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UDC 81
E.Yu. Pishkova
Southern federal university
Rostov-on-Don, Russia
[Мера переводческих ошибок и способы их профилактики]
The article discloses the concept of a translation error, refers to classifications of translation errors and the
problem of identifying their types on the basis of imperfect students` translations; the article offers ways to minimize and prevent translation errors. The author also touches upon the reasons for making translation errors, the
basic of which are connected with speech incompetence and insufficient knowledge of both source and target
languages. A special focus is put on translation errors being a perfect didactic material for creating a special
course while preparing future translators.
Key words: translation error, classification of errors, speech incompetence, student-translator, source language, target language.
In practice, the translator will inevitably face questions relating to the concepts and
measures of translation errors. In our ordinary and professional consciousness the mistake, as
a rule, is considered as result of a blunder, unsuccessful activity in any sphere, i.e. as a negative experience. However, human activities are ontologically inseparable from mistakes.
“Errarum humanum est”, or “to err is human”, we justify ourselves every time we make mistakes. However, there is another expression – “learn from your mistakes”, which allows us to
assume that any error includes a positive component, namely giving an impetus to review and
correct your actions or behavior. Within this article we will try to consider a role of translation mistakes, to give their classification and to offer some recommendations about minimization of these mistakes in the course of translation training process.
In the last decade in modern translation studies is actively developing a new direction –
errotology as the science of translation errors or “the theory of errors” [8]. The authors of the
study errotology differentiate the concepts of “translation error”, “failed translation solution”
[3], “discrepancies of translation” and “deviate” [4]. The analysis of the existing classifications in scientific literature allows to define a mistake as abnormality, an inadvertent deviation
from normative, standard, correct, derogation from rules, violation of requirements [6]. Therefore, in order to understand what is the error in the translation we have to answer the question
of what is right in the translation, what tasks should provide error-free translation. The translation in its most general form is determined as transfer of the contents of the text in one language by means of other language. This definition focuses on one of the main requirements
for the translation – translation the contents of the original. Violation of this requirement, undoubtedly, is perceived as a mistake. A detailed study of the translation errors is recognized
relevant for the development of criteria and assessment of translation both in the course of
translation training, and at the level of its implementation as the final product of professional
translation activity.
In the works of a number of translation scholars errors are classified according to their
degree of “gravity”:
• distortions (false interpretation of value of certain units of the speech);
• inaccuracies (incomplete transmission of the content of individual units of speech);
• omissions
A completely different approach to the classification of translation errors is based on
the principles of psycholinguistics, thus the errors are divided into:
• errors of perception (when the original is obscure);
• errors of creation (when the unsuccessful choice of means of language leads to emergence of distortions and inaccuracies);
• errors of comprehension – creation [8].
Our view of translation errors typology is based on the competence approach, in which
the emergence of language errors is connected with students’ insufficient knowledge of the
source language and the target language. Experience shows that future linguists come to Institute of higher education with limited knowledge of the native language, are poorly guided in
Russian and world literature. Hence there is a natural difficulty in choosing contextual substitutions, synonyms, image bearing, numerous errors in collocations, replacement of active
voice into passive, too complex participle constructions. As for the errors related to insufficient knowledge of a foreign language, they are most often caused by the inability to see
statements implicitly. Thus, the title of the article “How Broken is Britain” was translated in
Russian as «Насколько разрушена Британия», while in the text the matter concerns how
rotten the British society is.
Special attention, in our opinion, should be paid to the errors associated with speech incompetence, arising from the inability of the translator to orient during translation process in a
speech situation and subjectivity. Such errors occur in violation of the norms of phraseological compatibility. For example, when translating the sentence “Israel Government is still sitting on the fence” the student, without hesitation translates переводит «Правительство Израиля по-прежнему сидит на заборе», whereas the matter concerns the government continues to take a waiting attitude.
The ability to see the negative result plays an important role in the process of translation
teaching. Below we give a classification of translation errors. It is not exhaustive, but it is
based on the analysis of the most frequent mistakes made by students and applies mostly to
special texts.
1. Abnormalities in the transfer of meaning related to incorrect understanding of the
meaning of the word, the meaning of statements or pieces. The measure of negative impact of
such errors has to be estimated in scales of the whole text as the wrong translation only of one
word can negate meaning of all text. We will give some examples of semantic distortions at
the different language levels: at the word level – unmarried son – внебрачный сын вместо
неженатый сын; at the sentence level – The acid was of little use in this test. – Кислота
использовалась незначительно в этом эксперименте instead of Использование кислоты
в этом эксперименте было бесполезно.
2. Omission of information. Known translation methods of omission and generalization can be quite reasonable, but the omission of relevant information may not be valid, in official and scientific texts it is not reproduced from the context, that leads to the fact that the
text doesn't fully carry out function of the original [2].
3. Addition of information. The essence of this violation consists that information
which isn't present at a semantic invariant is added to the text. As a rule, in the basis of additions and liberties lies the desire to translate as beautiful as you can.
4. Violations in the transfer of stylistic and genre features of the text. The essence is in
unmotivated use of lexical units and syntactic constructions, not typical and functionally similar genre texts of the target language. This could include cases of so-called bureaucratese or
overly complex syntax in journalism or popular scientific text, or the use of spoken language
in a scientific text. For example, in the translation of the description of the meeting of Reagan
and Gorbachev in Geneva, made by students, we read: «Рейган выбежал из дома навстречу Горбачеву без головного убора и пальто…». It is obvious that here it was necessary to
afford the omission for the sake of style and genre (foe example: «…выбежал навстречу
Горбачеву…». (A mansion, where took place the talks between the heads of the two states,
can hardly be called a house).
