By Sari Pietikäinen, Alexandra Jaffe, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Nik Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
AUTHOR: García de Toro, Cristina TITLE: La traducción entre lenguas en contacto SUBTITLE: Catalán y Español SERIES TITLE: European University Studies. Series 21: Linguistics, vol. 329 PUBLISHER: Peter Lang YEAR: 2009
Zahir Mumin, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY) SUMMARY This book addresses theoretical, political, and ideological issues associated with the translation of languages territorially in contact. Translation between Spanish and Catalan in northeastern Spain is the main focus with regard to administrative/legal and literary texts. The secondary purpose is to argue that the field of translation studies often uses sociolinguistic theories, methodology, and terminology as a starting point for examining the translation process of pairs of languages in contact because it has not developed a clear approach to analyzing translation between languages in contact. Part I establishes how theoretical, descriptive, and applied aspects of translation studies help translators develop potentially innovative strategies and methods for translating the pragmatic, syntactic, semantic, lexical, and cultural features from a source language to a target language. García de Toro shows in a translation analysis of the Catalan novel Una llar en el món (2001) by Guardiola that in order to maintain the authenticity of the source language, the names of characters from foreign countries are not translated (Nanja, Matías, Mohamed) but Catalan names are translated into Spanish: Luisa from Lluïsa, Ginés from Genís, etc. (p.167). This section also discusses numerous controversial issues in translation studies dealing with basic sociolinguistic terms such as monolingualism, bilingualism versus languages in contact, individual versus societal bilingualism, speech versus linguistic community, and mother tongue. Spain has a complex linguistic situation including the following: monolingual Spanish speakers, monolingual speakers of co-official languages, and bilingual speakers of Spanish and co-official languages. This complexity makes it difficult to differentiate between ''bilingualism'' and ''languages in contact'' since both can refer to any human being capable of understanding and producing two languages. There has also been controversy regarding ''individual'' and ''societal bilingualism'' because the former is frequently included in the latter when talking about language contact amongst people living in the same geographic area (Appel & Muysken, 1987). Issues of speech and linguistic community are even more complex since both can carry historic or contemporary connotations for a group of people who speak the same language, share the same cultural traditions, and live in the same community. Mother tongue is also controversial when discussing issues related to translation between Spanish and Catalan in Catalonia because the majority of translation specialists born in Catalonia do not consider themselves as having one mother tongue, but both Spanish and Catalan as native languages. Part II begins by arguing that translating texts from Spanish to Catalan in Catalonia is often done with a goal of normalizing Catalan and promoting standardization in common administrative documents and literary works. On the other hand, translating from Catalan to Spanish enhances the hegemony of Spain’s majority language so that readers who are not from the Catalan region can understand administrative texts and literary works originally written in Catalan. During the Franco regime (1939-1975), the prohibition against using Catalan negatively affected normalization and standardization. However, the normalization of Catalan today remains directly related to translation between Catalan and Spanish as native languages. García de Toro further emphasizes this argument by discussing the direct relationship between language policy, normalization of Catalan and the translation between Spanish and Catalan: “La traducción entre catalán y español continúa ligada al proceso de normalización del catalán (Garcia i Porres, 2002, p.19-54), y de la política lingüística que se siga dependerá en gran medida que se traduzca o no entre estas lenguas” (p.53). The constant process of normalizing Catalan has led to the development of new dictionaries, literary works, administrative documents, and other similar texts mandatorily written in Catalan. Mayoral (2001) emphasizes that according to regular translation norms in Spain, translators are usually required to translate from a foreign language or a second language into a native language. For example, in the field of legal translation, translators in Spain who are not balanced bilinguals are often required to follow said norms because of the presumption that translators’ cognitive skills are stronger in the native language. However, in Catalonia, direct translation--translating toward the native language, and reverse translation--translating toward the foreign language is not differentiated when translators are balanced bilinguals. The last part of this section discusses the importance of self translation, when authors and other professionals translate their own work. García de Toro emphasizes that the most challenging aspect of self translation is the ability to accurately decipher pragmatic and semantic differences between the source language and target language. Overall, in addition to administrative and literary texts, the author argues that there must be translation and analysis of documents related to advertising, audiovisual translation (subtitles and dubbing), and computer science to further enhance the normalization of Catalan. Part III focuses on the translation and classification of administrative documents from Spanish into Catalan, although García de Toro makes it clear that the directionality is often from Catalan to Spanish and from Spanish to Catalan in Valencia and in the Baleares Islands. The author also argues that the main purpose of translating administrative documents into Catalan is to modernize and standardize