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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI

UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL


STUDIES
FACULTY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER EDUCATION

LU NG TH THÚY

THE QUALITY OF LITERARY


ENGLISH – VIETNAMESE
TRANSLATIONS TODAY

SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS


FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF ARTS

Hanoi, May - 2010


VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL
STUDIES
FACULTY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER EDUCATION

LU NG TH THÚY

THE QUALITY OF LITERARY ENGLISH – VIETNAMESE


TRANSLATIONS TODAY

SUPERVISOR: TR N TH THANH NHÃ, MA

SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS


FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF ARTS

Hanoi, May – 2010


I hereby state that I: Luong Thi Thuy, a student of class 06.1.E18,
being a candidate for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (TEFL) accept
the requirements of the University relating to the retention and use of
Bachelor’s Graduation Paper deposited in the library.

In terms of these conditions, I agree that the origin of my paper


deposited in the library should be accessible for the purposes of
study and research, in accordance with the normal conditions
established by the librarian for the care, loan or reproduction of the
paper.

Signature
Student Supervisor

Luong Thi Thuy Ms. Tran Thi Thanh Nha, MA

Date: 3rd May, 2010


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

First and foremost, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to


my supervisor, Tran Thi Thanh Nha, MA, who gave me great
supports, guidance, feedback as well as valuable advice in
preparation of this Graduation Thesis. The success of my paper
would be almost impossible without her great help and idea.

My sincere thanks also go to all lecturers in Vietnam National


University Hanoi, University of Languages and International
Studies, especially lectures in Translating and Interpreting Division
for their lectures, instructions and their useful suggestions that have
helped me so much.

Last but not least, I would like to express my warmest thanks


to my dear family, especially my younger brother, Luong Quoc Dat
and my friends who were beside me all the time, encouraged and
helped me to reach my aim.

i
ABSTRACT

Nowadays, the number of readers who spend time on literary


works is growing increasingly, especially foreign literary works
translated into Vietnamese, however, English – Vietnamese
translations of many literary works have not been paid much attention.
The purpose of this thesis has primarily been to define and describe
common types of errors in literary English – Vietnamese translations
today and the most dominant errors that the translators made based on
various theories of translation quality assessment and different
frameworks of error classification. Each error is presented with typical
examples taken out from published literary works read by many
people. Given the resulting of the analysis, the thesis will be able to
figure out the most popular errors exposed in the translations. The
thesis then provides some implications to address these errors or, at
least, minimize these common mistakes.

i
TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS……………………………………….i
ABSTRACT ……………………………………………………....ii
TABLE OF CONTENTS………………………………………….iii
LIST OF TABLES…………………………………………………v
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS……………………………………...vi

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.1. Rationale……………………………………………………....1
1.2. Aims of the study………………………………………….2
1.3. Scope of the study…………………………………………3
1.4. Methodology……………………………………………….3
1.5. Organization of the study…………………………………..5

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1. Introduction……………………………………………………6
2.2. Literary translation…………………………………………….6
2.2.1. Definition of translation……………………………………6
2.2.2. Definition of literary translation…………………................8
2.3. Translation Quality…………………………………………….8
2.3.1. Definition of the quality and translation quality…………....8
2.3.2. Role of translation quality assessment…………………….10
2.3.3. Criteria for translation quality assessment………………...10
2.3.4. Approaches to assess the quality of translations…………..11
iii
2.4. Translation Errors…………………………………………….13
2.4.1. Definition…………………………………………………13
2.4.2. Categories of errors……………………………………….13

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY

3.1. Sampling……………………………………………………...16
3.2. Data analysis process…………………………………………16

CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

4.1. Linguistic errors………………………………………………18


4.1.1 Lexical errors………………………………………………18
4.1.2. Idioms……………………………………………………...26
4.2. Translational errors……………………………………………28
4.2.1. Omission…………………………………………………...29
4.2.2. Addition……………………………………………………32
4.2.3. Equivalence………………………………………………..34
4.2.4. Accuracy…………………………………………………...35
4.2.5. Naturalness………………………………………………...40
4.3. Summary and Implications……………………………………46

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS

5.1. Overview and summary of the thesis…………………………49


5.2. Strengths and weaknesses of the thesis……………………….50
5.3. Suggestions for further research and final comments………...51

REFERENCES ……………………………………………………52
iv
LIST OF TABLES

Table Page
1 : Some vocabulary errors in the translation of
“The Da Vinci Code” (Dan Brown)………………………………25
2 : Some omission errors in the translation of “Twilight”
(Ch ng v ng) – Stephenie Meyer………………………………….29
3 : Omission errors …………………………………………...32
4 : Addition Errors…………………………………………….33
5 : Some accuracy errors in the translation of
“The Da Vinci Code” (Dan Brown)……………………………….38
6 : Some naturalness errors in the translation of
“Twilight” (Stephenie Meyer)…………………………………….42
7 : Some naturalness errors in the translation of
the “Da Vinci Code” (Dan Brown)………………………………46

V
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

OALD: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary


SL: Source Language
ST: Source Text
TL: Target Language
TQA: Translation Quality Assessment
TT: Target Text

vi
CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

1.1. Rationale:
The practice of translation has appeared for many years and ever since
has existed until present days when more and more texts, documents and
news needed translating. It is generally believed that translation plays an
important role in the globalization of human knowledge. Thanks to
translations, people’s international understanding, social cultural awareness
and so much more will be improved. At present, the practice of translation
has become essential to the development of the society and the world
culture.
Vietnam is in the process of integration into the world; therefore, the
practice of translation and the role of Vietnamese translators have become
more important than ever before. One of translation fields attracting so many
people is literary translation. Literary translations with high quality will help
to connect Vietnamese Literature with other countries in the world.
However, what is the situation of literary translation practice and how
is the quality of literary English – Vietnamese Translations today? The fact
has shown that the number of quality translations is still limited and the
practice of literary translation has long been criticized for being
unsatisfactory and even incorrect. The Italians have a saying that goes,
“traduttore, tradittore” (translators, traitot). This saying seems to evoke an
immoderate distaste for translators. Certainly, almost no translation is
perfect even when it can transfer the general message. Literary English –

1
Vietnamese Translations in Vietnam today still have many problems which
have become the concern and worry of many people and also the country.
Therefore, helping people see the situation of the quality of literary
translations today and improve the practice of translation has been a great
desire of generations of translators in Vietnam. There have been several
senior translators trying to figure out and resolve problems existing in
literary English – Vietnamese translations. That is also the attempt that this
thesis conducting study on “the quality of literary English - Vietnamese
translations today” tries to accomplish.

1.2. Aims and research questions:

The rendering of written texts from one language into another requires
high quality: accuracy, smoothness, naturalness, etc. Translating texts allows
considerable time for translators to find the best substitutions. Therefore,
paying attention carefully to the written texts from one language into another
before rendering is very necessary.
In the first place, the thesis aims at giving a theoretical background on
the quality of translation. Furthermore, it also tries to study the current
situation of the quality of literary English – Vietnamese translations today.
The study focuses on analyzing and assessing in details some literary
English –Vietnamese translations to give students of English who would be
translators and translators an overview of the kinds of errors or problems
met frequently in literary English Vietnamese translations that affect the
quality of literary translations so that they can understand and avoid these
mistakes.
The thesis will aim at answering the following questions:
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1. What are frequently seen types of errors in literary English -
Vietnamese translations today?
2. What are the most popular mistakes (if traceable) in literary
English-Vietnamese translations today?

1.3. Scope of the study:

Analyzing and assessing the quality of translations are very


sophisticated. Due to the limitation of time and experience, the author just
concentrates the study on the quality of some literary English Vietnamese
Translation Publications which are much more popular in Vietnam such as
Twilight (Stephenie Meyer), The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown), Harry potter
(Rowling, J.K), Detective Conan (Aoyama Gosho) and some Australian
Short stories translated by professional translators in Vietnam. This is
because of the fact that not only translations by unskilled translators but
worryingly those by contemporary professional translators in Vietnam can
have problems.
Besides mentioning the theoretical base in each part, the thesis

concentrates largely on dealing with translation in practice. The thesis is

mostly based on the combination and analysis of details picked from literary

publications.

1.4. Methodology

Sampling

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Samples will be literary English and Vietnamese texts collected in

literary publications translated from English into Vietnamese. All these

original texts and translation texts are from personal materials, library and

the internet.

