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  ISSN 1799-2591 Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 2, No. 6, pp. 1220-1229, June 2012 © 2012 ACADEMY PUBLISHER Manufactured in Finland. doi:10.4304/tpls.2.6.1220-1229 © 2012 ACADEMY PUBLISHER Translation of Idioms and Fixed Expressions: Strategies and Difficulties Amir Shojaei Department of English, Quchan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Quchan, Iran Email:  Abstract   —  This research tries to investigate and identify firstly some existing obstacles in the process of translating inter-lingual idiomatic pairs, and then to suggest some weighty theoretical strategies to overcome such difficulties. Following Mona Baker's (1992) classification of difficulties and strategies and the related sub-categories mentioned, the present study makes an effort to analyze such classifications and practically apply them largely for some English and the equivalent Turkish (Azeri) as well as Persian pairs. Findings show that there are a number of factors which should be considered in order to translate idiomatic expressions correctly. The most important of such factors include  socio-linguistic elements, cultural aspects, linguistic and stylistic    considerations  as well as some specific meta-lingual factors . Index Terms  —  idioms, fixed expressions, idiomatic translation, Baker, difficulties, strategies I.   I  NTRODUCTION  Idioms and fixed expressions are an inalienable part of each language found in large numbers in most of the languages. Since the meaning of these collocations can not be understood from the superficial meanings of the single words constituting them, so there are some problems in both processes of understanding and translating them. The process of translating idioms and fixed expressions from one language into another is a fine work which obliges a translator to have a good knowledge of both languages and cultures being shared or transferred as well as being able to identify and cope with the contingent problems in the process of finding an efficient equivalent for the inter-lingual idiomatic pairs. People of different languages use completely different expressions to convey a similar meaning, in a way that while an expression might be completely tangible and easy-to-understand for the interlocutors of a specific language, the same set of words and expressions may seem fully vague and dim and even in some cases nonsense to the speakers of the other. This srcinates in the fact that each language has got some culture-specific items that are completely different from the corresponding items in another language. Besides, there are some differences in such factors as religion, geographical locations, different ideologies, and social classes of languages and societies that harden the process of understanding and translating idiomatic pairs from one language into another. Hence, there are two main  problems in this case: 1) How to understand the meaning of idioms and fixed expressions of a specific language; and 2) How to recreate the same sets of idioms and fixed expressions of one language in another language in a way that they might convey exactly the same ideas of the srcinal language. This research aims to investigate what difficulties arise in the two processes of interpreting and translating idioms and fixed expressions from one language into another. An attempt has been made to exemplify the difficulties and strategies regarding this phenomenon so that a pseudo-descriptive list of existing difficulties might be declared for the readers and translators of such expressions. At the same time some quasi-prescriptive categories of strategies and solutions to cope with those problems have been mentioned largely based on Mona Baker's „  equivalence above word level  ‟   (1992, pp. 68-71) classification of difficulties and strategies for translating idiomatic expressions. Considering these two classifications and the sub-categories of each group this study tries to show some guidelines for both the readers and translators of idiomatic expressions in the process of translating such concepts. Some practical examples of English and Turkish (Azeri) as well as some Persian collocations will be declared throughout the body of the paper. Firstly, the difficulties in the processes of understanding the meanings of idioms will be analyzed, then the possible ways of solving those difficulties will be mentioned mainly through applying those strategies proposed by Baker (1992) in her book,  In other Words,  alongside some other experimental findings mentioned by a number of experienced translators and scholars. Besides, a number of suggestions, regarding idiomatic translation, made by such scholars as  Newmark (1988), Fernando (1996) and Gottlieb (1997) will be taken into consideration. II.   