Social and cultural aspects of translation quotations from William Shakespeare
The discussion of Shakespeare's life, problem play and sonnets. The term problem plays normally refers to three plays that William Shakespeare wrote between the late 1590s, the first years of the seventeenth century. The actors in Shakespeare's company.
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1. The theoretical aspects of translation
1.1 Concept of translation
There is a wide opinion that success of translation, firstly, depends on qualification of interpreter, his talent and skills, his knowing of native and foreign languages. So, that is the subjective factors. From this point of view, studying of translation studies can be limited by practical courses of native and foreign languages. However, this way of translating can limit several objective factors. Task of this course is to delineate conditions of adequate translation. We have to put a questions to solve these tasks. The question is «What is the translation?». Before formulating the definition of translation, we have to restrict translation from other linguistic phenomena.
Translation is not «tracing» - direct borrowing of words from another language (for example - names that clearly relate to specific objects or people).
Tracing - just adding new words in a language, borrowed from other languages, such as neologisms, internationalisms, actually are appeared together with meanings of borrowed objects that they represent. Also translation is not a selection of translated words to the terms of the target language, which are not appropriate sense of the translated words. The interpretation of foreign words leads to a kind of linguistic entropy - allocation to one or another notion of the meaning, that doesn't match it.
In this failure of understanding you can't blame the interpreter - just impossible to translate it adequately and not to distort the first meaning. If just a language has no adequate translation of the given word, because there is no appropriate denotation. This interpretation is called «creative translation»,» violence against the original version in favor of the traditions of literature» and exactly with the results of «creative translation», mass reader meets more or less rough interpretation of meaning of the translated text.
No less ambiguous is also the term «interpretation» which is synonymous to «translation» and is used to denote the way or manner of presenting the ides of the work in translation orally. These may be artistic, genre and stylistic peculiarities rendered by the translator in his particular way, which is somewhat different from that of the author's. The thing is that «interpretation» unlike «translation», admits some more freedom of the translator in his treatment (at least in certain places or cases) of the matter under translation. Hence, the existence of free verifications and free adaptation and rightly treated as new creations (when they are of high artistic value). To the letter belong the famous free interpretations of Virgil's Adenoid in Ukrainian by «I. Kotlyarevskyi» practically «adapted» are also Shakespearean's masterpieces. Byron's writings and many other poetic and prose works. Consequently, «interpretation» may denote apart from the oral method of translation also a peculiar, as well as the only way of presenting a prose or poetic work in translation («Interpretation» may also denote the style of a peculiar translator and his way of presenting a particular literary work).
Apart from the two mentioned above, there are some other terms in the theory of translation which may seen ambiguous to the inexperienced student. These usually common terms are: accurate or exact, translation, faithful (or realistic) translation, faithfulness of translation, fidelity of translation/interpretation, equivalent translation, free interpretation, free adaptation; free interpretation, free/loose translation, consecutive interpretation, off-hand translation, rehash, sight translation (translation at sight), simultaneous translation, rough translation and some others.
Each of the above-mentioned terms may be understood and interpreted differently. Thus, «free interpretation» may mean both «free translation», «free adaptation» and sometimes even «loose translation». Similary with the terms and notions as «faithful translation» and «equivalent translation» which are synonymous if not identical by their general meaning, but there is some difference between them. The term «faithful translation» is used to denote the highest level/degree of rendering thedenovative or connotative meanings of words, the sense of word-groups and sentences, the content, the expressiveness of works of the source language with the help of the available means of the target language.
The term «equivalent translation» is nowadays practically used in the same meaning as «faithful translation» with one exception only: it also includes the necessity of quantitative and qualitative representation of all constitutive parts of elements of the source language units in the target language. Consequently, a «faithful translation» very often means the same as «equivalent translation» which can be best illustrated on the single words, word groups or sentences.
The term «translation» is used even to denote purely functional substitutions which have absolutely nothing in common with any expression/rendering of meaning of the source language sense units in the target language.
Translation as a notion is a polysemantic nature. It may imply the process of conveying the meaning of a word, word - group or sentence/ text from one language into another and also the result of the conveying. «Translation» may also denote the subject taught at school.
Translation can be performed either in writing or in viva voice (orally). Hence the people whose office is to convey some written or spoken/ recorded matter in writing are referred to as translators and the people whose office is to render the meaning of any matter in viva voice are referred to as interpreters. Both the activities are equally important though the aims pursued by each of them are somewhat different. Say, an oral «interpretation» cannot be done otherwise than in writing. As a result the process of a written translation has always a materialized expression in the form of a word, word - group, sentence or passage which is left behind as a testimony to some work performed.
The translated matter can sometimes become rather important for a country and enrich its history, literature and culture (the translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey into Latin by Livius Andronicus in the 3rd century B.C. or Martin Luther's translations of the Old and the new Testament into German in the 16th century).