These samples in both English and Vietnamese will be selected from


these sources because it is easier to get access to and they are concerned
and read by so many people.
Data Collection instrument:
Data will be collected in some literary publications and the internet.

Each text will be printed and copied of both Vietnamese and English

versions so that comparison between translation texts and the original texts

can be made.

Data collection process:

Firstly, both Vietnamese and English versions will be transcribed


from literary publications and the internet to be convenient for comparison.
Then texts in English and Vietnamese will be read, compared and
analyzed carefully to identify problems existed in literary English –
Vietnamese translations today and made translation texts have poor
quality.
Data analysis:

Data analysis will be implemented to answer the research questions.


Problems, if available after being identified from the translations will be
categorized into types of errors. Through the process of calculating and

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identifying errors or problems existed in translation texts. The most
popular problem made in translations will be figured out.
From existing problems in translations, suggestions to overcome
problems making translation disqualified will be given.
During the process of reading, comparing and analyzing translations
today, knowledge of translation practice situation today will be enlarged.
Thanks to this, causes leading to not enough quality translation will be found.
1.5. Organizations of the thesis

The thesis is organized as follows. It is divided into two different


sections. The first section is for literature review. The purpose of literature
review is to analyze critically a segment of relevant published works through
classification and comparison of previous research studies and theoretical
articles. It combines both summary and synthesis. And it traces back the
academic developments and intellectual progression in the field. For its
importance, the literature review deserves the whole chapter 2 for its
representation. The second section is all about an empirical study drawing on
the findings from a survey. This section is split into three chapters. Methods
and Procedures of the survey will be discussed in chapter 3. Survey
Results and Discussions will appear in chapter 4. Suggestions for further study
along with Conclusion will be revealed in the last chapter- chapter 5.
The ideas developed in this thesis will not be of purely theoretical
interest. They are expected to have practical impact on analyzing errors
usually met in literary English Vietnamese Translations to assess the quality
of literary translations. For that reason, the thesis will be much of interest to
the readers.

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CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1. Introduction:

A literature review discusses published information in a particular


subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within
a certain time period. Literature review is an account of what has been
published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers but not
simply a new interpretation of old material. Therefore, this chapter is
intended not only to demonstrate relevant information on the quality
of literary English Vietnamese Translations but also to provide informed
evaluation of the literature. It starts with a brief description of literary
translations, errors classification in translation, then a focus on translation
quality, methods to assess the translation quality and assessment criteria.

2.2. Literary Translation:

2.2.1. Definition of Translation:

In any account of interlingual communication, translation is used as


a generic term. Professionally, however, the term translation is confined to
the written, and the term interpretation to the spoken (Newmark, 1991: 35).
If confined to a written language, translation is a cover term with three
distinguishable meanings: 1) translating, the process (to translate; the
activity rather than the tangible object), 2) a translation: the product of the
process of translating (e.g. the translated text), and 3) translation: the
abstract concept which encompasses both the process of translating and the
product of that process (Bell, 1991: 13).

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A straight forward explanation of translation given by Catford
(1965, p.11) can help even non-professionals have an overall picture of
what translation is. He simply described translation as an “operation
performed on languages, a process of substituting a text in one
language for a text in another”. Another definition of translation put
forward by Edmond Cary (1985, p. 85), as cited in Lederer, (2003, p.7),
has received the approval from many linguistic theorists. Translation is a
process which attempts to establish equivalents between two texts
expressed in two different languages. These equivalents are, by definition,
always dependent on the nature of the two texts, on their objectives, on the
relationship between the two cultures involved and their moral, intellectual
and emotional conditions.

It is obvious that both translation and interpreting “…consist of


understanding an original text, deverbalizing its linguistic form and then
expressing in another language [with] the ideas grasped and emotion
felt…” (Marianne Lederer, 2003, p.8), however, while interpreting refers
to orally converting one spoken language into another, translation refers to
converting a written text from one language into another.

Both translators and interpreters are required to have a good


command of the native language and at least a foreign language,
analytical ability, high concentration, subject matter knowledge and
sensitivity to cultural issues. However, there are different sets of
indispensable skills for each. While am interpreter must have extraordinary
listening abilities, it is important for a translator to be sharp writer and
skilled editor.

2.2.2. Definition of literary translation


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A literary translation is translation of literature such as novels, plays
and poems. The translation of literary works is considered by many one of
the highest forms of translation as it involves so much more than simply
translating text.
A literary translator must be capable of also translating feelings,
cultural nuances, humor and other subtle elements of a piece of work. In
addition to dealing with the difficulties inherent to translations of all fields,
a literary translator must consider the aesthetic aspects of the text, its
beauty and style, as well as its marks (lexical, grammatical, or
phonological), keeping in mind that one language’s stylistic marks can be
drastically different from another’s. When the source and target languages
belong to different cultural groups, the first problem faced by the translator
is finding terms in his or her own language that express the highest level of
faithfulness possible to the meaning of certain words.

2.3. Translation Quality

2.3.1. Definition of quality and translation quality

Phil Crosby (1980s) defined that quality is "Conformance to


specifications". There is a difficulty with this point is that the
specifications may not be what the customer wants; for example: A
translated song text has no errors (in terms of orthography, grammar ...)
but it has not enough vocals; the musical texture is destroyed. Joseph M.
Juran (1904) stated that quality is "Fitness for use". Meanwhile, John
Ruskin shares the viewpoint that quality is "Result of intelligent effort”.

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With this point, he wants to mention to the effort of translators when
producing a translation with high quality.
The concept of translation quality has long been a subject of
disagreements and arguments. The quality of translated text is understood
as1
a) degree of its equivalency to the source text
b) degree of its adequacy to the source text
The equivalency is understood as precise and unambiguous of the
meaning of the ST. Meanwhile, the adequacy is defined compliance with
the equivalency plus the efficiency in communication and compliance with
the genre style.
In the definition of adequacy, the efficiency in communication is
understood as the comprehension of the text. And the genre style is that the
translation has to match the dominant function and stylistic peculiarities of
the type the text belongs to. A translation also has to meet the requirements
of pragmatic norm which ensures pragmatic value of the translation and
the requirements of conventional norm which ensures maximum closeness
between the translationand the source.
Nowadays, the demand of translation quality has increased. Levels
of translation quality2 can be described at least in the following terms:
1). Raw translation; 2). Normal quality translation. 3). Extra quality
translation; 4). Adaptation of original text.
The first level of translation quality is raw translation that mentions
to the central meaning of the source text. In raw translation, there may be

1
From http://www.langint.com/blog/index.php/archives/320
Retrieved April 14, 2010
2
From http://www.issco.unige.ch/en/research/projects/ewg96/node165.html
Retrieved April 19, 2010

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some mistakes such as grammatical and spelling errors; but the text has to
be understandable. The second level is normal quality translation. In this
level, the source text must be translated grammatically and fully to help
readers understand completely the ideas of author. The third level is extra-
quality translation. The translation reached to this level must be ensure
both the fluency and idiom and should be assimilated completely to the
cultural context of the TL. The last one is the adaptation of original text.
The translation in this level may be reordered according to what the
translatordeems appropriate. The translation text is expected to be fluent
language.
2.3.2. Role of Translation Quality Assessment (TQA)
Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) plays an important role in the
contribution of improving the quality of translation. In his book “A text
book of translation” (1995), New Mark implies that TQA is very necessary
for translators because of three main reasons. At first, translators can
improve their competences and obtain more useful experiences during the
process of TQA. Second of all, translators can enlarge their knowledge and
understanding of both the language of the original text and the language of
the translation. And lastly, TQA is one of good way for translators to
enlarge their understanding of the theory of translation.
New Mark (1995) also shares his idea when regarding TQA as “the
keystone of any course in comparative literature, or literature in
translation, and a component of any professional translation course with
the appropriate text-types as an exercise for criticism and discussion”.
2.3.3. Criteria for Translation Quality Assessment
Criteria for TQA still remains controversial because it depends on
one’s view and theory of translation. Based on one’s view, House (1997 in
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Schãffner, 1997) states that “different views of translation lead to different
concepts of translation quality, and hence different ways of assessing it”
Meanwhile, Schãffner (1997) assumes that the criteria for TQA is different
regarding the purposes of the assessment and on the theoretical framework
which the assessors apply to assess the quality of translation. According
Nida (1964), there are three criteria for an optimal translation including
general efficiency of the communication process comprehension of intent
and equivalence of response. Besides, Nida and Taber (1969:173) also
share ideas of another set of criteria: the correctness with which the
message of the original is understood through the translation, the ease of
comprehension and the involvement a person experience as a result of the
adequacy of the form of the translation.
New mark in the textbook of “Translation criticism” (1995) also
suggests some criteria for TQA as follow:

-accuracy, economy, both according to the translator’s standards and


to the critic’s standards

-without reference to the SL: smoothness, naturalness, easy flow,


readability, absence of interference

2.3.4. Approaches to assess the quality of translations

So far, there are many ideas of approaches to assess the quality of


translation.

