Jumat, 06 Maret 2009

Language Functions, Text-categories and Text-types

I suggest that all translations are based implicitly on a theory of language( ( Jakobson, Firth and Wandruzska put it the other way round they said a theory of language is based on a theory of translation). Thus in some respects (only) any translation is an exercise in applied linguistics. I am taking Buhler's functiona theory of language as adapted by Jakobson as the one that is most usefully appliec to translating.
According to Buhler, the three main functions of language are the expressive the informative - he called it `representation' - and the vocative (`appeal' functions: these are the main purposes of using language.

The core of the expressive function is the mind of the speaker, the writer, th originator of the utterance. He uses the utterance to express his feelings irrespect ive of any response. For the purposes of translation, I think the characteristi `expressive' text-types are:
Serious imaginative literature. Of the four principal types - lyrical poetry, shot stories, novels, plays - lyrical poetry is the most intimate expression, whil plays are more evidently addressed to a large audience, which, in the tram lation, is entitled to some assistance with cultural expressions.
Authoritative statements. These are texts of any nature which derive the: authority from the high status or the reliability and linguistic competence c their authors. Such texts have the personal `stamp' of their authors, althougthey are denotative, not connotative. Typical authoritative statements at political speeches, documents etc., by ministers or party leaders; statutes an legal documents; scientific, philosophical and `academic' works written by acknowledged authorities.
Autobiography, essays, personal correspondence. These are expressive when the are personal effusions, when the readers are a remote background.

It is essential that you, as translator, should be able to distinguish the personal components of these texts: i.e. unusual (`infrequent') collocations; original metaphors; `untranslatable' words, particularly adjectives of `quality' that have to be translated one-to-two or -three; unconventional syntax, neologisms strange words (archaisms, dialect, odd technical terms)-all that is often character­ised as `idiolect' or `personal dialect'-as opposed to `ordinary language', i.e. stock idioms and metaphors, common collocations, normal syntax, colloquial expres­sions and `phaticisms' - the usual tramlines of language. The personal components uonstitute the `expressive' element (they are only a part) of an expressive text, and you should not normalise them in a translation. (See Part II, text no. 3 for a text with expressive passages.)

The core of the informative function of language is external situation, the facts of a piic, reality outside language, including reported ideas or theories. For the purposes of translation, typical `informative' texts are concerned with any topic of knowledge, but texts about literary subjects, as they often express value-judgments, nrc apt to lean towards `expressiveness'. The format of an informative text is often si:wdard: a textbook, a technical report,:arr article in a newspaper or a periodical, a scientific paper, a thesis, minutes or agenda of a meeting.
One normally assumes a modern, non-regional, non-class, non-idiolectal style, with perhaps four points on a scale of language varieties: (1) a formal, mn-emotive, technical style for academic papers, characterised in English by passives, present and perfect tenses, literal language, latinised vocabulary, jargon, iuulti-noun compounds with `empty' verbs, no metaphors; (2) a neutral or informal style with defined technical terms for textbooks characterised by first person plurals, present tenses, dynamic active verbs, and basic conceptual metaphors; (3) an informal, warm style for popular science or art books (e.g., coffee-table books), characterised by simple grammatical structures, a wide range of vocabulary to accommodate definitions and numerous illustrations, and stock metaphors and a simple vocabulary; (4) a familiar, racy, non-technical style for popular journalism, characterised by surprising metaphors, short sentences, Americanese, unconven­tional punctuation, adjectives before proper names and colloquialisms. (Note how metaphors can be a yardstick for the formality of a text.) In my experience, English is likely to have a greater variety and distinctiveness in these styles, because it is lexically the product of several language groups (Saxon, Norse, French, Classical), and has been in intimate contact with a wide variety of other languages; being `carried' over most of the world, it has become the main carrier for technology and has had little authoritative pressure exercised on its growth, apart from a short period in the eighteenth century.
However, note two points: `informative' texts constitute the vast majority of the staff translator's work in international organisations, multi-nationals, private companies and translation agencies. Secondly, a high proportion of such texts are poorly written and sometimes inaccurate, and it is usually the translator's job to `correct' their facts and their style (see Chapter 18). Thus, in spite of the hoary adages (`translation is impossible', etc.), the majority of translations nowadays are better than their originals - or at least ought to be so.