The importance of translating and interpreting in modern society has long been recognized. Practically not a single contact at the international level or even between two persons speaking different languages can be established or maintained without the help of translators or interpreters.
Equally important is translating and interpreting for the functioning of different international bodies (conferences, symposia, congresses etc.) to say nothing about bodies like the World Piece Council or the United Nations Organizations with its councils, assemblies, commissions, committees, sub-committees. These can function smoothly only thanks to an army of translation and interpreters representing different states and working in many different national languages.
Numerous branches of national economies too can keep up with the up-to-date development and progress in the modern world thanks to everyday translating/ interpreting of scientific and technical matter covering various fields of human knowledge and activities. The latter comprise nuclear sciences, exploration of outer space, ecological environment, plastics, mining, chemistry, biology, medicine, machine building, electronics linguistics, etc. Nowadays translation of scientific and technical matter has become a most significant and reliable source of obtaining all-round and up-to-date information on the progress in various fields of science and technology.
The social and political role of translation/ interpreting has probably been most strongly felt for the last hundred years or so. Since the birth of Marxism in the second half of the 19th century and Leninism in the 20th century translation has acquired an extraordinary significance providing for the dissemination of revolutionary materialistic ideas and philosophy in the minds of proletarian and working masses throughout the world.
1.2 Features of translation
So, the question is «What Influences the translator?»
The potential influence and constraint the translator and on the process of translation is often placed on that exerted by the source language. The term `translationese' is a common description for translated language that appears to be influenced by the source language, usually in an inappropriate way or to undue extent.
In the study of Johansson and Hofland (2000) of various aspects of English and Norwegian modal auxiliaries and modal particles, observe that the choices made in translation tend to reflect source-text influence.
Simplification - the idea that translators subconsciously simplify the language or message or both.
Explicitation - the tendency to spell things out in translation, including in its simplest form, the practice of adding background information.
Normalisation or Conservatism - the tendency to conform to patterns and practices that are typical of the target language, even the point of exaggerating them. Levelling Out - the tendency of translated text to gravitate around the center of any continuum rather than move towards the fringe.
Baker (1993) explains universal features of translation as being «features which typically occur in translated text rather than original utterances and which are not the result of interference from specific linguistics systems». The universal features of translation concern simplification, explicitation, normalization and leveling out.
Explicitation involves adding material in the target text that is implicit in the source text. It means that the translator expands the target text by inserting additional words to be more explicit on a number of levels than non-translated texts. Explicitation is observed in the way in which cultural information is spelled out for target-language readers who would not be familiar with the cultural references of the source text. Example of Explicitation: SL: «Bodies stripped bare, mutilated and left to rot in the sun». TL: «Tubuh mereka ditelanjangi dan dipotong-potong dan dibiarkan membusuk di terik matahari».
The above sentence demonstrates additional words to make the meaning clear without altering the significance; the word mereka is added to point whose bodies that are stripped, dipotong-potong as a reduplication word of Indonesian refers to mutilated, and terik matahari is to clarify the hotness of the sun where the bodies left to rot in. It was done in order to get a better and exact perceptive dealing with what actually say in the scene. Therefore, the TL is in an accurate sense in such a way.
Normalization or Conservatism by Baker (1996) «The tendency to conform to patterns and practices which are typical of the target language, even to the point of exaggerating them. In this way, translation uses language in a more conventional or normalized way than non - translated texts»
Normalization or conservatism refers to concepts of `domesticating' (keeping the form) and `foreignizing' (adapting the meaning) translation.
Simplifcation. This phenomenon is reflected in various strategies including the breaking up of long sentences, omission of redundant or repeated information, shortening of complex collocations, etc. Levelling out is the tendency of translated text to gravitate towards the centre of a continuum rather than move towards the fringes. Co-occurrence is occurrence of the two terms from a text corpus alongside each other in a certain order. In their study of the optional reporting that, Olohan and Baker (2000) state linguistics literature on use and omission of that with range of verbs indicates omission to be more likely in informal contexts. Cont' by Olohan (2003) - in the framework of both explicitation and normalization - contracted forms in translated fiction and biography text (a subset of the TEC) compared with non-translation (a subset of the imaginative writing section of the BNC). BNC text are more likely to omit that and use contractions; the TEC text are more likely to include that and not use contractions.
Early Modern English as a literary medium was unfixed in structure and vocabulary in comparison to Greek and Latin, and was in a constant state of flux. When William Shakespeare began writing his plays, the English language was rapidly absorbing words from other languages due to wars, exploration, diplomacy and colonization. By the age of Elizabeth, English had become widely used with the expansion of philosophy, theology and physical sciences, but many writers lacked the vocabulary to express such ideas. To accommodate, writers such as Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare expressed new ideas and distinctions by inventing, borrowing or adopting a word or a phrase from another language, known as neologizing. Scholars estimate that, between the years 1500 and 1659, nouns, verbs and modifiers of Latin, Greek and modern Romance languages added 30,000 new words to the English language.
