FUNCTIONAL THEORIES IN TRANSLATION: PERKS AND PITFALLS
In the field of translation studies there are some questions to consider when it comes to translation approaches. The major problem that nowadays translation theories encounter lies in the fact that they are not reconciliatory or compatible with each other. This statement is not surprising as every translation theorist has his or her own understanding of how a translation theory should work and what function it should perform. As a result, some of these theories, despite their immense contribution to the development of translation studies, are declared as revolutionary and fairly inconsistent with the notion of accuracy and the ways of delivering a target message. Amid a vast number of translation theories the functionalist theories were the first at systematizing the assessment of translation according to the text type and function. The representatives of a functionalist analysis stress the necessity of choosing the right translation method according to the nature of the text and the needs of the audience. They claim that there is no single method or strategy for a particular text, therefore the translation should be guided by some kind of criteria.
Key words: functional theories, translation, translation theories, translation studies
Nowadays, in our globalized world, the academic discipline that is known as translation studies serves as an essential tool for connecting different speech communities and promoting business affairs on a worldwide scale. This fact explains the growing interest in professional translators and nowadays the “accurate products of the translation process are sought on the international market” . For centuries, different translation theories have been carried out the final products of translation on the basis of various criteria. However, for the present day, translation criticism or translation assessment is still a central part of a discussion in the framework of translation studies.
Amid a vast number of translation theories the functionalist theories were the first at systematizing the assessment of translation according to the text type and function . The considerations of Katharina Reiss, Hans J. Vermeer, Mary Snell-Hornby and Christiane Nord who are the prominent representatives of a functionalist analysis are based on linguistic as well as cultural factors in translation. The researchers mentioned above stress the necessity of choosing the right translation method according to the nature of the text and the needs of the audience  To put it differently, Reiss, Vermeer, Snell-Hornby and Nord claim that there is no single method or strategy for a particular text, therefore the translation should be guided by some kind of criteria. Based on this the functionalist theories of translation draw on the following principles:
a) the purpose of translation;
b) the choice of a translation method and strategy;
c) the audience.
As Munday  states, such an approach allows “to judge the translation not by equivalence of meaning but by its adequacy to the functional goal of the target text situation”. In other words, the translation should fulfill its functional goal in order to meet the requirements of a particular audience. It is worth mentioning that adequacy in this sense means the appropriate choice of methods which translators need for the genuine purpose of translation .
As it follows, in terms of functionalist theories of translation equivalence goes beyond the text, as the emphasis is on the function of the source text and the possibility of changing it in the target one. The German scholar Christiane Nord  highly confirms this by stating that “functionalist” means focusing on the function or functions of texts and translations”. This idea moves translation theory to a higher linguistic level towards the communicative purpose of translation which assumes target-cultural environment or intercultural communication. For example, Reiss’s work on the concept of equivalence focuses on the text and its function in a given communicative situation and refers the function of the target text to the most important principle governing the process of translation. Above from this consideration Vermeer’s skopos theory also concentrates on the purpose of translation and a functionally adequate result . In this way Reiss and Vermeer highlight that the translation “must “make sense” within its communicative situation and culture” . In this functionalist conception the translation should be assessed not by the degree of equivalence with the source text but by the extent to which the translation of the target text functions. In other words, the requirements of the target cultural-recipients should be achieved and the communication between different cultural domains should be established.
Nevertheless, in spite the importance of the functionalist theories and their deep theoretical background there have been a number of criticisms discussing the relevance of these theories and the validity of the translation assessment criteria they propose. Applying functionalist theories to the translation means that a translator should choose a translation strategy according to the purpose or function of the translation. However, it stands to mention that translators cannot be sure that a text achieves the function he or she wants it to achieve, as communicative purposes can be reached under certain conditions. According to Nord  these conditions may include culture-specific knowledge presuppositions, value systems or behavior conventions. Therefore, one of the issues that arises from the functionalist criteria of a translation assessment is the deep analysis of the target-culture conditions for which the translation is needed. This is viewed as a crucial necessity as in order to decide how the purpose of the source text can work for the target audience it is important to analyse this audience’s requirements. Among those we can distinguish the necessity to consider cultural differences between the languages involved, the impact of the translation norms on the final translation product, the choice between foreignizing and domesticating translation strategies and those which are sufficiently specific for a particular text, like the translation of humor, slang and made-up words, wordplay, unusual metaphors, etc. For example, if to touch upon the translation for adults and children their requirements will be quite different. The difference between the translation for children and adults is that the challenges the translator encounters in the first case have to be handled quiet differently due to the target group considerations . Firstly, in case of translating for children it is particularly important to attract the target audience to the process of reading. In order to do this, the translator must be sure that he/she considers the requirements of the target readers: their age, knowledge, experience, etc. Moreover, if we accept the fact that children’s literature is a separate genre in its own right, then we must acknowledge that it requires an imaginative and creative translator who is always aware how special the audience is. Therefore, unlike the translator for adults, the translator of children’s literature must define the characteristic features of the target audience: their knowledge, level of experience, stage of emotional development and the ability to adapt and learn new information.