I DIOMS AND F IXED E XPRESSIONS  As a matter of fact there are so many languages all around the world each of which differs from the others in some aspects. Also it is obvious that the people of different countries have got diverse ideologies and every society perceives the world in a different way from the other one and consequently the ideologies influence the languages and the ways of   THEORY AND PRACTICE IN LANGUAGE STUDIES © 2012 ACADEMY PUBLISHER 1221 expressing meanings. Finally, as the result, the collocations and idiomatic expressions of the languages diverge from each other in most cases. The previous works done by some other researchers include Noor Balfaqeeh's (2009) and Margarita Strakšiene‟s   (2009) papers on the issue. Balfaqeeh uses a number of theories regarding this issue beside mentioning some Arabic examples by making a questionnaire and providing some quantitave and qualitative data. On the other hand Strakšiene analyzes idiomatic expressions through giving some Lithuanian   examples and concludes that the translation of idioms involves  four basic translation strategies : “  paraphrasing, which involves explanatory and stylistic paraphrase; idiom to idiom translation, which involves using idiom of similar meaning and form, and using idiom of similar meaning but dissimilar form; literal translation; and finally omission ”   (Strakšiene, 2009, p. 18) . To illuminate the issue we need to explain some types of meaning at first.  A. Definition of Idioms & Fixed Expressions Idioms and fixed expressions have got a vast territory in a way that they can include many cultural aspects such as religious beliefs, culture-specific items, superstitions, and different ideologies of the people from diverse societies and nations. Idioms are treated as figures of speech, which are defined in the Collins English Dictionary (2006) as “ an expression such as a simile, in which words do not have their literal meaning, but are categorized as multi-word expressions that act in the text as units ” . Longman Idioms Dictionary (1998) defines them as “ a sequence of words which has a different meaning as a group from the meaning it would have if you understand each word separately ” . Accordingly, idioms should not be broken up into their elements because they are sometimes referred to as a fixed expression (Cowie and Mackin, 1975, viii cited in Balfaqeeh, 2009).  Newmark (1988, p. 104) who considers idiom as an „ extended ‟ metaphor   claims that an idiom has two main functions:  pragmatic and referential  . The pragmatic   function is to appeal to the senses, to interest, to surprise, to delight. He mentions that the first function is called cognitive, while the other is aesthetic. The referential   function is “ to describe a mental process or state, a concept, a person, an object, a quality or an action more comprehensively and concisely than is possible in literal or physical language ”  (Cited in Strakšiene, 2009, p. 14).  According to McMordiew “ we can say that an idiom is a number of words which [when they are] taken together, mean something different from the individual words of the idiom when they stand alone”. (McMordiew, 1983, p. 4)  On the other hand Moon (1998) in her book,  A Corpus-Based Approach,   defines idiom as “an ambiguous term, used in conflicting ways‟‟. In lay or general use, idiom has two main meanings. First, idiom is a particular means of expressing something in language, music, art, and so on, which characterizes a person or group; secondly, an idiom is a  particular lexical collocation or phrasal lexeme, peculiar to a language”   (Moon, 1998, p. 3). Most of the scholars quote that both idioms and fixed expressions and specially the former one in most of the cases show no flexibility to change in form and grammar. In this case Baker (1992) states that: …idioms and fixed expressions are at the extreme end of the scale from collocations in one or both of these areas: flexibility of patterning and transparency of meaning. They are frozen patterns of languages which allow little or no variation in form and, in the case of idioms, often carry meanings which can not be deduced from their individual components (p. 63). She also mentions that some idioms even allow “ no variation in form under normal circumstances ”  and that a translator can not do any of the following with an idiom: a) Change the order    of the words in it; b)  Delete  a word from it; c)  Add   a word to it; d)  Replace  a word with another; and finally e) Change  its grammatical structure (idem). Moreover, Carter (1998, p. 66) classifies idioms as a type of fixed expression that include proverbs, stock phrases, catchphrases, allusions, idiomatic similes and discoursal expressions. But Balfaqeeh (2009) criticizes that “ this classification does not have defined boundaries and a structural overlap is very much expected ”  (pp. 5-6).  B. Types of Meaning Different scholars of linguistics have categorized types of meaning in their own ways. Some of them have spoken in general terms while some others have used more specific classifications. For example, Larson (1984) believes that there are two primary kinds of meaning, namely, „   Explicit  ‟   and „   Implicit  ‟   meanings (p. 41). He states that there are also three sub-categories for these two primary kinds of meaning: 1)   „   Referential meaning  ‟ in which a specific word refers to a certain thing, event, attribution or relation which a  person can perceive or imagine (idem); 2)   „  Organizational meaning  ‟    that deals some aspects with surface structure and grammatical points of the sentence in a way that referential meanings are put together and expressed by a variety of combinations (idem); 3)   „  Situational meaning  ‟   that is the meaning of an utterance in a given communication (ibid: 41-42). On the other hand Nida (1964) categorizes three sub-branches for the kinds of meaning: 1)   „   Linguistic meaning  ‟ that borrows some elements of Chomsky's (1957) model and the fact that meanings are arbitrary; 2)   „   Referential meaning  ‟ that is called denotative