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Directionality in Translation Processes and Practices

A. Sophia S. Marmaridou English Department, University of Athens

Abstract: In this article an attempt is made to systematically approach directionality in translation processes and practices from a cognitive point of view. Within the framework of cognitive semantics, it is argued that translation is an instance of conceptual metaphor, whereby conceptual structures of the target language are mapped onto the source text in order to make it understood by the TL reader. The relevance of this position for the study of translation becomes obvious when considered against existing practices in professional and nonprofessional translating. Thus, the directionality from target to source is experimentally shown to correlate with another type of directionality, namely, translating from or into one's mother tongue, and can explain observable facts in the performance of translation tasks. Rsum: Cet article propose une tude du caractre directionnel du processus de la traduction envisag d'un point de vue cognitif En termes de smantique cognitive, la traduction apparat comme une mtaphore conceptuelle, c.--d. une projection de structures conceptuelles de la langue-cible sur le textesource en vue de la comprhension de ce dernier par le lecteur du texte-cible. La direction qui va de la cible la source est en corrlation avec un autre type de direction, la traduction de ou vers la langue maternelle de l'auteur. Cette corrlation rend compte de certains pratiques traductives.

0. Introduction
Within the framework of current theoretical views on translation processes and practices, it is the aim of this article to examine the issue of directionality in translation in the light of recent trends in cognitive linguistics. Adopting some basic tenets of cognitive semantics, as advocated by Johnson (1992), Lakoff (1987) and Fillmore (1985 and 1977), an attempt will be made to show

Target 8:1 (1996), 49-73. DOI 10.1075/target.8.1.04mar ISSN 0924-1884 / E-ISSN 1569-9986 John Benjamins Publishing Company



that translation is the textual realization of the conceptual mechanism of metaphor which has so far been shown to be extremely functional in the expression of linguistic meaning (see Lakoff 1992, Lakoff 1987, and Lakoff and Johnson 1980) and in the characterization of various discourse types (see Marmaridou 1991 and 1994). Moreover, it will be argued that even though translation has so far been viewed as a directional process from the source language to the target language, on cognitive grounds this process is reversed. In this sense, conceptual structures which are realized in the target language are mapped onto the source language text in order to make it understood by readers of the target language as an independent piece of work. Towards the achievement of the above aim, the following steps will be taken: First, the theoretical framework of the work will be established, with particular emphasis on its construal of conceptual metaphor, with a view to presenting the hypothesis that translation is an instance of conceptual meta phor and to establishing how this idea crucially raises the issue of directional ity in translation. Second, the issue of directionality will be addressed with reference to translation processes and practices. Translation processes may be thought of as strategy-implementing operations that are involved in the performance of translation tasks, whereas translation practices make reference to the ways in which translations of texts come about in particular sociocultural settings, and characterize the work of student and professional translators. It will be claimed that the issue of directionality links to the identity and aims of the translator, which also seem to determine translation practices. Thus, in this section, directionality will be examined in relation to whether the translation is into or out of the translator's mother tongue. Third, an experiment will be described aiming to assess the validity of the claims and the hypothesis that translation is an instance of conceptual metaphor. On the basis of the outcome of this experiment, and on the evi dence presented by other scholars, it will be argued that translation is a realization of textual metaphor, and as such, it is also a kind of conceptual transfer.1 Finally, in the conclusions, it will be shown how the interpretation of translation as an instance of conceptual metaphor can explain certain facts about translation practices that had so far been either taken for granted or ignored, namely that translations into the translator's mother tongue are



qualitatively superior to those into the foreign language, and that profession als seemingly perform better than student translators. The use of evaluative terms to describe translation products usually implies the employment of certain criteria in terms of which a translation is assessed. The discussion of such criteria falls outside the scope of the present work and hence the characterization of the translation outcome in this article has a loose, pretheoretical grounding in a scale of communicative expressivity: the more a target text approximates the expressive potential of a corresponding source text (however this potential may be identified, analysed, or measured), the better it is considered to be as a translation product.


Theoretical Framework

The association between translation and cognitive linguistics, which has recently received a lot of attention (e.g. Snell-Hornby 1988, Tabakowska 1993, and Kussmaul 1994), is essentially based on the recognition that translation relates to cognitive processes manifested in the performance of translation tasks. In order to investigate such processes further, I shall use some fundamental principles of cognitive semantics, a particular theoretical trend in cognitive linguistics, crucially employing the concept of metaphor. Also, an attempt will be made to show why these principles are relevant in the study of translation and how they lead to the understanding of translation as an instance of conceptual metaphor. Like any theory of language, cognitive semantics must take a stance with respect to what linguistic meaning is. Abandoning the classical philosophical view that linguistic meaning represents objective reality, this theory takes a more Wittgensteinean approach to the issue, at least in part, by claiming that language expresses perceived and experienced reality (see Lakoff 1987). Moreover, it implies that linguistic meaning is a reflection of conceptual structure. Far from being an autonomous system of systems, language is part of general human cognition, and therefore works on the same principles, structures, etc. that characterize human cognition in general. These structures are grammaticized in the vocabulary and syntax of human languages (see Langacker 1987 and 1992). Moreover, linguistic meaning reflects our under standing of language and is reflected in linguistic expressions (see Fillmore 1985). In this framework, lexical expressions are understood as frames evok-



