TRANSLATING BUREAUCRATIC STYLE
The basic function of this style is to regulate interrelations between the State and its citizens, among citizens, the community and its members, between governments, parties, enterprises, etc. This style serves in two spheres of activity – 1) administrative and legislative spheres; 2) business, public life, and community service. Respectively, there are two substyles: officialese and commercialese, or business language. The substyles are presented by the following genres: law, treaty, agreement, contract, act, bylaw, decree, constitution, charter, edict, interim, instruction, memorandum, certificate, letter, fax, telex, business plan, etc. These genres have a mostly written form.
The distinctive features of texts of this style are accuracy, standardization, directive character, impersonality, clear structure.
Accuracy is the utmost requirement of the bureaucratic style, for the ambiguity of documents can cause disastrous effects in business and community. A translator is responsible for making an accurate translation as close as possible to the source text. Even small details should not be neglected. For example, country names. If the source language document contains the full name of the State, it should be translated in full; if the name is shortened, the translation must be equal: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Соединенное Королевство Великобритании и Северной Ирландии; the United Kingdom – Соединенное Королевство (not Великобритания); Great Britain – Великобритания (not Англия). The only exception to the rule is Britain, translated as Англия, as the word Британия in Russian is stylistically marked.252
In business, there is often need for pre-translation editing. The original author may be quite clear in his mind about what he is trying to say but, nonetheless, the translator may have great difficulty in understanding what the author intended. In many cases, the author will not have read through the text after having written it and will seldom, if ever, write with the translator in mind. In case of any doubt, the translator must ask the client.253
Some legal translations demand notarisation and certification. In this case a translator signs his/her name to confirm the quality of the translation produced and certifies the translation (by witnessing the translator’s signature and sealing) at the Notary or appropriate language center.
Standard character.To produce a translation of good quality, it is necessary to use standard terms. There may be concepts in law and business which exist in one country yet not in another. In this case a translator, producing the nearest accepted equivalent in the target language, makes footnotes, which give immediate reference to the item in question and draw the reader’s attention to the fact.
The standard character of the “officialese” is made up of a number of set phrases, which must be kept in the translator’s memory: on behalf and instruction of… - от имени и по поручению; I have the privilege to introduce…- имею честь представить…; Mr. X has the floor – слово предоставляется г-ну Х; the motion is open to debate – вопрос выносится на обсуждение; I second the motion – я поддерживаю предложение.
There are many archaic words typical only of this style: aforesaid – вышеуказанный, henceforth – впредь, hereby – настоящим, hereinafter – в дальнейшем, herein – при сем, therein – в нем, therewith – с ним, thereat – при этом. Though Russian equivalents may have no bookish ring, it is necessary to preserve the tone of official discourse, often by employing contextual substitutions, as was done in translating the phrase the earth and all therein – земля и все сущее на ней.254
Standard vocabulary of the English bureaucratic style incorporates a number of foreign (mostly Latin and French) words and phrases. These phrases are less frequent in Russian business and official texts. Therefore, these phrases are normally translated into Russian unless they are well-known expressions. For example, condition sine qua non (mind the English reading rather than Latin)– непременное условие; ad hoc – специальный; per capita – на душу населения; pro rata – пропорционально; laissez faire – невмешательство; en attendant – в ожидании; fait accompli – совершившийся факт.* Widely known Latin expressions may be transliterated in Russian (persona nongrata – персона нонграта, status quo – статус-кво), sometimes with changed spelling (a priori – априори), or transferred to Russian text in Latin letters (terra incognita, homo sapiens).
Words used in official texts are void of expressive connotation. Among variable equivalents a translator chooses the one with the most neutral meaning. For example, to grant is equivalent to даровать, жаловать, дарить, butthe expression to grant a credit corresponds to предоставлять кредит. Similarly, fresh wording is translated as новая формулировка (not свежая), etc.
Russian bureaucratic language differs from English in using a great number of nominal structures instead of verbs. Nominal phrases, like производить осмотр площадки – to examine a site, наносить повреждение собственности – to damage property, осуществлять обслуживание техники – to maintain the equipment, provide a special formal overtone to the style.
The directive character of the bureaucratic style occurs by using the modal verb shall in English (even American English) and either the so-called directive present verb: The right of ownership for the goods and all risks of loss and damage to the goods shall pass from the Sellers to the Buyers … право владения товаром и все риски, связанные с потерей или повреждением товара, переходят от Продавца к Покупателю… or modal adjective in Russian: Packing shall secure full safety of the goods … Упаковка должна обеспечивать полную сохранность товара…
Impersonalityof style is obtained by using the third person deixis, impersonal constructions, passive verb forms.
Clear structure is incidental to all genres of bureaucratic texts. Every genre has a special type of beginning [e.g., This is to certify that…- Данн(ая справка) выдан(а) … в том, что …-in certificates], ending [Sincerely yours – C уважением – in letters]. The structure of the document is also predetermined by its genre. For instance, contracts, as a rule, include the following parts:
· Subject matter of the contract – Предмет контракта
· Terms of payment – Условия платежа
· Dates of delivery – Сроки поставки
· Liabilities – Ответственность сторон
· Packing, marking, shipment – Упаковка, маркировка и отгрузка
· Quality – Качество
· Acceptance – Приемка
· Guarantee – Гарантия
· Force majeure – Форс-мажорные обстоятельства (Обстоятельства непреодолимой силы)
· Arbitration – Арбитраж
· Other conditions – Прочие условия
· Legal address – Юридические адреса сторон
Large documents are divided into sections, subsections, chapters, paragraphs, articles, clauses, items, points. These terms, but for the last three, have regular Russian equivalents – разделы, подразделы, главы, параграфы, статьи. As for the last three terms, they have multiequivalents: статьи, пункты, подпункты. It is almost irrelevant which term to choose; what is important is that the term correspondence be carried throughout the whole document.
Numbering by Latin letters infrequently occurs in English documents. In Russian translations, it is inappropriate to substitute Latin letters with letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, since it can interfere with quotation and interpretation at negotiations.
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