5. The mistakes connected with obvious violations of grammatical and stylistic norms
of the target language. We will give an example: a sentence Writing this data, the device is
not to be transferred to another room is translated as: Записывая данные, прибор не должен перемещаться в другое помещение. Appropriate translation: В процессе записи данных прибор не следует перемещать в другое помещение.
6. The mistakes associated with the lack of extra-linguistic, or background
knowledge. For example, “He lived in Victorian house…” – Он жил в доме королевы Виктории (this refers to the house of Victorian age).
7. Norm or context errors, which are based on a violation of semantic relations, i.e.
common use or desuetude of words or phrases. For example, «Кейт ненавидела писать. У
нее не было дара слова» (instead of «литературного дара»).
8. We should also mention the literalisms that violate the rules of language functioning. Their characteristic result are mistakes of a meaningful plan, such as loss of information
as a result the translator didn't consider information gap between the speaker of a source language and the speaker of the target language. The well-known quote can be an example:
«Madam, you are Ceasar’s wife». Literal translation: «Мадам, вы жена Цезаря» distorts
the meaning of the expression, which must have sounded like «Жена Цезаря должна быть
вне подозрений».
9. I would like to dwell separately on one of the most common mistakes in the translation, and to a greater degree in translation from Russian into English. It is about the violation
of word order. Generally the syntactic interlingual interference is the reason of such mistakes
– projection of peculiar features of source language’s syntax on target language, which results
in a violation of target language standards [1,74]. It is known that in Russian the word order
can vary, and in English it is fixed according to the scheme “Subject (S) – Predicate (P) – Object (O) – Adverbial modifier (AM). Student of the translation department uses a Russian
word order in English and receives a syntactically incorrect sentence.
The situation is aggravated with a problem of actual division of the sentence. New (and
important) information tends to end statements. Due to the fixity of the English word order in
translation variant possibilities are very limited. The student is in a situation of choice – either
to shift the subject – rheme focus (that is subconsciously realized as the wrong decision), or
break the English word order. For example: Чтобы урегулировать кризисную обстановку
нужны конкретные действия со стороны международных организаций.
The student offers the following translation: : To settle the critical situation particular
steps from international organizations are needed.
In this example the student’s desire to keep the correct syntactic structure in English
translation is noticeable, however, thus, suffers its communicative structure, according to
which semantic pieces of the statement settle down from "old" information (theme) (Чтобы
урегулировать кризисную обстановку нужны) to the new information (rheme) (конкретные действия со стороны международных организаций). The student should transform
an adverbial modifier of purpose to a subject of the English phrase, thus semantics allows it to
play a role of the formal figure: Settling the critical situation requires specific activities on the
part of international organizations.
And, finally, pure sound defects in translation (These cells don’t contain markers
– Эти клетки не содержат метки).
Considering classification of translation mistakes, it is worth mentioning a number of
the exercises fostering prevention of some of them. Experience shows that the main difficulty
in translation consists not in finding of an equivalent of separately taken word or phrase, but
in restructuring of the sentence or a fragment of the text in suitable syntactic structure of target language, moreover, this problem often becomes a stumbling block for students, who
have a very thorough language training. One of the techniques to develop the skills of translation from Russian into English, both written and oral, are simple exercises to paraphrase in
the native language. As shows practice, the ability to quickly paraphrase the initial statement
before translating it, allows to approach its lexical and grammatical structure to the structure
of the required phrase in target language. This exercise is the prevention of literalism, teaches
to focus on the meaning, avoiding ambiguities and inaccuracies.
If the literal translation of the group "subject – predicate" is impossible, what happens
quite often and that it is necessary to adjust the student to it, then additional unit is brought
out of an extralinguistic situation, i.e. the subject may be extracted from the context [7]. For
На Берлинском фестивале были показаны более ста фильмов. – The
Berlin festival showed… .
В растворе содержится 10 примесей. – The solution contains 10 additives.
На следующей неделе у студентов появится возможность… – Next week
will give the students the possibility…
It is known that the translator has to not only translate adequately the separate statement, but also build all statement in corresponding a subject – rheme sequence. It is good to
polish such ability by the following exercise, offered by L.K. Latyshev: take the statements
grouped in 10 groups, let’s put it, four in each. Statements differ from each other only in actual division, otherwise they are identical. Groups of statements are built in logical sequence.
The task consists in making the coherent, logical text, choosing one statement from each
group [5].
Exercises on the basis of parallel texts on recognition of translation mistakes are expedient. Often the analysis of the mistakes of others is even more effective than the actual practice of translation.
In conclusion, it is important to mention the role of the teacher in the process of correcting student’s mistakes. So, when training in interpretation, the teacher can't correct mistakes
noticed by him during work on a task, not to bring down speed and not to distract students
from the carried-out exercise. Accordingly, all the corrections, remarks, comments and tips
should be expressed only when the task is finished. In fact, each class of translation to some
extent simulates the real situation, because in real life, the translator cannot rely on the
prompts and corrections, he has to find a way out of the predicament and be responsible for
his translation.
Thus, considering the concept of errors and some classification of translation errors, we
concluded that the study of the phenomenon of translation errors requires a deep multidimensional analysis, that will allow to develop criteria for assessing the quality of student’s translations. But what is even more important – it is necessary to establish the reasons of emergence
of errors of this or that type, to acquaint students with them, that will help to further distinguish successful translation decisions from the wrong, which will contribute to the development of self-editing and self-control skills. We also consider that it is expedient to bring
teachers of the translation to the idea that within training of future translators is needed a special course where the error will be its main didactic unit.
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April, 20, 2015
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