ing and evoked by scenes of experience associated with them and the syntac tic patterns these expressions (or words) enter. For example, the English word RISK evokes a scene focusing on the subject as victim in "run a risk", whereas in "take a risk" the focus is on the subject as actor (see Fillmore and Atkins 1992). I believe that the consequences of viewing the vocabulary and syntax of a language in this light are very significant for a theory of translation. This has already become clear from the works of Vannerem and Snell-Hornby (1986), Vermeer and Witte (1990), and Kussmaul (1994). Importantly, the cognitive linguistics model offers a unified way of treating culture-based meaning not as a separate or side issue superimposed on lexical meaning, but as an incorporated aspect of human experience that may be grammaticized in different ways in different languages. It also explains why propositional meaning, or, roughly, dictionary meaning, is only one aspect of what we understand of a word in use. Issues relating to the discourse type as well as style of texts may be treated in this model as aspects of the scenes which a particular expression may activate in different linguistic and extra-linguistic contexts. More importantly for the purposes of this article, conceptual struc tures are responsible for linguistic meaning and for understanding and ex pressing such meaning. Apart from these basic principles on which most cognitive linguists agree, an issue that is of crucial importance to the theory is the conceptual construal of metaphor. Cognitivists argue that one of the basic conceptual mechanisms that affect the expression of linguistic meaning is metaphor (see Johnson 1992, Lakoff 1987, and Lakoff and Johnson 1980). Rather than viewing it as merely a stylistic device, they argue that this mechanism enables human beings to understand one domain of experience in terms of another, and, more specifically, to understand the abstract in terms of the concrete. On this construal, concrete is what directly relates to physical reality as experi enced by the human body, or what is experienced as socio-cultural reality. For example, we talk about theories as if they were buildings and we use expres sions like "the foundations of a theory", "the framework of a theory", "the theory collapsed", "to support a theory with arguments", "to construct a theory", etc. In these examples, the abstract concept of a theory is understood as a building. Put differently, the concept of a building is mapped onto the concept of theories and structures its content, so that this concept of theories is understood in terms of a concrete object, i.e. a building, which, as an entity, is both physically and socio-culturally experienced by human beings.



As already mentioned, in cognitive semantics language is viewed as part of general human cognition. On these grounds it is possible to assume that if metaphorical processes are in general operative in human cognition and affect linguistic expression and discourse realization, they possibly also affect the transfer of textual meaning from one linguistic medium to another, i.e. trans lation processes. Given that the various aspects of textual meaning are lin guistically realized in the source text, and given that such realizations are language specific, access to textual meaning is only possible for speakers/ readers of the particular language. For the non-speakers/readers of that lan guage textual meaning cannot be understood. Hence, to these readers, the text is an abstraction, i.e. something that has to be filled in through some means, in order for it to become meaningful in their own language and obtain concep tual substance. The translator is then called upon to provide such means and substance and make the conceptualization of the source text possible for the foreign reader. It is at this point that the process of transfer or, in my terms, textual metaphor emerges as a conceptual mechanism affecting the pro cess of understanding. In what follows I shall try to explain how I envisage the operation of this mechanism, and briefly explore the consequences it would have for the study of translation processes and practices. It seems that in the same way that our metaphorical processes mediate so that one domain of experience is under stood in terms of another, or, alternatively, that the abstract is understood in terms of the concrete, the translator mediates so that an unknown domain of experience such as the source text is understood in terms of another, i.e. the translation or target text. This implies that there is a mapping between the two domains such that the conceptual structures of the target language are mapped onto the source text, lending form to its substance and being linguistically realized in the target language, so as to make the source text understood by the target language reader. A further implication of this position is that, even though temporally, the translation process starts out with a source text and ends with the translation product, cognitively this process has the reverse directionality. This type of directionality, which is one of the consequences of viewing translation as an instance of conceptual metaphor, is further sup ported by Toury's (1980: 17) earlier formulation concerning translations as "functions which map target messages, along with their position in the target's relevant primary and secondary modelling systems . . . on source messages, along with their likewise position".