Williams (2004) shares his idea by suggesting combined micro and


macro textual approach to TQA, which tries to unite quantitative and
qualitative dimensions. Meanwhile, Baker, Gabriela Saldanha (1998) in the

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book “Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies” assumes that there
are three main approaches to assess the quality of translation as follow:

1). Anecdotal and subjective approaches; 2). Response-oriented


psycholinguistic approaches and 3). Text-based approaches.

According to Baker,Gabriela Saldanha, the first approach, anecdotal


and subjective approaches, implies that the quality of a translation depends
on the personal knowledge, institution andartistic competence of the
translator. Stlolze states that a “good” translation can only come about
when the translator identifies him or herself fully with the text to be
translated. While the first approach focuses on the translators’ competence,
the second one mainly depends on measures of intelligibility and
informativeness. The third one is text-based approaches which may be
informed by linguistics, comparative literature or functional models. And
in linguistically based approaches, the source and the target texts are
compared with a view to discover syntactic semantic, stylistic and
pragmatic regularities of transfer. Another text-based approach to
translation quality assessment is suggested by Reiß (1971) which is that the
most important invariant in translation is the text type to which the source
text belongs as it determines all other choices a translator has to mark.
Reiß proposed three basic types on the Basis of Buhler’s (1934) language
functions: content-oriented, form-oriented and cognitive.

Roller (1979/2004) suggests that there are three stages assessing the
quality of translation: (a) source text criticism, with a view to assessing
transferability into the target language, (b) translation comparison, taking
account of the methods used in the production of a given translation, and

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(c) translation evaluation on the basis of native speaker metalinguistic
judgments based on the text – specific features established in stage (a).

2.4. Translation Errors

2.4.1. Definition

Actually, even excellent translators make mistakes in translations.


Newbert and Shreve (1995) describe a translation error in the following
statement:

What rightly appears to be linguistically equivalent may very


frequently qualify as “translationally nonequivalent” and this is so because
the complex demands on adequacy in translation involve subject factors
and transfer conventions that typically run counter to considerations about
“surface” linguistic equivalence (1995:415).
Through this statement, Newbert and Shreve partially describes that
it is difficult and complicated to define and identify translation errors
which are different from errors that would occur in spontaneous native
language production. And in the case of second language learners,
identifying translation errors is strictly because translation errors may be
mixed up with linguistic errors.

2.4.2. Categories of errors:


Up to present, translation errors classification remains controversial.
American Translation Association3 (ATA) describes translation
errors as follow:

1- Illegible

2- Misunderstanding of the original text

3
From http://www.atanet.org/certification/aboutexams_presentation.php

13
3- Mistranslation into TL

4- Addition or omission

5- Terminology, word choice

6- Register

7- Too freely translated

8- Too literal, word for word translation

9- False cognate

10- Indecision-gave more than option

11- Inconsistency (same term translated differently)

12- Ambiguity

13- Grammar

14- Syntax

15- Punctuation

16- Spelling in translations

17- Accents and other diacritical marks

18- Case ( upper/lower)

19- Word form

20- Usage

Retrieved April 20th, 2010

14
21- Style

Meanwhile, New Mark (1995) divides most of the “mistakes” into two
types which are referential mistakes and linguistic mistakes. Referential
mistakes refer to all mistakes relating to facts or information in the world.
On the other hand, linguistic mistakes include words, collocation and
idiom.

15
CHAPTER 3

METHODOLOGY

3.1. Sampling

Samples were picked up in some literary publications such as


Twilight (Stephenie Meyer, 2005), The Da Vinci Code (Brown, Dan,
2003), Harry Potter (Rowling, J.K), some Australian Short Stories,
Detective Conan (Aoyama Gosho), etc. Most of literary works chosen are
familiar with readers and are approached by many people.

There are 2 reasons encouraging me choose these samples. Firstly,


most of them are popular with readers all over the world. There are both
English version and Vietnamese version which are easy for me to find.
Moreover, these literary works are famous and assessed by many readers.
Regarding the importance of those literary works, it is possible to assume
that translators producing translations of these works have a good
command of both English and Vietnamese and thus, the risk of linguistic
incompetence of translators can be minimized.

The sample collection process consists of two main steps. Firstly,


both Vietnamese and English versions were taken to be convenient for
comparison and analysis. And then texts in English and Vietnamese will be
read, compared and analyzed carefully to identify problems existed in
literary English - Vietnamese translations and made translation texts
disqualified.

3.2. Data analysis

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Actually, producing a translation can be considered as a process
which creates products. To give a translation, translators use not only all
different translation methods to convey the message of the source texts but
also linguistic ability, grammatcal knowledge, etc to ensure the quality of a
translation

Data analysis process will be implemented to answer the research


questions. Firstly, the English version and other relevant document were
used as the basis of the comparison process. Errors existing in translations
will be identified.

After the process of identifying error problems existed in translation


texts, identified errors were categorized into types of errors. One error in
the translations can fall into some different kinds of errors. After the
process of calculating and identifying error, the most popular errors made
in translation will be figured out. From existing problems in translation,
suggestions to overcome problems making translation disqualified will be
given.

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CHAPTER 4

FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

4.1. Linguistic errors

The linguistic errors can be divided into the following groups:

4.1.1 Lexical errors

Lexical interference traps are common enough but more invidious are
innocent looking collocations which appear to make sense until one asks
oneself what they mean in particular context. Lexical interference is very
dangerous because it can distort the meaning of a sentence.

4.1.1.1. Context

The context itself determines the meaning of words. Therefore, their


meaning should be solved in the context. It is commonly known that a word
may have equivalents and accordingly the analysis of its meaning has to be
made carefully in order to pick out the most appropriate word. There are
many ways of translating of some nouns related to professions, classes, and
fields in society. For example, in a text written about Buddhism in which
there are two words “clergy” and “death”. Some translated transferred
“clergy” as “giáo su” and “death” as “cái ch t” for Buddha. It sounds
strange and funny. In fact, “clergy” translated as “giáo si” for Catholicism
but “gi i tang d ” for Buddhism. The word “death” is normally translated as
“cái ch t” but “vua bang hà” in “King’s death” and as for Buddhism this
word should be translated as “viên t ch”.

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Let us consider some examples extracted from the translation of a
famous literary translation “Twilight” (Stephenie Meyer) – Ch ng v ng
translated by a professional translator as follow:

The English version:

“There were so many trees and shrubs I couldn't see its size at first.
Where was the feel of the institution? I wondered nostalgically. Where were
the chain-link fences, the metal detectors?”

The Vietnamese version:

“Cây c i nhi u d n d tho t nhìn, tôi không bi t du c ngôi tru ng có


quy mô l n nh ra sao. Ðâu r i cái c m giác b i h i quen thu c? tôi t h i
lòng mình m t cách luy n ti c. Hàng rào dâu, các máy dò kim lo i d t
ch nào.”

In this example, the context itself determines the meaning of the


sentence “Where was the feel of the institution?” The speaker, Bella wants to
emphasize the reality that “the new school is different from her
imagination”, therefore, she wants to find the feeling of the institution, not
“dâu r i c m giác b i h i quen thu c”. So, the suggested Vietnamse version
here can be “Ðâu r i nh ng hình nh quen thu c c a m t ngôi tru ng?”

Another example also extracted from “Twilight” (Stephenie Meyer) as


follow:

The English version:

19
I glanced up, and he was staring at me, that same inexplicable look of
frustration in his eyes. Suddenly I identified that subtle difference in his
face.

“Did you get contacts?” I blurted out unthingkingly.

He seemed puzzled by my unexpected question. “No”.

