The Application of House’s Model on William Shakespeare’s Persian translation jobs
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The Application of House’s Model on William Shakespeare’s "Macbeth" and its Persian Translation by Ala’uddin Pasargadi





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Abstract

There are different Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) models, each introducing new ideas and novel ways to assess the quality of a translated work. These models, however, approach this task differently based on that theoretical frameworks to assess a translated work integratively, discretely, or a mix of them. House’s TQA Model seems to be a promising one to assess literary translation. Having reviewed the alternative TQA models, this study aimed at detailed investigation of House’s Translation Quality Assessment Model and its potential power to predict the errors in Persian translations of literary works. Ala’uddin Pasargadi’s Persian translation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth on the basis of House’s Translation Quality Assessment Model was carried out. Having introduced the model, definitions, and different stages of the assessment process, the researcher randomly selected some samples of Source Text and Target Text and analyzed them using House’s Model. First, the errors were identified, classified and the frequency of their occurrences was computed to see whether a statistically significant difference can be found. Chi-Square (2) statistical procedure was employed to compute differences between observed and expected frequencies of the errors which were categorized into “covertly erroneous errors” and “overtly erroneous errors”. Overtly erroneous errors were further categorized into five categories: 1) Not Translated; 2) Slight Change in Meaning; 3) Significant Change in Meaning; 4) Distortion of Meaning; and 5) Breach of the Target Language System. The results of the Chi-Square (2) statistical procedure indicated a statistically significant difference between the two kinds of errors and among the five types of overtly erroneous errors. Therefore, this particular piece of translation did not comply with the hypothesis “a literary work, according to House’s Model, has to be translated overtly and any deviation of it will be considered as an error”. This translation can be considered as a covert kind of translation rather than an overt one. It should be noted that the results do not blemish this model in any ways; rather, these results show the strength of this particular yet parsimonious TQA model. The findings of the study can be applied to Translation Studies, teaching, and doing literary translation. Professors and instructors in the field can take advantage of this Translation Quality Assessment Model to assess literary translations.

Key words:

Translation Quality Assessment, functional equivalence, overt vs. covert translation, House Model

Introduction

The evaluation of a translation as good or poor is the main concern of Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) approaches. The main issue is how to measure and express this quality. There have been many attempts to find the way(s) in order to tackle these issues and evaluate the quality of a translated work. However, it seems that from among these many approaches, a few of them sound promising. One of the promising approaches is the Translation Quality Assessment Model provided by the German scholar Juliane House.

This assessment model (House, 1997) is based on Hallidayan Systemic-Functional Theory (SFT), but it also draws eclectically on Prague School ideas, speech act theory, pragmatics, discourse analysis and corpus-based distinctions between the spoken and written language. It provides the means for the analysis and comparison of an original text and its translation on three different levels: Language/Text, Register (Field, Mode and Tenor) and Genre. Based on this model, first, a pilot study was carried out to test the feasibility of implementing the model. The focus of the present study is the application of House’s Model on Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and its Persian translation by Pasargadi. Searching the sources revealed that no one in Iran has implemented or applied this particular model on the translation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. Evaluating a translation is a necessary and sometimes urgent need in most countries including Iran. It seems that many non-professionals and semi-professional translators undertake the task of translating, so it seems reasonable to conduct this study to provide a “useful” framework to assess the quality of other literary translations. In this way, the future translations may be improved by taking the important features of the prospective framework.

What is Translation Quality Assessment (TQA)?

Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) is a type of evaluation, but what is “evaluation”? Michael Scriven defines it a follows: “Evaluation is taken to mean the determination of merit, worth, or significance” (Scriven, 2007, p. 1, as cited in Williams, 2009). This definition itself presents a problem: How value or worth is to be defined, be it moral, aesthetic or utilitarian? By extension, “evaluation” involves asking a question that has challenged thinkers from the earliest time: Is a particular thing good? (Williams, 2009)

Just like evaluation in the broad sense, TQA can be quantitative or qualitative: it can be based on mathematical/statistical measurement (as in the case of most academic instruments) or on readers’ responses, interviews and questionnaires (e.g. Nida). TQA can be diagnostic (determining areas for improvement at the beginning of a course of study), formative (measuring progress and giving feedback during a course of study) or summative (measuring the results of learning).