this language in the legal field. This process of modernization and standardization is not specifically geared towards translating documents from Spanish into Catalan for speakers who have limited knowledge of Catalan and focuses on establishing a judicial system that has sufficient model documents written in Catalan that are suitable for basic judicial procedures (Xirinachs, 1997). On the other hand, there is no discussion about the possibility of translating legal documents from Catalan into Spanish for people who have limited knowledge of Spanish. This is important since the lack of knowledge that translators have regarding legal documents written in Spanish and the lack of a Catalan tradition of forensic linguistics have contributed to a lack of Catalan legal texts. Classifying these administrative documents in both languages according to general and specific legal procedures is also important to create models for legally binding acts of judicial administration: trial documents, court orders, mutual agreements, and magistrate documents. When translators develop a solid tradition of classifying and translating administrative documents from Spanish to Catalan, Catalan will be more accessible to people who use this language in all contexts. Part IV deals with translating three children's literary works from Catalan into Spanish during the ''boom'' novel period. These types of novels are often translated into Spanish in order to expose a wider audience of readers to children's literature originally written in Catalan. García de Toro points out that most translators face challenges with word level equivalence, dynamic equivalence of words, grammatical and textual level equivalence, and pragmatic equivalence. Of these five basic problems, pragmatic equivalence is the most challenging because translators must figure out how to dynamically transfer specific cultural connotations from source language texts to target language texts. To facilitate translation, some bilingual translators use Hatim's & Mason's (1990) context/situation theory which examines the communicative, pragmatic, and semiotic process of translation and Baker's (1992) equivalence theory which analyzes the ability to maintain the overall semantic, pragmatic, syntactic, and lexical authenticity of the original Catalan text when it is translated into Spanish. These have often been applied to the translation of the following Catalan novels which García de Toro analyzes: No emprenyeu el comissari (1984) by Torrent, Penja els guants, Butxana (1985) by Torrent, and Vida de gos i altres claus de vidre (1989) by Fuster. The most common problems translators face here include accurately translating the idiolect and regional dialect of characters, using functionally equivalent phrases when translating set phrases, locutions, idioms, and sayings, and precisely translating the oral aspects of the source language in order to maintain the verisimilitude in the target language. Although these theories help translators methodologically with translation, there is still no basic format for translating these types of works from Catalan into Spanish. Some useful strategies include dynamically equivalent phrases, paraphrasing, maintaining the informal tone of dialogue, and accurately translating closely related cultural names. EVALUATION Part I argues that when considering contexts of intense language contact and discussing bilingual ability, the ability to read, write, speak, and understand two languages and translation ability, a skilled professional who can successfully translate from and into a language, the word ''bilingualism'' is restrictive and refers to individual instances of translation potential whereas ''languages in contact'' is more precise and refers to producing accurate translations between two languages in contact. However, I propose that ''languages in bilingual contact'' can capture both bilingual ability and translation ability, referring to a balanced bilingual translation professional who has a superior level of linguistic competence. Presas (1996) confirms that a combination of bilingual ability and translation ability are necessary in order to be a highly competent translator. Highly competent translators maintain the lexical, semantic, and pragmatic authenticity of the source text during the process of translation and less competent translators formalize the aforementioned linguistic aspects of the original text. In other words, language contact in the translation process and of real-life social contexts in Catalonia is less challenging for highly competent translators and more challenging for less competent translators. Part II establishes the primary objective of explaining why translations from Spanish to Catalan are justifiable in Catalonia. García de Toro discusses the importance of normalizing Catalan through the translation of literary works that include Don Quijote de la Mancha (p.53), the relevance of the job market, teaching and directionality of translation, and research perspectives in translation. All these can be justified because normalization enhances speakers’ linguistic competence, various professional fields require high quality translations from Spanish to Catalan and vice versa, the methodology of teaching and the directionality of translation are often dependent on sociocultural circumstances, and research perspectives lead to contributions that enhance translation. However, these are exclusively based on social factors and the author does not discuss linguistic factors like morphology (grammatical composition and categories of words such as verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs), syntax (intransitive and transitive sentence structures), and so on. These help reinforce the intense language contact environment of native bilinguals, balanced bilinguals (not necessarily native to both Spanish and Catalan), monolinguals, and non-balanced bilinguals in Catalonia. When considering the combination of social and linguistic factors in order to explain why translation from Spanish to Catalan is necessary, Mayoral & Kelly’s (1997) global theory about the directionality of translation