THE ISSUES OF TRANSLATION OF “INVENTED PROVERBS” IN “THE LORD OF THE RINGS” BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN Афанасьев В.А.,Кривопустова С.В.

Высшая школа экономики - Нижний Новгород


Номер: 6-4
Год: 2017
Страницы: 5-8
Журнал: Актуальные проблемы гуманитарных и естественных наук

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The interlinguistic translation of proverbs is a specific problem. According to S. Vlachov and S. Florin, “In “the scale of non-translated” or “hard-to-be translated” units, idioms or phraseological units occupy almost the first place” [7, 179] (our translation - V.A., S.K.). Proverbs play a significant role in literary texts, performing various functions (including, for example, esthetic and stylistic ones). To translate a paremiological unit in the context taking into account all its functions is the particular task which demands a special concern. Having compared different definitions of a proverb given in ”Introduction to Paremiology” [1, 9-14], we have composed the following one: a proverb is a brief, recurrent, traditional text in a fixed and memorisable form, syntactically, logically and grammatically complete, that has didactic content, figurative meaning (not necessarily), and a number of poetic features such as rhythm, rhyme, alliteration etc. All the essential features of the original proverb are to be reflected in the translation, otherwise, it might lose its “proverbiality” turning into a proverbial expression (which does not have didactic content and usually only qualifies the subject) or even non-proverbial saying. There are many methods of translating proverbs to maintain proverbiality with different degree of accuracy and artistic expression. A Russian scholar Vinogradov V. S. classifies them in the following way [6, 190-192]: 1. Full equivalent (or simply ”equivalent”) which has similar to the original proverb literal and figurative meaning. 2. Partial equivalent (or analogue) which has figurative content that differs from the original one. 3. Calque or literal translation. 4. "Pseudo proverbial equivalent" (or translator's occasionalism) connected with the creation of an artificial proverb by a translator. 5. Descriptive translation that is retelling of the didactic content of a proverb. Nevertheless, this variety of translation methods cannot simplify the process of implementing them in practice. In particular, it is connected with the fact that proverbs are often not only transformed or modified by the author in literary texts, but can also be completely invented. This article is devoted to the analysis of so-called "invented proverbs". As an example we consider the novel "The Lord of the Rings" by J. R. R. Tolkien that represents the real challenge for the translator. Among such serious problems as a complicated system of proper names, abundance of poetic texts, linguistic jokes, neologisms and other “philological elements” [3, 14-15], the question of proverbs translation must be paid a thorough attention to. The main difficulty is not in the amount of the proverbs (according to our calculations, there are about 110 proverbs in “The Lord of the Rings”) but in their nature. The point is that J.R.R. Tolkien uses traditional English proverbs quite seldom; more often he transforms them in various ways (e.g. contamination, explication, substitution). However, it is even more complicated to translate the author's proverbs which are completely invented by Tolkien, whereas their number is about 70% of all the proverbs in “The Lord of the Rings (“Even the very wise cannot see all ends”, ”Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes”, ”The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards”, “At the table small men may do the greater deeds”, “Often does hatred hurt itself”, “Faithful heart may have froward tongue” etc. [2]). These units are not only “often marked by features such as alliteration or syntactic parallelism” [3, 165], but also have specific figurative and even unique direct meaning. In addition, some proverbs can exist only in Middle-Earth (for example, Aragorn’s saying “Not idly do the leaves of Lόrien fall” [2, 3:19] or Gloin's “Dwarves' tongues run on when speaking of their handiwork” [2, 3:38]), that strengthens their illusory function - the main one that is performed more or less by all proverbs in “The Lord of the Rings”, which “add weight to the implications of interlace” as T. Shippey notes [4, 150] (here “interlace” or “entrelacement” means Old French pre-novelistic narrative mode). Undoubtedly, formal and semantic features of the proverbs and the functions they fulfil in local and global contexts should be reflected in the translation that often causes various difficulties, as it is connected with the most complicated method of “pseudo proverbial equivalent”. The problems which appear during the translation of the invented proverbs are demonstrated on the example of five Russian translations. “Up with your beard, Durin’s son!” he [Legolas] said. “For thus is it spoken: Oft hope is born, when all is forlorn.” But what hope he saw from afar he would not tell.” [2, 5:176] This proverb is complete author's invention and does not have real analogues, though its didactic content is quite similar to the sense of English proverb “The darkest hour is just before the dawn” [5, 121]. In the text it is represented as a traditional saying and, certainly, is included in the paremiological fund of Middle-Earth being one of sublime Elvish paremias (it can be identified by this alarm phrase "for thus is it spoken"). The proverb is archaised ("oft" and "forlorn" are poetic words), has the strong assonance “o” (which "occurs seldom in English proverbs" [8, 275] (our translation - V.A., S.K.), and also rhyme (which is used in Tolkien’s proverbs infrequently). To represent these features in the translation without mutilating vital positive sense of the proverb is much more complicated than it seems at first sight. 