Translation of political literature and terms


«Translation of Political Literature and Terms» 



     In this Qualification Paper we’ve set forth to study the translation methods of Political literature and political terms at a deeper level, their types and ways of their translation of Political literature, to consider the function of political literature in everyday life of the humanity.

     The object of this Qualification paper can be considered as one that gives the detailed review of the ways political literature and political terms can be translated into Russian language. It also helps to improve one’s understanding of the principal rules of translation which plays leading role while processing translation.

     The aim of this work is to introduce the translation approach to Political literature so that to make it easy to perceive for those willing to keep up their educational and scientific carrier in the science of translation, it was purposed to broaden their view on translation studies and peculiar features while translating Political literature.

     In this work we set the following tasks:

  • to review all the sources of Political literature
  • to reveal the methods of translation of Political literature
  • to investigate grammatical, lexical, stylistic and phraseological difficulties of translation of political literature

     We should mention that this research work represents a great theoretical value for those willing to take up their future carrier in the field of translations as invaluable reference to the methods and the ways of translation of Political literature.

     And the practical value of this work involves the idea that translation represents a field aimed at training future translators/interpreters to translate verbal and written materials on Political subjects basing on the study of International politics, to differentiate the language features of English, Russian and other languages as well as political lexicology, phraseology, syntax and style.

     The source information for this research work has been carefully studied and investigated before it was applied to the given work.

     The originality of this work is in its creative approach to the study and methods of translation, besides, it contains a detailed review of ways and methods of translation.

     The given Qualification paper contains introduction, two chapters, conclusion and bibliography list.

     The first chapter gives a detailed review of the study of the theory of translation and also reveals the role of political literature and terms in everyday life of the humanity which are believed to be interesting to future translator/interpreters. It also discussed the methods of translation of political literature with purpose to make it easier for translator to achieve adequate translation in the target language.

     The second chapter deals with the detailed study of grammatical, lexical, stylistic difficulties involved in translation of political literature. It also gives some hints on translation of idioms and set expressions and their behavior in literature.

     We have also attached some samples of translation of political set expressions so that to enable the future translator to benefit from the given paper in their further researches in the fields of translation.

     In conclusion we have summed up the results of our laborious investigation translation of political literature.

     At the end of the research paper we have attached the bibliography list to enable the future translator to use information sources used in this Paper. 


      1. Translation 

     1.1 Translation and its aims 

     Most translators prefer to think of their work as a profession and would like to see others to treat them like professionals rather than as skilled or semi-skilled workers. But to achieve this, translators need to develop an ability to stand back and reflect on what they do and how they do it. Like doctors and engineers, they have to prove to themselves as well as others that they are in control of what they do; that they do not just translate well because they have ‘flair’ for translation, but rather because, like other professionals, they have made a conscious effort to understand various aspects of their work.

     Unlike medicine and engineering, translation is a very young discipline in academic terms. It is only just starting to feature as a subject of study in its own right, not yet in all but in an increasing number of universities and colleges around the world. Like any young discipline, it needs to draw on the findings and theories of other related disciplines in order to develop and formalize its own methods; but which disciplines it can naturally and fruitfully be related to is still a matter of some controversy. Almost every aspect of life in general and of the interaction between speech communities in particular can be considered relevant to translation, a discipline which has to concern itself with how meaning is generated within and between various groups of people in various cultural settings. This is clearly too big an area to investigate in one go. So, let us just start by saying that, if translation is ever to become a profession in the full sense of the word, translators will need something other than the current mixture of intuition and practice to enable them to reflect on what they do and how they do it. They will need, above all, to acquire a sound knowledge of the raw material with which they work: to understand what language is and how it comes to function for its users.

     Translation is a process of rendering a text, written piece or a speech by means of other languages. The difference of translation from retelling or other kinds of transfer of a given text is that that translation is a process of creating an original unity in contexts and forms of original.

     The translation quality is defined by its completeness and value. «The completeness and value of translation means definite rendering of the contextual sense of the original piece and a high-grade functional-stylistic conformity.»