In other words, a good translation product should deliver the source text meaning as well as the source-culture that is encoded in the language and the audience of the target language and target-culture feel the same way as the source text audience about the text. However, it seems impossible for the audiences from different culture with different language system to share the same information and affection of a text if the translation is conducted simply in a coding way where faithfulness principle in translation is deduced into word-to-word translation. Therefore, the functionalism defines that the translator is not the sender of the source text message but a textproducer in the target culture who adopts somebody else‘s intention in order to produce a communicative instrument for the target culture, or a target-culture document of a source-culture communication . The translator recreates the text in target language by keeping some sourcetext information or linguistic elements invariant and adapting the rest to the receivers‘ background knowledge, expectations and communicative needs or to such factors as medium-restrictions and deixis requirements . Consequently, from the functionalism perspective, the translation strategy of Russian text into English is not mainly restricted to source text information but also needs considering how to bridge the western culture and Russian culture conveyed in the text.
As it follows, the work of the translator involves something more than just transferring any particular text from one language into another. In support of this position Catford  predicted fifty years ago that the translator’s activity goes beyond the boundaries of a simple “replacement of a textual material in one language by equivalent material in another language”.
One more issue that arises from the functionalist assessment of the translation is the fact that the communicative purposes that the target text is supposed to achieve are not easy to define when transferring them through linguistic and cultural barriers. In addition, there is no guarantee that a target text will actually achieve the communicative purpose for which it is produced especially when the source and target culture differ greatly . Therefore, for example, there is always a risk that when transferring a text from the Russian language into English, the message will not achieve the same communicative effect as it produces on the Russian audience. For example, the passage taken from “Gooseberries” written by the famous Russian writer Anton Chekhov  loses its expressiveness if to simplify the language and making this text entirely understandable for the target audience. The English back-translation that follows the Russian text is provided by Koteliansky and Cannan :
“Это уж был не прежний робкий бедняга-чиновник, а настоящий помещик, барин. Он уж обжился тут, привык и вошел во вкус; кушал много, в бане мылся, полнел, уже судился с обществом и с обоими заводами и очень обижался, когда мужики не называли его «ваше высокоблагородие». И о душе своей заботился солидно, по-барски, и добрые дела творил не просто, а с важностью…” .
«He was no longer the poor, tired official, but a real landowner and a person of consequence. He had got used to the place and liked it, ate a great deal, took Russian baths, was growing fat, had already gone to law with the parish and the two factories, and was much offended if the peasants did not call him ‘Your Lordship.’ And, like a good landowner, he looked after his soul and did good works pompously, never simply…”
From the examples provided above one can easily notice that the translators changed the grammatical structure of the sentences and, in addition to this, neglected the usage of the words that present a challenge for the target audience’s understanding. In such a manner, the word барин is substituted by a person of consequence which indicates a similar meaning in English. From the point of view of the English language speakers it is more acceptable, because the word барин is the Russian culture-specific notion, meaning a nobleman that lives in affluence. With regard to this case Baker  notes that cultural substitution, where the translators are free to use loan words, depends on the norms of translation acceptable in their societies. This may explain the preference of a person of consequence by Koteliansky and Cannan when translating Chekhov’s work.
Nevertheless, in spite the fact that such a substitution helps to avoid misunderstanding between Russian and English audience, it may also affect the text expressiveness. In the English version of the extract the expression по-барски meaning arrogantly is omitted and by means of this the English sentence sounds rather drastic than in the original text. The purpose of using this phrase in Russian is to emphasize that the person has changed radically from a shy person to a rich and haughty landlord. This expression also represents the aim of the whole passage. However, Koteliansky and Cannan omitted this language unit as no counterpart exists in their language. This in fact harms slightly the context. There is inevitably some loss of meaning when the words are omitted in the translation process. Therefore, the approach used by the translator does not work properly.
Therefore, the consideration of cultural issues and differences should be an essential part of when translating a text from one language and culture to another. In this case it is possible to speak about the achievement of the intended purpose and about the accurate product of the translation process.
