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  WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT AUTHORITATIVE OR DOCUMENTARY TEXTS THAT WE CANNOT MANIPULATE THEM AS IF THEY WERE BY SHAKESPEARE?  By Sergio Viaggio, United Nations Office at Vienna Introducton In my General Theory of Interlingual Mediation  (forthcoming, I hope), I point out a rather  puzzling paradox: A literary translator is more or less free to tamper with his srcinal at will(to “manipulate” it as the euphemism has it), but fie the mediator that dares “manipulate” a birth certificate, a résumé , or a ! draft resolution on the establishment of dates for aninternational conference on biodi"ersity# Is it the "ery concept of “manipulation”$ Is it thenature of literary and non literary texts$ Is it the nature of literary "ersus non%literarytranslation$ &r is it the nature of literary as opposed to non literary translators$ 'e cannot begin to answer the uestion unless we ha"e a clear notion (read “theory”),on the one hand, of speech and, based upon it, of literary speech, and, on the other, of translation and, based upon it, of literary translation: !o theory % no dice#arc*a +anda describes speech as the mutual production of social perceptions in aspecific social situation go"erned by a specific exponential field    consisting of sub-ecti"elyinternalised and systematised linguistic and extralinguistic .nowledge that %in order for communication to succeed% both interlocutors must acti"ate/ 0his linguistic and extralinguistic.nowledge (including the rele"ant social praxis) acti"ated in order to produce or comprehendspeech he calls the hermeneutic package / 0he ob-ect of a speech perception is meaningmeant, a linguistic percept   ( intended   %  LI  1 % or comprehended   %  L!  % as the case may be)consisting of a noetic plaque  effable in propositional form and an emotive relief  2 this comes tothe spea.er3s awareness 4  clothed in second%degree, speech signs 5 / It is essential to bear in mindthat the relationship obtaining between the cause or ob-ect of both a natural and a speech perception and the resulting percept is one of identity / A percept is identical to its ob-ect, notsimilar, analogous or eui"alent to it: I am percei"ing %howe"er imperfectly% that tree, not oneli.e it2 similarly, I am percei"ing that which I wish to con"ey, not something li.e it/ And youwill ha"e understood what I wish to con"ey if you also manage, on the basis of the sensorially perceptible stimulus that I am producing to that effect, to “see” that which I wish to con"ey,not something li.e it/ In other words, communication will ha"e succeeded between us if   LI"L!  / 6till, you %or e"en I% may ha"e an imperfect, s.ewed or partial perception of myintended meaning/ Insofar as such is the case, communication fails totally or partially/It is also crucial to note that both the linguistic signs that produce the percept and theemoti"e relief that en"elops it "anish from awareness almost at once, so that only the noetic percept is stored in medium% and long%term memory/ In most cases, for instance, we canremember what the poet “said,” but hardly the words he used to say it2 we can also remember  All the terms %whether my own or pilfered% that are rele"ant to my own concept appear in bold italics/ 1 In his 778 article %as in other pre"ious publications in 9nglish% arc*a +anda uses the 9nglish acronym  L  (linguistic percept), but in his 1 boo. he opts for the 6panish  #$   (espacio perceptual habl*stico)/ In myown later writings I ha"e re"erted to the 9nglish acronym, which is shorter/ 4 A moot uestion that both arc*a +anda and I trying to resol"e/ If, as I tend to thin. at present, meaningmeant comes to the spea.er3s mind as a perception, then an  LI   is the ob-ect, or cause, of it and it is percei"ed by the spea.er himself as an  L!   (the first and often only perception of his  LI  , which need not be mademanifest externally for an interlocutor to percei"e in turn)/ In this case, the interlocutor3s  L!   would be a !"cond  perception of the same  LI  / 5 6econd%degree in the ;a"lo"ian sense, i/e/ as opposed to first%degree or natural signs, which we share withother animal species/  that what he said affected us in a certain way, but we cannot actually re%experience the effectunless we re%percei"e the stimulus/ 0he same happens with natural perception, we canremember that a certain wine was "el"ety and that we found it exuisite, but we cannot re%experience the actual feeling unless we taste it anew (of course, the newly experienced feelingmay well not be as we remembered it)/ 0he great difference %and the enormous ad"antage% of speech percepts o"er natural ones is that we can memorise them: we do not need the actualreproduction of the natural, first%degree stimulus to re%e"o.e noetic content, nor do weactually need the acoustic stimulus to “(re%)hear” the words/ 0his manipulability and re%effability of speech percepts, i/e/ of our representation of the world, our feelings, our will, our desires, by means of a second%degree signal system of signs with con"entional semantic "alue%the product of biosocial e"olution% has ensured the sur"i"al of the species, and, at the sametime, its uniueness/ It made possible, for starters, the synchronisation of hunting and,generally, that which 6earle (77<) calls “collecti"e intentionality/” 0he fact that noetic content can be re"erbalised without much ado is essential for communication and translation: 0he species has sur"i"ed against all natural odds because wecan communicate “what we thin.2” the relati"e ineffability of “what we feel” has not stood inthe way of our disco"ering penicillin, figuring out the speed of light, guessing at the existenceof anti%matter, building the pyramids, putting together the 6pace 6huttle programme or de"ising  %enne alla arra&iata / 0his ontological difference between the noetic and the pragmatic (let alone between the noetic and the poetic) explains, for instance, that there is butone science, effable in principle in any language, and as many literatures as there are socialgroups and lects % and it specifically explains why literary translation has long remained a breed apart, stubbornly remiss to theorisation (not anymore, howe"er)/ arc*a +anda3sre"olutionary insight of speech as a social perceptual process opens wide the door for a new,refreshing loo. at speech and translation/ Indeed the primary social function of speech is themutual production of noetic perceptions2 and that is, also, the primary social function of translation % a language game the constituti"e rule of which, uoth arc*a +anda, is thereproduction of the same percept by means of a new linguistic "ehicle in a new socialsituation/ 6ince our social perceptual apparatus consists of both our first%degree natural abilityto hear what spea.ers say and our second%degree hermeneutic ability to “ma.e sense” out of the noises they proffer, in order for a speech percept to be successfully produced, the sub-ectof comprehension must be euipped with the rele"ant sensorial <  and hermeneutic wherewithal,and be able to acti"ate it in the specific social situation and apply it to the specific act of speech/0his re"olutionary concept, howe"er, has two limitations:If we ta.e it literally, then comprehension is a binary, all%or%nothing proposition: either you “see” what I mean or you do not/ 0his is, indeed, the way that things wor. out on line, atthe microle"el of the units of sense that progressi"ely amount to speech comprehension (and production)/ +inear comprehension, howe"er, is further processed %e"en on line% ending up inan integrated, systematised and crtc#$$% #n#$%!"d  metarepresentation of globally intendedmeaning/ =ere, at the le"el of metarepresented meaning, operate the socially rele"ant contextualeffects of comprehension: cognitive  and qualitative , i/e/ the impact of noetic comprehensionon the sub-ect3s assumptions and what that impact “feels li.e” % i/e/ the cogniti"e and emoti"ere"erberation of noetic comprehension/ It stands to reason that informati"e texts arefunctionally less dependent on non%cogniti"e effects than expressi"e or appellati"e ones, ande"en more so that literary texts swim or sin. on their ualitati"e effecti"eness, which is<  !eedless to say, the initially acoustic stimulus has now been transmuted into "isual images, whilst the deaf literally “see” speech, and the deaf and blind actually “feel” it as tactile pressure on their ner"ous terminals/0he nature of the first%degree perception (acoustic, "isual, tactile) does not stand in the way of second%degree percept % although it certainly imposes its own limitations and opens