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The Explicitation of the Implicit in English-Ukrainian-English Translation

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Oleksandra Liashchenko photoIndeterminacy in translation has always been the cornerstone of numerous scientific works, and not without reason—translation implies an explicit conveying of things so far unknown to the addressee. There is plenty of "vague" information types in speech messages—preterition, irony, parody, intertextuality, etc.—all of these can be combined under a single term—implicit information. It is present in any context though we are mainly interested in the belles-lettres style of the English and Ukrainian contemporary writers in terms of both translation directions.

An interesting fact is that whenever the matter of explicitation is raised in translation science, most of post-Soviet researches would refer to it as "descriptive translation," evidently, after the coryphaeus of Russian translation science V. Komissarov. Yet, he refers to it as "explication" (Komissarov:160 - 186). A parallel survey showed that both terms are used to denote almost the same process. That is why, an incentive is needed to regulate this chaotic terminology—explicitation vs. explication. Maria Sidiropoulou in her Linguistic Identities Through Translation (2004) states (referring to Steiner 1975/1992:291): "...the mechanics of translation are primarily explicative; they explicate (or, strictly 'explicitate') and make graphic as much as they can of the semantic inherence of the original." (Sidiropoulou:17)

Still, we cannot but welcome the fact that both Russian/Ukranian and foreign translation sciences (and schools) move with the time—contemporary Ukrainian linguists (O. Borisova, R. Povoroznyuk, O.M. Kalustova, B. E. Dimitrova, Gyde Hansen, Kirsten Malmkjær, Daniel Gile, etc.) are quite skillful at using this term (in Ukrainian it sounds like eksplikatsiya—explication) along with translation science fundamentalists.

English is known to be more implicit than any Slavic language—its analytical and informative nature is quite "compressed" in contrast with Ukrainian—grammatically and semantically, for the most part. We suggest, however, to "cut" through various levels in our analysis. Thus, we will be dwelling on the following language levels: grammar, vocabulary, semantics, pragmatics, and stylistics. In addition, it would also be appropriate to mention context, usage, and interlingual fields.

Lately, a considerable volume of philological research (theses, articles, etc.) has appeared devoted to implicity in various languages. While formerly it was a matter of controversy whether to regard implicity a category of speech or not, the Russian linguist Irina Ivankova answered that question in the affirmative in her thesis Realization of a Category Implicity in Modern Russian (Compared to German) (Иванкова). The majority still views implicity insufficiently studied in linguistics as a theoretical science, not to mention translation as an applied part of it. Losses occur in both oral and written translation, and implicity is one of those "villains" to cause the need to explicate ambiguous parts in any context.

Explicitation is a translation process when implied, initially missing or intentionally hidden (by an author) source language units are brought to the surface of the target-language message. Basically, it looks like an iceberg where the explicit parts are on its top and the implicit parts (the iceberg's bottom) depend on the translator's skills to be de-camouflaged and rendered.

Interestingly enough, V. Komissarov refers to explication as a "complex lexico-grammatical transformation" (Komissarov:173) and adds that it is "a descriptive translation" (Komissarov:173, 185). Our task is to analyze and pinpoint the nucleus and nature of this universal element of translation and to resolve the problem of terminology in our research.

Grammatical lacunae, as we call them—missing source elements in the source language (English), which are compensated in the target language include gerund: This was an academic who dearly despised not understanding (Brown: 36) = Це була людина з академічним складом розуму, яка терпіти не могла, коли їй щось було неясно (Браун:57) (literal translation - It was a person with an academic way of thinking, who could not stand when something was not clear to him), predicative constructions with infinitive, gerund and participle, articles (if they are stylistically marked) and many others. From Ukrainian—synthetic peculiarities of word-building, using grammatical cases, which are absent in English: Іван Швонц голився тупою бритвою (Ґабор: 97) (literal translation: Ivan Shvonts was shaving himself with a blunt razor—in Ukranian the preposition "with" is expressed by a noun ending) = Ivan Shvonts was shaving with a blunt razor (Gabor:193), are rendered with the help of prefixes etc.

