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Translatioin of Political Literature

Thus, we have considered all the general principals in achieving and adequate translation including translation of political literature and the essential features of translation of political terms.

Chapter II

§ I. Grammatical difficulties of translation

 The translation process of political literature from one language into another is inevitable without necessary grammatical transformations (change of structure). It gets great importance while making translation to add or omit some words since the structures of languages are quite different. Grammatical transformations are characterized by various principles – grammatical, and lexical as well, though the principal role is given to grammatical ones. Very often these grammatical changes are mixed so that they have lexical-grammatical character.

The vigil of the British Embassy, supported last week by many prominent people and still continuing, the marches last Saturday, the resolutions or organizations have done something to show that Blair doesn’t speak for Britain.

Круглосуточная демонстрация у здания британского консульства, получившая на прошлой недели поддержку многих видных деятелей, всё ещё продолжается. Эта демонстрация и состоявшиеся в субботу поход, а также предпринятые различными организациями резолюции, явно свидетельствуют о том, что Блэр отнюдь не говорит от имени всего английского народа.

While translating this article we have made the following changes.

The sentence was divided into two parts. We often do that when translating short newspaper articles (news in brief) and the first lines of the articles of informative character (leads). Practically, we are forced to do that because the first lines usually contain main information given in the paragraph. These sentences containing various information are not characteristic to the style of Russian writing. The division of the sentence made us repeat the word демонстрация.

The word vigil – бдение acquired here quite another political meaning круглосуточная демонстрация. Since ночное бодрствование is one of the semantic components of the word vigil the term круглосуточная демонстрация fully renders the sense of the given word. Besides, we have to mention that one of the words was translated like word expression получившая поддержку.

We have also added additional words like у здания (посольства), состоявшиеся (в субботу походы), а также принятые различными (организациями резолюции). The word last in the last Saturday was omitted because it would make the translation more difficult, but we can conceive it by the contextual meaning of the sentence.

The strengthening function of the phrase have done something to show was rendered by the adverb явно свидетельствуют.

And the English cliche to speak for was translated by the Russian one говорить от имени. And at last I should say that I metonymically translated the word Britain into весь английские народ.

Thus, while translating this sentence we have made use of grammatical transformations and lexical as well.

As you know, English has an analytical character and therefore the relation between words is mostly expressed by word-order, that’s by syntactic means, and morphological means play the secondary role. The priority of the role of syntactical changes appears in many cases but they do not always have similar conformities in Russian language which makes the translator make use of various transformations while translating a piece of political literature. Here we can point to well-known features of the location of syntactic items in the English, e.i. the combination of logically incompatible homogeneous part of the sentence, the essential use of introductory sentences, the break of logical chain of the sentence, and especially while expressing the noun and the attribute of the sentences.

The syntactic structure of a language imposes restrictions on the way messages may be organized in that language. The order in which functional elements such as subject, predicator, and object may occur is more fixed in some languages than in others. Languages vary in the extent to which they rely on word order to signal the relationship between elements in the clause. Compared to languages such as German, Russian, Finnish, Arabic, and Eskimo, word order in English is relatively fixed. The meaning of a sentence in English, and in languages with similarly fixed word order such as Chinese, often depends entirely on the order in which the elements are placed. (cf. The man ate the fish and The fish ate the man).  

The structural features of English language require structural completeness of the sentence. One can not omit a word without supplying another one instead. This criterion is governed by stylistic preference of the language to prevent word and make the sentence more emphatic. Even if the repetition is frequent in English its use in most cases is logically required and stylistically proved to be necessary. Otherwise, repetition is accepted as unnecessary component of the sentence or one of the stylistic shortcomings of the translation. The demand of syntactical completeness of the sentences and others stylistic criteria explain here the wide usage of structure filling words (слова заместители). The structure filling words include pronouns (one, ones, this, that, these, those) and verbs (to do, to be, to have, shall, should, will, would, can, could, might, may, must, ought, need, dare).

