær attempts
to develop this view from the perspective of philosophical semantics.
The "focus" of the translation process is the source text or, better,
the creative process which generates it. This latter element
distinguishes translation from monolingual communication: a translated
text is influenced by a source text, translation is thus constrained
communication. Malmkjær intends both to underline the common features
shared by monolingual and multilingual communication, and to
differentiate the two process. The common element is that meaning is a
function having as arguments the speakers, the hearer, a time, a place,
and a more extensive set of circumstances. In this view, meaning is
used differently by future users, past users, speakers from various
cultures and social classes, so that a message is always in need of
interpretation. The difference is not simply the use of two or more
languages, but the social and cultural world in which target text
hearers live. Thus, translating means connecting two worlds.

The translation process is submitted to the translator's sensitivity
and experience. In Marshall Morris' paper, "With Translation in Mind.
Communication precedes language", translation acts are viewed as a part
of the whole process of communication. Thereby, the fulcrum of the
translation process cannot be the text, but the experience on which
texts are based. In translating, the following points are essential:
(i) the ST "is only part of a larger use of human communication; (ii)
the translator has to "come closer to the human truth of the experience
on which the texts are based"; (iii) texts are answers to questions
formulated in the language of some other person, in some other society,
at some other time. The translator should aim at grasping the human
question in the writer's mind, to follow his logic and understand the
sense his text makes; (iv) the text is only a part of an ongoing
relationship; in the context of the original there was something before
and will be something after the text the translator has in his/her
hands; (v) human experiences are basically the same; "if translators
reflect on these experiences, keeping translation in mind", concludes
the author , "I believe they will find that their understanding is
sufficient for the task, and their experience of translating abundant
deeply satisfying" (p. 89-90).

Raquel Merino's paper, "Tracing Back (in Awe) a Hundred year History of
Spanish Translations: Washington Irving's The Alhambra" focuses on a
view of translation as a critical and evaluative product, presenting a
four year research founded on the comparison of the work "The Alhambra"
with Spanish translations. The procedure is simple: (i) compile a
bibliographical catalogue of Spanish version of Alhambra texts, (ii)
build up a database containing a corpus of original editions of the
text and a corpus containing its translations, iii) choose a number of
characteristics - the number and sequence of the tales, the text of
selected opening paragraphs, etc. - to use as a basis of comparison
between STs and TTs. The comparison tends to select adaptive
translations, defining what is adaptation.

In Piotr Kuhiwczak's paper "The troubled Identity of Literary
Translation", the author compares the translator's task to that of the
writer and of the critic. Traditionally, writing or commenting is
considered more important then translating. But which are the
competences of translators and which is the relation between
translation studies and literary studies? The author points out that
translation is both a creative and critic work, in that it requires the
translator to know the original work, the author, the original culture,
and it requires him to perform a creative effort in rewriting the
source text.

The fulcrum of Gunnar Marguson's paper, "Interlinear Translation and
Discourse à la Mark Twain" is Twain's view of German language compared
to English through a word for word translation. This method has been
appropriately described by Newmark. Adopting the same procedure,
Marguson concentrates on the structural differences between English and
German. The paper comes to an end listing the transformations needed to
obtain English texts from German texts, and proposing another reform:
if the capitalisation of nouns were abolished, German could have
"shorter sentences and more relative clauses, making it easier for us
to steer a correct course through the German syntactic landscape"
(p. 136).

In his contribution, "Meaning, Truth and Morality in Translation",
Martin Weston adopts a meaning-use view on translation. Weston analyses
three models of linguistic translation in which an "abstract" meaning
is transferred from SL text to TL text. He bases his critique on the
abstractness of this conception and proposes a more concrete notion of
meaning as the use to which language is put. Thus, the aim of the
translator is to look for the equivalent use of an expression in two or
more different language.

