Re: What does "the original context"mean in the approach of direct translation?

From: Christoph Unger (
Date: Tue Mar 18 2003 - 16:04:29 GMT

  • Next message: Stavros Assimakopoulos: "Re: What does "the original context"mean in the approach of direct translation?"


    > I have a question here:
    > Professor Ernst-August Gutt in his book "Translation and Relevance: Cognition
    > and Context", mentions that "direct translations should be processed with
    > respect to the original context" (P.165).
    > However, he also mentions that "the standard notices should be translated into
    > their corresponding standard expressions in the receptor language -- even if
    > their semantic contents are different" (P.151) and it seems that he suggests
    > to translate the proverbial sayings into their corresponding proverbial
    > sayings in the receptor language, too.
    > Then, I feel quite puzzled,"If the source language texts are translated into
    > the corresponding expressions in the target language,it seems that the target
    > readers just need to understand the translated texts in the target language
    > context,

    why should this follow? An utterance in the target language consisting of
    'corresponding expressions' still has to be interpreted in context, and the
    context is not attached to the expressions - neither in the original ones
    nor in the corresponding target language expressions. And if the translation
    purports to interpretively resemble the original completely (as direct
    translation does), then only the original context will do, not the target
    audience context (notice that one can only talk about the context that a
    particular audience brings to bear on utterances, not about a 'target
    language context' - the context is a psychologcial notion). Maybe I don't
    understand your point.

    > but do not have to understand them in the original context as Prof.
    > Gutt has mentioned"??

    > What does "the original context" really mean here?

    The original context is the context which the original author (of the source
    language text) intended his (original) audience to supply to arrive at the
    intended interpretation.

    > One more question: In terms of Prof. Gutt's accounts, can we simply conclude
    > that the literal translation technique is equal to the direct translation, and
    > the free translation technique is equal to the indirect translaiton???

    Most emphatically not! Direct translation is defined solely in terms of
    interpretive resemblance, i.e. meaning resemblance. See the discussion on
    pages 161-165, culminating in the definition:

    "A receptor language utterance is a direct translation of a source language
    utterance if and only if it purports to interpretively resemble the original
    completely in the context envisaged for the original." (Translation and
    Relevance, first edition p. 163)

    Hence direct translation is not interested whatsoever in 'formal
    equivalence' as the concept of 'literal translation' would have to be
    understood. See also Gutt's remarks on p. 232 of the postface to the second
    edition of the book (2000, Manchester: St. Jerome.)

    > I really appreciate your valuable suggestion and ideas!!!
    > Nancy




    Christoph Unger
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