Its quite evident that the structure filling words do not have denotative meaning, they are absolutely contextual. They should be related to conforming nouns and the verb form the fill and only afterwards they acquire lexical completeness. The verb-filling words are usually divided into two parts: fully filling and partially filling ones. To the first group belong the verb to do in the Present Indefinite which act in the role of fully filling word. It can replace the verbs of function. To the second group belong all other structure filling words. They act like a part of the whole just like the representative of compound verb form.

While translating the structure filling words we have to use words with complete meaning (sometimes pronouns) or make use of some other kinds of functional filling.

The new British Government will face many problems, both acute and chronic: an acute one will be Northern Ireland, acute among chronic ones will be inflation and rising prices.

Новое британское правительство столкнётся со многими проблемами как неотложного, так и затяжного характера. К неотложным проблемам относится положение в Северной Ирландии, а к проблемам, носящим затяжной характер, - инфляция и рост цен.

While translating this piece we had to decipher the structure filling words and render their meaning by means of conforming nouns.

When comparing the grammatical categories and forms of English and Russian languages we identify the following differences: a) the absence of the categories in one of the comparing languages, b) partial correspondence and c) complete correspondence. The necessity of grammatical transformations arise only on two first cases. When comparing the English with Russian we should mention that Russian does not have the notions like article and gerund and absolute nominative constructions as well. Partial conformity and unconformity in meaning and usage of corresponding forms and constructions also demands grammatical transformations. We can refer to this case the partial unconformity of the category of number, partial unconformity in the forms of passive constructions, partial unconformity of the form of infinitive and gerund and some other differences in expressing the modality of the clause and so on.

 First of all we should consider the article for article both definite and indefinite which despite its abstract meaning very frequently demands semantic expression in translation. As we know both these articles originated from pronouns; the definite one originated from index pronoun and the indefinite one from indefinite pronoun, which refers to number one. These primary meanings are sometimes obvious in their modern usage. In this cases their lexical meaning should be rendered in translation otherwise the Russian sentence would be incomplete and ambiguous for denotative meaning of articles is an inseparable part of the whole context meaning of a given sentence. There are cases when classifying function of indefinite articles is so obvious that one should render its meaning by some lexical item.

It is commonly stated that government should resign if defeated in a major issue in the House of Commons which has been made one of confidence. (The Times).

Обычно утверждают, что правительство должно подать в отставку, если оно потерпит поражение в Палате общин по какому-нибудь серьёзному вопросу, который оппозиция считает вопросом о доверии правительству.

In this case the indefinite article acquires the meaning of the pronoun some. One can easily see its historical relation with the number one in the following example:

Yet, H.G. Wells had not an enemy on earth.

Однако у Герберта не было ни единого врага на свете.

As has been pointed before the most difficult are cases when classifying meanings of indefinite articles demand semantic transfer in translation.

We need a Government which believes in planning ahead for jobs and which will use available labor to build homes for the British people.

Нам нужно такое правительство, которое было бы убеждено в целесообразности планирования занятости и использовало бы наличную рабочую силу в строительстве домов для населения.

The emphatic role of the indefinite article in its classifying function is more expressed in the following sentence.

The Vietnam war had revealed the true nature of a U.S. foreign policy that can be purchased ruthlessly for the benefit of a view in the “military-industrial complex”.

Война во Вьетнаме вскрыла истинную природу той внешней политики США, которая проводится беспощадными методами ради выгоды немногих представителей «военно-промышленного комплекса».

Pretty often the definite article demands translation in cases when it comes before numerals.

The two sides also signed a Treaty in the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Tests.

Обе стороны подписали договор об ограничении подземных испытаний атомного оружия.

The Southern nations remained quiet between 1948 and 1958 as Latin America’s economy grew at an impressive annual rate of 4.3 percent.

С 1948 по 1958 южные страны пребывали в относительном спокойствии, в то время как экономика Латинской Америки развивалась впечатлительным темпом в 4.3 процента в год. 

In the following sentence both articles demands translation.