Given this type of directionality, it becomes necessary to investigate the relationship between the translator, as a mediating mind, and the language of the target text. Put differently, the question arises whether the translator can function in terms of the conceptual structures of the target language and to what extent, so that he or she can map them onto the source text in order to make it understood to the target language readers. To function in terms of the conceptual structures of a language implies the availability of such structures in the mind, their automatic activation and a consequent competence in that language. Even though, ideally, the translator is competent in both languages involved in the translation task, in practice his or her competence in the two languages usually varies. It is generally held that competence in the mother tongue is higher than in the second language.2 In this case it can be maintained that the translator primarily functions in terms of the conceptual structures of his or her mother tongue and categorizes the world according to such structures. The latter may well differ from those of the second language. Cognition involves the structural categorization of the world (see Rosch 1977) and is therefore structured differently by speakers of different languages. As Enkvist (1984) observes in arguing for the develop ment of cognitive models in contrastive linguistics and text linguistics, we can no longer compare cognitive units as if they meant the same. Given that in the construal of translation as an instance of conceptual metaphor, conceptual structures of the target language are mapped onto the source text, and must therefore be appropriately activated, and given that the translator primarily and automatically activates the conceptual structures of his or her mother tongue, the issue of whether he or she is translating into or out of his or her mother tongue becomes significant in investigating transla tion processes. Moreover, this issue constitutes yet another kind of direction ality between the languages and texts involved in the translation task. In the next section an attempt will be made to discuss the issue of directionality in translation processes and practices. More specifically, direc tionality will be examined as the transfer of elements (i.e. conceptual struc tures) from the target language onto the source text. It will be claimed that this directionality characterizes the process of translating and is operative in every translation task. Moreover, directionality will be considered as a transfer of elements between the translator's mother tongue and the second language involved in the translation task. In this context it will be argued that whether the translation is into or out of the translator's mother tongue has important



consequences for the outcome of the task. Finally, these types of directional ity, little considered or discussed in the relevant literature, will be related to actual translation practices.


Directionality in Translation

2.1 Types of Directionality

Directionality has not in itself figured as an issue of investigation in transla tion studies. Rather, it has been assumed to exist as an aspect of transferring source language elements to the target language during the translation pro cess. However, in contrastive text analysis, where directionality has been associated with the translation process, it has received more attention. For example, in contrasting parallel texts in two languages, Zydatiss (1982) tries to identify the strategies characterizing the translation process involved in their derivation with a view to evaluating the outcome of the process. His approach is necessarily concerned with the issue of directionality in the derivation of these texts and also lends itself to the formulation of pedagogical implications in the area of translation. In this study, directionality relates to the transfer of a source text to the target medium. Moreover, when Weizman (1986) proposes a contrastive study of discourse norms in the two languages involved, which is based on the distinction between textual and meta-textual discourse, she claims that such a paradigm should account for translations viewed as choices between transfer of source language norms and their accommodation to target language norms. Evidently, in this work, the direc tionality from source to target appears to be given and to reflect the temporal sequence relating source text and target text. When the focus of attention is the identification of language neutral semantic and pragmatic parameters of meaning in contrastive text analysis, the directionality from source to target seems to be somewhat neutralized. In her search for discourse specific parameters of meaning that may constitute the basis of comparing parallel texts, Marmaridou (1987) distinguishes the temporal aspect of the production of the two equivalent texts involved in the analysis from the process of their production. Thus, even though she assumes that the translation task starts with the examination of the source text, she claims that the target text will emerge from the appropriate realization of



some kind of discourse universals which are triggered by the source text, rather than from the direct transfer of source text elements to the target text. Furthermore, there are translation studies in which there are indications of transfer of elements from the target language to the source text, even though the writers themselves do not acknowledge this as a separate issue in their analyses. For example, when Toury (1986: 81) discusses text segmenta tion as evidence for discourse transfer in translation processes, he observes that "in any transfer context, a language user activates two of the languages that he has at his disposal simultaneously". He then goes on to examine source language text segmentation in relation to discourse transfer. Given the focus of his study on transfer in translating, a uni-directional view of translation from source language to target language is only to be expected. However, in the rest of Toury's paper there are instances where the author witnesses the reverse directionality, i.e. from target to source. Thus, it is mentioned that the translator turns back to the source language utterance "to resegment a certain segment, or to go on segmenting the utterance" (Toury 1986: 83). The directionality of this segmentation, then, which seems to stem from a misfit between target language norms and source language text, may be looked at as a kind of mapping of target language elements on the source text as part of the translation process. The same type of directionality from target to source is also reflected in van den Broeck's 1986 study of shifts in translated texts. Van den Broeck notes the predominance of target language functional style over the style of the source text, and claims that the translators' concern is to reproduce "a target text that presents an optimum degree of acceptability in the home textual system and culture, which brings about deviations from the source linguistic and textual structures" (van den Broeck 1986: 45). The same author also argues that adopting target language norms cannot be put down to merely interlingual differences. On this evidence, then, it is possible to assume that conceptual structures of the target language which reflect functional style are mapped onto the source text and organize its content in order to make it appropriate for target language readers. In this context it would be extremely difficult to maintain that the transfer of source language elements into the target language would lead to a fully acceptable text in the latter. Van den Broeck's study is yet another example of pointing to the issue of directionality in the translation process between source and target texts without actually raising it, since it clearly falls outside the scope of the subject at hand.



