Culture and intercultural competence and awareness that rise out of experience of culture, are far more complex phenomena than it may seem to the translator. The more a translator is aware of complexities of differences between cultures, the better a translator s/he will be. It is probably right to say that there has never been a time when the community of translators was unaware of cultural differences and their significance for translation. Translation theorists have been cognizant of the problems attendant upon cultural knowledge and cultural differences at least since ancient Rome. Cultural knowledge and cultural differences have been a major focus of translator training and translation theory for as long as either has been in existence. The main concern has traditionally been with words and phrases that are so heavily and exclusively grounded in one culture that they are almost impossible to translate into the terms – verbal or otherwise – of another. Long debate have been held over when to paraphrase, when to use the nearest local equivalent, when to coin a new word by translating literally, and when to transcribe. All these “untranslatable” cultural-bound words and phrases continued to fascinate translators and translation theorists.
The first theory developed in this field was introduced by Mounin in 1963 who underlined the importance of the signification of a lexical item claiming that only if this notion is considered will the translated item fulfill its function correctly. The problem with this theory is that all the cultural elements do not involve just the items, what a translator should do in the case of cultural implications which are implied in the background knowledge of SL readers?
The notion of culture is essential to considering the implications for translation and, despite the differences in opinion as to whether language is part of culture or not, the two notions of culture and language appear to be inseparable. In 1964, Nida discussed the problems of correspondence in translation, conferred equal importance to both linguistic and cultural differences between the SL and the TL and concluded that differences between cultures may cause more severe complications for the translator than do differences in language structure. It is further explained that parallels in culture often provide a common understanding despite significant formal shifts in the translation. According to him cultural implications for translation are thus of significant importance as well as lexical concerns.
Nida's definitions of formal and dynamic equivalence in 1964 considers cultural implications for translation. According to him, a "gloss translation" mostly typifies formal equivalence where form and content are reproduced as faithfully as possible and the TL reader is able to "understand as much as he can of the customs, manner of thought, and means of expression" of the SL context. Contrasting with this idea, dynamic equivalence "tries to relate the receptor to modes of behavior relevant within the context of his own culture" without insisting that he "understand the cultural patterns of the source-language context". According to him problems may vary in scope depending on the cultural and linguistic gap between the two (or more) languages concerned.
It can be said that the first concept in cultural translation studies was cultural turn that in 1978 was presaged by the work on Polysystems and translation norms by Even-Zohar and in 1980 by Toury. They dismiss the linguistic kinds of theories of translation and refer to them as having moved from word to text as a unit but not beyond. They themselves go beyond language and focus on the interaction between translation and culture, on the way culture impacts and constraints translation and on the larger issues of context, history and convention. Therefore, the move from translation as a text to translation as culture and politics is what they call it a Cultural Turn in translation studies and became the ground for a metaphor adopted by Bassnett and Lefevere in 1990. In fact Cultural Turn is the metaphor adopted by Cultural Studies oriented translation theories to refer to the analysis of translation in its cultural, political, and ideological context.
Since 1990, the turn has extended to incorporate a whole range of approaches from cultural studies and is a true indicator of the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary translation studies. As the result of this so called Cultural Turn, cultural studies has taken an increasingly keen interest in translation. One consequence of this has been bringing together scholars from different disciplines. It is here important to mention that these cultural theorists have kept their own ideology and agendas that drive their own criticism. These cultural approaches have widened the horizons of translation studies with new insights but at the same there has been a strong element of conflict among them. It is good to mention that the existence of such differences of perspectives is inevitable.
In the mid 1980s Vermeer introduced skopos theory which is a Greek word for ‘aim’ or ‘purpose’. It is entered into translation theory in as a technical term for the purpose of translation and of action of translating. Skopos theory focuses above all on the purpose of translation, which determines the translation method and strategies that are to be employed in order to produce a functionally adequate result. The result is TT, which Vermeer calls translatum. Therefore, knowing why SL is to be translated and what function of TT will be are crucial for the translator.
In 1984, Reiss and Vermeer in their book with the title of ‘Groundwork for a General Theory of Translation’ concentrated on the basic underlying ‘rules’ of this theory which involve: 1- A translatum (or TT) is determined by its skopos, 2- A TT is an offer of information in a target culture and TL considering an offer of information in a source culture and SL. This relates the ST and TT to their function in their respective linguistic and cultural context. The translator is once again the key player in the process of intercultural communication and production of the translatum because of the purpose of the translation.