“Oh,” I numbled. “I thought there was something different about your


eyes.”

The Vietnamese version:

“H n ta dang cham chú nhìn tôi, v n là cái ki u nhìn bu n bã, vô v ng


và r t khó hi u… Và d t nhiên, tôi b ng nh n ra d c di m trên guong m t
Edward mà lúc an trua, tôi dã có c m giác ng ng .

- B anh b b nh h ? – Tôi th t ra thành ti ng mà ch ng h suy nghi.

H n ta có v b i r i tru c câu h i không mong d i c a tôi.

- Không.

- m – Tôi l m b m – Tôi th y trong m t anh có cái gì dó l l m.”

In OALD, the word “contact” has six meanings:

1. act of communication with sb

2. State of touching sth

3. instance of meeting or communicating with sb

4. person that you know, esp sb who can be helpful to you in your
work.

20
5. electrical connection

6. contact = contact lens: thin piece of plastic that you put on your
eye to help you see better.

This is an example taken from Twighlight (Stephenie Meyer, 2003)


and translated by a professional translator. Based on analysis and the
meaning of the context, obviously the noun “contact” doesn’t have meaning
“b nh”. This word is synonymous with the noun phrase “contact lens” =
“kính áp tròng”4.

Suggested Vietnamese version:

“H n ta dang cham chú nhìn tôi, v n là cái ki u nhìn bu n bã, vô v ng


và r t khó hi u… Và d t nhiên, tôi b ng nh n ra d c di m trên guong m t
Edward mà lúc an trua, tôi dã có c m giác ng ng .

“Anh mang kính áp tròng dúng không?” Tôi bu t mi ng th t ra không


k p suy nghi.

H n ta có v b i r i tru c câu h i không mong d i c a tôi.

- Không.

- m – Tôi l m b m – Tôi th y trong m t anh có cái gì dó l l m.

Another example also extracted from the novel Twilight (Stephenie


Meyer, 2005) as follow:

The English version:

"Was that the boy I sat next to in Biology?" I asked artlessly.

21
The Vietnamese version:

“Có ph i là ngu i ng i c nh mình trong l p sinh h c không?” - Tôi th t thà


h i

The phrase “play dumb” means “pretend not to know or understand”.


In Vietnamese, that means “gi v không bi t”, not “h i th ng” like the
Vietnamese version.

“Artlessly”5 has four meanings:

1. Having or displaying no guile, cunning, or deceit


2. Free of artificiality; natural: artless charm.
3. Lacking art, knowledge, or skill; uncultured and ignorant.
4. Poorly made or done; crude.

Obviously, the most suitable equivalent for the word “artlessly” in


this example is “gi v ngây tho”. Therefore, the suggested Vietnamese
version here can be:

“Có ph i là ngu i ng i c nh mình trong l p sinh h c không?” - Tôi


g a v ngây tho h i.

Another detail in “Twilight” translated in not exact equivalence is the


noun phrase “matching houses” = “nh ng ngôi nhà gi ng nhu h p diêm”:
The English version:
It looked like a collection of matching houses, built with maroon
colored bricks. There were so many trees and shrubs I couldn't see its size at
first.

4
From http://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%ADnh_%C3%A1p_tr%C3%B2ng
Retrieved April 21, 2010
5
From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/artlessly
Retrieved April 24, 2010

22
The Vietnamese version:
Toàn b ngôi tru ng t a nhu m t t p h p c a nh ng ngôi nhà hình
h p diêm, du c xây b ng lo i g ch có màu nâu s m. Xung quanh tru ng,
d y nh ng cây xanh, cao có, lúp xúp có. Cây c i nhi u d n d tho t nhìn, tôi
không bi t du c ngôi tru ng có quy mô l n, nh ra sao. “Matching houses”
= Nh ng can nhà (du c xây d ng d ) nhìn có v hòa d ng.
“Match houses” = nhà d choi, bé nhu h p diêm.
The problem here lies in the phrase “matching houses”. The translator
made mistakes in translating “matching houses” = nh ng ngôi nhà hình h p
diêm.
The following example taken from the short story translation of an
experienced translator, the work “From Leo – With Love” by Iris
Milutinovic:
The English version:
“The children were educated by the School of the Air”
The Vietnamese version:
“T i tr con di h c tru ng c a con em trong can c không quân”
Based on the context of this short story, children in this remote village
cannot have enough conditions “di h c tru ng c a con em trong can c
không quân”. The phrase “the School of the Air” can be meant “h th ng l p
h c truy n qua sóng di n” (used for children in remote areas without means
of transportation.
One more example extracted from the translation of Harry potter 7
(Rowling, J.K) as follow:
The English version:
"You look much tastier than Crabbe and Goyle".
23
The Vietnamese version:

Ái chà, coi b b nh m ngon hon Crabbe và Goyle, Harry à".

In this situation, the author wants to use the word “tastier” showing the
realation between male and female which made Hermione blush after.

Some vocabulary errors also appeared in the translation of “The Da


Vinci Code” (Dan Brown) translated by a professional translator.

No. English version Vietnamese version Suggested Vietnamese


version

He reminded Tuy nhiên, t b n Tuy nhiên, t b n thân


himself, however, thân anh nh c nh anh nh c nh mình
1 that killing mình r ng gi t r ng gi t Langdon s là
Langdon would be Langdon s là m t ân m t ân hu l n c a s
a generous fate hu l n c a s ph n ph n so v i s kh n
compared to the so v i s n mà kh (nh m l n gi a

misery about to be Bezu Fach d nh nói misery và mystery)
communicated by và h th ng nhà tù du c ban t ng b i
Bezu Fache and Pháp. Bezu Fache và h

the French prison th ng nhà tù Pháp

system.

Opus Dei is a Opus Dei là t ng Opus Dei là m t b


personal prelature giám m c c a thành ph n tôn giáo c a
of Vatican City, ph Vaticang, và s thành ph Vaticang, và
and His Holiness linh thiêng c a ngài Ð c Giáo hoàng có th

24
can disperse có th gi i ngân du c gi i ngân du c b t c
2 monies however b t c lúc nào mà lúc nào mà ngài th y
he sees fit. No law ngài th y thích h p. thích h p. dây hoàn
has been broken dây hoàn toàn toàn không có gì ph m
here không có gì ph m pháp c ."
pháp c ."
When I retire, Vernet t nh , khi ta Vernet t nh , khi ta v
Vernet told v ngh huu, ta s d ngh huu, ta s d d y h m
himself, I will fill d y các t bào c a ta ru u (nh m l n gi a
3 my cellar with b ng lo i ru u Bordo cell và cellar) c a ta
rare Bordeaux.. quý giá b ng lo i ru u Bordo quý
giá.

For others, it is the Ð i v i nh ng ngu i Ð i v i nh ng ngu i


quest for lost khác, dó là yêu c u khác, dó là cu c tìm
documents and d i v i nh ng tài li u ki m (nh m l n gi a
4 secret history..." b m t và l ch s bí quest và request) d i
m t..." v i nh ng tài li u b
m t và l ch s bí
m t..."

Table 1: Some vocabulary errors in the translation of “The Da


Vinci Code” (Dan Brown)

25
It is characteristic of word that a single lexical item may have several
meanings. The same word used in different context will have different
meanings.
At the level of words, problems can only be solved if the translator
works hard to improve both his English and Vietnamese vocabulary to a
level that he is capable of choosing the right word in any case to produce a
natural translation. It is crucial for a translator to fully understand all
the denotations and connotations of a word so that he can avoid
making any loss of connotational meanings as in examples given. To do
that, he also needs flexibility in the use of words and does not
translate mechanically basing on an English – Vietnamese dictionary.
4.1.2. Idioms

The meanings of idioms are not definitely related to grammatical rules


or the lexical meaning of each word because they feature the metaphor and
figures of speech.

In fact, idioms can be translated satisfactorily by considering the


context, if not, it is difficult to find the exact meaning. An English idiom
must be translated into Vietnamese by an equivalent one. It is very important
to be aware that we must not choose the equivalents of every word forming
the idiom but we do find the equivalent ways of expression which exist in
both languages. If we stick to each word, the meaning becomes strange,
unnatural and funny. The following erors were found in some of the
translated works and should be corrected.

