Psychological Approach

Psychological Approach


Psychological critics view works through the lens of psychology. They look either at the psychological motivations of the characters or of the authors themselves, although the former is generally considered a more respectable approach. Most frequently, psychological critics apply Freudian psychology to works, but other approaches (such as a Jungian approach) also exist.

Freudian Approach:

A Freudian approach often includes pinpointing the influences of a character’s id (the instinctual, pleasure seeking part of the mind), superego (the part of the mind that represses the id’s impulses) and the ego (the part of the mind that controls but does not repress the id’s impulses, releasing them in a healthy way). Freudian critics like to point out the sexual implications of symbols and imagery, since Freud’s believed that all human behavior is motivated by sexuality. They tend to see concave images, such as ponds, flowers, cups, and caves as female symbols; whereas objects that are longer than they are wide are usually seen as phallic symbols. Dancing, riding, and flying are associated with sexual pleasure. Water is usually associated with birth, the female principle, the maternal, the womb, and the death wish. Freudian critics occasionally discern the presence of an Oedipus complex (a boy’s unconscious rivalry with his father for the love of his mother) in the male characters of certain works, such as Hamlet. They may also refer to Freud’s psychology of child development, which includes the oral stage, the anal stage, and the genital stage.

Jungian Approach:

Jung is also an influential force in myth (archetypal) criticism. Psychological critics are generally concerned with his concept of the process of individuation (the process of discovering what makes one different form everyone else). Jung labeled three parts of the self: the shadow, or the darker, unconscious self (usually the villain in literature); the persona, or a man’s social personality (usually the hero); and the anima, or a man’s “soul image” (usually the heroine).  A neurosis occurs when someone fails to assimilate one of these unconscious components into his conscious and projects it on someone else. The persona must be flexible and be able to balance the components of the psyche.


Ernest Jones, Otto Rank, Marie Boaparte, and others


It can be a useful tool for understanding some works, such as Henry James The Turning of the Screw, in which characters obviously have psychological issues. Like the biographical approach, knowing something about a writer’s psychological make up can give us insight into his work.


Psychological criticism can turn a work into little more than a psychological case study, neglecting to view it as a piece of art. Critics sometimes attempt to diagnose long dead authors based on their works, which is perhaps not the best evidence of their psychology.  Critics tend to see sex in everything, exaggerating this aspect of literature. Finally, some works do not lend themselves readily to this approach.


(1) A psychological approach to John Milton’s Samson Agonisties might suggest that the shorning of Samson’s locks is symbolic of his castration at the hands of Dalila and that the fighting words he exchanges with Harapha constitute a reassertion of his manhood. Psychological critics might see Samson’s bondage as a symbol of his sexual impotency, and his destruction of the Philistine temple and the killing of himself and many others as a final orgasmic event (since death and sex are often closely associated in Freudian psychology). The total absence of Samson’s mother in Samson Agonisties would make it difficult to argue anything regarding the Oedipus complex, but Samson refusal to be cared for by his father and his remorse over failing to rule Dalila may be seen as indicative of his own fears regarding his sexuality.

(2) A psychological approach to “The Silence of the Llano” would allow us to look into the motivations of Rafael–it would allow us to examine the effects of isolation and loneliness on his character and provide some reasoning for why he might chose to establish an incestuous relationship with his daughter. A specifically Freudian approach will tune us in to the relevant symbolism which will enable us to better understand the conclusion. For instance, with such a mind frame, we can immediately recognize that Rafael’s statement to his daughter “I will turn the earth for you. The seeds will grow” is the establishment of a sexual relationship that will result in children. We can see the water in which she bathes as symbolic of that birth that is to come.

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Approaches to the literary fairy tale

