The problems of oral translation (43054)

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Central Kazakhstan University “MHTI - Lingua”

The Institute of language and translation “Lingua”

Interpretation faculty

Evening department

Shkurskaya Elena (ЗАПР-053)


Course paper

Speciality: 050207 - Interpreting

Discipline: Translation theory

Superviser: Isabaeva N.S.

Karagandy 2008














When you stop and think about it, everything in life is translation. We translate our feelings into actions. When we put anything into words, we translate our thoughts. Every physical action is a translation from one state to another. Translating from one language into another is only the most obvious form of an activity which is perhaps the most common of all human activities. This maybe the reason people usually take translation for granted, as something that does not require any special effort, and at the same time, why translation is so challenging and full of possibilities.

There is nothing easy or simple about translation, even as there is nothing easy or simple about any human activity. It only looks easy because you are used to doing it. Anyone who is good at a certain activity can make it appear easy, even though, when we pause to think, we realize there is nothing easy about it.

Translation in the formal sense deals with human language, the most common yet the most complex and hallowed of human functions. Language is what makes us who we are. Language can work miracles. Language can kill, and language can heal. Transmitting meaning from one language to another brings people together, helps them share each other’s culture, benefit from each other’s experience, and makes them aware of how much they all have in common. /tr.handbook/

The conditions of oral translation impose a number of important restrictions on the translator's performance. Here the interpreter receives a fragment of the original only once and for a short period of time. His translation is also a one-time act with no possibility of any return to the original or any subsequent corrections. This creates additional problems and the users have sometimes to be content with a lower level of equivalence.

The purpose of the present work is to study the problems of oral translation.

To achieve this purpose it is necessary to find solve to the following tasks:

  1. To give the definition to the notion “translation”;

  2. To find out the difference between written and oral translation;

  3. To characterize the types of oral translation;

  4. To define the problems of oral translation;

  5. To find various ways and translating devices for solving those problems.

This paper consists of two chapters. The first chapter describes the translation itself, its development and types. In the second chapter there are the problems of translation and the ways of its salvation.

Throughout history, written and spoken translations have played a crucial role in interhuman communication, not least in providing access to important texts for scholarship and religious purposes.

Writings on the subject of translation go far back in recorded history. The practice of translation was discussed by, for example, Cicero and Horace (first century BC) and St Jerome (fourth century AD); their writings were to exert an important influence up until the twentieth century./19/



Translation is a means of interlingual communication. The translator makes possible an exchange of information between the users of different languages by producing in the target language (TL or the translating language) a text which has an identical communicative value with the source (or original) text (ST).

As a kind of practical activities translation (or the practice of translation) is a set of actions performed by the translator while rendering ST into another language. These actions are largely intuitive and the best results are naturally achieved by translators who are best suited for the job, who are well-trained or have a special aptitude, a talent for it. Masterpieces in translation are created by the past masters of the art, true artists in their profession. At its best translation is an art, a creation of a talented, high-skilled professional.

The theory of translation provides the translator with the appropriate tools of analysis and synthesis, makes him aware of what he is to look for in the original text, what type of information he must convey in TT and how he should act to achieve his goal. In the final analysis, however, his trade remains an art. For science gives the translator the tools, but it takes brains, intuition and talent to handle the tools with great proficiency. Translation is a complicated phenomenon involving linguistic, psychological, cultural, literary, ergonomical and other factors.

The core of the translation theory is the general theory of translation which is concerned with the fundamental aspects of translation inherent in the nature of bilingual communication and therefore common to all translation events, irrespective of what languages are involved or what kind of text and under what circumstances was translated. Basically, replacement of ST by TT of the same communicative value is possible because both texts are produced in human speech governed by the same rules and implying the same relationships between language, reality and the human mind. All languages are means of communication, each language is used to externalize and shape human thinking, all language units are meaningful entities related to non-linguistic realities, all speech units convey information to the communicants. In any language communication is made possible through a complicated logical interpretation by the users of the speech units, involving an assessment of the meaning of the language signs against the information derived from the contextual situation, general knowledge, previous experience, various associations and other factors. The general theory of translation deals, so to speak, with translation universals and is the basis for all other theoretical study in this area, since it describes what translation is and what makes it possible.

The general theory of translation describes the basic principles which bold good for each and every translation event. In each particular case, however, the translating process is influenced both by the common basic factors and by a number of specific variables which stem from the actual conditions and modes of the translator's work: the type of original texts he has to cope with, the form in which ST is presented to him and the form in which he is supposed to submit his translation, the specific requirements he may be called upon to meet in his work, etc.

Contemporary translation activities are characterized by a great variety of types, forms and levels of responsibility. The translator has to deal with works of the great authors of the past and of the leading authors of today, with intricacies of science fiction and the accepted stereotypes of detective stories. He must be able to cope with the elegancy of expression of the best masters of literary style and with the tricks and formalistic experiments of modern avant-gardists. The translator has to preserve and fit into a different linguistic and social context a gamut of shades of meaning and stylistic nuances expressed in the original text by a great variety of language devices: neutral and emotional words, archaic words and new coinages, metaphors and similes, foreign borrowings, dialectal, jargon and slang expressions, stilted phrases and obscenities, proverbs and quotations, illiterate or inaccurate speech, and so on and so forth.

The original text may deal with any subject from general philosophical principles or postulates to minute technicalities in some obscure field of human endeavour. The translator has to tackle complicated specialized descriptions and reports on new discoveries in science or technology for which appropriate terms have not yet been invented. His duty is to translate diplomatic representations and policy statements, scientific dissertations and brilliant satires, maintenance instructions and after-dinner speeches, etc.

Translating a play the translator must bear in mind the requirements of theatrical presentation, and dubbing a film he must see to it that his translation fits the movement of the speakers' lips. The translator may be called upon to make his translation in the shortest possible time, while taking a meal or against the background noise of loud voices or rattling type-writers. In simultaneous interpretation the translator is expected to keep pace with the fastest speakers, to understand all kinds of foreign accents and defective pronunciation, to guess what the speaker meant to say but failed to express due to his inadequate proficiency in the language he speaks.

In consecutive interpretation he is expected to listen to long speeches, taking the necessary notes, and then to produce his translation in full or compressed form, giving all the details or only the main ideas.In some cases the users will be satisfied even with the most general idea of the meaning of the original, in other cases the translator may be taken to task for the slightest omission or minor error./14/

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