The Translation Strategies Employed in Rendering Register Variables in the TT of the Text “الفرق بين الإباضية والخوارج.” | July 2016 | Translation Journal

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The Translation Strategies Employed in Rendering Register Variables in the TT of the Text “الفرق بين الإباضية والخوارج.”


The aim of my research is to describe the translation strategies employed in rendering register variables in the TT of the text "الفرق بين الإباضية والخوارج." It is a comparative research that seeks to compare between the ST and its translation to identify the strategies that shaped the TT register. Therefore, the aim of the comparison is to focus on the register of the ST and the translation strategies involved in rendering it not on the linguistic elements that constitute the ST.

The ST is written originally in Arabic by the Algerian Ibadi scholar Ibrahim Attafyish. It belongs to the argumentative text type because it is written to persuade readers of some historical issues. It also falls under the historical Islamic argumentative genres because it addresses a controversial issue in Islamic history. Two English instructors at the language center at Sultan Qaboos University carried out the translation of the text; and they translated the text for non-Arabic speakers for the aim of clearing "misconceptions that many people hold about Ibadhis" (Attafyish, 2015, p. 5).

I choose this particular text for my research because, first, it is written in an old Arabic hortatory style. Second, the text is full of religious terms like verses from the Holy Quran, culture specific terms and religious concepts. Third, the text is full of repetition that is represented in lexical repetition, collocations and lexical doublets. Fourth, the text contains long sentences with complex structures. All of these reasons made me curious to know about the strategies employed to handle the register of the ST because all of these elements are part of the register of the ST. In other words, by analyzing the translation strategies made in the TT, I am looking into how the translators managed to overcome the challenges manifested in the register of the ST.

There are some challenges that I faced when doing this research. First, the research is done in a short period of time, between three to four weeks. Thus, I tried my best to analyze as many examples as I could from the ST, which is more than 2000 words. Second, the TT is published recently and there are no reviews or criticism of the translation and translation strategies employed that I could have included to support my argument in the paper. Therefore, I relied on my own analysis and understanding of the TT to achieve the aim of the paper.

My research will include four sections. Section 1 will be about literature review that is related to register studies and translation strategies in general. I will present researchers views on both topics and comment on their work in relation to my research. In the second section, I will discuss researcher's views that are related to register variables in particular, filed, tenor and mode, in order to choose a theoretical framework that suits my research purposes. In the third section, I will apply the theoretical framework on the ST I chose for my research and I will discuss the strategies involved in rendering register variables. Finally, in section 4, I will provide a conclusion for my research.

Section 1: Literature Review

Since it was first introduced by Halliday, McIntosh and Strevens in their book "Linguistic Sciences and Language Teaching" in 1964, register has always been considered by most translation theorists and researchers as a tool for analyzing language variation in a text. For example, Basil Hatim argues that a translator has to identify the register of the ST before embarking on the translation task (In Baker, 2001).This means that register's role is just to help the translator understand the characteristics of language choices in texts; then, try to reflect these choices in the TT. In another work co-authored with Ian Mason, he goes on to integrate it with pragmatics and semiotics to characterize the context of situation. In this case, register is one of the means to process the variability of using language in texts (Hatim & Mason, 1990).

Other translation scholars like Juliane House approaches register differently. She considers register to be not just a tool for determining language variability in a text but as a means by which a translator can identify overtly erroneous errors and covertly erroneous errors in TT (House, 1997). This approach, which is considered to be as "a landmark in translation studies" (Neves, 2002, p. 114), represents a shift from the main trend in translation research that it employs register not just to characterize meaning but also to describe and compare the semantic and pragmatic equivalence between two texts to assess their quality (House, 1997). This trend gained wide popularity among many researchers in the field of translation quality assessment. For example, in his thesis presented to the University of Salford, Mohammed Benhaddou adopts House's register analysis model to develop his own model of translation quality assessment for Arabic texts (Benhaddou, 1991). Daniel Valles, in his article Applying Juliane House's Translation Quality Assessment Model (1997) on a Humorous Text: A Case Study of The Simpsons adopts Houses model on TV shows (Valles, 2014). In their paper A Translation Quality Assessment of Two English Translations of Nazım Hikmet's Poetry Esmail Faghih, Morvarid Jaza'ei assessed the quality of translating poetry using House's model (Faghih & Jaza'ei, 2015).