The core of the vocative function of language is the readership, the addressee. I use the term `vocative' in the sense of `calling upon' the readership to act, think or feel, in fact to `react' in the way intended by the text (the vocative is the case used for addressing your reader in some inflected languages). This function of language has been given , many other names, including `conative' (denoting effort), `instru­mental', `operative' and `pragmatic' (in the sense of used to produce a certain effect on the readership). Note that nowadays vocative texts are more often addressed to a readership than a reader. For the purposes of translation, I take notices, instruc­tions, publicity, propaganda, persuasive writing (requests, cases, theses) and possibly popular fiction, whose purpose is to sell the book/entertain the reader, as the typical `vocative' text.
The first factor in all vocative texts is the relationship between the writer and the readership, which is realised in various types of socially or personally deter­mined grammatical relations or forms of address: T (tu, du) and V (vous, Sie, usted) and other variant forms; infinitives, imperatives, subjunctives, indicatives, im­personal, passives; first and/or family names, titles, hypocoristic names; tags, such as `please', all play their part in determining asymmetrical or symmetrical relation­ships, relationships of power or equality, command, request or persuasion.
The second factor is that these texts must be written in a language that is immediately comprehensible to the readership. Thus for translation, the linguistic and cultural level of the SL text has to be reviewed before it is given a pragmatic impact. Crudely, Gardez-vous d'une blessure narcissique, `Take pride in your appereance’.
Few texts are purely expressive, informative or vocative: most include all iluwv liutctions, with an emphasis on one of the three. However, strictly, the ~ s 11: asxive function has no place in a vocative or informative text - it is there only
wu wxriously, as `underlife'. Most informative texts will either have a vocative i I v i anJ running through them (it is essential that the translator pick this up), or the vm an ivc function is restricted to a separate section of recommendation, opinion, or v;vlw• jmlgment; a text can hardly be purely informative, i.e. objective. An expres­.wwxt will usually carry information; the degree of its vocative component will wi i v ;u id is a matter of argument among critics and translators, depending partly, at I,:rn, tin its proportion of `universal' and `cultural' components. The epithets "xt,nrssive', `informative' and `vocative' are used only to show the emphasis or i Imin' (Schwerpunkt) of a text.
1 have proposed three main types of texts, and in the next chapter I shall pyosc methods of translating them. Consider now Jakobson's three other Wnu tioms of language: the aesthetic (called by Jakobson the `poetic'), the phatic and the mctalingual.


This is language designed to please the senses, firstly through its actual or imagined vmd, and secondly through its metaphors. The rhythm, balance and contrasts of ,wurnrcs, clauses and words also play their part. The sound-effects consist of mionu:uopoeia, alliteration, assonance, rhyme, metre, intonation, stress-some of i I wsc play a part in most types of texts: in poetry, nonsense and children's verse and .muc types of publicity (jingles, TV commercials) they are essential. In many cases and not possible to `translate' sound-effects unless one transfers the relevant lay;u;tge units: compensation of some kind is usually possible. In translating vxprcssive texts - in particular, poetry - there is often a conflict between the v x pc,sive and the aesthetic function (`truth' and `beauty')- the poles of ugly literal v r:unzlation and beautiful free translation.
Descriptive verbs of movement and action, since they describe a manner, are i irlv in sound effect; e.g. `race', `rush', `scatter', `mumble', `gasp', `grunt', etc., but not Invd to translate, unless the word is simply `missing' in the other language ( lexical gap), as this is a universal feature of languages.
In nonsense poetry, the sound-effect is more important than the sense: Ein Il"wsel sap auf einem Kiesel Inmitten Bachgeriesel. `A ferret nibbling a carrot in a garret.''A weasel perched on an easel within a patch of teasel.' In children's poetry
and in the art-for-art literature of the end of the nineteenth century (Gautier, Swinburne, Verlaine, Dowson, etc.) (see Levy, 1969) euphonious `beauty' precedes `truth'. In other expressive texts, the expressive precedes the aesthetic function, but if the translation is `ugly' (cacophony), the purpose of the text is defeated.
Metaphor is the link between the expressive and the aesthetic function. Through images, it is also language's only link with four of the five senses; by producing tokens of smell (`rose', `fish'), taste (`food'), touch (`fur', `skin'), sight (all images), as well as the sound (`bird', `bell') that language consists of, metaphor connects the extra-linguistic reality with the world of the mind through language. Thus original metaphor, being both an expressive and an aesthetic component, has to be preserved intact in translation.
Whilst the preceding four functions may operate throughout a text, the phatic and the metalingual are normally involved in only part of a text.