meaning. This category contains the words that can be found as an entry of a dictionary; and finally;   THEORY AND PRACTICE IN LANGUAGE STUDIES © 2012 ACADEMY PUBLISHER 1222 3)   „   Emotive meaning  ‟   that is called connotative meaning and deals with extra-linguistic factors and the figurative meanings that a word may convey (cited in Munday, 2001, pp. 38-39). The last classification of meaning types in this paper deals with Koller's (1979) equivalence or „   Korrespondenz and aquivalenz  ‟ (ibid: 46) in which he proposes five types of meanings for the corresponding equivalents: 1)   „   Denotative equivalence ‟   deals with non-linguistic content of a text and Koller names it as content invariance; 2)   „  Connotative equivalence ‟    deals with a feeling or idea that is suggested by a particular word although it is not necessarily a part of that word's meaning. Koller calls this type of meaning as stylistic equivalence; 3)   „  Text-normative equivalence ‟   is related to different text types in which different types of texts behave in different ways; 4)   „   Pragmatic equivalence ‟   which deals with the influence of the text on the target language audience. It can be said that this type of meaning is the same as Nida's (1964) „ dynamic equivalence ‟ ; 5)   „   Formal equivalence ‟    that concentrates on “ the form and aesthetics of the text and meaning ”  (idem). This kind of „ Formal equivalence ‟   mustn‟t be considered a s the same „ Formal equivalence ‟  of Nida (1964) which refers to the literal meaning of a word. As it can be seen every scholar has got his/her own way of categorizing meaning types that is based on his/her  personal taste, but there is one thing in common and it is nearly all the scholars have determined a kind of meaning that deals with a meaning type related to „  non-linguistic ‟    or „  extra-linguistic ‟   aspects of words, i.e., all scholars have got a categorization which refers to idiomatic expressions of languages. For example in the meaning types stated above, Larson's (1984) „   situational meaning  ‟  , Nida's (1964)   „  emotive meaning  ‟   and Koller's (1979)   „  connotative meaning  ‟   are related to the domain of idioms and fixed expressions. C.  Baker‟s (1992) Contribution to Idioms and Fixed Expressions Baker (1992) looks at equivalence at a series of levels: at word, above-word, grammar, thematic structure, cohesion and pragmatic levels  (Cited in Munday, 2001, p. 95). In this paper we are dealing with her „   Above-word  ‟   and „   Pragmatic ‟   levels of equivalence because the realm of idioms and fixed expressions falls mainly into these two ones. In the case of first level Baker (1992) mentions that: …words rarel y occur on their own; they almost always occur in the company of other words. But words are not strung together at random in any language; there are always restrictions [difficulties] on the way they can be combined to convey meaning…It would seem, then, t hat the patterns of collocations are largely arbitrary and independent of meaning. This is so both within and across languages. The same degree of mismatch that can be observed when observing collocational patterns of synonyms and near-synonyms within the same language is evident in the collocational patterning of 'dictionary equivalents/near-equivalents' in two languages (pp. 47-8). Moreover, she also discusses three pragmatic concepts where pragmatics is “ the way utterances are used in communicative situation ” : 1. Coherence  relates to the audience's understanding of the world, which may be different for ST (Source Text) and TT (Target Text) readers.  2.  Presupposition  is where the receiver of the message is assumed to have some pri or knowledge…. This case a rises  problems in translation because TT readers may not have the same knowledge as ST readers. Possible solutions are rewording or footnotes.  3.  Implicature   is where the meaning is implied rather than stated…..this can lead to a mistranslation of the inte ntion of the message (cited in Munday, 2009, pp. 97-98).  D.  Introducing Baker‟s  Difficulties for the Translation of Idiomatic Expressions Baker (1992, p. 65) claims that “ the first difficulty that a translator comes across is being able to recognize that s/he is dealing with an idiomatic expression ” . She believes that some of the idiomatic expressions are recognized more easily than some other ones mentioning two situations in which an expression can be recognized easily: 1)  When the idioms „ violate truth conditions ‟ , and  2)  When the idioms include expressions which seem grammatically „ ill-formed ‟ . And finally concludes that the more difficult an expression is to understand and the less sense it makes in a given context, the more likely a translator will recognize it as an idiom (idem). Afterwards, Baker (ibid: 66) classifies two hard-to-be-recognized cases in which an idiom might be misinterpreted: 1)  Some idioms are misleading, and  2)  An SL (Source Language) idiom may have a very close counterpart in the TL (Target Language) which seems similar on the surface but has a totally or partially different meaning. The difficulties mentioned in the last part were merely related to the problems in the process of interpreting idioms and fixed expressions and not the process of translating them. On her third chapter of her book Baker (1992) throughout the part and pages regarding difficulties of translating idiomatic expressions classifies these problems into four sub-categories: 1)  An idiom or fixed expression may have no equivalent   in the target language.   