TrIn 3001: Introduction to
Translation
Semana 3A (5/VI/06)
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Class agenda – Week 3A
• I. 12 Nida questions
• II. Definition of terms for Ch. 3
• III. Lecture Chapter 3 (Larson)
– Definition of terms
– Semantic structures
– Rincón gramatical
• IV. In-class practice exercises
– Continue Punctuation and False Friends
exercises
– Discuss translation exercise #2 (birth certificate)
• V. Homework
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How is translating “impossible”?
1. Language both reveals and hides. Words
provide clues to meaning. Verbal signs are
defined by other signs. Words do not clothe
reality but are like pegs to hang ideas.
2. It depends on shared knowledge in that
readers are expected to “know” something
of the content.
3. There is an underlying parallax “distortion”
within each language. No two words in any
two languages have the same denotative or
connotative meanings.
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Questionnaire for Translation:
Possible or Impossible
1. According to Nida, what is the popular
assumption that makes translation
impossible?
2. What does Nida say about word-forword translation? What milieu tends to
favor such a translation?
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3. Does Nida make a distinction between
interpretation (interpreting) and translation
(translating)? If you were to make a
distinction, what would it be like?
4. According to Nida, what is most important in
translation: faithfulness to the source culture
or faithfulness to the receptor culture? Do you
agree with Nida? Why or why not? What will
be the implications of one or the other for the
product of your translation?
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5. What are some of the genres that Nida
mentions for Bible translation? For
secular translations, what are the
genres that one is likely to encounter?
6. What are some of the characteristics of
languages that make translation
possible?
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7. Why do you think that Nida argues that
“translating can never be discussed
apart from the cultures of the respective
languages”? What are the implications
of this statement for translators or for
the training of translators?
8. What are some of the things mentioned
by Nida that allegedly make translation
impossible?
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9. Should translation be considered a
“science”? Or an “art”?
10. What are, according to Nida, the two
most important processes involved in
translation?
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11. What is Nida’s reason for comparing
translation to a game?
12. Why do you think Nida concludes his
article by saying that “translating is both
challenging and discouraging”? Do you
agree with him? Have you ever felt
discouraged by your own translation?
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Key Ideas: Larson Chapter 3
• Terms to define (include examples):
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–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
1. Surface structure
2. Deep structure
3. Semantic structure
4. Grammatical structure
5. Meaning components
6. Semantic propositions
7. Concepts
8. Grammatical and Semantic hierarchy
9. Communication situation
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Key Ideas
• Deep structure = semantic structure =
meaning
• Surface structure = grammatical,
lexical, phonological structures = “form”
• Meaning (deep) is structured but not in
the same way as the surface structures
must be ordered.
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Key Ideas
• Semantic structures are more universal
(common to all languages) than grammatical
structures.
– 1. All units, features and relationships are the
same for all languages.
– 2. All have meaning components or semantic
classes: thing/entity, event, attribute, relation
– 3. Surface structures are NOT the same for all
languages.
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Key Ideas
• Semantic PROPOSITIONS occur in all
languages. These are CONCEPTS or
groupings of meaning components related to
one another with an event, thing/entity, or
attribute as the central concept.
• This proposition has 3 concepts: JOHN (as
the agent) HIT(activity) the (affected) BALL.
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Key Ideas
• Skewing between grammar and semantics
(common in surface structures):
– The dog treed the cat (in the tree): treed =
verb; tree = noun, object of preposition
– Yo traje el traje. Traje = verb; el traje = noun,
direct object
– El vino vino. El vino =_______; vino = ________
• The smallest unit in a semantic structure is a
meaning component. A group of meaning
components form a concept.
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Key Ideas
• BOY = lexical item, entity or thing
• Meaning components include: human
being (thing or entity), young (attribute)
child, male (attribute)
– Analyze “MUJER” =
• In surface structure, units are grouped
into increasingly larger units in a
hierarchy of grammatical structures.
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Hierarchy of grammatical structures
Morphemes (roots and affixes)
Words
Phrases
Clauses
Sentences
Paragraphs
Discourse units
T e x t (story, letter, etc.)
