Computer Collocations and Computer Metaphors
I. Topics and Aims
This article examines—from a linguistic point of view—the translation of some computer collocations which I consider typical, and analyze them in order to provide suitable translations in the TL (in this case, Romanian), because they generally play an important role in distinguishing meaning. This happens with computer terminology as well, in the sense that, when we are asked to give an account of the meaning of a term used in computing, say, blind, we instantly try to contextualize it in its most recurrent collocations, say, blind search, blind copy, blind key.
In doing this, I shall start with one of the broadly accepted definitions of collocation and try to make a proposal for collocation patterns that are often found in the language of computers. I will also try to present a matrix of computer collocations after touching upon some translation theory and to agree or disagree with some aspects regarding both the source and the target languages under discussion.
As a rule, collocations are known to be:
Since the topic is tto vast to be fully covered here, the theoretical framework employed and to be further explored is the convergence of various modern translation theories with special reference to collocation patterns and their presence in the language of computers, by P. Newmark, C. Nord, D. Arnold, and others.
Therefore, I shall begin with a Newmark citation in which he states that "new collocations are particularly common in computer language"1, and, generally, they represent problems in translation because, if the computer terms cannot be given a "recognized translation"2, they must be transliterated or translated literally and an explanatory term must be added in order to be correctly understood by the user. We shall see that in computer language, collocations consist of computer lexical items, which enter mainly into often-used grammatical structures, viz.:
I would like to emphasize the fact that, as seen in the examples above, the noun Web often participates in the collocation patterns in the domain under discussion, that is, the computer technologies and software. Translating these collocations represents a tricky task, since it involves several steps like:
For instance, for the first collocation, hot link, I have to consider the fact that the adjective 'hot' may have two types of collocates, opening up more choices from concrete to abstract like:
a) Concrete Collocates
b) Abstract Material Collocates
The translator who has the necessary knowledge in working on computers will know that the adjective here indicates the immediacy of an action and not temperature.
For better rendering of the collocation under analysis, the translator's role consists of understanding the required technical tasks of the domain and, consequently, of correctly and diligently using the translation procedures.
The next collocation, which is the opposite of 'hot link,' refers to:
The adjective blind usually collocates with 'sight,' but it also have some unusual instances of co-ocurrence like:
The computer collocation blind copy is similar to the common language 'blind corner' in the sense that, when the user wants to send the same message to several addressees without letting them know of his intention, he can type their e-mail addresses by using the blind copy field. This means that the others addressees' e-mail addresses are secret and confidential. Therefore,
The translation of Web-related collocations poses problems of metaphor translation and of non-equivalence because it preserves SL properties in the TL. Consequently, we have the SL collocations Web page, Web host translated as 'pagină (de) Web' and 'gazdă Web,' respectively. As seen, the base term Web, remains as such in the TL .
Much more difficult are the items Web crawler and Web browser. The former is to be found in Teora's Computer Dictionaries as 'program de greblare'3. I totally disagree with this unfortunate choice, because the TL verb 'a grebla' (to dig) does not optimally render the SL verb to crawl, which in this case means to search and organize data. However, the analysis of the noun crawler provides the TL paraphrase program de căutare, indexare şi organizare a datelor pe Web (lit: data searching, indexing and organizing program). A Web browser is not to be taken as 'un program de răsfoire' because the noun collocates not only with action verbs like 'to look for,' but also with verbs related to seeing. Hence, a more technical phrase would suit the TL context best: 'program de vizualizare de date/a datelor' (lit.: data viewing program)4.
Home page is another interesting collocation because of the words and their unusual co-ocurrence. The noun 'home' usually collocates with the meaning of family institution, but it also enters into different collocates like: banking, music ('home key'5), alcoholic drinks ('home brew'6), food ('home fries'7), sporting events ('home run'), and computing. Since 'home' represents one of the most important and meaningful concepts for human beings, it could not fail to appear in the language of the Internet, because the latter represents a gigantic communicative link among users all over the world. Similarly, both source and target languages share the same connotations because home:
I should add here that 'pagină de start' would be more suitable first because a home page may consist of many links to go to, and there is a single page of the same user named home page; secondly, home pages point to more and different owners, which means that 'pagini de bază/personale' do not express the exact meaning of the SL computer collocation, "Return to home page" because the user gets back form the exact place he starts browsing. When you browse the World Wide Web you'll see the term home page often. Think of a home page as the starting point of a website. Like the table of contents of a book or magazine, the home page usually provides an overview of what you'll find at the website. A site can have one page, many pages or a few long ones. If there is not a lot of information, the home page may be the only page. However, usually you will find at least a few other pages. As a conclusion, a possible correct translation of the statement: "Return to home page" would be "Înapoi la pagina de start".
At first glance, site address is difficult to translate because of the noun 'site,' which does not have the same equivalent effect on the TL Internet users because of the following reason:
Consequently, the perfect choice in translating this collocation is a blend between address and the location of the site, i.e., the Web. Therefore, site address becomes adresă de Web (lit.: Web address) in the TL. The collocation base Web stays as such in the TL. Other cases of non-equivalence in computerese are: driver, server, laptop, palmtop, etc.
The metaphorical events happening at the Web interface can be translated as 'căutare' pe Web based on the following analysis:
Surfing the Web is similar to navigating on the Web or crawling the Web when referring to Web users as performers of these activities. The first and second verbs usually collocate with nouns like 'ocean,' 'sea,' 'waves,' which in my opinion represent a starting point in the metaphorization so often used in connection with the Internet. The Web is no longer seen as belonging to a huge spider but to the ocean of ideas, information, and entertainment. Therefore, surfing the Web and navigating on the Web connote the idea of randomly cruising for fun and curiosity. Both verbs are synonyms and can not be rendered as 'navigare pe Internet' because it will mislead the users. The Internet, as we have already seen (in my previous e-paper: Internet and Cultural Concepts from a Translation Perspective), is different from the concept of Web, although they are wrongly used synonymously. In contrast, 'crawling the Web' means to search for certain data. Consequently, the TL 'căutare' best conveys the SL computer meaning.
To conclude, I want to emphasize the linguistic fact that, although Web seems to be a descriptive term for numerous computer concepts in both SL and TL, it can also be considered as a metaphorical hypernym of such lexical items like: crawlers, search engines, sites, pages, spiders, etc.
Hoping to have addressed several questions raised in this paper, I would like to draw several conclusions:
1 A Textbook of Translation, Prentice Hall, New York, 1998, p.145
2 Idem., ibid.
3 Teora, p.152
4 Idem, ibid., p.630
5 New Oxford Dictionary of English, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp.876-877.
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