THEORY AND PRACTICE IN LANGUAGE STUDIES © 2012 ACADEMY PUBLISHER 1223 2)  An idiom or fixed expression may have a  similar counterpart   in the target language, but its context of use may be different. 3 ) An idiom may be used in the source text in both its literal and idiomatic senses  at the same time. 4 ) The very convention of using idioms in written discourse , the contexts  in which they can be used, and their  frequency of use  may be different in the source and target languages (pp. 65-71). Through the body of work an attempt will be made to explain these difficulties and problems in detail.  E. Introducing  Baker‟s Strategies to Overcome the Difficulties of Idiomatic Translation Although there are some difficulties in the process of translating idioms and fixed expressions, on the other hand there are some strategies to overcome such probable difficulties. Baker (1992) declares four problem-solving strategies on the third chapter of her book in numerous pages considering this issue as follows: 1)  Using an idiom of  similar meaning and form    2)  Using an idiom of  similar meaning but dissimilar form    3)  Translation by  paraphrase  4)  Translation by omission (pp. 71-78). Moreover, she states that: “ The way in which an idiom or a fixed expression can be translated into another language depends on many factors….Questions of style, register, and rhetorical effect must a lso be taken into consideration (ibid: 71-72). In addition, Fernando and Flavell (1981, p. 82) warn translators against “ the strong unconscious urge in most translators to search hard for an idiom in the receptor language, however inappropriate it may be ”  (Cited in Baker, 1992,  p. 72). Finally, there is the typology of idioms  proposed by Fernando (1996, p. 35) in which he distinguishes three sub-classes of idioms: 1)    Pure Idioms :   „a  typ e of conventionalized, non literal multiword expression‟ ( ibid: 36). Pure idioms are always non literal, however they may be either invariable or may have little variation. In addition, idioms are said to be opaque (ibid: 32),  2)   Semi-idioms :   „s emi-idioms are said to have one or more literal constituents and one with non literal sub sense ‟ . Therefore, this type of idioms is considered partially opaque (ibid: 60), and  3)  Literal idioms :   „t his sub-class of idioms are either invariable or allow little variation ‟ . In addition, literal idioms are considered to be transparent as they can be interpreted on the basis of their parts (Cited in Strakšiene, 2009, p.  14). III.   M ETHODOLOGY  The main source that has been the theoretical framework of the paper is Mona Baker's (1992)  In Other Words  and specifically the third chapter,  Equivalence Above Word Level,  which deals with idioms & fixed expressions and some other ultra-word level textures such as proverbs and collocations. Therefore, most of the topics and headings of the data have been chosen based on the mentioned book. Besides, some pamphlets of translation studies for M.A. students were used to have some general knowledge on different theories as a whole. Wherever needed, some related articles have  been extracted from the internet for further study so as to prevent any possible mistake in the materials being presented or claimed. Throughout the paper it has been tried to mention the difficulties faced in the translation of idioms & fixed expressions as well as providing some strategies and loopholes to overcome those obstacles in a descriptive-qualitative way. Another point to be mentioned is that some relevant Turkish (Azeri) and Persian exemplifications have been made in most of the cases for the materials presented in order that the ideas might be as transpicuous and tangible as possible. The first step taken in the process of writing this paper included gathering some authentic data regarding the subject of the work. To gain information, firstly Mona Baker's (1992)  In Other Words was studied in detail, and the parts of the  book containing any relevant data in this issue were highlighted mainly focusing on the quotations or categorizations for idioms and fixed expressions. A large number of pamphlets and articles on this subject were collected for further reading and analysis too. The next step was to find some works of previous researchers and scholars on the issue. Analyzing and exploring the found sources, some helpful theories and ideas were added to the paper so as to cover a comprehensive body of knowledge and data. Since this paper uses a descriptive method of writing and it is a library research, lots of examples and descriptions were extracted from a corpus of books and pamphlets to be worked on. In this way Baker's (1992) classification of difficulties and strategies to deal with idioms and fixed expressions was illustrated by supplementary examples of Turkish (Azeri) and Persian- and even in some cases other languages- so that there might be a body of reliable and safe strategies for the translators of idiomatic expressions to take in the process of „ decoding ‟  an „ encoded ‟  SL idiom in TL. Finally, the last step was to collect the findings and mention the strategies that are adequate and efficient for the translation of idioms and fixed expressions from one language into another. IV.   P ROCEDURE  
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