TRANSLATION OF ALLUSIONS AND QUOTATIONS
Allusions and quotations play a special role in the English culture. No other language in the world has such a great number of quotation dictionaries as English. Allusions and quotations are widely used not in fiction only, but in everyday speech of common people.274 To illustrate their own thoughts, people use allusions and quotations and they often play upon them. This makes a translator’s work more difficult – the quotations are generally altered, turned into allusions, and often hardly recognized by a representative of another culture. Many quotations and allusions are derived from Shakespeare, the Bible, classical literature, poetry. For a translated text to be of good quality, the translator and a source text receptor must share background knowledge. No less important is to convey the allusion or quotation to the receptor of the target text.
To translate a quotation or allusion, it is possible to use commentaries, to do explicatory translation: Oh, Mamma, you’re too kind to me! I don’t deserve it/ It’s like heaping coals of fire on my head after the way I’ve gone on. (A.Cronin) – О мама, ты слишком добра ко мне! Я этого не заслужил. Ведь я так себя плохо вел. Твоя доброта жжет мне совесть, как раскаленные уголья. (Пер. А. Кунина) The source of this allusion is the Bible. The dictionary of idioms suggests the following translation, close to the Russian Bible: ‘отплатить добром за зло’. However, the context provided another translated version.
If necessary, the translator mentions the allusion or quotation source: Как говорится в Библии….
It should be kept in mind that biblical allusions and quotations are far less known in Russian culture than in English. Therefore, it is recommended that the translator use a Russian analogue to a biblical quotation rather than a direct quotation, which might be absolutely unfamiliar to a Russian reader, as it occurred with the following extract from Galsworthy: From Condaford the hot airs of election time had cleared away and the succeeding atmosphere was crystallized in the General’s saying:
“Well, those fellows got their deserts.”
“Doesn’t it make you tremble, Dad, to think what these fellows desert will be if they don’t succeed in putting it over now?”
The General smiled.
“Sufficient into the day, Dinny.”
To render the final quotation, a translator used the direct quotation from the Russian Bible, “Довлеет дневи злоба его, Динни”, which is not comprehensible to a common reader. It would be better to substitute the quotation with its proverbial analogue: Всему свое время.
There is one more translation trap. When a source text contains a quotation from the target language, it is essential to be very careful and accurate in translation, consulting dictionaries of quotations, catch phrases, and idioms. For example, in the Russian text, which is to be translated into English, a translator comes across the phrase “быть или не быть”. It is unacceptable to use one’s own translation, like “Shall I be or shall I not be?”, since it is the world famous question of Hamlet “To be or not to be…”
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