     The concept «high-grade functional-stylistic conformity» clearly points on two existing ways of rendering the form in unity with the meaning: the first one is a reproduction of specific features of the form of the original piece and the second one is the creation of functional conformities of those features. It means when translating the specific features of an original literature we should rather consider the style inherent for the given genre but than direct copying the form of an original. While translating, we should also remember that different lexical and grammatical elements of an original might be translated differently if accepted by the norms of conformity to the whole original. The translation adequacy of separate phrases, sentences and paragraphs should not be considered separately but along with achievement of the adequacy and completeness of the translating piece as a whole because the unity of a piece is created through collecting the components.

     No matter how a translator (interpreter) is talented he should remember two most important conditions of the process of translation: the first is that the aim of translation is to get the reader as closely as possible acquainted with the context of a given text and then second – to translate – means to precisely and completely express by means of one language the things that had been expressed earlier by the means of another language.

     A translation can be done:

  1. from one language into another, kin-language, non-kin,
  2. from literary language into its dialect or visa versa
  3. from the language of an ancient period into its modern state

     The process of translation, no matter how fast it is, is subdivided into two moments. To translate one should first of all to understand, to perceive the meaning and the sense of the material.

     Furthermore, to translate one should find and select the sufficient means of expression in the language the material is translated into (words, phrases, grammatical forms).

     There are three, most identified types of translation: literary, special and sociopolitical.

     The ways of achieving the adequacy and completeness in those three types of translation will never completely coincide with each other because of their diverse character and tasks set to translator (interpreter).

     The object of literary translation is the literature itself. And its distinctive feature is a figurative-emotional impact on the reader, which is attained through a great usage of different linguistic means, beginning from epithet and metaphor up to rhythmical-syntactic construction of phrases.

     Thus, in order to preserve figurative-emotional impact on the reader while translating a work of art, the translator (interpreter) will try to render all the specific features of the translating material. That’s why, on the first place one should reconstruct the specific features of an original and the creation of functional conformities to the features of the original play the subordinate role.

     The objects of special translations are materials that belong to different fields of human activities, science and technology. The distinctive feature of this type of translation is an exact expression of the sense of translating material, which is attained through wide usage of special terms.

     Thus, in order to render an exact and clear meaning while translating such materials alongside with the selection of term equivalents, on the first place one has to create functional conformities to the features of an original, and the creation of specific features of the original play the subordinate role.

     And finally, the objects of social-politic translations are the materials of propaganda and agitation character, and therefore a bright emotional sense abundant with special terms.

     Concerning the achievement of adequacy this type of translation possesses the features of literary and special types of translation as well. 

     1.2 Translation of Political literature and terms 

     Political literature like any other scientific kind of literature have languages items characteristic to them, that requires the translator to be precise and sharp. Most books on general politics are characterized by the passion of expression, polemic style and the specific feature is in blending the elements of scientific speech from one side with different emotionally colored means of expression from another side.

     The translation of political literature can be considered in two ways: as a field of linguistic activity and as a separate field in science.

     As a field of linguistic activity translation of political literature represents one of the types of special translations possessing as objects of its activity different materials of political character.

     The political translation comes out into a special field of study due to its specific features of written and verbal speech on political topics, which is specified by its essential character and the knowledge of this science. Sometimes these features are so diverse that in order to understand them (Russian and English politics as well) one should have a special knowledge without which it would be very hard to clearly perceive the inner sense on politics or a translated piece.

     Therefore, the study of specific features of written and verbal speech acquires great importance to translators (interpreters). To the features mention above belong the following:

  1. maximal filling the political literature with special political terms, and in verbal speech (among the politicians) – filling it with words of political jargon – slang.
  2. presence of special idiomatic expressions and phraseological units in verbal and written speech that are rarely used in colloquial speech and general literature.

     As an example, I should bring the following idioms: blitzkrieg – молниеносная война, Comprehensive Program of Disarmament – Всеобъемлющая программа разоружения, principal powers – крупные державы, status quo – статус кво and many others. We have to mark – if the quantity of political idioms is limited, then the amount of «politically» related phraseological idioms is vast in English and Russian languages.