The phatic function of language is used for maintaining friendly contact with the addressee rather than for imparting foreign information. Apart from tone of voice, it usually occurs in the form of standard phrases, or `phaticisms', e.g. in spoken language, therefore, in dialogue, `How are you?', `You know', `Are you well?', `Have a good week-end', `See you tomorrow', `Lovely to see you', `Did you have a good Christmas?' and, in English, `Nasty weather we're having', `What an awful day', `Isn't it hot today?' (See Newmark, 1981.) Some phaticisms are `universal', others (e.g. references to the weather) cultural, and they should be rendered by standard equivalents, which are not literal translations. (References to the weather can be modified by translating with a TL phaticism -Tu sais, il a fait vilain toute la semaine. )
In written language, phaticisms attempt to win the confidence and the credulity of the reader: `of course', `naturally', `undoubtedly', `it is interesting/ important to note that', often flattering the reader: `it is well known that' . . . Add to these the German modal particles (ja, eben, doch, etc.) and old-fashioned openings and closings of official correspondence (retained in French). The only translation problem I know is whether to delete or over-translate the modal particles, or to tone down phaticisms that verge on obsequiousness (illustrissimo Signore Rossi, `Mr Rossi', etc. )

Lastly, the metalingual function of language indicates a language's ability to explain, name, and criticise its own features. When these are more or less universal (e.g. `sentence', `grammar', `verb', etc.) - though they may not yet exist in languages which are only spoken or have had little contact with others - there is no translation problem. However, if these items are language-specific, e.g. `supine', ‘ablative, `illative', `optative', they have to be translated in accordance with the vn riuus relevant contextual factors (nature of readership, importance of item in SL, i I it-ti I , and TL text, likely recurrences in TL etc.) ranging from detailed explana­mns, example and translations down to a culturally-neutral third term.
Note also that SL expressions signalling metalingual words, e.g. `strictly ,pc;iking', `in the true (or full) sense of the word', `literally', `so called', `so to ,wok', `by definition', `sometimes known as', `as another generation put it', `can mean', have to be treated cautiously, as the word following them in the SL w w Id not usually have precisely the same sense if translated one-to-one in the TL. to get both senses of `For the last four years, I literally coined money', into branch and German: Ces quatre derni&es annees, j'ai frappe des pieces d'argent et j'ai hut dc.r affaires d'or; In den letzten vier,7ahren habe ich Munzen gepragt und auch viel gescheffelt. (Ponderous translations.)
I have adopted and adapted the Biihler-Jakobson functions of language operationally as the most convenient way of looking at a text for translation. It is .il.w useful to divide texts by topic into three broad categories: (a) literary; (b) moitutional; and (c) scientific - the latter including all fields of science and mrluxUogy but tending to merge with institutional texts in the area of the social vriunces. Literary texts are distinguished from the rest in being more important in t lu•ir mental and imaginative connotations than their factual denotations.

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