However, directionality in respect of transfer of elements from target to source is not the only issue that has been largely overlooked in translation studies. The type of directionality involved in translating from or into the translator's mother tongue has not featured as an issue in translation studies either. Notably, this relates to both translation processes and translation practices. In particular, in examining translation processes, the question is posed whether identical cognitive processes characterize translating from and into the mother tongue. Moreover, on the assumption that translation pro cesses and practices are dialectically related, in the sense that no practices can be established unless they are compatible with specific cognitive processes, and that new desirable practices contribute to developing cognitive processes, it also becomes important to investigate to what extent established practices favour translating from or into the translator's mother tongue. Apparently, the investigation of such issues and the ways in which they interrelate requires focusing on the identity of the translator. Even though this has recently received some attention (see Chesterman 1993, Baker 1992, and Hatim and Mason 1990), the translator's aims in translating a text, and his or her socio-cultural positioning in an institutional setting, do not seem to have constituted determining variables in translation experiments. For example, it is not usually specified what the aim of the translation task is for the subjects/ translators themselves, and even when mentioned (see Toury 1986: 87, for example), it does not seem to have had any significance in the setup of the experiment. Moreover, translation studies have not been specifically con cerned with the directionality of translation processes in respect of the translator's mother tongue, i.e. whether the subject is translating into or out of his or her mother tongue. It is generally held that translating into one's mother tongue is easier and yields better products. It is assumed that in this case there is no interference from the mother tongue in the form of infelicitous transfer of mother tongue elements in the production of the target text, since the target text IS in the mother tongue. Apparently, the possibility of interference in understanding the source text when in a second language, rather than in producing a target text in the second language, is not taken into account in this case. Another related fact that is often overlooked is that translations into the mother tongue often provide evidence of transfer of second language ele ments of the source text into the target text. This state of affairs has led to a number of tacit assumptions about the nature of translation processes that, as I shall try to show below, have largely contributed to viewing such processes



as uni-directional, i.e. as involving the transfer of elements from the source text to the target text.

2.2 Translation Practices and the Translator

A great many translation studies have been based on experiments whose subjects are mostly translation students (e.g. Shreve et al. 1993, Gerloff 1986, Kopczynski 1984, etc.). In such cases a number of investigative techniques, such as think-aloud protocols, have been devised, which aim to identify the relevant processes in a translation task. The subjects' level of proficiency in the two languages involved is usually varied, but it is generally assumed, and often stated, that their proficiency in their second language does not equal their proficiency in their mother tongue. These subjects, faced with a transla tion task, will have to cope with problems some of which will relate to second language learning difficulties, while others relate to the translation task itself, even though the dividing line between the two types of problems cannot be clear cut. In principle, there is no reason why professional translators should be faced with different sorts of problems from those of student translators, except perhaps that they probably face them to a smaller degree. Signifi cantly, however, the treatment of these problems is often different for these two kinds of translators students and professionals in their respective working contexts.3 For example, the omission of a source text expression from its target text rendering may constitute evidence either of an avoidance strategy, or of an attempt to make the translated text more relevant to the reader's needs (see Gutt 1991). Avoidance strategies have been well docu mented in second language learning tasks (see Selinker 1972, for example), whereas omission is an often attested translation strategy. If the translator is a student, the omission is likely to be interpreted as an avoidance strategy, whereas if a professional, as a translation strategy, even though the individu als' respective competence in the two languages involved may not differ significantly. It is possible then that, responding to their institutionally de fined roles, student translators and professional translators focus on different aspects of the translation task and develop different strategies in dealing with it.4 For example, the student translator may focus on "problematic" areas of the foreign language text (whether this is the source text or the target one), on the grounds that the text product will be evaluated in terms of precisely these



points by the teacher or trainer. The professional translator, by contrast, may be more concerned about the product itself as a finished piece of work that will be evaluated in terms of the language in which it is written alone, without resort to the source text. In fact, they aim at what House (1986) calls a "covert" translation, i.e. a translation which is not marked as a translation, but is a target language product in which the communicative function of the original text must be held constant. Moreover, whereas a professional transla tor is usually asked to, and prefers to translate into his or her mother tongue, student translators are made to translate both into and out of their mother tongue, with no regard for their preference. It follows that when translation serves a communicative purpose, a professional is called upon and the source text is often translated into the translator's mother tongue. When a didactic aim or an experiment, for that matter is set, the student normally translates in both directions: into and out of his or her mother tongue. All the above observations about the translation practices of students and professionals seem to be related to and supported by some scholars' experi mental work. For example, even though there is "no binary opposition be tween 'amateurishness' and 'professionalism' in translation" (Toury 1986: 79) as far as developmental issues are concerned, there is some evidence that translation processes may differ with respect to the type of individual in volved in the translation task. Lorscher's (1994) experiment with foreign language learners/translators and professional translators shows that the former produce a sign-oriented translation, as opposed to the sense-oriented translation produced by the latter. Among the differences he observes be tween the two groups is that in the foreign language learning situation the translation is not a genuine means of establishing communication, since the addressee (i.e. teacher, tester, etc.) shares with the learners both languages involved in the task. Whether this artificiality in didactic communication affects translation processes is an open matter for Lrscher, but on the evidence he later presents, this seems to be highly plausible. Apparently, a translation task cannot be viewed independently from the purpose it serves, and in terms of which its effectiveness is assessed. Indisput ably, the aim in professional translating is to make a text accessible to a public that cannot approach and understand it in the language in which it was originally produced. Put differently, professional translating is a type of communicative act which observes a communication norm (see Chesterman 1993: 8), and hence can only be assessed in terms of the outcome: if the



reading public understands and appreciates the translated text and can func tion in terms of it, then the translation has achieved its aim. Unlike the work of a student translator, the work of a professional is seldom assessed by another professional after it has been released, unless, for example, in the case of translated literary texts, where the work is also evaluated for comparable literary merit. In view of the above, it is important to realize that translation practices are inevitably related to translation processes. Since translation practices, especially those of professionals, clearly and crucially make reference to the translator's mother tongue, its significance in the translation process is b e yond doubt.