  1. the presence of some stylistic deflection from general literary norms is sometimes very great.
    1. wide usage of elliptic constructions, especially in periodically publishing materials, propaganda and other kinds of politically important printing media.
    2. preciseness and beauty of self-expression which is achieved by the usage of elliptic constructions along with wide usage of passive constructions and an often substitution of придаточных предложений by absolute constructions and деепричастными оборотами.
    3. the presence of official writing style, mostly in documents of official provisions that cover administrative and political questions.
    4. strictly regulated use of verbal forms and word phrases in special chapters of political literature and political documents.

     As was told before, while translating a political character, like doing any other special translation a great importance is given to translation of special terms.

     In our philological literature exist lots of definitions to the concept of term, but the essence of majority comes to the following:

     Term – is a word or a combination of words, which define a notion (subject, a phenomenon, property, relation or a process) that is characteristic for the given field of science, technology, art or a sphere of social life.

     Terms differ from the words of general usage by definite semantic limitations and specific meanings they define. Its very hard to overestimate the general and scientific meaning of terms since the concrete knowledge demands definite expression and a term does not only fix the concept by its notion (name) but specifies it diverging it from adjacent components.

     For better functioning, terms must express systematization of notions, express their essence or at least be semantically neutral and at the same time be unambiguous and precise.

     The phenomenon of a separate field of science and the terms that fix them should be systemized that offers gender availability around which group notions are formed. Thus an English term representative which presents a group notion and forms a group of notions that belong to this group: representative forum (представительный форум), business world representative (представитель делового мира), representative to the talks (представитель на переговорах), representative to the public (представитель общественности), representative of political circles (представитель политических кругов), representative to NATO (представитель НАТО), representative of various strata or the population (представитель различных слоёв населения).

     The capability of a term to express a systematic state of notions and easily merge with new phrases that represent new group notions that consequently appear along with the development of a definite field of science or knowledge maybe called its systematic capability.

     The systematic capability of notions helps us to clarify the relation of notions, raise their semantic definiteness and ease their understanding and remembering.

     In terms, formed on the base of mother tongue we may differ direct meaning and terminological meaning.

     The direct meaning of a term is formed through the elements of the language used for their formation; the terminological meaning defines the concept of notion expressed by the term.

     The terms, direct and terminological meaning of which correspond to each other, correctly orientate and underline the so-called their interrelation. These terms are able to express the essence of notions.

     The terms, whose direct and terminological meaning does not correspond to each other belong to semantically neutral group of terms.

     And at last, the terms whose direct and terminological meaning contradict each other, should be admitted as completely unsatisfactory because they distort the genuine relations among the notions, disorientate the hearer and do not possess any semantic definiteness.

     Unambiguousness of a term also influences its clear semantic features but since we do not have any researches in this field this concept cannot always be applied. Therefore, up to 10% of English and American political terms do not possess even a relative semantic definiteness, i.e. definiteness in some political concerns. This situation may be explained by the fact that the terms according to their nature are firstly simple words, and consequently, they develop according to general laws of linguistics. The result of this is the appearance terminological homonyms that hinder the normal functioning of political terms in a language.

     The definiteness of a term requires preciseness of an expressed idea. It also raises the semantic definiteness of the term averting its misusage according to it form.

     Not all the terms, of course, possess the above-mentioned qualities, but the translator/interpreter of political material should take them into consideration while forming new terms and solving the question of preference to one of the available term-synonyms.

     The correct translation of political literature is a laborious work despite the terms’ considerable possession of definite semantic clearness and independence in usage.

     While speaking of difficulties of translation, we imply as a matter of the first importance, the translation general political literature, which either do not yet have any equivalents in the translating language or have several similar notion for the term in question or at least have one equivalent but of doubtful adequacy. There are lots of word phrases and idiom and terms of this kind and their number is growing with development of technology and interrelation of people and especially with the development of Political sciences.

     To achieve a correct translation we can recommend to group the political literature and the used in them according to their field of application and some principles of translation of each group. All the political terms and idioms existing in politics can be divided into three groups:

  1. terms – defining the notions of a foreign reality but identical to the reality of the Russian language march – марш
  2. terms – defining the notions of a foreign reality absent in the Russian one but possessing generally accepted term-equivalents National Guard – Национальная Гвардия, Territorial Army – Территориальная Армия.
  3. terms – defining the notions of a foreign reality that are not available in the Russian language and not having generally accepted term-equivalents: alert hanger – ангар вылета по тревоге.

