The Relation between Translation and Culture from the Aspect of Idioms and the Factors which Influence the Culture
This thesis concludes my postgraduate study in Henan Normal University. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the professors in the College of Foreign Language, whose preciseness and strictness set a good example for me in the future academic career. I felt gratitude especially goes to my supervisor , Guo Yingzhen ,whose illuminating instruction and endless assistance have greatly conduced to the accomplishment of this thesis.
I’m also very grateful to the teachers who have taught me in various ways during the course of my study for the bachelor’s degree.Especially I would like to thank Professor Guo Yingzhen and other professors in the Faulty of Foreign institution who inspired me a lot.
Last but not least, I contribute this article to my dear family for their help during my college life.
Translation is a complex process, especially when we translate the cultural text. Generally speaking ,translation involves language as well as culture. A translator should know foreign culture as well as the culture of his own people. Moreover ,a translator should make continuous comparisons between the two cultures for getting the equivalence meaning . The major task of translation is to translate the source language to the target language How to get rid of the language barrier between different culture, how to convey the meaning of the source language exactly is the focus of the people in different countries. This thesis illustrate the influences of different cultures have upon translation. Wen can analysis it from different aspects: such as the difference of thinking, the psychology of culture, the difference between different religion, the environment and living surroundings of different people, and so on.
Key Words: translation; the consciousness of culture; culture and thinking; cultural difference; idioms
Table of Contents
Table of Contents IV
PART ONE THE CONCEPT OF TRANSLATION AND CULTURE 2
1.1 The concept of translation 3
1.2 The concept of culture 5
PART TWO THE FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE CULTURE 7
2.1 Religion 7
2.2 The psychology of culture 8
2.3 The way of thinking 9
2.4 different ways of life 10
2.5 Geographical environment 14
2.6 Geographical environment 15
PART THREE BETWEEN CULTURE AND TRANSLATION 16
This article contains the concept of translation and the concept of culture. The aim of translation is to making communication. Human’s social development and process need translation and human’s social development and progress should make communication between different nations, and during the process of communication, translation is indispensable. Translation, as an cultural phenomenon, thinking activity, related to the era and social background all in all. Translation is to render the meaning of a text into another language in the way the author intended the text. Translation is an art that involves the re-creation of a work in another language for readers with a different background. Culture is a very broad concept, to give it a rigorous and precise definition is a very difficult thing. Many philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, historians and linguists have been trying to define the concept of culture from the perspective of the respective discipline. However, so far it still has not have a recognized and satisfactory definition. According to statistics, about "culture" at least, it has more than two hundred kinds of different definition. Broadly speaking, culture is a social phenomenon, which is the creation of the products for a long time. But it is also a kind of historical phenomenon and is the social history remains. Rather, culture refers to a state or national history, geography, local conditions and customs, traditions, lifestyles, literature and art, behavior standards, way of thinking, values, etc. When we translate something, the background of the culture and the background of history should be considered. The relation between culture and translation is very close in a great extent. In this context, we analysis this problem from different aspects: the way of thinking, the psychology of thinking, and the customs and habits in different nations. If the background of culture and history is ignored, the truly meaning of the context will be lost.
PART ONE THE CONCEPT OF TRANSLATION AND CULTURE
One linguist in China has said: “what is the most difficult thing during the process of translation , it is the differences between two cultures.” Nida has mentioned this too: “translation is the communication between two different cultures.” And we can not ignore the importance of the background of culture and the background of history if we want to translate a piece of text which contains the information about culture or some thing else. When translating some thing, mastering the knowledge of culture and history is indispensable. There are too much factors which can influence the culture of the source language.
Zhu Guangqian, one writer in modern times, thinks the associate meaning is the most difficult thing when we translate one language into another language. Because in the dictionary you can not find the truly meaning under a certain context.
But for literary study, it is one important factor you can not ignore. This requires us to know the custom and habit of the country we want to translate the language of it. Or we will find we do not know how to translate when we are given a piece of text. We can take a poem as an example. For example the poem:
Using English, we can not convey the essence of this poem without the background of old Chinese and the thought when the author write this poem. And there are so many versions of it. For instance:
(1) In the still of the night : I descry bright moonlight in front of my bed. I suspect it to be hoary frost on the floor. I watch the bright moon, as I tile back my head. Yearn, while stooping, for my home land more.
(2) A tranquil night: before my bed I see a silver light, I think the ground is covered with hoar frost. Raising my head, I find the full moon bright; and bowing down, in thought of home I’m lost. And there are lots of other versions translated by other translators. No matter which version , the emotion of the author must be considered, or they will ruin the essence of the poem. Tyler, one anthropologist in England, whose book primitive culture raises the concept of culture and describes it as “culture is a kind of complex abilities and habits, which includes knowledge, faith, art, moral, law and custom”. Thus we can know the wide coverage of culture, it is a complex system. Language, as a component of culture, reflect the phenomenon of a resourceful culture.