The following example extracted from the translation of “Twilight”


(Stephenie Meyer) can be seen as the misuse of idiom of an experienced
translator:
26
The English version:

“But Edward Cullen’s back stiffened, and he turned slowly to glare at


me – his face was absurdly handsome with piercing, hate-filled eyes. For an
instant, I felt a thrill of genuine fear, raising the hair on my arms”.

The translation version:

“T m lung c a Edward Cullen b ng g ng lên, h n ta ch m rãi xoay


ngu i l i và nh n ra tôi – guong m t Edward di n trai m t cách “dáng ghét”
– v i dôi m t s c s o ch a d y n i b c b i. N i s hãi trong tôi l i dâng lên,
tràn ra c l chân lông trên tay”.

In this example, the idiom “a thrill of genuine fear, raising the hair on
my arms” does not mean “s hãi trong tôi l i dâng lên, tràn c ra l chân
lông trên tay”. This idiom means “s d ng tóc gáy”. By giving the correct
meaning of the idiom, the translated sentence will sound more natural.

The second example is also extracted from the translation “Twilight”


(Stephenie Meyer).

The English version:

“Aren’t you hungry?” he asked, distracted.

“No.” I didn’t feel like mentioning that my stomach was already full – of
butterflies. “You?” I looked at theempty table in front of him.

The Vietnames version:

- Cô không th y dói b ng à? – Edward lên ti ng, rõ ràng là dang mu n


c d n c m xúc l i.

27
- Không – Tôi không c m th y dói chút nào – Th còn anh? – Tôi h i,
m t nhìn vào ph n bàn tr ng tron phía tru c m t h n ta.

The idiom “To have butterflies in one’s stomach” means “b n ch n, lo l ng,


không còn b ng d nào làm gì”, not “c m th y dói”. It would be more
idiomatic to translate as follow:

- Không.” Tôi không mu n thú nh n r ng tôi ch ng còn b ng d nào d


an u ng n a.

In conclusion, translators sometimes committed the lexical errors


mentioned above including those of context, word collocation and idioms.
The problem is that some translators did not realize the linking meaning of
word units. It is obvious that these units link together to create a larger unit
of meaning in a given text to be translated. The linking meaning itself does
not exist in separate word units but in the link of the units constituting the
whole text.

4.2. Translational errors

There are five main types of translational errors that will be analyzed
in this chapter. They are omission, addition, equivalence, accuracy and
naturalness. During the process of analyzing translational errors in literary
English Vietnamese translations, translation theories and translation
methods play crucial roles.

4.2.1. Omission

In this thesis, omission in translation can be understood that no


translation of a certain piece of information in the ST and the information
does not include in the TT. This type consists of words, sentences or

28
paragraphs that were omitted by the translators. In literary translation, it is
very important to realize that the sentences or paragraphs omitted
information or not because it is useful to understand clearly, fully and
completely the message of the sentences, passages and the works. For
example:

No English version Vietnamese version

It’s a good thing he’s Cu c hôn nhân c a ông ta


happily married. r tt td p
1

“Bella?” a different voice -“Bella?” – có ti ng g i


called from the distance. tôi t dàng xa

No! Please let me be


2
imagining that horribly familiar
(omitted)
voice

“What’s wrong – is she


hurt?” His voice was closer now, - Có chuy n gì v y… Cô

and he sounded upset. y b dau dâu à? – Gi ng nói


y g n hon và ch a d y s
th ng th t.

Table 2: Some omission errors in the translation of Twilight


(Ch ng v ng) – Stephenie Meyer

These examples are extracted from “Twilight” (Stephenie Meyer,


2003). In the first example, the translator omitted “It’s a good thing” when

29
translating. And in the second example, the sentence “No! Please let me be
imagining that horribly familiar voice” in the English version is omitted and
not translated in the Vietnamese version.

Other examples of omission error in literary translation are taken from


a newspaper6 written by Lê Hùng commenting on the literary translation of
Autralian Short Stories of a professional translator. When reading the Short
Stories named “Joe” (Peter Carey) - Th ng Joe and “From Leo – With Love”
(Iris Milutinovic) – “Chào thân ái, Leo”, he realized some mistakes in the
translation. Some sentences in the English version are omitted and not
translated in the Vietnamese version.

No. English version Vietnamese version

“He says, I don't think it “Nó b o, có l không .


was.

Dad says, how do you


(Omitted)
mean?

Joe looks sort of


embarrassed. He begins to pick
at the scab again. He bends his
head to look at it closer, so all
1
we can see is the top of his head.
He says something we can't
hear.
B nói, cái gì?

6
From http://www.talawas.org/talaDB/showFile.php?res=14166&rb=07
Retrieved April 24, 2010

30
Dad says, what? Joe nói, có ph i th là
hi p không...”
Joe says, is it rape...”

“Joe” (Peter Carey) (page


140 – 141)

Joe has the ears, but not


the nose. That is perhaps his one
2 Omitted
characteristic

“Joe” (Peter Carey) (page


132 -133)

3 You can see the mark


where his head touches the wall
Omitted
“Joe” (Peter Carey) (page
136 – 137)

31
Don fought for his dream,
eventually managing to persuade
Omitted
an initially reluctant
4
Government that here, less than
an hour’s helicopter flight from
the desert rocket range,
sufficient fresh foods might be
grown to supply the base

“From Leo – With Love”


(Iris Milutinovic) (Page 144 -
145)

Table 3: Omission errors

4.2.2. Addition

In the thesis, addition errors in translation can be understood that the


translator adds some information without in the ST into the TT. This type
consists of words, sentences or paragraphs that were added by the
translators. It is necessary to realize that the sentences or paragraphs added
information or not because it is useful to understand exactly the message of
the sentences, passages and the works. For example:

No. The English version The Vietnamese version

1 I had to get out of the house, Tôi c n ph i ra kh i nhà,

32
but there was nowhere I không di thì diên lên m t! dù
wanted to go to that didn’t th t ra, tôi ch ng mu n di dâu
involve a three-day drive. mà không c n ph i lái xe su t
ba ngày du ng c .
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
(2003)

2 "If I manage to leave the Anh yêu, n u em có th r i


organization after this, will kh i t ch c này thì anh hãy
you go out with me as a real d n dón em nhé, chúng ta s
boyfriend?" làm dám cu i, r i chúng ta s
cùng di d n m t noi nào dó
Detective Conan, Aoyama
th t xa, xa h n noi này . . ."
Gosho (1994)

Table 4: Addition Errors

The translators of Twilight (Stephenie Meyer) and Detective Conan,


Aoyama Gosho (1994) added some more information into the translations.
Sometimes information added in translations can be unimportant but
sometimes addition can cause the misunderstanding the message of the
source texts. In the first example, the translator added “không di thì diên
lên m t” which does not appear in the ST in the translation. The same
mistake happened in the second example with the translation of Detective
Conan (Aoyama Gosho). Some information in the translation such as
“chúng ta s làm dám cu i, r i chúng ta s cùng di d n m t noi nào dó
th t xa, xa h n noi này” does not have in the ST.

4.2.3. Equivalence

33
The definitions of translation suggested in 2.2.1 imply that producing
the same meaning or message in the target language text as intended by the
original author is the main objective of a translator. This notion of 'sameness'
is often understood as an equivalence relation between the source and target
texts. This equivalence relation is generally considered the most salient
feature of a quality translation.

The principle that a translation should have an equivalence relation


with the source language text is problematic. Equivalence is the central issue
in any discussion on translation. Nevertheless, the definition, relevance and
applicability of equivalence still remain controversial. It is difficult to
achieve exact equivalence or effect because of three main reasons. Firstly, it
is impossible for a text to have constant interpretations even for the same
person on two occasions (Hervey, Higgins and Haywood (1995: 14). These
translation scholars share their ideas that one could objectively assess textual
effects; one would need to have recourse to a fairly detailed and exact theory
of psychological effect, a theory capable, among other things, of giving an
account of the aesthetic sensations that are often paramount in response to a
text (Hervey, Higgins and Haywood (1995: 14). Secondly, translation is a
matter of subjective interpretation of translators of the source language text.
Thus, producing an objective effect on the target text readers, which is the
same as that on the source text readers is an unrealistic expectation. Thirdly,
it may not be possible for translators to determine how audiences responded
to the source text when it was first produced. Miao (2000) gives a specific
example of the impossibility of the equivalence relation:

If an original was written centuries ago and the language of the


original is difficult to comprehend for modern readers, then a simplified
translation may well have greater impact on its readers that the original had
34
on the readers in the source culture. No translator would hinder the reader's
comprehension by using absolute expressions in order to achieve equivalent
effect (Miao, 2000: 202)
Because the target text can never be equivalent to the source text at all
levels, researchers have distinguished different types of equivalence
(Lauscher, 2000: 151). Nida (1964) suggests formal and dynamic or
functional equivalence. Formal equivalence focuses attention on the message
itself, in both form and content. It requires that the message in the target
language should match as closely as possible the different elements in the
source language. Dynamic equivalence is based on the principle of
equivalent effect, where the relationship between the receptor and message
should be substantial the same as that existed between the original receptors
and the message. Newmark (1981) makes a distinction between
communicative and semantic translation. Like Nida's dynamic equivalence,
communicative translation also tries to create the effect on the target text
reader which is the same as that received by readers of the source language
text. Koller (1997) proposes denotative, connotative, pragmatic, textual,
formal and aesthetic equivalence.

