مقاله1: در باب اصول و فنون ترجمه: خواننده مترجم و متن


نوع مطلب :مطالب مفید درسی و مقالات ،

The reader/translator and the text

It is the way a whole piece of text hangs together that is important. Beaugrande and Dressler (1981: 13, 35) as well as Halliday (1985: 4-6, 48) seem to agree that language should be viewed as a system which is a set of elements functioning together each of which has a function contributing to workings of the whole

When considering a piece of text from the point of view of the reader, Beaugrande (1980:35) proposes that the text itself be viewed as a system and this view is repeated by Halliday (1985:48) who says that every text provides a context for itself. He says a text hangs together as a result of its internal coherence which comes about from the set of linguistic resources that every language has for linking one part of a text to another. He stresses the importance of the reader's internal expectations in maintaining the flow and understanding of text.


To a large extent, it is the degree of familiarity with the way a text is put together that determines the ease and manner of discovering its meaning. Where emphasis is on real-world meaning and information has been imparted in a systematic and predictable way, readers have a relatively straightforward task. They are able to bring their experience of world knowledge and their experience of similar text to bear in extracting the information involved. In conveying fact, the writer does not present information in a very difficult and ambiguous form... nor force the reader to revise his expectations (Beaugrand, 1978:47). Most readers will decode the same basic information and most translators will pass it on with little distortion.


In contrast, as we have seen above, literary writers commonly construct text in such a way that readers cannot interpret it on relying on their knowledge of "normal" practice with regard to coherence. A unique production elicits its own unique framework. Creative writers are successful when they rely on virtual experience using their own personal choice of grammatical form and lexis. In the process, the writer commonly surprises the reader. There is a gap in expectation in that readers are themselves committed to a predetermined manner of interpreting things (Beaugrande, 1978:44). Not only do poetic devices like metaphor and alliteration demand a personal response, but, sometimes, the normally expected rules and conventions of linguistic coherence are completely shattered. Readers are often forced into at least provisionally accepting the author's views as a point of reference (Beaugrande: ibid) and then are much more personally involved in completing the "jigsaw" than is the case where the extraction of fact from a transactional text is involved.


Though they may disregard the expectation of their readers, creative writers do, however, create their own coherence or artistic pattern. We may study the manner in which each unique piece has been constructed when trying to describe a writer's style. It is the wholeness of the resulting form that conveys artistic meaning. In the interpretation of each artistic creation, both reader and translator must bring their personal life experience to bear. As a result, individual readers and individual translators may well come to different conclusions as to what a particular piece of text means.


As suggested above, transactional language is open to paraphrase. There is no need for translator to take over the source to improve and civilize it in the way suggested by Fitzgerald as cited by Bassnet (1980:xv) when discussing Persian texts. Translators do not need to violate the source text or attempt to create an original text. This is because, with a transactional source text, the meaning is controlled by the writer of the text and is easily decipherable by the translator. An understanding of the internal structure of a transactional source is sufficient to provide a reliable transactional translation in which the majority of the information is preserved. There is no debate over the primacy of content over form or vice versa.


With literary language, however, paraphrase and translation become more problematic. Leech & Short (1981: 25) refer to the fact that the New Critics (a major critical movement of the 1930's and 1940's in America) rejected the idea that a poem conveys a message, preferring to see it as an autonomous verbal artifact. T.S. Eliot, for instance, recommended that a poem should be dealt with as a poem and not a piece of biographical evidence or historical material, something that had been the centre of earlier literary criticism. Leech & Short (ibid) cite Macleish who says that a poem should not mean but be and Tolstoy's affirmation that one of the significant facts about a true work of art is that its content in its entirety can be expressed only by itself. We cannot separate meaning from form. If we imagine that we can separate meaning from form in a literary text, we will discover little meaning. Steiner (1975:24) states that Western art and literature are a set of variations on definitive themes. Further, he goes on to explain that Dada (an anarchical school of literary and artistic movement begun in 1916) believes that, to trigger new themes, language should be re-arranged. Hence, the anarchic bitterness of the later-comer and impeccable of Dada when it proclaims that no new impulses of feeling or recognition will arise until language is demolished. According to Gray (1984:79) the purpose of Dada was a nihilistic revolt against all bourgeois ideas of rationality, meaning, form, and order. Its artists and poets arrange objects and words into meaningless and illogical patterns.



In conveying a message through language, a writer tries to make the communication as effective as possible. In this process there are many choices to make both syntactically and semantically. The choice will depend on the writer's purpose. It is possible to identify a conventional way of putting text together as a means of passing on factual information. From such transactional language, meaning can be extracted and passed on without any damage to content and coherence.


For a translator transferring a literary text, it is not enough to grasp the internal structure of the text. Bassnet (1980:37) believes that a translator needs to understand the internal and external structures operating within and around a work of art. In identifying the difficulty of passing on meaning of the unique ensemble of the original phonetic-syntactic context (Stiener, 1975:352) believes we need a translation which gives language life beyond the moment and place of immediate utterance or transcription (ibid:28)


In the early stages of learning a language and in the early stages of learning to translate it, the aim is to minimise the amount of negotiation involved in order to ensure maximum accuracy.


Learners need to go on to develop skill with more and more complex transactional language and, at an appropriate time, begin to develop their interactive skills beyond those involved in the basic information cycle. Further, each individual has a set of complex intentions with regard to communication and needs to be able to express these in a manner acceptable to whatever situation is involved. This quite involves a more beyond the "norm" represented by transactional language. Individuals need to become dexterous recipients and producers of language beyond the norm if they are to survive in the "real" world and communicate in an acceptable way in whatever situation they find themselves. The final achievement is an interpreter who can work effectively in very controversial situations or a translator who can produce a poem that is as great a piece of art in a target language as it is in the source language.



Bassnet, S. (1980): Translation Studies, Methuen, London


Beaugrande, R. (1978): Factors in a Theory of Poetic Translating, Van Gorcum, Assen, The Netherlands


Beaugrande, R. (1980): Text, Discourse and Process, Longman, London


Beaugrande, R. & Dressler,W. (1981): Introduction to Text Linguistics, Longman, London


Freeman, D.C. (1975): "Style and Structure in Literature" in The New Style, Fowler, R. (Ed), Basil Blackwell, Oxford


Gray, M. (1984): A Dictionary of Literary Terms, Longman, YorkOxford Halliday, M & Hasan, R (1985): "Language, Context and Text: Aspects of Language" in A Social Semiotic Perspective. OUP,


Halliday, M. (1985): An Introduction to Functional Grammar, Edward Arnold, London


Leech, G. & Short, M. (1981): Style in Fiction, Longman, London


Marsh, N. (1998): Analysing Texts: Virginia Woolf, the Novel, St Martins Press, New York


McEldowney, P.L (1990): Grammar and Communication in Learning, MD 339, Unit 2, "Communicative Purposes," University of Manchester, Manchester


McEldowney, P.L. (1994): Tests in English Language Skills: Rationale: Part One: "Principles," CENTRA, Chorley


McEldowney, P.L. (1996/7): Language and Learning, Part Two, "An Integrated Learning Cycle," Oldham LEA, Oldham


Steiner, G. (1975): After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation, OUP, Oxford



Kindersley (Pub.) (1991): Children's Illustrated Encyclopaedia, Dorling Kindersley, London


Woolf, V.: To the Lighthouse, Triad Grafton Books, London


By Ibrahim Saad - B.A. in English Language and Literature from Cairo University, M.Ed. from Manchester University, M.A. in translation from Salford University, Ph.D. in translation from the faculty of Arts, Manchester University. Professor at Ajman University (UAE), teaching Translation

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