In Williams’s view, TQA cannot and should not be values-free: to be useful, it must be based on criteria of goodness. Otherwise, all we do is [to] describe defects and strong points in translations.

The purpose of the present study is the implementation/application of the German scholar Juliane House’s Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) Model on William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and its Persian Translation by Ala’uddin Pasargadi. Translation evaluation is done in many ways and by many means. However, it seems that there are no common yardsticks in assessing translation quality. Both diachronically and synchronically, translation assessment of a particular work does not yield unified results. This is the main reason behind carrying out this study. This study aims at finding a common yardstick for conducting Translation Quality Assessment, using House’s TQA Model. It will be tried to determine whether this particular model can provide a more comprehensive yet parsimonious way of conducting TQA.

In this research, an attempt will be made to implement/apply the Housian TQA Model to identify two kinds of errors in the translated work; a) overtly erroneous errors and b) covertly erroneous errors. The aim is to compare the frequency of their occurrences in order to see whether a statistically significant difference exists between the two kinds of errors.

Does the implementation/application of the Housian TQA Model provide a more parsimonious way of assessing the quality of literary translations, in particular, and translation, in general? Taking this in mind, the hypothesis which is to be studied in the following is that:

As the original text is a “timeless” literary work, according to House, it has to have an overt kind of translation.

It is hoped that the results of this study will be effective in the improvement and creating a TQA model for the assessment of the translation of literary and non-literary texts from English to Persian. Since this particular study has not been done in Iran, to the researcher’s best knowledge, the possible results of this study, hopefully, can be used in the process of learning/teaching translation by the instructors and the learners. It is also hoped that it provides a common yardstick/model to evaluate the quality of translation in a fast parsimonious way.

Methodology

The present study has a qualitative design. This study is going to find two kinds of errors, as the consequence of comparing the ST with the TT. The model to be used in this study is the TQA Model of House. This study is mainly a library research. First, the original text was read thoroughly and then the ST was compared to its translation to find two kinds of errors, namely overtly erroneous errors and covertly erroneous errors.

The dependability of the following study is most likely to be determined using an audit trail.

Audit trails provide a mechanism by which others can determine how decisions were made and the uniqueness of the situation. The researcher must keep thorough notes and records of activities, and should keep data well organized and in a retrievable form. He or she should provide information on the sample of people studied, the selection process, contextual descriptions, methods of data collection, detailed field notes, tape-recordings, videotapes, and other descriptive material that can be reviewed by other people. After examining the data, the auditor can consider the findings, conclusions and can show whether they are supported by the data. A complete presentation of procedures and results enables the reader to make a judgment about the replicability of the research within the limits of the natural context.

Sampling Procedure

As the study of the whole text is beyond the scope of this study, some scenes which are the representative of the whole text were selected randomly. “Macbeth” has five acts and twenty six scenes. From among these scenes, ten scenes were chosen hereby: the number of each scene along with its corresponding act was written on twenty six 3 by 2 cm pieces of paper. From among these twenty six lots, ten was drawn by a seven-year-old student. Surprisingly enough, all the first scenes of every act were chosen by the seven-year-old. The list of chosen scenes is as follows: Act I Scenes 1 and 4; Act II Scene 1; Act III Scenes 1 and 6; Act IV Scenes 1 and 2; Act V Scenes 1, 3, and 7. It should be noted that the sampling is done based on the Persian translation. There are some inconsistencies between the division and number of Acts in the English and the Persian texts.

