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Review article : Susan Bassnatt Translation Studies
Specific problems of Literary Translation
Chapter Three .
Dhamar University Faculty of Art .
Done by, Ziad Yahya Ali Al-Thari.
Review Article: Susan Bassnatte, Translation Studies
Specific Problems of Literary Translation
In this chapter, Susan Bassnett, clarifies the difficulties, and problems encountered by translators in translating literary works: poetry, prose, and drama. Susan Bassnett announces that literary text is made up of a complex system of linguistics structures where the parts are related to other parts. She quotes Robert Scholes who says “every literary unit from one sentence to the whole order of words can be seen in relation to the concept of system. In particular, we can look at individual works, literary genres, and the whole of literature as a related systems , and at literature as a system within a larger system of human culture. Therefore there is a problem in translation, because it is not only a linguistic act, but also sociocultural activity.

Susan Bassnett criticizes Lotman’s’ four types for reader’s failure during translating the text . The Reader who reads for the sake of content, who Knows the complexity of the whole work, who extrapolates bringing his prejudices to bear on his reading, and that who reads an old text from a modern standpoints.

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Bassnett shows how the definitions of the old concept of the reader is changed by different scholar s ‘ points of view. Ronald Barthes declares that reader is an active participant in meaning- making. He is not just a passive consumer, but also a producer . Julia Kristevas says” reader translates or decodes a work with different set of norms, as well as the notions of ” intertextuality” it means that one text is linked to other text which precedes it or surrounds it is also a significant to the translator. She also warns that translator s’ freedom brings it is own set of accountability. Translator must be familiar with Brecht’s plays which have dialectical, materialism ,ideology, the whole structure of work, and it’s relationship time and place must be taken into account.

When introducing the section entitled ” Poetry Translation” the longest part in this chapter. Susan Bassnett mentions The seven different strategies of Andre Lefevere, which lead to literal translation, on various methods of translations used by English translators of Catullus poem. The strategies are ” the phonemic, literal, poetry into prose, rhymed , blank verse translations, and interpretation ( version, and imitation). Roman Jakopson writes in his article” on linguistic aspect of translation” about the possibility and impossibility of translation s and defines poetry as untranslatable only creative transposition is possible. Then Susan goes back to Popovic supports an independent translation. If the translation is organically the same as the ST ( Source Text ). Bassnett makes a comparative analysis of both works of Ezra Pound’s and Charles Kennedy . A comparison between ST ( source text) and TT ( Target Text) . she also explains how does Ezra Pound differs from Charles Kennedy in translation of the old Anglo- Saxon Poem “The Seafarer” different methodologies of the two translators would be used as a criteria for other translations in the format, preservation of SL., modernization, sounds producing, religion, and elegy. However, Ezra translation is more complicated due to his entreating on the semantic content of the Sl ( Source Language). In translations of texts removed in time, sometimes translators used old languages as found in the ST in order to convey the sound and form of the old times. So they use a deliberately contrived old language as found in the Seafarer. On other hand, the translators are content to translate as much to make it target language, so they modernize the language to suite the contemporary reader. Bassenett draw interfaces from Wyatt and Surrey’s translation of Petrarch, sonnet which consists of 14 lines with variable rhyme scheme . Shakespeare goes on to perfect it so much so that English sonnets in Petrarch time . Petrarch Rhyme scheme : abba/ abba/ cdc/ cdc.

Wyatt’s format is also the same except for the last two lines which have the same rhyme . Surrey uses three quatrains and a final couplet. These differences appear to be rather minor. According to Bassnett, they denote to a change in attitude between the servile depiction of the lover suffering from the pangs of love to an active lover, faithful, brave, and as for Surrey’s change of the sonnet into quatrains and couplet is done in order to re-work his material. The readership in Elizabethan Times would have appreciated the changes introduced by these poets, knowledge of which is unknown to the modern reader.

In my point of view the successful translator is that who concentrates on the form and shape of the poem before reading and the nuance of words ( musical words) meaning, because the words must be under a close examinations by the translator whether the words are connotative or denotative.as well as the translator should be familiar with cultural differences.

Bassnett returned into the second approach ” prose translation”, through a large number of scholars Thomas, Popovic, Hilloire Bellec, and Dotoevsky which differs in intention with poetry, Poetry is considered more defying than prose, which is less complicated, Affirming that the opening paragraph of a novel , which sets the tone, and tenor ( content) , can effect translation with reference to the Magic Mountain. Therefore, misreading the opening can effect on the rest of the novel leading major mistakes in translation. Bassnett locates a large number of gaps between source and target Texts. observing that Thomas Mann makes its sound like a quest rather than a trip. Popovic suggest’ s three negative shifts which may obstruct a proper translation. According to him mistranslation of information, sub interpretation of the original text, and superficial interpretation of connection between intentional correlative.