In 1988 Newmark defined culture as "the way of life and its manifestations that are peculiar to a community that uses a particular language as its means of expression", thus acknowledging that each language group has its own culturally specific features. He also introduced ‘Cultural word’ which the readership is unlikely to understand and the translation strategies for this kind of concept depend on the particular text-type, requirements of the readership and client and importance of the cultural word in the text.
Peter Newmark also categorized the cultural words as follows:
1) Ecology: flora, fauna, hills, winds,
5) Gestures and Habits
He further clearly stated that operationally he does not regard language as a component or feature of culture in direct opposition to the view taken by Vermeer who stated that "language is part of a culture" (1989:222). According to Newmark, Vermeer's stance would imply the impossibility to translate whereas for the latter, translating the source language (SL) into a suitable form of TL is part of the translator's role in transcultural communication.
Language and culture may thus be seen as being closely related and both aspects must be considered for translation. When considering the translation of cultural words and notions, Newmark proposed two opposing methods: transference and componential analysis. According to him transference gives "local colour," keeping cultural names and concepts. Although placing the emphasis on culture, meaningful to initiated readers, he claimed this method may cause problems for the general readership and limit the comprehension of certain aspects. The importance of the translation process in communication led Newmark to propose componential analysis which he described as being "the most accurate translation procedure, which excludes the culture and highlights the message".
Newmark also stated the relevance of componential analysis in translation as a flexible but orderly method of bridging the numerous lexical gaps, both linguistic and cultural, between one language and another:
In 1992, Lawrence Venuti mentioned the effective powers controlling translation. He believed that in addition to governments and other politically motivated institutions which may decide to censor or promote certain works, there are groups and social institutions which would include various players in the publication as a whole. These are the publishers and editors who choose the works and commission the translations, pay the translators and often dictate the translation method. They also include the literary agents, marketing and sales teams and reviewers. Each of theses players has a particular position and role within the dominant cultural and political agenda of their time and place. Power play is an important theme for cultural commentators and translation scholars. In both theory and practice of translation, power resides in the deployment of language as an ideological weapon for excluding or including a reader, a value system, a set of beliefs, or even an entire culture.
In 1992, Mona Baker stated that S.L word may express a concept which is totally unknown in the target culture. It can be abstract or concrete. It maybe a religious belief, a social custom or even a type of food. In her book, In Other Words, she argued about the common non-equivalents to which a translator come across while translating from SL into TL, while both languages have their distinguished specific culture. She put them in the following order:
Mona Baker also believed that it is necessary
for translator to have knowledge about semantics and lexical
sets. Because in this case:
In 1992, Coulthard highlightd the importance of defining the ideal reader for whom the author attributes knowledge of certain facts, memory of certain experiences ... plus certain opinions, preferences and prejudices and a certain level of linguistic competence. When considering such aspects, the extent to which the author may be influenced by such notions which depend on his own sense of belonging to a specific socio-cultural group should not be forgotten.
Coulthard stated that once the ideal ST readership has been determined, considerations must be made concerning the TT. He said that the translator's first and major difficulty is the construction of a new ideal reader who, even if he has the same academic, professional and intellectual level as the original reader, will have significantly different textual expectations and cultural knowledge.
In the case of the extract translated here, it is debatable whether the ideal TT reader has "significantly different textual expectations," however his cultural knowledge will almost certainly vary considerably.
Applied to the criteria used to determine
the ideal ST reader it may be noted that few conditions
are successfully met by the potential ideal TT reader. Indeed,
the historical and cultural facts are unlikely to be known
in detail along with the specific cultural situations described.
Furthermore, despite considering the level of linguistic
competence to be roughly equal for the ST and TT reader,
certain differences may possibly be noted in response to
the use of culturally specific lexis which must be considered
In 1993 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak was the one who introduced postcolonialism. Post-colonialism is one of the most thriving points of contact between Cultural Studies and Translation Studies. It can be defined as a broad cultural approach to the study of power relations between different groups, cultures or peoples in which language, literature and translation may play a role. Spivak’s work is indicative of how cultural studies and especially post-colonialism has over the past decade focused on issues of translation, the translational and colonization. The linking of colonization and translation is accompanied by the argument that translation has played an active role in the colonization process and in disseminating an ideologically motivated image of colonized people. The metaphor has been used of the colony as an imitative and inferior translational copy whose suppressed identity has been overwritten by the colonizer.
