A Comparative Study of ’The Old Man and the Sea’ With Its Two Persian Translations
In this study, the text of the well-known American novel “The old man and the sea” by Ernest Hemingway is compared with its two Persian translations the interval of publication between which is 23 years. First, some selected parts of the novel, including morphemes, words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and larger text segments, are compared with their corresponding parts in the Persian translations. Then, comparisons are made and classified in terms of mistranslation, deletion, expansion, transference, transliteration, synonymy, shifts or transpositions, etc. and for each item in these classes a Persian translation as a suggestion is tried to be given. After gathering the sufficient related data, we try to come to a conclusion about the dominant style of the two translators in applying certain procedures, thereby comparing the translations with each other to determine which is more communicatively effective, the older or the newer one.
English-Persian translation, The old man and the sea, comparative study, translation procedures.
Translation typically has been used to transfer written or spoken SL texts to equivalent written or spoken TL texts. In general, the purpose of translation is to reproduce various kinds of texts—including religious, scientific, philosophical, and in this study, literary texts—in another language and thus making them available to wider readers.
If language were just a classification for a set of general or universal concepts, it would be easy to translate from an SL to a TL; furthermore, under the circumstances the process of learning an L2 would be much easier than it actually is. In this regard, Culler (1976) believes that languages are not nomenclatures and the concepts of one language may differ radically from those of another, since each language articulates or organizes the world differently, and languages do not simply name categories; they articulate their own. The conclusion likely to be drawn from what Culler (1976) writes is that one of the troublesome problems of translation is the disparity among languages. The bigger the gap between the SL and the TL, the more difficult the transfer of message from the former to the latter will be.
This study is going to concentrate mainly on the problematic factors involved in translation such as form, meaning, style, proverbs, idioms, etc. existing in the Persian translations of “The old man and the sea;” and to correlate these factors with the translation procedures proposed by Newmark (1988b).
The researcher tries to answer the following questions:
1. Is there any relationship between the performance of the translators and the chronological order of the translations?
2. Considering the translation procedures employed by the two translators, how are the two works evaluated in comparing with each other and with the original English version?
3. Have the translators been consistent in applying certain procedures in rendering certain linguistic features according to the classification of Newmark (1988b)?
Review of Related Literature
Translation is an activity of enormous importance in the modern world and it has been a subject of interest not only to linguists and translators, but also to scientists and technologists during the last fifty years. Generally speaking, however, translation studies in our country have not received their due attention and needless to say, there is a great need for further investigation in this regard by scholars in related areas. Without a thorough knowledge of translation procedures, on the one hand, and the description of languages, on the other hand, much rendered materials would likely be doomed to utter failure. Hence, this section deals with the translation procedures proposed by some scholars.
The translating procedures, as depicted by Nida (1964) are as follow:
1. Analysis of the source and target languages;
2. A thorough study of the source language text before making attempts to translate it;
3. Making judgments of the semantic and syntactic approximations.
Reevaluating the attempt made constantly, contrasting it with the existing available translations of the same text done by other translators, and checking the text's communicative effectiveness by asking the target language readers to evaluate its accuracy and effectiveness and studying their reactions.
Vinay and Darbelnet (1973) proposed seven methods or procedures (loan, calque, literal translation, transposition, modulation, equivalence, adaptation).
Newmark (1988b) mentions the difference between translation methods and translation procedures. He states that in contrast to translation methods, which relate to whole texts, translation procedures are used for sentences and the smaller units of language within that text. He goes on to refer to the following methods of translation:
· Word-for-word translation: in which the SL word order is preserved and the words translated singly by their most common meanings, out of context.
· Literal translation: in which the SL grammatical constructions are converted to their nearest TL equivalents, but the lexical words are again translated singly, out of context.
· Faithful translation: it attempts to produce the precise contextual meaning of the original within the constraints of the TL grammatical structures.
· Semantic translation: which differs from 'faithful translation' only in as far as it must take more account of the aesthetic value of the SL text.
· Adaptation: which is the freest form of translation, and is used mainly for plays (comedies) and poetry; the themes, characters, plots are usually preserved, the SL culture is converted to the TL culture and the text is rewritten.
· Free translation: it produces the TL text without the style, form, or content of the original.
· Idiomatic translation: it reproduces the 'message' of the original but tends to distort nuances of meaning by preferring colloquialisms and idioms where these do not exist in the original.