The literary fairy tale has been of scholarly interest since the 19th century and it has been discussed from a range of conceptual viewpoints using a variety of methodologies. Conceptual approaches to literary texts are always underpinned and shaped by ideological assumptions about relationships between language, meaning, narrative, literature, society, and literary audiences; and, to some extent, varying approaches to the fairy tale reflect the critical, cultural, and historical contexts in which they have been formulated. No single approach or methodology is able to arrive at a ‘correct’ interpretation of the fairy tale; instead, different methodologies suit different critical and ideological purposes. The main conceptual approaches to the literary fairy tale to have emerged in the 20th century are: folkloricist, structuralist, literary, psychoanalytic, historicist, marxist, and feminist approaches. 1. Folkloricist approaches The literary fairy tale as it emerged in the 17th century constitutes a literary sub‐genre distinct from the oral folk tale, but the oral folk tale has had a formative influence on the fairy tale and on scholarship in both areas. The ‘Finnish’ (or historical‐geographic) method, developed by Thompson, Krohn, and Aarne, aims at reconstructing the history of particular tale types by collecting, indexing, and analysing all of their variants. There are two key underlying assumptions informing the work of folkloricists: that folk tales have their origins in oral traditions; and that a single definitive version of a particular tale type as it may have existed in the oral tradition might be reconstructed from its variants. The Finnish method was developed in an attempt to avoid reductive trajectories of folk‐tale history, but the assumption that in identifying the basic structure of a specific tale type an originary ‘ur‐text’ might be reconstructed is grounded in a romantic ideology which conceives of the folk‐tale tradition as pure and genuine, and the literary fairy tale as an impure, inauthentic derivative. Such an originary text could only ever be artificially constructed from existing known versions, and the task of collecting all variants defies completion. Furthermore, the traffic between oral and literary folk and fairy tales is not one‐way: literary variants have had a formative influence on subsequent oral versions of tales. Despite such problematic ideological assumptions, a key principle of the historical‐geographic method, that a scholar must take all known versions of a story into consideration, has been enormously influential, and the folk‐tale indexes compiled by Thompson, Aarne, and Krohn are invaluable resources for scholars interested in a range of approaches to the folk and fairy tale. The approach enables identification of the basic structure of specific tales and it has been combined with other approaches (see collections edited by Bottigheimer, and McGlathery). 2. Structuralism: Vladimir Propp There are similarities between the methodologies and assumptions of folkloricist and structuralist approaches to the folk tale in that both are preoccupied with the stable underlying form of tales. However, whereas folklorists identified the basic ‘story’ components of particular tale types, structuralists are interested in the underlying structural components of the folk‐tale genre. A key aspect of Propp’s methodology is the analysis of the structure of folk tales according to character functions or spheres of action. His analysis of Russian folk tales suggests the following principles: functions are stable, constant elements in a tale, independent of how and by whom they are fulfilled, so they constitute the fundamental components of a tale; the number of functions known to fairy tale is limited; the sequence of functions is always identical; and all fairy tales are of one type in regard to their structure. The uniformity which Propp finds in fairy‐tale structure raises questions about the origins and meanings of tales. While structuralists typically evade questions of meaning and historicity, an implication of Propp’s findings is that all folk tales express the same thing, opening the way for assertions of universal ahistorical meanings. However, a criticism of folkloricist and structuralist scholars alike is that they rarely interpret folk‐tale content. The conception of structuralism as a ‘science’ of narrative dictates a methodological rigour which excludes from analysis those narrative components, such as discourse and signification, which are variable, but which also shape form and meaning. Propp acknowledges the cultural context of the folk tale, but he is more concerned with its non‐variable structural elements and excludes social and historical aspects and variations of form and content from his analysis. However, in focusing exclusively on stable narrative components, structuralist analysis is frequently reduced to empirical description and observation of manifest content of tales. Structuralist analysis, however, is not an end in itself and need not ignore either the variable narrative components or the cultural contexts of folk tale. Propp’s work, like that of Stith Thompson, has had, despite its shortcomings, a formative influence on the methodologies used in fairy‐tale research. His methodology enables discrimination of key structural elements and can be usefully combined with other literary approaches which seek to analyse the possible ways in which texts construct meaning, and with more ideologically oriented forms of analysis which seek to study the formative influence of social, historical, and cultural contexts on folk‐tale variants and reversions (for example, see Tatar, 1987; Bottigheimer, 1986, 1987). 3. Literary approaches: Max Lüthi Whereas structuralist and folkloricist approaches tend to disregard meaning in an attempt to examine form and structure, Lüthi combines stylistic analysis of fairy‐tale texts and an interest in their significance. Using the methodologies of new criticism, he analyses the stylistic features and thematic significance of the fairy‐tale genre and its historical development. A key assumption informing Lüthi’s work is that fairy tales contain essential underlying meanings which, in so far as form and meaning are thought of as integral, are manifest in the basic style of the fairy tale. Thus, like his structuralist colleagues, Lüthi focuses on those formal stylistic features which characterize the genre and which, according to Lüthi, function thematically. For Lüthi, the ‘common style underlying all European fairy tales’ points to common significances for the genre. His assertions are supported by close textual analysis of particular tales and their variants, but he largely ignores the social and cultural contexts of particular retellings, focusing instead on those story elements and motifs which remain stable despite progressive retellings. His analyses tend to proceed from the particular to the general. Specific features are discussed in so far as they are typical of the genre and can be used to assert abstract general ideas. The methodology thus avoids imposing specific meanings on individual tales, and Lüthi is able to make assertions about the ‘timeless validity’ of the essential image of ‘man’ in fairy tales. 4. Psychoanalysis: Jungian and Freudian approaches Psychoanalytic approaches to the fairy tale are preoccupied with their symbolism. Although Jungian and Freudian interpretations of tales differ, they share key assumptions about language, narrative, and the universality of meaning and utilize similar methodologies. For Jungians, such as Maria Luise von Franz, folk and fairy stories represent archetypal psychological phenomena and are an expression of ‘collective unconscious psychic processes’. For Freudians, such as Bruno Bettelheim, they are expressions of individual psychological development, and they deal with universal human problems. Thus both make universal claims for the relevance of the fairy‐tale genre for human beings which ignore differences produced by age, gender, race, social class, and education. According to Bettelheim, fairy tales communicate with the uneducated, preconscious, and unconscious minds of children and adults. He thus assumes that meaning exists independent of form and structure and can be directly apprehended, regardless of the linguistic, narrative, and cultural structures and conventions used to encode it. He also assumes a fundamental link between childhood and the fairy‐tale genre, the logic of which is circular: fairy tales contain symbolic images which reflect inner psychic processes and which, in so far as these processes are common to all children, enable children to externalize and work through their psychological problems. Bettelheim and von Franz’s methodologies are also similar in so far as both proceed via content analysis of story motifs and the imposition of an, albeit different, interpretative paradigm. Von Franz acknowledges that her ‘task of translating the amplified story into psychological language’ might perhaps be seen as ‘replac[ing] one myth with another’, indicating that she is at least aware of the hermeneutic circle in which interpretation is enclosed. Bettelheim evades such methodological questions, however, by contextualizing his Freudian analyses of fairy tale within an ideology of childhood and human existence which sees the Oedipal myth as paramount. This myth functions in Bettelheim’s work as a metanarrative which structures both child development and the fairy tale. However, the Oedipal myth, as it has been appropriated by modern psychoanalysis and by Bettelheim in particular, is a patriarchal metanarrative which, when applied to theories of child development, constructs the child as disturbed and in need of therapeutic instruction, conceives of female sexuality as deviant, and imposes a universal theory of sexual and psychological maturation which ignores the historicity of notions of sexuality, subjectivity, childhood, and the family (see Tatar, 1992; Zipes, 1979, 1986). Psychoanalytic approaches are problematic when applied to the fairy tale in so far as they often involve mechanically imposing an interpretative paradigm upon select tales without taking into account the oral and literary history which produces diverse variants, the discursive and narratological aspects of literary versions, the audiences for tales, or the cultural and social context in which tales are produced and reproduced. In adopting them scholars assume an opacity of narrative and language; that is, meaning is directly apprehensible independent of its discursive, textual, narrative, cultural, and ideological contexts. They thus assume that meanings are universal and ahistorical, hence presupposing the validity of the interpretative paradigms they utilize. However, psychoanalytic approaches have been highly influential in shaping critical discourse about fairy tale. Bettelheim’s Uses of Enchantment has provoked fierce opposition and hostility, but few scholars since have failed to acknowledge its influence and to enter into dialogue with Bettelheim. Recent scholarship has tended to be eclectic in its use of myth and psychoanalysis (for example, see Tatar, 1987 and 1992, and essays by Dundes, in Bottigheimer, 1986, and by Grolnick, in McGlathery). 5. Historicist, sociological, and ideological approaches Whereas psychoanalytic theorists see fairy and folk tales as mirroring collective and individual psychic development, historical and sociological theorists see such tales as reflecting social and historical conditions. Any approach which attempts to extrapolate social conditions and values from literary texts runs the risk of assuming a one‐to‐one relationship between literature and reality. However, contemporary historicist and sociological theorists typically avoid such conceptual problems through an eclectic, but highly theorized, combination of a range of methodologies (for example, see Zipes, 1979, 1983, 1986, and 1994, and collections edited by Bottigheimer and McGlathery). There are two main historical approaches to the fairy tale. The first, associated with Nitschke, Kahlo, and Scherf, stresses the social and cultural purposes such narratives served within the particular communities from which they emerged. Nitschke and Kahlo trace many folk‐tale motifs back to rituals, habits, customs, and laws of pre‐capitalist societies and thus see the folk tales as reflecting the social order of a given historical epoch. The assumption that individual tales ‘developed at specific moments and passed unchanged through subsequent eras’ implicitly denies the historicity of the genre (Bottigheimer, 1986). Zipes, however, adapts Nitschke’s method for defining the socio‐historical context of folk tales to the study of the literary fairy tale, arguing that fairy tales ‘preserve traces of vanished forms of social life’ even though tales are progressively modified ideologically. A second approach stresses the historical relativity of meaning: textual variants of tales reflect the particular cultural and historical contexts in which they are produced. Bottig‐heimer’s work is concerned with the complex relation between the collections by the Brothers Grimm and 19th‐century German society, the role played by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in shaping the fairy‐tale genre, and the ideological implications of the tales, especially their reflection of social constructions of gender. Zipes focuses on the relations between fairy tales and historical, cultural, and ideological change, especially how the meanings of fairy tales have been progressively re‐shaped as they have been appropriated by various cultural and social institutions through history. Zipes’s studies of the fairy tale seek to relocate the historical origins of folk and fairy tales in politics and class struggle and thus fill a gap in literary histories of folk and fairy tales. His use of marxist paradigms presupposes an instrumental link between literary texts and social institutions and ideologies. Whereas psycho‐analytic theorists see fairy tales as reflecting child development, Zipes sees them as having a formative socializing function. He adapts early marxist and cultural historicist approaches, which stressed emancipatory, subversive, and utopian elements in folk and fairy tales, arguing instead that, as folk tales were appropriated by and institutionalized within capitalist bourgeois societies, the emergent culture industry sought to contain, regulate, and instrumentalize such elements, but with limited success. Thus contemporary fairy tales are neither inherently subversive nor inherently conservative; instead, they have a subversive potential which the culture industry both exploits and contains in an effort to regulate social behaviour. Socio‐historicist, marxist and other culturally oriented approaches to literary texts have in part developed as a response to textualist modes of criticism which tend to ignore the impact of social and cultural contexts on significance in their almost exclusive focus on textually produced meanings. However, a common criticism of culturally oriented approaches is that in stressing the socio‐historical context of texts, stylistic and formal textual features are ignored and textual analysis is thereby limited to descriptive discussions of thematic and ideological content. A key feature and strength of Zipes’s approach is his utilization of a range of critical material relating to literary, social, and historical theory to elaborate on the place and function of the fairy tale within literary and social history. Both Zipes and Bottig‐heimer extend structuralist methods of analysis and, like other socially oriented researchers, see a link between structural components and socio‐historical conditions. 6. Feminist approaches Studies which examine the social conditions within which folk and fairy tales are produced also reveal the extent to which such tales both reflect and reproduce gender differences and inequalities within the societies which produce them. Such studies also reveal how interpretative traditions which assume universal meanings and/or forms for fairy tale and ignore their socio‐historical contexts can obscure the extent to which the genre is shaped by and reproduces patriarchal constructions of gender. Feminist fairy‐tale criticism is more explicit about its political and ideological agenda than most other approaches; it aims to raise awareness of how fairy tales function to maintain traditional gender constructions and differences and how they might be reutilized to counter the destructive tendencies of patriarchal values. However, feminist research has produced diverse interpretations of fairy tales. All theoretical approaches are selective. Feminist approaches which are critical of fairy tales tend to focus on those tales which evince ‘negative’ female role models; that is, heroines who are passive, submissive, and helpless. Less critical approaches tend to select tales which portray ‘positive’ female characters; that is, heroines who are strong, resourceful, and aggressive. Obviously, such evaluative responses also reflect contemporary social values and reveal a second methodological problem, namely a tendency to ignore the historical development of the genre in relation to social and cultural institutions. Feminist researchers also tend to focus primarily on ‘story’ elements, such as character traits and plot devices; as with much cultural analysis of literary forms, there is a tendency, in relying too heavily on theme and content analysis, to ignore the discursive, narratival, and ideological construction of literary texts. Finally, concerns with the socializing function of fairy tales are often informed by simplistic assumptions about the effects of literary texts, especially an assumption that tales are automatically subject to fixed interpretations. These methodological problems are avoided by various contemporary researchers, such as Warner (1994), Tatar (1987, 1992), and Bottigheimer (1987), through the combination of feminist concerns with the interrelation between gender and genre and other conceptual approaches and methodologies, such as psychoanalysis, structuralist analysis, and discourse and cultural analysis (see also collection edited by Zipes, 1986). 7. Conclusion For some time now socio‐historians and folkloricists have maintained that each variant of a particular story will have its own meaning, within a given cultural context. An important implication of this argument is that interpretations of texts are also determined by the cultural context in which they are formulated. As Tatar points out, ‘every rewriting of a tale is an interpretation; and every interpretation is a rewriting’. Any given tale will accrue a range of interpretations, as it is interpreted and reinterpreted. The possibility of arriving at a definitive textually grounded interpretation is infinitely deferred partly because of the nature of folkloric material and the impossibility of collecting every version and variant, and partly because any interpretation is in part the product of the culture in which it is produced. Hence there are various approaches to the fairy tale and many diverse interpretations, but no single ‘correct’ interpretation. On the other hand, however, progressive critical and creative interpretations reveal a history of ideology as well as a history of adaptation, interpretation, and reception.

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Critical Approaches to Literature

Critical Approaches to Literature

Some critics have found it useful to work in the abstract area of literary theory, criticism that tries to formulate general principles rather than discuss specific texts.  Such criticism is analytic; it tries to help us better understand a literary work.  Since Aristotle’s time, writers have tried to create more precise and disciplined ways of discussing literature.  Therefore, critics have borrowed concepts from other disciplines, such as philosophy, history, linguistics, psychology, and anthropology, to analyze imaginative literature more perceptively.  Thus, criticism, when you’re talking about literature, is not something that your mom does — it doesn’t mean passing severe judgment you or faultfinding.  It means looking deeply into the literature, so deeply that you understand the literature better.

In our textbook you’ll find 10 critical approaches to literature.  While these 10 methods do not exhaust the total possibility of literary criticism, they represent the most widely used contemporary approaches.  Although presented separately, the approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive; many critics, mixed methods to suit their needs and interests.

The 10 critical approaches:

�         The Formalists Approach — In this approach, the critic pays special attention to the formal features of the text — the style, structure, imagery, tone, and genre. All elements work together to create the reader�s total experience, so these features are rarely looked at in isolation.  The formalists critic is concerned primarily with the work itself, not outside influences.

