Luận Văn An Investigation Into English - Vietnamese Translation Of Euphemism

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1 MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING UNIVERSITY OF DANANG PHAN THỊ THU THỦY AN INVESTIGATION INTO ENGLISH - VIETNAMESE TRANSLATION OF EUPHEMISM Subject Area : The English Language Code : 60.22.15 M.A. THESIS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE Supervisor: TRẦN ĐÌNH NGUYÊN, M.A. DANANG - 2011 i DECLARATION Except where reference is made in the text of the thesis, this thesis contains no material published elsewhere or extracted in whole or in part from a thesis by which I have qualified for or been awarded another degree or diploma. No other person’s work has been used without due acknowledgement in the thesis. This thesis has not been submitted for the award of any degree or diploma in any other tertiary institution. Danang - 2011 Phan Thị Thu Thủy ii ABSTRACT This thesis has been done in an effort to investigate how euphemism is translated from English into Vietnamese in translated works as well as to find out what are the main approaches taken by translators in translating euphemism from English into Vietnamese. A collection of samples taken from literary works written in English and their Vietnamese versions have been analyzed to explore ways in which euphemisms are transferred. Besides, quantitative analyses have also been carried out to show distribution of ways of translating, on the basis of which to identify preferences. The findings, it is hoped, will help to put forward some suggestions for the translation as a profession and for the teaching and learning of English to overcome the misunderstandings and barriers during the cross-cultural communication. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page DECLARATION .............................................................................................. i ABSTRACT ......................................................................................................ii TABLE OF CONTENTS ................................................................................iii LIST OF FIGURES .......................................................................................... vi CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION ................................................................ 1 1.1. Rationale .................................................................................................... 1 1.2. Signification of the Study........................................................................... 2 1.3. Scope of the Study ..................................................................................... 2 1.4. Research Questions .................................................................................... 2 1.5. Definition of Terms .................................................................................... 2 1.6. Organisation of the Study........................................................................... 3 CHAPTER 2 - LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL BACKGROUND ............................................................... 4 2.1. A Review of Previous Studies.................................................................... 4 2.2. Theoretical Background ............................................................................. 5 2.2.1. Theory of Translation.......................................................................... 5 2.2.1.1. Definitions of Translation............................................................ 5 2.2.1.2. Language and Culture.................................................................. 7 2.2.1.3. Translation Equivalence .............................................................. 9 2.2.1.4. Translation Methods ................................................................. 11 2.2.1.5. Communicative Translation and Semantic Translation ............ 14 2.2.2. Euphemisms ...................................................................................... 16 2.2.2.1. Concepts and Definitions of Euphemisms................................. 16 2.2.2.2. Characteristic Features of Euphemisms..................................... 19 2.2.2.3. Euphemisms and Other Linguistic Units ................................... 21 iv 2.2.3. Semantic Characteristics of English Words...................................... 25 2.2.3.1. Word Meaning ........................................................................... 25 2.2.3.2. Sense Relations .......................................................................... 27 2.2.3.3. Componential Analysis in Translation....................................... 28 2.2.4. Classification of Euphemisms and Theorists’ Ways for Translation of Euphemisms ............................................................ 29 2.2.4.1. Classification of Euphemisms........................................................ 29 2.2.4.2. Theorists’ Ways for Translations of Euphemisms......................... 31 CHAPTER 3 - METHOD AND PROCEDURE......................................... 34 3.1. Aims and Objectives................................................................................. 34 3.1.1. Aims .................................................................................................. 34 3.1.2. Objectives.......................................................................................... 34 3.2. Research Design ....................................................................................... 34 3.3. Method of Research.................................................................................. 35 3.4. Data Collection and Description .............................................................. 35 3.5. Research Procedures................................................................................. 