Translation Theory by Peter Newmark


Peter Newmark Peter Newmark’s dual theory of semantic and communicative methods of translation. Newmark defines the act of translationg as transferring the meaning of a text, from one language to another, taking care mainly of the functional relevant meaning. He works with three propositions: •”the more important the language of a text, the more closely it should be translated”; •”the less important the language of a text… the less closely it needs to be translated”; •”The better written a text, the more closely it should be translated, whatever its degree of importance…” In spite of the problem that poses the ambigüity of “important” and “better written”, his proposal intends to narrow the gap between targeteers (ciblistes) and sourceres (sourciers). The translator has to establish priorities in selecting which varieties of meaning to transfer in the first place. For that he has to use his creativity, particularly when he is forced to distort the target language introducing new elements of another culture. In that sense he will be breaking Toury’s translational norms. That is the case when translating cultural metaphors, transcultural words, concept words. Newmark criticises the present-day controversies stuck to the conflict between free and literal translation. For him if the theory of translation insists on discussing the topic of equivalence it would be text to text equivalence and not simply word to word. He distinguishes types of texts and types of words in the texts. He classifies texts in three categories: •scientific-technological •institutional-cultural •literary texts But he stresses that technical or institutional translation can be as challenging as rewarding as literary translation Because every word has its own identity, its resonnance, its value, and words are affected by their contexts, he distinguishes different types of words: •functional words •technical words •common words •institutional words •lexical words •concept words He considers two types of translation: semantic and communicative, although he states that the majority of texts require communicative rather than semantic translation. Communicative translation is strictly functional and usually the work of a team. Semantic translation is linguistic and encyclopaedic and is generally the work of one translator. Among the translation problems Newmark discusses he gives special attention to the metaphor. He proposes seven procedures for its translation: •reproducing the same image of the SL in the TL •replacing the image in the SL with a standard TL image •translating the metaphor by a simil •translating metaphor or simil by simil plus sense •conversion of metaphor to sense •deletion •same metaphor combined with sense Newmark stays very close to the linguistic approach when he defines translation theory as an interdisciplinary study derivated from comparative linguistics. For Newmark, the main concern of translation theory is to determine appropriate translation methods for the widest possible range of texts or text-categories and to provide a framework of principles for translating texts and criticizing translation. (Newmark goes over the criticism aspect very superficially. We find a deep study on process and product of translation criticism in Antoine Berman). Translation theory also attempts to give some insight into the relation between thought, meaning and language and can show the student all that is or may be involved in the translation process. For Newmark then translation is a craft. The translator acquires a technique in which the process to be followed takes into account the acts of comprehension, interpretation, formulation and recreation.

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