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Literary Translation




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Translation of “Matti ki Mona Liza” Into “Mona Liza Made of Clay”
Translation is a process of conveying a source text into a target text which should reflect the contents of the original text. Translation is a practice in which the translator tries to find out the closest equivalent meaning of a source text into the target text language…
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Two New Chinese Translations of Hamlet Introduced and Compared
The two new Chinese translations of Hamlet by Wang and Huang represent continued efforts in the new century by Chinese scholars in studying and translating Shakespeare. In a display of creative artistry, both translators break new ground in translating principles, language use, and textual construction. Their main differences…
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The Transposition of Form
A derivative describes a work that is related to a previously existing original. We currently have two common types of derivatives: adaptation and translation. Adaptation uses the original as a rough template for a new text. Translation is more or less a direct copy of the original in a different language. Somewhere between these two types is transposition…
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The Art of Poetry and its Translation
According to Oxford English Dictionary poetry is “The art or work of poet”. Another depiction of it is given by John Ruskin in his “Lectures on Art” (1870), “What is poetry? The suggestion, by the imagination, of noble grounds for the noble emotions”. According to T. S. Eliot “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality”. Percy Bysshe Shelly describes poetry as the eternal truth...
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The Problems in Translating ‘Literary Prose’
Although there is a large body of work debating the issues that surround the translation of poetry, far less time has been spent studying the specific problems of translating literary prose. One explanation of this could be the higher status that poetry holds, but it is more probably due to the well-known wrong idea that a novel is somehow a simpler structure than a poem and is consequently easier to translate. Moreover, whilst we have a number of detailed statements by poet-translators regarding their methodology, we have fewer statements from prose-translators. Yet there is a lot to be learnt from shaping the principles for undertaking a ‘translation’...
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The Art of Poetry and its Translation
According to Oxford English Dictionary poetry is “The art or work of poet”. Another depiction of it is given by John Ruskin in his “Lectures on Art” (1870), “What is poetry? The suggestion, by the imagination, of noble grounds for the noble emotions”. According to T. S. Eliot “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality”...
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A Snapshot of Literary Translation and its Practitioners
It has sometimes been said that “the translation of literary works is considered by many [to be] one of the highest forms of translation as it involves so much more than simply translating text.” It has also been said that “the very concept of translation tends to be restricted to literary translation in comparison with other types of translation and other texts.” The concept of different types of translation is directly related to Katherina Weiss’ functional approach on a textual level, which calls for a different translation strategy to be employed for different text types and the situation in which they will be used...
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La Traduction d’une oeuvre littéraire : Le cas de Chroniques de Mvoutessi 2 : Na Mongô ou Le Voyage à Ebolowa de Guillaume Oyônô-Mbia
Literary translation may be said to have the greatest number of peculiar problems and these problems largely depend on who is translating and what he knows. This paper is an attempt to examine the problems that literary translators confront when translating from one language into another. These problems include structural, linguistic, psychological cultural and even style...
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A Corpus-based Study of Units of Translation in English-Persian Literary Translations
In the present study, the notion of ‘unit of translation’ as a challenging issue in Descriptive Translation Studies (DTS) is addressed. Considering this notion from a product-oriented point of view as "the TT unit that can be mapped onto a ST unit" (Baker, 2001: 286), the researcher's main concern is to investigate a hierarchy of units of translation (UTs) proposed by Newmark (1991: 66-68) including word, phrase, clause, sentence, and paragraph in the literary translations...
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Literary Translation Quality Assessment - Review
This work, made by Ph.D. Mª Beatriz Rodríguez Rodríguez, lecturer of literary translation in the University of Vigo, Spain, provides with a comprehensive view of the principal approaches to literary translation quality assessment and its current challenges. Published by LINCOM GmbH in 2007, Literary Translation Quality Assessment offers a practical approach to state-of-the-art translation criticism and evaluation...
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Corpus-based Study of Differences in Explicitation Between Literature Translations for Children and for Adults
This article investigates the differences in explicitation between English-to-Chinese literature translations for children and for adults using the corpus-based analysis method. Explicitation is the overall tendency to explicate implicit messages in translation. The assumption is that literature translation for children shows a higher percentage of explicitation than for adults because children readers require the explicitly-presented logical context and repetitive lexical items for easy comprehension and easy memorization...
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Pinning Down Creativity in Translation: The Case of Literary Texts
Creativity and translation (or better translating) are inseparable, especially in literary rendition. A translator should always be resourceful in terms of vocabulary and syntactic structures in order to handle repetitions in the ST. Literary translators in particular need to be also creative in translating the 'formalities' of the ST. In this paper, creativity in literary translation will be tackled through three genres: poetry, rhyming prose and short stories...