The previously mentioned studies and others lead to the following important observations that are; first, register has two main purposes in translation studies: one is as a tool for analyzing language variety in texts and the other is as one of the means of describing the semantic and pragmatic equivalence in the ST and TT. Another observation is that the reviewed studies neglect what happens to register variables in translation or, more practically, the strategies that are employed to render register variables. Most of the translation theorists and researchers did not address this later point in their studies. They consider register to be the linguistic features of a text that are if understood, the translation task would be easier.

Thus, in this research, I am going to fill this gap and investigate the strategies that are involved in rendering and shaping the register variables: filed, tenor and mode, in the TT. However, the concept of strategies is very wide that it encompasses diverse types proposed by different theorists. For example, in his book, "Procedures and strategies for the translation of culture," Vladimir Ivir proposed the following strategies for rendering cultural items: substitution, omission, addition, borrowing, lexical creation, definition and literal translation (Moradi & Sadeghi, 2014). Chesterman argues that local translation strategies can be divided to syntactic, pragmatic and semantic (Chesterman, 1997). Venuti discusses two influential types of translation: domestication and foreignization (Venuti, 1998). Toury describes translation as a norm-governed activity and classifies translation norms to include initial norms: adequacy, acceptability, preliminary norms and operational norms (Toury, 1995). Vinay & Darbelnet classified translation strategies, from a stylistic perspective, into two main types: direct and oblique strategies (Sanjun, 2014). Direct strategies are literal translation, calque and borrowing while oblique strategies include compensation, transposition, modulation and equivalence (ibid).

The previous presentation of translation strategies shows that there are many types of translation strategies. For example, calque, borrowing, compensation, transposition, definition, omission, literal translation, modulation, substitution and addition, domestication, foreignization and Toury's initial norms, adequacy and acceptability.

Thus, in my research, I am going to describe the strategies involved in translating the register variables, filed, tenor and mod, of a religious text that is written in an old Arabic hortatory style. This text will serve as a sample study for the aim of my research which I expect it to open a new door in the field of register and translation studies. It will redirect the attention from using register just to analyze language variability and establishing equivalence between texts to the forces and strategies that shape and transform register from one text type to another.

In the next section, I will discuss the basic concepts and the theoretical framework of the research.

Section 2: Theoretical Framework

The aim of my research is to explore the strategies involved in translating the register variables, filed, tenor and mode, of a religious text that is written in an old Arabic hortatory style. To achieve this aim, I need a theoretical framework that I can employ on the register variables field, tenor and mode and locate their components in the text I intend to analyze. Thus, I am going to review the views of some researchers on register analysis; and at the end decide upon the most applicable one for my research.

First, in defining field of register, Halliday argues that field is about "the total event in which a text is functioning, the purposive activity of participants in a text and its subject matter" (Halliday & Hassan, 1978, p. 22). Hatim and Mason describe the focus of field in text to be on the "professional and occupational" aspects of a text (Hatim & Mason, 1990). However, they disagree with Halliday in the idea that field is not the same as subject matter because a text might include variety of subjects and the use of language is ancillary in some fields (ibid). Gregory and Carroll specify field to be about the user's language and how he/she employs language to express his/her experience in a text (Gregory & Carroll, 1978). House, in her translation quality assessment model, describes field to be about the social action of a text. She classifies the social action into general, specialized and popular; and she employed lexical, syntactic and textual means to describe the linguistic elements related to field in a text (House, 1997). In my view, all of these definitions are similar to each other that the field is about the general topic a text expresses. However, House's explanation of field is more practical and detailed of them all. That is because she focuses on the social activity of a text and provides a classification for it.

Second, most researchers like Gregory & Carroll (Gregory & Carroll, 1978), Hatim & Mason (Hatim & Mason, 1990), Halliday & Hassan (Halliday & Hassan, 1978) agree on the idea that tenor is about power relations and interaction between participants in a text. However, they do not provide a detailed approach on how to go about analyzing power relations and interaction between participants. House addresses this point in her model. She proposes five dimensions to analyze tenor in a text: temporal, geographical and social provenance of the author, the author's intellectual and emotional stance, social attitude and social role relationship.

