23. Grammatical transformations (on the sentence level) as translation techniques.
Word-for-word translation until we come to very rare cases (very simple short sentences) is impossible. In the course of translation in order to achieve translation equivalence we have to resort to different grammatical and lexical changes, which are called transformations. They can be of 4 types:
This classification is arbitrary, not precise, because as far as translation goes we can’t find any of the transformations in is pure form. They are usually combined with one another.
1) Transposition - it’s a change in the order of linguistic elements, which are words, phrases, clauses and sentences. Most often it is connected with the notions of theme and rheme: *A boy came in – The boy came in
In the first case literal translation is impossible, as the word “boy” is rheme, so we change the word order: “Вошел мальчик”
Within a complex sentence the same tendency is observed in Russian. So the first place is occupied by the part of a sentence which most logically precedes the second, while in English the position of both clauses though not quite fixed is for the most part governed by existing syntactical rules. In fact the main clause precedes the subordinate one, and this often causes a change in the order of clauses in translation.
*He trembled as he looked up. – Взглянув наверх, он задрожал.
*You goin’ to court this morning? – Said Jim. We have strolled over. – Мы подошли. “Вы пойдете сегодня в суд?” – спросил Джим.
The transposition of the sentence elements is sometimes called sentence restructuring, because the sentence is getting restructured in the process of translation. This restructuring consists in changing syntactic functions of words in a sentence. In English as in Russian the theme is generally placed in the beginning if a sentence, though in English this place is reserved for the sentence subject. The theme of the English sentence is represented by the subject though semantically it is not always the doer of the action expressed by the predicate group. It may be its object and even denote some adverbial relations (time, place, cause etc). In Russian the word order is relatively free, therefore the first word group must not necessarily be at the same time its syntactic subject. So in many cases the English subject is replaced by a secondary element, such as object, adverbial modifier with constant changes in the syntactic pattern of the sentence. Very often there occur some lexical changes.
*He was met by his sister.
*He was given money.
*The new film is much spoken about.
*The tent sleeps 6 people. – 6 человек могут разместиться в этой палатке.
*The fog stopped the traffic.
It is obvious that when we translate from Russian into English the process is reversed.
*В комнате установилась тишина.” – “The room turned silent.”
*В радиотехнических устройствах часто встречаются системы из электрических проводов”. – Radio equipment often includes systems of electric wires.
2) Replacement - This is a very important transformation, and I can affect any kind of linguistic units: word forms, parts of speech, sentence elements, types of syntactic relations, sentence types etc.
- Word forms
*The struggles of the Indian people in all parts of the US” – борьба
*A novel about lives of common people” – о жизни
*He said he knew the man” – он сказал, что знает…
*The door was opened by a middle-aged woman” – дверь открыла…
- Parts of speech
It is a common type of replacement for English nouns derived from verbs and denoting actions. In this case the English noun is replaced by a Russian verb.
*It’s our hope that… – мы надеемся, что…
*The abandonment by Irene of all the glittering things he had given her – Ирэн оставила
The same is true for nouns derived from verbs with the help of the suffix –er. The situation is complex, because in Russian the corresponding word may not exist at all or such words may denote people of permanent occupations.
*He is an early riser.
*I am a very rapid packer.
*John is a sound sleeper. – крепко спит
*The writer of this note. – написавший эту записку
*She is a very good dancer.” – хорошо танцует
Very often English adjectives are replaced by Russian nouns.
*Australian prosperity – процветание Австралии
*Youthful joblessness – безработица среди молодежи
English comparative forms of adjectives, such as “higher, lower, longer, shorter, better” are frequently replaced by Russian nouns that come from adjective stems.
*They demand higher wages and better living conditions – они требуют повышения зарплаты и улучшения условий жизни.
It is sometimes called syntactic restructuring, which consists in changing of the functions of the words in the sentence. As in Russian so in English the theme is usually placed in the beginning of the sentence (subject, object, adverbial relations). In many cases the English subject is very often replaced by some secondary element with constant changes in the syntactic pattern of the whole sentence. Very often it is accompanied by certain lexical changes.
