TRANSLATION OF METAPHORS AND SIMILES

 

Metaphor is a transference of some quality from one object to another.267 It is an implicit comparison of two unlike objects. The purpose of metaphor is to liven up the text, make it more colorful, dramatic and witty - that is, metaphor carries out an emotive function.268

Simile is a more cautious form of metaphor. It is a comparison of two objects when the linkage is made explicit, like drumming like a noise in dreams.

Metaphor is inherent in language. In this case it can go unnoticed in everyday conversation, like she attacked my views; an ailing economy; to have a load taken off one’s mind. Language metaphors are stock metaphors. They are trite and typical for many users, and fixed by the dictionary, as mostly idioms.* They are sometimes called dead metaphors.

Other metaphors are occasionally constructed in individual speech. They are neologistic and euphemeral unless they become language metaphors by being diffused through popular speech and, later, the media.

Metaphor is the main feature of imaginative writing. In his/her work, a translator must be fully aware of its sense and the emotive effect it produces through its image. Both sense and image should be preserved as much as possible.

Peter Newmark, an outstanding British theorist of translation, suggests the following procedures for translating metaphor, in order of preference:269

1) Reproducing the same image in the target language. This procedure is employed if the image has comparable frequency and similar associations in the appropriate register. For example, ray of hope – луч надежды. But associations may differ from language to language, becoming tricky for translation. For an English-speaking person, the image of duck is associated with a darling: Look Jenny! What a little duck of a dog! (R. Hitchin) – Смотрите, Дженни, какая прелестная собачка!* For a Russian receptor, the image of duck raises negative connotations: Ольга Федоровна чудовищно растолстела, была обжорлива, как утка, и нечистоплотна. (В. Вересаев) Выбежала из светлицы Настя, и, лениво переваливаясь с ноги на ногу, как утка, выплывала полусонная Параша. (П.Мельников-Печерский)

2) Replacing the image in the source language with a standard target language image. What you hear is not genuine. She makes clouds with one hand, rain with the other. She is trying to trick you, so you will do anything for her. (A. Tan) – Ее слова лживы. Левая рука не знает, что творит правая. Ей хочется поймать тебя в ловушку, чтобы ты делала для нее все, что ей угодно. This procedure is not infrequent in translating similes: ноги как ватные – legs like jelly. The tongue is a fire. – Язык как бритва. Sometimes the image substitution helps the translator to play upon the extended metaphor: She was inclined to think … that her brother was the apple of Mrs. Ashbury’s eyes, and (that she thought) the apple was full of worm-holes. – Она была склонна думать, что миссис Эшбери … носится со своим сыном как с писаной торбой, и что торба эта гнилая.

3) Translating metaphor with a simile, retaining the image. Books are mirrors. – Книги как зеркало. Translating a metaphor (simile) by simile plus sense (i.e. plus explanation of the sense). This transformation is used if there is risk that a simple transfer of metaphor will not be understood by most readers.

4) Converting metaphor to sense, that is explicatory translation: I guess I keep hoping that if we stay right where we are, she’ll come back, and we can turn the clock back. (D. Steel) – Мне кажется, я все еще надеюсь, что если мы останемся здсь, она вернется и все будет как прежде. This procedure is justified only in case of a dead metaphor. In other cases, the expressiveness of the metaphor should be compensated in a nearby part of the text.

5) Deletion, or reduction. This transformation is employed only if the metaphor is redundant. A deletion of metaphor can be justified only on the ground that the metaphor’s function is being fulfilled elsewhere in the text.

6) Using the same metaphor combined with sense. Calque translation of metaphor supported by explanation is recommended only if the translator lacks confidence in the metaphor’s power and clarity.

 








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