1. The translation by A. A. Kistyakovskij and V. S. Muravev. «Выше бороду, отпрыск Дарина! - сказал он. - Говорят ведь: как будешь к пропасти катиться, надежда заново родится. С чего бы ей заново родиться - этого он объяснять не стал» [9, 943]. In this translation the rhyme is preserved along with assonance “a”. However, the occasionalism is not equivalent enough to the original proverb, for the translators add a figurative meaning: hopeless situation is compared to the falling in the abyss. Besides, archaism and impersonality of the proverb are lost («будешь» in its first part stresses upon the personality). Nevertheless, it should be noted that Kistyakovskij and Muravev showed creativity in this case and found a rather successful form. 2. The translation by N. Grigoryeva and V. Grushetsky. «Выше бороду, сын Глоина! - сказал он. - Не зря говорят: надежда часто рождается, когда ее уже не ждешь. Но какую надежду он высмотрел - так и не сказал» [10, 897]. It is worth emphasizing that apart from above mentioned disadvantages of A. A. Kistyakovskij, V. S. Muravev ’s variant, there is no rhyme in the translation by N. Grigoryeva and V. Grushetsky. The first part of the proverb was simply calqued by the translators, whereas the second one was translated not thorough enough (to some extent, even descriptively). Consequently, the saying loses its proverbiality and can be interpreted as an aphorism, but not as a proverb. 3. The translation by V.A. Matorina «Выше бороду, друг Гимли! - кричал он.- Вспомни присловье: когда всего темней, надежда светит ярче!» Но в чем надежда, он не сказал» [11, 3:170]. V.A. Matorina has chosen another way, using so-called “lightwriting” (Tolkien’s favourite descriptive technique), thus, creating figurative content. Despite this paremia possesses brevity and specific rhythm, the phonetic peculiarities of the original saying are not reflected. 4. The translation by M. Kamenkovich and K. Karrik. «Выше бороду, сын Дьюрина! Вспомни-ка старое присловье: «Нет напасти - нет и надежды»! Но в чём наша надежда, он не объяснил» [12, 1087]. The sense of this saying is unclear. Even if the translators use so-called antonymic translation (according to this variant, the content of the proverb is whether there is a misfortune, there is a hope to overcome it), it cannot be an equivalent to the original saying at all. 5. The translation by V. Volkovsky and D. Afinogenov. «Выше бороду, сын Глоина, - молвил он. - Слыхал присловье: «Коли гном вконец отчается, тут надежда и рождается?» Правда, что за надежду удалось ему углядеть да где, он мне так и не сказал» [13, p. 949]. Volkovsky and Afinogenov created the statement making an impression of a proverb and archaised it to some extent. However, the translators narrowed the theme of a proverb, having introduced "a despaired dwarf" into the second part. Undoubtedly, the dwarves of Middle-Earth are really fearless and firm folk, but it seems to be unreasonable to change the sense and the subject of the proverb. Besides, the translators used a colloquialism («вконец») inappropriately. It is obvious that all above mentioned interpretations do not solve the majority of problems accurately, i. e. rhyme, assonance, archaism and the absence of figurative meaning. We are going to give our own translation, trying to represent all these features. 6. Our translation. «- Выше бороду, отпрыск Дурина! - воскликнул он. - Говорят ведь: «Надежда возникает там, где подступает тьма к вратам». Но что за надежду он увидел вдали - так и не сказал». This example has the rhyme, the assonance «а», and archaic poetic words («врата», «тьма»). Unfortunately, we failed to avoid the addition of figurative content; nevertheless, it is at least connected with the global context: the darkness embodied in armies of Mordor assaults the Gates of Minas Tirith and the lands of all Free Folk, that is implicitly reflected in the proverb. Expressing this sense explicitly we partially impose the interpretation on a recipient, however, it seems inevitable, for every translation is an interpretation of the source text. Still, the rest essential features are represented in this occasionalism which possesses proverbiality, while didactic content of the saying is equal to the original one. We have considered only some problems that are raised during the translation of the author’s proverbs in the novel "The Lord of the Rings". More detailed analysis of the phenomenon of the invented proverbs might be beneficial for the future research. Furthermore, dwelling upon the translations of this kind of the paremiological units is making contribution to the question of reflecting such phraseology which is not being paid enough attention to. The transformed and author’s proverbs represent a serious translation problem which solving demands the thorough analysis on the phonetic, lexical, semantic and stylistic levels, and sometimes it is necessary to consider each proverb not only in a local context, but also in the correlation with other paremias for identifying lexical, genetic, and thematic connections.

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