2. Distributive paraphrases – the target micro-text differs from the original regarding the ... Człowiek łykający pigułki Murti-Binga przestawał być wrażliwy na .... i funkcjonować doskonale i pisać czy malować, jak trzeba, ale w głębi istnieją.
Paraphrasing as a translation strategy On the American rendering of Zniewolony umysł by Czesław Miłosz
According to dictionary definitions, a paraphrase is a restatement of a text, rewording of something written or spoken, especially to achieve greater clarity (OED). Following this line, all translations, especially interlingual in Jakobson’s understanding, could be actually qualified as paraphrases because, by its nature, paraphrasing means rewording. In such a case, however, paraphrasing as a translation strategy or technique would have to be considered as paraphrasing within a paraphrase (or paraphrasing a paraphrase) which seems an unnecessary complication, so it will not be discussed here (although it poses an interesting issue for further investigations). Common sense, even if not supported by the elaborated theories (esp. Nida 1964, Komissarov 1977, Koller 1978, Reiss 1976, Newmark 1988) suggests that the rendering of a text can be more or less close to the original, more or less literal (if the term is legitimate at all) 1, the latter sometimes reaching the border of what still can be labeled translation. In this paper, the American rendering of Zniewolony umysł (The Captive Mind) will be examined in terms of paraphrasing as translation strategy and technique. In this sense, paraphrase is not meant as proposed by Newmark, who defines it as amplification or explanation of the meaning of a segment of the text which is used in an ‘anonymous’ text when it is poorly written or has important implications and omissions (1988: 90) but in the more general sense of text processing. The analysis will be carried out on Chapter I (entitled Murti-Bing in the original and The Pill of Murti-Bing in the translation) and will include the comparison of corresponding micro-texts of both the original and the translated version. A micro-text is considered as part of a text, that draws the reader’s attention as a whole in its actual shape and possibly expands its own micro-topic (Kintsch&van Dijk 1978). Still, the notion seems fuzzy enough to be labeled deliberate and intuitive rather than defined. Whilst distinguished parts of a whole text marked as such (chapters, subchapters, paragraphs) can pass for micro-texts with no reservations, any other excerpt from the paramount text can be questioned in its status as a micro-text. It might be argued that its slightly extended or slightly abbreviated version could be called a micro-text as well, thus the borders of what is called a micro-text are flexible and subjective. To avoid further diving into the problem, for the purposes of this paper, let us slightly modify Kintsch&van Dijk’s definition and declare a micro-text a unit that can attract attention as a whole (which does not deny the possibility of its reduction or extension without losing the status). 1
Regarding the fact that one-to-one equivalence on the word level, as proposed by Kade, is a rare phenomenon (it can be stated in the case of terms), the notion of literal translation becomes fuzzy. Even referring to the context of the utterance, which is inscribed in every translator’s task, it is not always possible to determine the exact (especially nuanced) meaning of the expression in question. The final choice of the target language counterpart is thus a matter of the translator’s interpretation and/or intuition and can be usually challenged by alternative solutions. The examples discussed below, that include both a “literal” and the official (published) translation will clearly illustrate it.