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Performatives in Ying Ruocheng's Translation of Teahouse
As the major part of drama, dramatic dialogue serves to push on the development of the story and guarantee performability of the drama on the stage, with stress on the gestic (undertext) features of the utterances. This paper explores the feasibility of performatives in dramatic dialogue translation, by comparing Ying Ruocheng's English version Teahouse with Howard's...
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Tyndale’s editors: The KJV and the mysterious sound patterns of translation
Walter Benjamin, in The Task of the Translator, says: “But do we not generally regard as the essential substance of a literary work what it contains in addition to information— as even a poor translator will admit—the unfathomable, the mysterious, the ‘poetic,’ something that a translator can reproduce only if he is also a poet?” I would like try to make this “unfathomable” and “mysterious” a bit less mysterious, at least in a small way...
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English Translations of the Bible
There are so many translations available today that it can be quite confusing? Which are the best ones? Are some inaccurate? Is "older" always better?" Or maybe "newer" is preferred! I've tried to summarize twenty-one of the most popular ones below. (There are many others out there.) I've also included some editorial comments from time to time that may point out strengths and weaknesses. I hope this is a help to you. God bless you as you study His Word!...
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Chinese Translation of Literary Black Dialect and Translation Strategy Reconsidered: The Case of Alice Walker's The Color Purple
This paper aims to adopt corpus-based research to the translation of seven unique syntactic categories of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) into Chinese. In this study, the parallel corpus consists of Celie's use of black dialect in The Color Purple and its three Chinese translations produced in Taiwan by Hui-quian Chang, Zu-wei Lan and Ji-qing Shi. To avoid subjective speculation, corpus-processing tools are used as an aid to spot linguistic patterns or creative renderings in their translations...
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Review of "The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary" by Robert Alter
Robert Alter's recent translation of the Psalms ought to be taken as asking us: what are we achieving when we translate the Bible, and what devices can we use to achieve our goals? Comparing Alter to the King James nicely points out a set of ways in which a translator can make meaning through patterning. Mr. Bloom thus will be proven right, if one accepts his definition of Protestantism, that The KJV is a Protestant fever of sound and meaning—of, as Bloom calls it "eloquence"—consistent eloquence...
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The Complete Fables of Jean de La Fontaine
Reading Jean de La Fontaine's fables is a double pleasure. These short moralistic narrative poems are not only witty, but they also evince a wonderful (I was going to say "fabulous") poetic skill. And reading Norman Shapiro's translation doubles the pleasure one more time...
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Translation of Proper Names in Children’s Literature
Translation of Children's literature is a significant area of study, due to the fact that books for children have always been written by real authors at real places in different languages, and they have been and still are read, in translations into other languages, in all over the world. As a result of internationalism and multiculturalism, children's literature is translated into languages more increasingly, which means that the translated works need to be adapted to the young reader's language in every instance...
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Transformation of Literary Imagery in Translation
History is probably the field where one can find most parallels between modern and ancient concepts of life and world. Why history? Because history is a continuous sequence of events, where context provides images of different individuals that we can imitate or, on the contrary, try to not imitate. For the value of history is measured by the possibility for deducting morals to be applied in every context...
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Caveat Translator - Let the Translator Beware
Although the focus of this article is primarily on translating dramas, in particular those of the Viennese master Arthur Schnitzler, a considerable portion of the following observations likewise applies to translations of short stories and novels. Too many translations of German dramas, even those in print from major publishers, as well as university presses, are virtually, if not totally unworkable on the American stage: they just do not play well...
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Poetry Translation
From time immemorial, poetry has been part and parcel of people’s lives. It immortalized ancient civilizations through epics such as Gilgamesh, the Illiad, the Iniad, Beowolf, pre-Islamic poetry, especially The Mu, alaqat, etc. Poets, however, gained special dignified status. What is poetry, then? What makes it so highly evaluated?...
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A New Approach to Translation: The transposition or transcription system of Sub-Saharan African writers
Contacts with the West encouraged written African literature which had been eminently oral. The European languages became the means of expression and communication for African writers whom some classified as creative artists and others as translators. Even though there are traces of translation in the work of African writers, this study aims at explaining that there is not enough evidence to address them as translators...
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The Philosophy and Economics of Translation: Myth and Reality
Works are being translated throughout the world, but the way they are chosen and translated show that there are certain uncomfortable facts regarding translation we cannot afford to ignore or sidetrack. We have to probe questions like is there really a need for translation, and, if yes, why, who decides what is to be translated and when, can the market and the reading habit of the public influence translation...