Third, there are similar views about what can be included under mode. First, Gregory and Carroll argue that mode is "a linguistic reflection of the relationship between the language user and the medium of transmission" (Gregory & Carroll, 1978, P. 47). This means that mode involves the medium that carried the linguistic material of the language user. Hatim and Mason agree with the previous point of view and they include under mode the channel of communication, spoken or written, which they obtained from Halliday's explanation of mode (Hatim & Mason, 1990). However, Halliday includes genre under mode; and he means by this "the rhetorical mode of register such as narrative, didactic, persuasive or phatic" (Halliday, 1978, p.22). House, on the other hand, agrees with the previous views that mode involves medium but she added the channel of communication, spoken or written, under medium. She also included under mode a new aspect, participation, to describe the degree of participation between interlocutors in mode. In my view, the previously presented ideas about mode are similar. The most common view between them is that mode includes medium and channel of communication. However, House's model is more detailed and organized than the other ones because it includes the channel of communication under medium. It also describes participation in medium.

For the purposes of my research, I am going to adopt House's views of register because it is more detailed than the other ones but with little change in the variable of tenor. I am going to exclude temporal, geographical and social provenance of the author because I introduced the author in the introduction of the research; and this information is related to the author's variability of style and dialect. Thus, it is irrelevant to my research purposes.

In the next section, I am going to apply the theoretical framework on the ST I chose for this research.

Section 3: Translation Strategies employed to Shape Register Variables in the TT

Before imparking on our investigation of the strategies employed to translate register variables, a very important point needs to be discussed first. This point is related to what Halliday says about the nature of field, tenor and mode that they are "highly general concepts for describing how the context of situation determines the kinds of meaning that are expressed in a text." Thus, one may ask: if field, tenor and mode are general and abstract concepts, how can then be described? This situation is similar to a blind man trying to describe an elephant. However, Helen Leckie Tarry, in her book "Language and Context: A Functional Linguistic Theory of Register," said, "Register is an abstract construct...implicit in the configuration of contextual factors and made explicit by means of the lexical, syntactic and textual structures that give substance to a text" (Tarry, 1995, p.31). This means register variables are represented in a text because they constitute the lexical and grammatical choices made in a text. Therefore, in my forthcoming analysis, I am going to employ House's register analysis model to describe the "STs" linguistic material, lexical and grammatical choices, which constitute its filed, tenor and mode. Then, the described linguistic material of field, tenor and mode will be compared to their TT translation to describe their translation strategy.

First, According to House, field "refers to the nature of the social action that is taking place in a text and captures what is going on" (House, 1997, p. 108). Therefore, the field of the ST is about the intentional mixing by some Islamic historians between Ibadhis and Khawarij. The text writer aims to clarify this misconception between both groups by reviewing their actions in the Islamic history.

The strategies employed to translate field of the text are explicitness, paraphrase, addition and literal translation. First, explicitness is "adding inferable information in the TT, information which is only implicit in the ST" (Chesterman, 1997, p. 105). This strategy can be seen in the following example: "سموا خوارج لأنهم خرجوا عن الحق." The translators explicated the implied meaning in the word "الحق" that Khawarij were Muslim extremists and their approach in interpreting Islamic scriptures is very radical. Thus, it is translated as "They were given this name because of their radical approach." Second, "A paraphrase expresses a statement, a phrase or a single word, in some other words" (Danielsson, 2007, P. 3). This can be seen in the following sentence: "يرون عصمة الدم والمال." In this sentence, the culture specific concept "عصمة الدم والمال" means that Islam prohibited that Muslims kill and take the property of other Muslims. This statement has no equivalence in the TC; so the translators said it in other words in the TT as "never accepted that it is permissible to shed blood among Muslims or lawful to despoil their properties." Third, addition is sometimes important in translation because, according to Tso, "in order to avoid a possible loss, a translator may say more than the ST" (Tso, 2010, P. 26). This strategy is apparent in this sentence "تركوا الناس أحرارا في آرائهم" that the translators added the words believed, choice and opinion in the TT, "They have always believed in the freedom of choice and opinion," and this to indicate that its an Ibahdi doctrine in all times, not in a particular time. Finally, literal translation, according to Chesterman, is "maximally close to the SL form, but nevertheless grammatical" (Chesterman, 1997, P. 91) In this type of translation, "the denotative meaning of words is taken as if straight from the dictionary but TL grammar is respected" (Dickins, Hervey and Higgins, 2002, P. 16). Some examples of this strategy are "الخوارج جنحوا إلى أراقة الدماء وإخافة السبل وتعطيل الأحكام" translated as "Khawarij practiced bloodshed، scared people and abolished the ruling of Islam," and "الإباضية يبتغون العدل" translated as "Ibadhis desire justice." It can be seen in these examples that the denotative meaning of the ST is reflected in the TT but the TT grammar is respected. In short, the most common strategies employed in rendering the field of the ST are literal translation, paraphrase, addition and explicitation.