· Communicative translation: it attempts to render the exact contextual meaning of the original in such a way that both content and language are readily acceptable and comprehensible to the readership (1988b: 45-47).
In contrast, the following are the different translation procedures that Newmark (1988b) proposes:
· Transference: it is the process of transferring an SL word to a TL text either because the TL does not have a lexicalized correspondence, or for stylistic or rhetorical reasons.
· Naturalization: it adapts the SL word first to the normal pronunciation, then to the normal morphology of the TL. (Newmark, 1988b:82)
· Cultural equivalent: it means replacing a cultural situation/word in the SL with an analogous one in the TL (when communicative situations are difficult to understand in the culture of TL, when the situation of the SL does not exist in the TL- a cultural gap- and therefore another equivalent situation has to be created).
· Functional equivalent: to neutralize or generalize an SL cultural word by using a culture-free word.
· Descriptive equivalent: to neutralize or generalize an SL cultural word by using a description.
· Componential analysis: it means "comparing an SL word with a TL word which has a similar meaning but is not an obvious one-to-one equivalent, by demonstrating first their common and then their differing sense components." (Newmark, 1988b:114)
· Synonymy: to use a near TL equivalent to an SL word in a context, where a precise equivalent may or may not exist. This procedure is used when there is no clear one-to-one equivalent, when literal translation is not possible, and the word is not important in the text (adjectives, adverbs of quality), not important enough for componential analysis.
· Through-translation: it is the literal translation of common collocations, names of organizations, the components of compounds, and perhaps phrases. It can also be called: calque or loan translation. (Newmark, 1988b:84)
· Shifts or transpositions: it involves a change in the grammar from SL to TL, for instance, (i) change from singular to plural, (ii) the change required when a specific SL structure does not exist in the TL, (iii) change of an SL verb to a TL word, change of an SL noun group to a TL noun and so forth. (Newmark, 1988b:86)
· Modulation: it occurs when the translator reproduces the message of the original text in the TL text in conformity with the current norms of the TL, since the SL and the TL may appear dissimilar in terms of perspective. (Newmark, 1988b:88)
· Recognized translation: it occurs when the translator "normally uses the official or the generally accepted translation of any institutional term." (Newmark, 1988b:89)
· Compensation: it occurs when loss of meaning in one part of a sentence is compensated in another part. (Newmark, 1988b:90)
· Expansion: to use more words in the TT in order to re-express an idea or to reinforce the sense of an ST word because his correspondence in the TL cannot be expressed as concisely.
· Paraphrase: amplification or explanation of the meaning of an SL cultural word. Here the explanation is much more detailed than that of descriptive equivalent. (Newmark, 1988b:91)
· Omission: to concentrate or suppress elements in the TL text.
· Couplets: it occurs when the translator combines two different procedures. (Newmark, 1988b:91)
· Notes, Additions, Glosses: when the translator supplies additional information in the form of footnotes, endnote, glossaries at the end of the text, or within the text.
Nida (1964) advocates the use of footnotes to fulfill at least the two following functions: (i) to provide supplementary information, and (ii) to call attention to the original's discrepancies.
According to Delisle (1999), translation procedures are methods applied by translators when they formulate equivalence for the purpose of transferring elements of meaning from the ST to the TT.
This research study intends to gather some text segments; including morphemes, words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and larger elements, which undergo translation procedures, from different translations of an American novel with their corresponding versions. Thus, as a framework, comparative analysis is applied for this study and that is why the source of data is restricted to one 20th century novel with its different Persian translations that are as follow:
Hemingway, Ernest, The Old Man and the Sea, Triad/Panther Books, Granada Publishing Ltd, 1976.
1. همینگوی، ارنست. پیرمرد و دریا. نجف دریا بندری (مترجم)، چاپ اول، تهران، انتشارات خوارزمی ،1363.
2. همینگوی، ارنست. مرد پير و دریا. م .خ. یحیوی (مترجم)، چاپ اول، تهران، کانون معرفت، 1340.
