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Review of  La traducción entre lenguas en contacto

Reviewer: Zahir Mumin
Book Title: La traducción entre lenguas en contacto
Book Author: Cristina García de Toro
Publisher: Peter Lang AG
Linguistic Field(s): Translation
Subject Language(s): Catalan-Valencian-Balear
Issue Number: 21.2923

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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
YEAR: 2009

Zahir Mumin, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University at
Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
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.
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.
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:

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

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, Accessed by Cristina García de Toro on
June 20, 2007.

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.

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