Materials of the Study

The materials used in this research were as follows:

  1. The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare by A., Pasargadi (2000);
  2. Macbeth William Shakespeare Fully annotated, with an Introduction, by Burton Raffel With an essay by Harold Bloom (2005);
  3. The new Cambridge Shakespeare Macbeth (1997);
  4. Shakespeare Made Easy: Macbeth (2006);
  5. CliffsComplete Macbeth (2000);
  6. Shakespeare on the Double!™ Macbeth (2006);
  7. CliffsNotes™ Shakespeare’s Macbeth (2000);

Data Collection Procedure

The researcher first, read the original text thoroughly and then the ST was compared to its translation to find two kinds of errors, namely overtly erroneous errors and covertly erroneous errors. The House’s model is commonly applied in translation quality assessment by doing the following chronological steps:

  1. Doing a register analysis to get the source text profile;
  2. Describing source text genre realized in register; 
  3. Giving a statement of function to the source text related with ideational and interpersonal meaning;
  4. Treating the target text in the same way as the source text was treated above;
  5. Comparing the two text profiles to produce a statement of “in-equivalence” which is categorized according to the genre and the situational dimension of the genre and register. The errors found are categorized into “covertly erroneous errors” and “overtly erroneous errors”;
  6. Providing a statement of quality with reference to the translation result; and
  7. Categorizing the translation result into two kinds: overt translation and covert translation.

Data Analysis Procedure

The errors will be identified and classified and the frequency of their occurrences will be computed to see whether a statistically significant difference exists between the two. This is done by employing Chi-Square (2) statistical procedure which determines the differences between observed and expected frequencies.

 If a TT, in order to be adequate, had to fulfill the requirement of a dimensional, and as a result of this, a functional match, then any mismatch along the dimensions is an error. Such dimensional errors are called (by analogy with Corder’s (1973) terms) covertly erroneous errors. These are differentiated from those overtly erroneous errors which result either from a mismatch of the denotative meanings of ST and TT elements or from a breach of the target language system.

Results and Discussion

This subsection aims at presenting the results of the application/implementation of the above-mentioned steps, chronologically.

Source Text Profile:

Field:

Subject matter
Social action
Play (tragedy)
General and Popular

Figure 1. Source text profile: field

Tenor:

Author's provenance and stance

Social role relationship

Social attitude

Playwright and poet

Symmetrical

Asymmetrical

Formal

――――

Asymmetrical

Figure 2. Source text profile: tenor

Mode:

Medium

Participation

Simple

Complex

Simple

Complex

――――

Complex

Simple

――――

Figure 3. Source text profile: mode

As far as describing the source text genre is concerned it can be said that the source text genre is play (tragedy).

According to “Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics” language is often described as having the following major functions:

·  A descriptive function (or ideational function, in Halliday’s framework), organizing a speaker’s or writer’s experience of the world and conveying information which can be stated or denied and in some cases tested.

·  A social function (interpersonal function in Halliday’s terms), used to establish, maintain and signal relationships between people.

·  An expressive function, through which speakers signal information about their opinions, prejudices, past experiences, and so forth; and

·  A textual function, creating written and spoken texts.

As with source text function, it can be said that the source text function is ideational.

Source Text

Genre

Function

Play (tragedy)

Ideational

Figure 4. Source text genre and function

Target Text Profile:

 Field:

Subject matter

Social action

Play (tragedy)

General and popular

Figure 5. Target text profile: field

Tenor:

Translator's provenance and stance

Social role relationship

Social attitude

University Instructor and Translator

Symmetrical

Asymmetrical

Formal

――—―

Asymmetrical

Figure 6. Target text profile: tenor

Mode:

Medium

Participation

Simple

Complex

Simple

Complex

――――

Complex

Simple

――――

Figure 7. Target text profile: mode

Regarding the target text genre, it can be stated that target text genre is, also, play (tragedy).

About the target text function, it can be stated that target text function is ideational.

Target Text

Genre

Function

Play (tragedy)

Ideational

Figure 8. Target text genre and function

According to House, here, a covertly erroneous error has been identified; the mismatch between the author’s provenance and stance (i.e., playwright and poet) and that of the translator’s (i.e., university instructor and translator).