�         The Biographical Approach — In this approach, the critic pays central attention to the actual author�s life to help the reader comprehend the work better.  Biographical information provides the practical assistance of underscoring subtle but important meanings in the texts.  Biographical data should amplify the meaning of the text, not drown it out with irrelevant material.

�         The Historical Approach — In this approach, the critic seeks to understand a literary work by investigating the social, cultural, and intellectual context that produced it — a context that necessarily includes the artist�s biography and milieu.  The historical critic helps today’s reader understand the work by creating, as nearly as possible, the exact impact it had for its original audience.

�         The Psychological Approach — In this approach, modern psychology has had an immense effect on both literature and literary criticism.  The psychoanalytic theorists have changed our notions of human behavior by exploring new or controversial areas such as wish fulfillment, sexuality, the unconscious, and repression.  Psychological criticism is a diverse category, but it often employs three approaches.  First, it investigates the creative process of the arts: what is the nature of literary genius, and how does it relate to normal mental functions?  Such analysis may also focus on literature’s effects on the reader.  How does a particular work register its impact on the reader’s mental and sensory faculties?  The second approach involves the psychological study of a particular artist.  The third approach is the analysis of fictional characters.  These critics try to bring modern insights about human behavior into the study of how fictional people react.

�         The Mythological Approach — the mythological critic looks for recurrent universal patterns underlying most literary works.  A central concept in mythological criticism is the archetype, a symbol, character, situation, or image that evokes a deep universal response.

�         The Sociological Approach — in this approach, the critic examines literature in the cultural, economic, and political context in which it is written or received.  It examines both the writer�s background as well as the role the audience has in shaping the literature.  The most influential type of sociological criticism has been Marxists criticism, which focuses on the economic and the political elements of art.  These critics believe that content determines form, and that, therefore, all art is political.  Even if a work of art ignores political issues, it makes a political statement, Marxist critics believe, because it endorses the economic and political status quo.

�         The Gender Approach — in this approach, the gender critic examines how sexual identity influences the creation and reception of literary works.  Gender studies began with the feminist movement.  Feminists critics believe that literature is filled with unexamined �male -produced� assumptions, and that an author’s gender, consciously or unconsciously, influences his or her writing.  This feminist approach open exploration into many different ways of looking at literature including critics in the field of gay and lesbian studies, minority studies, and the men’s movement.

�         The Reader Response Approach — In this approach, the reader response critic attempts to describe what happens in the reader’s mind while interpreting the text.  Reader response critics believe that no text provides self-contained meaning; literary texts do not exist independently of readers’ interpretations and interpretation can change as the reader’s situations change.

�         The Deconstructionists approach — In this approach, the critic rejects the traditional assumption that language can accurately represent reality.  Their attention is shifted away from what is being said, to how language is being used in the text.

�         The Cultural Approach — This field is relatively recent and is an interdisciplinary field of academic inquiry.  It borrows methodologies from other approaches to analyze the wide range of cultural products and practices.  This approach has examined the evolutionary process that is involved in society and how it writes.  The cultural critic, therefore, does not study fixed aesthetic objects so much as dynamic social process.  The critics� challenge is to identify and understand the complex forms and effects of the process of culture.  The relevant mission of cultural studies is to identify both the overt and covert values reflected in a cultural practice.  The cultural studies critics also tries to trace out and understand the structures of meaning that hold those assumptions in place and give them the appearance of objective representation.


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The Psychological Approach


Introduction to Literary Studies
The Psychological Approach




The Psychological Approach: Freud
Aim of Psychological Approach:

  • Provide many profound clues toward solving a work’s thematic and symbolic mysteries


Abuses and Misunderstandings of the Psychological Approach:

  • In the general sense of the word, nothing new about psychological approach.  Used as early as the 4th century by Aristotle.
  • During the twentieth century, psychological criticism has come to be associated with the psychoanalytical theories of Sigmund Freud and his followers.  This association has resulted in most of the abuses and misunderstandings of this approach.
  • Abuses results from an excess of enthusiasm, which has manifested several ways:
    • Advocates push their critical theses to hard, forcing the psychoanalytical theory at expense of other considerations
    • The literary criticism of the psychoanalytical extremists degenerated into a special occultism with its own mystique and jargon used specifically for the in-group.
    • Results in widespread mistrust of the psychological approach in analyzing literature


Freud’s Theories:

  • Freud emphasized the unconscious aspects of the human psyche
  • Most of the individual’s mental processes are unconscious
  • All human behavior is motivated ultimately by sexuality (However, some of Freud’s own disciples have rejected this, including Jung and Adler)


Freud assigned mental processes to three psychic zones:

  • The id:
    • Reservoir of libido, the primary source of all physic energy.
    • The id functions to fulfill the pleasure principle.
    • The id has no consciousness or semblance of rational order; characterized by a tremendous and amorphous vitality.
    • Only has an impulse to obtain satisfaction for the instinctual needs in accordance with pleasure
    • In short, the id is the source of all aggression and desires
  • Two agencies to regulate the id:
    • The ego:
      • Protects the individual
      • Rational  governing agent of the psyche
      • Lacks the strong vitality of the id, regulates the instinctual drives of the id so that they may be in released in nondestructive behavioral patterns
      • Ego comprises what we think of as the conscious mind
    • The superego:
      • Primarily functions to protect society
      • Largely unconscious, superego is the moral censoring agency, the repository of conscience and pride
      • Serves to inhibit or repress the id, to block off and thrust back into the unconscious those impulses toward pleasure that society regards as unacceptable (like overt aggression, sexual passion, and the Oedipal Instinct)


Examples of the Psychological Approach in practice:

  • The Oedipus Complex in Hamlet (Oedipus Complex is when a boy is sexually attracted to his mother)
  • Rebellion against the father in Huckleberry Finn
  • Id versus Superego in the short story “Young Goodman Brown”
  • The consequences of sexual repression in The Turn of the Screw
  • Love and Death in the short story “Sick Rose”
  • Sexual Imagery in the poem “To His Coy Mistress” (Most often use of sexual imagery is finding phallic and yonic symbols)
  • Morality over the pleasure principle in the short story “Everyday Use”


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Symbolizing a Character: A Psychological Approach to Literature

Symbolizing a Character: A Psychological Approach to Literature

Often times, authors use characters in their novels and stories as symbols. The characters may be symbolic of the tangible as well as the non-tangible. In addition, characters can often be looked at with a psychological approach to literature in order to better determine or understand their symbolic significance. In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, special symbolic significance may be found in the characters, Piggy, Ralph, and Jack.Piggy, the heavy, asthmatic, nearsighted boy, was often teased and ridiculed, however Golding made it obvious to the reader that Piggy was indeed the super ego. Piggy symbolizes all the hate and discrimination in the world. If it was not for Piggy’s bizarre appearance, he may have been made ruler of the island, and he certainly was the most suited for the job. He also symbolizes intelligence. He was analogous to sanity and reason. “Piggy’s role as a man’s reasoning faculties him as a father” (Rosenfield 264). Piggy always used ideal judgment and was the island’s only adult-like figure. He demonstrated this at a tribal meeting after the boys nearly burned down the island:

“I got the conch! Just you listen! The first thing we ought to have made was shelters down there by the beach. It wasn’t half cold there in the night but the first time Ralph says ‘fire’ you goes howling and screaming up this here mountain. Like a pack of kids!”

By now they were listening to the tirade.

“How can you expect to be rescued if you don’t put first things first and act proper?”

He took off his glasses and made as if to put down the conch; but the sudden motion towards it of most of the older boys changed his mind. He tucked the shell under his arm, and crouched back on a rock.

“Then when you get here you build a bonfire that isn’t no use. Now you been and set the whole island on fire. Won’t we look funny if the whole island burns up? Cooked fruit, that’s what we’ll have to eat, and roast pork. And that’s nothing to laugh at! You said Ralph was chief and you don’t give him time to think. Then when he says something you rush off, like, like-”

He paused for breath, and the fire growled at them.

“And that’s not all. Them kids. The little ‘uns. Who took any notice of ’em? Who knows how many we got?” Ralph took a sudden step forward (Golding 45).

Then after a brief argument with Jack, he continued:

“–and them little ‘uns was wandering about down there where the fire is. How d’you know they aren’t still there?”


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Psychological Approaches to Literature

During the twentieth century there has been a shift away from the “who done it “genre to the “why did he do it” Major writers have included Hermann Hess., Franz Kafka, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.

In literary criticism some critics have abandoned the formalistic/aesthetic approach because of their limitations and inadequacies in coming to terms with the major concerns of modern literature. Rather than being “Art for Arts sake”, modern literature tends to be more exploratory and didactic. The emphasis is more on character and motivation than on form and structure.

The psychological approach to literary criticism is very controversial and is easily  abused.

Some critics argue that it was already used by Aristotle in his Poetics in the 4 th century BC,  when he defined tragedy as combining the emotions of pity and terror to produce “catharsis”.. These critics argue that this is merely a sub—conscious emotional response to literature.




1.    Core theory — the unconscious aspects of the human psyche.  

Most of our actions (mental processes) are motivated by psychic forces over which we have little control.

Two kinds of unconsciousness

a) pre—conscious — latent not directly aware of something, however with effort. it can be retrieved

b) unconcious — something very difficult to revivte mocceesfully blocked or repressed. Comes out in perverse ways.


2. Second theory (now rejected by most psychologists including Carl Jung, his disciple).

All human behaviour is ultimately motivated  by sexuality.”