Tenor, in House's model, refers to author's personal emotional and intellectual stance, social role relationship and social attitude (House, 1997). The author's personal emotional and intellectual stance is about the author's "viewpoint he is portraying in the text" (House, 1997, P. 109). This means this dimension looks at the author stance in a text emotionally and intellectually. In the text I am analyzing, the author is taking an accusatory and cautionary stance. He keeps accusing some Muslim historians from other Islamic sects of not saying the truth about Ibadhis because they are motivated by worldly desires. He also cautions the reader not to believe everything said about Ibadhis.

The strategies used to render the author's stance in the TT are modulation, paraphrase, equivalence and literal translation. First, modulation is "a change in the point of view of the SL" (Munday, 2012, P. 88). For example, the sentence "تولى كثير ممن ينتمون إلى المذاهب العديدة إدماج الإباضية في هؤلاء الخوارج ظلما وعدوانا" is translated as "Ibadhis who were against arbitration as well were falsely and unjustly attached to them." It is clear that there is a change from active voice, in the ST, to passive, in the TT, and this involves modulation. Second, paraphrase is in the translation of "إن الأهواء متغلغلة في أصحابها." The translator paraphrased the image "متغلغلة في أصحابها" as "It is apparent that such desires are pervasive amongst such people." Third, literal translation can be seen in the translation of this sentence "لا لشيء إلا للهوى والشهوة الخفية" that the translators reflected the denotative meaning of words directly but following the TT grammatical form as in "for no other reason than for their hidden desires." Finally, equivalence, according to Vinay and Darbelnet, refers to "cases where language describe the same situation by different stylistic or structural means" (Munday, 2012, P. 89). This strategy is clear in the translation of this sentence "شد يدك على الحق." The translators provided similar statement that expresses the same situation "hold firmly to the truth."

The second dimension of tenor in House's model is social role relationship. It is about "the role relationship between addressers and addressees, which may be either symmetrical or asymmetrical" (House, 1997, P. 41). In the text I am analyzing, the participants are the writer Mohammed Attafayish, an Ibadhi scholar, and audience from other Islamic sects. The social role relationship between them is symmetrical because the writer is trying to involve the reader in the argument using interjections, interrogatives and addressing the reader directly. Some of the strategies employed in the translation of this dimension in the TT are modulation, omission and literal translation. First, modulation is apparent in the following example "وانظر إلى تاريخ الأندلس الذي يوجد بين أيدينا اليوم ولا تجد للإباضية ذكراً." The point of view is changed in the translation of this sentence that the interjection verb "انظر" is transposed as a gerund and only the second person pronoun in the verb "تجد" is reflected in the translation, "Looking at the history of Andalusia, you will not see mention of Ibadhis." Second, there are many instances for omitting the addressee in the translation of some sentences. For example, "إنك لتقرأ طبقات ابن سعد مثلاً فلا تجد ذكراً لرجال الإباضية" translated as "When reading Tabakat Ibn S'ad, there is no mention of Ibadhis," and "أترى الأمم على سائر أجناسها تنقاد إلى قريش" translated as "Would nations of different races accept being driven by a man from Quraish." Third, literal translation as in "إنك لترى هؤلاء من العمل على إخفاء ما يرونه من أصحابنا" translated as "You find that those false writers would never mention our companions." It is clear in the translation that the translators transferred the ST denotative meaning using TT grammatical form and reflected the second person in the translation.