is more plausible than Mayoral’s (2001) unilateral theory (see above) because this global theory demonstrates that translators may be required to translate into or from a native or foreign language depending on the geographic and linguistic circumstances of language contact. Justifying the need for translating documents from Spanish to Catalan must include both linguistic and social factors. In Part III, García de Toro makes clear that classifying and translating administrative legal documents from Spanish to Catalan is an effective way of standardizing and normalizing Catalan, but does not talk about other resources that are often translated. Information about other resources would give readers a broader perspective of how standardization and normalization of Catalan can be enhanced through translation. Standardization and normalization could also be supported through increased translation of textbooks, movies, websites, and so on. For instance, translating textbooks in various different subjects encourages speakers to acquire native levels of linguistic competence in Catalan. Normalizing and standardizing Catalan requires that translations be used in a wide variety of different types of documents and audiovisual media. Although the book focuses on administrative legal texts and literary texts without discussing the aforementioned resources, it does not deny that they could play an important role in normalization and standardization. Part IV treats translators as mediators between source and target languages. However, ''mediator'' is relatively passive; to capture translators as controlling the process, ''negotiator/facilitator'' would be more accurate since translators determine how to strategically and accurately convey sociocultural messages from the source text and transfer them into the target language texts. For example, when translating Catalan literary works into Spanish, most translators are able to maintain the cultural authenticity of the source language so that readers can fully understand the cultural connotations of the messages being conveyed in Spanish. García de Toro clearly shows this cultural authenticity in the following sample translation of the Catalan phrase “la plaça del País” which becomes “la plaza del País Valenciano” in Spanish (p.104). While an adjective is not necessary in Catalan, the Spanish adjective “valenciano” (Valencian) helps maintain the cultural authenticity of the Catalan text. In addition, maintaining the pragmatic/discursive aspects of phraseologisms is also important (Ball, 1986; Ruiz, 1998; Schiffrin, 1987), but because dynamically equivalent phraseologisms often exist in Spanish it is usually not necessary to use Catalan words. For example, in the translation analysis of Fuster’s novel, García de Toro shows that the Spanish phrase “se había armado la de San Quintín” is used as the dynamic equivalent of the Catalan phrase “hi havia un merder de ca l’ample” to convey the appropriate pragmatic/discursive sense of a sudden life-threatening event (p.131). Overall, this section is useful for understanding how translators employ different strategies to maintain the authenticity of source language texts. This book is geared towards readers interested in learning about the translation of administrative and literary texts where two languages are territorially in contact. Its overall value to the fields of translation studies and linguistics is exceptional because it not only fosters a solid theoretical and historical background for understanding the translation process, Catalan to Spanish and vice versa, but also linguistically analyzes the process of translating literary texts. Nevertheless, this book does lack an applied linguistics analysis of the translation process of administrative texts. REFERENCES Appel, René & Pieter Muysken (1987) Language Contact and Bilingualism. London: Edward Arnold.
Baker, Mona (1992) In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation. London & New York: Routledge.
Ball, William (1986) Dictionary of Link Words in English Discourse. London: Macmillan.
Fuster, Jaume (1989) Vida de gos i altres claus de vidre. Barcelona: Edicions de la Magrana.
Garcia i Porres, Yannick (2002) El paper de la traducció en el procés de normalització de la lengua catalana: una perspectiva sociológica. In Diaz Fouces et al. Traducció i dinámica sociolingüística. Barcelona: Llibres de l’Index.19-54.
Guardiola, Pepa (2001) Una llar en el món. Alzira, SP: Bromera.
Hatim, Basil & Ian Mason (1990) The Translator as Communicator. London: Routledge.
Mayoral, Roberto & Dorothy Kelly (1997) Implications of Multilingualism in the European Union for Translation Training in Spain. In Marian Labrum. The Changing Scene in World Languages: Issues andChallenges. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 19-34.
Mayoral, Roberto (2001) Por una renovación en la formación de traductores e intérpretes: revisión de algunos de los conceptos sobre los que se basa el actual sistema, su estructura y contenidos, Sendebar 12, 311-336.
Presas, Marisa (1996) Problemes de traducció i competencia traductora. Tesis Doctoral, Barcelona: Departament de Traducció i Interpretació, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
Ruiz, Leonor (1998) La fraseología del español coloquial. Barcelona: Ariel.
Schiffrin, Deborah (1987) Discourse Markers. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Torrent, Ferran (1984) No emprenyeu el comissari. València: L’ham.
Torrent, Ferran (1985) Penja els guants, Butxana. Barcelona: Quaderns Crema.
Xirinachs, Marta (1997) La traducción como instrumento de normalización lingüística, Senez revista de la EIZIE 19, http://www.eizie.org/Argitlapenak/Senez. Accessed by Cristina García de Toro on June 20, 2007.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Zahir Mumin teaches Spanish courses at the University at Albany, State
University of New York and conducts research in the field of linguistics.
His primary research interests include sociolinguistics, phonology,
phonetics, translation, language acquisition, language contact,
bilingualism, multilingualism, language change, and historical linguistics.