* The new film is much spoken about.
*Last week saw a 500 strong meeting of shop-assistants & trade union officials.
*Figure 2 gives…
- Sentence types
It is a very common transformation of the simple sentence by a complex one and vice versa. While translating from English into Russian it becomes necessary to replace English structures with non-finite verbal forms by subordinate clauses and in this case we turn the simple sentence into a complex one.
*I want you to speak English.
*I heard my mother go out and close the door.
*Here is a book for you to read.
The subtype of this transformation is known as unification or conversely division of sentences in translation, it’s a replacement of two simple sentences by a compound or a complex one or vise versa.
*Thousands of Algerians tonight fled from the dead city of Orleansville after a 12-second earthquake had ripped through central Algeria killing an estimated 1,100 people. – Сегодня вечером в центре Алжира произошло сильное землетрясение. Около 1100 человек погибло. Оставшиеся в живых в спешке покинули разрушенный город.
Unification of 2 or more sentences occurs more rarely.
*The only thing that worried me was our front door. It creaked like a bastard. – Меня волновала только входная дверь, которая скрипела как сволочь.
- Types of syntactic relations
Both Russian and English have syntactic relation of coordination and subordination. Coordination is more characteristic of spoken Russian, so it is often desirable when doing consecutive or immediate translation from English into Russian to replace subordination of sentences by coordination.
*So I started walking way over coast where the pretty cheap restaurants are, because I didn’t want to spend a lot of dough.”
Transformation – a formal linguistic operation, which enables to place 2 levels of structural representation in correspondence.
These transformations are optional from the grammatical point of view, but they are very frequent because they add to the clarity and the simplicity of style.
The transformation helps to avoid ambiguity; it makes the implicit meaning of a sentence explicit. In the phrase “in 1969 report of the Royal Commission on Security” “of” has two meanings:
- A report about the Commission
- A report delivered by the Commission.
When we deal with translation we deal with several operations and problems:
Addition & omission
Grammatical transformations consist in analysis aimed at removing ambiguity and synthesis aimed at reconstruction of the original message of the TL.
*– Have you heard of my son’s robbery?
*-- No, whom did he rob? (Who robbed him?)”
The surface structure here is the same but the deep structure would be different.
*Another problem that was found considerably exaggerated is that of radar blackout. (=прекращение работы радара с целью маскировки или выведения eго из строя) An attempt to blackout the radar would require the establishing of about 15 aiming points in the sky. – Серьезность проблемы, связанной с выведением из строя РЛС была также, как выяснилось, значительно преувеличена.”
Addition here is caused by various factors, which are necessitated by lexical incompleteness. That means that certain word groups or sentences don’t give enough information or the lack of information sometimes depends on the insufficiency of the context or peculiarities of the language. Thus in English in many cases words, which are omitted, can be easily restored by the context. In Russian their actual presence is a necessity.
*pay claim – требование о повышении З./платы
*gun license – разрешение на ношение оружия
*oil talk – переговоры о ценах на нефть
Sometimes addition is required to compensate the lack of grammatical forms.
*This form of national defense investment is capable of protecting the country against attack. = Investment in national defense.
*The story of Robin Hood – told by or about?
Sometimes it is enough to introduce a preposition to make things go right.
*State-financed” = financed by state
*US-made” = made in US
Ambiguity may be created not only by polisemy, but also by homonymy, though these cases are rare enough.
*This gives the housewife viewer the opportunity to fill that role.
We can’t translate this sentence properly until we know the context: “Psychologically Mr. Godfrey’s morning program creates the illusion of the family structure with one important omission. There is no mother in the Godfrey’s family. This gives the housewife the opportunity to feel that role.” Thus, the translation of the sentence will sound like this: “домохозяйка, которая смотрит телепередачу, воображает себя в этой роли.”
In many cases the ambiguity may be solved within the framework of the same context.