As for Hilloire Bellec’s suggested six rules stating “translator must translate in sections, not word by word or sentence by sentence”. The whole sense he has to render must be the concentration of his attention. .Idioms must be translated to produce their sense. Translation through intention by intention must be better, because it suggests creativity adding words not in the original text, warning translators against mistaking similar words, translator should transmute ( semiotic) claiming that translation entails resurrection of strange things in a native body, and translator shouldn’t be decorated. Bassenett discusses prime unit of novel” doesn’t have similar units and even chapter- wise translation too can be erratic if the translator misses the whole for the parts. Saying what determinate rendering function is not reading it is the ironical, or lyrical, or matter fact of the novel. Russian language has a particular naming system which may be perplexing to an English reader using Cathy Porter’s translation of Alexandara Kollontai’s love of worker Bees. Bassnett demonstrates the attitudinal differences spread by Russian vocatives. Dotoevsky’s the brother Karamazov has a range of names of the same person in the same page baffling the English reader. The translator is presented with the problems of rendering a SL ( Source Language) system into a TL ( Target Language) which doesn’t have a comparable system. Bassnett specifies issues which face translator ‘s skills such as Rendering dialects, regional linguistic devices specific to a region or class of people. Therefore, the translator must first of all determine the function of the SL Source language system, then find the TL Target Language system that will render that function.
I agree with author in translating prose the translator should reproduce the content and style of the Tl as they are in the Sl In different languages, Because the most problem the translators face is the construction of grammar, dialectical terms, new neologisms, abbreviations, and acronyms.

The last category of literary translation is” Drama Translation” that Bassnett surveys on characteristics distinguished drama from prose , comment on meaning and gestural patterning, and success of phillips version, contrasting between Harrison and Lowell, and comments on paralinguistic systems and gestural texts. Susan declares that the same methodology used in translating prose is used for drama which lead to a lot of mistranslations in which drama text can be realized in their performance. Bassnett says Drama ” a spectacle ” in which the linguistic system is one among many components . Drama has to be approached as a complex system rather than as a text. Susan survey ‘s comments of Anne Ubersfeld in this category. Drama text is inherent from performance. maintaining that over – evaluation of the text has made performance” translation to the text”. The director’s job is to see that semantic equivalence between text and performance. Susan returns to convey the whole meaning of the Drama contributed by Jiri Veltruskky’s t depends on both linguistic situation and context” rhythm, intonations, patterns, pitch and loudness also pin point meaning in drama.

Actors, gestures, custom, and scenery decide meanings.

Changing performance’s concepts , tragedy and comedy, are another contributory factors. Production of Shakespearean drama must take into considerations the acting style, playing space, the role of the spectator, and the concepts of tragedy and comedy. Therefore, the job of translator is complicated, because he has not only to translate the text into TL Target Language, but also to transmit those structures which are contributed to the meaning making . Bassnett names those structures, which bring drama on platform and Stage , as playability of the drama and it’s part of the translators’ job to render them in the TL Target Language. In the case of gestural patterning . Bassnett determines the physical gestures of the actor by the rhythms within the language. The way a particular line is delivered as in Rcine’s opening line of Phaedre, the repetition and rhetorical questions that render the sense of the SL and reproduce a pattern of gestures are known to be gestural patterning. From the three English translations Bassnett quotes , only two done by Robert Lowell and Harrison. Ambrose Phillips succeeds in translating Andromache in English, where John Crown, 17 th century translator, doesn’t.by making a lot of changes to the source text. But he was faithful in his translation to what Bassnett called ” the DS ( the deep structure) of the original. On the other hand Crowne failed saying that the play doesn’t satisfy the spectator’s expectations. Bassnett attributes the success of Phillips version into three factors” 1- playability. 2- the way the play is related to the day’s conventions. 3- clarity of interrelationships among characters. She also declares that Phillips ” restructured the play without changing in its deep structure”. He tells in plain terms the love of Orestes for Hermione and Pyrrus love for Andromache . He established balances among the lethal passion of Orestes and the wise counsel of Phaedre. Bassnett makes a contrast between Tony Harrison’s postcolonial of Phaedra and Rober lowell’s translation. Tony Harrison produced Phaedra, replaced the ancient Greek with colonial India. Phaedra becomes the Memsahib accompanied by Ayah. He also retained the necessary movement in the scene, brief tormented tortured, speech pursuit by the climax . Phaedra passion becomes violation it has the related verse from Dryden. Harrison’s translation, which combines short speech of Phaedra interspersed with brief soliloquies, he is able to capture the shift in scene changes is called” performance oriented”. Whereas, Lowell’s translation has given priority to the text of the play. Explanation of the methodological background which baffled the modern reader. He gives more vices to Phaedra, has followed Racin more literally but has not able to catch shift in scene changes, therefore his translation is ” reader oriented”.Bassnett says that text is only one element in the totality of dramatic discourse. Quating Thadeus Kowzan, according to her play contains auditives and visual signs, and since the play text is written for voices. The literary text contains a set of paralinguistic systems, where pitch, intonation. Accent, etc.. are all signifiers. The gestural text what Bassnette calls ” the under text is that which determines the ” movements” of the actors if translator ignores them, he will Commit a mistake, make an error. Dramatic Translators must look at the function of the play from where the linguistic components becomes subjects to performance . It is from this corner that Harrison and phillips become justifiable deviation.

Within the emerging discipline of translation Studies in 1978,Susan Bassnatte solved the problem of translating of the stage and explored the gestural language which are in similar way to the sub text with the passage of time researchers claims that translation of Drama Text is opposed to prose text not only on in rendering linguistic element but also paralinguistic features and the gestural texts.

I can say that literary translation is an art, creativity which is incompatible with literalism. The translator is actually writer who re-write and recreate it for the reader. It can’t be compared to business translation . Translator should master the theory and practice of literary translation throughout his life. Literary translation has many features and certain difficulties. First:- It lacks the literal translation( word for word translation). Second:- It is translation of aphorisms ( religious texts), and idioms. Third:- It is a play on words and humors. Forth:- It is compliance of styles, cultures and epochs.

In brief, Literary translation is the translation of Creative and dramatic prose and poetry into other languages this include the translation of literature, which is one of the most difficulty to be done , from ancient languages and the translation of modern fiction so that it can reach a wider audience.

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