2. «Translated» Shakespeare
2.1 Introduction to Shekespeare
Any discussion of Shakespeare's life is bound to be loaded with superlatives. In the course of a quarter century, Shakespeare wrote some thirty-eight plays. Taken individually, several of them are among the world's finest written works; taken collectively, they establish Shakespeare as the foremost literary talent of his own Elizabethan Age and, even more impressively, as a genius whose creative achievement has never been surpassed in any age.
In light of Shakespeare's stature and the passage of nearly four centuries since his death, it is not surprising that hundreds of Shakespeare biographies have been written in all of the world's major languages. Scanning this panorama, most accounts of the Bard's life (and certainly the majority of modern studies) are contextual in the sense that they place the figure of Shakespeare against the rich tapestry of his «Age» or «Times» or «Society.» This characteristic approach to Shakespeare biography is actually a matter of necessity, for without such fleshing out into historical, social, and literary settings, the skeletal character of what we know about Shakespeare from primary sources would make for slim and, ironically, boring books. As part of this embellishment process, serious scholars continue to mine for hard facts about the nature of Shakespeare's world. The interpretation of their meaning necessarily varies, often according to the particular school or ideology of the author.
Whatever the differences of opinion, valid or at least plausible views about Shakespeare, his character and his personal experience continue to be advanced. Yet even among modern Shakespeare biographies, in addition to outlandish interpretations of the available facts, there persists (and grows) a body of traditions about such matters as Shakespeare's marriage, his move to London, the circumstances of his death and the like. The result of all this is that there is now a huge tapestry of descriptive, critical, and analytical work about Shakespeare in existence, much of it reasonable, some of it outlandish, and some of it hogwash.
In examining Shakespeare's life, three broad points should be kept in mind from the start. First, despite the frustration of Shakespeare biographers with the absence of a primary source of information written during (or even shortly after) his death on 23 April 1616 (his fifty-second birthday), Shakespeare's life is not obscure. In fact, we know more about Shakespeare's life, its main events and contours, than we know about most famous Elizabethans outside of the royal court itself.
Shakespeare's life is unusually well-documented: there are well over 100 references to Shakespeare and his immediate family in local parish, municipal, and commercial archives and we also have at least fifty observations about Shakespeare's plays (and through them, his life) from his contemporaries. The structure of Shakespeare's life is remarkably sound; it is the flesh of his personal experience, his motives, and the like that have no firm basis and it is, of course, this descriptive content in which we are most interested.
Second, the appeal of seeing an autobiographical basis in Shakespeare's plays and poetry must be tempered by what the bulk of the evidence has to say about him. Although there are fanciful stories about Shakespeare, many centering upon his romantic affairs, connections between them and the events or characters of his plays are flimsy, and they generally disregard our overall impression of the Bard. In his personal life, Shakespeare was, in fact, an exceedingly practical individual, undoubtedly a jack of many useful trades, and a shrewd businessman in theatrical, commercial and real estate circles.
Third, the notion that plays ascribed to Shakespeare were actually written by others (Sir Francis Bacon, the poet Phillip Sidney among the candidates) has become even weaker over time. The current strong consensus is that while Shakespeare may have collaborated with another Elizabethan playwright in at least one instance (probably with John Fletcher on The Two Noble Kinsman), and that one or two of his plays were completed by someone else (possibly Fletcher on an original or revised version of Henry VIII), the works ascribed to Shakespeare are his.
Parish records establish that William Shakespeare was baptized on 26 April, 1564. Simply counting backwards the three customary days between birth and baptism in Anglican custom, most reckon that the Bard of Avon was born on 23 April, 1564. This is, indeed, Shakespeare's official birthday in England, and, it is also the traditional birth date of St. George, the patron saint of England. The exact date and the precise cause of Shakespeare's death are unknown: one local tradition asserts that the Bard died on 23 April, 1616, of a chill caught after a night of drinking with fellow playwrights Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton. Shakespeare was, in fact, buried three days later, exactly 52 years after his baptism.
Shakespeare was born and raised in the picturesque Tudor market town of Stratford-on-Avon, a local government and commercial center within a larger rural setting, and it is likely that the surrounding woodlands of his boyhood were reflected in the play As You Like It, with its Forest of Arden. Shakespeare's mother Mary Arden was a daughter of the local gentry, holding extensive properties around Stratford-on-Avon in his name. In marrying Shakespeare's father, the glover and tenant farmer John Shakespeare, Mary Arden took a step down the social ladder of the Elizabethan Age, for her husband was of the yeoman class, a notch or two below the gentry. Yet long before his son's fame as a playwright fell to his good fortune, John Shakespeare's talents enabled him to rise modestly on his own accord as he became a burgess member of the town council. Despite evidence of a family financial setback when William was fifteen, Shakespeare's family was comfortable, if not privileged. Shakespeare's eventual fame and success spilled over to his parents in the form of both money and title, and on the eve of his death in 1601, Queen Elizabeth granted the Bard's father a «gentleman's» family coat-of-arms.