2.3 The Translator's Mother Tongue and Directionality

As already mentioned, the distinction between translations out of and into the translator's mother tongue has not received attention, nor has this distinction been related to the aims of the translation task itself. For example, in Kopczyhski's (1984) study in conference interpreting the difference between interpreting into or out of the mother tongue is totally neutralized, both in the theoretical assumptions made and in the experiment set up to test such assumptions. Thus, the quality of the interpretation is assessed in terms of an ideal equivalence at all linguistic and communicative levels, whereas the subjects involved in the experiment interpreted in both directions and their errors were assessed irrespective of the relation between their mother tongue and the language of the text produced. Interestingly, in Gerloff's (1986) study on second language learners' introspective data, in the form of talk-aloud protocols of translation, all the subjects were translating out of their mother tongue. It seems that the reason for this related to the most important aim of the study, which was to investigate second language learning processes, rather than to the translation task itself, which simply figured as a means to an end. Hence, the product of translation or the translation process and the fact that the subjects were translating out of their mother tongue were not corre lated in this study. In what follows the view will be presented that translating into one's mother tongue generally yields better texts than translating out of it, partly because the conceptual structures of the mother tongue and target language are directly and automatically activated, and hence successfully mapped onto the source text in the second language; i.e. because the direc-



tionality of the translation process from target onto source is compatible with general linguistic processing mechanisms. It has already been noted that professional translators are usually asked to translate into their mother tongue, i.e. the text product is in the translator's mother tongue. Because the basic aim of professional translating is to make a text accessible to speakers of a language who have no linguistic access to the original text, and given the requirement of the communicative function of the text product, it is probably considered more appropriate for the text product to be in the translator's mother tongue, on the assumption that in this case there is no mother tongue interference, and, generally, that one's linguistic perfor mance is higher in one's mother tongue than in a second language. Concern ing student translators, it is well known that their training practices involve translating both from and into their mother tongue, but the corresponding processes and outputs have not been compared or correlated so far. In the light of the above, it might not be unreasonable to assume that in this respect they are no different from professionals. However this matter stands, the assumption about lack of interference cannot adequately explain why translations into the mother tongue (whether by professionals or students) are qualitatively better. After all, even though there cannot be mother tongue interference in producing a translation into the mother tongue, there is still the possibility of mother tongue interference in understanding the source text in the second language. There is no reason to assume, nor has it been established in cross-linguistic studies, that interfer ence occurs in producing texts rather than in understanding them. Hence, with respect to the above view, it could be counter-argued that translating out of one's mother tongue could yield better texts because the understanding of the source text in the mother tongue would be free of any interference from the second language and would certainly be superior and more comprehensive than the understanding of a second language text. However, translations into the mother tongue are still more successful than those out of it, regardless of such arguments. This leads to the realization that the role of the mother tongue in the translation process is not exactly parallel to its role in simply using a second language. Apparently, the use of translating into a second language as a second language teaching technique has probably supported the belief that translation and second-language learning are almost identical processes, and has also informed several experimental studies in both fields. Moreover, even though it is obvious that translating into the mother tongue does not equal



simply using it, the role of the mother tongue in this process has not been properly addressed. In this context, and- because transfer is a concomitant of translation almost by definition (see Toury 1986), rather than accepting or rejecting the assumption about the superiority of a translator's performance in the mother tongue as necessarily and solely relating to lack of interference, it might be more profitable to consider the kinds of transfer that may occur. There are two possibilities of transfer when translating into the mother tongue. One refers to source text elements being infelicitously transferred to the target text, i.e. the text in the translator's mother tongue. If the translator adheres to the source language text and transfers its elements to the target language, this often leads to a translation that might be grammatically or stylistically inadequate in communicating the messages of the source text.5 Such inadequacy is often detected by the translation reader who may find the use of his or her native language inappropriate, even though he or she of course has no access to the source text. In fact, Lrscher (1994) observes that this may happen even to professionals, when confronted with their own translations some time after the translation task. Such observations indicate that even when the translation is into the translator's mother tongue, the erroneous transfer of source language elements into the target text cannot be ruled out, even though they are reportedly infrequent. More significantly for the purposes of the present article, the second possibility refers to the inevitable transfer into the source language texts of conceptual structures of the target language that fit well, less well, or do not fit at all. This kind of transfer can be explained by the fact that the translator who translates into his or her mother tongue does not approach the source text with an empty mind, but with a mind already marked by the conceptual structures of precisely his or her mother tongue. Inevitably, it is these structures that he or she maps onto the source text, in order to rearrange its conceptual sub stance so as to make it fit into the target language expressions and thus make it understood by target language readers. In this framework, the generally held view that the translator's perfor mance is better in his or her own mother tongue can be interpreted as follows: According to the position supported in this article, it is the conceptual struc tures of the target language that are activated (e.g. mapped onto the source text, etc.) during the translation process. If the translator's mother tongue shares the same conceptual structures with the target language, these struc-