Source Text & Target Text Profiles Side-by-Side Comparison

Source Text & Target Text Profiles Side-by-Side Comparison

In the following part, the overtly erroneous errors are dealt with. In each Act and Scene some comments regarding the translation are represented. Overtly erroneous errors are categorized into five categories: 1) Not Translated; 2) Slight Change in Meaning; 3) Significant Change in Meaning; 4) Distortion of Meaning; and 5) Breach of the TL System. It should be mentioned that this categorization is carried out by the researcher and can be regarded as a modification to the original model. So, the full responsibility of any mistakes, whatsoever, is completely taken by the researcher. For each category approximately 10 percent of the items are provided. The full analysis of the samples is presented in the Appendix 1. The error is distinguished by means of underlining. First, the comment is provided. Then, the transcription of the Persian translation is provided. Next, the word-for-word translation of the Persian is presented. Next, the back-translation of the Persian into English is presented in italics. Extra explanations are provided in the parentheses among the transcriptions.

Examples:

1)  Not Translated:

Act 3, Scene 1

a)  “make society” means “in order to give/create/produce/prepare for companionship to be”; has not been translated.

b)  “common” which means “general, universal” has not been rendered.

2)  Slight Change in Meaning:

Act 1, Scene 4

a)  In “The service and the loyalty I owe, in doing it pays itself.”, “service” means “obligations (of someone who serves/has sworn allegiance to someone else)”; and “in doing it pays itself” means “pays itself in doing it”. The Persian is “خدماتی که از روی وفاداری و بر حسب وظیفه انجام داده ام خود پاداش بزرگی است.”. There is a slight difference in meaning.

/xædæmɑ:tɪ ke æz ru:je væfɑ:dɑ:rɪ væ bær hæsbe væzɪfe

[Services that from/out of/caused by loyalty and according to/on the basis of duty

ændʒɑ:m dɑ:dehæm xod pɑ:dɑ:ʃe bozorgɪ æst./

done (auxiliary verb: doing i.e.,) have I itself retribution (of) big is.]

Services which I have done out of loyalty and on the basis of duty are big retributions themselves. 

Act 2, Scene 1

b)  “Whose howl’s his watch” means “whose howl is murder’s lookout/watchman”; it has been translated to “با زوزه گرگ پاسبان خويش”; the meaning has been changed slightly.

/bɑ: zo:zeje gorge pɑ:sbɑ:ne xɪʃ/

[By howl (of) wolf (of) watchman/lookout his (self)]

By the howl of the wolf that is his watchman

3)  Significant Change in Meaning:

Act 4, Scene 1

a)  In “But no more sights.”, “sights” means “shows, displays”. But, the Persian translation is “دیگر آه نباید کشید.”. “Sights” has been mistaken with “sigh”. Thus, the meaning has been changed significantly.

/dɪgær ɑ:h næbɑ:jæd keʃɪd./

[No longer sigh should not heaved]

I no longer should sigh.

Act 2, Scene 1

b)  “mock” which here means “ridicule, flout, set at naught” has been translated to “غفلت می ورزند”. The meaning has been changed significantly.

/qeflæt mɪværzænd/

[Neglect (an auxiliary verb meaning “doing”) they]

They neglected.

4)  Distortion of Meaning:

Act 2, Scene 1

a)  “made the fools o’” means “deceived by”. However, the equivalent chosen is “مورد طعن و تمسخر”. This does not convey the same meaning as the original.

/morede tæʔn væ tæmæsxor/

[Subject to sarcasm and jeer]

Subject to sarcasm and jeer

Act 3, Scene 1

b)  “Attend those men our pleasure?” means “are those men waiting for me to decide to see them?” has been translated to “آيا اشخاصي كه در انتظار ما بودند اينجا هستند؟”; thus the meaning has been distorted.

/ɑ:jɑ: æʃxɑ:sɪ ke dær entezɑ:re mɑ: bu:dænd ɪndʒɑ: hæstænd/

[Are persons that in awaiting us were here are?]