We have good cause to believe that Shakespeare attended Stratford Grammar School where he would have received a tuition-free education as the son of a burgess father. There young William was exposed to a standard Elizabethan curriculum strong on Greek and Latin literature (including the playwrights Plautus and Seneca, and the amorous poet Ovid), rhetoric (including that of the ancient Roman orator Cicero), and Christian ethics (including a working knowledge of the Holy Bible). These influences are pervasive in Shakespeare's works, and it is also apparent that Shakespeare cultivated a knowledge of English history through chronicles written shortly before and during his adolescence. Shakespeare left school in 1579 at the age of fifteen, possibly as the result of a family financial problem. Shakespeare did not pursue formal education any further: he never attended a university and was not considered to be a truly learned man.
There is a period in Shakespeare's life of some seven years (1585 to 1592) from which we have absolutely no primary source materials about him. We do know that in November of 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway (a woman eight years his senior), and that she gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, six months later. Two years after that, the Shakespeares had twins: Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet, Shakespeare's only son, would die at the age of eleven. Speculation has it that Shakespeare was not happy in his marriage, and that this may have played a role in his decision to move to London's theater scene. In fact, during the late 1580s and early 1590s, Shakespeare traveled back and forth between London and Stratford-on-Avon, but by this time, the momentum of Shakespeare's life was toward his career and away from family, hearth, and home. Although we lack hard facts, we may surmise that before he took up a career as a playwright, Shakespeare engaged in a variety of occupations, probably working with his father in commercial trades (leathers and grains), probably working as a law clerk, and possibly serving as a soldier or sailor for an England threatened by Spain. Shakespeare displays a command of the argot and the practices of many such crafts, as in his portrayal of the law profession in trial scenes of The Merchant of Venice.
Between the early 1590s (The Comedy of Errors) and the second decade of the seventeenth century (The Tempest written in 1611), Shakespeare composed the most extraordinary body of works in the history of world drama. His works are often divided into periods, moving roughly from comedies to histories to tragedies and then to his final romances capped by a farewell to the stage in The Tempest. The question of how and whether the Bard's career should be divided into periods aside, we do know that Shakespeare received a major boost in 1592 (the earliest review of his work that we have), when playwright-critic Robert Greene condemned the future Bard as an impudent «upstart» beneath the notice of established literary men or University Wits. Greene's critical diatribe was soon retracted by his editor as a number of leading Elizabethan literary figures expressed their admiration for his early plays. Retreating from London in the plague years of 1592 through 1594, Shakespeare briefly left playwriting aside to compose long poems like Venus and Adonis and at least some of his sonnets. But during this period, Shakespeare garnered the support of his first major sponsor, the Earl of Southampton. Soon, as a leading figure in the Chamberlain's Men company he would garner even greater patronage from the courts of Queen Elizabeth and her successor, King James.
Just as the rise of Shakespeare's success, popularity, and fame began to accelerate, he experienced a personal tragedy when his son Hamnet died in 1596. Shakespeare undoubtedly returned to Stratford for Hamnet's funeral and this event may have prompted him to spend more time with his wife and daughters. In 1597, Shakespeare purchased a splendid Tudor Mansion in his hometown known as the New Place. During the period between 1597 and 1611, Shakespeare apparently spent most of his time in London during the theatrical season, but was active in Stratford as well, particularly as an investor in grain dealings. Shakespeare also purchased real estate in the countryside and in London as well, the latter including Blackfriar's Gatehouse which he bought in 1613. In 1612, four years before his death, Shakespeare went into semi-retirement at the relatively young age of forty-eight. He died on or about 23 April of 1616 of unknown causes.
William Shakespeare's family lineage came to an end two generations after his death. His two daughters followed different paths in their father's eyes. His older daughter, Susanna, married a prominent local doctor, John Hall, in 1607 and there are indications that a close friendship developed between Hall and his renowned father-in-law. Susanna gave Shakespeare his only grandchild, Elizabeth Hall in 1608. Although she inherited the family estate and was married twice (her first husband dying) Elizabeth had no children of her own. Shakespeare's other daughter, Judith married Thomas Quiney, a tavern owner and reputed rake given to pre-marital and extramarital affairs and the fathering of illegitimate children. They had three legitimate sons, all of whom died young.
Most of Shakespeare's career unfolded during the monarchy of Elizabeth I, the Great Virgin Queen from whom the historical period of the Bard's life takes its name as the Elizabethan Age. Elizabeth came to the throne under turbulent circumstances in 1558 (before Shakespeare was born) and ruled until 1603. Under her reign, not only did England prosper as a rising commercial power at the expense of Catholic Spain, Shakespeare's homeland undertook an enormous expansion into the New World and laid the foundations of what would become the British Empire. This ascendance came in the wake of the Renaissance and the Reformation, the former regaining Greek and Roman classics and stimulating an outburst of creative endeavor throughout Europe, the latter transforming England into a Protestant/Anglican state, and generating continuing religious strife, especially during the civil wars of Elizabeth's Catholic sister, Queen Margaret or «Bloody Mary».