36 CHAPTER 4 - DISCUSSIONS OF FINDINGS ......................................... 37 4.1. The Ways of English-Vietnamese Translation of Euphemisms as Manifested in Translated Works ............................................................. 37 4.1.1. Translation of Euphemisms expressing Death.................................. 37 4.1.2. Translation of Euphemisms expressing Sex .................................... 49 4.1.3. Translation of Euphemisms expressing Pregnancy .......................... 63 4.1.4. Translation of Euphemisms expressing Childbirth........................... 71 4.2. Three main Approaches to Translation of Euphemism............................ 79 4.2.1. Translation of Euphemism into an Equivalent Euphemism by Finding the Exact Counterpart in the TL text ................................. 79 v 4.2.2. Translation of Euphemism into a Non-equivalent Euphemism by Translating the Euphemistic Meaning of the SL text or by Adding Footnotes and Explanatory Words in the TL text .............. 81 4.2.3. Translation of Euphemism into a direct form in the TL text ............ 82 CHAPTER 5 – CONCLUSIONS ................................................................. 83 5.1. Summary of the Findings ........................................................................ 83 5.2. Implications for Translation .................................................................... 85 5.3. Implications for Language Teaching and Learning ................................ 85 5.4. Some Limitations of the Study................................................................ 86 5.5. Some Suggestions for Further Research ................................................. 87 REFERENCES .............................................................................................. 88 QUYẾT ĐỊNH GIAO ĐỀ TÀI vi LIST OF FIGURES Title Page Figure 4.1. Proportion of Distribution of Euphemism expressing Death in the SL Text Transferred into the TL Text 49 Figure 4.2. Proportion of Distribution of Euphemism expressing Sex in the SL Text Transferred into the TL Text 62 Figure 4.3. Proportion of Distribution of Euphemism expressing Pregnancy in the SL Text Transferred into the TL Text 70 Figure 4.4. Proportion of Distribution of Euphemism expressing Childbirth in the SL Text Transferred into the TL Text 78 1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1. RATIONALE It is well known that human culture, social behavior and thinking cannot exist without languages. Being a social and national identity and a means of human communication, languages cannot help bearing imprints of ethnic and cultural values as well as the norms of behavior of a given language community. Obviously, ideas, notions and feelings are actually universal but the way we describe them in different languages is very unique. Therefore, translation plays a crucial role in enhancing better understanding each other, transmitting information, exchanging experiences and getting knowledge. However, translating from one language into another is no easy task. Translation must take into account a number of constraints, including the context, the rules of grammar of the two languages, their writing conventions, and their idioms. The most important idea is that translators have to be honest in relaying the meaning, especially from one culture to another. It can be said that one of the greatest difficulties that challenges translators are translating figures of speech in general and euphemism in particular. Euphemism, a very important culture-loaded figure of speech, is often employed in communication and reflects the historical, political, economic and ideological situations of a nation with its own characteristics. The translation of euphemism has become more and more important with the development of the inter-cultural communication. This thesis attempts to study the figures of speech on the aspect of translation to give some considerations and propose methods in translating these figures of speech in general and euphemism in particular. 2 1.2. SIGNIFICATION OF THE STUDY We hope this study will offer some help to the translators when doing the translation of euphemism and assist them to overcome the misunderstandings and barriers during the cross-cultural communication. 1.3. SCOPE OF THE STUDY This study investigates the ways used in translating euphemism from English into Vietnamese. The investigation will focus on works of English literature and their Vietnamese versions. 1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS The research has attempted to answer the following questions: 1. How euphemism is translated from English into Vietnamese as seen in examples taken from works of literature? 2. What are the main approaches taken by translators in translating euphemism from English into Vietnamese? 1.5. DEFINITIONS OF TERMS - “Source language” is the language in which a text was originally written. - “Target language” is the language in which a text is translated. - “Euphemism” is a figure of speech. It is used as an alternative to an expression, in order to avoid possible loss of face: either one’s own face or through giving offense, that of the audience, or of some third party. - “Semantic approach” is an approach to translation which has these features:  SL bias  Keeping semantic and syntactic structures as closely as possible  Author- centered - “Communicative approach” is an approach which has these features:  TL bias 3  Keeping effect as closely as possible  Second reader-centered. 1.6. ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY This research paper consists of five chapters: Chapter one: Introduction In this chapter we would present the statements of the problem, the justification for the study, the scope of the study, the organization, as well as definitions of terms. Chapter two: Literature Review The chapter covers a review of literature on translation of euphemism. Prior studies on the problems are reviewed for the groundwork of the research. This chapter also introduces some theoretical preliminaries on the translation theory, the definitions and classification of euphemism and the area of semantics. Chapter three: Method and Procedures This chapter provides the aims and objectives of the study, the research methods used in order to achieve these aims. Next comes the research procedures which include the research questions, the hypothesis, data collection and analysis. Chapter four: Finding and Discussions This chapter presents the findings and discussion of ways used in translating euphemism from English into Vietnamese. The discussion also covers the main approaches taken by translators in translating euphemism from English into Vietnamese. Chapter five: Conclusions This chapter consists of the conclusion of the whole study, the implications for the translation and for the teaching and learning. Limitations in doing the research and suggestions for further studies are also mentioned in this chapter. 4 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL BACKGROUND 2.1. A REVIEW OF PREVIOUS STUDIES Translation is a complex process where fragile balance is achieved between the equivalence of the text translated and the linguistic means chosen. In reality, translation of euphemism from one language into another language is a complex work which poses great difficulties to the translator so there are many researchers dealing with euphemism translation in different aspects. They can be seen in the following studies: In “Introduction to Semantics and Translation” (1990), Barnwell [23, p. 62-64] introduces some features of euphemism and also presents some notes on translating euphemisms. In “Euphemism and Dysphemism - Language Used as Shield and Weapon” (1990), Allan and Burridge [21] mentions about the development, the classification of English euphemisms and the differences among euphemism, slang, dysphemism and taboo. D.J. Enright [30] in “Fair of Speech” (1986), introduces euphemisms and sex, death, politics, the media, the law and many others as well as mentioned about the uses of euphemism. In “Stylistics” (1977), Galperin [31] gives a definition of euphemism and also divides them into several groups according to their spheres of application: 1) religious, 2) moral, 3) medical, 4) parliamentary. In Vietnamese, euphemisms have been discussed by some linguists: Bằng Giang [1] in “Tiếng Việt phong phú” (1997), investigates over 1,000 variants of the word death with illustrations. 5 In “Phong cách học Tiếng Việt” (2001), Đinh Trọng Lạc [4, p.126] puts forward the basic theoretical background of euphemisms in the Vietnamese language. He assumes that euphemism is the delicate expression in communicative situation in which the addresser feels uncomfortable to talk about taboo topics because he is afraid that it will hurt or offend the addressee “Uyển ngữ là phương thức diễn ñạt tế nhị trong hoàn cảnh giao tiếp mà người nói không tiện nói ra vì sợ quá phũ phàng hoặc sợ xúc phạm ñến người nghe”. Trương Viên [19] (2003; Ph.D. Thesis) focuses on the linguistic features of euphemisms by analyzing their formation by syntactic, phonetic, lexical and stylistic means. With the contrastive analysis, the author also pointes out some features related to the method of translation. Nguyễn Thị Lê [15] (2006; M.A thesis) focuses on the study on commonly-used euphemisms in English and Vietnamese newspapers in three aspects: syntax, semantics and pragmatics. On doing this research, we have followed the viewpoint of linguistics in doing an investigation into common ways for translating euphemism from English into Vietnamese and found out the main approaches taken by translators in translating euphemism from English into Vietnamese. 2.2. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND 2.2.1 Theory of Translation 2.2.1.1 Definitions of Translation Translation, by dictionary definition, consists of changing from one form to another, to turn into one 'own or another' language (The Merriam Webster Dictionary, 1974). Some authors have given the following different definitions of translation: 6 In the book “A Linguistic Theory of Translation”, Catford [25] defines that translation is not a dangerous technique in itself provided its nature is understood, and its use is carefully controlled and translation is in itself a valuable skill to be imparted to students. Furthermore, translation is an operation performed in languages and also a process of substituting a text in one language for a text in another. More specifically, translation is the replacement of textual material in one language (SL) by equivalent textual material in another language (TL). Benjamin [61] states that translation goes beyond enriching the language and culture of a country which it contributes to, beyond renewing and maturing the life of the original text, beyond expressing and analyzing the most intimate relationships of languages with each other and becomes a way of entry into a universal language. Other researchers, Meetham and Hudsan [45, p.53] mention that translation is the replacement of a presentation of a text in one language by a presentation of equivalent text in a second language. According to B. Hatim & I. Mason [32, p.3], translation is a process, involving the negotiation of meaning between producers and receivers of texts. In other words, the resulting translated text is to be seen as the evidence of a transaction, a means of retracting the pathways of the translator’s decision-makings. Another author, Nguyễn Hồng Cổn [11] mentions that the activity of translation is still a language activity and language plays core and basic roles. However, he says that together with the attention to linguistic problem, translators also need to pay attention to the problems relating to the SL and TL such as social environment, culture and religion. 