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Culture and Translation - Essay Example

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Translation is not simply a matter of finding alternatives and synonyms for words in one language, in another. Translation does not simply involve the translation of words but, importantly, of cultures. This is a fact which numerous linguistics and translation scholars have emphasised (Baker, 1992, pp…
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Culture and Translation
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"Culture and Translation"

Download file to see previous pages The problem of translation, therefore, is not simply limited to finding alterative words but to preserving the source culture. Referring to the translation of specific genres which represent a language's cultural heritage and historical memories, Rosslyn (1997, pp. 19-22) highlights the difficulties of translating the worlds within which these words emerge and which they define and express. Translation is a challenge because it entails far more than the rendering of a text from a source to a target language; translation requires that the translator move the culture from the source text to the target text but in such a way as would allow the target audience to understand that culture and to appreciate it on its own terms (Bassnet, 1990; Baker, 1992, pp. 1-5; Schaffner and Kelly-Holmes, 1995, pp. 19-23; Faiq, 2004, pp. 14-16).
Looking at the above stated from the perspective of Arabic to English or English to Arabic translation, the difficulties and challenges which the translator confronts become a bit clearer. Not only is the Arabic to English translator, for example, required to transfer an Arabic language text into the English language but he/she is expected to also preserve the Arabic culture from which the text emerged and transfer it to the source text, the translated one. This, as the essay will argue, is an extremely difficult undertaking and, if it is to be done properly, requires that the translator align the translation theory and type that he will use with the source text's genre and culture.
2 Culture and Translation
The problem of translation is compounded by the cultural factor. This is especially so in cases where the proposed source culture and the planned target one are considered antithetical, or when the difference between them function as an obstacle to the one understanding the other. This is generally assumed to be the case with Arabic and English. Indeed, historical memories, linguistic heritages and worldviews specific to the Arabic and English languages are sufficiently different and divergent to pose as a real challenge for the translator. As Edward Said (1978, pp. 49-52) argued in his famous, and highly influential, treatise on orientalism, when translating from Arabic to English, the translator faces a challenging task. He has to disconnect himself, as a subject and person, from the act of translation, to avoid making the mistake of colonizing or orientalising the text. As regards the former, the implication here is that the Western translator approach the Arabic text from the matrix of his/her own culture and, in his/her determined efforts to communicate the nuances of the oriental culture, emphasize its otherness,' ultimately portraying it as extremely foreign and exotic. As regards the latter, the translator similarly inserts him/herself, as a subjective cultural being, into the process. The outcome can be the colonization of the source text in the sense that the translator interprets it from his/her cultural perspectives and norms, effectively imposing the latter upon ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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