Grammar is often a structural challenge—there is not necessarily a deliberate implication hidden in forms. Grammar stylistics is another professional "snowball" aimed at the translator's thorough background knowledge—by means of grammatical structures. Jeanette Winterson, for instance, builds the whole indeterminate plot of her Written on the Body, where the main protagonist's I is quite an assignment for the translator, whereas the whole stylistically-wrought novel is abundant in pragmatic, stylistic, lexical pitfalls and allusions as well: Perhaps I should call it Emma Bovary's eyes or Jane Eyre's dress (Winterson: 17) = Чи не схожа, часом, така хронологічна зміна часу на погляд очей Емми Боварі чи на сіреньку скромну сукню Джен Ейр? (my translation) (literal translation: Doesn't this chronological time change look like Emma Bovary's look in her eyes or Jane Eyre's modest greyish dress?).

Climbing the vocabulary steps, we have to bear in mind what kind of lexical class a certain work belongs to—whether it is a mixture of lexical layers, epochs of the work, registers, etc. Valeriy Shevchuk's "Oko prirvy" (The eye of abyss) is, as a matter of fact, a medley of bookish, sometimes lofty style and slangy collocations: Уранці ніколи не навідує мене Око Прірви початок дня завжди ніби наповнює творчоносною силою, тоді світ інакшіє, стає ніби зачарований (Шевчук: 23) (literal translation - In the morning never does the Eye of Abyss call on me; the beginning of the day as though fills me with creative power and then the whole world is growing different as if enchanted) = The Eye of Abyss never assails me at morningtide; a day's beginning fills me with creative force. All around, everything is>different, as if enchanted (Shevchuk:29).

Rendering something small with diminutive suffixes in Ukrainian has to be supplied with English adjectives: tiny, tinier, tiny little or little: Або їсть виноград, відриваючи кожну ягідку зокрема своїми пальчиками (Андрухович-Перв:188) (literal translation omitting the diminutive suffix -чик: Or she eats grapes, tearing each berry with her fingers= Or eats grapes, tearing oft each berry separately with her tiny fingers (Andrukhovych-Perversion:210)

Vocabulary issues are always to be aware of, especially, as far as modernity lexis is concerned—language is not an immutable constant—it develops like a living organism, depending on every single factor being able to affect it to whatsoever extent. Slang, lexical lacunas, abbreviations and various realia make it difficult for a translator to convey what can be hidden underneath.

The current phase of language development and pragmatic equivalence should always be taken into account. Here we are discussing the interlingual features of explication: На рецепції нас обслуговував майже двометрового зросту зубатий мурин в одязі царя Каспара, проте більше схожий на котрогось із асів НБА (Андрухович-Перв:49) (literal translation: At the reception we were served by an almost 2-meter tall large-toothed muryn in tsar Caspar clothing, but who looked more like one of the aces of NBA) = At the reception desk we were served by an almost two-meter tall, well-toothed black man dressed like one of the Magi, but looking more like an NBA superstar (Andrukhovych-Perversion:49). The subtle brink when the original ends and translator sets his foot in what is often referred to as pragmatics—a vast galaxy of background information as well as linguistic experience. Here to be dealt with (the object of (explicitation) are: implicatures, pragmatic and semantic presuppositions (they do intermingle and cannot be viewed without one another). Implicatures are H.P. Grice's invention: "H.P. Grice, who coined the term "implicature" and classified the phenomenon, developed an influential theory to explain and predict conversational implicatures and to describe how they are understood" (Stanford Encyclopedia). Implicatures are sense components of an utterance that are not, in fact, part of the sentence sense but that are "grasped" by the reader or translator as the first recipient of the source message in the context of the utterance. Hence, the faithfulness of translation product depends not only on translator's linguistic competence but also on his communicative competence: - Цур йому!—рішила Раїса і слухала далі (Коцюбинський:120) (literal translation - Tsur with him - Rayisa decided and listened further). = "He had better go," she decided and just stood listening (Kotsyubynsky:69). Presuppositions are extremely sensitive to context, and thus differ from logical entailment, which refers to those inferences which can be made strictly from the linguistic expression itself and are restricted to the truth-conditions of the particular expression (Serban:1). Since they are "background assumptions against which an action, theory, expression or utterance makes sense or is rational" (Levinson 1983: 168) presuppositions are a middle ground between tacitly assuming that something does not need to be mentioned at all, and asserting it explicitly, perhaps as a separate statement (Serban:2). The translator must always account for the contents of this or that presupposition as the matter concerns pragmatic potential and communicative value of the message: "There are Ents and Ents, you know; or there are Ents and things that look like Ents but ain't, as you might say" (Tolkien-2:73) = Енти, якщо хочете знати, всякі бувають; є навіть істоти, що на вигляд нагадують ентів, але зовсім не енти... (Толк ієн-2:55) (literal translation - Ents, if you want to know, are different; there are even creatures that resemble Ents, but are not at all Ents...).