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Ex: Translate to receptor language Spanish
•
bi- + -cycle
• bicycle
• on a bicycle
• when he rides on a
bicycle
• He exercises when
he rides on a bicycle.
• Paragraph
• Discourse unit:
chapter
• Text of story
•
bi- + -ciclo (cicleta)
• • • -
• -
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Example of Surface Structure
The children like to play before going to bed.
• Steps of translator:
1) Analyze SL surface structure
2) Interpret SL and look for meaning
3) Convey the same meaning in the Receptor
Language as a natural idiomatic translation
4) Express with the surface structure of the
RL the equivalent emotion as SL
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Grammatical Structures
The children like to play before going to bed.
•
•
•
•
•
Morphemes: child (root)+ -ren (suffix)
Word: children
Phrase: The children (subject of sentence)
Main clause: The children like to play. . .
Subordinate clause: before going to bed.
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Deep Structure
• De todos los temas que hemos discutido
en clase hasta ahora, la semántica es el
más difícil.
• Identify the 5 deep structures (in sentences)
from the surface structure statement above.
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
Hemos discutido los temas.
Hemos discutido los temas en clase.
Hemos discutido los temas en clase hasta ahora.
La semántica es difícil.
La semántica es el tema más difícil.
Todos los temas son difíciles.
No hemos discutido la semántica.
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Key Ideas
Hierarchy of semantic structures:
•
Meaning component
•
Concepts
• Propositions
• Propositional clusters
• Semantic paragraphs
• Episodes
• Episode clusters
• Larger units of the discourse.
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Correlation of Semantic vs. Grammatical
Structures for a narrative discourse (Larson p. 34)
Semantic Structure
Grammatical Structure
meaning component
word
concept cluster
clause
propositional cluster
paragraph
episode
division
semantic part
text
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Correlation of Semantic vs. Grammatical
Structures for a narrative discourse (Larson p. 34)
Semantic Structure
Grammatical Structure
meaning component
morpheme (roots and affixes)
concept
word
concept cluster
phrase
proposition
clause
propositional cluster
sentence
semantic paragraph
paragraph
episode
section
episode cluster
division
semantic part
part
discourse
text
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Identify the propositions:
De todos los temas que hemos discutido
en clase hasta ahora, la semántica es el
más difícil.
– Algunos temas son más difíciles.
– Tenemos una clase.
– En la clase discutimos temas.
– La semántica ha sido el tema más difícil.
– No tenemos clase hasta ahora.
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Key Ideas
• Communication situation: The translator
must be aware of who the speaker/author is
and what his purpose or intent is, who the
audience is and how the audience is
affected by emotive meaning, and the
traditions of both cultures of the source and
receptor languages.
• How many ways might you express yourself
in the following situation and maintain the
same meaning?
– Urge your teen to do his/her homework….
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Key Ideas
• Each source language is written in a
specific historical and cultural setting
and presumes author intent or
purpose. Recall discourse genre. A
faithful translator will keep all of these
matters in mind.
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Rincón Gramatical: Verbos con
doble participio pasado
• electo-elegido - Ambos vocablos constituyen el participio
pasivo del verbo elegir; no obstante, tienen usos ligeramente
diferentes. Electo se usa en la forma activa, como adjetivo,
mientras que en la forma pasiva debe preferirse elegido. Ej.:
Han elegido a fulano como presidente; él es el presidente
electo. Los verbos que tienen doble participio, además de
elegir, son: matar (matado-muerto), bendecir (bendecidobendito), freír (freído, frito), imprimir (impreso, imprimido),
sustituir (sustituido, sustituto).
• Ejemplos: Lo han corrompido, es un hombre corrupto.
• Lo han matado; está muerto. Nótese que muerto también es
participio pasivo del verbo morir: Ha muerto.
• Han bendecido esta agua; es agua bendita.
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Rincón gramatical: Oraciones
comparadas
• Explique las diferencias (de vocabulario,
sintaxis y registro) entre las dos
versiones de cada oración.
– 1a. Le pegaron un botellazo en los morros
y el tío espichó.
• 1b. El hombre murió por haber sido golpeado
en la cara con una botella.
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Rincón
• 2a. Qué, guapa, ¿hace un cubatas?
