Difference Between Marked and Unmarked Translation of English Thematized Sentences Regarding Their Effect on the Audience
Key Words: Markedness, marked theme, unmarked theme, theme, thematization, thematized sentence
What follows is an examination of the enabling options of the theme systems which convert clause (plus their corresponding propositions) into utterances and texts issued in the course of communication _ spoken or written _ and structured so as to present information in a marked or unmarked manner. Bell (1991, p.145_53 ) mentioned that the theme system operates through two systems both of which are concerned with the placing of information units in the structure of the clause and providing a range of options which allow clause structure to be manipulated so that varying degrees of prominence can be achieved by the information contained in the clause. The two systems are:
The two theme systems provide options for the expression of discoursal meaning as required by the textual macrofunction.
Theme itself contains two sub_systems: thematization and information each of which are involved in information distribution but in different ways. The first is concerned with the distribution of information in the clause and, specially, the initiation of the clause and acts to direct the attention of the receiver of the message to those parts of the structure of the signal which the center whishes to emphasize. The second, in contrast, is concerned with the distribution of information in the context of the tone group. In contrast with the propositional terms, thematization makes a single distinction: theme versus rheme (concepts originated by the Prgue School in their work on ‘functional perspective’ in the mid_1920s). The theme is the initial unit of a clause and the rheme the reminder. The fact is that the overall choice and ordering of themes play an important role in organizing a text and consequently forming the whole message. What is known, or may be inferred, or is the starting point of a communication (the communicative basis) is to be regarded as the theme of a sentence and the elements which convey the new piece of information (the communicative nucleus) are the rheme (Newmark, 1988).
At clause level a speaker or writer announces the topic of his/her message by putting it in the initial position. This process is called thematization (Baker, 1992). Halliday (1994) who is the main representative of the positional approach to the definition of theme characterizes thematization in English as the process of shifting various sentence elements to the initial position plus any grammatical changes within a sentence, which are caused by such a movement. Passive constructions are the most typical examples of this process, especially in English in which not only direct objects can be moved to the initial position and changed into a grammatical subject, but also indirect and sometimes propositional objects. Halliday mentions that even verbs can function as themes if they are fronted and nominalized.
According to Bell (1991), marked theme in English is signaled by predicating, preposing, clefting or fronting of the theme and combination of these options (other languages have, of course, different ways of marking theme).
When clauses are structured by making choices from the form of options in ways which focus attention on one part rather than another of the chain, the theme systems are being activated to create linkage within the clause (Bell, 1991).
Grzegorek (1984) introduces four main types of thematization in English: 1- passivization, 2- clefts and pseudo-clefts, 3- topicalization, left-dislocation, focus movement, and 4- presentation sentences with preposed expressions. She compared these thematization types with those existing in Polish language. She says that thematization is governed by a variety of factors, most of which are of pragmatic rather than purely syntactic nature. Hallidayan linguists identify three main types of marked theme in English: fronted theme, predicated theme, and identifying theme.
The subjects of this study were fifty sophomores majoring in translating in Tehran teacher training university. All of them have passed three translation courses. These fifty translation students, who were semi-professional, were asked to choose and mark the best translation of each English thematized sentences presented in the translation test.
A translation test was prepared for fulfilling the purpose
of the study. This translation test was composed of twenty
English thematized sentences adopted from the well-known
novel “Robinson Crusoe” written by Daniel Defoe. Four major
types of thematization in English were considered in the
construction of the translation test respectively as follows:
1) Topicalization, 2) Passivization, 3) Cleft sentences,
4) Pseudo-cleft sentences. These categories have been adopted
from Grzegorek’s (1984) classification of thematized structures
Data analysis and Results
For analyzing the data, one table is prepared for each part of the test regarding topicalization, passivization, cleft and pseudo-cleft sentences respectively. This table contains the average number and frequency percentage of unmarked, less emphasized and more emphasized marked themes in Persian equivalents. First, each part of the translation test is analyzed and discussed individually and then the translation test is analyzed and discussed as a whole i.e. total number, average number and frequency percentage of unmarked, less emphasized and more emphasized marked themes and also unanswered items is shown in one table (table f).
First of all, the first part of the translation test related to topicalization is considered and analyzed.