Tacit sense units interest us in the context of semantics. the semantic structure of a word is a combination of semantic components that make up its lexical meaning, which, in its turn is considered an explicit-implicit structure. The degree of implicity depends on a degree of predictability of the hidden component. For more on this subject see in our article "Семантичні, прагматичні та стилістичні причини застосування експлікації в англо-українському і українсько-англійському напрямках перекладу"(2005) ("Semantic, pragmatic, and stylistic reasons of explicitation in English-Ukrainian vs. Ukrainian-English translation, 2005). In terms of semantics, our attention should be focused on polysemy as ability of a word to accumulate different meanings which is also a matter of ambiguity and indeterminacy. English polysemantic words like thing, stuff, business, and many others are troublesome and their translation depends solely on the context: Sculpture had always seemed a dull business—still, bronzes looked like something (Hemingway: 50) = Скульптура завжди наганяла на мене нудьгу—от хіба, що бронза чимось вирізнялася (Хемінгуей: 44) (literal translation -Sculpture always brought boredom to me - except that bronze was somehow different). The vivid example of context-bound translation was mentioned before when we took up the stylistic aspect and necessity of vast background knowledge of the translator when dealing with belles-lettres prose (Winterson's Written on the Body).

We cannot but mention usage properties of explicitation, that is, the exclusively linguistic reason for explicating implicit units. This area can be viewed in terms of interlingual nuances of explicitation. A source language recipient has no troubles decoding say, purely English suffix -able that is subject to decompressing for the target language recipient: Since when has the Lord of Gondor been answerable to thee? (Tolkien-3: 144) = З яких це пір правитель Гондору повинен звітувати перед тобою? (Толкієн-3:113) (literal translation - Since what times must the ruler of Gondor report to you?)

Every language as a system has words inherent only to this specific language, which can be either realia nor historisms (historical archaisms) The problem of their comprehension arises when the foreign reader, who does not have to be knowledgeable of their existence, enters the picture. The translator must then convey both their lexical meaning and stylistic marking if there's one: „Так що ж це ви, шановний, надумали з нами в бірюльки грати?" (Андрухович-Рек:387) (literal translation - "So what have you, respected, decided, to play at spillikins with us?) = "So, my dear man, you've decided to waste our time on trifles!?" (Andrukhovych-Rec: 187).

Thus, it is becoming clear that explicitation is a vast linguistic concept and should not be considered as mere transformation. It is rather a technique that can be manifested by means of various transformations such as descriptive translation, addition (or, decompression), specification, amplification. Normalization is also mentioned as the overlapping variation of explicitation (Pym:10). We dare surmise that both terms explicitation and explication can be used to denote the same process. Our queries, however, show, that most researchers, when conducting explicitation analyses, arrive at common usage outcomes—they do prioritize explicitation and occasionally inject explication (Duarte).

We have chosen explicitation as our preferred term for this concept.


Works quoted:

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