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Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Translating and Interpreting ((PTTI))

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Abstract

This chapter illustrates the preparatory phase of the translation task, where the translator pre-reads the source text to identify translation problems in light of the specific conditions in which the translation activity takes place. Based on the two main parameters of ‘intertextuality’ and ‘intended use of the translation’, the translator chooses a macro-strategy for the whole text that will guide him/her in all the choices at the lower levels of the text in order to achieve a pragmatically successful translation. It then describes the second phase of production, consisting in the reformulation of the source text into the target language, where the translator selects the strategies to solve the problems identified in the first phase. The strategies descending from the general macro-strategy are first distinguished into the two main translation methods of ‘literal translation’ and ‘paraphrase’ and then, with a top-down procedure, are further distinguished between textual, syntactic and lexical strategies.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The French translations of all the examples in this chapter have been taken from the French translation and adaptation by Marco Fiola of my Italian book on specialised translation (Scarpa 2010).

  2. 2.

    Cf. Ivir’s (1981: 58) ‘formal correspondence’ translation hypothesis and Tirkkonen-Condit’s (2005) ‘monitor model’. The correlation between a deviation from an ideal default literal translation and a resulting higher effort on the part of the translator has also been quantified and empirically assessed in a more recent process-oriented study (Schaeffer and Carl 2014) by measuring gazing and translation time: the researchers found that production time was inversely proportional to the literality of the produced translations.

  3. 3.

    However, this principle is not universally accepted by translation scholars, the opposite view being that translators are not in principle responsible for ‘improving’ a defective ST (cf. Hervey and Higgins 1992: 171).

  4. 4.

    Pym’s (2016: 219ff.) proposed typology has three simple categories (Copying, Expression Change and Content Change), each divided into a total of seven ‘solution types’: Copying words (sounds, morphology, script etc.) and Copying structure (prosodic features, fixed phrases, text structure etc.); Perspective change (focus, voice, word-class etc.) etc. The top-down order in which the solutions are listed represents an increasing translatorial effort, which should ideally correlate with the degree of risk involved: the higher the risk, the greater the effort by the translator to avoid loss of trust or breakdown of communication.

  5. 5.

    Note that, as opposed to ‘obligatory’ strategies, i.e. strategies to address differences between the SL and the TL systems (langue), I am considering as ‘optional’ strategies also what Calzada Pérez (2007: 150) calls ‘preferential’ shifts, i.e. “differences in stylistic preferences between the SL and the TL (parole)”, which are in turn distinguished from ‘optional’ shifts, caused instead by the translation process itself. In other words, I am not distinguishing supposedly unconscious norm-related optional strategies between SL and TL from those optional shifts consciously introduced by the translator.

  6. 6.

    In all the examples the emphasis has been added, unless otherwise specified.

  7. 7.

    Choosing the thematic organisation of the TL, thus prioritising aspects of information structure over syntactic structure, has also been one of the results of a later study by Rogers (2006) analysing parallel texts in economics in the German-English translation pair. However, the same study also found evidence of an overwhelming tendency to resolve communicative/syntactic tensions between SL and TL in favour of the linear order of the ST rather than the TT.

  8. 8.

    Also called ‘Oxford comma’, even though it is more typical of the American standard usage (Truss 2003: 84).

  9. 9.

    The nominalising strategy Verb → (Empty) verb + Noun group (modify / effettuare una modifica; finish / portare a compimento is typical of the English-Italian translation direction, and also of the English-French combination (cf. Newmark’s 1988: 159 recommendation of deleting ‘empty’ past participles such as disposé and situé). In other translation pairs, these constructions are translated by one single verb and omission of the noun group. For example, in Italian-German: Quando necessario, eseguire l’operazione di caricamento del sale prima di avviare il programma di lavaggio [When necessary, carry out the operation of adding the salt before starting the washing programme] → Nötigenfalls das Salz vor dem Start des Spülprogramms einfüllen [If necessary, pour in the salt before starting the washing programme] (Hempel 2009:113); in French-English: les signes en présence d’un asthmatique attirent vers la notion d’allergie microbienne the signs suggest that the asthmatic patient has a bacterial allergy (Newmark 1983: 161).

  10. 10.

    A third possible strategy to deal with the problem of terminological gaps in the TL, that is translation by omission, has not been mentioned among lexical strategies at the word-level for its very limited applicability to specialised terminology proper (as opposed to culture-specific terms and metaphor). As far as I can see, the only case when a SL term can be omitted in the TL is when it is used as a synonym in combination with the main term it is a lexical variant of. For example, in “There are other names for the full-employment budget surplus. Among them are the cyclically adjusted (or deficit), the high-employment surplus, the standardized employment surplus and the structural surplus” (Dornbusch et al. 1998: 206), the two terms high-employment surplus and standardized employment surplus are both used in the ST only as two of the four synonyms of the main term full-employment budget surplus and have been omitted in the Italian translation because in the TL the main term avanzo di piena occupazione has only two synonyms and not four as in English: “L’avanzo di piena occupazione viene definito anche in altri modi, fra cui avanzo (o disavanzo) corretto per il ciclo e avanzo strutturale” [The full-employment budget surplus can also be defined as the cyclically adjusted (or deficit) and the structural surplus] (Dornbusch et al. 1999: 264).

  11. 11.

    However, direct borrowings can also be imported in the TL exactly for their lack of connotations: for example, the loanword mouse (hardware) was imported in Italian precisely because the symbolism associated to the loan translation *topo was considered to be too informal and ludic.

  12. 12.

    In English, of course, this illness can also be called onchocerciasis, that is the same term of Greek origin used in Italian, which however is used only in extremely specialised contexts.

  13. 13.

    The procedure of ‘deletion’ in the TL is further distinguished by Shuttleworth (2014: 36) into two types: (1) removal, “when a metaphorical expression is replaced by identifiable non-metaphorical textual material”, and (2) omission, “when a metaphorical expression is totally missing from the target text”.

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Scarpa, F. (2020). Translating Specialised Texts. In: Research and Professional Practice in Specialised Translation. Palgrave Studies in Translating and Interpreting. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-51967-2_3

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