Asymmetry in translation strategies is due to the extension of a
specific language. English, for example, is accessible to speakers of
many languages and commonly used in multilingual contexts as a second
language for communication. David Graddol, in his contribution "The
Decline of Native Speakers" underlines that the increasing use of
English as "lingua franca" decreases the authority of the native
speaker, who, since Chomskian generative grammar, had the difficult
task of safeguarding grammatical "correctness".

Can a dominant L2, like English, influence the syntactic construction
and style of other languages? This is the question on which the paper
by Juliane House, "English as Lingua Franca and its Influence on
Discourse Norm in Other Languages" is based. It is the result of a
longer research founded on a "...systemic-functional theory; it
involves reconstructing the cognitive processes involved in producing
translations and parallel texts and describing the embeddedness of
these texts in their sociocultural contexts" (p. 168). The languages
examined are French, English and Spanish, and texts are scientific,
economic and computer science manuals; the analysis methodology is
Halliday's grammar. The results of comparison show the differences
between the three languages and give some evidence for the existence of
cultural or contextual filters preventing linguistic contamination.

"Multilingualism is not a problem. It is a fact" (p. 190). This is the
starting point and the conclusion of Ann Corsellis' analysis in the
paper, "Interpreting and Translation in the UK Public Services: The
Pursuit of Excellence versus, and via, Expediency". The author analyses
the needs, obstacles and possible solutions for public services
interpreting and translation in the UK. This field does not receive the
appropriate consideration in the UK, as in the other so called
monolingual countries. At the end of her research Corsellis proposes a
particular collaboration between three principal groups: public service
personnel, linguists and the potential users of the services. This
collaboration, however, can only be possible as the result of the
awareness of a monolingual societies turning into a multilingual one.

"Audiovisual Translation" is the topic of the next paper "Audiovisual
Translation in the Third Millennium", by Jorge Díaz Cintas. The aims of
audiovisual translation are various and very different; this
contribution focuses on dubbing, voice-over, and subtitling. An actual
revolution in the audiovisual translation was the introduction of DVD.
This new film distribution format can hold up to eight versions of the
same film dubbed into different languages and some 32 different
possibilities for subtitles. "What is beyond doubt" concludes the
author "is that this area of translation is set to undergo further
changes in coming years. At the same time, our perception of
translation as consumers will also change. ...audiovisual/multimedia
translation will be the translation sub-discipline of this brand new
millennium" (p. 203).

As new modes of translation emerge, the need for more clearly
formulated and uniformly applied methods of assessment of translation
and interpreting competence becomes greater. This is the topic of the
contribution by Stuart Campbell and Sandra Hale, "Translation and
Interpreting Assessment in the Context of Educational Measurement". The
authors set out to survey the literature concerned with research in
educational measurement, and in the ways of testing translators'
competences, coming to the conclusion that many of these competences
are quite well verified. However, two of them are absent from the
research literature, validity and reliability. Campbell and Hale plead
for a more valid approach to testing, given that translation and
interpreting are socially very important jobs.

The problem of translator and ethic is the one addressed by Gerard
McAlester in his contribution "A Comment on Translation Ethics and
Education". The Translator's Charter (1986) published by the
International Federation of Translators (FIT) prescribes in Clause 3,
that the translator "shall refuse to give a text an interpretation of
which he does not approve, or which would be contrary to the
obligations of his profession". But the situation is not so simple: can
the translator gloss historical and authoritative texts or correct
informative texts? The answer can be double: Martin Weston argues that
the translator's commitment is to text, according to McAlester,
instead, it is to his own conscience.


This collection is rich of suggestions for translators, translation
scholars, linguists and literary scholars. The contributions are a
starting point in such a vast field of research, the various themes
being only indicated and not theoretically developed. Bibliography is
up to date and the book can be considered as a useful tool to grasp the
different aspects of TS in contemporary research.


THE REVIEWER Vittoria Prencipe, Ph.D. works as a postdoctoral researcher in the field of Translation Studies at the Università Cattolica "Sacro Cuore", Milan (Italy). Her current research deals with the application of Igor Mel'cuk's model to the field of linguistic translation.

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