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Translating Turgenev’s Prose: Unveiling The Invisible
Translating literary works is always challenging and controversial due to aesthetic and expressive values such as figurative language, metaphors, and difference in cultural and historical contexts. From the semiotic view point, certain elements involved in the process of literary translation go beyond this conventional area and are focused on semantic and expressive equipoise between different semiotic systems...
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Translation of Charactonyms from English into Russian
The article tackles a topical problem of translation of charactonyms from English into Russian. Normally charactonyms are transcribed or transliterated but if their stems contain additional information of their bearer or even create in a literary work a system of its own their transcription deprives a foreign reader a lot of nuances and vividness of description. The author of the article suggests to find characteristics codified in the name by means of the elements of context called motivators...
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Réflexions sur la littérature africaine et sa traduction
Dans son article au titre significatif, « Littéralité et littérarité : Essai sur la spécificité de la traduction littéraire », Akakuru (2005), expose une partie essentielle de la problématique de la traduction littéraire. En effet, tout traducteur-praticien sait que le texte littéraire relève d'une catégorie textuelle que l'on pourrait qualifier de « texte-comme-production » et que partant, sa traduction obligerait à prendre en compte la dynamique culturelle qui fait partie de sa construction...
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De la retraduction de Les Damnés de la terre de Frantz Fanon
Traduire une œuvre ou un ouvrage, d’une langue donnée à une autre, relève du besoin que le traducteur sent. Ce besoin peut être celui de construire un pont entre les deux cultures que représentent les langues impliquées dans la traduction. Le pont peut être celui qui vise la compréhension entre, l’entente interculturelle, l’acceptation de la différence (accepter l’autre tel qu’il ou elle est). Le pont en question ici peut également servir de moyen de subjugation...
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Manual de documentación para la traducción literaria
Consuelo Gonzalo García y Valentín García Yebra aúnan sus esfuerzos, una vez más, para presentar al público lector los resultados de las investigaciones de un nutrido grupo de especialistas en el campo de la documentación, en este caso concreto, de la documentación para la traducción literaria. Los orígenes de este manual se sitúan en el seminario Instrumentos documentales y terminológicos del traductor literario celebrado en la Facultad de Traducción e Interpretación de la Universidad de Valladolid en 1999...
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Traduire Les Chansons Traditionnelles: Defis Et Ideologies
Certains peuples d’Afrique colonises par l’Europe impérialiste ont été accusés par les penseurs, qui ont porte main forte à cette entreprise ignominieuse de spoliation et d’humiliation fallacieusement appelée la mission civilisatrice, comme des peuples sans cultures, sans raison. Le soi-disant manque de raison parmi les Noirs d’Afrique, aussi colonise par l’Europe a pousse un Africain, non des moindre à alléguer que « l’émotion est nègre »...
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Camões's Sonnets in English - A Review
Discussing the translation of poetry before his reading at the Brazilian Embassy in Rome, in 2001, Haroldo de Campos quoted Novalis: "The translator of poetry is a poet's poet." An internationally acclaimed, renowned poet and translator himself, he knew exactly what he was talking about...
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Proper Names in Translation of Fiction (on the Material of Translation into English of The History of a Town by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin)
The article tackles the system of proper names and charactonyms from the book the Story of a Town by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin in a translation by Susan Brownsberger. Charactonym is a name expressing the characteristics of the bearer. So in the book where the names are part of the writer's intention they are rendered according to their inner form, which is placed in the common stem of the character's name. The paper studies different types of names relevant in traslation: charactonyms, expressive names, names with veiled significance and names of famous persons and fictitious characters...
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Censorship and self-censorship. Political constraints and cultural roots
The danger of telling the truth and its aftermath nightmare has always been a big question mark in man's mind. Truth is an independent entity. It does not care about the consequences and its existence is free from any obligation and considerations. To worship truth and reality and condemn evils and hypocrisy has always played an important role in mankind's mythology and religions...
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Documentation as Ethics in Postcolonial Translation
The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the documentation challenges—mostly in cultural terms—put forward by the translation of postcolonial literature. The new technologies on the documentary scene have been a revolution mainly in relation to the accessibility of diverse sources. Nonetheless, the translation of postcolonial literature entails very specific documentary needs, of ethical and political nature, for which sometimes neither the libraries nor the new technologies are ready...
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Fate: The Inevitable Betrayal in Translating
One day I receive a small envelope in the mail; it's been sent by Miguel Ángel Montezanti. Miguel is a professor of Literary Translation at the University of La Plata. We've already corresponded several times, mainly about his magnificent version of Shakespeare's sonnets. This time, however, what I receive doesn't seem to be very related with his activities and interests...