The influence and authority of the UN Secretariat depends to an extent (though not nearly to the extent that is popularly supposed) on the talents of one individual – the Secretary-General. The job is a peculiar one.

Влияние и авторитет секретариата ООН зависят в известной степени (хотя и не в такой степени, как обычно полагают) от качеств одного человека – Генерального секретаря. Это чрезвычайно своеобразная должность.

The lexical meaning of the article is strongly expressed when it acts in like a link connecting parts of the sentences or two separate sentences as given in the example above. From the mentioned above cases we can judge that missing article translation may lead to misinterpretation or incorrect and incomplete translation of a sentence.

The role of verb complexes in English is quite evident therefore we will consider only some peculiar cases of verb transformations during translation.

First of all let us consider the verb construction with the preposition for:

…American military bases on foreign territories which are intended for launching missiles possessed by United States’ armed forces.

… американские военные базы на территориях других государств, которые предназначены для запуска ракет американскими ВВС.

 In this case the infinitive construction is translated like adverbial modifier of purpose.

The construction with secondary predicate (so-called Nominative with the Infinitive) is widely used in newspaper style due to its preciseness and because it help to avoid the responsibility for the given information.

The United States Congress is aimed to control all the financial expenses of the Government.

Целью конгресса Соединённых Штатов является контроль всех расходов правительства.  

It is natural that transformation is required while translating sentences with participles of absolute nominative construction.

 But often enough grammatical transformations are necessary while rendering conforming forms and constructions for some divergence in their meaning and usage. Such differences of opinions are observed in cases of usage of the category of number. This refers to both countable and uncountable nouns. Countable nouns have single and plural forms in both languages that usually coincide still we observe cases when their usage is different, ex.:

War Atrocity on Peace Conference Eve (news head).

Зверства (интервентов) накануне мирной конференции

Concerning uncountable nouns, especially those expressing abstract notions we may have much more difficulties because most of them are paradigmatic. For example: ink – чернила, money – деньги and so on.

Increasingly, Southern Africa is becoming the arena of national liberation struggles.

Южная Африка всё больше и больше становится районом национально-освободительной борьбы.

Sometimes, despite the availability of the plural form in Russian – its usage is impossible owing to difference in combination and usage.

The Nile Valley appears to have been unfit for human habitation during the Stone Ages.

Долина Нила, по-видимому, была не пригодна для жизни человека на протяжении всего каменного века (во все периоды каменного века).

In Russian the Stone Age expression is of a historical nature and is never used in plural.

In cases when plural form is to be preserved for it carries some inherent sense one has to apply countable nouns, ex.:

Strikes broke out in many British industries.

В ряде отраслей промышленности Англии вспыхнули забастовки.

Sometimes, owing to some reasons some of constructions has wider usage in one languages comparing with other languages. The best example of this is the passive form – widely used in English mostly due to disappearance of word flexion. As a result, both indirect and predicative object maybe transformed into the objects of passive construction.

Stones and bottles were showered upon a Negro demonstration in Milwaukee by white racists.

Белые расисты обрушили град камней и бутылок на негритянскую демонстрацию в Милуоки (забросали камнями и бутылками).

We should notice that the passive-active transformation can not give sufficient result for in passive construction the stress is being made on the object of action and in the active construction the stress is being made on the agent of action. The widespread use of passive construction in English happens often enough because it is explained by unimportance of the doer of that action and it is most often in newspaper style at the same time the most important is to attract attention to the passage. Since the structure and word order of simple sentence is subject + predicate + object the importance of stylistics is bigger then to distinguish the object one chooses the passive construction.

Divergence are found in some other cases of infinitive usage – infinitive in substantivized constructions (like post-positive attribute) and infinitive expressing following actions, for example:

The president warned of drastic steps to be taken against racialists in the Zambian copper belt.

Президент предупредил, что будут предприняты решительные меры против белых расистов в Медном поясе Замбии.

The infinitive functioning as attribute is translated into object clause with the verb in the Future tense.

