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SEMINAR I

1. What does the term translate mean? Discuss its etymology.

the element trans- means across, as it can be seen in transfer, transition, transform,
transplant
translatus (carried over) served as the past participle of transferre (to carry over, to bring
over)
the term shows the notion of conveying the meaning from the source language into the target
language

2. Argue in favour of the translatability of any text.

Anything which can be said in one language can be said in another unless the form is an
essential element of the message.
the form does however play an important role and the translator must be able to rewrite the text
so as to somehow recreate form-related features such as wordplay or rhyme

3. What is the difference between the activity of a translator and that of an interpreter?

the translator works with written texts, while the interpreter works with spoken language
the translator can rely on dictionaries, related texts etc., while the interpreter's work is
spontaneous

4. What is the source language? What is the target language?

the source language is the language we translate from


the target language is the language we translate into

5. What do you understand by literal translation? Why is word for word translation practically
impossible? Discuss this from the perspective of de Saussure's and Hjelmslev's theories of the
linguistic sign.

literal or word for word translation tries to preserve the form of the original
it is practically impossible because the two languages have different idioms, different syntax,
different grammatical rules, and thus the source language cannot fit into the target language,
because the mould differs
relating to Hjelmslev's model, the level of content of the two languages might coincide, but the
two levels of form of the two languages cannot overlap
6. Fidelity versus transparency. Traduttore traditore, the translator seen as a traitor.

the translator is a traitor to the source language, because he must rewrite the content and cannot
keep the original form
he has to choose between sticking closer to the original form, risking not to make himself
understood (fidelity) or diverging too far from the original, in his quest to be as clear as possible
(transparency)

7. What kind of problems does the translation of literary texts raise?

in literature, not only meaning, but also the way it is expressed (figures of speech, wordplay) is
important, therefore, when translating, a balance has to be found between the two
the features of expression must also be present in the target text, while still preserving the
meaning

8. What is adaptation? What is back-translation?

adaptation refers to conveying the meaning, with no regard to the form


back-translation means translating an already translated text back into the language it was
originally translated from, resulting in a different product from the original (example1)
A B A' , A A'

9. Why is machine translation unreliable? What is the role of the human factor?

the subtleties of the language surpass the possibilities of machine translation


the human factor is responsible for noting double-meanings, underlying messages, puns
a human, with an interactive intelligence, can make the connections and realise what is implied,
or for example what misunderstandings can occur (example2)

10. What is overtranslation? What is undertranslation? What do you understand by paraphrase?

overtranslation occurs when too many things are added, that were not in the original text
undertranslation occurs when too many features of the original text are lost
paraphrase means to rewrite the text, so that the message and the meaning are the same, but the
structure, the form is changed

1 the movie Saving Private Ryan was translated into Romanian as Salvai soldatul Ryan. In a review in Romnia Literar,
the author had not checked the original title, but instead had translated the already translated title back into English, thus
Save Private Ryan
2 the two characters of the French fable La cigale et la fourni are originally grammatically feminine. In the Romanian
translation, Greierele i furnica, the first one is masculine, the other feminine. And in Romanian one can interpret it as
the opposition between an industrious woman and a lazy man. This concept does not exist in French and only the
Romanian grammatical genders are responsible for it
11. What are calques? Flea market/Flohmarkt/march aux puces/pia de vechituri. Sky
scraper/gratte-ciel/zgrie-nori/Wolkenkratzer. Give examples of calqued words and phrases
(from English) in Romanian.

calques (or loan translations) occur when an already existing word in a given langage recieves
a new meaning under the influence of another language
it can also occur when fixed idioms are translated word for word
examples: oportunitate, suport (new meaning influenced by opportunity and support), a aplica
pentru, a face sens, a fi pe telefon

12. What is the importance of the beneficiary/receptor? Peter Newmark's concept of communicative
translation.

a translator must also take into account the future readers of his text
different approaches will be needed if the target readers are children or experts in economy
Peter Newmark's concept of communicative translation addresses itself solely to the second
reader and is likely to be, simpler, clearer, more direct, more conventional, conforming to a
particular register of language and tending to under translate

13. Give examples to prove that extralinguistic (social, cultural) factors may play a decisive role in
translating a text. What does this say about the training a good translator must have?