The last dimension in tenor, according to House's model, is social attitude. It refers to "the degree of social distance or proximity resulting in relative formality or informality" (House, 1997, P. 41). Even though the writer addresses the audience directly in some instances in the text I am analyzing, the social attitude in the text is formal. The writer is using standard Arabic, religious terms and culture specific items. The main strategy used to render this dimension is equivalence. Many religious and culture specific items are translated using this strategy. For example, "الميتة" is translated as "carrion," "بدعه" is translated as "innovation," and "التحكيم" is translated as "arbitration."

Finally, mode, according to House, includes medium, spoken or written, and participation, spoken or written (House, 1997). The medium in the text I am analyzing is simple because the text is written to be read in book. This can be seen in the highly cohesive language of the text and the argumentative rhetorical structure that the medium follows. The strategies employed to render ST medium are literal translation, addition and modulation. First, literal translation is the dominant strategy employed to render most parts of the medium. For instance, paragraph number one starts with a nominal sentence to define the concept of Khawarij, "الخوارج طوائف من الناس في زمن التابعين." It is translated as "Khawarij were groups of people who appeared at the time of A'Taabi'een." Addition is also one of the strategies used to render medium of the text. For instance, paragraph number four is about what the Ibadhis did to Khawarij and begins with the sentence "فلما ظهرت بدعتهم طردهم أصحابنا من مجالسهم." In translating this sentence, the translators added a lot of information in the TT, "When their wrong innovations became apparent and they applied their wrong dangerous doctrines, killing Muslims, Ibadhis declared their dissociation from them, expelled them from their meetings." Third, modulation is also employed along with literal translation to render the medium of the ST. For example, paragraph number five introduces the reasons for mixing between Ibadhis and Khawarig. The translators rendered the beginning of the sentence that the paragraph begins with "ولما كان هؤلاء الخوارج من منكرة التحكيم تولى كثير ممن ينتمون إلى المذاهب العديدة إدماج الإباضية في الخوارج" as "Because these groups of Khawarij were against arbitration, Ibadhis who were against it as well were falsely and unjustly attached to them." It is clear from the translated text that the second part of the sentence is changed from active to passive.

The second dimension in mode is participation. It can "be either a simple monologue or dialogue or a more complex mixture of indirect addressee" (House, 1997, P. 40). The participation in the text I am analysing is complex because it involves direct and indirect address to audience. The strategies employed in rendering participation are omission, literal translation, paraphrase and equivalence. First, omission is clear in rendering "أترى أن معاوية يصف الأحنف بن قيس بالخارجية." The addressee is omitted in the TT, "Was Mu'awiyah's accusation of Al'Ahnaf as being Khariji." Second, literal translation is used to render some elements of participation like the sentence "إنك لترى هؤلاء من العمل على إخفاء ما يرونه من أصحابنا" which is translated as "You find that those false writers would never mention our companions." Third, paraphrase is used to render the indirect addressee in the sentence "فلينتبه المتبصر من الزلة في هذا المقام." It is paraphrased in the TT as "people looking for the truth should be aware of making a mistake in this regard." Finally, equivalence is also employed in rendering participation in the text as in the sentence "شد يدك على الحق" which is translated as "Hold firmly to the truth."

Section 4:

In conclusion, I describes the translation strategies involved in the translation of register variables of the ST "الفرق بين الإباضية" and I discovered that some of the strategies involved in rendering, first, field are explicitness, paraphrase, addition and literal translation. Second, the strategies employed to renderer tenor are modulation, paraphrase, equivalence, literal translation and omission; and third, the strategies employed to render mode are literal translation, addition, modulation, omission, paraphrase and equivalence. It seems from the presented strategies that the translators focused on the message of the ST rather than the style of the writer because as they said in the preface of their translation they "tried to avoid awkward literalistic translation to ensure meaningful communication" (Attafyish, 2015, p.7). Therefore, I can say that they domesticated the text so that it sounds more acceptable in the TC. Finally, this research is conducive to further research in the relation between register and translation strategies and the applicability of the methodology employed in this research to investigate translation strategies in other text types using register as a tool.


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