JIN Di and the “artistic integrity” approach to translation-3

See two earlier posts for my brief introduction to Ji Din’s approach to literary translation. Here is another quote from his book:
“The distinction between the creative freedom of the artistic integrity approach and that of the traditional free translation lies in its fidelity to the original. Whereas the traditional free translator throws away whatever he or she does not like in the source text and replaces it with alien matters which affect or even distort the message, the creative efforts of the message-oriented translator are made to produce a message closer to the source than what any literal rendering could ever produce. . . . The creative imagination of the translator, just like his or her freedom to utilize the most appropriate linguistic and artistic means available in the target language, is only meaningful when it helps to re-present the message in a way closer to the source message than would be possible without the transformation, never when it produces something irrelevant” (p.101).

These ideas remind us of Nida and Taber’s classic formulation of “dynamic equivalence” translating: “Translating 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” (The Theory and Practice of Translation, 1969, p.12, added bold). To illustrate the principle of the closest equivalent, N&T suggest that in present-day English a natural equivalent of “demon-possessed” (Jn. 10:21) would be “mentally distressed” (or “disturbed”). However, this rendering “is a cultural reinterpretation which does not take seriously the cultural outlook of the people of Biblical times” (ibid., 13).

What applies to the content of the original text, applies also to its literary forms and the communicative functions that these convey. In a “literary functional equivalence” (LiFE) approach then, translators seek to re-present these aspects of the SL text as well–its artistic appeal and rhetorical impact–as part of the overall interlingual “meaning” transfer process. The following is an example of a LiFE rendition of the first strophe of the well-known “Lord’s Prayer” (Mt. 6:9b-10) in Chewa, a SE Bantu language. The following is first a reproduction of the Greek text:

Πάτερ ἡμῶν, ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς,
ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου·
ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου,
ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς·

Now the Chewa version, along with an English back-translation:
Atate inu akumwamba, (You Father, the one up above,)
dzina lanu lilemekezeke. (may your name be honored.)
Wanu ufumu ukhazikike. (Your kingdom, may it be firmly established.)
Zonse zofuna zanu zichitike, (May all your wishes be done,)
pano pansi ndi kumwambako. (down here and up there in heaven.)

I trust that Prof. Jin would be satisfied that the “artistic integrity” as well as the semantic accuracy of the biblical text has been preserved in the Chewa LiFE version.

About ewendland

I am currently an instructor at the Lutheran Seminary, Lusaka, ZAMBIA (since 1968). My academic training has been in biblical studies (BA, Northwestern College; MST, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary), Bible translation (several SIL courses), linguistics (MA, University of Wisconsin, Madison), and African languages (PhD, UWM). I am a “retired” translation consultant for the United Bible Societies (having worked with projects in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). I currently still serve as an external examiner in Zambian languages (University of Zambia) and as visiting professor in OT, NT, and Ancient Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, with an affiliation to the Centre for Bible Interpretation and Translation in Africa (http://sun.academia.edu/EWENDLAND). My research and writing interests focus on the literary (structural, poetic, rhetorical) analysis of biblical texts and their oratorical translation, especially in southeastern Bantu languages (http://www.amazon.com/Ernst-R.-Wendland/e/B001HPLMX6).
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