Jumat, 06 Maret 2009


In translation, description sometimes has to be weighed against function. Thus for machete, the description is a `Latin American broad, heavy instrument', the function is `cutting or aggression'; description and function are combined in `knife'. Samurai is described as `the Japanese aristocracy from the eleventh to the nineteenth century'; its function was `to provide officers and administrators'. Description and function are essential elements in explanation and therefore in translation. In translation discussion, function used to be neglected; now it tends to be overplayed.

I use the word `synonym' in the sense of a near TL equivalent to an SL word in a context, where a precise equivalent may or may not exist. This procedure is used for a SL word where there is no clear one-to-one equivalent, and the word is not important in the text, in particular for adjectives or adverbs of quality (which in principle are `outside' the grammar and less important than other components of a sentence): thus personne gentille, `kind' person; conte piquant, `racy story'; `awkward' or `fussy', difficile; `puny effort', effort faible. A synonym is only appropriate where literal translation is not possible and because the word is not important enough for cvamponential analysis. Here economy precedes accuracy.
A translator cannot do without synonymy; he has to make do with it as a compromise, in order to translate more important segments of the text, segments of the meaning, more accurately. But unnecessary use of synonyms is a mark of many poor translations.

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