ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY
Central Tehran Branch
Faculty of Foreign Languages – Department of English
A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement For The Degree Of Master Of Arts In Translation Studies
The Analysis of Translation Strategies of Cultural Presuppositions in James Joyce’s “Dubliners”
Dr. M. Fahim
Dr. A. Baradaran
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Translation as a way to transfer the meaning is a kind of activity that involves not only two languages, but also two cultures. Like any other field of study, translation deals with all the aspects of human life such as social, industrial, and cultural. In other words it is not enough for translators to have a good command of both the source and target languages; they have to be completely aware of both the source and target cultures. Each culture creates certain messages, connotations, and denotations. Therefore it is likely that many concepts occur in one language and culture but not in the other. In other words, one of the major problems facing translators is how to find equivalents for implicit ideas, opinions, and presuppositions, which have their bases in their underlying cultures. Facing with unshared elements of culture, namely cultural presuppositions, between the source and target language, translators have a variety of options to treat the cultural aspects of the ST and finding the most appropriate strategy to convey these aspects in the TT. The present study will focus on different translation strategies which the Persian translators of James Joyce’s “Dubliners” (2001) have applied to deal with translation problems rooted in cultural presuppositions. The process of classification of cultural presuppositions and the translation strategies for dealing with them is based on Newmark’s (1988) translation categorizations.
Background and Purpose
Translating as an activity is almost as old as mankind, but the history of translation as a discipline dates back to no more than two decades ago (Schaffner & Kelly-Holms, 1995). In this short period of systematic investigation of this discipline, the nature of such studies has undergone a drastic change. Traditionally there has been a dividing line between the language and the extra linguistic reality. Although there have been different definitions of translation but most of them emphasized the linguistic aspects of the translation process. For instance, Catford’s (1974) definition of translation is as follows: “translation is the replacement of textual material in one language by equivalent textual material in another language.” (P.20). As it can be seen here what is significant is the equivalent textual material. Next, Newmark (1981) defines translation in this way: “Translation is a craft, consisting of two languages, in the attempt to replace a written message and/or statement in another language” (P.7).
Defining translation seems simple at first glance and there are many definitions of this kind. However, translation is not strictly limited to language, rather, language and culture are deeply intertwined and it is the translation which bridges the gap between different languages and hence, cultures. Here it is clear that these definitions by famous theoreticians exclude the factor of culture in translation. As Snell-Hornby (1988) claims, translation must be regarded something more than merely transcending the linguistic elements from one language to another. It has recently come to be understood as a cultural system and it was to be treated with delicate observing the cultural aspects. Gradually some theorists confirm this fact that translation is an activity which involves a kind of verbal, but never strictly verbal communication. Miremadi (1991), for instance, has stated: “it is a two-way process: from one culture to the others and form other cultures into one’s culture. In other words, there is a give and take process” (P.11). Toury (1978) also believes that “Translation is a kind of activity which inevitably involves at least two languages and two cultural traditions” (P.200). The reason for such a drastic change in the point of view toward the translation studies is that the contemporary approach sees language as the integral part of culture. Language is an expression of culture and individuality of its speakers; so cultural meanings are intricately woven into the texture of the language.
Newmark (1988) defines culture as: “the way of life and its manifestation that is peculiar to a community that uses a particular language as its means of expression” (P.93). Culture is a complex collection of experiences which condition daily life; it includes history, social structure, religious, traditional customs and every day usage. Translating as an activity and translation as the result of this activity are inseparable from the concept of culture.
Regarding this definition, it is clear that there are many words and expressions that differ from one culture to another; for instance, way of living varies from one society to another according to the beliefs of the people, the situation in which they live, the technological advances, etc. So, every culture has its own characteristics. The people of a special society know the characteristics of their culture while the people of other communities are not able to understand it. Histories of different societies and cultures are characterized by events and processes that shape their cultural cognition. It is possible that different events and processes have similar effects on language use and it is also possible that similar processes and events have different impacts on the structure of a language and how it is used by its speakers. Speakers of different languages exhibit different verbal and nonverbal behaviors in their interactions and the possibilities of misunderstanding are rife when two totally different cultures come into contact with each other. It is worth to mention here that what is interesting for people of a society within their own culture may not be enjoyable for people in another society. Each culture expresses its idiosyncrasies in a way that is “culture-bound”. That is, the origin and use of cultural words and idiomatic expressions are intrinsically and uniquely bound to the culture concerned. Since the culture of a community can determine its language, the vocabulary of a language are created and used by the people of that society according to their needs in the specific culture in which they are living. Therefore, translators obviously do not deal with translating individual words deprived of context, but deal with whole texts which are culturally embedded and based on a community of references predictably shared by most members of the source culture. The deeper a text is embedded in its culture, the more difficult it is to work on.
A “cultural presuppositions” item is created in situations when there is nonexistence on the different value of an item in the target language culture and a conflict will arise in the process of translating these kinds of items. It is clear that a word often does not mean exactly the same thing as its equivalent in another language. Ping (1999) defined Cultural presupposition as underlying assumptions, beliefs, and ideas that are culturally rooted, widespread, but rarely if ever described or defined because they seem so basic and obvious as not to require verbal formulation. Therefore, there may be some vocabulary in some cultures for which there is no equivalence in another one. Here is the point where translation problems will arise and there should be a solution.
Newmark (1988) believed that the translation of a work attempts to produce on its reader an effect as possible to that obtained on the readers of the original. However, with culturally-bound words this is often impossible. Indeed, the meaning which lies behind those kinds of expressions is always strongly linked to the specific cultural context where the text originates or with the cultural context it aims to re-create. As this statement implies, translators are permanently faces with the problem of how to treat the cultural aspects implicit in the source text (ST) and of finding the most appropriate technique of successfully conveying these aspects in the target language. These problems may vary in scope depending on the cultural and linguistic gap between the two languages concerned (Nida, 1985). Therefore, one of the most challenging tasks for all translators is how to render culture-specific elements in translating a foreign language. So, having a good understanding of both cultures can be helpful for the translator. S/he should look at differences between cultures which are a very important issue in translation of any kind and translation of literature is no exception. Indeed, not much attention has been paid to this problem by translation theories.
Literary translators face a far more complicated process. They require knowledge of linguistics, an appreciation of literature and an awareness of literary terms and concepts. Literature gives public form to private meanings and thus helps those who receive its messages to reach out to other human beings in the world, knowing that they share some of the same concerns and feelings. Therefore, one of the factors to be considered in translating literature is the role of culture. There are various cultures in the world and not all of them are the same. These cultures are different from one language to the other and this matter may cause some difficulties in translation of different works and in particular translation of literature. The present study aims to investigate the translators’ approaches and strategies in dealing with cultural presupposition items in a literature work and finding the most and the least frequent translation strategies in this regard. For the purpose of this research, the material is consisted of fifteen short stories included in James Joyce’s Dubliners. In selecting the corpus for the present research the focus was on those themes in which cultural items were more probable to appear.
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