3. Freud’s Three Psychic Zones

1. Id — reservoir of libido

— primary source of all psychic energy

— functions to fulfil the primordial life principle

— our basic drives (S)

— pleasure principle

— no rational order / organisation/ will

— impulse to obtain gratification of instinctual needs

no regard for social conventions — asocial

— no values — good/evil amorphous/ amoral

— source of all aggression desires

— lawless, self—destructive

— pre—Freudians called it the “devil” in man

2. Ego

regulating agency to curb the Id

— protects the individual and society

— rational, reasoning, logical

— partially conscious

— aware of reality


3.. Super Ego

—      Largely unconscious

—      moral censoring agent

—      conscience, self—image, pride

—      moral restrictions or repression of Id.

—      blocks off or represses those drives which society regards as unacceptable.. operates on rewards and punishments

—      an overactive S.E. creates unconscious guilt (complex).

Healthy person has a well balanced Pyche, while an imbalance of any one force causes mental stress — neurosis  – today of called a syndrome or a disorder.


Id       pleasure principle  animals

Ego    reality mankind

Super Ego   morality       “        angels


Applications of Frued’s theories

1) Symbolism — most images interpreted in terms of sexuality

a) concave images (ponds, flowers, cups, vases, caves, hollows, tunnels)

b) long  (erect) images (towers, snakes, knives, swords, trees, poles, sky scrapers, missiles)

c) activities (dancing riding, flying) symbols of sexual pleasure.

2)  Child Psychology

infant and childhood are formative years a period of intense sexual development and awareness. Frustration in the gratification of any of these: eating, elimination, or reproduction may result in an adult personality that is warped. If a child’s development is arrested in any one of these phases, he may develop a “fixation”.


1.       Oral — pre—mature weaning    may result in cigarette smoking

2.       Anal — overly strict toilet training — fastidious, fussy

3.       Genital — close attachment to parent — may develop either  an Oedipus or Electra Complex.

Psychological  Defence Mechanisms

Our ego is very delicate and fragile and so we often use ways and means to try to protect it.  In the face of confusion, disappointment, failure, conflict and frustration, our psyche needs help to cope. Without “psychological crutches” we become stressed or anxious. We can have  three reactions to Anxiety or stress:

1) Attack problem and develop solutions.

2) Ignore the problem, hope it will go away.

3) Def end ourselves (our ego, self esteem, image)

Psychological Mechanisms :

1. Substitution – Compensating

2. Repression – Blocking

3. Rationalisation – justifications

4. Regression – Reverting to former states

5. Sublimation

6. Identification

7. Insulation

8. Scapegoating – Justification

9. Intellectualisation

10.  Malingering – a psycho-somatic disorder

11. Aggression – Reacting rather than responding to a situation

Merits of Psychological Approach:

In the right hands, this approach can be useful in understanding motivation and causality.  Psychoanalysis has helped us to understand human behaviour and many writers have explored this field to great advantage. Freud’s contribution to the formative and impressionable childhood years has also assisted us in providing conditions to maximise children’s potential.


Limitations of Psychological Approach:

While beneficial, we have to realise that Psychoanalysis alone will not lead to a full understanding of a work of art.  There are many other valid interpretations.











Theory of Freudian have 3 theory. There are :


  1. Core theory — the unconscious aspects of the human psyche. Two kinds of unconsciousness.


  •  pre—conscious — latent not directly aware of something, however with effort. it can be retrieved
  • unconcious — something very difficult to revivte mocceesfully blocked or repressed. Comes out in perverse ways.


2.  Second theory (now rejected by most psychologists including Carl Jung, his disciple).

3.  Freud’s Three Psychic Zones


  • Id – reservoir of libido
  • Ego – regulating agency to curb the Id 
  •  Super Ego




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Translation & Language Varieties

Translation & Language Varieties

by Magdy M. Zaky

The concept of language varieties in general, and language registers in particular, can be of great help in translating as well as in evaluating translations.

Words are only minor elements in the total linguistic discourse. The particular tone of the passage, i.e, the style of the language, may have more impact on the audience than the actual words.








It will be useful sometimes to refer to considerations of register. Since the concept of a “whole language” is so broad and therefore rather loose, it is not altogether useful for many linguistic purposes, whether descriptive or comparative. In other words, the concept of language as a whole unit is theoretically lacking in accuracy, and pragmatically rather useless. Consequently, the need arises for a scientific classification of sub-language or varieties within the total range of one language.

These varieties, or sub-languages, may be classified in more than one way. The suggested classes include idiolects, dialects, registers, styles and modes, as varieties of any living language. Another view is that of Pit Coder (1973), who suggests dialects, idiolects, and sociolects. Quirk (1972) proposes region, education, subject matter, media and attitude as possible bases of language variety classification of English in particular. He recognizes dialects as varieties distinguished according to geographical dispersion, and standard and substandard English as varieties within different ranges of education and social position. Language registers are recognized as varieties classified according to subject matter. We acknowledge varieties distinguished according to attitude, which are called “styles,” and varieties due to interference, which arise when a foreign speaker imposes a grammatical usage of his native tongue upon the language, which he is using. For example, a Frenchman might say “I am here since Friday.” This is lexically English, but grammatically French. Another way of classifying language varieties is according to the user or the use of language. Thus, in the first category, we may list social dialects, geographical dialects, and idiolects, whereas the second category includes language registers.

The total range of a language may be described in terms of its grammatical, phonological, and sometimes even graphological systems. Similarly, the language varieties of any given language have certain linguistic features in common. These common features of all the varieties of one language constitute the common core of that language. Apart from this common core of the language concerned, there are other lexical. grammatical, and stylistic features of each individual language variety, and so these could serve as formal linguistic as well as stylistic markers of the language variety in question. It may be worth noting in this respect that these variety markers may exist on any level: phonetical, syntactical, stylistical and, above all, lexical levels.

Finally, according to Nida, (1964), one of the most serious problems that face a translator is to properly match the stylistic levels of two different languages. For example, the Bible translator may not select a level of language which is too high for making the message accessible to the people to whom it is addressed. At the same time, the level chosen should not be socially low, becasue it would then debase the content. In some parts of the Arab world, colloquial forms of the language are quite unacceptable for the translation of the Bible, although they might be better and more widely understood by people than classical Arabic. On the other hand, the translator has to select not only the appropriate style for the Bible in general, but for the particular biblical style he is translating, since the Bible contains more than just one style. Translating in fact involves more than finding corresponding words between two languages. Words are only minor elements in the total linguistic discourse. The particular tone of the passage, i.e, the style of the language, may have more impact on the audience than the actual words. Indeed, style and tone are of great, almost fundamental, importance when we translate literary texts rather than scientific ones. If the aim of the source language text is only to convey a piece of information or some instructions to the reader or audience, the referential meaning of words becomes quite significant, and the effect of style and/or tone diminishes. At the other extreme, when we deal with a source language text that does not only aim at conveying a message, but aspires to produce a certain impact on the reader through the use of a particular style, the translation of such a stylistic effect is then an essential part of the very act of translating— not just as an ornament that would bestow beauty upon the translated version, but as an indispensable aspect of it, without which the translation ceases to be a translation in the full sense of the word. This is the case with the translation of the holy books in general, and the Holy Koran in particular, since it is held by Muslims to be a stylistic or literary miracle that defies the human mind with its excellence and beautiful style.



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Translation as a communication process

Translation as a communication process

by Frédéric Houbert

The translator, before being a “writer” as such, is primarily a “message conveyor.” In most cases, translation is to be understood as the process whereby a message expressed in a specific source language is linguistically transformed in order to be understood by readers of the target language. Therefore, no particular adapting work is usually required from the translator, whose work essentially consists of conveying the meaning expressed by the original writer.
    Everyone knows, for instance, that legal translation leaves little room for adaptation and rewriting. Similarly, when it comes to translating insurance contracts, style-related concerns are not paramount to the translating process; what the end reader needs is a translated text that is faithful to the source text in meaning, regardless of stylistic prowess from the translator.
    Yet, in an number of cases, the translator faces texts which are to be used within a process of “active communication” and the impact of which often depends on the very wording of the original text. In these specific cases, the translator sometimes finds it necessary to reconsider the original wording in order to both better understand the source text (this also sometimes occurs in plain technical texts) and be able to render it in the target language. This is the moment when the translator becomes an active link in the communication chain, the moment when his communication skills are called upon to enhance the effect of the original message.
    The translation process here becomes twofold: firstly, the translator needs to detect potential discrepancies and flaws in the original text and understand the meaning they intend to convey. To do this, the translator often needs to contact the writer of the text to be translated (or any other person who is familiar with the contents of the text) in order to clarify the ambiguities he has come across. Secondly, once this first part of the work is over, the translator will undo the syntactic structure of the original text and then formulate the corresponding message in the target language, thus giving the original text added value in terms of both wording and impact. It is important to stress that this work will always be carried out in cooperation with the original writer, so that the translator can make sure the translated message corresponds to the meaning the writer originally intended to convey; remember, the translator is essentially a message conveyor, not an author.
    In order to give an example of this value-added part of the translator’s work, let us take the following excerpt, taken from a speech to be delivered by a local official working for a French “Mairie” (i.e., the local authority managing public services in French towns and cities) on the occasion of a visit from British partners as part of a twinning agreement (I could also have chosen an excerpt from a translated advertisement, for instance, in which the rewriting work of the translator is also of the essence). This translating assignment meant more than just converting information from one language into another: it involved paying particular attention to the point of view of the translation user (in this case, the listener speaking the target language), in addition to fully understanding the ideas to be transmitted. This is obviously accounted for by the fact that a speech, just as any other direct communication text, includes an extra dimension as compared to usual informative texts: this dimension could be referred to as the “listener-oriented” aspect of a text. Obviously, the text of a speech not only has a written dimension, a quality shared by all other texts whatever the field, but also an oral dimension. This double dimension obviously needs to be taken into account by the translator in his work: more than is the case with other types of texts, the viewpoint of the reader/listener should be kept in mind at all times.
    Let us take an excerpt from the speech in order to better understand the above-described process. One section of the text reads: “Je me dis qu’il est bon aussi de formaliser de temps en temps ces rencontres pour créer une mémoire collective de nos correspondances.” A rough translation in English would give the following result: “I feel it is useful from time to time to give these meetings formal expression in order to create a collective memory of our correspondence.” The latter part of this sentence sounds rather funny and the reader/listener will probably find it difficult to see what it means exactly. This is why I thought the source text needed a couple of clarifications; for one thing, the French “mémoire collective” has a historical dimension to it which I felt was inappropriate in a text meant to convey a positive, future-oriented message. In the mind of most French people, the collocative “mémoire collective” brings about images of the two world wars and of other vivid French historical events such as “Mai 68,” which as you probably know was a period of turmoil marked mainly by students’ demonstrations. Secondly, the French term “correspondances” is inadequately used (after consulting the author of the text, I found that it meant “all of the mutual achievements of the twinning partners since the signing of their agreement”). In short, the overall notion given by the French text is rather blurred, past-oriented, and the author fails to convey his ideas in a persuasive way.
    After having analyzed these two inaccuracies with the help of the author, I came up with the following translation: “I feel it is useful from time to time to give these meetings formal expression in order to put on record our mutual achievements for better future cooperation.” This adapted translation is much more suitable for two essential reasons: it clarifies the original message, and consequently gives it greater power while also providing it with a positive dimension. I deliberately chose to add “for better future cooperation” in order to reinforce the cogency of the message, which the French original obviously failed to convey.
    By making this choice, I decided to take an active part in the communication process by giving the message an extra dimension which it lacked in the original text: I simply chose to consider my work as a creative process in the best interest of the original message.
    Let us look into another example taken from the same text. The first line of the last paragraph begins with the following words: “Nous souhaitons ce renforcement des échanges…,” i.e., literally, “We support this intensifying of exchanges….” When I first read this, I thought, well, who wouldn’t support a positive, fruitful exchange process? In order to avoid obtaining the same awkwardness in English, I therefore chose to stress the idea of support by inserting the adverb “fully,” which again causes the overall impact of the message to be enhanced. The edited translation finally read as follows: “We fully support the idea whereby exchanges should be intensified….”
    As these two examples show, the work of the translator often involves a great deal of creativity, as well as a wide range of communication skills. This aspect of translation was also the subject of an article by Steve Dyson which appeared in Traduire (2/96), the journal of the Société Française des Traducteurs (French Society of Translators). Dyson calls this creative process “interlingual copywriting” and defines it as “the necessity, where appropriate, to give effective communication priority over fidelity to the original.”
    Professional translators, while giving the above issues a serious thought, should however never forget that most texts to be translated do not require “adaptation” or “reader-oriented rewriting”; a full understanding of the source text and accurate rendering in the target language usually prove enough to give the client satisfaction and make the task of the translator an intellectually gratifying one. As with all other communication skills, creativity is best appreciated and yields the best result when used appropriately.


