Monday, 13 December 2010

History of Translation


Translation – came from the Latin “translatio” (to carry across), an adaptation from the Greek’s concept of “metaphrasis” (word-for-word or literal) vs. “paraphrasis” (saying in other word). In linguistic approach, these terms are tantamount to formal equivalence vs. dynamic equivalence.

In usage, verbatim translation is imperfect for words can carry multiple meaning but both are considered as ideals and possible approaches in the process of translation.

History based on Theories

Translation practice in 1600 – 1700, translation theorists focused more on “equivalents” or language meaning counterpart to retain the essence and beauty of the original literature.

Prior to the proliferation of English literature and the different movements or school of thoughts, Romans already veered away from “verbum pro verbo” (word for word) because what is beautiful in one language can be barbarous in the target language.

With the old philosophers’ (Horace, Cicero, Terence, etc.) attempts to translate literature without causing injury the context, it was discovered that there are words that failed to meet the standards of the principles of equivalence. Thus, “untranslatable” words were bridged with “loanwords” to meet the grammatical rules governing the western literary world and abiding the “sememe” or the intended meaning.

In the 13th century, a translation movement called Bilingualism started propagating the knowledge of both languages (originating and targeted) is a pre-requisite of translation. Roger Bacon, a famous English Philosopher and the father of empirical method of science is one of the advocates of this movement.

As religion and fanaticism beat its rhythm in the 18th century, Martin Luther made an axiomatic move to translate religious literature, particularly the bible towards his native language.

Eastern: Sinosphere Theory
There is a separate tradition of translation in South Asia and East Asia (primarily modern India and China), especially connected with the rendering of religious texts — particularly Buddhist texts — and with the governance of the Chinese empire. Classical Indian translation is characterized by loose adaptation, rather than the closer translation more commonly found in Europe, and Chinese translation theory identifies various criteria and limitations in translation.

In the East Asia Sinosphere (sphere of Chinese cultural influence), more important than translation per se has been the use and reading of Chinese texts, which also had substantial influence on the Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese languages, with substantial borrowings of vocabulary and writing system. Notable is Japanese Kanbun, which is a system of glossing Chinese texts for Japanese speakers.