The Elizabethan Age, then, was an Age of Discovery, of the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and the exploration of human nature itself. The basic assumptions underpinning feudalism/Scholasticism were openly challenged with the support of Elizabeth and, equally so, by her successor on the throne, James I. There was in all this an optimism about humanity and its future and an even greater optimism about the destiny of England in the world at large. Nevertheless, the Elizabethans also recognized that the course of history is problematic, that Fortune can undo even the greatest and most promising, as Shakespeare reveals in such plays as Antony & Cleopatra. More specifically, Shakespeare and his audiences were keenly aware of the prior century's prolonged bloodshed during the War of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York. Many Elizabethans, particularly the prosperous, feared the prospect of civil insurrection and the destruction of the commonwealth, whether as a result of an uprising from below or of usurpation at the top. Thus, whether or not we consider Shakespeare to have been a political conservative, his histories, tragedies and even his romances and comedies are slanted toward the restoration or maintenance of civil harmony and the status quo of legitimate rule.
2.2 Introduction of Shakespeare into other lands
The question of Shakespeare's influence and appreciation in continental lands, other than France and Germany, is, necessarily, one of minor interest. The Latin peoples followed more or less in the footsteps of France, the Germanic peoples of the north of Europe in those of Germany. What Italy knew of Shakespeare in the eighteenth century, as has been shown, was drawn exclusively from Voltaire, and the same is true of Spain; and both countries made their first acquaintance with the poet as an acted dramatist through the medium of the multilated French versions by Ducis. The real work of translating and studying Shakespeare was not begun in either land until the nineteenth century. A translation of Shakespeare's tragedies into Italian verse by Michele Leoni was published at Pisa in 1814-5; this was followed by the complete works in Italian prose by Carlo Rusconi (1831), and selected plays by the Milanese poet, Giulio Carcani (1857-9), ultimately increased to a complete edition (1874-82). Spain, on the other hand, has had to wait until comparatively recently for satisfactory translations of Shakespeare's works. Considering the kinship between Shakespeare and the masters of the Spanish drama-a kinship which Germans recognised at an early date-it seems strange that Spaniards should have been thus late in showing a curiosity about the English poet. It should be added that Italy has contributed in no small degree to the interpretation and popularisation of the greater tragedies by the impersonations of Salvini and Rossi, of Adelaide Ristori and Eleanora Duse, while Italian music has drawn extensively on Shakespeare for the subjects of operas.
It is only natural to find in Germanic lands a more intense interest in Shakespeare, and a higher development in the translation and interpretation of his works. Here, the influence of Germany is paramount. Even Holland, which, at an earlier stage, had been immediately influenced by England, fell back ultimately almost wholly on German sources. The difficulty of naturalising English drama in languages like Dutch, Danish and Swedish is more subtle than appears at first glance; there was no want of interest or will at a comparatively early period, but Shakespeare's language and style presented obstacles that were not easy to surmount. This aspect of the question did not concern Latin peoples in the same degree for the only method of translation which the genius of their tongues allowed them to follow was to bend and adapt Shakespeare to their own style. But, as has been seen in the case of German itself, where Wieland first succeeded in overcoming the difficulty of creating a language and style suited to Shakespeare, and where Schlegel first made the German tongue «Shakespeare-ripe,» this initial problem was a serious one. Just as the south of Europe learned from Voltaire, Ducis and Talma, so Holland and Scandinavia learned the art of translating Shakespeare from Wieland and Schlegel, and the art of playing him from Schroder. Between 1780 and the end of the century, more than a dozen dramas had appeared in Dutch, but it was late in the nineteenth century before Holland possessed satisfactory and complete translations, namely, those by Abraham Kok (1873-80) and Leendert Burgersdijk (1884-8). What happened in Hamburg in 1777 virtually repeated itself in Copenhagen in 1813, that is to say, Shakespeare first won a firm footing on the Danish stage with Hamlet. The translator was the actor Peter Foersom, who was naturally influenced strongly by Schroder. At his death in 1817, he had published four volumes of what was intended to be a complete translation of Shakespeare, and it was completed at a later date by Peter Wulff and Edvard Lembcke. The chief Swedish translation of Shakespeare's works is that by Carl August Hagberg (12 volumes, 1847-51). Scandinavia's contribution to Shakespearean literature is much more important than that of Holland; mention need only be made here of the admirable Swedish life of Shakespeare by Henrik Schuck (1883), and William Shakespeare (1895) by the inexhaustible Danish critic Georg Brandes. The latter work, in spite of a desire to reconstruct Shakespeare's life and surroundings on insufficient materials, is, unquestionably, one of the most suggestive biographies of the poet.