The postcolonial concepts may have conveyed a view of translation as just a damaging instrument of the colonizers who imposed their language and used translation to construct a distorted image of the suppressed people which served to reinforce the hierarchal structure of the colony. However, some critics of post-colonialism, like Robinson, believe that the view of the translation as purely harmful and pernicious tool of the empire is inaccurate.
Like the other cultural theorists, Venuti in 1995 insisted that the scope of translation studies needs to be broadened to take the account of the value-driven nature of sociocultural framework. He used the term invisibility to describe the translator situation and activity in Anglo-American culture. He said that this invisibility is produced by:
1- The way the translators themselves tend to translate fluently into English, to produce an idiomatic and readable TT, thus creating illusion of transparency.
2- The way the translated texts are typically read in the target culture:
“A translated text, whether prose or poetry or non-fiction, is judged acceptable by most publishers, reviewers and readers when it reads fluently, when the absence of any linguistic or stylistic peculiarities makes it seem transparent, giving the appearance that it reflects the foreign writer’s personality or intention or the essential meaning the foreign text_ the appearance, in other words, that the translation is not in fact a translation, but the original.”
Venuti discussed invisibility hand in hand with two types of translating strategies: domestication and foreignization. He considered domestication as dominating Anglo-American (TL) translation culture. Just as the postcolonialists were alert to the cultural effects of the differential in power relation between colony and ex-colony, so Venuti bemoaned the phenomenon of domestication since it involves reduction of the foreign text to the target language cultural values. This entails translating in a transparent, fluent, invisible style in order to minimize the foreignness of the TT. Venuti believed that a translator should leave the reader in peace, as much as possible, and he should move the author toward him.
Foregnization, on the other hand, entails choosing a foreign text and developing a translation method along lines which excluded by dominant cultural values in target language. Ventuti considers the foreignizing method to be an ethno deviant pressure on target language cultural values to register the linguistic and cultural difference of the foreign text, sending the reader abroad. According to him it is highly desirable in an effort to restrain the ethnocentric violence translation. The foreignizing method of translating, a strategy Venuti also termed ‘resistancy’ , is a non-fluent or estranging translation style designed to make visible the persistence of translator by highlighting the foreign identity of ST and protecting it from the ideological dominance of the target culture.
In his later book ‘The Scandals of Translation’ Venuti insisted on foreignizing or, as he also called it, ‘minoritizing’ translatin, to cultivate a varied and heterogeneous discourse. As far as language is concerned, the minoritizing or foriegnizing method of Venuti’s translation comes through in the deliberate inclusion of foreignizing elements in a bid to make the translator visible and to make the reader realize that he is reading a translation of the work from a foreign culture. Foreignization is close adherent to the ST structure and syntax.
Venuti also said that the terms may change meaning across time and location.
In 1996, Simon mentioned that cultural studies brings to translation an understanding of the complexities of gender and culture and it allows us to situate linguistic transfer. She considered a language of sexism in translation studies, with its image of dominance, fidelity, faithfulness and betrayal. She mentioned the seventeenth century image of “les belles infidels” (unfaithful beauties), translations into French that were artistically beautiful but unfaithful. She went further and investigated George Steiner’s male-oriented image of translation as penetration.
The feminist theorists, more or less, see a parallel between the status of translation which is often considered to be derivative and inferior to the original writing and that of women so often repressed in society and literature. This is the core feminist translation that theory seeks to identify and critique the tangle of the concepts which relegate both women and translation to the bottom of the social and literary ladder. Simon takes this further in the concept of the committed translation project. Translation project here can be defined as such: An approach to literary translation in which feminist translators openly advocate and implement strategies (linguistic or otherwise) to foreground the feminist in the translated text. It may seem worthy to mention that the opposite of translation project occurs when gender-marked works are translated in such a way that their distinctive characteristics are affected.