According to Kintsch&van Dijk, deletion, generalisation and construction 2 of information that permanently take place on the recipient’s mind lead from the micro-text to the macrotext. In other words, before it is saved in the text recipient’s memory the information has been selected and processed with the use of the above mechanisms. In the case of a translation, the translator who applies omission or explication (the latter possible as conclusion) does the target recipient’s work to some extent as they offer a final text version that has been partially processed already. The Captive Mind is a collection of essays, first published in Paris in 1951. As stated by the author himself in the preface to the Polish edition of 1989, his objective was to describe how the human mind worked in people’s democracies. In the first chapter Miłosz refers to Witkiewicz’s novel Nienasycenie (Insatiability) which introduced the Murti-Bing-metaphor in Polish literature. It stands for people’s ideological and moral concessions that enable the individuals to function and be active within a rejected political system but are superficial enough to cause permanent schizophrenia. In chapters IV-VII Miłosz portrays four of his successful friends, identified by the critics as the writers Jerzy Andrzejewski, Tadeusz Borowski, Jerzy Putrament and Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, who, in his opinion, can exemplify the Murti-Bing effect. As a set of essays, the work represents the informative text type, although the expressive and operative elements (Reiss 1986) in shape of conveying the author’s state of mind and persuasion to understand rather than condemn cannot be denied either. The text type (or text dominant) determines the translation strategies in favour of those that help preserve the original text type (we refrain here from the rare cases when the text type is intentionally changed in translation). As informative in its core, the essay as a source text in the process of translation seems rather prone to paraphrasing that aims at capturing and rendering the information in the first place. Strategy, technique, method and procedure are some terms frequently used in the scientific papers on translation. They are sometimes mixed up with one another so that it seems advisable to clarify them. Translation strategies can be divided into global and local (a.o. Jääskeläinen (1993), the former being also called methods (a.o.Newmark 1988) and the latter also known as procedures (ibidem) or techniques (a.o.Fawcett 1997). To avoid this terminological chaos just two of them (strategy and technique) will be used in clearly defined meanings. The term procedure is inadvisable because it might be confused with its understanding proposed by Nida (1964: 241ff), that includes technical and organisational procedures. On the other hand, the term method will be avoided here as strongly connected to scientific research. Here, a translation strategy is regarded as the translator’s general guideline (if imposed) or general attitude (if voluntarily chosen) that determine his/her decisions. It can be, to enumerate just a few, domestication (choosing counterparts familiar to the reader), generalization (the use of hyperonyms to replace more specific names), literal translation (accepting only the changes required by the system of the target language). A strategy is strongly connected to ramification and can be proved by many examples of concrete 2
Deletion is tantamount to omission, generalisation means a replacement of a more specific expression with a less specific one and construction refers to drawing conclusions not included in the text directly.
translator’s decisions. Therefore, it seems not beyond any doubts that the translation process is always steered by and founded on a certain strategy. On the contrary, in the case of each individual translation product the hypothesis of an underlying translation strategy would require a proof based on text analysis. Nevertheless, a strategy can be always defined as a theoretical construct of normative character. A translation technique is a concrete solution applied on a certain unit of the text to be rendered. A list of available techniques has been retrieved from the procedures applied by the practitioners of translation over centuries, which is open to addenda. The list includes, for example, borrowing, calque, transliteration, coinage, specification, generalization – the notions thoroughly explained in numerous handbooks on translation that need no further discussion here. It seems worth emphasising, though, that a certain technique as a singular solution identified in the product of a translator’s work can but not necessarily does match the paramount strategy (if any). If (and only if) a translation technique is applied with (relative) consequence on text units of similar features it concurs with the strategy of (possibly) the same name. In this particular case one can put an equal sign between strategy and technique which might lead to their (unjustified) general equating. For the purposes of this paper, two procedures are worth mentioning, omission and explication. Regarding the fact that omission is tantamount to avoiding translation and explication means introducing some additional information which is not included in the original text, the status of both as translation techniques is highly controversial. At the same time they can, with no hesitation, be accepted as possible translation strategies the essence of which is either consequent deleting of information (for example for political, aesthetic, religious or pragmatic reasons) or consequent expounding of incomprehensive expressions (usually based on the estimated knowledge of the recipient). Basing our observations on the natural experience that comes through talking and writing about texts, it is possible to divide the paraphrases into four groups , according to the type of transformations executed in the translation process. We shall call them as follows: 1. Simple paraphrases – the target micro-text includes shifts and modifications which are evitable, i.e. not necessarily required by the system of the target language. All information included in the original can be found in the translation, in other words: all the propositions of the original have been preserved in the translation. 