In Russia and Poland, the interest in Shakespeare is no less great than in the more western countries of Europe. Here, the influence of France seems to have predominated in the earlier period, Ducis introducing the English poet to the Russian and the Polish stage. Several plays were translated into Russian in the eighteenth century, and the empress Catherine II had a share in adaptations of The Merry Wives of Windsor and Timon. The standard Russian translation is that of Gerbel (1865). In Poland, where Shakespeare is a favourite dramatist both with actors and public, the best translationis that edited by the poet Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski (1875). Reference must be made, in conclusion, to the great interest which Hungarians have always shown in the English poet, and the powerful influence he has exerted on their literature. A very high rank among translations of Shakespeare is claimed for those by the eminent poet Charles Kisfaludy, especially for that of Julius Caesar.
2.3 Shakespeare's text translation
Translations into a different language always lose something, you can never say exactly what is meant in another language. One problem with «translating» Shakespeare's text is that it isn't another language, it's still English! Any time you substitute words for other words the meaning is not going to be the same. Yes, the English isn't modern and can be hard to understand but the language didn't evolve to give a modern substitute for everything. When you change the words, the meaning is changed. Each word has a distinct meaning, sounds, feeling. Accept no substitutes.
Now I'm not saying that there is no merit in these books. I am saying that the translation is not a substitute for reading the play. The modern English is there as tool, not a crutch. When one ignores Shakespeare's text in favor of the modern you aren't reading Shakespeare. Often Shakespeare's words have a double meaning. That doesn't happen when the words are changed. Sometimes footnotes in other editions are more useful in this respect. In other places, the translation may not be the most accurate words to use in place of the text.
With all of the unique challenges presented by the language and content of Shakespeare's plays, translating them is nothing short of a monumental task - and those who create successful translations of his work into foreign languages are worthy of a sonnet or two of their own.
To think of translation as a love affair does not eliminate the hierarchies that are part of the historical reality. In terms of its symbolic and cultural capital, literary translations always reflect the global order of the centre and the peripheral. Shakespeare remains the most canonical of canonical authors in a language that is now the global lingua franca.
One of the most thought-provoking cases of literary translation is Shakespeare, the most widely translated secular author in the past centuries, with several editions in many languages (e.g., the Complete Works has been translated into German a number of times beginning with the German Romantics, and into Brazilian Portuguese by Carlos Alberto Nunes in 1955-67 and by Carloes de Almeida Cunha Medeiros and Oscar Mendes in 1969). Literary translation sometimes modernises the source text (Eco, 2001, 22), which brings the text forcefully into the cultural register of a different era. As such, Shakespeare in translation acquired the capacity to appear as the contemporary (and ideal companion) of the German Romantics, a spokesperson for the proletarian heroes, required reading for the Communists, and even a transhistorical icon of modernity in East Asia. Even new titles given to Shakespeare's plays are suggestive of the preoccupation of the society that produced them, such as the 1710 German adaptation of Hamlet title Der bestrafte Brudermord (The Condemned Fratricide) and Sulayman Al-Bassam's The Al-Hamlet Summit (English version in 2002; Arabic version in 2004). While Western directors, translators, and critics of The Merchant of Venice tend to focus on the ethics of conversion and religious tensions with Shylock at center stage, the play has a completely different face in East Asia with Portia as its central character and the women's emancipation movement in the nascent capitalist societies as its main concern, as evidenced by its common Chinese title A Pound of Flesh, a 1885 Japanese adaptation of The Merchant of Venice titled The Season of Cherry Blossoms, the World of Money, and a 1927 Chinese silent film The Woman Lawyer.
Shakespeare's oeuvre is present on every populated continent, with sign-language renditions and recitations in Klingon in the Star Trek to boot. Hamlet is one of the most frequently translated and staged plays in the Arab world (Mohamed Sobhi's 1977 version in Egypt, Khaled Al-Tarifi's version in Jordan, and more). Since its first staging in Copenhagen in the early nineteenth century, Hamlet has both visceral and historical connections with Denmark (Hansen, 2008, 153) - thanks in part to the famed «Hamlet castle» Kronborg. King Lear has a special place in Asian theatre history and Asian interpretations of filial piety. Romeo and Juliet enjoys a global renaissance in genres ranging from punk parody to Japanese manga. The Sonnets and The Merchant of Venice have been translated into te reo Maori of New Zealand and hailed as a major cultural event. By 1934, Shakespeare had been translated into over 200 Indian languages using Indian names and settings. Shakespeare has come to be known as unser Shakespeare for the Germans, Sulapani in Telegu, and Shashibiya in Chinese.
Again, the modern is to be used as a tool to help you understand what is being said when it is tough. In that respect these books can be a GREAT help. Some passages in Shakespeare just are too weird to comprehend right away and looking it up in one of these is a wonderful and painless way to get an «Aha! So THAT'S what that means» moment.
