TRANSLATION OF ATTRIBUTIVE PHRASES
Translation of free phrases may seem not to cause any specific difficulties, and they can have similar images both in English and in Russian: “ a green tree – зеленое дерево”. But the semantic relationship between the members of the attributive phrase are broader in English, which often precludes a blue-print translation of free phrases into Russian. However, the problem is not so simple, as it might seem at first sight. For instance, let’s watch the series: green valleys, green man, green horn, green thumb, green light. To confirm the above said, we can analyze the following situations:
1. “You, certainly, look a green-around-the-gills man,” Mary said. “Don’t you feel well?” – “No. In fact, I think I’ll go home and go to bed. I feel terrible”, Fred replied.
2. “We might as well go ahead with plans for the trip,” Morris said. “Yes, I agree,” Laurie replied, “since he gave us the green light yesterday and said that funs will be available.”
3. Mrs. Jane Halliday always seems to have success in growing things. Her flower garden never seems to be lacking in strong, healthy, beautiful plants and flowers. Her vegetable garden also always appears to be healthy and very productive. Her frieds frequently remark: “Jane, you, certainly, have a green thumb!”
4. At first Phil’s friends were glad about his new job. No one was jealous. In a few month he received a bigger salary, but still no one was envious. However, when, after one year, Phil received a promotion and his salary was doubled, nearly everyone of his friends was green with envy. Some even wanted his job.
As often as not the English attributive group is used to convey various adverbial ideas of location, purpose, cause, etc. Consider such groups as “Madrid trial – суд в Мадриде” (location), “profits drive – страсть к наживе” (purpose), “war suffering – пагубные последствия войны” (cause). Such groups may also express various action-object relationship. Cf. “labour workers), “labour spies” (spies among the workers). A word within an attributive group may sometimes alter its meaning. So, “war rehabilitation” is, in fact, rehabilitation of economy after the war, that is, “post-war rehabilitation” and “communist trials in U.S.A.” are “trials of Communists” or “anti-Communist trials”. Likewise, “church rehabilitation” is translated as “восстановление церквей”.
So the translator has to make a thorough analysis of the context to find out what the meaning of the group is in each particular case. E.g. “The Berlin Proposal” can be interpreted in various ways, depending on the reference of the word “Berlin” to the supercedent “Proposal” as “предложение, высказанное в Берлине”, “предложение по Берлину”, “предложение для Берлина”, “предложение, выдвинутое Берлином”. However, the translator’s factual competence will enable him translate this phrase into Russian as “предложение, высказанное в Берлине”.
He must be also aware of the relative freedom of bringing together such semantic elements within the attributive group in English that are distanced from each other by a number of intermediate ideas. For instance, in the phrase “free educational institutions –бесплатные учебные заведения” the word “free” is connected with “educational”, but not with “institutions”. If we take the phrase “retail philanthropy business”, it can be understood quite ambiguously: either “business of retail philathropy” or “retail business of philanthropy”. Try to understand which is right.
The second group of problems results from the difficulties in handling multi-member attributive structures. The English-speaking people make wide use of “multi-storied” structures with complicated internal semantic relationship. Let’s watch the expansion of the following phrases:
poll tax – налог за право голосования;
poll tax state -
poll tax state governor -
штат, в котором действует закон штат, в котором закон о налоге на право голосования
-poll tax state governor conference
– губернатор штата, в котором действует закон о налоге за право голосования;
- конференция губернаторов штатов, в которых действует закон о налоге за право голосования.
As you can see from the above, on each stage the volume of meaning is expanded, acquiring new qualitative aspects. Try to add to the final phrase the following indicators: “annual”, “in Washington, D.C.”
The semantic relationships within a multi-member group need not be linear. Consider the following sentence: “Intra Ltd . offers a wide choice of a high quality computer designed tights and socks for all customers .” Here we have a intricate chain of semantic ties. Between the nouns “tights” and “socks” and the attributes: the word “designed” is directly connected with “computer”, the attribute “high” is subordinate to the noun “quality”. Together the above couples of words express the idea of quality.