The Rationale for Materials
The fundamental reason for choosing such book is that it has been written originally in English. This 26,500-word novella, a simple narrative fable about the struggles of a poor Cuban fisherman in his quest for a giant marlin, earned Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Award of Merit Medal for the Novel in 1953, and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for literature. Written in spare, journalistic prose with minimal action and only two principle characters, the work is at once a realistic depiction of the events and locale described and a symbolic exploration of the human struggle with the natural world, the human capacity to transcend hardship, and personal triumph won from defeat. Although Hemingway claimed that in the novella he "tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea and a real fish and real sharks," the work is rich in imagery suggestive of deeper meanings than appear on the surface. As Hemingway remarked, The Old Man and the Sea is written on the "principle of the iceberg": seven-eighths of it is underwater for every part that shows.
Here is a selection of quotes about this Hemingway’s masterpiece:
“Not only the finest long short story that Hemingway has ever written, but one of the finest written by anyone anywhere” (The Listener)
“As an example of ‘declarative’ prose it is unsurpassed in Hemingway's oeuvre. Every word tells and there is not a word too many” (Anthony Burgess, 99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939)
“The best story Hemingway has ever written… no page of this beautiful masterwork could have been done better or differently” (Sunday Times)
“A quite wonderful example of narrative art. The writing is as taut, and at the same time as lithe and cunningly played out, as the line on which the old man plays the fish” (The Guardian)
“Hemingway brings to the old man's tragic fishing trip all his real, deep, intuitive understanding of simple men who face primitive, ill-rewarded fates” (The Standard)
Moreover, it is, as Mollanazar (1990) states, worthwhile for the study, for there are at least four Persian translations that can be compared with each other. The novel with its different corresponding versions is carefully surveyed so as to spot the translating procedures in the sentences used by translators.
This study tries to answer the aforementioned research questions through the following procedures:
1. In this part, some of the examples extracted from the novel with their translations from the first translator, نجف دریا بندری, are presented as follow:
Note the following remarks about the elements in the shaded areas:
· ‘The Gulf Stream’ means a warm current of water flowing across the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico towards Europe. This extra information could be added in the form of footnote, endnote, or glossary at the end of the text, or within the text to clarify the meaning of the Gulf Stream.
· ‘The Terrace’, the name of a cafй, if translated as کافه, may be mistaken for another word in the text, bodega meaning a wine shop, which has been translated as کافه.
2. Shift or Transposition
These were a small fraction of shifts or transpositions detected in the text. In some cases, 1, 2, the application of shifts on the part of the translator has been obligatory while in some other cases, 3, 5, it has been optional; and in the rest of the cases, 4, they should not have been applied.
In some cases, 1, 3, the near equivalents chosen can be acceptable while in other cases, 2, 4, 5, the translations have the possibility of being modified so as to obtain nearer, more acceptable equivalents.
Seemingly in all of the above cases, the modulations applied on the part of the translator are not obligatory; they just serve variation through change of viewpoint, of perspective, and very often of category of thought. Probably, one can obtain a more TL-oriented translation through applying this procedure.
In some cases, 1, 3, the additions to the translations can be readily omitted. However, in some other cases, 2, 4, 5, it would be better to keep them, thereby increasing the accuracy, the clarity, and the beauty of the description.
In some cases, 1, 2, 3, the omissions occurred in the translations do not make any trouble for the TL reader’s comprehension of the ST, and that is why the translator, in case of intentional omission, had not needed to worry about his unfaithfulness to the ST. Nevertheless, in case no. 4, the act of description has been paralyzed by the omissions made on the part of the translator. Generally speaking, we cannot see our way clear to claim that all of the omissions have been made intentionally and if so, to claim that we know exactly why the translator has used such procedure in a given situation. For example in case no. 5 one full paragraph has not been translated at all. Whether or not it is the translator to lay the blame on for this is not known.
7. Mistranslated Items
This section is not included in Newmark’s translation procedures. It has been added as the last part just because of its significance in translating and in obtaining the desired results for this study.
The above items that have been mistranslated may fall into two categories. Some, e.g. 2, 3, 4, do not have correct translations semantically (in terms of lexical choices); and some others, e.g. 1, 5, convey the meaning somehow but have not achieved to communicate well or easily with the TL reader.
2. In this part, some of the examples extracted from the novel with their translations from the second translator, م. خ. یحیوی, are presented as follow:
1. Transliteration and Transference
In the shaded areas, the translator has applied both transliteration and transference but we do not exactly know why he has used these two procedures just in some items, not in all of them. Probably, he has thought that the transliteration of certain words does not look that familiar to the TL reader because they do not have a high frequency of usage in the TL lexical scope so in this translator’s view transliteration should be accompanied by transference in these words.