Are those people who were awaiting us here?

5)  Breach of the TL System:

Act 2, Scene 1

a)  خنجرهايشان هم در كنار بالششان افتاده و دچار بهت و اختلال حواس شده اند.” does not match the Persian grammatical patterns. There are two different sentences, but, with the same subject in the Persian translation; i.e., dangling structure.

/xændʒærhɑ:jeʃɑ:n hæm dær kenɑ:re bɑ:leʃeʃɑ:n oftɑ:de væ

[Their daggers too in beside their pillows fallen and

dotʃɑ:re boht væ extelɑ:le hævɑ:s ʃodehænd./

suffer consternation and disorder of senses (i.e., mental disorder) become]

Their daggers were fallen beside their pillows and they were consternated, suffering from mental disorder.

Covertly Erroneous Errors and Overtly Erroneous Errors along with their frequencies

Figure 9. Covertly Erroneous Errors and Overtly Erroneous Errors along with their frequencies

Categorization of overtly erroneous errors along with the frequencies of occurrences of each category accompanied by some examples is presented in the Figure 10.

Overtly Erroneous Errors

Category

Number

Some Examples

Not Translated

43

Act 3, Scene 1: items 6, 12, 24, 26, and 41

Act 3, Scene 6: item 6

Slight Change in Meaning

79

Act 1, Scene 4: item 5

Act 2, Scene 1: items 23, 25, 28, and 52

Act 4, Scene 2: item 13

Act 5, Scene 3: item 1

Significant Change in Meaning

50

Act 3, Scene 1: item 29

Act 3, Scene 6: item 10

Act 4, Scene 1: item 5, and 25

Act 4, Scene 2: item 6

Distortion of Meaning

18

Act 2, Scene 1: items 1, 8, 17, 51, and 77

Act 3, Scene 1: items 7 and 21

Breach of the TL System

5

Act 2, Scene 1: items 72 and 73

Act 4, Scene 2: item 1

Total Number of Errors

195

Figure 10. Overtly Erroneous Errors

Categories of Overtly Erroneous Errors and their frequencies

Figure 11. Categories of Overtly Erroneous Errors and their frequencies

What were presented were some examples of overtly erroneous errors.

This subsection is concerned with presenting the results of the statistical procedures. Furthermore, it aims at finding out whether the hypothesis is rejected or verified. In order to see whether a statistically significant difference exists between the frequencies of the occurrences the two kinds of errors, on the one hand and among the categorization of overtly erroneous errors on the other, the Chi-Square (2) statistical procedure which determines the differences between observed and expected frequencies was employed.

Frequencies

 

Observed N

Expected N

Residual

Covertly Erroneous Errors

1

98.0

-97.0

Overtly Erroneous Errors

195

98.0

97.0

Total

196

   

Figure 12. Frequencies

Test Statistics

   

Frequencies

Chi-Squarea

   

192.020

df

   

1

Asymp. Sig.

   

.000

Monte Carlo

Sig.

 

.000b

Sig.

99% Confidence

Lower Bound

.000

 

Interval

Upper Bound

.000

a. 0 cells (.0%) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 98.0.

b. Based on 10000 sampled tables with starting seed 2000000.

Figure 13. Test Statistics

Categories of OEEs

 

Observed N

Expected N

Residual

Not Translated

43

39.0

4.0

Slight Change in Meaning

79

39.0

40.0

Significant Change in Meaning

50

39.0

11.0

Distortion of Meaning

18

39.0

-21.0

Breach of the TL System

5

39.0

-34.0

Total

195

   

Figure 14. Categories of OEEs

Test Statistics

 

Categories of

OEEs

Chi-Squarea

   

85.487

df

   

4

Asymp. Sig.

   

.000

Monte Carlo

Sig.

 

.000b

Sig.

99% Confidence

Lower Bound

.000

 

Interval

Upper Bound

.000

a. 0 cells (.0%) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 39.0.

b. Based on 10000 sampled tables with starting seed 299883525.