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Some Principles of “Common-Language” Translation

Some Principles of “Common-Language” Translation

by William L. Wonderly

The Bible Translator 21/3 (July 1970), pp. 126-37.

William L. Wonderly is UBS Regional Translations Coordinator for the Americas based in Mexico.

A number of readers of The Bible Translator are already acquainted with the writer’s book Bible Translations for Popular Use; 1 the present article is an attempt to summarize, in a non-technical way, some of the main principles outlined in it. For further details, both of theoretical basis and of concrete biblical examples, the reader is referred to the book itself.

We are here considering chiefly the matter of Bible translation into the so-called literary languages—languages that are spoken by relatively large numbers of people, which represent a complex and socially stratified society, and which have a literary tradition such that the well-educated or “cultured” person is expected to have a command of the language superior to that possessed by the uneducated person. In such languages, Bible translations have traditionally been made without much attention to the differing levels of language represented by this social stratification and have thus been, in effect, translations designed for the educated reader. Even in non-literary languages, where the factors of social stratification are absent or less marked, translators have frequently exploited the potential resources of the language at a level that tends to be above the reach of the average reader.

It is, of course, far easier to produce a translation in which no restrictions are made and in which the translator can draw upon the whole potential of the receptor language without regard to the level of preparation of his readers. For one thing, the translator himself is apt to be an educated person whose use of the language is superior to that of his intended readers; and unless he is both perceptive and willing to sacrifice some of his erudition in the interest of communicating the gospel, his line of least resistance is to produce a translation on a higher level of language than is familiar to his readers.

In order to explore some of the factors that must be taken into consideration in translating for readers of limited or non-specialized biblical background, we may think in terms of certain dimensions of language difference—that is, of factors that make the speech of certain groups different from that of other groups within the same major language. Leaving aside the matter of geographical differences, we may here consider the dimensions of (1) socio-educational level, (2) situational variety, (3) time, (4) in-group speech (including religious language), and (5) translationism or interference from other languages.

1. Socio-Educational Level: The “Vertical” Dimension

In a complex society, groups of different social level employ different dialects or varieties of language, even when the language is the “same”, as in the case of English, Japanese, Arabic, and so on. Since language proficiency has in itself been made a prime factor in education in these societies, these differences are correlated to a great extent (but by no means exclusively) with degree of education and reader experience; hence we use the term socio-educational level.

There is thus a gradation from upper or educated speech to lower or uneducated speech. At the upper level, the language contains erudite vocabulary and elaborate literary forms beyond the reach of the uneducated reader, while at the lower level it contains forms that are considered substandard or vulgar; but the important thing is that there is a common core or overlap in which are to be found the really essential features, of both vocabulary and grammar, of both upper and lower levels.

This overlap is diagramed in Figure 1, in which the whole bar represents the entire language in all of its levels; the upper levels (educated language) are represented by sections A and B, and the lower levels (uneducated language) by sections B and C. Section B, the area of overlap, is common to both levels. This central section represents the level of language that is used by educated persons and is also either used or understood by uneducated ones. Section A represents the resources of the language used only by the educated; section C, those that are used by the uneducated but not accepted by the educated. It is important to note that the dialect of any given person or group corresponds to a vertical segment of considerable extension on the bar, and not to a single point, and that in fact any given dialect or level of speech represents a substantial part of the whole bar. That is, people at any level use a large part of the total resources of their language. Note also that a wavy line is used to separate A and B, indicating that this boundary is quite flexible and depends on the degree of education of the speaker; whereas the boundary between B and C is relatively fixed due to standards of “correctness”.


It is the area B of overlap that makes effective communication possible across socio-educational dialect boundaries, and that makes these dialect levels all part of the same language. And it is this area of overlap that is the key to preparing Bible translations (and other materials) in what we shall call common language, by which we mean a level of language that is accessible to the lower group and at the same time acceptable to the upper group.

These twin criteria of accessibility at the lower level and acceptability at the higher level are especially important. If the materials are not accessible or within the reach of the reader, then reading will not be a fully rewarding experience, and the reader may become discouraged or lose interest; if, on the other hand, they are not on a level acceptable to the upper group, the lower group will not accept them either, as the standards of this group are based largely on the norms set by the more educated people.

2. Situational Variety: The Dimension of Functional Variation

The second dimension is that of situational variety. People behave, dress, and speak differently in different social situations, ranging from formal on the one hand to casual and intimate on the other. We shall not here attempt to define the specific differences, except to point out that the speech of a more formal occasion, with its more carefully worked out sentences and use of rather higher level vocabulary, differs widely from that appropriate in a casual situation among friends, with its greater proportion of slang, purposely incomplete sentences, and so on. People at any given socio-educational level thus have different situational varieties in their speech; the less formal varieties are no less “correct” than the more formal ones—in fact, to use a formal variety in a casual or intimate situation would be entirely inappropriate, and just as “incorrect” as to wear a tuxedo 2 on the golf course.

The dimension of situational variety is shown in Figure 2 as a left-to-right dimension, and by the use of the two dimensions now presented we may roughly classify any Bible translation or other piece of literature in contemporary language. In preparing a Bible translation that is accessible to inexperienced readers, we need not only to keep from going too high in level, but to avoid a style that is too formal. In other words, we shall keep downward and toward the left on our diagram, but without either going so low as to be unacceptable or so far toward informality as to be considered inappropriate for the subject matter.


On Figure 2 we have attempted to classify in terms of these dimensions, although highly impressionistically, the language used in the New English Bible (NEB), the J. B. Phillips version (JBP), and Today’s English Version (TEV).

3. Time: The Chronological Dimension

The Bible translations shown on Figure 2 are all in contemporary or present-day language. Since many of our translations date from earlier periods, they cannot be adequately classified in terms of the two dimensions presented above. The dimension of time must be added, since they are in an archaic or semi-archaic form of the language, depending upon when they were first produced. Even more recent versions, especially if they are direct revisions of earlier ones, frequently contain archaisms of one degree or another.

In Figure 3 we show the time dimension from front to back on the three­dimensional figure, with the King James Version (KJV) of 1611 as an example of an archaic version. The Revised Standard Version (RSV), not shown on the diagram, would lie somewhere between the front and back and be classified as semi-archaic.


4. In-Group Speech: Religious Language

Certain lexical and grammatical features are peculiar to restricted groups of speakers within a given language. Examples are slang, jargon, technical language (including theological language), and so on. Religious language is actually another case of language that is restricted to one group or another, and it is often possible to tell what religious in-group (e.g. Protestant or Catholic, conservative or liberal, etc.) one belongs to by the vocabulary and style he uses.

Much of the religious language of Christians is derived from the traditional versions of the Bible, with extensions to liturgical use, prayer, and speaking about religious matters. It therefore contains archaic features not used by people outside the group, and any effort to produce a Bible translation for the “uninitiated” should avoid such specialized forms. Bible translations for general use should not only be in language that is entirely contemporary but should avoid in-group restrictions.