Translation is so difficult as language reflect the culture, which conveys to much cultural content and limited by culture. Once language entered the human’s life as a tool of communication, the problem of cultural connotation and the ability of express something will arise. This not only requires the translator master the knowledge of bilingual ability but multilingual ability, especially they must know the consciousness of two different culture, religious culture and the geographic features, the historical customs and traditions, the process of forming culture, etc. For these factors, the language cultures of different nations reflect their own national features and the background of the nation.
1.1 The concept of translation
There are many different definitions of translation, in The Oxford English Dictionary it means “to turn from one language into another ”. Or recreating according the original text. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language gives us the definition of translation is “to turn into one’s own or another language”. While the definition in Columbia Encyclopedia is that translation is the art of recomposing a work in another language without losing its original flavor. “Translation is the replacement of textual material in one language by equivalent textual in another language.(J.C.Catford, 1994)”. “Translation consists in reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the source language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style. (Eugene Nida, 1969)”. Translation is an old and young work, which come into exist since the old times and it becomes so hot in modern times.
Translation is the need of human’s development and progress. The concept of translation can be defined from two aspects: broad sense and narrow sense. Generalized translation refers to the language and the language, language variation and language variants, such as language and nonverbal code conversion which convey the basic information. Extension of the concept is quite broad, including his translation between different languages, translation between language variation, language and other symbols of the communication conversion, etc. The contents of translation rules only emphasizes the "basic information", does not emphasize "completely loyal". Some translation theorists put forward the understanding and translation theory, so the language and thinking are also included in the general translation.
Narrow sense translation is a linguistic activity, which is a kind of language to express the content of the faithfully expressed in another language. This definition emphasizes "translation is a language activity". The nature of translation determines the narrow sense ,which indicates that it is a human’s communicative approach in language communication, which emphasis on "one language to another language",which ruled out unification between different variants of translation between languages, which emphasis on "faithfully", avoiding the confusion of the translation and interpretation or rewrite. For example:"Sent someone to Coventry" refers to “reject someone”. The Coventry is a small town in UK, where the people hate soldiers very much, so when the soldier
was sent after Coventry, there will be people from the group. Look at this sentence “1 will be with you from the egg to apples”, if translated into "I will eat eggs and apples with you”.It sounds obviously puzzling. Be translation should "I will always be with you"? This is because "in the west, people always eat eggs, bread and drink milk for breakfast, and finally a dish always ended up with desserts including apple". Then, from the egg to the apple, from dawn to dusk, from the beginning until after the most. Again, such as, "fishery occupies an important position in the British Isles, so that the British fish (fish) is commonly used to represent all kinds of people, poor fish (poor), a strange fish (eccentric)". If the translation were translated into the big fish, small fish and poor fish, can every person can really understand the meaning of it, sometimes may even make a joke.
Translation is not simply a matter of seeking other words with similar meaning but of finding appropriate ways of saying things in another language. Different languages, may use different linguistic forms. Translation is also the social and psychological activities. One should be familiar with one’s own culture and be aware of the source language culture before the attempting to build any bridge with an alien culture that requires that its message be conveyed in anything but a alien way. That culture expresses its idiosyncrasies in a way that is “culture-bound”cultural words, proverbs and of course idiomatic expressions, whose origin and use are intrinsically and uniquely bound to the culture concerned. So we are called upon to do a cross - cultural translation whose success will depend on our understanding of the culture we are working with.
1.2 The concept of culture
In dictionary the definition of it is the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc. Or a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period. Or the development or improvement of the mind by education or training. Or the behaviors, beliefs or characteristics of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.
Culture is a very broad concept, to give it a rigorous and precise definition is a very difficult thing. Many philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, historians and linguists have been trying to define the concept of culture from the perspective of the respective discipline.
However, so far it still did not have a recognized and satisfactory definition. According to statistics, about "culture" at least, it has more than two hundred kinds of different definitions. Broadly speaking, culture is a social phenomenon, is the creation of the products for a long time. But it is also a kind of historical phenomenon, is the social history remains. Rather, culture refers to a state or national history, geography, local conditions and customs, traditions, lifestyles, literature and art, behavior standards, way of thinking, values, etc.
About the relationship between translation and culture, Bassnett think the relation between culture and translation is the relation between the body and heart., culture is the body, language is the heart. As surgeons do surgery can't ignore the body surrounding tissue, the translator can not ignore the factors of culture when they translate some material. Hatmi and Mason believe that translation is a dynamic communicative process, the translator should not only understand two languages themselves,they should have two more cultural horizons, the translator should be acted as the role of the coordinator (mediator) between the original author and the reader .