2. Distributive paraphrases – the target micro-text differs from the original regarding the distribution of information. The new distribution of information can be obtained by means of alternated punctuation or word order that affect the information structure. It can also occur in the form of fused or split sentences. 3. Explicative paraphrases – the target micro-text is clearer and/or more precise than the original which can be seen and proved at a bigger number of propositions in the target version. To be qualified as an explicative paraphrase the translation does not have to be longer than the original (although it usually is) as more clarity and/or precision can be obtained not only by adding information but also by selection of applied words. 4. Omissive paraphrases – the target micro-text lacks some information included in the original which can be seen and proved at a smaller number of propositions in the target version. To be qualified as an omissive paraphrase the translation does not have to be shorter
than the original (although it usually is) because some information can be skipped in the paraphrase by selection of applied words as well. The following text analysis is presented in order to find out the frequency of the paraphrases defined above in the American translation in a pure or mixed form and determine the relations between them. The original quotation (marked P) are first followed by my own, literal translation (LT) and next by the published American version (A). Example 1 (omissive, explicative): Normalni zjadacze chleba, nawet jeśli z wielką nudą zdawali egzaminy z filozofii, starali się o niej jak najszybciej zapomnieć jako o czymś, co nie służy do niczego. Wielka praca myśli, dokonywana przez marksistów, mogła więc łatwo uchodzić w ich oczach za jeszcze jedną odmianę bezpłodnej zabawy. Nieliczne tylko jednostki rozumiały znaczenie tej obojętności, jej powody i przypuszczalne następstwa (P, 19). The normal bread eaters, even if they, with great boredom, passed their exams in philosophy, tried to forget it as something that serves for nothing. The great work of thought, executed by the Marxists, could easily pass in their eyes as one more variation of a fruitless game. Only few individuals understood the significance of this indifference, its causes and presumable consequences (LT). The average human being, even if he had once been exposed to it, wrote philosophy off as utterly impractical and useless. Therefore the great intellectual work of the Marxists could easily pass as just one more variation of a sterile pastime. Only a few individuals understood the causes and probable consequences of this general indifference (A, 3).
The omissive character of the paraphrase can be seen at two generalisations. Firstly, the original group of people who passed exams in philosophy (clearly enough, in the Polish culture: university students) has been extended to those who got in touch with philosophy in a way (anybody who happened to hear or read about a philosophical topic). Secondly, the comment on reception of Marxism, in the source text restricted to the abovementioned group of educated people, sounds like a general observation in the translation. A direct omission (an item of information has been skipped) has happened in the rendering of the last sentence from which the original notion of significance is missing. This omission, though, seems to serve an explicative purpose at the same time as understanding of causes and probable consequences means, obviously enough, understanding the significance of a phenomenon, so the former have been interpreted as specification of the latter. An explication is present at the very beginning, where the metaphoric expression normalni zjadacze chleba has been translated in a non-metaphoric way. The translator’s decision was only partially enforced by the target language system, as a possible metaphoric equivalent is available.3 The explication has been introduced in the final part of the first clause, where the attempt to forget philosophy (one usually tries to forget what hurts or bothers) has been rendered as the act of denying its value (write off). Example 2 (explicative, omissive):
The literal rendering could, indeed, be understood as referring to the people who eat bread (bread eaters), so the target system requires a change. But it offers solutions different from the explicative expression, for example “your average Mr Joe Public, Mr Jones, Mr Smith or run-of-the mill.
Człowiek łykający pigułki Murti-Binga przestawał być wrażliwy na jakiekolwiek elementy metafizyczne, takie objawy, jak dzikie ekscesy sztuki przeżywającej “nienasycenie formą” traktował już jako głupstwo przeszłości, nadejścia armii mongolskich nie uważał już za tragedię swojej cywilizacji, wśród swoich obywateli żył jak zdrowe indywiduum, otoczone przez wariatów (P, 21). A man who swallowed Murti-Bing pills stopped being sensitive to any metaphysical elements, symptoms like wild excesses of the art that experienced “an insatiability for form” were already treated by him as stupidities of the past, he did not any longer consider the approach of the Mongolian armies as a tragedy of his civilization, among his own co-citizens he lived like a healthy individual surrounded by lunatics (LT). A man who swallowed Murti-Bing pills became impervious to any metaphysical concerns. The excess into which art falls when people vainly seek in form the where-withal to appease their spiritual hunger were but outmoded stupidities for him. He no longer considered the Sino-Mongolian army as a tragedy for his own civilization. He lived in the midst of his compatriots like a healthy individual surrounded by madmen (A, 4-5).