5. Translationism: Interference from Other Languages

Our traditional versions of the Bible, and the in-group religious language that is in turn influenced by them, are not only archaic (using language forms that are no longer in current use); they also use language forms that never were in current use. This is due to the interference from Hebrew, Greek, and Latin features of vocabulary, grammar and style that has come about in the process of translating. We sometimes refer to this as translationism. It is most noticeable in the carrying over of Hebrew and Greek idioms into a language where they do not fit (blessing I will bless, die the death, son of perdition), but is more subtle (and perhaps a greater impediment to communication) in matters of style. For example, the style of the Pauline Epistles, with their heavy use of verb-derived nouns and of intricately related subordinate clauses, is carried over into many of our traditional Bible translations to produce a style which is really foreign to the genius of the receptor language. Of course, readers who have had considerable education or religious instruction can, with a certain effort, figure out a large proportion of the meaning that was intended; but this is far from the kind of translation which communicates to the reader what the original text communicated to its readers.

It may thus be said that the present-day speaker or reader who has mastered the style of language used in a traditional Scripture version has usually learned an in-group variety of his language that no one speaks or uses outside of religious situations. He has managed to learn it as a result of diligent church attendance or Bible reading, often enough because be has been reared in a religious environment. When persons not familiar with the religious variety of their language are confronted with such a traditional Bible translation, they must somehow adjust to this new language form before the content of its message can become really meaningful to them. Many people of course reject the special language form—and with it the message—rather than make the adjustment.

6. Reader Capacity and Overloading

Readers differ in the levels at which they can effectively utilize written materials. If we draw a graph in which the horizontal axis represents the flow of reading matter and the vertical axis the degree of difficulty of the materials (or technically, their communication load), we may use a horizontal line at a given height to represent the horizon of difficulty (or “threshold of frustration”) which a reader or class of readers may tolerate. In Figure 4, line A represents the horizon of difficulty of an educated middle class speaker, line B that of an inexperienced reader from a lower social dialect. The solid wavy line represents a piece of reading matter that is adequate for the educated middle class reader; it has peaks and troughs of difficulty, but fluctuates around the horizon of reader A in such a way as to be now challenging, now relaxing, now just on his level. The dotted wavy line represents a different piece of reading matter, designed for the inexperienced reader. Note that if the more difficult material is given to reader B, it will be above his horizon so much of the time that he cannot use it effectively and will become discouraged; conversely, if the easier material is given to A, it will be beneath his horizon so much of the time that he will soon lose interest. At each reader’s level, the reading matter must fluctuate in difficulty somewhere around the reader’s horizon, but should occasionally rise above it in order to challenge him. Without such challenge, even if the general level is satisfactory, the reader may lose interest; and with too many peaks above the horizon he may become discouraged.


If a Bible translation is to be accessible to the reader on the lower level, it should therefore be kept generally within his horizon of difficulty, but with occasional peaks to challenge him; however, the use of difficult words and expressions should be reserved primarily for (1) items in which the semantic content is such that no simple expression can be found and (2) places where the content is so easy that a higher level expression can be used for rhetorical effect without blocking communication. In the first instance it is frequently necessary to use the principle known in information theory as redundancy, whereby the unknown or difficult expression is made less difficult through building more familiar expressions into the context in a way that will either directly explain the difficult part or else help the reader to be able more nearly to guess what it means.

By this means one can avoid overloading the communication channel. That is, it is possible to increase the communication load (i.e. the difficulty) semantically (i.e. in terms of content) when tbe subject matter so requires, or to increase it in terms of lexical or grammatical structure for certain rhetorical purposes; but if one increases both factors simultaneously, overloading results, with consequent blocking or impeding of communication.

7. Producer Language and Consumer Language

Another factor to be considered is the difference between producer language and consumer language. Everybody can consume (i.e. hear or read) over a wider range on the vertical scale than he is able or willing to produce (i.e. speak or write). The producer language of a given reader is more familiar and comprehensible to him than his consumer language, and as a general practice one should seek to keep a Bible translation within the producer level in preparing reading materials. However, one should also utilize the resources of the reader’s consumer level from time to time, both to challenge him and to develop his reading ability. Frequently, therefore, it is best to operate within the producer level as a general norm but to have the resources of the consumer level as a reserve which may be tapped when the subject matter is such as to require it.

The degree to which a writer will keep within the producer level will also depend upon the purpose of the reading material itself. Since the primary purpose of a Bible translation is to communicate basic information, the surest way to accomplish this is to keep as nearly as possible within the producer language; on the other hand, when one is dealing with literature whose main purpose is to give the reader added experience and to raise his level of reading ability and use of the language, he will naturally introduce words and expressions that will serve this purpose, while still keeping within the bounds of tolerance of the horizon of difficulty of the intended readers.

8. Techniques to Maintain a Common Level: Vocabulary

Various specific techniques may be mentioned for producing materials that are at once accessible and acceptable. In terms of vocabulary, when there is a choice between synonyms of a higher and lower level (e.g. purchase: buy: grant: give), one may choose the lower one so long as it is within the limits of acceptability and translational fidelity. In the case of terms which have no one-word equivalent on the popular level, descriptive phrases may be used (e.g. blaspheme: talk against God; divination: guessing the future). Frequently it is necessary to use qualifiers or other contextual definition alongside certain words that would otherwise be difficult or ambiguous (e.g. law is ambiguous in biblical usage, but Today’s English Version frequently translates it unambiguously as Law of Moses).

It should be pointed out here that the use of vocabulary lists based on word-frequency is of quite limited value in preparing literature at this level. These lists are of some use in preparing materials on a more elementary level, to train the beginning reader to recognize words that he will encounter frequently; but they do not necessarily reflect the ease with which a given word will be recognized in a particular context. This is due to various factors. (1) Frequency lists are usually based on written rather than spoken materials, and hence do not directly reflect people’s overall acquaintance with words. (2) High frequency of words is usually due to the frequency with which people have to use them, not necessarily to their actual knowledge of such words (bread is more frequent than onion, but both are well known). (3) Many words occur with a high frequency precisely because they are highly ambiguous and can be used in so many senses, including senses unfamiliar to the reader. For example, a list would fail to tell us that mad, though frequent enough, is seldom used popularly in its literary sense of “crazy”. High frequency words often have meanings in upper-level speech that are not the same as the meanings attached to them by readers at lower levels. (4) Perhaps the most serious difficulty with word lists is that they are based upon gross or overall frequency and not upon the frequency with which a word appears in a specific context. What makes for readability is not so much the use of words that are well known per se, as the use of words that are normal for their specific contexts. A vast multitude is a more readable expression than a vast woman; even though woman is no doubt a more frequent word, it is less likely to appear (and is therefore stranger) in this particular context.

To achieve optimum readability or accessibility for the inexperienced reader, the writer should therefore use words in their natural or expected combinations, rather than using (purposely or otherwise) unusual lexical combinations. Such unusual combinations, if employed by skilful writers, may be quite effective ways of heightening interest when it comes to experienced readers, but they should be used sparingly in materials for inexperienced ones.

This same principle applies to figurative language, which is in fact a special case of the use of unusual combinations. Studies of reader ability have shown that good readers have little difficulty with figures of speech, but that poor readers have great difficulty. It is therefore important to keep figurative language to a minimum and to limit it primarily to figures that are in common use or that fit within the normal patterns of figurative speech in the receptor language.

9. Techniques: Grammatical Structure

In the area of grammar, there are certain types of constructions that are less frequent at the lower socio-educational levels than at the higher ones. In English these include, among others, the so-called past perfect tense, the passive voice, and the use of non-restrictive clauses introduced by who or which. Although not entirely inaccessible in terms of consumer language, such constructions should be used sparingly, with an attempt to keep their overall frequency from differing too widely from the overall frequency with which they appear in the producer language of the intended readers.

Another basic factor, and one which employs insights derived from recent developments in transformational linguistics, is the use of grammatical constructions that to a greater or lesser degree approximate kernel sentences. 3 By kernel sentences we mean, rather non-technically, those basic constructions from which derived constructions can be formed by grammatical transformation. In English, the active transitive verb construction John hit Bill is, for example, one kernel form; from it the passive construction Bill was hit by John may be derived. Although writing exclusively in kernel sentences would result in a choppy and childish style, the judicious employment of a high proportion of kernel or near-kernel constructions makes for a high degree of accessibility for the new reader. This is seen in several ways.

For one thing, the use of near-kernel constructions results in events being expressed as verbs rather than nouns (e.g. accept instead of acceptance), and abstract qualities as adjectives or adverbs rather than nouns (e.g. good instead of goodness); certain psychological studies have indicated that this not only provides a closer correspondence between linguistic forms and the real world but may also be much closer to the way people actually think. The use of verbs instead of verb-derived nouns also forces the writer to specify the participants (subject and object), thereby adding concreteness and increasing readability. Contrast, for example, forgiveness of sins with God forgives us our sins. Or, with adjective instead of noun, contrast happiness was everywhere with everybody was happy. Specifying the participants not only adds concreteness, but may often be used to heighten interest by making the style more personal, yet still within the limits of what is implicit in the source language text.

Still another factor is the use of straightforward constructions. The inexperienced reader tends to read slowly and laboriously, from left to right, without being able to scan back and forth as the experienced reader does; hence he must hold in his memory the first part of a sentence until he gets far enough along in it for it to hang together and make sense. If he has to read sentences that are “front-heavy”, he is subjected to a greater memory burden than if he is given materials that can be “unraveled” in strictly left-to-right order, making sense at each step. Sentences with long subordinate constructions at the beginning, for example, are front-heavy. Note the following: In order to secure from the man who had arrived the day before the information he needed, John came early. Here the main clause is John came early; but the reader must wade through a long and complex subordinate expression before he has any idea of this. The sentence may be rewritten more straightforwardly as: John came early in order to secure the information he needed from the man who had arrived the day before.