2. Shift or Transposition
These were another small fraction of shifts in the text with their corresponding translations by the second translator. Again in some cases, 2, 3, the application of shifts on the part of the translator has been obligatory while in some other cases, 1, 5, it has been optional; and in the rest of the cases, 4, they should not have been applied.
Some cases, 2, 3, 4, have acceptable near equivalents while the other cases, 1, 5, have the possibility of being improved so as to obtain more acceptable nearer equivalents.
In the above 3 cases, the modulations applied on the part of the translator are not obligatory; these sentences can be translated without having to change their viewpoints.
In the cases 1, 2, 3, the expansion procedure does not need to be applied and we can use simpler forms to convey the same meaning; while in the others, 4 and 5, expansion serves us well in the act of translation.
In some cases, 1, 2, the additions to the translations can be readily omitted. Nevertheless, in other cases, 3, 4, 5, it would be better to keep them, thereby increasing the accuracy, the clarity, and the beauty of the description.
In the above Table, we can identify the additions and the mistranslated items besides the omissions in the translations but the original intention has been to detect and analyze just the omissions made on the part of the translator. Nearly in all the cases above, the omissions have caused the translations to have defective inaccurate descriptions of the events, objects, characters, and etc. in the original novel. Again in this case, we have no way of verifying the translator’s intentionality in omitting some text segments.
8. Mistranslated Items
Nearly all the cases above do not have exact and/or correct translations semantically and/or structurally.
Results and Discussion
Note the following inferences from the two translations:
1. The 1st translator has applied 6 out of 17 Newmark’s translating procedures (35.3%) in contrast to 7 out of 17 (41.2%) applied by the 2nd translator. The following Tables show the procedures used by the translators, their modes of application, the number of items detected for each procedure, the ratio of each procedure to all in percentage terms, and finally the data related to the mistranslated items.
The last Table above shows the percentage of the erroneous application modes of the procedures, which indicate the amount of each translator’s weakness in applying the corresponding procedure. For example in the case of shift, 20 per cent of the shifts applied by the 1st translator and 26 per cent by the 2nd translator are incorrect. Hence, the higher the percentage related to each translator, the poorer his performance will be. Analyzing the results, we readily find out that the 1st translator’s performance is higher except in the first procedure, transliteration, which is ignorable.
2. The following Charts show the two translators’ performances, the percentage of translation procedures’ application, and the percentage of shift types’ application.
3. Neither of the two translators is completely consistent in applying Newmark’s procedures. In order to evaluate these two from the point of view of inconsistency, we make use of the number of erroneous application modes in the above Tables. The more the number of these modes for each translator, the more inconsistent that translator will be. Refer to the following Table and Chart.
Since the percentage of the 2nd translator is higher than that of the 1st, we readily find out that the former is more inconsistent in applying the procedures by 23%. This percentage is the same as that of the difference in performance between the two translators.
1. Generally speaking, there should not be a relationship between the performances of the translators and the chronological order of their translations. Each translation should be judged on its own merits at its own time because as we mentioned in the second part of ‘Results and Discussion’, each period of time possesses its own translating conventions and in order for a translation to become a smash hit it should conform to these conventions; and since the conventions change over time, judging two or more translations on their chronological orders seems not to be reasonable. However in this research study, it happened that the earlier work, made by the 2nd translator, had a poorer performance by 23%.
2. As we saw in the first chart; the 1st translation, by N. Daryabandari in 1363, had a higher performance than the 2nd, by M. KH. Yahyavi in 1340, except in applying the first Newmark’s translation procedure, transliteration, which could be ignored. Daryabandari’s work had a more communicative, at the same time more faithful and more beautiful translation than Yahyavi’s. Both translations had made use of Newmark’s procedures nearly to the same degree.
3. Neither of the two translators was consistent in applying Newmark’s translation procedures. The 2nd was more inconsistent by 23%.
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همینگوی، ارنست. 1363. پیرمرد و دریا. نجف دریا بندری (مترجم). چاپ اول. تهران: انتشارات خوارزمی.
همینگوی، ارنست. 1340. پیرمرد و دریا. م. خ. یحیوی (مترجم). چاپ اول. تهران: کانون معرفت.