"Lest I should forget them."
"But why tattooed? What will you do if we get them back?"
"If we get them back I'll cut off my right arm."
(Rishtainy, 1985:157-8; my emphasis)
Unless you are an Arab speaker, you wild fine it difficult to appreciate the humour of the above passage, which relies totally on the manipulation of literal and idiomatic meanings. To cut off one's arm, or cut off one's right arm for emphasis, is an idiom which is similar in meaning to pigs might fly in English. It means that something is impossible or at least highly unlikely to happen. Neither this English expression nor any other English idiom with a similar meaning can be used to replace "I'll cut off my right arm" in the above passage, because the literal meaning of the Arabic expression is as important as its idiomatic meaning in this context. The literal translation that the author gives above is just as ineffective since the non-Arab reader has no access to the idiomatic meaning. This book was translated into Arabic by Al-Yaziji in 1988, not surprisingly, the Tokes work much in the Arabic version.
III.1. The strategies in the translation of idioms.
The way in which an idiom or a fixed expression can be translated into another language depends on many factors. It is not only a question of whether an idiom with a similar meaning is available in the target language. Other factors include, for example, the significance of the specific lexical items which constitute the idiom, i.e. whether they are manipulated elsewhere in the source text, as well as the appropriateness or inappropriateness of using idiomatic language in a given register in the target language. The acceptability or non-acceptability of using any of the strategies described below will therefore depend on the context in which a given idiom is translated. The first strategy described, that of finding an idiom of similar meaning and similar form in the target language, may seem to offer the ideal solution, but that is not necessarily always the case. Questions of style, register, and rhetorical effect must also be taken into consideration. Fernando and Flavell are correct in warning us against the ,strong unconscious urge in most translators to search hard for an idiom in the receptor-language, however inappropriate it may be'. (1981:82)
III.1.1) Using an idiom of similar meaning and form.
This strategy involves using an idiom in the target languagewhich conveys roughly the same meaning as that of the source-language idiom and, in addition, consists of equivalent lexical items. This kind of match can only occasionally be achieved.
Source text (A Hero from Zero, p.21):
"The Sultan's magnificent income was distributed impulsively at his command. The rain fell on the just and on the unjust.
Target text (French, p.21):
"Le revenue fabuleux du Sultan etait distribute sur un simple orolre de sa part. La pluie tombait aussi bien sur les justes que sur les injustes.
The fantastic income of the Sultan was distributed on a simple order on his part.
The rain was falling on the just as well as on the unjust.
Source text (Language and Society, No.16 (1985), p7):
"Five days into what would be the final clash, Pawley ried to force Speaker Jim Walding's hand into calling a vote with or without the Tories.
Target text (French, p.7):
Au cenquieme jour de ce qui allait se reveler l'affronrement final, M.Pawley tenta de forcer la main au president de la chambue Jim Walding pour qu'il decrete une mise aux voix, avee au sans la participation des conservateurs.
On the fifth day of what was going to prove to be the final confrontation, Mr.Pawley tried to force the hand of the president of the Chamber, Jim Walding, to declare a placement of the vote, with or without the participation of the conservatives.
In this work I have come to the following conclusions:
1. There are various types of idioms, some more easily recognizable than others. Those which are easily recognizable include expressions which violate truth conditions. They also include expressions which seem ill-formed because they do not follow the grammatical rules of the language.
2. The first difficulty that a translator comes across is being with an idiomatic expression. Generally speaking, the more difficult an expression is to understand and the less sense it makes in a given context, 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. Because they do not make sense of interpreted literally, the high-lighted expressions in the following text are easy to recognize as idioms.
3. The way in which an idiom can be translated into another language depends on many factors. It is not only a question on many factors. It is not only a question of whether an idiom with a similar meaning is available in the target language. Other factors include, for example, the significance of the specific lexical items which constitute the idiom, i.e. whether they are manipulated elsewhere in the source text as well as the appropriateness or inappropriateness of using idiomatic language in a given register in the target language.
1. Bednard Spolsky "Meansured words", Oxford University Press.
2. V.Kuznetsova "Notes on English Lexicology", Київ "Радянська школа", 1966.
3. Nona Baker "In other words. A coursbook on translation", London and New York.
4. N.M.Rayevska "English Lexicology", Київ "Вища школа", 1979.
5. A.A.Sankin, R.S.Ginzburg, S.S.Khidekel, G,Y.Knyzeva "A Course in Modern English Lexicology", Moscow "Higher School Publishing House", 1966.
6. И.В.Арнольд "The English Word", Москва "Высшая школа", 1973.
7. Н.М.Раєвська "English Lexicology", Київ 1971.
8. С.С.Хидекель, Р.З.Гимзбург, Г.Ю.Князева, А.А.Санкин "Английская лексикология в выдержках и извлечениях", Ленинград "Просвещение" 1969.