As a general rule, when we have a complex expression made up of two parts, with one part noticeably longer than the other, and if the language structure permits the parts to occur in either order, a more straightforward and readable form will result from putting the shorter part first. This is especially important if the longer part is a subordinate construction which depends upon the shorter part to complete its sense.

Furthermore, one should avoid heavy embedding of constructions, whether front-heavy or not. In embedding, a subordinate construction appears within another construction in such a way as to interrupt the latter, and sometimes this type of embedding consists of several layers. Consider the following sentence: The man who spoke to the girls who had arrived after the show featuring the actor who had come from France was over was a very good conversationalist. Here we have a number of layers, one within another. The entire expression who spoke … was over is a subordinate clause modifying man; but embedded within it is another subordinate clause who had arrived … was over, modifying girls. Still further, within this embedded clause there is another subordinate expression featuring … France, modifying show; and within this is the subordinate clause who had come from France, modifying actor. This would obviously be a very difficult sentence for an inexperienced reader to unravel. In the first place, it attempts to pack entirely too much information into one sentence; and in the second place, it does so in a way that creates a heavy memory burden for the reader who has to retain all these structural layers and keep them in their proper relationships until he finally arrives at the main predicate expression, was a very good conversationalist. For proper readability, the material would need to be presented in smaller “doses”, each capable of being assimilated before the next one is given.

Most of the foregoing techniques for increasing readability through attention to grammatical factors may be summarized by saying that the translator or writer should, within the grammatical constructions that are familiar to his readers, use simple and straightforward phrase structure and present the relationships between words and phrases in a way that will be clear and unambiguous at each step. At the same time, however, he should avoid a childish style such as would result from too short and choppy sentences, and should seek to make his style conform to the normal discourse structure found in writing designed for adult readers.

10. The Translation Process

In the above sections we have assumed that the translator knows the meaningful content of the source language and that his problem is one of how to express this content in the receptor language. But in reality the translation process begins with the decoding or analysis of the source language text, whose content obviously can be transferred to the receptor language only after it is adequately decoded and understood by the translator.

This, therefore, involves us in a three-step process: (1) analysis or decomposition of the source language text, to determine its basic semantic components and the relationships between them in terms of kernel sentences of the source language; (2) transfer to equivalent components and relationships in terms of kernel sentences in the receptor language; and (3) restructuring or recomposition in the receptor language in terms of the normal grammatical and discourse structure of this language. Details of this approach will not be discussed here, inasmuch as they are available elsewhere to readers of The Bible Translator. 4

This three-step process, although perhaps never carried out in full and explicit detail in the actual procedures of translation, provides us with a concept leading to dynamic equivalence (i.e. equivalence in terms of the decoding process on the part of the receptors) instead of static equivalence (i.e. equivalence in terms of formal correspondence between items in the source and receptor languages). It also provides a recourse for the translator in his approach to syntactically difficult passages in which events appear in the source text as nouns (repentance, justification), abstract qualities as nouns (greatness, riches), etc.; or in which the semantic relationships do not parallel the relationships of surface structure in the source text (Father of glory, riches of his grace).

Furthermore—and of special importance in considering “common­language” translations—the concept of a three-step process permits us to decide what level of complexity we shall choose for our final restructuring in the third step. We can reconstruct on any of the levels shown in Figure 1 that we choose to, within those levels that are generally acceptable, thereby producing a translation which is accessible to readers of whatever level we are intending to reach. A reconstruction within the level represented by section B of Figure 1 is that which gives us a “common-language” translation, intended to reach a wide spectrum of readers, including those with limited education. Reconstructions on a higher level, drawing from both sections A and B, lead to translations of a more literary nature, intended chiefly for readers with greater educational preparation.

The following reconstructions of Ephesians 1 : 7 in English 5 will illustrate three different levels:

(1) Quasi-kernel level (too low for general acceptability): “We sinned. But Christ died; therefore God sets us free and he forgives us. This is because God shows great grace toward us.”

(2) “Common-language” level (Today’s English Version): “For by the death of Christ we are set free, and our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God … ”

(3) Literary level (The New English Bible): “For in Christ our release is secured and our sins are forgiven through the shedding of his blood. Therein lies the richness of God’s free grace … ”


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Translation Procedures, Strategies and Methods

Translation procedures, strategies and methods

by Mahmoud Ordudari


Translating culture-specific concepts (CSCs) in general and allusions in particular seem to be one of the most challenging tasks to be performed by a translator; in other words, allusions are potential problems of the translation process due to the fact that allusions have particular connotations and implications in the source language (SL) and the foreign culture (FC) but not necessarily in the TL and the domestic culture. There are some procedures and strategies for rendering CSCs and allusions respectively.

The present paper aims at scrutinizing whether there exists any point of similarity between these procedures and strategies and to identify which of these procedures and strategies seem to be more effective than the others.

Keywords:Allusion, culture-specific concept, proper name, SL, TL.


1. Introduction

ranslation typically has been used to transfer written or spoken SL texts to equivalent written or spoken TL texts. In general, the purpose of translation is to reproduce various kinds of texts—including religious, literary, scientific, and philosophical texts—in another language and thus making them available to wider readers.

If language were just a classification for a set of general or universal concepts, it would be easy to translate from an SL to a TL; furthermore, under the circumstances the process of learning an L2 would be much easier than it actually is. In this regard, Culler (1976) believes that languages are not nomenclatures and the concepts of one language may differ radically from those of another, since each language articulates or organizes the world differently, and languages do not simply name categories; they articulate their own (p.21-2). The conclusion likely to be drawn from what Culler (1976) writes is that one of the troublesome problems of translation is the disparity among languages. The bigger the gap between the SL and the TL, the more difficult the transfer of message from the former to the latter will be.

The difference between an SL and a TL and the variation in their cultures make the process of translating a real challenge. Among the problematic factors involved in translation such as form, meaning, style, proverbs, idioms, etc., the present paper is going to concentrate mainly on the procedures of translating CSCs in general and on the strategies of rendering allusions in particular.

2. Translation procedures, strategies and methods

The translating procedures, as depicted by Nida (1964) are as follow:

  1. Technical procedures:
    1. analysis of the source and target languages;
    2. a through study of the source language text before making attempts translate it;
    3. Making judgments of the semantic and syntactic approximations. (pp. 241-45)
  2. Organizational procedures:
    constant reevaluation of the attempt made; contrasting it with the existing available translations of the same text done by other translators, and checking the text’s communicative effectiveness by asking the target language readers to evaluate its accuracy and effectiveness and studying their reactions (pp. 246-47).

Krings (1986:18) defines translation strategy as “translator’s potentially conscious plans for solving concrete translation problems in the framework of a concrete translation task,” and Seguinot (1989) believes that there are at least three global strategies employed by the translators: (i) translating without interruption for as long as possible; (ii) correcting surface errors immediately; (iii) leaving the monitoring for qualitative or stylistic errors in the text to the revision stage.

Moreover, Loescher (1991:8) defines translation strategy as “a potentially conscious procedure for solving a problem faced in translating a text, or any segment of it.” As it is stated in this definition, the notion of consciousness is significant in distinguishing strategies which are used by the learners or translators. In this regard, Cohen (1998:4) asserts that “the element of consciousness is what distinguishes strategies from these processes that are not strategic.”

Furthermore, Bell (1998:188) differentiates between global (those dealing with whole texts) and local (those dealing with text segments) strategies and confirms that this distinction results from various kinds of translation problems.

Venuti (1998:240) indicates that translation strategies “involve the basic tasks of choosing the foreign text to be translated and developing a method to translate it.” He employs the concepts of domesticating and foreignizing to refer to translation strategies.

Jaaskelainen (1999:71) considers strategy as, “a series of competencies, a set of steps or processes that favor the acquisition, storage, and/or utilization of information.” He maintains that strategies are “heuristic and flexible in nature, and their adoption implies a decision influenced by amendments in the translator’s objectives.”

Taking into account the process and product of translation, Jaaskelainen (2005) divides strategies into two major categories: some strategies relate to what happens to texts, while other strategies relate to what happens in the process.

Product-related strategies, as Jaaskelainen (2005:15) writes, involves the basic tasks of choosing the SL text and developing a method to translate it. However, she maintains that process-related strategies “are a set of (loosely formulated) rules or principles which a translator uses to reach the goals determined by the translating situation” (p.16). Moreover, Jaaskelainen (2005:16) divides this into two types, namely global strategies and local strategies: “global strategies refer to general principles and modes of action and local strategies refer to specific activities in relation to the translator’s problem-solving and decision-making.”

Newmark (1988b) mentions the difference between translation methods and translation procedures. He writes that, “[w]hile translation methods relate to whole texts, translation procedures are used for sentences and the smaller units of language” (p.81). He goes on to refer to the following methods of translation:

  • Word-for-word translation: in which the SL word order is preserved and the words translated singly by their most common meanings, out of context.
  • Literal translation: in which the SL grammatical constructions are converted to their nearest TL equivalents, but the lexical words are again translated singly, out of context.
  • Faithful translation: it attempts to produce the precise contextual meaning of the original within the constraints of the TL grammatical structures.
  • Semantic translation: which differs from ‘faithful translation’ only in as far as it must take more account of the aesthetic value of the SL text.
  • Adaptation: which is the freest form of translation, and is used mainly for plays (comedies) and poetry; the themes, characters, plots are usually preserved, the SL culture is converted to the TL culture and the text is rewritten.
  • Free translation: it produces the TL text without the style, form, or content of the original.
  • Idiomatic translation: it reproduces the ‘message’ of the original but tends to distort nuances of meaning by preferring colloquialisms and idioms where these do not exist in the original.
  • Communicative translation: it attempts to render the exact contextual meaning of the original in such a way that both content and language are readily acceptable and comprehensible to the readership (1988b: 45-47).