     The adequacy of translation of the first group is achieved by the use of terms implementing corresponding notions in Russian language.

     At the same time, it is very important for the notion expressed by the notion of another language to correspond in meaning rendered in Russian language only by its main, essential attributes. The translation of an English term poll into Russian опросы населения (голосование) is possible only for the correspondence of their principal meaning though the organization and methods of polling are quite different in both countries.

     An adequate translation of the second group is comprised in the selection of generally accepted Russian terminological equivalents.

     Even terms, not fully meeting the above mentioned requirements due to the terminological meaning fixed for it through the linguistic activity will adequately fit into these rules.

     An adequate translation of the words of the third group may be achieved by means of creation of a new terms, which will have to completely merge into the existing system of political terms underlying the systematization of available notions, reflect the essence of the notion it expresses or at least not to contradict it and possess an unambiguousness within its field of application.

     Thus, we have considered all the general principals in achieving and adequate translation including translation of political literature and the essential features of translation of political terms. 


      2. Grammatical difficulties 

     2.1 Grammatical difficulties of translation 

     The translation process of political literature from one language into another is inevitable without necessary grammatical transformations (change of structure). It gets great importance while making translation to add or omit some words since the structures of languages are quite different. Grammatical transformations are characterized by various principles – grammatical, and lexical as well, though the principal role is given to grammatical ones. Very often these grammatical changes are mixed so that they have lexical-grammatical character.

     The vigil of the British Embassy, supported last week by many prominent people and still continuing, the marches last Saturday, the resolutions or organizations have done something to show that Blair doesn’t speak for Britain.

     Круглосуточная  демонстрация у здания британского консульства, получившая на прошлой недели поддержку многих видных деятелей, всё ещё продолжается. Эта демонстрация и состоявшиеся в субботу поход, а также предпринятые различными организациями резолюции, явно свидетельствуют о том, что Блэр отнюдь не говорит от имени всего английского народа.

     While translating this article we have made the following changes.

     The sentence was divided into two parts. We often do that when translating short newspaper articles (news in brief) and the first lines of the articles of informative character (leads). Practically, we are forced to do that because the first lines usually contain main information given in the paragraph. These sentences containing various information are not characteristic to the style of Russian writing. The division of the sentence made us repeat the word демонстрация.

     The word vigil – бдение acquired here quite another political meaning круглосуточная демонстрация. Since ночное бодрствование is one of the semantic components of the word vigil the term круглосуточная демонстрация fully renders the sense of the given word. Besides, we have to mention that one of the words was translated like word expression получившая поддержку.

     We have also added additional words like у здания (посольства), состоявшиеся (в субботу походы), а также принятые различными (организациями резолюции). The word last in the last Saturday was omitted because it would make the translation more difficult, but we can conceive it by the contextual meaning of the sentence.

     The strengthening function of the phrase have done something to show was rendered by the adverb явно свидетельствуют.

     And the English cliche to speak for was translated by the Russian one говорить от имени. And at last I should say that I metonymically translated the word Britain into весь английские народ.

     Thus, while translating this sentence we have made use of grammatical transformations and lexical as well.

     As you know, English has an analytical character and therefore the relation between words is mostly expressed by word-order, that’s by syntactic means, and morphological means play the secondary role. The priority of the role of syntactical changes appears in many cases but they do not always have similar conformities in Russian language which makes the translator make use of various transformations while translating a piece of political literature. Here we can point to well-known features of the location of syntactic items in the English, e.i. the combination of logically incompatible homogeneous part of the sentence, the essential use of introductory sentences, the break of logical chain of the sentence, and especially while expressing the noun and the attribute of the sentences.

     The syntactic structure of a language imposes restrictions on the way messages may be organized in that language. The order in which functional elements such as subject, predicator, and object may occur is more fixed in some languages than in others. Languages vary in the extent to which they rely on word order to signal the relationship between elements in the clause. Compared to languages such as German, Russian, Finnish, Arabic, and Eskimo, word order in English is relatively fixed. The meaning of a sentence in English, and in languages with similarly fixed word order such as Chinese, often depends entirely on the order in which the elements are placed. (cf. The man ate the fish and The fish ate the man).