Figure 15. Test Statistics

Regarding the two kinds of errors, the Chi-Square (2) statistical procedure shows a statistically significant difference between the two kinds of errors i.e., overtly erroneous errors and covertly erroneous errors.

As with the categorization of overtly erroneous errors, the Chi-Square (2) statistical procedure shows a statistically significant difference among the five categorizations of overtly erroneous errors.

What remains to be done, from among the previously-mentioned steps are providing a statement of quality with reference to the translation result; and categorizing the translation result into two kinds: overt translation and covert translation. As far as the former is concerned, it can be stated that taking into account the rather high number of observed errors, the Persian translation is suffering from poor quality. Regarding the latter, it can be stated that the Persian translation can be categorized as a covert kind of translation rather that an overt one.

The hypothesis was that since the original text is a “timeless” literary work, according to House, it has to have an overt kind of translation; however, the results show that this particular piece of translation did not abide by the hypothesis; the translation can be considered as a covert kind of translation rather than an overt one.

The sole covertly erroneous error i.e., the mismatch between the author’s provenance and stance (i.e., playwright and poet) and that of the translator’s (i.e., university instructor and translator) could have been avoided if a playwright and/or a poet had translated the ST.

The overtly erroneous errors were, seemingly, the result of not exactly considering the context of the ST, not taking into consideration the nuances of meaning the ST embraced, misreading the ST, not paying enough attention to the cultural differences between the ST and the TT and also the fact that the ST is a play. The latter necessitates explaining and providing footnotes regarding the issues which may have an effect on the understanding, on the one hand, and the ability of the assumed players to perform the play, on the other; without being forced to have a constant look on the original text, which is in English. Many of these overtly erroneous errors could have been avoided by consulting the authoritative references or annotated editions of the ST by English Literature scholars. It is worth mentioning that paying enough attention, even to the extent of obsession; to nuances of meaning these kinds of literary texts embrace is another way of avoiding the pitfalls like what have been seen, seemingly.

Conclusions

 The conclusion drawn from the data does not comply with the hypothesis that since the original text is a “timeless” literary work, according to House; it has to have an overt kind of translation. Chi-Square (2) statistical procedure indicates that there is a statistically significant difference between the two kinds of errors i.e., overtly erroneous errors and covertly erroneous errors; on one hand, and among the five categorizations of overtly erroneous errors, on the other. Implementation/application of House’s TQA Model on this particular work indicates that this particular work did not abide by the hypothesis stated in this model. It should be noted that these results do not blemish this model in any ways; rather, quite vice versa these results show the strength of this particular, yet parsimonious, TQA model.

Implications

The findings of the current study are hoped to be of help to trainers of would-be translators; as another source in the learning/teaching process. The findings of the current study may be a means to elicit the translator of this work to revise his translation; also, the current study can be used as a framework for other critics concerning this type of analysis.

Suggestions for Further Research

 The verifications and substantiations of the findings in this study demand further investigation. One possibility is that researchers may wish to use other TQA models. Another possibility is to replicate the study by comparing other languages, texts and cultures. It may also reveal some nice outcomes if the text types are changed, for example, instead of literary texts religious texts can be selected for the study. It can also be done by having a change in the age group of the selected texts. Finally, another investigation, which can be applicable in this field, can be led by utilizing other media like films, poems, short stories software, corpora, and etc.

And Finally:

Thanks to my thesis guide, Dr. Hojatollah Yamini, my thesis consulting advisor, Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Mortahan for their continued enthusiasm and support for the project; for their dedication and expertise; for maintaining enthusiasm, order, and a steady flow of communication that allowed the project to advance smoothly; for insisting on coherence, clarity, and precision throughout each draft; for scrutinizing every page and alerting me to errors and inconsistencies.

 Needless to say that, Responsibilities for the final version is, of course, mine alone.

Pronunciation Key Table

Pronunciation Key Table

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Published - June 2010









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