Re-sculpting a sacred text : towards an acceptable poetic translation of the Psalms – exemplified by Psalms 131 and 150

Watt, Milton Lewis (2015-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this study is to make a contribution to the formulation of a set of guidelines for an acceptable poetic translation of a sacred poetic text. To achieve this definition, a thorough review of current translation theory and practice is conducted, a specific model for translating poetry is presented, two English poems are created by using the principles of the model, and these two poems are evaluatively tested against other English translations. Wendland‘s LiFE methodology combines a literary/rhetorical approach, Skopostheorie and functionalist approaches, relevance theory, cognitive linguistics, an equivalence methodology, and a respect for sacred texts. The re-sculpting model builds upon Wendland‘s approach, particularly emphasizing insights gained from analyzing literary translations of non-Biblical texts, a narrow view of translating, and the care needed when working with a sacred text. To create a poetic sacred text, three kinds of guidelines are proposed concerning: project definition, determination of acceptability, and re-sculpting. Project definition – This involves pre-project planning and research. The results of this research will enable one to specify the communicative purpose for the translation (Skopos) and to formulate a range of agreements (translation brief) that guides all aspects of the project. Determination of acceptability – Following Beekman-Callow‘s model, a basic two-fold guideline of source text accuracy and target group acceptability is adopted to avoid extreme literalness and unduly free translating. Other recommendations for achieving this dual guideline are given through strategic planning, collaboration, communication, and effective training. Re-sculpting – A metaphorical term ―re-sculpting‖ was created. The proposed definition of re-sculpting is: ―a moderately re-structured and meaning-based translation of a poetic sacred text based on theological, thematic, and other literary/rhetorical concerns‖. By working within a slightly larger semantic range, a translator has room to be creative. For example, one can re-structure over two or three lines of Hebrew poetry rather than being restricted to a single line. However, very broad re-creations of a text (e.g., restructuring an entire long poem) are not recommended in a re-sculpting approach. A narrow definition of translation is proposed that distinguishes ―translation proper‖ (where a conservative grammatical-historical hermeneutic is applied) from more extreme approaches such as excessive adaptation or excessive paraphrase. Wendland‘s ten step literary/rhetorical method of analysis is applied to Psalm 131 and Psalm 150, and two re-sculpted poems are created. Each of these poems is evaluatively compared with five other English versions, and a survey is conducted to determine how readers rate these various translations. Results of the survey show that both of the re-sculpted poems are viewed as very acceptable and poetic. Although a relatively small sample of readers was used in the survey, it is reasonable to argue, at least tentatively, that re-sculpting appears to be a valid and useful method to consider in the translation of sacred poetic texts.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van die studie is om ʼn bydrae te maak tot die definiëring van riglyne vir die maak van ʼn aanvaarbare vertaling van ʼn godsdienstige poëtiese teks. Vir hierdie doel is ʼn indringende ondersoek na huidige tendense in die teorie en praktyk van vertaling geloods en ʼn model vir die vertaling van poësie geformuleer. Daarna is twee Engelse gedigte in terme van hierdie model geskep en beoordeel in die lig van ander Engelse vertalings van dieselfde twee gedigte. Wendland se LiFE (literêr-funksioneelekwivalente) model kombineer ʼn literêr/retoriese benadering met Skoposteorie en ander funksionalistiese benaderings, relevansieteorie en kognitiewe taalkunde. In die model word ekwivalensie aan die bronteks nagestreef terwyl die aard van ʼn godsdienstige teks gerespekteer word. Die ―resculpting model‖ bou voort op Wendland se benadering. Dit beklemtoon veral die insigte wat verkry word deur die analise van die literêre vertalings van nie-Bybelse tekste, ʼn eng opvatting van vertaling en die sensitiwiteit wat nodig is wanneer ʼn godsdienstige teks vertaal word. Vir die skep ʼn godsdienstige poëtiese teks word drie soorte riglyne voorgestel: definisie van die project, bepaling van aanvaarbaarheid en ―re-sculpting‖. Definisie van die projek – Dit behels voorafbeplanning en navorsing. Die bevindings van die navorsing maak die identifisering van die kommunikatiewe doel (Skopos) van die vertaling moontlik, asook die formulering van ʼn vertaalopdrag. In laasgenoemde word ʼn aantal afsprake wat alle aspekte van die projek rig, geformuleer. Bepaling van aanvaarbaarheid – In navolging van Beekman-Callow word die vermyding van, aan die een kant, ekstreem letterlike en, aan die ander kant, onnodig vrye vertaalkeuses as ʼn basiese tweeledige riglyn vir aanvaarbaarheid beskou. ʼn Verdere manier om aanvaarbaarheid te verseker is deur middel van strategiese beplanning, samewerking, kommunikasie en effektiewe opleiding. ―Re-sculpting‖ – ʼn Model van ―re-sculpting‖ word voorgestel. ―Re-sculpting‖ is ʼn metafoor wat geskep is en wat beskryf kan word as ―ʼn gematigde hergestruktureerde en betekenis-geörienteerde vertaling van ʼn poëtiese godsdienstige teks wat berus op teologiese, tematiese en ander literêre/retoriese oorwegings‖. Deur met ʼn effense breër semantiese horison as een kolon te werk (in Hebreeus, tipies op die vlak van die bi-kolon of tri-kolon), het ʼn vertaler ruimte om kreatief te wees. Herskeppings op ʼn breër vlak (byvoorbeeld, die hele gedig), word nie in terme van hierdie model aanbeveel nie. ʼn Eng definisie van vertaling (wat op grammaties-historiese hermeneutiek berus en waarin waarde geheg word aan historiese geloofwaardigheid) word aanbeveel. Hierdie opvatting van vertaling word onderskei van meer ekstreme benaderings waarin selfs verwerkings en parafrases van 'n bronteks as vertalings beskou word. Wendland se retories/literêre analise in tien stappe word gebruik om Psalm 131 en 150 te ontleed. Twee ―re-sculpted‖ gedigte word geskep. Elk van hierdie gedigte word met vyf ander vertalings vergelyk en ʼn ondersoek word geloods om te bepaal hoe lesers die verskillende vertalings beöordeel. Daar word bevind dat lesers beide hierdie ―re-sculpted‖ gedigte as heel aanvaarbaar en poëties beskou. Alhoewel die relatief klein aantal lesers wat in die ondersoek gebruik is, nie as ʼn verteenwoordige monster beskou kan word nie, is dit redelik om te argumenteer (ten minste voorlopig) dat ―re-sculpting‖ ʼn geldige en nuttige metafoor is om te gebruik in die vertaling van godsdienstige poëtiese tekste.

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