     The structural features of English language require structural completeness of the sentence. One can not omit a word without supplying another one instead. This criterion is governed by stylistic preference of the language to prevent word and make the sentence more emphatic. Even if the repetition is frequent in English its use in most cases is logically required and stylistically proved to be necessary. Otherwise, repetition is accepted as unnecessary component of the sentence or one of the stylistic shortcomings of the translation. The demand of syntactical completeness of the sentences and others stylistic criteria explain here the wide usage of structure filling words (слова заместители). The structure filling words include pronouns (one, ones, this, that, these, those) and verbs (to do, to be, to have, shall, should, will, would, can, could, might, may, must, ought, need, dare).

     Its quite evident that the structure filling words do not have denotative meaning, they are absolutely contextual. They should be related to conforming nouns and the verb form the fill and only afterwards they acquire lexical completeness. The verb-filling words are usually divided into two parts: fully filling and partially filling ones. To the first group belong the verb to do in the Present Indefinite which act in the role of fully filling word. It can replace the verbs of function. To the second group belong all other structure filling words. They act like a part of the whole just like the representative of compound verb form.

     While translating the structure filling words we have to use words with complete meaning (sometimes pronouns) or make use of some other kinds of functional filling.

     The new British Government will face many problems, both acute and chronic: an acute one will be Northern Ireland, acute among chronic ones will be inflation and rising prices.

     Новое британское правительство  столкнётся со многими  проблемами как неотложного, так и затяжного  характера. К неотложным проблемам относится положение в Северной Ирландии, а к проблемам, носящим затяжной характер, – инфляция и рост цен.

     While translating this piece we had to decipher the structure filling words and render their meaning by means of conforming nouns.

     When comparing the grammatical categories and forms of English and Russian languages we identify the following differences: a) the absence of the categories in one of the comparing languages, b) partial correspondence and c) complete correspondence. The necessity of grammatical transformations arise only on two first cases. When comparing the English with Russian we should mention that Russian does not have the notions like article and gerund and absolute nominative constructions as well. Partial conformity and unconformity in meaning and usage of corresponding forms and constructions also demands grammatical transformations. We can refer to this case the partial unconformity of the category of number, partial unconformity in the forms of passive constructions, partial unconformity of the form of infinitive and gerund and some other differences in expressing the modality of the clause and so on.

     First of all we should consider the article for article both definite and indefinite which despite its abstract meaning very frequently demands semantic expression in translation. As we know both these articles originated from pronouns; the definite one originated from index pronoun and the indefinite one from indefinite pronoun, which refers to number one. These primary meanings are sometimes obvious in their modern usage. In this cases their lexical meaning should be rendered in translation otherwise the Russian sentence would be incomplete and ambiguous for denotative meaning of articles is an inseparable part of the whole context meaning of a given sentence. There are cases when classifying function of indefinite articles is so obvious that one should render its meaning by some lexical item.

     It is commonly stated that government should resign if defeated in a major issue in the House of Commons which has been made one of confidence. (The Times).

     Обычно  утверждают, что правительство  должно подать в отставку, если оно потерпит поражение в Палате общин по какому-нибудь серьёзному вопросу, который оппозиция считает вопросом о доверии правительству.

     In this case the indefinite article acquires the meaning of the pronoun some. One can easily see its historical relation with the number one in the following example:

     Yet, H.G. Wells had not an enemy on earth.

     Однако  у Герберта не было ни единого врага  на свете.

     As has been pointed before the most difficult are cases when classifying meanings of indefinite articles demand semantic transfer in translation.

     We need a Government which believes in planning ahead for jobs and which will use available labor to build homes for the British people.

     Нам нужно такое правительство, которое было бы убеждено в целесообразности планирования занятости и использовало бы наличную рабочую силу в строительстве домов для населения.

     The emphatic role of the indefinite article in its classifying function is more expressed in the following sentence.

     The Vietnam war had revealed the true nature of a U.S. foreign policy that can be purchased ruthlessly for the benefit of a view in the «military-industrial complex».

     Война во Вьетнаме вскрыла  истинную природу  той внешней политики США, которая проводится беспощадными методами ради выгоды немногих представителей «военно-промышленного комплекса».

     Pretty often the definite article demands translation in cases when it comes before numerals.