tures can be fully and directly activated during the task and freely operate on the conceptual substance of the source text, e.g. reorganize it, elaborate on it, etc. and make it fit the target language. If the translator's mother tongue is one other than the target language, and, more specifically, if it is the language of the source text, the conceptual structures of the target language cannot be fully or directly activated. In this case it is possible that the inevitable activation of the conceptual structures of the source text in the mind of the translator might lead to a linguistic realization in the target language that does not adequately express the intended conceptual substance. In these terms, rather than maintaining that the translator's performance is better in his or her mother tongue (which it is, but so is his or her understanding of texts in the mother tongue), it would be more accurate to acknowledge the dominance of the translator's mother tongue in the transla tion process and explain the production of better translations into his or her mother tongue in terms of the directionality of the translation process from target onto source. The activation of the conceptual structures of the mother tongue can be considered an automatic general linguistic process. To the extent that this general linguistic process is compatible with the directionality of the translation process from target onto source, the outcome of the transla tion task is successful. However, it is possible that incomplete understanding of the source text may lead to unsuccessful mapping of conceptual structures of the mother tongue onto it. In this case the target text may be less successful (e.g. stylistically poor, inaccurate, etc.) at expressing the meanings of the source text. The view of directionality from target to source, which results from the construal of translation as conceptual metaphor, as presented above, can explain Toury's (1986) observations, but seems to be problematic in respect of Lrscher's (1994) findings referred to before. As Toury mentions, a translator may turn back to the source language utterance to resegment it. Apparently, the initial segmentation is based on the norms of the source language itself. When the two languages involved come into contact, and the target language conceptual structures are mapped onto the source text, there is a misfit. This calls for a further segmentation of the source text, but this time according to the conceptual structures of the target language, so that when the latter are mapped onto the source language text, they can render it accessible, and communicatively functional, in the target language. In Lrscher's experiment, student translators produced mainly sign-



oriented translations, while professionals tended to produce sense-oriented ones. This state of affairs did not seem to be differentiated when subjects either students or professionals translated into their mother tongue, or out of it. In fact, Lrscher observed that the students themselves on one occasion had admitted that their mother tongue rendering of a foreign language text was stylistically poor and certainly inferior to a text they could have produced independently in their mother tongue. If our hypothesis about the directional ity from target language onto source text were right, then one might expect that when Lrscher's students were translating into their mother tongue and hence transferring conceptual structures onto the source i.e. the second language text the translations would acquire a higher level of senseorientation, since, as mentioned earlier, conceptual structures are responsible for the meaning, or sense, of a text. Moreover, Lrscher observes that profes sional translations were not exclusively sense-oriented, nor were student translations exclusively sign-oriented. In view of the above, and within the framework of investigating directionality in translation, it was decided to carry out an experiment to investigate degrees of variability in sign orienta tion of student translations when translating from and into their mother tongue, and to assess the degree to which students' translations approximate professionals' translations in terms of sense orientation, on the assumption that such variability exists.

3. An Experiment of Directionality in Translation The languages involved in the experiment were English and Greek. Two novels were chosen, Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham and Bauuva Kxxva Mai by K. Moua, and their published translations into Greek and English, respectively. These novels were selected on the grounds that both the originals and their translations had been published by major publishing houses and sell well in Greece, and on the consequent assumption that they reflect the public's interests, aesthetic values and needs, and are therefore successful books. Both translations were written by native speakers of the target languages, and may be called professional not only because they were produced by professional translators, but primarily on the grounds that public response to them was favourable.6 Following the choice of texts, two one-page extracts were selected from the original novels, which were then



given to 33 third-year students of the English Department of the University of Athens, all of them native speakers of Greek with a very good command of the English language. The students were asked to translate the two original passages into Greek and English respectively. Not all of the students had read the original novels, but some had. This parameter was not investigated further nor taken into consideration. The passages were randomly chosen. Use of bilingual or monolingual dictionaries was not allowed.7 In the effort to investigate degrees of possible variability in sign orienta tion of the students' translations when translating from and into their mother tongue, the need arose to provide an interpretation of the notion of signorientation. In Lrscher's terms, "sign-oriented translating is characterized by a recall from memory and a verbalization of target language forms which correspond to the respective source language forms. Sign-oriented transla tions . . . employ an inventory of stored surface structure equations of lexemes" (Lrscher 1994: 6). Apparently, Lrscher's definition rests on isomorphic correspondences between a text and its translation. However, it is not immediately obvious whether these correspondences make reference to the same level of analysis (e.g. syntactic structure, lexicon, etc.), or cut across level boundaries. Nor is there any justification for adopting such level divi sions or refuting them. Moreover, no criteria are offered for the detection of sense-oriented translating which, on Lrscher's analysis, is the separation of sense from the source text and its recasting in the target language on the basis of situational and contextual factors. There is also vagueness as to how senseorientation can be detected in a translation product. In view of the above, and for the purposes of the experiment, Fillmore's (1977, and more recently, 1992) model of scenes-and-frames semantics was adopted in the general framework of a semantics of understanding (Fillmore 1985), in order to establish the theoretical framework of reference in terms of which correspondences between texts could be detected and assessed. As already mentioned, in Fillmore's terms, a word functions as a frame that activates and is activated by an associated scene representing some kind of experienced reality. As Kussmaul (1994: 10) correctly points out, the concept of Fillmore's experiential scenes takes care of the dynamic aspect of under standing texts, in that the prototypical meaning of a word is influenced by the situational context in which it is used. Depending on the scene it evokes and the aspects it focuses upon, the word enters particular grammatical construc tions. On this analysis, very crudely presented here, there is no clear-cut line