7 Furthermore, Vũ Văn Đại [20] claims that there is an unequivalence in culture of translators and original texts, so in order to become good translators, it is very necessary to enrich the cultural and national knowledge of the TL. Peter Newmark’s theory [48] is different from the point of view of above mentioned authors. He defines that translation is rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended the text. Briefly, the starting point of translation is a message. This message is expressed in a specific language, which is called the SL. When doing translation, we aim to re-express that message in another language (TL). We have already known that the form of each language is unique. Thus, translation will involve some changes of form. This does not matter provided that that the meaning of the message is retained unchanged. Moreover, translation not only involves understanding the general meaning of the communication but also calls upon the ability to understand the culture of the communication. Before we can translate a message, we must understand the total meaning of the message within its own cultural context. 2.2.1.2. Language and Culture Dealing with language and culture, Whorf who endorsed Sapir’s theory declares firmly that “No language can exist unless it is steeped in the context of culture; and no culture of natural language.” [24, p.14]. Language, then, is the heart within the body of culture, and it is the interaction between the two that results in the continuation of life energy. In the same way that the surgeon, operating on the heart, cannot neglect the body that surrounds it, so the translator treats the text in isolation from the culture at his peril. According to Claire Kramsch [41, p.37], language is the principle means whereby we conduct our social lives. When it is used in contexts of 8 communication, it is bound up with culture in multiple and complex ways. “Language expresses cultural reality” as the words people utter refer to common experience. They express facts, ideas or events that are communicable because they refer to a stock of knowledge about the world that other people share. “Language embodies cultural reality through all its verbal and nonverbal aspects”. People also create experience through language. They give meaning to it through the medium they choose to communicate with one other, for example, speaking on the telephone or faceto-face, writing a letter or sending an email message. The way they use spoken, written, or visual medium itself creates meanings that are understandable to the group they belong. Language is a system of signs that is seen that having itself a cultural value. “Language symbolizes cultural reality” as speakers identify themselves and other through their use of language; they use their language as a symbol of their social identity. Edward Sapir claims that “language is a guide to social reality” and that human beings are at the mercy of the language that has become the medium of expression for their society. Experience, he asserts, is largely determined by the language habits of the community, and each separate structure represents a separate reality. He also affirms that “no two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world, with different labels attached.” [24, p.13] Peter Newmark [49, p.94] indicates that culture is the way of life and its manifestations that are peculiar to a community that uses a particular language as its means of expression. Frequently, where there is cultural focus, there is a translation problem due to the cultural “gap” or “distance” between the SL and TL. 9 2.2.1.3. Translation Equivalence Equivalence can be said to be the central issue in translation although its definition, relevance, and applicability within the field of translation theory have caused heated controversy, and many different theories of the concept of equivalence have been elaborated within this problem. Translation equivalence occurs when a SL and a TL text or item are relatable to (at least some of) the same features of substance. The greater the number of situational features common to the contextual meanings of both SL and TL texts, the “better” the translation. According to Peter Newmark, translation equivalence is an unwritten rule about translation which people know and which influences the form of translating exchange. “Translation equivalence will not be achieved word for word, collocation for collocation, clause for clause, sentence for sentence, but possibly only paragraph for paragraph, or, rarely, text for text. For this reason, translation equivalence, like the term ‘unit of translation’, is sometimes a useful operational concept, but it can be only roughly and approximately indicated for a stretch of language.” [49, p.123] Mentioning translation equivalence, Eugene Nida [51, p.26] distinguishes two types of equivalence: formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence. Formal equivalence focuses attention on the message itself, in both form (poetry to poetry, sentence to sentence, concept and concept) and content (gloss translation, aim to allow the reader to understand as much of the SL context as possible). However, dynamic equivalence is based on the principle of equivalent effect, i.e. that the relationship between receiver and message should aim at being the same as that between the original receivers and the SL message. 