     The two sides also signed a Treaty in the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Tests.

     Обе стороны подписали  договор об ограничении  подземных испытаний  атомного оружия.

     The Southern nations remained quiet between 1948 and 1958 as Latin America’s economy grew at an impressive annual rate of 4.3 percent.

     С 1948 по 1958 южные страны пребывали в относительном  спокойствии, в то время как экономика  Латинской Америки  развивалась впечатлительным  темпом в 4.3 процента в год.

     In the following sentence both articles demands translation.

     The influence and authority of the UN Secretariat depends to an extent (though not nearly to the extent that is popularly supposed) on the talents of one individual – the Secretary-General. The job is a peculiar one.

     Влияние и авторитет секретариата ООН зависят в  известной степени (хотя и не в такой степени, как обычно полагают) от качеств одного человека – Генерального секретаря. Это чрезвычайно своеобразная должность.

     The lexical meaning of the article is strongly expressed when it acts in like a link connecting parts of the sentences or two separate sentences as given in the example above. From the mentioned above cases we can judge that missing article translation may lead to misinterpretation or incorrect and incomplete translation of a sentence.

     The role of verb complexes in English is quite evident therefore we will consider only some peculiar cases of verb transformations during translation.

     First of all let us consider the verb construction with the preposition for:

     …American military bases on foreign territories which are intended for launching missiles possessed by United States’ armed forces.

     … американские военные  базы на территориях  других государств, которые предназначены  для запуска ракет  американскими ВВС.

     In this case the infinitive construction is translated like adverbial modifier of purpose.

     The construction with secondary predicate (so-called Nominative with the Infinitive) is widely used in newspaper style due to its preciseness and because it help to avoid the responsibility for the given information.

     The United States Congress is aimed to control all the financial expenses of the Government.

     Целью конгресса Соединённых  Штатов является контроль всех расходов правительства.

     It is natural that transformation is required while translating sentences with participles of absolute nominative construction.

     But often enough grammatical transformations are necessary while rendering conforming forms and constructions for some divergence in their meaning and usage. Such differences of opinions are observed in cases of usage of the category of number. This refers to both countable and uncountable nouns. Countable nouns have single and plural forms in both languages that usually coincide still we observe cases when their usage is different, ex.:

     War Atrocity on Peace Conference Eve (news head).

     Зверства (интервентов) накануне мирной конференции

     Concerning uncountable nouns, especially those expressing abstract notions we may have much more difficulties because most of them are paradigmatic. For example: ink – чернила, money – деньги and so on.

     Increasingly, Southern Africa is becoming the arena of national liberation struggles.

     Южная Африка всё больше и больше становится районом национально-освободительной  борьбы.

     Sometimes, despite the availability of the plural form in Russian – its usage is impossible owing to difference in combination and usage.

     The Nile Valley appears to have been unfit for human habitation during the Stone Ages.

     Долина  Нила, по-видимому, была не пригодна для жизни  человека на протяжении всего каменного  века (во все периоды каменного века).

     In Russian the Stone Age expression is of a historical nature and is never used in plural.

     In cases when plural form is to be preserved for it carries some inherent sense one has to apply countable nouns, ex.:

     Strikes broke out in many British industries.

     В ряде отраслей промышленности Англии вспыхнули забастовки.

     Sometimes, owing to some reasons some of constructions has wider usage in one languages comparing with other languages. The best example of this is the passive form – widely used in English mostly due to disappearance of word flexion. As a result, both indirect and predicative object maybe transformed into the objects of passive construction.

     Stones and bottles were showered upon a Negro demonstration in Milwaukee by white racists.

     Белые расисты обрушили град камней и бутылок на негритянскую демонстрацию в Милуоки (забросали камнями и бутылками).

     We should notice that the passive-active transformation can not give sufficient result for in passive construction the stress is being made on the object of action and in the active construction the stress is being made on the agent of action. The widespread use of passive construction in English happens often enough because it is explained by unimportance of the doer of that action and it is most often in newspaper style at the same time the most important is to attract attention to the passage. Since the structure and word order of simple sentence is subject + predicate + object the importance of stylistics is bigger then to distinguish the object one chooses the passive construction.

Translation of political literature and terms