between the lexicon of a language and its syntactic structure. Rather, this model offers the possibility of viewing grammatical structure and vocabulary as interrelated not only in the framework of analysis of one language, but also cross-linguistically. More specifically, this model allows us to observe crosslinguistic correspondences at the lexical and syntactic level simultaneously and also to proceed to a more global assessment of differences between texts. At the same time, in cases of unacceptability in a translation, using this model makes it easier to talk in terms of vocabulary-oriented deviations/infelicities (when the scenes evoked by the particular words in the two languages do not correspond to each other with any degree of approximation) or constructionoriented deviations/infelicities (when the structural frame evoked by a par ticular scene is not appropriate in the language in which the scene is realized). In these terms, sign-orientation may be viewed as a tendency to preserve frame constructions (which, in this model, are not unrelated to sense since they are mutually evocable) cross-linguistically, whereas sense-orientation refers to the compatibility of scenes and their cultural grounding as reflected in the frames of the two languages involved. Given this framework, and because the aim of the experiment was not to assess translation errors but rather to compare students' translations from and into their mother tongue, first the two kinds of translations were screened in order to identify instances of sign-orientation. It was found that sign-orienta tion, hardly ever totally isomorphic, sometimes yielded successful translation products and sometimes rather poor ones, as shown in the following ex amples: (1) Xrxe Tn) oQ t accepted-3rd s. the fate her she accepted her fate qx/ioe v | xtvcl began-3rd s. to her comb he began to comb her (i.e. he began to comb her hair)


In (2) sign-orientation leads to an inappropriate construction. The scene of xtenizo in Greek involves the personal "owner" of the object of combing and hence corresponds to a construction with the verb followed by a personal direct object. In English comb evokes the object of the action which also figures in the construction as the focal point, whereas the personal "owner" of this object appears in the qualifying possessive adjective.



For the purposes of the experiment it was decided to disregard instances of sign-orientation when it led to successful translation, on the assumption that in such cases success is not only due to the students' sign-orientation which in fact might then be symptomatic but also depends on a number of other parameters, including parallel sense-orientation, for example. On the contrary, instances of sign-orientation leading to inappropriateness of expres sion in the translation were identified and counted in both types of students' translations, i.e. from and into their mother tongue. It was found that the average of such instances in translations from the mother tongue rated 3.5 instances per translation, while in those into the mother tongue, the rate was 0.4 per translation. It is immediately obvious that translations into the second language are to a much larger extent infelicitously sign-oriented than transla tions into the mother tongue. When the corresponding text piece was examined in the professional, published Greek translation of the English novel, no instances of sign-orienta tion were found which led to an infelicitous outcome. However, the examina tion of a random 33 translated pages of the book indicated a rate of 0.14 of sign-orientation leading to inappropriateness in the text, as in the following example: (3) Roy told me how he mixed a salad o Pou ov ejte E oto TQOO a v a x t e v e the Roy me told-3rd s. with what way stirred-3rd s. t] ax the salad

The dictionary translation of mix is anakatevo in Greek. However, the scene associated and evoked by the frame anakatevo in this context would only refer to what one does after mixing and seasoning a salad, i.e. stirring with spoons so that the seasoning goes all over. However, in the English text Roy was actually referring to the whole process of preparing a salad (in the generic rather than the specific sense) and not to the final or even post-final stage of the process. This point then is missed in the Greek translation. The examination of a random 33 pages of the professional, published English translation of the Greek novel (including the page translated by students) did not yield any instances of sign-orientation leading to infelicitous results. Because this fact was rather striking, it was decided to review these 33 pages of translation for sign-orientation leading to positive results. The out-