Newmark (1991:10-12) writes of a continuum existing between “semantic” and “communicative” translation. Any translation can be “more, or less semantic—more, or less, communicative—even a particular section or sentence can be treated more communicatively or less semantically.” Both seek an “equivalent effect.” Zhongying (1994: 97), who prefers literal translation to free translation, writes that, “[i]n China, it is agreed by many that one should translate literally, if possible, or appeal to free translation.”

In order to clarify the distinction between procedure and strategy, the forthcoming section is allotted to discussing the procedures of translating culture-specific terms, and strategies for rendering allusions will be explained in detail.

2.1. Procedures of translating culture-specific concepts (CSCs)

Graedler (2000:3) puts forth some procedures of translating CSCs:

  1. Making up a new word.
  2. Explaining the meaning of the SL expression in lieu of translating it.
  3. Preserving the SL term intact.
  4. Opting for a word in the TL which seems similar to or has the same “relevance” as the SL term.

Defining culture-bound terms (CBTs) as the terms which “refer to concepts, institutions and personnel which are specific to the SL culture” (p.2), Harvey (2000:2-6) puts forward the following four major techniques for translating CBTs:

  1. Functional Equivalence: It means using a referent in the TL culture whose function is similar to that of the source language (SL) referent. As Harvey (2000:2) writes, authors are divided over the merits of this technique: Weston (1991:23) describes it as “the ideal method of translation,” while Sarcevic (1985:131) asserts that it is “misleading and should be avoided.”
  2. Formal Equivalence or ‘linguistic equivalence’: It means a ‘word-for-word’ translation.
  3. Transcription or ‘borrowing’ (i.e. reproducing or, where necessary, transliterating the original term): It stands at the far end of SL-oriented strategies. If the term is formally transparent or is explained in the context, it may be used alone. In other cases, particularly where no knowledge of the SL by the reader is presumed, transcription is accompanied by an explanation or a translator’s note.
  4. Descriptive or selfexplanatory translation: It uses generic terms (not CBTs) to convey the meaning. It is appropriate in a wide variety of contexts where formal equivalence is considered insufficiently clear. In a text aimed at a specialized reader, it can be helpful to add the original SL term to avoid ambiguity.

The following are the different translation procedures that Newmark (1988b) proposes:

  • Transference: it is the process of transferring an SL word to a TL text. It includes transliteration and is the same as what Harvey (2000:5) named “transcription.”
  • Naturalization: it adapts the SL word first to the normal pronunciation, then to the normal morphology of the TL. (Newmark, 1988b:82)
  • Cultural equivalent: it means replacing a cultural word in the SL with a TL one. however, “they are not accurate” (Newmark, 1988b:83)
  • Functional equivalent: it requires the use of a culture-neutral word. (Newmark, 1988b:83)
  • Descriptive equivalent: in this procedure the meaning of the CBT is explained in several words. (Newmark, 1988b:83)
  • Componential analysis: it means “comparing an SL word with a TL word which has a similar meaning but is not an obvious one-to-one equivalent, by demonstrating first their common and then their differing sense components.” (Newmark, 1988b:114)
  • Synonymy: it is a “near TL equivalent.” Here economy trumps accuracy. (Newmark, 1988b:84)
  • Through-translation: it is the literal translation of common collocations, names of organizations and components of compounds. It can also be called: calque or loan translation. (Newmark, 1988b:84)
  • Shifts or transpositions: it involves a change in the grammar from SL to TL, for instance, (i) change from singular to plural, (ii) the change required when a specific SL structure does not exist in the TL, (iii) change of an SL verb to a TL word, change of an SL noun group to a TL noun and so forth. (Newmark, 1988b:86)
  • Modulation: it occurs when the translator reproduces the message of the original text in the TL text in conformity with the current norms of the TL, since the SL and the TL may appear dissimilar in terms of perspective. (Newmark, 1988b:88)
  • Recognized translation: it occurs when the translator “normally uses the official or the generally accepted translation of any institutional term.” (Newmark, 1988b:89)
  • Compensation: it occurs when loss of meaning in one part of a sentence is compensated in another part. (Newmark, 1988b:90)
  • Paraphrase: in this procedure the meaning of the CBT is explained. Here the explanation is much more detailed than that of descriptive equivalent. (Newmark, 1988b:91)
  • Couplets: it occurs when the translator combines two different procedures. (Newmark, 1988b:91)
  • Notes: notes are additional information in a translation. (Newmark, 1988b:91)

Notes can appear in the form of ‘footnotes.’ Although some stylists consider a translation sprinkled with footnotes terrible with regard to appearance, nonetheless, their use can assist the TT readers to make better judgments of the ST contents. Nida (1964:237-39) advocates the use of footnotes to fulfill at least the two following functions: (i) to provide supplementary information, and (ii) to call attention to the original’s discrepancies.

A really troublesome area in the field of translation appears to be the occurrence of allusions, which seem to be culture-specific portions of a SL. All kinds of allusions, especially cultural and historical allusions, bestow a specific density on the original language and need to be explicated in the translation to bring forth the richness of the SL text for the TL audience.

Appearing abundantly in literary translations, allusions, as Albakry (2004:3) points out, “are part of the prior cultural knowledge taken for granted by the author writing for a predominantly Moslem Arab [SL] audience. To give the closest approximation of the source language, therefore, it was necessary to opt for ‘glossing’ or using explanatory footnotes.” However, somewhere else he claims that, “footnotes … can be rather intrusive, and therefore, their uses were minimized as much as possible” (Albakry, 2004:4).

2.2. Strategies of translating allusions

Proper names, which are defined by Richards (1985:68) as “names of a particular person, place or thing” and are spelled “with a capital letter,” play an essential role in a literary work. For instance let us consider personal PNs. They may refer to the setting, social status and nationality of characters, and really demand attention when rendered into a foreign language.

There are some models for rendering PNs in translations. One of these models is presented by Hervey and Higgins (1986) who believe that there exist two strategies for translating PNs. They point out: “either the name can be taken over unchanged from the ST to the TT, or it can be adopted to conform to the phonic/graphic conventions of the TL” (p.29).

Hervey and Higgins (1986) refer to the former as exotism which “is tantamount to literal translation, and involves no cultural transposition” (p.29), and the latter as transliteration. However, they propose another procedure or alternative, as they put it, namely cultural transplantation. Being considered as “the extreme degree of cultural transposition,” cultural transplantation is considered to be a procedure in which “SL names are replaced by indigenous TL names that are not their literal equivalents, but have similar cultural connotations” (Hervey & Higgins, 1986:29).

Regarding the translation of PNs, Newmark (1988a:214) asserts that, “normally, people’s first and sure names are transferred, thus preserving nationality and assuming that their names have no connotations in the text.”

The procedure of transference cannot be asserted to be effective where connotations and implied meanings are significant. Indeed, there are some names in the Persian poet Sa’di’s work Gulestan, which bear connotations and require a specific strategy for being translated. Newmark’s (1988a:215) solution of the mentioned problem is as follows: “first translate the word that underlies the SL proper name into the TL, and then naturalize the translated word back into a new SL proper name.” However, there is a shortcoming in the strategy in question. As it seems it is only useful for personal PNs, since as Newmark (1988a:215), ignoring the right of not educated readers to enjoy a translated text, states, it can be utilized merely “when the character’s name is not yet current amongst an educated TL readership.”

Leppihalme (1997:79) proposes another set of strategies for translating the proper name allusions:

  1. Retention of the name:
    1. using the name as such.
    2. using the name, adding some guidance.
    3. using the name, adding a detailed explanation, for instance, a footnote.
  2. Replacement of the name by another:
    1. replacing the name by another SL name.
    2. replacing the name by a TL name


  1. Omission of the name:
  2. omitting the name, but transferring the sense by other means, for instance by a common noun.
  3. omitting the name and the allusion together.

Moreover, nine strategies for the translation of key-phrase allusions are proposed by Leppihalme (1997: 82) as follows:

  1. Use of a standard translation,
  2. Minimum change, that is, a literal translation, without regard to connotative or contextual meaning,
  3. Extra allusive guidance added in the text,
  4. The use of footnotes, endnotes, translator’s notes and other explicit explanations not supplied in the text but explicitly given as additional information,
  5. Stimulated familiarity or internal marking, that is, the addition of intra-allusive allusion ,
  6. Replacement by a TL item,
  7. Reduction of the allusion to sense by rephrasing,
  8. Re-creation, using a fusion of techniques: creative construction of a passage which hints at the connotations of the allusion or other special effects created by it,
  9. Omission of the allusion.

3. Conclusion

Although some stylists consider translation “sprinkled with footnotes” undesirable, their uses can assist the TT readers to make better judgment of the ST contents. In general, it seems that the procedures ‘functional equivalent’ and ‘notes’ would have a higher potential for conveying the concepts underlying the CSCs embedded in a text; moreover, it can be claimed that a combination of these strategies would result in a more accurate understanding of the CSCs than other procedures.

Various strategies opted for by translators in rendering allusions seem to play a crucial role in recognition and perception of connotations carried by them. If a novice translator renders a literary text without paying adequate attention to the allusions, the connotations are likely not to be transferred as a result of the translator’s failure to acknowledge them. They will be entirely lost to the majority of the TL readers; consequently, the translation will be ineffective.

It seems necessary for an acceptable translation to produce the same (or at least similar) effects on the TT readers as those created by the original work on its readers. This paper may show that a translator does not appear to be successful in his challenging task of efficiently rendering the CSCs and PNs when he sacrifices, or at least minimizes, the effect of allusions in favor of preserving graphical or lexical forms of source language PNs. In other words, a competent translator is wll-advised not to deprive the TL reader of enjoying, or even recognizing, the allusions either in the name of fidelity or brevity.

It can be claimed that the best translation method seem to be the one which allows translator to utilize ‘notes.’ Furthermore, employing ‘notes’ in the translation, both as a translation strategy and a translation procedure, seems to be indispensable so that the foreign language readership could benefit from the text as much as the ST readers do.

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