An omission although not very transparent, can be seen at the beginning, where the modulation4 has erased the implication of the man’s previous metaphysical concerns. A direct omission is visible in a further part of the clause, in which the aspect of “insatiability for form”, originally stated about the art, has disappeared. At the same spot, an explication has been applied in order to link the significance of form with people’s state of mind and thus to justify it. Another case of explication through specification can be observed within the information about the menacing foreign army that has been linked to China. The same information shows a case of direct omission as well (the aspect of approaching has been skipped) and the army in question is mentioned as a general disaster, due to its mere existence, not a possible action. Example 3 (distributive, explicative, omissive): W kilku słowach epilog: wybuchła wojna i doszło do spotkania armii zachodniej ze wschodnią. W decydującej jednak chwili, przed wielka bitwą, wódz armii zachodniej, w którego wierzono bezgranicznie, udał się do kwatery głównej przeciwnika i poddał się, w zamian za co został z wielkimi honorami ścięty (P, 21). In a few words, the epilogue: the war broke out and it came to a meeting of the western army with the eastern. In the decisive moment, though, the chief of the western army, in whom people believed with no limitations, proceeded to the headquarters of the opponent and surrendered, in exchange for which he was decapitated with great honour (LT). The epilogue, in a few words: the outbreak of the war led to a meeting of the armies of the West with those of the East. In the decisive moment, just before the great battle, the leader of the western army surrendered to the enemy; and in exchange, though with the greatest honors, he was beheaded (A, 5).
The omissive character of the paraphrase is confirmed by the fact that two original items of information (about people’s trust in the commanding officer and about himself proceeding to the other army’s headquarters. The explication has been applied in the first sentence, where the causative relation is directly stated between the outbreak of the war and the meeting of the two armies. A modified distribution can be seen in the last sentence, in which the information about the honours accompanying the beheading, introduced as an apposition, is emphasized. 4
A modulation is a change of the perspective, as it takes place in the pair of sentences : The school year ends tomorrow/The holiday starts the day after tomorrow. In the analysed texts, the end of a certain phase indicated in the original is depicted as a transition to a different phase.
The initial phrase, in which the word order has been changed illustrated a changed distribution of information as well: the rhematic position of “epilogue” has been change for thematic which links the following description (list) of events directly with the comment “few words” and stresses the scarcity of words rather than the character of the presented occurrence. Example 4 (omissive): Los ludzi konsekwentnych, niedialektycznych, takich jak Witkiewicz, jest przestrogą dla niejednego intelektualisty. Zresztą dookoła siebie widzieć on może odstraszające przykłady: po ulicach miast błąkają się jeszcze cienie nieprzejednanych, tych, co nie chcą w niczym brać psychicznie udziału, wewnętrznych emigrantów zżeranych przez nienawiść, aż nic w nich już nie zostaje prócz nienawiści i są jak puste orzechy (P, 22). The fate of the consistent, non-dialectical people like Witkiewicz is a warning for many an intellectual. Besides, he can see frightening examples around himself: in the city streets, shadows of the irreconcilable are straying, those who don’t want, psychologically, participate in anything, internal exiles eaten up by hatred until nothing else has remained in them but hatred and they are like hollow walnuts (LT). The fate of completely consistent, non-dialectical people like Witkiewicz is a warning for many an intellectual. All about him, in the city streets, he sees the frightening shadows of internal exiles, irreconcilable, nonparticipating, eroded by hatred (A, 6).
