Wednesday, 16 November 2016

How do I translate?

How do I translate?

By: Assistant Instructor Ibrahim Talaat Ibrahim (M.A)


Many people wonder about translation and means of producing good translations. So, it is a theory and art. In other words, the one who wants to translate any text should adopt certain translation theory and he has to have a classy artistic style so as to translate well. Besides, the translator concerned should be encyclopedic to embrace something about every single field of knowledge and science for reasons of not facing difficulty in rendering the meaning from one language to another. And if the translator wants to succeed in his career; he has to follow the points mentioned below:  

1-he has to read the text in question from A to Z to understand the theme of the subject. And if it is unclear, he has to resort to internet or read topics related to the subject to grasp the text and its context completely.

For example:

If the text is about a scientific topic (Smart Phone: Samsung Galaxy S7) and there is insufficient information in the body of the text. Therefore, the translator in question can search for the topic so as to get new terms, understand more related ideas and translate it correctly.

2- The translator has to underline the mistakes found in the source text. In other words, he has to correct the mistakes once he starts the process of translation.


For example: 

"وتوعد مدير الشركة بمكافأة الموظفين"

-The Company Executive Officer threatened to reward employees. (Incorrect translation)

- The Company Executive Officer promised to reward the employees. (Correct translation)

The word "توعد" is derived from "وعيد" in Arabic. It means "threat". If the translator keeps the same word, its translation will be "threaten" and it is not in harmony with the sentence mentioned above because it has a positive meaning while the word "توعد" has a negative one. Moreover, the translator must employ "وعد" which means "Promise" to be in harmony with the context of the sentence.

3- The translator in question should know the text type of the topic he wants to translate because there are different text types and contrastive vocabulary which are different in accordance with the nature of the text type.

For example:

The word "car" is translated into "سيارة" in general. Yet, this is not the case if the same word is found in the text dealing with traffic police subject because the appropriate translation will be "مركبة" whereas the word "عجلة" is described as the most acceptable choice in the military context. In other words, the translator can pinpoint the nature of the text type by reading its vocabulary and understanding its context.


4- The translator should be well-versed in the cultures of languages he deals with due to the strong bond between both of them.

For example:

English poet and playwright William Shakespeare says at the beginning of Sonnet 18: 

"Shall I compare thee to summer's day"

"هل اصفك بيوم من ايام الربيع"

So, the word "summer" means "صيف" in Arabic but the translator concerned rendered it into "ربيع" which means "spring" in English because Shakespeare describes his lover as summer season. As you know summer season is short and mild in the west and this is not the case in the east because it hot and long. This is why, the translator used "ربيع" instead.   


5- The translator in question should be able to render the sense of the figurative expressions and idioms correctly because literal translation method might put him in jeopardy.

For example:

  "To carry coals to Newcastle"

فالترجمة الحرفية: "يحمل الفحم الى نيوكاسل"

والترجمة الحرة: "يبيع الماء في حارة السقايين"


The metaphor presented above means 'doing something unnecessary'. So, he can transfer the right sense by grasping the context of the text and finding the appropriate equivalent for the figurative expression in the target language. In other words, if the translator translates the metaphor mentioned above via literal translation, he will fail in rendering the idea but if he resorts to free translation, the idea will rendered into target language successfully. 

6- The translator must be well-versed in theories of translation to choose the appropriate one. Furthermore, the type of the text plays an integral role in picking the right theory.

For example:

If the text is literary one, it is necessary to employ free translation theory because the text concerned contains a lot of figurative expressions. And if the text is scientific, he can adopt literal or semantic translation theory because it embraces information and terms don't require any aesthetic effects but the translator needs to pair between the above mentioned theories if he deals with the journalistic text since the latter might consist of information, terms and figurative expressions. Finally, the translator should be a comprehensive encyclopedia of science and knowledge to produce the correct translation.     




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