come of this search was even more striking in that, again, there were no instances of sign-orientation of this kind either, in the sense that this term has been interpreted in the present study.8 The above observations lead to a number of conclusions. It seems that even though student translations are sign-oriented, the degree of sign-orienta tion is markedly higher when the students are translating into the foreign language. Moreover, the degree of approximation of student translations to professional translations is again higher in terms of sign-orientation when students are translating into their mother tongue which is what the profes sional translator also did in this case. Observing, along with Lrscher, that student translations are clearly not exclusively sign-oriented, nor professionals' translations purely sense-ori ented, it is also possible to maintain that, in fact, sign-orientation and senseorientation constitute the two poles of a continuum, with student translators translating into a foreign language tending to the one and professional transla tors translating into their mother tongue to the other. On these grounds it may also be assumed that sense-orientation prevails in a translation process to the extent that sign-orientation is kept to a minimum. On this assumption, student translations in the experiment are also sense-oriented, and certainly much more so when they are translating into their mother tongue. In this respect, too, their translations closely approximate those of professionals. In view of the observations and the conclusions drawn above, the hy pothesis about the directionality of translation process in relation to Lrscher's conclusions may be re-examined in a new light. The experiment showed that student translations were both sign-oriented and sense-oriented. When translating into their mother tongue, sign-orientation was very low. This can be explained by the fact that the students were activating and transferring conceptual structures from their mother tongue and mapping them onto the source text, thus producing largely sense-oriented texts, since conceptual structures, readily available in the students' mother tongue, are mainly responsible for meaning. When translating into the second language, sense-orientation is more difficult to maintain, because students would have to map conceptual structures of the second language onto the text in their mother tongue. However, the conceptual structures of the target language which is not their mother tongue are not always fully or directly activated. Instead, the conceptual structures of the source text are activated in the translators' minds along with the corresponding frames or signs, in Lrscher's terms. In the occasional absence of activated conceptual structures



of the target language, student translators resort to a simple transfer of frames or signs from the source text into the target language, given, of course, their training and their institutional role. Hence, their translations into the second language present a higher level of sign-orientation.



In this article an attempt was made to systematically approach the issue of directionality in translation from a cognitive point of view. Within the frame work of cognitive semantics, translation was viewed as an instance of concep tual metaphor, whereby the conceptual structures of the target language are mapped onto the source text in order to make it understood by the target language reader. This type of directionality from target to source was shown to be closely associated with another type of directionality, namely translating from or into the translator's mother tongue. This latter directionality inevita bly hinges on the identity and institutional role of the translator, on the one hand, and on actual practices in professional translating, on the other. More specifically, viewing the translation process as an instance of conceptual metaphor has a number of practical consequences and theoretical implications. First, this framework of analysis allows us to identify and study different types of directionality in the translation process that have gone largely unnoticed in the relevant literature so far. Second, in this construal of translation processes, the different types of directionality can be legitimately correlated since they are shown to have an important bearing on translation practices, especially of a professional orientation. Third, this view of transla tion processes can explain in a principled manner what has long been taken for granted in translation practices, namely that translations into the translator's mother tongue are usually qualitatively superior to those into the second language. Finally, viewing translation as conceptual metaphor has some bearing in the area of cognitive semantics itself. Thus, the present attempt to apply this theory to the study of translation can be viewed as a further exploration of a theoretical point in cognitive semantics, namely the issue of conceptual metaphor and its status within the theory. Author's address: A. Sophia S. Marmaridou English Department School of Philosophy University of Athens Zografou 15784, ATHENS Greece

70 Notes


Interestingly, the words "metaphor" and "transfer" have a common semantic origin. The former is the Greek-origined, and the latter is the Latin-origined, equivalents of the word "transfer" in English, which covers both the verb and the noun categories. Thus, the Greek-origined word was reserved for the noun signifying the stylistic device in English. In Greek, both senses are expressed by the word "utoq" and differentiated by context. Even in cases of so-called co-ordinate bilinguals, competence in the two languages varies in respect of a number of parameters of a social or psychological nature. Also, the terms "mother tongue" and "second language" are used in their most prototypical renderings. For example, they do not characterize instances whereby, after living in a foreign country for many years, a speaker's competence in the second language is higher than that in the language s/he first spoke (i.e. his/her mother tongue). The similarities and differences in the performance of student and professional transla tors have been widely described and discussed, as in Jskelinen (1989) and (1990), Tirkkonen-Condit (1989), Jskelinen and Tirkkonen-Condit (1991), among others. The position that language use reflects social order and contributes to maintaining institutional roles is basically adopted by critical discourse analysts such as Dendrinos 1992; Fairclaugh 1989a and 1989b; and Kress 1989. The terminology employed at this point reflects a code theory of communication (as presented and criticized in Sperber and Wilson 1986, for example), which, however, is not strictly intended here. Added to these intuitively established criteria, and since I do not wish to raise here the issue of professionalism in translating literary texts, is my own personal opinion of these translations as translation products and as showing evidence of literary merit. The use of dictionaries was debated among translation instructors in the Department before the experiment. The general consensus was against their use, on the grounds that, given the positioning of the students within the particular institutional setting, they would tend to over-use the dictionaries, thus relying heavily on out-of-context lexical corre spondences, and probably producing more sign-oriented translations than they would otherwise do. This situation may be correlated with the fact that Reed's translation seems to constitute a piece of literary work in its own right. It is a marked example of maintaining standards of style in the target language to the exclusion of correspondence of signs between the two languages involved. Thus, in my own estimation, this work combines "complete render ing with full-scale recreation", to use R.R.K. Hartmann's (1980: 58) terms.










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