In the target version, the original, elaborated clause has been reduced to a long but single sentence. Nevertheless, only two direct omissions in the sense of skipping some information can be proved, namely the original aspect of straying as well as the walnut metaphor. Obviously, some information has been removed from the text surface but it still can be retrieved (constructed) from the applied wording: internal exiles don’t participate because they don’t want to, a person eroded by hatred is hollow inside. Example 5 (explicative): Środowisko przedstawione przez Witkiewicza odznacza się tym, że nie istnieje w nim już religia. W krajach demokracji ludowej, tak jak wszędzie, religia już dawno przestała być filozofią całych społeczeństw, to jest wszystkich klas. Dopóki najlepsze umysły były zaprzątnięte dyskusjami teologicznymi, można było mówić o niej jako o systemie myślenia całego społecznego organizmu, a wszystkie sprawy najżywiej zajmujące obywateli były do niej odnoszone i omawiane w jej języku (P, 23). The environment depicted by Witkiewicz is distinguished by the fact that religion does not exist in it any longer. In the countries with a people’s democracy; like anywhere else, religion ceased to be the philosophy of whole societies, that is of all classes. As long as the best minds were occupied with theological disputes, one could speak of it as a system of thinking of the whole social organism, and all the matters which most vividly concerned the citizens could be referred to it and discussed in its language (LT). The society portrayed by Witkiewicz is distinguished by the fact that in it religion has ceased to exist as a force. And it is true that religion long ago lost its hold on men’s minds not only in the people’s democracies, but elsewhere as well. As long as the society’s best minds were occupied by theological questions, it was possible to speak of a given religion as the way of thinking of the whole social organism. All the matters which most actively concerned the people were referred to it and discussed in its terms (A, 7).
The initial generalisation (the narrower notion of environment replaced by the broader term of society) can be interpreted as explication as far as the morbidity of the circles portrayed in the
novel applies to the whole nation. An explicative intention strikes in the addition that – extending the original – reduces the understanding of religion to its force. In the second sentence, a direct omission can be indicated as the passage that equates the whole society and all classes is missing – which eliminates the notion of class from the considerations. In the penultimate sentence of the translation, the repetition of the noun religion seems explicative in its intention as well: it creates a direct logical link with the following part of the clause. Example 6 (omissive, explicative): Niech powstanie nowy człowiek, który nie ulega, lecz przekształca świat i myśli w skali całego globu i sam stwarza formację historyczną zamiast być jej niewolnikiem. Tylko tak absurdalność jego fizjologicznego trwania może być odkupiona. Trzeba go zmusić siłą, przez cierpienie, do zrozumienia (P, 26). A new man should arise, one who does not give in but transforms the world and thinks in the scale of the entire globe and creates a historical formation instead of being its slave. Only thus can the absurdity of his physiological persistence be redeemed. He should be made by force, through suffering, to understand (LT). Let a new man arise, one who, instead of submitting to the world, will transform it. Let him create a historical formation, instead of yielding to its bondage. Only thus can he redeem the absurdity of his physiological existence. Man must be made to understand this, by force and by suffering (A, 10).
The omissive character of the paraphrase can be stated due to the fact that an item of original information (about the man thinking in the scale of the entire globe) is missing. At the same time, explication can be observed in the first sentence, where the rejected attitude is depicted, in a specifying way, as submission to the world (in the original not restricted to anything). Besides, there is an explication in the middle statement, where the man’s active role in his redemption is indicated by the use of Active Voice instead of the original Passive Voice. One more case of explication occurs in the last sentence, where force and suffering are indicated as two separate factors in the process of people’s reeducation (in the original force presented as the method of applying the means). Example 7 (explicative, distributive): Nie należy się więc dziwić, jeżeli pisarz czy malarz wątpi w celowość oporu. Gdyby miał pewność, że dzieło dokonywane przez niego wbrew linii oficjalnie zaleconej ma wartość trwałą – zdecydowałby się zapewne i nie troszczyłby się o druk czy branie udziału w wystawach, pracując nad takim dziełem w przerwach między bardziej zdawkowymi zatrudnieniami przynoszącymi mu pieniądze. Sądzi jednak – w większości wypadków – że takie dzieło byłoby artystycznie słabe – w czym nie myli się zanadto (P,30). One should not be surprised if a writer or painter doubts the sense of resistance. If he had certainty that the work completed by himself against the line officially recommended has lasting value – he would probably make up his mind and not care about printing or participating in exhibitions, working on such a piece of art in the breaks between some more casual occupations that would bring him money. He believes though – in most cases – that such a piece of art would be artistically poor – which he is not too much wrong about (LT). It is no wonder that a writer or painter doubts the wisdom of resistance. If he were sure that art opposed to the official line could have a lasting value, he probably would not hesitate. He would earn his living through some more menial job within his profession, write or paint in his spare time and never worry about publishing or exhibiting his work. He believes, however, that in most cases such work would be artistically poor, and he is not far wrong (A, 14).
