Masarykova univerzita Filozofická fakulta Katedra anglistiky a amerikanistiky Magisterská diplomová práce



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3.2Commentary on Translation Process


The first step in the translation process was reading the entire essay and researching information about its author, John Brian Harley, as well as the context of the essay within J. B. Harley’s work. Part of the process of getting acquainted with the author and his style was reading his biography and comments on his work and style by his colleagues. A good source of information was The J. B. Harley Research Trust web site. This initial effort was made in order to prevent missing the original message and to increase understanding of the text. The process of translating is a process of discovering new information and solving translation problems. The translator must keep the context in mind at all times. Thorough understanding of the text was necessary for example for determining the focus within sentences6 and selecting their correct word order in the target language. Less obvious than the need to read the source text is the need to reread and digest its full meaning. Two techniques were used in order to move beyond a superficial first reading: (1) annotating the text with my own comments and insights and (2) outlining the text’s key points. These techniques are recommended for example by the Bedford Handbook (Hacker 479).

Translators use different strategies. As described by Brian Mossop, some do considerable preparation before beginning drafting the translation. Some translators read the text through entirely, others only take a quick glance and then start drafting the translation. Some attempt to solve most problems during careful sentence by sentence drafting, others scroll down through the text and if a passage is difficult, they leave a blank, or jot down a guess or alternative translations. Some translators do much self revision and changes during the sentence by sentence drafting, and once the draft is finished, few further changes are made. Other people work quite differently and leave most of the self revision work until after the draft is complete (3).

The purpose of annotating the text was to engage with the work and read actively. Active reading included underlining key concepts, writing down thoughts, questions, and reactions to the text. This process of noting insights over the pages often included erasing and replacing initial comments after a change of mind after rereading. The next step was sketching a brief outline of the text. Outlines reveal the structure of texts that lie beneath the words on the pages. When sketching the outline, special attention was paid to the text’s central ideas, which usually appear in the headings of the different sections of a text, and to the topic sentences at the beginning of most paragraphs that announce a shift to a new topic. However, the purpose of outlining the text is not only tracing the author’s ideas paragraph by paragraph, but summing up his main points and putting his thesis and key ideas in the translator’s own words. This can be accomplished only when they are understood by the translator, and thus the summary serves as a check of understanding the text and its central ideas, as part of it is deciding what not to include and thus making judgments about what is most important (Hacker 484). As a help in this process, Diana Hacker also suggests answering questions about the text, such as: what is the author’s central purpose, who is the audience, what evidence is given in support of the thesis, how is the text structured by the author, what are the key parts and how they relate to one another and to the thesis (486). The above described process of perceiving the meaning of the original text was necessary as in order to produce an adequate translation of the text in the target language, the translator, in addition to the knowledge of the two languages involved, needs to be thoroughly acquainted with the subject matter concerned.

The emphasis of the analysis of the translation included in this work is on problem spotting and solving, decision making, and the use of a range of translation procedures and tools. Among the tools used in the process of translation were the Czech National Corpus, various types of dictionaries (in printed, electronic, and online form, for example Slovník spisovné češtiny, Lingea Lexicon, and Slovnik.cz), encyclopaedias, the Google search engine, Akademická pravidla českého pravopisu, and library resources (for example the JSTOR database7). Among employed procedures were reading the information provided by the requester, which included the annotation of the book, in which the text was to be published, reading and rereading the original text, annotated reading and drawing an outline of the text, searching for and reading information on the author and his other works, learning about unfamiliar concepts mentioned in the text in resources such as encyclopaedias, the web, and academic level textbooks. In the process of translating the parts quoted from literary works by other authors, such as Boris Godunov by Alexander Pushkin, library catalogues, such as Caslin (Souborný katalog ČR), and online bookstores, such as Kosmas.cz, were searched. Translation rules, such as keeping the same format of the source text in the target text, eliminating orphan prepositions at the end of lines, and using the spell check function of the text editor were also utilized. Adherence to the deadline is important in translating in general, and the goal was to produce the best possible translation within the provided time frame and with the available resources. The translation process took place under real life constraints such as time, financial constraints, faulty original, and equipment.

One of the most frequently used tools was the Czech National Corpus. Only part of it is accessible to the public, according to its web site about twenty million words from the SYN2000 corpus that contains about one hundred million words. During the course of translating the text it became obvious that the public access is not sufficient for a more detailed search, as it does not allow users to search for phrases or word combinations, but only single words. Also the context around the search results is limited to sixty characters. A request for full access was therefore sent to the Institute of the Czech National Corpus that is part of the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague. The Institute requires all users with full access to the corpus to sign a declaration (in Czech) that they would not use the information retrieved from the corpus for commercial profit and would send all works that cite the corpus to the Institute. When these conditions were fulfilled, the Institute promptly emailed a login and password for full access. A new feature the Institute recently added is access to the SYN corpus, which includes all available corpora (SYN2000, SYN2005, and SYN2006PUB), is comprised of five hundred million word forms, and, as stated on its web site, includes the latest lemmatization and morphological tagging.

During the course of writing this work I also became a subscriber to the conference group of the members of The Union of Translators and Interpreters (JTP)8, an independent organization of professional translators and interpreters. Most of the discussions, sent to all subscribers via electronic mail, concern specific linguistic and, especially, terminological problems. With each problem, the sender usually includes the options s/he already explored and a brief summary of the results. Any other subscriber may then help by providing information, advice, or by recommending a source. Having access to real life discussions of translation problems by professional translators and being able to observe their way of discussing translation problems was helpful in the process of learning about translation analysis and identifying and solving translation problems, as well as learning about resources used by professionals in the field.


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