Theater translation is an art in itself, but translating the works of William Shakespeare takes a real virtuoso. Tricky enough in English, Shakespeare's language presents some serious translation challenges above and beyond those routinely involved in translating plays.
Difficult as it may be, Shakespeare's timeless classics have been translated into dozens of languages, and summer 2012 promises a whole slew of these translated productions from all over the world.
The program, collectively titled Globe to Globe, will be held at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London as part of the Cultural Olympiad's World Shakespeare Festival, which is being celebrated in anticipation of the 2012 London Olympics.
From the Henry VI histories in various Balkan languages to Love's Labour's Lost in British Sign Language, 37 of Shakespeare's best works will be presented in 37 different languages - quite an accomplishment when you consider all of the following factors that must be taken into account when translating such iconic and intricate text.
Of course, in translating and localizing Shakespeare plays for modern audiences of non-English speakers, one doesn't want to make the language too approachable either. The antiquated, ornate language is central to Shakespeare's plays. It is uniquely his and one of the major factors that separates him from other playwrights.
The language is dense even for native English-speakers, so it shouldn't be watered down in translation. The trick is to find turns of phrase in the new language that, even if not exactly equivalent to the English, give a sense of the heightened, archaic language of the original. After all, «to be or not to be» doesn't have quite the same effect when rendered as something in the vein of «should I kill myself or not».
3. Social Shakespeare. Aspects
3.1 Shakespearean problem play
In Shakespeare studies, the term problem plays normally refers to three plays that William Shakespeare wrote between the late 1590s and the first years of the seventeenth century: All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida, although some critics would extend the term to other plays, most commonly The Winter's Tale, Timon of Athens, and The Merchant of Venice. The term was coined by critic F.S. Boas in Shakespeare and his Predecessors (1896), who lists the first three plays and adds that «Hamlet, with its tragic close, is the connecting-link between the problem-plays and the tragedies in the stricter sense. The term can refer to the subject matter of the play, or to a classification «problem» with the plays themselves.
The term derives from a type of drama that was popular at the time of Boas' writing. It was most associated with the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. In these problem plays the situation faced by the protagonist is put forward by the author as a representative instance of a contemporary social problem. For Boas this modern form of drama provided a useful model with which to study works by Shakespeare that had previously seemed to be uneasily situated between the comic and the tragic; nominally two of the three plays identified by Boas are comedies, the third, Troilus and Cressida, is found amongst the tragedies in the First Folio, although it is not listed in the Catalogue. For Boas, Shakespeare's «problem plays» set out to explore specific moral dilemmas and social problems through their central characters.
Boas writes, throughout these plays we move along dim untrodden paths, and at the close our feeling is neither of simple joy nor pain; we are excited, fascinated, perplexed, for the issues raised preclude a completely satisfactory outcome, even when, as in All's Well and Measure for Measure, the complications are outwardly adjusted in the fifth act. In Troilus and Cressidaand Hamlet no such partial settlement of difficulties takes place, and we are left to interpret their enigmas as best we may. Dramas so singular in theme and temper cannot be strictly called comedies or tragedies. We may therefore borrow a convenient phrase from the theatre of to-day and class them together as Shakespeare's problem-plays.
The problem plays are characterized by their complex and ambiguous tone, which shifts violently between dark, psychological drama and more straightforward comic material; All's Well and Measure for Measure have happy endings that seem awkward, artificial and perfunctory, while Troilus ends with neither a tragic death, nor a happy ending. Boas used the term for plays in which the resolution of the themes and debates seems inadequate, and in the final act the deliverance of justice and completion one expects does not occur. Other definitions have followed, but all center on the fact that the plays cannot be easily assigned to the traditional categories of comedy or tragedy. The three plays are also referred to as the dark comedies, since despite ending on a generally happy note for the characters concerned, the darker, more profound issues raised cannot be fully resolved or ignored.
Many critics have suggested that this sequence of plays marked a psychological turning point for Shakespeare, during which he lost interest in the romantic comedies he had specialized in and turned towards the darker worlds of Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. The term has also been applied to other odd plays from various points in his career, as the term has always been somewhat vaguely defined and is not accepted by all critics.