With the spread of deconstruction and cultural studies in the academy, the subject of ideology became an important area of study. The field of translation studies presents no exception to this general trend. It should also be mentioned that the concept of ideology is not something new and it has been an area of interest from a long time ago. The problem of discussing translation and ideology is one of definition. There are so many definitions of ideology that it is impossible to review them all. For instance as Hatim and Mason (1997) stated that ideology encompasses the tacit assumptions, beliefs and value systems which are shared collectively by social groups. They make a distinction between the ideology of translating and the translation of ideology. Whereas the former refers to the basic orientation chosen by the translator operating within a social and cultural context. In translation of ideology they examined the extent of mediation supplied by a translator of sensitive texts. Here mediation is defined as the extent to which translators intervene in the transfer process, feeding their own knowledge and beliefs into processing the text.
In 1999 Hermans stated that Culture refers to all socially conditioned aspects of human life. According to him translation can and should be recognized as a social phenomenon, a cultural practice. He said that we bring to translation both cognitive and normative expectations, which are continually being negotiated, confirmed, adjusted, and modified by practicing translators and by all who deal with translation. These expectations result from the communication within the translation system, for instance, between actual translations and statements about translation, and between the translation system and other social systems.
In 2002, regarding cultural translation Hervey and Higgins believed in cultural translation rather than literal one. According to them accepting literal translation means that there’s no cultural translation operation. But obviously there are some obstacles bigger than linguistic ones. They are cultural obstacles and here a transposition in culture is needed.
According to Hervey & Higgins cultural transposition has a scale of degrees which are toward the choice of features indigenous to target language and culture rather than features which are rooted in source culture. The result here is foreign features reduced in target text and is to some extent naturalized. The scale here is from an extreme which is mostly based on source culture (exoticism) to the other extreme which is mostly based on target culture (cultural transplantation):
Exoticism< Calque< Cultural Borrowing< Communicative Translation< cultural transplantation
In 2004, Nico Wiersema in his essay “globalization and translation” stated that globalization is linked to English being a lingua franca; the language is said to be used at conferences (interpreting) and seen as the main language in the new technologies. The use of English as a global language is an important trend in world communication. Globalisation is also linked to the field of Translation Studies. Furthermore, globalisation is placed in the context of changes in economics, science, technology, and society. Globalization and technology are very helpful to translators in that translators have more access to online information, such as dictionaries of lesser-known languages. According to him such comments can be extended to the readers of translations. Should the target text be challenging for a reader, the internet can help him understand foreign elements in the text. Thus the text can be written in a more foreignising / exoticising manner. He mentioned a relatively new trend wherein culturally bound elements (some, one might say, untranslatable), are not translated. He believed that this trend contributes to learning and understanding foreign cultures. Context explains culture, and adopting (not necessarily adapting) a selection of words enriches the target text, makes it more exotic and thus more interesting for those who want to learn more about the culture in question. Eventually, these new words may find their way into target language dictionaries. Translators will then have contributed to enriching their own languages with loan words from the source language (esp. English).
He considered this entering loan words into TL as an important aspect of translation. Translation brings cultures closer. He stated that at this century the process of globalization is moving faster than ever before and there is no indication that it will stall any time soon. In each translation there will be a certain distortion between cultures. The translator will have to defend the choices he/she makes, but there is currently an option for including more foreign words in target texts. Therefore, it is now possible to keep SL cultural elements in target texts. In each translation there will be a certain distortion between cultures. The translator will have to defend the choices he/she makes, but there is currently an option for including more foreign words in target texts.
According to him translator has three options for the translation of cultural elements:
According to Nico Wiersema (2004), Cultures are getting closer and closer and this is something that he believed translators need to take into account. In the end it all depends on what the translator, or more often, the publisher wants to achieve with a certain translation. In his opinion by entering SL cultural elements:
In 2004, ke Ping regarding translation and culture paid attention to misreading and presupposition. He mentioned that of the many factors that may lead to misreadings in translation is cultural presuppositions.
Cultural presuppositions merit special attention from translators because they can substantially and systematically affect their interpretation of facts and events in the source text without their even knowing it. He pinpointed the relationship between cultural presuppositions and translational misreadings. According to him misreadings in translation are often caused by a translator’s presuppositions about the reality of the source language community. These presuppositions are usually culturally-derived and deserve the special attention of the translator. He showed how cultural presuppositions work to produce misreadings in translation.
According to ke Ping “Cultural presupposition,” refers to underlying assumptions, beliefs, and ideas that are culturally rooted, widespread.