10 J.C. Catford [25, p. 47] claims that SL and TL texts or items are translation equivalents when they are interchangeable in a given situation. Catford's approach to translation equivalence clearly differs from that adopted by Nida since Catford had a preference for a more linguistic-based approach to translation and this approach is based on the linguistic work of Firth and Halliday. Catford proposed very broad types of translation in terms of three criteria: the extent of translation (full translation vs. partial translation); the grammatical rank at which the translation equivalence is established (rankbound translation vs. unbounded translation); the levels of language involved in translation (total translation vs. restricted translation). Moreover, Popovic [23, p.25] distinguishes translation equivalence into four types: (1) Linguistic equivalence, where there is homogeneity on the linguistic level of both SL and TL texts, i.e. word for word translation. (2) Paradigmatic equivalence, where there is equivalence of the elements of a paradigmatic expressive axis, i.e. elements of grammar, which Popovic sees as being a higher category than lexical equivalence. (3) Stylistic (translational) equivalence, where there is “functional equivalence of elements in both original and translation aiming at an expressive identity with an invariant of identical meaning”. (4) Textual (syntagmatic) equivalence, where there is equivalence of the syntagmatic structuring of a text, i.e. equivalence of form and shape. In trying to solve the problem of translation equivalence, Newbert [47] postulates that translation equivalence must be considered a semiotic category consisting of the components (syntactic, semantic and pragmatic). These components are arranged in a hierarchical relationship, where semantic equivalence takes priority over syntactic equivalence and pragmatic 11 equivalence conditions and modifies both the other elements. Equivalence overall results from the relation between signs themselves, the relationship between signs what they stand for and those who use them. In general, to achieve translation equivalence requires translators to produce the same effect (or one as close as possible) on the readership of the translation as was obtained on the readership of the original. The translation equivalence is showed in some rules and principles which are very useful for the translators. The focus is to assure the equivalence in translation of participants for translating to take place smoothly and effectively. These principles help people best achieve their goals not only in communication but also in translating: exchanging information and establishing and maintaining social relations. 2.2.1.4. Translation Methods In order to have a good translated version, the translator should have knowledge about translation theory. When we mention translation, we also refer to a process which involves the negotiation of meaning between producers and receivers of texts. Translation plays such an important role in life that there have been many researchers who mention it with many different methods. Peter Newmark [49, p.24] mentions the difference between translation methods and translations. He indicates that, "While translation methods relate to whole texts, translations are used for sentences and the smaller units of language". He goes on to refer to the following methods of translation: (1) Word-for-word translation: is the process the SL word order is preserved and the words translated singly by their most common meanings, out of context. 12 (2) Literal translation: is the process the SL grammatical constructions are converted to their nearest TL equivalents, but the lexical words are again translated singly, out of context. (3) Faithful translation: it attempts to produce the precise contextual meaning of the original within the constraints of the TL grammatical structures. (4) Semantic translation: differs from “faithful translation” only in as far as it must take more account of the aesthetic value of the SL texts. (5) Adaptation: is the freest form of translation, and is used mainly for plays (comedies) and poetry; the themes, characters, plots are usually preserved, the SL culture is converted to the TL culture and the text is rewritten. (6) Free translation: it produces the TL texts without the style, form, or content of the original. (7) Idiomatic translation: it reproduces the “message” of the original but tends to distort nuances of meaning by preferring colloquialisms and idioms where these do not exist in the original. (8) Communicative translation: it attempts to render the exact contextual meaning of the original in such a way that both content and language are readily acceptable and comprehensible to the readership. Mentioning linguistic aspects of translation, Roman Jakobson [38, p. 232-239] distinguishes three types of translation: (1) Intralingual translation, or rewording (an interpretation of verbal signs by means of other signs in the same language) (2) Interlingual translation or translation proper (an interpretation of verbal signs by means of some other language) 13 (3) Intersemiotic translation or transmutation (an interpretation of verbal signs by means of nonverbal sign systems.) The translation in these three types properly describes the process of transferring from the SL to the TL. He goes on immediately to point to the central problem in all types: while messages may serve as adequate interpretations of code units or messages, there is ordinarily no full equivalence through translation. Engene Nida [51] provides the model of the translation process consisting of the following stages: SL TL TEXT TRANSLATION Analysis Restructuring Transfer For example: SL TL HELLO ÇA VA? Friendly greeting on arrival Decision to distinguish between forms of greeting available Transfer Firth [24, p. 22] defines meaning as “a complex of relations of various kinds between the component terms of a context of situation”. He points out that, in determining what to use in English, the translators must:
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