In translation this complexity of semantic ties will result in replacing the group by a number of different structures in which the hidden relations within it will be made explicit: Компания Интра Лтд. Предлагает широкому кругу покупателей большой выбор колготок и носков, созданных с помощью компьютера
A given translation is one of the multiplicity of possible variants in which such structures should be analyzed in terms of factors influencing the choice of Russian variants rather than with the aim of listing regular correspondences – occasional equivalents only. It is not possible to list regular correspondences of translated structures, the correlation between thev can be regarded as occasional equivalence.
The same goes for attributive groups with latent predication where a whole sentence is used to qualify a noun as its attribute “He was being the boss again, using the its-my-money-now-do-as-you’re-told voice”. Here correspondences can also be described in a separate sentence or a clause which should be joined to the noun by a short introductory element. The translation can follow as something like that: Он снова обрел командный тон и вего голосе слышались нотки типа «Это мои леньги, и поэтому извольте делать как я скажу». Cf. “The judge’s face wore his own I-knew-they- were-all-guilty expression”. Try to translate it by yourselves.
The stages of translation of attributive phrases are the following:
1. Find the final noun which, as a rule, is the main word;
2. Single out sense groups within the phrase;
3. Analyze relations between sense groups.
Below we can find the classication of different ways of translating attributive phrases:
1. A preposed attribute in SL> a preposed attribute in TL: “a fine day – чудесный день”; “plenary session – пленарное заседание”. Try to translate the phrase “underdeveloped countries” by yourselves.
2. A preposed attribute in SL is rendered by a noun in the genitive case. “Opposition leader – лидер оппозиции”, “a negotiating table - .стол переговоров.”
3. A preposed attribute in SL corresponds to a postpositional attribute joined to the modified noun by a preposition (usually N + prep + N). “Highway robbery – грабеж на большой дороге”.
4. A preposed attribute in SL is translated by an apposition “her millionaire friend – её друг-миллионер”, “a metallurgical engineer – инженер-металлург”.
5. A preposed attribute in SL is rendered descriptively (a bargain counter – отдел товаров по сниженным ценам). Try to translate the following phrases: “dry states”, “moonshine war”, “synthetic plant”, “garage sale’”
6. A preposed attribute in SL requires rearranging the components of the phrase and shifting the attribute to another noun (present in or omitted from the phrase). “Punitive talk - разговоры о карательных мерах”, “non-proliferation treaty –договор о нераспространении ялерного оружия”. Try to translate the following: ”the best village open competition”, “Parliamentary Labour Party”.
7. A preposed attribute in SL corresponds to a Russian adverbial phrase. “To give a loud whistle – громко свистнуть”, “to make a quick buck – ловко заработать.”
In conclusion, it should be noted that while doing his job, the translator should always take into account the target language factors:
1) Semantic relationship between the components of a phrase;
2) Combinability of words ih TL;
3) Grammatical norm of TL.
Mind the difference: white man – белый человек; white power – власть белых. Сf.:
public man – политический деятель;
public opinion – общественное мнение;
public school – государственная/частная школа;
public denial – официальное опровержение;
public image – сложившееся общественное представление о человеке и деятельности;
public relations – связи с общественностью;
public property – государственная собственность;
public security – общественная безопасность;
public security action – меры по обеспечению общественной безопасности.
And now watch the semantic development of the enhanced combinations and translate them accordingly:
aircraft control system;
fly-by-wire aircraft control system;
digital fly-by-wire aircraft control system;
ten-digit fly-by-wire aircraft control system.
To sum it up, in order to translate an attributive phase adequately the translator has to remember that English attributive phrases are broader in meaning than their counterparts in the Russian language on the one hands, and on the other hand,the following target language requirements should be met:
- grammatical norms of the Russian language;
- combinability of words in the Russian language;
- semantic relations between the components of the phrase.