the word breakfast has an equivalent in Romanian and the concept of breakfast is known to
both Romanian and English speakers
however, a typical Romanian breakfast and a typical English breakfast do not have much in
common
this shows that a good translator must be familiar not only with linguistic information, but also
extralinguistic factors, dependent on the culture

14. Why is Bible translation so important for the history and for the theory of translation?

the translation of the Bible in a certain language is considered a milestone for that language
as far as the theory of translation is concerned, the Bible translation is important because of the
rich text and of cultural references

15. What were the major constraints for the translator in translating the biblical text(s)?

apart from the normal issues with translation (linguistic, social or cultural factors), dogma and
the vast influence of the Church was another constraint for the translators
the Bible was considered a revealed text, in that it comprises a revelation, and so its form
should not be change by man
this is why, for centuries, translations of the Bible were not recognised and such an activity was
not promoted
16. What were the original languages for the biblical texts?

the Old Testament was written in Hebrew


the New Testament was written in Greek

17. The Hebrew Old Testament,.The Greek Septuagint (LXX). The Greek New Testament. The
Latin Vulgate.

the Greek Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament made before the birth of
Christ; it is called Septuagint because of the 17 Hebrew scholars that translated it
The Latin Vulgate is the Latin translation of the whole Bible; made by Saint Jerome (also the
patron saint of translators)

18. Who were the first Bible translators into English? Why is KJV called the authorised version?

the first Bible translators into English were John Wycliffe (1380) and William Tyndale (1526)
the King James Version is called the authorised version because it had been commisioned by
the King and subsequently been authorised by the Church; it also called that way so that to
distinguish it from other contemporary unofficial translations

19. What was the first complete translation of the Bible into Romanian?

the first complete translation of the Bible into Romanian was Biblia lui erban, published in
1688, commisioned by erban Cantacuzino

20. Translatability of sacred texts in other cultures. Translations of the Koran.

translators in other cultures faced the same constraints when trying to translate sacred, revealed
texts
the Koran was considered the word of the prophet and no one could mingle with it
v. 15

21. The dragomans in the Ottoman empire.

in the Ottoman empire, translation was considered a sin and could not be performed by true-
believers
this is the reason why the dragomans (translators, interpreters) in the Ottoman empire were no
Muslims, which meant they were all foreingers, mostly Greek
22. What is the Rosetta stone and how did it help Champollion crack the code of ancient
Egyptian writing?

Rosetta stone is a collection of three inscriptions, one Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, another
Demotic Greek (the language spoken by the people) and the last Ancient Greek
it helped egyptologists like Champollion to crack the code of Egyptian writing because
essentially it was the same text translated into another two languages which were known, and
by using them one was able to decypher the Egyptian meanings

23. Who were the first terminologists? Why did the situation change? What kind of background
must a modern terminologist have?

the first terminologists were experts in the field whose terminology they were studying
the situation changed because of the need of standardisation
a modern terminologist must be trained in lexicography

24. What are terms? What is the relation between the vocabulary of a language and various
terminologies? Give examples of words that are members of various terminologies (and of the
everyday vocabulary of the language)

terms are words or phrases which have a specialised meaning in a given context
the terminologies of various fields are included in the vocabulary of a language
compared with normal words, terms are shorter-lived, they are used only in certain contexts
and by less people; they also belong to the jargon of a field (examples3)

25. What does a terminologist do? When did terminology appear as a distinct discipline? Mention
several meanings for the term terminology.

a terminologist is responsible for the creation, handling, modifying and standardising of terms
as a distinct discipline, terminology appeared in the 18th century, together with the Industrial
Revolution and the advancing of most fields of science
a terminology (plural terminologies) is the vocabulary associated with a domain
terminologies (only plural, just as mathematics) is the science/discipline that works with terms

26. What are the tools of a translator? What are the tools of a terminologist? What major changes
were brought about by modern technology in the field of terminology and of translating in
general?

the tools of a translator are dictionaries


the tools of a terminologist are glossaries
modern technology has given translators and terminologists better access to information thus
making checking up cultural references, transmitting, handling and structuring of information
much easier
3 in Romanian, the word leu is an everyday word denoting a feline, as well as a member of the terminology of finance,
where it refers to the national currency of Romania
in English, the word stool (and the Romanian scaun, for that matter), besides the everyday meaning, also has a
specialised meaning in the field of medicine