its own possibilities: acoustically produced speech is > linear, "isual and tactile speech is both linear and spatial/  ultimately aesthetic/ ?unctionality is, in this context, synonymous with rele"ance: 9ach sub-ectdecides (mostly unconsciously) the rele"ant degree of sameness of propositional content andthe adeuate uality of effects that are sufficient or optimum for his nonce purposes:@egardless of the -ournalists3 and the editor3s concept and intentions, no reader reads all thenewspaper, nor does he read what he does actually read with the same degree of intellectualinterest or emoti"e in"ol"ement (which ultimately determines intellectual interest, of course)/0he critical (often unconscious and more or less immediate) meta%analysis of meaningcomprehended, moreo"er, is performed exclusi"ely on the basis of the sub-ect3s intellectualability and interests as fuelled by his emoti"e in"ol"ement/ 'hereby hangs a tale: It is notenough for the sub-ect of comprehension to be euipped with the rele"ant sensorial andhermeneutic tool .it % he must be ready to apply it properly/ All too often, it is not the case/ Itis not enough to be able to understand: one must be  &$$n'  to understand/ 6ince one cannotsimply refuse to understand the way one can refuse to spea., resistance to understanding onlywor.s “innocently” if it is unconscious/ 0he same applies to one3s resistance to spea.: the onlyway we can “innocently” not say what we really mean is when we are not aware that we arehiding it/ And why would a spea.er be unwilling to spea. or an interlocutor unwilling tounderstand if not for the fear of the "(("ct! of comprehension$ In order for communication tosucceed both parties need, for sure, a shared hermeneutic pac.age, but they also need what0oolan (77) calls mutual orientedness  % a ricean conscious and, abo"e all, unconscious,emoti"e disposition to cooperate, to ma.e themsel"es understood and to understand, i/e/ aptlyto apply their hermeneutic ability/ 0his cooperation can only be ensured if the interlocutor3semoti"e feathers are not ruffled the wrong way/ 0he spea.er may well wish to do exactly that,of course: if he manages, he succeeds2 if he doesn3t, he fails/ Bepending on a party3smoti"ations and intentions, then, metacommunicati"e success may eual communicati"efailure and "ice "ersa/ In any e"ent, communicati"e success is measured on two le"els: noeticand pragmatic/ arc*a +anda3s model applies only to the noetic le"el (which, let me repeat, isthe core one)/ Cut communication may well succeed noetically and sin. pragmatically % or theother way around/ Interpreters .now it "ery well: if you want them to laugh, you better change the -o.e# At the pragmatic le"el, we thus ha"e the counterpart of the sharedhermeneutic pac.age: mutual orientedness and the ability to apply it successfully/ 'e need toha"e the will and ability to induce and experience feelings % the success of the poem depends both on the poet3s literary s.ill and the reader3s literary sensiti"ity/ In the case of aestheticeffecti"eness, we could spea. of a shared emotive package  % otherwise, the reader remainsunmo"ed or, worse, gets irritated/=uman communication aims, then, at more than the sheer exchange of  L  s/ Cetweenspea.er and interlocutor there tra"el many different layers of meaning % e"en though incommunication through speech all these different layers are grounded in noetic meaning andare “peeled off” as metarepresentations on the basis and as a conseuence of noeticcomprehension/ A crucial branch of this process has to do with metarepresenting the spea.er3smoti"ations, intentions and feelings/ It is not enough, in other words, for two people tounderstand what they are saying to each other in order to ensure metacommunicati"e success/Detacommunicati"e success necessitates what I term relevant identity  between meaningmeant and comprehended, i/e/ such a degree of noetic comprehension between meaning meantand comprehended that is sufficient    (from barely enough to optimum to full), and of  pragmatic correspondence between intended and achie"ed contextual   effects that is adequate  +et me remind you that by contextual effects I understand both cogniti"e and non%cogniti"e, emoti"e or  qualitative  (from strictly pragmatic to aesthetic) effects/ !on%cogniti"e effects are not related to a change in