However, estrangement and transnational cultural flows are not exclusively a modern affair. Cultural exchange was an unalienable part of the cultural life in Renaissance England. Translation, or translatio, signifying «the figure of transport» (Parker 1987, 36-45), was a common rhetorical trope that referred to the conveyance of ideas from one geo-cultural location to another, from one historical period to another, and from one artistic form to another. London witnessed a steady stream of merchants and foreign emissaries from Europe, the Barbary coast, and the Mediterranean, and thousands of Dutch and Flemish Protestants fled to Kent in the late 1560s due to the Spanish persecution. In 1573, Queen Elizabeth I granted Canterbury to have French taught in school to «those who desire to learn the French tongue» (Cross, 1898, 15). The drama of the time reflected this interest in other cultures. Only one of Christopher Marlowe's plays, Edward II, is set in England, and he translated Book 1 of Lucan's Civil Wars, an epic canvassing the geographical imaginaries from Europe to Egypt and Africa. Thomas Heywood's The Fair Maid of the West explores the role of woman and cross-cultural issues. Most of Shakespeare's plays are set outside England, in the Mediterranean, France, Vienna, Venice, and elsewhere. Even the history plays that focus intently on the question of English identity and lineage feature foreign characters who play key roles, such as Katherine of Aragon in Henry VIII, and the diplomatic relations between England and France. Thomas Kyd flirted with the idea of multilingual theatre in The Spanish Tragedy through a short play-within-a-play scene, «Soliman and Perseda,» in «sundry languages» (4.4.74). Pidgin English is masqueraded as fake Dutch in Thomas Middleton's No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's. Other examples abound.
Within Shakespeare's plays, the figure of translation looms large. Translational moments create comic relief and heighten the awareness that communication is not a given. Translation also served as a metaphor for physical transformation or transportation. Claudius speaks of Hamlet's «transformation» (2.2.5) and asks Gertrude to «translate» Hamlet's behaviours in the previous scene (the closet scene) so that Claudius can «understand … the profound heaves» (4.1.2). Gertrude not only relays what Hamlet has just done but also provides her interpretations, as a translator would, of her son's deeds. More so than Hamlet, Henry V contains several instances of literal translation, including the well-known wooing scene quoted above. Translation serves as a figure of transport, theft, transfer of property, and change across linguistic and national boundaries, as the characters and audience are ferried back and forth across the Channel. The peace negotiations dictate that the English monarch marries the daughter of Charles VI of France, uniting the two kingdoms. The «broken English» (5.2.228) in the light-hearted scene symbolises Henry V's dominance over Catherine and France after the English victory at the Battle of Agincourt. However, the Epilogue reminds us that the marriage is far from a closure (Epilogue 12), for it produces a son who is «half-French, half-English» (5.2.208). The English conqueror pretends to be a wooer to Catherine of France who cannot reject him freely. One is unsure whether Catherine is speaking the truth that she does not understand English well enough («I cannot tell») or just being coy-playing Harry's game, though Catherine eventually yields to Henry V's request: «Dat is as it shall please de roi mon pere» (5.2.229). Likewise, The Merry Wives of Windsor is saturated by translational scenes. Mistress Quickly receives a language lesson in Latin (4.1), and the French Doctor Caius makes «fritters of English (5.5.143). Shakespeare takes great delight in wordplay, and many comic puns rely on orthographic contrasts and resemblances of pronunciations of words in different languages and dialects. Love's Labour's Lost, a polyglot «feast of languages» (5.1.37), features a critique of Armado's Spanish-inflected orthography by Holofernes (5.1.16-25).
The idea of translation is given a spin in A Midsummer Night's Dream where the verb to translate is expansive and elastic, signifying transformations most wondrous and strange. Upon seeing Bottom turned into an ass-headed figure, Peter Quince cries in horror: «Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee. Thou art translated!» (3.1.105). Other characters use the verb in similar ways to refer to a broad range of transformations. Helena desires to be «translated» into Hermia (1.1.191), and a love potion transforms characters that come across its path. Indeed stage performances subject actors to various forms of «translation.» In the case of the first performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in London, the stage transforms a Chamberlain's Men actor to the character of an Athenian weaver named Nick Bottom to the role of a tragic lover, Pyramus, in a play-within-a-play, and to an ass-headed monster-an object of obsession in Titania's fairy kingdom.
Language barriers emerge as a moment of self-reflection for Portia in The Merchant of Venice even as she uses it to typecast some of her suitors from all over the world. In the first exchange between Narissa and Portia, when asked of her opinion of «Falconbridge, the young baron of England,» Portia goes right to the heart of the problem. Since Falconbridge «hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian,» it is impossible to «converse with a dumb show.» Portia is aware of her own limitations, too. She admits «I have a poor pennyworth in the English,» which is why she can say nothing to him, «for he understands not [her], nor [she] him.» Falconbridge's odd expression of cosmopolitanism does not fare any better, as Portia observes snidely: «I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour everywhere» (1.2.55-64).
The important role of translated literature is indisputable in the development of Shakespeare's art. Shakespeare became a global author-both in terms of his reading and the impact of his work-long before globalisation was fashionable. In 1586 a group of English actors performed before the Elector of Saxony, marking the beginning of several centuries of intercultural performances of Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet was staged in Nordlingen in 1604, and Hamlet andRichard II were performed on board an English East India Company ship anchored near Sierra Leone in 1607). Four hundred years on, Shakespeare has come full circle. Given Shakespeare's talents and interest in translational literature, it is fitting that his works have found new homes in such a wide range of languages and genres.
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