Each ingredient in these four sub-systems can lead to presuppositions that are fundamentally different from those bred by other cultures, and hence might result in misreading when translation or other forms of communication are conducted across two cultures. ke Ping introduced some of these culture-bound presuppositions as observed in mistranslated texts which include:
The first theory regarding cultural translation introduced by Mounin in 1963 who underlined the importance of the signification of a lexical item claiming that the best translation is the one which just the cultural items are correctly translated that only if this notion is considered will the translated item fulfill its function correctly. Nida in 1964 believed that differences between cultures may cause more severe complications for the translator than do differences in language structure. Regarding translation of cultural elements he paid more attention to dynamic equivalence which tries to relate the receptor to modes of behavior relevant within the context of his own culture without insisting that he understand the cultural patterns of the source-language context. According to him this method is more tangible for TL reader.
The first concept in cultural translation studies was cultural turn that in 1978 was presaged by the work on Polysystems and translation norms by Even-Zohar and in 1980 by Toury. The move from translation as a text to translation as culture and politics is what they call it a Cultural Turn in translation studies.
In the mid 1980s Vermeer introduced skopos theory which focuses above all on the purpose of translation, and determined the translation method and strategies that are to be employed in order to produce a functionally adequate result. Accordingly cultural elements will be translated according to the purpose of the translation, keeping the local color of SL depends on the purpose of translation.
Newmark in 1988 categorized cultural words into Ecology (flora, fauna, hills, winds, plains); material Culture( food, clothes, houses and towns, transport); social Culture (work and leisure); organizations Customs, Activities, Procedures, Concepts (Political and administrative, religious ,artistic); gestures and habits. He proposed two opposing methods: a- transference which gives "local color," keeping cultural names and concepts, b- componential analysis which excludes the culture and highlights the message.
In 1992, Lawrence Venuti mentioned the effective powers controlling translation like governments and other politically motivated institutions that may decide to censor or promote certain works, value system, a set of beliefs, or even an entire culture. He said that they effect cultural translation by their power.
In 1992, Mona Baker believed that it is necessary for translator to have knowledge about semantics and lexical sets and the value of the words in source language. She mentioned that a translator can develop strategies for dealing with non-equivalence semantic field. These strategies are arranged hierarchically from general (superordinate) to specific (hyponym).
In 1992, Coulthard highlighted the importance of defining the ideal reader for whom the author attributes knowledge of certain facts, memory of certain experiences ... plus certain opinions, preferences and prejudices and a certain level of linguistic competence. Then the translator should identify TL reader for whom he is translating and match the cultural differences between two languages.
Spivak’s work in 1993 is indicative of how cultural studies and especially post-colonialism has over the past decade focused on issues of translation. The ideology and beliefs of colonizers affected the way the texts of colonized countries should be translated.
Venuti discussed invisibility hand in hand with two types of translating strategies: domestication as dominating TL culture and foreignization which is to make the translator visible and to make the reader realize that he is reading a translation of the work from a foreign culture and it is close to SL structure and syntax.
In 1996, Simon mentioned that cultural studies brings to translation an understanding of the complexities of gender and culture and it allows us to situate linguistic transfer. She sees a language of sexism in translation studies, with its image of dominance, fidelity, faithfulness and betrayal and how the translations are affected by the women’s ideologies. According to him feminist translators openly advocate and implement strategies (linguistic or otherwise) to foreground the feminist in the translated text.
Hatim and Mason (1997) stated that ideology encompasses the tacit assumptions, beliefs and value systems which are shared collectively by social groups. They make a distinction between the ideology of translating and the translation of ideology. Whereas, the former refers to the basic orientation chosen by the translator operating within a social and cultural context. In the translation of ideology they examined the extent of mediation supplied by a translator of sensitive texts.
According to Hermans in 1999 translation
can and should be recognized as a social phenomenon, a cultural
practice. He said that we bring to translation both cognitive
and normative expectations, which are continually being
negotiated, confirmed, adjusted, and modified by practicing
translators and by all who deal with translation,
In 2004, Nico Wiersema mentined the concept
of globalization and translation. He stated that TT can
be written in a more foreignizing / eroticizing manner wherein
culturally bound elements (some, one might say, untranslatable),
are not translated. He believed that this trend contributes
to learning and understanding foreign cultures.