– 2b. ¿Me permite invitarle a una bebida?
• 3a. Usted que es tan amable, ¿podría hacer
el favor de no fumar?
– 3b. Oye tío, no seas grosero, ¿no ves que aquí no fuma
nadie?
• 4a. El precio fue relativamente alto.
– 4b. ¡Coño, si me costó un riñón!
• 5a. ¿A qué se dedica usted?
– 5b. ¿Trabajas o estudias?
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Grammar Corner: Signatures
• Signatures in Hispanic business correspondence or
documentation are frequently undecipherable due to
the custom of adding a distinctive flourish to make
forgeries difficult. These ornate signatures are more
properly “rúbricas” (names written with a flourish) than
“firmas” (signatures) and the translator may have no
choice but to use the indication “undecipherable
signature.” Fortunately, the custom of having a
secretary or assistant sign for the boss is rare, and one
can generally assume that the signature corresponds
to the typed name in the signature block.
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Grammar Corner: Dates
• The use of slash dates in Latin America (and
Europe) is different from the usage in the U.S.
The customary order in the U.S. is month/day/
year while in L.A., it is day/month/year. In L.A.
the day (using 1-12) can be confused with the
month. If the translator cannot go back to the
originator of the document or text, then a
footnote may be necessary to point out the two
possible meanings to the prime reader.
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Grammar Corner
• Date: 12 June 2004 (usage by military and
government departments)
• U.S. notation: 06/12/04 or June 12th, 2004
• L.A. notation: 12/06/04 (possible confusion)
– or 12/VI/04 (no confusion) or “12 de junio de
2004”
• If a date is spelled out in a legal document in
either language (to make falsification more
difficult), it should be spelled out in the target
language.
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Grammar Corner: Punctuation
• Spanish must use the upside down question mark
and exclamation sign. When going from English to
Spanish the translator sometimes encounters
difficulties in knowing where to put the initial Spanish
sign.
• English places the period and comma inside the
quotation marks in direct quotes, while Spanish puts
them outside.
– Ex: He said: “well done.” but Dijo: “bien hecho”.
• The translator frequently uses quation marks in the
TL to indicate an unfamiliar word, a neologism or a
word outside its normal meaning.
– Ex: Compró “software” para su computadora.
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In-class exercises 1
• pp. 37-39 (Larson)
– Exercise A (class)
– Exercise B (class) - answer questions a-e for
each event on p. 38
– Exercise C (group of 5) - Translate on the board
the “deep (semantic) structure” paragraph (p. 37)
– Exercise D (group of 5) - Rewrite the paragraph
in English by paraphrasing on the board (p. 39)
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In-class exercise 2
Groups of 3: General discussion/commentary on
birth certificate (see handout Semana 2B)
– Approach of translator
– Identify discourse genre
– Highlight Spanish words giving difficulty and a
list of possible English words to use
– Identify sources used for semantic support
• Consult your classmates for additional words
or phrases related to appropriate receptor
language form. Also consult manual pp. 59-62.
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Summary of Discourse Genres
TYPE
AUTHOR’S PURPOSE
EXAMPLE
Narrative
Recount events
story
Procedural
Prescribe how to do something
manual
Expository
Argue or explain a point
editorial
Descriptive
Tell about the nature/state of
something
tour guide
Hortatory
Command, propose, suggest
lecture
Repartee
Enact or recount conversation
drama, play
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In-class exercise 3
1. Continue punctuation and false friends
exercises
2. Dual Translation:
• One student translates manual p. 149 while
the other translates from manual p. 150.
• Comment and compare lexical choices.
Whose translation seems to be more
idiomatic? Or are both equally idiomatic?
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Homework for 06/7/06
• Read Chapter 4 (Larson)
• Read Nida article (manual p. 14+) “The Tradition of
Translation in the Western World” to answer
questions #1-8 on manual p. 23a.
• Read manual “The 10 frequent errors…” and
“Categories of Errors” (manual pp. 66+, 68+)
• Final 3 drafts of translation exercise #2
– Original Spanish birth certificate
– English document with noted revisions
– Final English document as you would submit it to a
client (maintain SL format)
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