The Continuative Infinitive is often mistaken for the infinitive of purpose, but in this function it expresses the action following the after the action expressed by predicate and represents the logical development of things.

The Soviet Union decided to sign the Treaty with Germany and only did to discover that Germany itself violated it two years later.

Советский Союз решил заключить договор с Германией. Но два года спустя Германия сама нарушила его.

 The Continuative infinitive very often is used with the adverb only which stresses it. This emphatic function can be rendered in many ways.

Thus, all the considered cases – absence of conforming form, partial correspondence, differences in character and use – urge translators to make necessary grammatical transformations while translating some piece. Those grammatical transformations maybe divided into following types:

1)     substitution

2)     transposition

3)     omission (ellipsis)

4)     supplementation

Substitution is one of the grammatical relations among the parts of the sentences. In substitution, an item (or items) is replaced by another item (or items), ex:

I like politics.                              And I do.

In this example, do is a substitute for like politics . Items commonly used in substitution in English include do, one, and the same, as in the following examples from Halliday and Hasan:

You think US will start the war against Iraq? – No one does.

We make use of substitution while translating a piece because of several reasons: absence of similar construction in Russian language, unconformity in usage of corresponding forms and constructions and some lexical reasons, which include different word usage and different norms of combinability in English and Russian and the absence of the part of speech with corresponding meaning.

An attempted overthrow in Peru.

Попытка совершить переворот в Перу.

In Russian we do not have the conforming participle II of the verb пытаться. And this made us change the part of speech; the participle attempted was translated into Russian by the noun попытка. The expression попытка переворота does not conform to the norms of Russian language that’s why we have to apply additional word совершить.

While translating the following text we will have to use substitution several times.

On the whole the “popular’’ press – with the New York Daily News as its cheer-leader – is vociferous in its support of the President’s policies and merciless toward those who attack them. But among the so-called “quality” papers led by the New York Times there is a growing mood of doubt and questioning.

В общем «массовые» газеты, во главе с Нью-Йорк дейли ньюс», громогласно поддерживают политику президента и беспощадно обрушиваются на тех, кто критикует её. Но среди так называемых «качественных» газет, возглавляемых «Нью-Йорк таймс», всё больше растут сомнение и неуверенность (в её правильности).

In the first sentence are used the verbal noun, verb link and two predicative parts expressed by adjectives with object clauses. In this translation verbal nouns very replaced by predicative ones (именные сказуемые были заменены глагольными): поддерживают and обрушиваются.  Both predicative parts of the sentence have been translated by adverbs: громогласно, беспощадно. In the second sentence the introductory construction there is was translated by predicative verb and the participle growing was transformed into the function of an attribute. The noun mood was omitted and its attribute of doubt and questioning was turned into its object.

The transformation of ‘active’ into ‘passive’ is also when a translator uses substitution.

More light was shed yesterday on the effect of C.S. gas, which was claimed by Pentagon to be virtually harmless to health.

Вчера поступили дополнительные сведения о вредном действии газа C.S., который, по утверждению Пентагона, якобы не опасен для здоровья.

The phraseological unit more light was shed was translated by means of lexical transformation and the passive construction was replaced by an active one. The passive construction in the object clause also undergone lexical transformation – verbal construction was substituted by substantive one: по утверждению.

This example can illustrate the fact that lexical and grammatical transformations are closely related with each other.

Transposition, that’s, change of structure of the sentence may be caused by several reasons. But the main of them, as it has been mentioned before is the difference in the structure of the English and Russian languages. The fixed order of words in English bears hierarchic character, first come the primary parts of the sentence; noun, predicate followed by secondary parts. In Russian the word order is not fixed but one can observe the tendency to locate the main information at the end of sentences expressing it be the noun. The academic grammar of Russian points that the word order in Russian sentences follows the model: adverbial modifier, predicate and then the noun – that’s the order absolutely opposite to English. In Russian, the secondary part of the sentence can stand at the beginning if it represents the starting point of expression and introduces theme of given information, ex:

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