The explicative character can be recognised in the rendering of the middle clause: The aspect of internal struggle (hesitation) is raised explicitly, the artist’s concern about his own work appears as his general awareness of the art’s condition within a totalitarian system and the option of separating gainful employment from creating real art is described very clearly. In the same passage of text the distribution of information is modified which does not come down to the split of a long clause but includes a transformed word order and thus, in consequence, moves the major pieces of information (about the artistic activities executed in the free time and no worry about reaching the audience) to the privileged rhematic position. Another change of distributive nature can be noticed in the last sentence of the translation, where the most cases – originally attributed to the artist – apply to the works of art. Example 8 (explicative, distributive): Można zdobyć się na „przełom” i funkcjonować doskonale i pisać czy malować, jak trzeba, ale w głębi istnieją ciągle jeszcze dawne miary moralne i estetyczne, a tak powstaje rozdwojenie. To rozdwojenie jest powodem wielu trudności codziennego życia (P, 37). One can muster up the “breakthrough” and function perfectly and write or paint as it’s necessary but in the depth there still are the old moral and aesthetic measures, and thus arises a split. This split is the reason for many difficulties of daily life (LT). One can survive the “crisis” and function perfectly, writing and painting as one must, but the old moral and aesthetic standards continue to exist on some deep inner plane. Out of this arises a split within the individual that makes for many difficulties in his daily life (A, 22).
The explicative character of the phrase survive the “crisis” is quite obvious here. It indicates, in addition to the original expression, the harmfulness of the situation (crisis as a breakdown and a bad spell) as well as the defensive power of the individual (survival is a matter of strength and a positive phenomenon). The introduced limitation of the difficulties to the individual’s (his) daily life should be qualified as another explication to clarify the less specific and more open original wording that links difficulties with the daily life in general and thus with other people. The changes in the distribution of information can be seen as shifts of the rhemes (word order after “but” and the fusion of the last sentence with the last part of the foregoing clause). Conclusion In the foregoing section of this paper eight segments of the novel (considered as micro-texts according to adapted and revised definition) have been analysed from the perspective of paraphrasing as a translation strategy that has led to the final version of the American rendering. First of all, no examples of simple paraphrases could be encountered which allows the conclusion that the translator reaches for a paraphrase only in order to modify the information and sticks to literal (with restrictions discussed above) rendering as though no modification of information is desired. Seven out of the eight investigated paraphrases show (partially or purely) explicative character , five of them are (partially or purely) omissive and three (partially) distributive. In four cases explicative solutions are combined with omissive, which appears quite an interesting observation as far as omission seems to serve the explicative purpose . Regarding
the abovementioned frequencies in the selected sample implies the hypothesis that paraphrasing in general as well as its explicative and omissive variants are applied as translation strategies in the American rendering of Miłosz’s work. At the same time, the status of distributive paraphrase as a translation strategy, though, cannot be qualified as that of a translation strategy in this case. However, in order to confirm both assumptions, more excerpts – and this from the whole text – would have to be examined. It can be stated though that the translator obviously supports the reader’s text processing activity as she applies the rules of deletion (here: omission), generalisation (here: omission or explication) and construction (here: explication). Doing so the translator both facilitates the reception of the work and sets the guidelines for its interpretation.
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