thesub-ect3s assumptions but to the sub-ect3s feelings about those assumptions and are not eual to propositionalenrichment or any other .inds of metarepresentation/ Eualitati"e effects are, howe"er, the by%product of cogniti"e effects, themsel"es a by%product of noetic comprehension/ Eualitati"e effects, in other words, are produced )%  and (more or less immediately) #(t"r  noetic comprehension/  (from barely acceptable to optimum) for the larger social sta.es at hand/ 6uccessfulmetacommunication, thus, entails both more and less than sheer perceptual identity betweenmeaning meant and understood/0his, so far as non mediated, monolingual communication/ Cy the same to.en, if weloo. at translation as the sheer reproduction of noetic meaning in a second speech act, we aredescribing only part %if a crucial one% of what translators actually do/ I thin. it more practical,therefore, to thin. of translation as interlingual mediation, the constituti"e rule of which is notsimply to reproduce meaning meant but actually help achie"e this rele"ant, second%degreecogniti"e cum  pragmatic understanding/ 6ince the metacommunicati"e sta.es and purposesmay not be totally or partially shared by all participants and “sta.eholders” in the mediatede"ent %the author, the originator, the mediator himself, or any particular (group of)addressee(s)% it is up to the professional mediator "*+"rt$%  to decide %on the basis of hisdeontological loyalty to his client as well as to the profession at large% the degree and nature of noetic identity and pragmatic correspondence that counts as rele"ant at each moment for thelarger social sta.es in hand/In other words, unless we ta.e stoc. of the metacommunicati"e moti"ations that lead both spea.er and interlocutor to spea. and to try to understand, and of the effects intended bythe former and experienced by the latter, we end up with an extremely impo"erished picture of human communication, let alone translation: 0rue, speech is produced and comprehended as aseuence of percepts, but, as we ha"e seen, the metacommunicati"e +ur+o!"!  that lead peopleto produce and comprehend speech and the effects they expect thereby are too decisi"e to beignored/ ?or simplicity3s sa.e, we can amputate the spea.er3s moti"ation preceding the doubleact of speech by the spea.er%translator%addressee triad and the effects on the addressee(s) after its end, but the effects on the translator as a first sub-ect of comprehension and his moti"ationsas a second spea.er cannot possibly be excised from the middle/ 0his explains the translator3s n"!c#+#)$"  if mostly in"isible “"isibility/”In direct communication, spea.er and interlocutor ha"e no one to help themcommunicate, but a mediator (a friend, the bartender, a lawyer, a marriage counsellor) has achance %and in the case of a professional mediator, a deontological o)$'#ton % to cater morespecifically to either notion of rele"ance and acceptability depending on where his loyalty lies/'hen spea.er and interlocutor need not -ust any mediator, but an interlingual one, and when,to boot, the act of speech production is separated in time, space and culture from that of speech comprehension, the thing gets so complex as to become at times unmanageable/ i"enthe new social coordinates and, especially, the systematically more mar.ed asymmetry in socialand indi"idual experience, interests or indi"idual sensiti"ities and hermeneutic ability, theinterlingual mediator must establish, as I pointed out, what counts as rele"ant identity of meaning under the new circumstances for the larger social sta.es (larger than any isolated ad hoc  understandings of indi"idual segments of the arch%act of speech)/ 0his insight allows us,finally, to understand “manipulation”: 0he mediator “manipulates” the srcinal in order toachie"e a new balance between cogniti"e and ualitati"e contextual effects/ Bepending on thenew balance intended (intended by the mediator % if normally at the behest of someone else:the spea.er, the mediator3s addressee(s) or the translation3s srcinator), the mediator may, nay,must, “tamper with” both form #nd  content/  S,$#rt%- !oto+%- ".u/#$"nc" #nd r"+r"!"nt#ton Dy contention would be that what a literary or documentary translator %as opposed to, say, anadapter or a localiser of a pragmatic text F % would normally see. to achie"e is to