Difference Between Marked and Unmarked Translation of English Thematized Sentences Regarding Their Effect on the Audience Translation Theory translation jobs
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Difference Between Marked and Unmarked Translation of English Thematized Sentences Regarding Their Effect on the Audience


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Abstract

Hossein Barzegar photoThe aim of this paper is to find cross-linguistic data, English vs. Persian, in examining markedness in relation to thematization. The question is “Is there any difference between marked and unmarked translation of English thematized sentences regarding their effect on the audience?
In this paper, efforts have been made to investigate whether the audience consider the matter of thematization and thematic structure in their translation, in other words, whether they translate marked theme of English thematized sentences in a form of marked or unmarked themes in Persian. The degree of markedness is taken under consideration in this paper i.e. marked translation of English thematized sentences is divided into two categories as 1) more emphasized marked themes and 2) less emphasized marked themes. Audience’s preference for choosing more emphasized and less emphasized marked themes and also unmarked themes is presented in this paper. Finally, the analysis of the data indicated that there are some differences 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

Introduction

Theme and rheme analysis is an area that has attracted the attention of some translation scholars. The basic premise is that sentences consist of themes, which present known, context-dependent information, and rhemes, which present new, context-independent information. Because they represent new information, it is rhemes rather than themes which push text development forward. Thematic progression can be defined as the choice and ordering of utterance themes, their mutual concatenation and hierarchy, as well as their relationship to hyperthemes of the superior text units( such as the paragraph, chapter,…) to the whole text, to the situation. A trend of theme-rheme analysis initiated by researchers like Deyes (1918) has successfully pointed translation theorists in the direction of a much more fruitful line enquiry. This involves grafting text- typological considerations onto patterns of thematic progression as these unfold (Baker, 1998, cited from Basil Hatim).

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:

1. Thematization: this organizes the initiation of the clause (its communicative point of departure) and acts of direct the attention of the receiver of the message to the parts the sender wishes to emphasize. The key elements involved in this are theme and rheme.

2. Information: this organizes the completion of the clause (its information focus) and, like thematization, also directs attention to parts of the massage. The key elements involved are information distribution and information focus.

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.

Methodology

Subjects

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.

Instrumentation

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 in English.
This translation was divided into four parts, the first part was related to topicalization, the second part was related to passivization, the third part contained cleft sentences, and the final part contained pseudo-cleft sentences. For each item, three translations were prepared and the translation students were asked to choose and mark the best translation. One of these three choices was unmarked and two of them were marked. It should be mentioned that the degree of markedness of these two marked choices was different. One of these two marked choices was less emphasized marked theme and the other choice was more emphasized one. In the construction of the test, distribution and length of each choice were preserved.

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.

Topicalization

Table 1

 
Unmarked themes
Less emphasized marked themes
More emphasized marked themes
Unanswered items
Average
number
11.2
22.8
14.4
1.6
Frequency percentage
22.4%
45.6%
28.8%
3.2%

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:

Passivization

Table 2

 
Unmarked themes
Less emphasized marked themes
More emphasized marked themes
Unanswered items
Average
number
19.2
16
14
0.8
Frequency percentage
38.4%
32%
28%
1.6%

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.

Cleft sentences

Table 3

 
Unmarked themes
Less emphasized marked themes
More emphasized marked themes
Unanswered items
Average
number
16
14
19.6
0.4
Frequency percentage
32%
28%
39.2%
0.8%

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

Table 4

 
Unmarked themes
Less emphasized marked themes
More emphasized marked themes
Unanswered items
Average
number
8.4
21.4
19.6
0.6
Frequency percentage
16.8%
42.8%
39.2%
1.2%

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.

Table F

 
Unmarked themes
Less emphasized marked themes
More emphasized marked themes
Unanswered items
Total
number
274
371
338
17
Average
number
13.7
18.55
16.9
0.85
Frequency percentage
27.4%
37.1%
33.8%
1.7%

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%).

5. Conclusion

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”.

6. References

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.
New York: Longman Inc.

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









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