*In my judgment the war in Vietnam is a tragic national mistake, a colossal one. In any other context of life when a mistake has been made, whether by a person, by a company or by a nation, there’s only one thing to do – face up to it.” The translation is not a “национальная ошибка”, but “ошибка, совершенная государством”.
Within phrases adjective + noun they demand interpretation and explanation and sometimes the structure is made more explicit by using clauses or participial constructions. When we make transformations of this kind we always speak of syntactical transformations as a means of interpretation.
*Fortunately for the army, an increasingly unpopular politician was to serve as a prime target in an election year, and indeed, his handling the military operation appears to have been lax.
Here we create one more sentence to express the meaning of the original. Sometimes such transformation is called morphologically conditioned. We also have syntactically conditioned transformations when here’s no structural analogue in the TL.
*Two days later with 10,000 veterans on Capitol Hill awaiting the result, the senate defeated the Bill by an overwhelming vote of 62 to 18.” – через 2 дня, когда 10 000 ветеранов собрались… ожидая…
The clause explains the meaning of absolute construction
Some transformations are conditioned by word-building patterns.
*Mrs. Castle claimed that the official figure of 970000 jobless was a big underestimate. She spoke of the grim reality of the waste of human resources that is direct result of the Tory policy. - … мрачной действительности, когда в результате политики Тори разбазаривают людские ресурсы.
These are the laws of collocability that affect the translator. So we speak not of “мрачное разбазаривание” we resort to a clause. If the subject of the sentence is an abstract notion the sentence is surely to transform.
* Long habit has made it more possible for me to speak through the creatures of my invention. I can decide what they would think more rapidly than I can decide, what I think myself. – В силу долголетней привычки мне удобней высказываться через посредство вымышленных мной людей. Решать, что они подумали бы мне легче, чем решать, что думаю я сам.
In English nature can be represented as the doer of the action.
The context itself may also cause grammatical transformations, performed due to a certain stylistic necessity. E.G. the repetition of a pronoun may be considered as a stylistic device (immediate effect of sincerity). In Russian this is stylistically impossible & produces an effect of monotony.
* He sat down by the stream, the clear water blowing between the rocks; he crossed the stream… he knelt by the stream… he lowered himself with a hand on…
Very often English nouns are replaced by Russian verbs. Russian system of prefixes is so rich that it can help the translator to choose the necessary verb to retain the meaning expressed by a noun in English.
*Drowning is the biggest killer of children acc. to a world health report, published in Geneva yesterday. – …наибольший процент погибших детей приходится на утонувших.
Very often adjectives are replaced by adverbs.
*Poirot waved an eloquent hand. – Пуаро картинно помахал рукой.
Sometimes the process is reversed when the English adverb is replaced by the adjective
*The accusation has been disapproved editorially. – Обвинение было опровергнуто в передовой статье.
Sometimes we have to substitute the adverb by other parts of speech, bcos we cannot find any analogue in Russian.
* But it was a solid tyred grotesquely composed of one 5-foot wheel & one tyring one. – В те времена у велосипеда был нелепый вид…
*… He was not in sympathy with Andrew Johnson personally or politically. – Эндрю Джонсон ни как человек ни как политический деятель не внушал ему доверия.
Sometimes an adverb does not characterize an action. It can simply express the attitude of the doer, or the state, the doer is in.
*… said the inspector virtuously. – сказал надменный инспектор.
There are certain rules that every translator should observe.
Verbs can be substituted by nouns & vice versa. These substitutions are based upon 2 principles.
1. The translation must be adequate & transparent.
2. The translation must be precise & the economy should be observed.
Abstract nouns present certain challenge & cause restructuring of the sentence.
The first challenge the translator faces is to get the mechanisms of the TL & produce a grammatically adequate utterance, corresponding to the rules of the TL. Fundamentally to access the validity of the translation we should compose the TL text of the 2nd lng & the translation of it should be correct. Translator should demonstrate textual competence, when their TL text has the structural features of a formal written English & informal spoken English, as the case might be.