represent   atext in the target language and culture/ In that respect, I cannot but agree with oodman (asuoted by @oss 78) that similarity is totally irrele"ant to representation/ In order torepresent a three%dimensional image in perspecti"e, for instance, the artist must distort it2 thisdistortion is, precisely, what ma.es it loo. r"#$ / 6omething analogous happens when atranslator see.s to represent a foreign wor. in a new linguistic and cultural medium/ Asoodman stresses, the goal of a literary (or, add I, documentary) translation that is meant torepresent the wor. in the target language and culture is maximal preser"ation of what thesrcinal "*",+$("!  %whether a sonnet or a death certificate% as well as of what it says/ @ossadds that this emphasis on the importance of exemplification in translation is salutary, for wemust indeed be concerned not only with the meaning of a wor., but also with the .ind of textof which a wor. or any of its components is an example (78:4)/6imilarity must, then, defer to eui"alence2 except that eui"alence has also beentraditionally understood as a one%tier proposition (semantic, lexical, metric, effectual, etc/)/ If global identity of perception is pursued, then eui"alence itself must defer to a pac.agerepresentation, in which well%nigh nothing may end up being similar or strictly eui"alent inthe end/ 0he same applies to isotopy: any statistical and other analyses of what becomes whatin parallel or translated texts or corpora must always bear in mind that isotopy and inter%textual synonymy and isonymy, important as they indeed are for different pedagogical or  professional purposes, are !"cond#r%  with respect to the rele"ant perceptual identity pursued%and achie"ed% in each case/0here is, then, an added factor about the literary (as opposed to merely “informati"e”)translation of a literary piece that of its representativity   'is()('is  the srcinal/ In this respect,literary translation abuts, as we .now, on the documentary/ &f course, most readers are“innocent” and ha"e little if any idea of what the srcinal “loo.s li.e/” I, for one, learnedrelati"ely late in life that  *aust   and The Odyssey  were in "erse 8 , and most people do not .nowwhat really ma.es a hai+u  a hai+u / It is more or less exclusi"ely the mediator3s responsibilityto choose how to represent the srcinal by means of his translation/ 0his choice nobody reallydenies (not e"en publishers, I am told: in literary translations srcinators seem to count andmeddle less than in truly tri"ial translations)/ In translating Bante, for instance, to .eep or wai"e tera rima , to gi"e up on "erse altogether, to archaise or modernise language, to adaptcultural referents or not, to omit, s.ip or otherwise “modulate” is, basically, the mediator3ssocially ac.nowledged prerogati"e/ A prerogati"e that most of his pragmatic colleagues,including himself in such an a"atar, cannot dream of en-oying/ I thin. this is due to thehistorical fact that literary translation (including the translation of paraliterary wor.s: philosophy, theology, etc/) has traditionally been a labour of lo"e embar.ed upon by thesufficiently scholarly, leisurely and well off/ &nce one translates because one damn well pleases, then one is bound to translate as one damn well pleases and that3s more or less the endof it (most authors tend to be dead or cannot read the target language anyway)/ As a matter of fact, I ha"e ne"er seen a literary translation criticised on other than target%language andfunctionality criteria (which is basically all that manipulationists do)/ I doubt it "ery much thatany literary critic (especially if he is to re"iew one or two boo.s a wee.) will go through thegruesome tas. of chec.ing a translation against the srcinal for content % let alone form/ 0his,howe"er, is not how pragmatic translations are -udged by “critics,” who often are only loo.ingfor lexical matches (and screaming whene"er they fail to detect them)/ Coth the critics of F A hybrid case would be that of an adapter (or “localiser”) of a literary text with a "iew to producing anadapted literary text/ 8 'hen I did find out, though, I felt totally abused, insulted, and cheated by the 6panish translators/

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Mar 15, 2019


Mar 15, 2019
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