Try to translate yourself the following attributive phrases:
gold medal game, world hockey junior league champions, stock market movement, stocks issue, Initial Public Offering (IPO), operational risk, incentive system, trade promotion, nuclear threat initiative, ten digit control number, stock exchange, computer-aided design system, very high speed integrated circuit, radiation stimulated emission light amplification, aircraft control system, magnetic field, green man, green light, green thumb, dry foot, wet foot, helping hand, Dutch party, teenage girl, hospitality business, round-trip ticket, redneck comedian, cross-country travel log, whodunit book.
Phraseological units are figurative set expressions often described as “idioms”. Such units have an important role to play in human communication. They produce a considerable expressive effect for, besides conveying information, they appeal to the reader’s emotions, his aesthetic perception, his literary and cultural associations. Whenever the author of the source text uses an idiom, it is the translator’s duty to try and reproduce it with the utmost fidelity.
Now an idiom’s semantics are a complex entity and there are five aspects of its meaning that will influence the translator’s choice of an equivalent in the target language. They are the idiom’s figurative meaning, its literal sense, its emotive character, stylistic register and national colouring.
The figurative meaning is the basic element of the idiom’s semantics. Thus “red tape” means bureaucracy, “to kick the bucket” means to die, and “to wash dirty linen in public” means to disclose one’s family troubles to outsiders. The figurative meaning is inferred from the literal sense. “Red tape”, “to kick the bucket” and “to wash dirty linen in public” also refer, respectively, to a coloured tape, an upset pail, and a kind of laundering. Thus, “red tape” goes back to the middle age custom to put applications, submitted to the authority, under the table cloth (tape), which was usually red.
Idioms can be positive, negative or neutral. It is clear that “to kill two birds with one stone” is good, “to find a mare’s nest” is a ludicrous mistake while “Rome was not built in a day” is a neutral statement of fact. They can also differ in their stylistic usage: they may be bookish (to show one’s true colours) or colloquial (to be pain in the neck). Besides, an idiom can be nationally coloured, that is, they include some words which mark it as the product of a certain nation. For instance, “to set the Thames on fire” and “to carry coals to Newcastle” are unmistakably British, whereas “to tell the boys from cowboys is Texan. American.
The complex character of the idiom’s semantics makes its translation no easy matter. But there are some additional factors which complicate the task of adequate identification, understanding and translation of idioms.
First, an idiom can be mistaken for a free word combination, especially if its literal sense is not “exotic” (to have butterflies in one’s stomach) but to raise the dust with a tail, to measure one’s length, to let one’s hair down are rather trivial.
Second, a SL idiom may be identical in form to a TL idiom but have a different figurative meaning. Thus, the English “to lead sb by the nose” implies a total domination of one person by the other and “to stretch one’s legs” means to take a stroll.Cf. протянуть ноги.
Third, a SL idiom can be wrongly interpreted due to its association with a similar, if not identical TL unit. For instance, “to pull the devil by the tail”, that is to be in trouble, may be misunderstood by the translator under the influence of the Russian idioms “держать Бога за бороду” or “поймать за хвост жар-птицу”.
Fourth, a SL idiom may have a broader range of application than its TL counterpart apparently identical in form and meaning. For instance, the English “to get out of hand” is equivalent to the Russian “отбиваться от рук” and the latter is often used to translate it:
“The children got out of hand while their parents were away. – В отсутствие родителей дети совсем отбились от рук ”.
But the English idiom can be used whenever somebody or something gets out of control while the Russian idiom has a more restricted usage: “What caused the meeting to get out of hand? - Почему собрание прошло так неорганизованно?”.
The possibility of misinterpreting an idiom in the source text calls for a great deal of vigilance on the part of the translator.
There are four typical ways and methods to handle a SL idiom in the translating process.
First, the translator can make use of a TL idiom which is identical to the SL idiom, completely preserving the imagery of the original: “to pull chestnuts out of the fire for smb. – Таскать каштаны из огня для кого-либо”.
Try to translate yourselves:
John washed his hands of this job.
Bill killed time before the train left.
One swallow does not make a spring.
Laziness is the root of all evil.
Bob realized that it was his Achilles’ heel.
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