Baker (1992) also suggests some ideas on classifying various


problems of equivalence in translation and suggests some strategies to deal
with them. Adopting a bottom-up approach, she begins with simple words
and phrases and continues with grammatical, textual and pragmatic
equivalences.

4.2.4. Accuracy

In the process of translating a text, the message of the original should


be preserved in the translation and this shows the fidelity or faithfulness of

35
the translator to the original text. Beekman and Callow (1989: 33) believe
that a faithful translation is the one "which transfers the meaning and the
dynamics of the original text"; and by 'transferring the meaning', they mean
that the translation conveys the ST information to the TT readers. According
to Beekman and Callow (1989: 34), "only as the translator correctly
understands the message, can he begin to be faithful", and it is only then that
"he can translate clearly & accurately". In fact, faithfulness and fidelity are
two terms which show how much the TT reconstructs the ST.

Some translation theorists believe that the translation should be


evaluated by considering its ST as "the yardstick" (Manafi Anari 2004: 34,
vol. 2, no. 5). Manafi Anari (2004: 41, vol. 1, no. 4) defines accuracy as "the
exactitude or precision of the meaning conveyed" and in fact it "implies
conformity of translation with the original text in terms of fact or truth".
Also, he defines 'accurate translation' as a translation "which is the
reproduction of the message of the ST" (Manafi Anari 2004: 34, vol. 2, no.
5). Newmark (1996: 111) believes that in translating a text, "the accuracy
relates to the SL text, either to the author's meaning, or to the objective truth
that is encompassed by the text", etc.

According to the discussion above, accuracy can be considered as one


of the representations of the faithfulness in translation, i.e. showing how
accurately the translator has managed to reproduce the message of the ST
into the TL.

Larson (1984: 485) believes that in every translation, accuracy,


clearness and naturalness are of the great importance. Regarding the
translation accuracy, she believes that in some cases, when the translator

36
tries to get the meaning of the ST and convey it to the TT, s/he may make
some mistakes, either in the analysis of the ST, or in the process of
conveying the meaning, and a different meaning may result; then, there is a
need for a careful check regarding the accuracy of the translation. According
to Khomeijani Farahani (2005: 77-78) based on what Larson proposed in
1984, the process of evaluating the accuracy of translation can be done in
two possible ways: one way is recognizing the key words of the ST and their
equivalences in the TT and comparing how close they are; i.e. determining
whether the translator could convey the same and exact meaning of the ST
by selecting the best target equivalents and whether s/he could achieve an
acceptable accuracy or not. Another way is using back translation; i.e.
translating the TL into the SL, then, carrying out a contrastive analysis and if
the retranslated text is reasonably close to the ST, the translation has got the
acceptable accuracy

Consequently, the term 'translation accuracy' refers to the translator's


understanding of the message of the ST and that how accurately the
translator has managed to translate a text from one language into another.

Let us consider some examples extracted from “The Da vinci Code”


(Dan Brown) translated by a professional translator related to accuracy
errors:

No. English version Vietnamese version

1 “Slowing Remy down had D n d n, Remy tr thành nhi m


become Sophie’s task.” v c a Sophie

37
2 Kidnapping Teabing had not Vi c b t cóc t ng ti n Teabing là
been part of the plan, and m t ph n trong k ho ch và quy t
deciding what to do with d nh làm gì v i ông ta s t o ra
him posed a new problem m tv nd m i

3 Showing his face could not Bi u hi n trên nét m t là không


be avoided, Silas thought. th tránh du c, Silas nghi. Remy
Remy did what he had to do. dã không làm vi c mà h n ph i
He saved the keystone làm. H n ta gi viên dá d nh vòm

4 You opened it. Where… is Anh hãy m nó ra... noi dó... có


the map? ch a m t chi c b n d ?

Table 5: Some accuracy errors in the translation of “The Da Vinci


Code” (Dan Brown)

Table 3 shows some accuracy errors of “The Da Vinci Code” (Dan Brown).
In the first example, the phrase “slowing Remy down” = “d n d n, Remy” is
inaccurate.

Slow down7 in the first example has 5 different meanings:

1- lose velocity; move more slowly; "The car decelerated"

2- become slow or slower; "Production slowed"

3- cause to proceed more slowly; "The illness slowed him down"

4- reduce the speed of; "He slowed down the car"

7
From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/slow+down
Retrieved April 26, 2010

38
5- become less tense, rest, or take one's ease; "He relaxed in the hot tub";
"Let's all relax after a hard day's work"

Based on these meaning and the context of the novel, “Slowing Remy down”
should be translated into Vietnamese “c n bu c Remy”.

The second example, the translator translated “had not been part of the
plan” = “là m t ph n trong k ho ch” inaccurately. The English part should
mean “không là m t ph n trong k ho ch” because it is “had not been” not
“had been”.

The same error in the second example also appears in the third one when the
translator translated the sentence “Remy did what he had to do. He saved the
keystone” = “Remy dã không làm vi c mà h n ph i làm. H n ta gi viên dá
d nh vòm”. This sentence should be translated “Remy dã làm nh ng gì bu c
ph i làm và h n dã c u du c viên dá d nh vòm”.

The forth sentence is also translated incorrectly. “You opened it. Where… is
the map? = “Anh hãy m nó ra... noi dó... có ch a m t chi c b n d ?”. The
suggested Vietnaemse version here should be “Thì ra anh dã m nó ra r i.
V y... chi c b n d dâu?”.
The level of accuracy of translation demanded by Brophy-Phillips is
mainly achieved by a combination of the use of translators of the highest
quality and the systematic application of our methodical checking system.
To maintain a high standard of translation, a translator must translate into
their native language to ensure that the resulting translation is both clear and
succinct. The translator must also have a sufficient knowledge of the field
being translated to have a full understanding of the subject matter. Only by
having a full and clear understanding of the concepts involved in the subject

39
matter can a translator produce a translation which is both accurate and easy
to read.

4.2.5. Naturalness

Naturalness can be understood as “a set of requirements for


the target language used” (Shei, 2002) which makes the translation read
naturally and fit the context. If the translations cannot meet these
requirements, it causes unnaturalness in translations. Unnatural translation
does not gravely spoil the general meaning of the text; nonetheless, to
some extent, it distorts the writer’s intention, disappoints readers for
not meeting that set of requirements.

In translation, unnaturalness can be understood as the failure to


recreate a text “according to the writer's intention, the reader's
expectation, and the appropriate norms of the target language”,
making the translation imperfect and not literarily elegant (Newmark,
1988). This may be considered a definition of translation unnaturalness, on
which the following detailed analysis is based to judge the translations
taken out from different sources. And unnaturalness in translation can be
observed by analyzing the usage of words, expressions, grammatical
structures, etc. On the other hand, translated texts may be criticized for
using alien cultural concepts, which seem to be so strange to target
language (Vietnamese) readers, resulting in dissatisfaction. The
linguistic and cultural grounds are two main factors causing unnaturalness
in translation.

Most translators, unskilled translators, translation learners or even


professional translators can make this mistake in their translations.

40
Let us consider the following sentences:

No. English Vietnamese

I tried to think of a Tôi c g ng suy lu n v n


logical solution that could d theo hu ng h p lí nh t v
explain what I had just seen – a nh ng gì mình v a du c ch ng
1 solution that excluded the ki n – v n d dó ph i làm sao
assumption that I was insane. ch ng minh du c r ng tôi dã m t
trí hoàn toàn m i du c.