In conclusion, therefore, it seems clear that functional theories still remain the bone of contention within the framework of the contemporary translation studies. With regard to all the criticism that this theory came across, there is no doubt that it represents a remarkable insight into translation. As we can see the functionalist translation assessment criteria are still discussed in the framework of translation studies. However, it is clear that the account provided in these theories is closely connected with the culture of the target language translation. In this way it can be said that the clarity of the function and purpose of the translation highly draws on the intended audience. Moreover, functionalist theories show that the translators work requires the knowledge of both theoretical advances as well as cultural aspects of the target text receivers. References
1. Parlog, H. and Frentiu, L. 2013. Translating Across Cultures. (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing)
2. Munday, Jeremy. 2008. IntroducingTranslationStudies: Theories and Applications, 2nd edn(London, New York: Routledge)
3. Pardo, BetlemSoler. 2013. Translation Studies: An Introduction to the History and Development of (Audiovisual) Translation (Villanueva de la Cañada:Linguax. Revista de LenguasAplicadas)
4-5. Munday, Jeremy. 2008. IntroducingTranslationStudies: Theories and Applications, 2nd edn(London, New York: Routledge)
6. Nord, Christiane. 1997. Translating as a Purposeful Activity. Functionalist Approaches Explained (Manchester: St. Jerome)
7. Pöchhacker, Franz. 1992. “The Role of Theory in Simultaneous Interpreting”,inTeaching Translation and Interpreting. Training, Talent and Experience, ed. byDollerup C. andLoddegaardA. (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins, 31-53)
8. 7. Nord, Christiane. “Translating for Communicative Purposes across Culture Boundaries”, Journal of Translation Studies, 9(1) (2006), 43–60
9-10. Nord, Christiane. “Translating for Communicative Purposes across Culture Boundaries”, Journal of Translation Studies, 9(1) (2006), 43–60
11. Parlog, H. and Frentiu, L. 2013. Translating Across Cultures. (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing)
12. Munday, Jeremy. 2008. IntroducingTranslationStudies: Theories and Applications, 2nd edn(London, New York: Routledge)
13. Rose, Marilyn Gaddis. 1996. “The Matrix of Translation”, in Translation Perspectives IX: Translation Horizons: Beyond the Boundaries of Translation Spectrum, ed. by Rose M.G. (Binghamton: State University of New York at Binghamton Press, 5-6)
14-15. Shureteh, Halla. 2015. “Venuti versus Nida: A Representational Conflict in
Translation Theory”, in Babel. International Journal of Translation, ed. by Lamont A. (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 78-92)
16. Koteliansky, S. S., and Cannan, Gilbert. 1917. The House with the Mezzanine and Other Stories, by Anton Tchekoff (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 4-5)
17. Chekhov, Anton. 1898. Kryzhovnik. Polnoe Sobranie Sochineniy v 30-ti Tomax.
Sochineniya. Tom 10 (Moskva: Nauka, 4)
18. Baker, Mona. 2011. In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation (Routledge: Oxon, UK, New York, USA.
З.Е. Габдуллина, Г. Кусаинова
ФУНКЦИОНАЛЬНЫЕ ТЕОРИИ ПЕРЕВОДА:
ПРЕИМУЩЕСТВА И НЕДОСТАТКИ
В области переводоведения существуют некоторые вопросы, которые следует учитывать, когда речь идет о подходах к переводу. Основная проблема, с которой сталкиваются современные переводчики, заключается в том, что эти подходы не невсегда совместимы друг с другом. Это утверждение не удивительно, так как каждый отдельный переводчик имеет свое собственное понимание того, как должна работать та или иная теория перевода и какую функцию она должна выполнять. Среди огромного числа теорий перевода функциональные теории были первыми при систематизации оценки перевода в соответствии с типом текста и функцией. Представители функционального анализа подчеркивают необходимость выбора правильного метода перевода в соответствии с видом текста и потребностями аудитории. Они утверждают, что нет единого метода или стратегии перевода, поэтому в процессе перевода необходимо руководствоваться определенными критериями.
З.Е. Габдуллина, Г. Кусаинова
АУДАРМАНЫҢ ФУНКЦИОНАЛДЫ ТЕОРИЯСЫ:
АРТЫҚШЫЛЫҚТАРЫ МЕН КЕМШІЛІКТЕРІ
Аударма ісі саласында аударма тәсілдеріне назар аудару қажет болатын кейбір мәселелер бар. Қазіргі заманғы аудармашылардың алдында тұрған негізгі мәселе — үнемі сай келмейтін тәсілдер . Бұл мәлімдеме таңқаларлық емес, себебі әрбір аудармашыда осы немесе басқа теория қалай жұмыс істейтіні және оның жұмыс істеуі туралы түсінігі бар. Аударма теориясы, функционалдық теориялар, мәтін және функцияның түрі арасында аударма шығындарын реттейді. Функционалды талдау өкілдері мәтіннің және көрермендердің қажеттіліктеріне сәйкес дұрыс аудару әдісін таңдау қажеттігін атап көрсетеді. Олар бірде-бір әдіс немесе аударма стратегиясын жоқ деп санайды, сондықтан аудару процесінде нақты критерийлерді басшылыққа алу қажет.