摘 要 可译与不可译是翻译研究中必须面对的一对看似荒诞的悖论.实践上的可译与理论上的不可译之间的对立为我们重新认识翻译打开了一个新的视角,昭示了翻译的理论与实践之间的距离.本文拟对翻译的可译性与不可译性进行研究,并提出且论证运用归化与异化翻译策略处理可译与不可译问题的可行性.
关 键 词 可译 不可译 文化 语言 归化 异化
“Translatability and Untransltability” are a paradox in translation studies, and they are getting more and more attention from translation scholars and translators in recent years.
The issue of translatability concerns not only practical translation standards between any two languages, but also the specific translation strategies employed in the source language and the target language translation.
Untranslatability is unavoidable in translation, but in practical translation works, translators must overe the difficulties to fulfill the final goal of translation. To know well the causes of untranslatability is quite significant to handle these kinds of problems.
2.An Overview of Translatability and Untranslatability
2.1 The view of Translatability
2.1.1 The Domain of Translatability
Translation studies say that “Translatability is mostly understood as the capacity for some kind of meaning to be transferred from one language to another without undergoing radical change.”
Translatability means that the sense that one language carries can be translated and reproduced in another language, as a consequence of this, people using different languages can municate with each other and understand each other.
2.1.2 Translatability and the Nature of Language
One of us human beings’ nature is that we use languages to expression our opinions, feelings and to exchange thoughts, concepts, knowledge and information as well as the transmission of experience and knowledge. Language is the most convenient and important vehicle for us to live in this world.
People from different countries speak different languages, and has their own way to municate with each other. But human beings always have the same mode of thinking towards an essential property of a thing. For example, some English idioms and Chinese idioms have the same content and structure, even the similar images for metaphor, such as： “To praise to the skies” equals to “捧上天去”； “Strike while the iron is hot” equals to “趁热打铁”.
2.2 The View of Untranslatability
2.2.1 The Domain of Untranslatability
The goal of translation is to express and reproduce the thoughts and the contents of the source language accurately and perfectly in the target language. When this goal can’t be fulfilled, there es untranslatability. Untranslatability has two aspects of meaning： the “untranslatable property” from the theoretical scope and the “untranslatable factors” from the practical scope. It is unavoidable that untranslatable factors do exist in the process of translation, but to translators, untranslatable factors do not mean that they can’t be translated at all. As long as some materials need to be translated, the translation work will keep going.
2.2.2 Refutation on the View of Untranslatability
The view of untranslatability has its roots in idealistic philosophy.
Humboldt is the most radical exponent of the untranslatable orientation. Although he thinks that “every language is irreplaceable”, he still holds the view that one language can be translated into a pletely different language.
Sapir and Whorf hold that “language is the mould of thought； so that our ways of thinking and conceptualizing are determined by the language we speak. This linguistic determinism would suggest that we are, in fact, prisoners of the language we speak and incapable of conceptualizing categories other than those of our native tongue.”
3 The Causes of Untranslatability： Linguistic Difference and Cultural Difference
3.1 Culture and Language
Language and culture have been mutually dependent throughout history. Language is not only a scientific system of linguistic symbols, but also a socio-cultural activity. The theoretical formulations of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis have exemplified the theoretical formulations of language and its cultural influence.
Words only have meaning in terms of the culture of which they are a part. If separate them apart from the context, there will have no meaning left.
3.2 Impact of Linguistic Difference
Generally speaking, from the aspect of linguistic difference, there are two situations where untranslatability exists.
The first one is caused by the lack of expression in the target language. In this situation, there are no suitable corresponding concepts in the target language, or the thoughts of the original texts are pletely new to the source language.
3.3 Impact of Cultural Difference
3.3.1 Lexical Gap
Lexical Gap is the absence of a word in a particular place in the lexical field of a language. For example, the Japanese word “karaoke” has no Chinese equivalent. So it is transliterated as “卡拉OK”, which carries no cultural connotation of the source language word. Translators must pay special attention to these words to find the most suitable way to translate them. In most cases, they are transliterated and paraphrased.
3.3.2 Conflict of Word Meaning
“Conflict of word meaning” means that the cultural message contained in a certain word in the source language is contradictory to that of the corresponding word in the target language. That is to say, “although the denotative meaning of a word in the target language may be identical to that of a word in the source language, the connotative meanings of the two words may turn out to be quite different or even opposite to each other.”
The Chinese word “狗（dog） is always used in many derogatory terms such as “走狗”, “狼心狗肺” and “狗急跳墙”, in which the word “dog” has a very unattractive or offensive meaning. But in English, the associative meaning of dog is always neutral or even plimentary, such as “lucky dog”, “a dog” and “top dog”.
Consequently, in order to get proper translation productions, trans
4 Translation Strategies to Deal with Translatability and Untranslatability： Domestication and Foreignization
4.1 An Introduction to Domestication and Foreignization
The definition of domestication is that “a term used by Venuti to describe the translation strategy in which a transparent, fluent style is adopted in order to minimize the strangeness of the foreign text for target language readers”.
Domestication has many effects, for example, the conventions, taboos and ideology of the target language are taking into considerations and the translators should try their best to provide the target reader with an understandable, fluent and prehensible translation of these factors. Thanks to domestication, the strangeness of the foreign culture is pletely removed.
Foreignization is a term used by Venuti to designate the type of translation in which a target text is produced which deliberately breaks target conventions by retaining something of the foreignness of the original.
Foreignization helps to promote cultural exchanges and the use of foreignization tends to add more and more interactions among different countries.
4.2 The Application of Domestication and Foreignization to Translatability and Untranslatability
Domestication is always used to deal with the obstructions