I glanced up, and he was H n ta dang cham chú


staring at me, that same nhìn tôi, v n là cái ki u nhìn
inexplicable look of frustration bu n bã, vô v ng r t khó hi u…
in his eyes. Suddenly I Và d t nhiên, tôi b ng nh n ra

2 identified that subtle difference di m d c bi t trên guong m t


in his face. Edward mà lúc an trua tôi dã có
c m giác ng ng .

“You should see the “Con nên d n tham bác s


doctor,” Charlie said, - B tr l i và b t cu i thành
3
laughing. “It’s a good thing ti ng – Cu c hôn nhân c a ông
he’s happily married. A lot of ta r t t t d p. Các cô y tá ph i
the nurses at the hospital have khó khan l m m i t p trung vào
a hard time concentrating on công vi c du c m i khi có m t
their work with him around.” bác s Cullen dó.”

41
“But Edward Cullen’s “T m lung c a Edward
back stiffened, and he turned Cullen b ng g ng lên, h n ta
slowly to glare at me – his face ch m rãi xoay ngu i l i và nh n
was absurdly handsome with ra tôi – guong m t Edward di n
piercing, hate-filled eyes. For trai m t cách “dáng ghét” – v i
an instant, I felt a thrill of dôi m t s c s o ch a d y n i b c
genuine fear, raising the hair b i. N i s hãi trong tôi l i dâng
on my arms”. lên, tràn ra c l chân lông trên
tay”.

Table 6: Some naturalness errors in the translation of Twilight


(Stephenie Meyer)

Those examples are extracted from the novel Twilight (Stephenie


Meyer, 2005) and the translation is the published Vietnamese version by a
renowned professional translator. In the first example, the part in
Vietnamese version which is “suy lu n v n d theo hu ng h p lí nh t v
nh ng gì mình v a du c ch ng ki n” is expressed too unnaturally to be
accepted as a translation of a literary work which requires high level of
smoothness and elegance.

Suggested Vietnamese Version for this example can be:

“Tôi c g ng tìm ra m t cách lí gi i h p lí nh t v nh ng gì mình


v a ch ng ki n – t t nhiên là ngoài cách th a nh n r ng mình dã m t trí.”

In the second example, the expression “Và d t nhiên, tôi b ng” in


Vitenamse version sounds not good enough. Using “và d t nhiên” and “tôi

42
b ng” at the same time is not necessary because they are equivalent in
Vietnamese. This is the reason causing unnaturalness in this expression.

Suggested Vietnamese Version can be:

“H n ta dang cham chú nhìn tôi, v n là cái ki u nhìn bu n bã, vô


v ng r t khó hi u… Ð t nhiên, tôi nh n ra di m d c bi t trên guong m t
Edward mà lúc an trua tôi dã có c m giác ng ng .”

The third example, “You should see the doctor,” Charlie said,
laughing. “It’s a good thing he’s happily married. A lot of the nurses at the
hospital have a hard time concentrating on their work with him around”,
is sentences after Bella praised the attraction of Cullen family. This
English version is translated into Vietnamese “Con nên d n tham bác s -
B tr l i và b t cu i thành ti ng – Cu c hôn nhân c a ông ta r t t t d p.
Các cô y tá ph i khó khan l m m i t p trung vào công vi c du c m i khi
có m t bác s Cullen dó”. Actually, the sentence “You should see the
doctor” is quite difficult to express naturally. As usual, Vietnamese
usually use “di khám bác s ” instead of “d n tham bác s ”. Another point
in this sentence is the usage of words like “nh ng” or “các” in Vietnamese.
The word “các” means totality. Meanwhile “nh ng” shows a part in
totality. However, in this example, the translator misunderstood when
translating “a lot of” into “các”. This causes the unnaturalness in
translation.

Suggested Vietnamese version:

“Con nên di khám bác s - B tr l i và b t cu i thành ti ng – Cung


may là cu c hôn nhân c a ông ta r t t t d p. Vì nhi u cô y tá ph i khó
khan l m m i t p trung du c m i khi có m t bác s Culen dó.”
43
The forth example, “I felt a thrill of genuine fear, raising the hair on
my arms”= “N i s hãi trong tôi l i dâng lên, tràn ra c l chân lông trên
tay” translated sounds unnatural. The suggested Vietnamese version here
can be “s d ng tóc gáy”.

The same errors met in the translation of a literary work attracted


many readers in Vietnam in particular and readers in the world in general,
The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) as follow:

No English version Vietnamese version Suggested


Vietnamese
version

1 Hold on, Robert. C lên, Robert. H u C lên, Robert. S p


Almost there nhu ch còn dó thôi xong r i

2 It had been Chi c xe dã di nhi u Ðã m y gi d ng


hours, and the gi và cu c hành trình h , và k ho ch d i
operation had d i hu ng liên t c. Bây hu ng liên t c. Bây
veered wildly gi , nó du ng nhu gi , cu i cùng thì
off course. Now, quay tr l i con du ng m i vi c du ng
at last, it seemed mòn. nhu dâu l i vào dó.
to be back on
track.

3 "You will join "Anh s gia nh p vào Anh s gia nh p


the ranks of the hàng ngu c a nh ng vào hàng ngu c a
great men you con ngu i mà anh mo nh ng con ngu i

44
admire - Da u c t lâu - Da Vinci, mà anh mo u c t
Vinci, Botticelli, Botticelli, Newton - lâu - Da Vinci,
Newton - each m i ngu i trong s h Botticelli, Newton
of whom would dang du c tôn kính - h d u s r t vinh
have been ngay du i chân anh..." d du c vào d a v
honored to be in c a anh lúc này...
your shoes right
now..."

4 “Jacques Jacques thông báo v i Jacques thông báo


reported to the c nh sát r ng em trai v i c nh sát r ng
police that your cháu và bà cung em trai cháu và bà
brother and I had trong chi c xe dó... cung trong chi c
been in the car… thân th hai chúng ta xe dó... du ng nhu
our two bodies dã du c t m g i s ch thân th hai chúng
apparently s vào lúc dó... Jacques ta dã b dòng nu c
washed off in the là m t ngu i dàn ông cu n trôi...
current... gi n d , ch ng h có Jacques, là m t
Jacques, being a m t th xa x gì. Ông ngu i khá n i ti ng
man of ch có m t c m nh n nên không th d
prominence, did nh y bén r ng Sophie, dàng bi n m t - ý
not have the là ngu i l n tu i hon, nói không th khai
luxury of s Paris d Jacques báo b ch t trong
disappearing. It d y d và nâng d , g n tai n n. Và s h p
only made sense gui v i ông và s b o lý n u Sophie, d a
that Sophie, v c a H i Tu vi n." cháu l n s Paris
being the eldest, d Jacques d y d

45
would stay in và nâng d , g n gui
Paris to be v i ông và s b o
taught and raised v c a H i Tu vi n.
by Jacques,
close to the heart
and protection of
the Priory.”

5 He was trapped, Ông dã b nh t, và các Ông ta b nh t và


and the doors cánh c a không th không th m l i
could not be du c m l i ít nh t cánh c a trong
reopened for at trong vòng hai muoi vòng ít nh t 20
least twenty phút. phút.
minutes.

Table 7: Some naturalness errors in the translation of the Da Vinci


Code (Dan Brown)

4.3. Summary and Implications

In this chapter of the thesis, the analysis of the errors in the literary
translations has been implemented. There are two main categories which are
linguistic errors and translational errors. The first group includes some
mistakes related to vocabulary, the context and idioms. The second and also
the last group of translational errors relating to the ST consists of omission
errors, addition errors, equivalence errors, accuracy errors and naturalness
errors.

In the course of the analysis, some implications have been made regarding
the answers to the two research questions.
46
Firstly, the answer to the research questions should be mentioned.