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Steps in Translating Poetry
In general, there are two main stages taken in translating a poem: reading and writing. In reading stage the translator reads the original poem to get the message as well as the feel of the text. The translator must be able to get the real message and wish the poet wants to convey through the poem. This stage is similar to "tuning" step proposed by Bathgate (in Widyamartaya, 1989: 48). In this stage the translator has to understand the basic elements of a poem such as rhyme, meter (if any), metaphor, choice of words, figurative language, etc. in order to get the poet's style...
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Problems in Translating Poetry
Basically, poetry translation should be semantic translation for a poem is typically rich with aesthetic and expressive values. The translator may face the linguistic, literary and aesthetic, and socio-cultural problems in translating it. The linguistic problems include the collocation and obscured syntactic structure...
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Methods in Translating Poetry
Translating literary works is, perhaps, always more difficult than translating other types of text because literary works have specific values called the aesthetic and expressive values. The aesthetic function of the work shall emphasize the beauty of the words (diction), figurative language, metaphors, etc...
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Translation & Rainfall
Consider an ocean, deep and blue. The sun shines bright. The water in the ocean evaporates up into the sky. Gradually, clouds are formed and winds take them away, far into another territory. Once the vapor is cold and dense, it falls down in the form of rain. Some of the droplets fall over the salty rocks. Some go deep into the earth. Some fall directly into the sea. Among those that flow on the ground, some-raindrops unite to form streams; streams unite to form rivers, and rivers finally join another ocean with different characteristics, but the same essence.
The first ocean is analogous to the whole knowledge of the source-text nation (or linguistic territory/language)...
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Übersetzen als Neuschreiben: die Macht des Übersetzers
The translator, in addition to having an in-depth understanding of the source text, must decide whether to translate only „what is there” or whether to look deeper, into the external links of the text, the time and place it reflects, and whether or not, and how, to rewrite it when transplanting it into the target culture. The translator must often also decide how to handle quotes in the source text if those quotes, or their sources as indicated, are inaccurate. In this respect, the translator often functions as a critic, philologist, and editor of the translated work...
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Sense Transferring Through Poetry Translation
One of the features found in translation of poetry is interpretation. It may lead translator to go far from the real meaning to interpret the poem and in many cases it brings about some changes of the original concepts completely. In such cases the output is not a comparable work with the original text. Another important factor is translator's knowledge about the target language. Sometimes, translator's writing is different from the source text and he is not that faithful to it. But many believe that the translation should transfer sense of the poem without considering the fact that the translator properly understands the poet's intention or not ...
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Ideological Manipulation in Translation in a Chinese Context: Su Manshu's Translation of Les Misérables
Su Manshu (1884-1918), whose original name was Xuanying and his Buddhist name Manshu, was born in Yokohama, Japan, of a Cantonese merchant and a Japanese woman. At the age of six, he was sent back to Xiangshan, Guangdong Province, China, the birthplace of his father. He was a poet, writer, painter, translator, dictionary and Sanskrit grammar book compiler, anthologist and Buddhist monk...
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Literary Translation: Recent Theoretical Developments
Literary studies have always, explicitly or implicitly, presupposed a certain notion of `literariness' with which it has been able to delimit its domain, specify, and sanction its methodologies and approaches to its subject. This notion of `literariness' is crucial for the theoretical thinking about literary translation...
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Translation of Poetry:
Sa`di’s Oneness of Mankind Revisited

Language is the central subject of any discussion about translation. However, there are certain elements involved in the process of translation which go beyond this conventional area. This is especially true for literary translation in general and translation of poetry in particular...
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Poetry Translation
Here are a few thoughts about the process and product of translation of poetry, based on a Spanish original (Mi Amiga La Foca) and English translation (Eating Disorder). A literal translation is included for those who don’t read Spanish...
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A Little Conversation about Tone and Translation
Homer, who composed in Greek—and who as far as we know never translated, or according to some, even wrote—was, nevertheless, also the first great translator in the West. Pseudo-Longino bears witness to this fact. The author of On the sublime at one point tells us that in the Iliad the blind bard made men seem like Gods, and vice-versa. Or to put it another way, Longinus understands Homer's task as a sort of translation: translating divine behavior into human, and human behavior into divine: "he made the men who went to Troy gods, to the extent that he could, and the gods he made men. But for us, in our unhappiness, there is a refuge, which is death; while it was not much the gods' nature as their misery which Homer made eternal"...
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Language and Choice for Learning/Translating English
Communication is basic to all human communities and, according to McEldowney, can be broadly defined as the process by which information is exchanged. She indicates that there are many ways in which communication takes place—through spoken language, through written language, through signs, through sound, through gesture, through facial expression and so on. It is, however, language which is the central concern of this study...
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