Anyhow, the translators emphasize the cultural factors of translation scholars stressed. The translator should be familiar with two cultures, introduce the primitive cultural factors in the translation activity. Whether translators' understanding of the original is correctly or not, largely depends on his understanding of the culture, the success of translation, is mainly related to culture .
PART TWO THE FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE CULTURE
Everyone knows, Bible plays the role of the source in western’s life. Some statistic shows most Americans still have faith in the church. The British law protects religious freedom. Everyone has the freedom to believe any church, or not to believe any religion at all. There is no interference from the state or the community.
Most of the world’s religions have followers in Britain, but the majority of the British people believe Christianity. The first Christian church was established at Canterbury in 597. While the Chinese are under the influence of Confucian School in great extent. Though the Buddhism, which spreads very well in China, is till a polytheism. This is different from westerners’ religious faith.
In China, people have faith in the Buddhism and Taoism, so there phrase arises, such as “YuDi” “FoZu” and so on. While the westerners have faith in Christian, so there arises the word “God”. In Chinese, “谋事在人，成事在天”, In English there are two different versions, (1) “man propose, heaven disposes” or “man dropose , god disposes”. Their difference lies in the different translations of the word “天”。“天”has the strong color of Buddhism and Taoism. While the word of “God” has the oblivious color of Christian. The latter translation version is easy to understand and accept for the westerners, but can not convey the essence of connotation of it in China. The religion has great influence on English, it expresses in such phrases as “It is in God’s hand”(听天由命), etc.
When translation, it is very necessary for us to master the basic knowledge of religion. We can take the example of “临时抱佛脚”. If we translated it into “to embrace Buddha’s feet in one’s hour of need”. It is very eccentric for the westerner. Why we need to embrace the Buddha’s feet sometimes? What is the use of this strange act? If we can deal it a little, it is another meaning for the westerner. We can translate it into “to embrace Buddha’s feet in one’s hour of need ----seek help at the last moment”. So the westerners always say “God” “Holy” “Goddess” etc. While we Chinese choose to take the Heaven as our faith. This truly gives us another example of the different religious belief.
Religious culture is an important part of human culture, which is made up of ethnic culture which is formed by the religious beliefs, awareness, etc. Fang Wenhua thinks different religion penetration and melt in their own language to express, only a deep understanding of many of the differences between Chinese and western culture, unique cultural connotation of understanding language, to avoid wrong translation, mistranslation, making the translation really play the role of cultural exchange. Chinese culture is extensive and profound, has a long history, in China's traditional culture, owing to the popularity of Taoism and Buddhism, there are many "the jade emperor, the view sound, bodhisattva." terms. Westerners believed in Christ thought that god created everything, many religious "god, the bible, the church, nuns," and other words.
2.2 The psychology of culture
As different nations use different language, and their history and culture are different too. So during the process of development in every nation, they formed their own national features owning to the unique historical background and cultural background. It is very important for the forming of a nation’s psychology state. The difference of history and culture mainly reflect on the aspect of some history stories , many taboos and preferences, and so on. We can take the number of “9” for an example, the number has special meaning in the culture of China, no matter in old times or in modern times, for it stands of the high position-- “jiujiu gui yi--the meaning of ruling the world”. While most Chinese do not like the number of “4”, for the pronunciation of it is similar with the pronunciation of “死--which means death”, especially in the number Of telephone, most people do not like the number “4” ended as the ending. As for another number “8”, which have the similar pronunciation of “发--which means fortune”.
While in the eyes of the westerners’, “4” “8” “9” is only the common signs, which do not has special meaning. As we all known, “13” is a bad number for the westerners, which means bad luck. So the number are absent in the daily life. Especially, the number of seat, the number of the floor, and so on. But in China, this number do not have this kind of meaning. For the cultural connotation of these nonlingual words represent, the translators can understand and translate them well after knowing the historical culture of every nation.
When talking about Chinese culture, people always come to the word “龙”. Because in old times, the emperor always describe themselves as “龙”，which is a symbol of “God”, which can consolidate their power, nation and land. But for the westerner, “龙” is another symbol, “a large fierce fabulous animal with wings and a long tail , a crested head and big claws, that can break the outfire ”. So it is very strange for the westerner to see the meaning the dragon. And they will not wish their children to be the Dragon. So to avoid misunderstanding the word of dragon, we can translate the phrase “望子成龙” into “long to see one’s child succeed in life ”.
2.3 The way of thinking
Different district, different physiology, different psychology and the difference of culture will form different ways of thinking, especially the difference of culture decides the way of thinking in great extent. When translating, the translator must know the the barrier of the different culture and overcome it , then grasp the two different thinking moods. The Chinese will take a whole thing as a organic part. While the westerner are good at logical thinking, they will take the whole thing into different part. The difference between Chinese doctor and western doctor can illustrate this point very well. Chinese doctor emphasize the measures according the whole symptom. While the western doctor emphasize headache is an illness, foot ache is another disease, they will separate the whole thing into different part.