There are two main types of errors in literary translations. They are
linguistic errors and translational errors. The first type is divided into two sub
kinds which are lexical errors and idiom errors. The second type is
translational errors divided into 5 sub-kinds including omission errors,
addition errors, equivalence errors, accuracy errors and naturalness errors.
Secondly, implications relating to the possible causes of the errors
should be discussed. Errors in translation can be avoided as long as translators
are aware of the potential traps they may get caught in and know
strategies to overcome these pitfalls. But prior to this, it is strongly
recommended that all translators identify the main causes of translation errors.
To help translators and translation learners have a clearer view of the major
causes of errors in literary translation, this thesis classifies them into
subjective causes and objective causes.
First of all, subjective causes will be discussed. A translation of high
quality must be the work of a skillful translator. To be able to produce a
good translation, the translator must be competent in both the source and
target languages and have extensive cultural background. The primary reason
of a poor translation must be the insufficiency of the translator’s
language competence. The incompetence may be of Vietnamese, the target
language in English – Vietnamese translation, and/ or of English, the source
language. As the thesis focuses on the English – Vietnamese translation, the
target language is the Vietnamese language. Vietnamese is known for its
sophisticated grammatical rules on which not all Vietnamese people hold
appropriate knowledge. The fact has it that only a few

47
Vietnamese translators excel at their own mother tongue, let alone
students who are still learning to become translators. Language
incompetence can be observed in two broad areas: the vocabulary and
the grammatical structures. Insufficient knowledge on either of the two
areas may lead to translations of poor quality.
One of the other crucial criteria is the cultural background, without which
the translation, especially literary translation would be poor quality.
In fact, this includes competent knowledge on almost all aspects,
such as religions, traditional customs, social norms, historical
awareness,etc. This kind of combined knowledge can be gained along with
the process of learning English and learning translation. Nevertheless, only a
few learners are aware of this.
It is important that translators also pay much attention to their own
culture, the Vietnamese culture. By this, the quality of literary translation
will be improved and the rendering of idea will be better.
The second main cause is Objective cause. Actually, Vietnamese and
English have various differences in terms of vocabulary and grammatical
rules which make it difficult for translators to give perfect translations.
Furthermore, translation, especially literary translation is not simply a
linguistic transformation of texts, but it is also a rendering of cultural
concepts from one language to another. Cultural differences can also
create difficulties for translators. Asian culture in general and Vietnamese
culture in particular has few things in common with Western and
American culture. Numerous concepts which are familiar with the
Vietnamese may be alien to the English speaking readers. This is difficult
for translators to choose exact equivalence. To have a successful translation
with high quality, translators have to break the barriers of their own culture
48
CHAPTER 5

CONCLUSIONS

In this chapter, there are three main points being given. The first
point is an overview and summary of main chapters given. Secondly, the
strengths and weaknesses of the thesis are discussed. And lastly, some
suggestions for further research will be provided.

5.1. Overview and summary of the thesis


Literary translation has always played a very important role in
delivering messages across languages and cultural barriers. The practice of
translation always requires big efforts of translators to improve the quality
of translations. The purpose of my thesis is to contribute my humble study
to the research work of the quality of translations today by pointing out the
quality of literary English – Vietnamese translations today which is very
necessary and close to my everyday learning and work. This is to show
translators, especially people studying in universities are willing to become
translator obstacles they can meet when rendering literary English texts
into Vietnamese.
Apart from the chapter 1 which can be considered a brief
informative introduction to the thesis, the study is divided into four main
chapters.
In chapter 2, an overview of literary translation and the quality of
TQA, the role of TQA, criteria to assess the quality of translations and the
analysis translation errors are mentioned. By giving types of errors usually
met in translations and causes of errors, I attempted to help readers of this
thesis, especially would be translators and inexperienced ones to by fully

49
aware of what mistakes they may easily make before seeking ways to
avoid them.
Chapter 3 of this thesis deals with the methods applied for this
thesis. A brief summary of participants of the study and basic steps
including collecting data as well as analyzing data process were given.
Chapter 4 can be considered a classification of major errors that
were identified in the literary translations, specifically specific examples
cited, the thesis attempted to help readers of this thesis be fully aware of
what kinds of errors that the translators of the literary works made and
even translators in general may easily make. Implications are also provided
in this chapter.
5.2. Strengths and weaknesses of the thesis
Up to now, there have been many books on English – Vietnamese
translation, however, very few of them meet the full demand of the quality
of literary English Vietnamese translations today. This thesis discusses this
phenomenon in detail with relevant examples. The organization of the
thesis is also easy for readers to understand and catch the main ideas of the
issue. The thesis also discusses common errors that translators may make
in literary English Vietnamese translations.
Nevertheless, there are some weaknesses in this thesis that may have
influence on the final results. Firstly, due to the limited time of research of
the broad scope, it is concerned with issues mentioned are still somewhat
general and the investigation of the impacts that translation errors might
have on the readers was not carried out. Therefore, the thesis cannot
provide a comprehensive approach to the issue. Secondly, due to the
researcher’s limited knowledge in linguistics and translation studies,
mistakes in the course of analysis are unavoidable.
50
5.3. Suggestions for further research
In the process of integration into the world economy and culture of
Vietnam, literary translations become more and more important which are
a bridge connecting different cultures. This progress also requires literary
translation of high quality, especially from English to Vietnamese and vice
versa. Therefore, more studies of this issue should be implemented. These
studies should touch upon translations from different perspectives,
especially the impacts of the translation on the thesis readers because it is
the readers that are the final and the most important assessors of
translators.
All in all, I would like to significantly contribute to the study of
literary English Vietnamese translation in universities and on the media
through this thesis. In my point of view, this thesis can be regarded as an
useful material; of all people who want to improve thesis literary English
Vietnamese translation skills as well as the quality of their translations.
Hopefully, readers of this thesis can find it useful in their work or at least
see it as a worth reference.

51
REFERENCES

ONLINE DICTIONARIES:

English – Vietnamese dictionaries


1. http://www.saga.vn/dictlist.aspx?f=B
2. http://www.fetp.edu.vn/eDictionary/home.cfm
3. http://tratu.bamboo.com/
4. http://vdict.com/?autotranslation
5. http://www.askoxford.com
6. http://dictionary.reference.com/
7. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/

BOOKS:

1. Al-Qinai, J, (2000). Translation Quality Assessment Strategies,


Parametres and Procedurea. Meta: Translators’ Journal, 45 (3), pp. 497-
519. Retrieved February 5, 2010 from
http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/2000/v45/n3/001878ar.pdf

2. Baker, Gabriela Saldanha (1998). Routledge Encyclopedia of


Translation Studies. New york: Taylor & Francis Group e-Library,2009.

3. House, J. (1986). A model for translation quality assessment.


Tubingen: TBL- Verlag Nar.

52
4. [Jin, 1991 ] W. Jin. Translation Techniques in the issue of
Accuracy and Efficiency, MCCS-91-208, Computing Research Labo-
ratory, New Mexico State University.

5. Khomeijani Farahani, Aliakbar. (2005). "A Framework for


Translation Evaluation". Translation Studies, 3 (9), 75-87.

6. Newmark, P. (1995). A Textbook of Translation. New York:


Prentice Hall International. Translation equivalence. [PPT file]. College of
Foreign Languages: English Department.

7. Schãffner, C. (1997). From ‘Good’ to ‘Functionally Appropriate’:


Assessing Translation Quality. Current Issues in Languages & Society, 4
(1), pp.1-5.

8. Translation procedures. [PPT file]. College of Foreign


Languages: English Department.

9. Wright, David (2001). “Yan Fu and the Tasks of the Translators”


(p.4) Retrieved April 28, 2006, from www.wsc.uni-
erlangen.de/pdf/wright.pdf

53
LITERARY SOURCES

1. Brown, Dan (2003). The Da Vinci Code. Kent: Bantam Press.

2. Brown, Dan (September, 2005). M t mã Da Vinci (Ð Thu Hà,


Trans.). Hanoi: Culture and Information Publishing House.

3. Rowling, J. K. (2000). Harry Potter (Book 7). London:


Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.

4. Rowling, J. K. (2003). Harry Potter (Quy n 7) (Lý Lan,


Trans.). Ho Chi Minh City: Youth Publishing House.

5. Stephenie Meyer (2003). Twilight. New York Boston: The


international Betseller.

6. Stephenie Meyer (2005). Ch ng V ng (T nh Th y, Trans.).


Ho Chi Minh City: Youth Publishing House.

7. Aoyama Gosho (1994). Detective Conan: Shuichi


Akai, Vermouth, Live Action II, Shogakukan Publishing House.

8. Aoyama Gosho. Thám t l ng danh Conan (2008), Kim


Ð ng Publishing House.

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