The results derived from this table show that most English thematized sentences regarding topicalization were translated into Persian in a form of less emphasized marked theme i.e. most translation students preferred to choose less emphasized marked themes in their translation of English thematized sentences (45.6%). More emphasized marked themes are more frequent than unmarked themes in their translation but the difference between them seems not to be significant. Thus, in this category of thematization i.e. topicalization, few translation students preferred to choose unmarked themes.
Second, the next part of the test contained five items related to passivization:
The results derived from this table indicate that most English thematized sentences were translated as unmarked themes (38.4%). In this type of thematization, less emphasized marked themes are more frequent than more emphasized one. It should be mentioned that most English passive sentences are usually translated into Persian as active sentences. This type of shift is more frequent in all text type during the process of translating from English to Persian. In this category, it is proved that most students prefer to choose unmarked themes in translating those sentences which belong to literary genre considered in the construction of the test.
Third, the next part of the test is analyzed and discussed
individually. This part of the test contained another category
of thematization i.e. cleft sentences.
The results achieved in this category show that most items were translated by the subjects as more emphasized marked themes (39.2%). It should be mentioned that unmarked themes are more frequent than less emphasized one but the difference seems not to be significant. Thus in this category, it can be stated that markedness does not completely vary in English thematized constructions compared to Persian equivalents.
Fourth, the final part of the translation test contained pseudo-cleft sentences.
Pseudo- cleft sentences
The results show that most items were translated into Persian as less emphasized marked themes (42.8) but the difference between less emphasized and more emphasized marked themes seems not to be significant. In this category of thematization i.e. pseudo-cleft sentences, few translation students prefered to choose unmarked themes in their translation.
In the final analysis, the translation test will be analyzed and discussed as a whole. With this end in view, a table is prepared and presented below.
The results derived from this table, indicate that most English thematized sentences were translated into Persian as less emphasized marked themes (37.1%). The difference between less emphasized and more emphasized marked themes seems not to be significant since the frequency percentage of more emphasized marked themes is 33.8%. The results also show that few English thematized sentences were translated as unmarked themes (27.4%).
By observing the analysis of each individual part of the translation test, some conclusions can be drawn. In the area of topicalization, most items were translated into Persian as less emphasized marked themes and few items were translated as unmarked themes. As both less emphasized and more emphasized marked themes belong to one greater category i.e. marked themes, the difference between marked and unmarked translation of English thematized sentences regarding their effect on the audience, is considerable. The only part of the test in which unmarked translation is more frequent than marked one, is the second part related to passivization.
Most English passive sentences are translated as active sentences because active sentences are frequently used in Persian contrary to English. By observing the results of the third part of the test related to cleft sentences, it can be concluded that most English thematized sentences are translated as more emphasized marked themes like source sentences. Finally, in the fourth part of the test, most items are translated as less emphasized marked themes. By considering the results derived from the analysis of the translation test as a whole, most English thematized sentences are translated as less emphasized marked themes and few items are translated as unmarked themes. As we know, the difference between less emphasized and more emphasized marked theme is the degree of markedness. If we consider both of them as one major category i.e. marked theme, it can be stated that most English thematized sentences were translated as marked themes. By this conclusion, we can assert that markedness does not greatly vary in English thematized constructions compared to Persian equivalents. If we want to consider these two types of marked themes individually, we can say that less emphasized marked themes are more frequent than more emphasized one but the difference between them seems not to be considerable. Nevertheless, both less emphasized and more emphasized marked themes are more frequent than unmarked themes in the translation of English thematized sentences.
However, the results of the study show that “There are some differences between marked and unmarked translation of English thematized sentences regarding their effect on the audience”.
Baker, M. (1992). In Other Words. London and NewYork: Routledge
Baker, M. (1998). Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. London: Routledge
Bell, Roger T. (1991). Translation and Translating.
Theory and Practice.
Defoe, D. (1719). Robinson Crusoe. London: Penguin Books
Grzegorek, M. (1984). Thematizatiion in English and Polish: Poznan
Halliday, M. (1994). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. New York: Edward Arnold
Newmark, P. (1988). A TextBook of Translation: Prentice Hall International (UK) Ltd
Please see some ads as well as other content from TranslationDirectory.com: