Translation: Problems and Potential

Written for Woody, Loraine and Jolly Besse เพื่อนและที่ปรึกษากว่าหลายปี


Across the seven major languages in this world, common words such as “people”, “individual”, “man”, “nation”, “law”, “faith”, and “family’ had differing levels of importance in relation to other words in the language. While in Arabic the word “man” exhibited high levels of importance in the text, other languages placed higher levels of importance with words such as “person” or “individual”.   The problem is translation and lack of knowledge and skill by translators.

In Finnish man and male are the same (mies) but not woman and female (nainen, and naaraspuolinen).  In Hebrew man is גבר and woman:  אישה. The same situation is in Russian: In Russian человек and женщина, as it is in Spanish: esposo translates at this time as husband, and esposa is popularly understood to means wife in the current idiom. The Spanish word esposa, however, comes closer to the etymological and philological meaning: manacle (handcuff, manacle or security bracelet) and has the far older origin, when a wife was a “slave” or subordinate to a man on account of her gender. Originally, esposo meant master or slave owner. The wife was a helper but never an equal.  She could be brutalized, raped, forced to work long hours and could not confraternalize with men outside of a respectful inquiry or abject silence with her husband and was consigned to speak only with children (primarily her own, but her instructions could be, and in the Middle Ages overridden and she would be assaulted or whipped in front of the children, stirring fear in the minds of young girls while the sons puffed up with expectation of being the head or ruler of the house and household). This injunction was based on not only a wrong but a deliberate distorted mistranslation of 1 Corinthians 14:34: αι γυναικες υμων εν ταις εκκλησιαις σιγατωσαν ου γαρ επιτετραπται αυταις λαλειν αλλ υποτασσεσθαι καθως και ο νομος λεγει, and 1 Timothy 2:12: γυναικι δε διδασκειν ουκ επιτρεπω ουδε αυθεντειν ανδρος αλλ ειναι εν ησυχια.[1]

Major problems occur when any one wants to translate verbatim: The implications of untranslatable words and phrases suggest that the technical translation may not benefit from only using English as a lingua franca, and rather, should focus efforts toward having more effective means of translating documents among multiple languages. While English is the lingua franca of the world’s businesses, industries, and publishing houses, strict literal English is impossible as it is with any language.  No one can translate verbatim, as with an untranslatable word in the German language schadenfreude.  In Deutsch shadenfreud means:  “to exhibit joy as a result of someone else’s misfortune”.

Schadenfreude has no relationship to a technical term or use. The communications expert, medievalist, semanticist, and historian at the University of Bologna (Italy) gave a clear example of this impossibility when he wrote: “the Italian word attraente is not a good translation of attractive. … [N]o Italian male would say as much to an Italian woman – he would opt for bell, or carina, or affascinate.[2]  The problem is that English speaking translators seek the easiest and shortest way that is the most popular and frequently error in word choice and word order, leading to a misunderstanding and transmogrification of the author´s true intent or context of the text.

Translation is most popular with scientific and technical translators, although translations exist in all fields from ecology to theology and beyond. For the purpose of this paper, I concentrate on scientific and technical translation and the common problems faced by the translators of scientific and technical documents.

The technical translator must have a cross-curricular and multifaceted background. No translator can correctly, cogently and comprehensively translate a document without a plethora of studies in all fields and has enjoyed a broad liberal arts background.  This became clear when I taught a course at UCV on translation and used a passage from Stephen Hawking{s book (translated into Spanish): Historia del Tiempo del Big Bang a los Aguijeros Negros.[3]

 With no familiarity with cosmology, Copernicus or Galileo, my translation students wrote that Galileo defended the Ptolemaic theory that the sun circled the earth. Each student misread, and mistranslated the passage, by missing clues in the text to tense. The sentence in question ignored the grammatical rule that the first pronoun reflects on the first noun, as in this sentence: La Iglesia católica había cometido un grave error con Galileo, cuando trató de sentar cátedra en una cuestión de ciencia, al declarar que el Sol se movía alrededor de la Tierra. It was not Galileo who laid down the law, but the Catholic Church as witnessed in the Trial of Galileo; the correct translation is: The Catholic Church had made a serious mistake with Galileo when it [the Catholic Church] tried to lay down the law on a question of science, declaring that the sun moved around the Earth (and reaffirmed the Ptolemy mistake).  History and all extant records show that Galileo fought for the heliocentric theory defined by the Polish monk Nicholas Copernicus.[4] My students complained that they never had a course in science, did not know Copernicus nor understand the debate over the heliocentric theory. None read Polish or Latin[5].

Few students I have taught in the last forty years had the benefit of the education I had many years before that as we learned the liberal arts and regularly wrote (at the minimum, a composition of no less than 1000 words was required each week, complete with bibliography), and we read no less than three to seven books per course.  Without this background and a well-rounded education translations are at best verbatim (palabra a palabra) the students had difficulty in grasping theoretical and linguistic orientations for the actual translation process.  Literal or direct translation is the rendering of text from one language to another “word-for-word” (Latin: “verbum pro verbo“) rather than conveying the sense of the original.  Errors are common in verbatim translations, yet that is what is taught in most schools, colleges, universities and graduate centers leading to an irreparable and irreplaceable loss for the translator and those who read the transcript or text prepared by the translator.

Lack of commonalities or standardization lead to miscommunication

The students’ weakness in the translation process was further confounded by a lack of an understanding of other subjects, such as cognitive psychology, usability engineering, and technical communication.[6] A liberal arts background is necessary for a successful technical translator: without a working knowledge of the clime, time, destiny and use of what is given to the translator to polish into an appropriate language, the writing could have just as easily been obtained using Google Translator or BableFish.  An apocryphal story[7]—that actually has some truth to it when I attempted to use Google Translator—notes how weak many machine translators are: When the sentence “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (дух бодр, плоть же немощна, an allusion to Mark 14:38) was translated into Russian and then back to English, the result was “The vodka is good, but the meat is rotten” (спирт, конечно, готов, но мясо протухло).[8]

Technical translators tend to be more specialized within a particular area. Most technical translators work a field such as medical or legal technical translation. This especially highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary background.

When I published my books on abortion, AIDS/SIDA, and influenza, being published after I served as a medical translator for physicians and surgeons in the United Kingdom and Germany, I felt the sting of those with agendas to condemn a group of people (usually a vulnerable minority) or who had a stake in continuing the artificiality of lies about diseases and human conditions so as to gain more political, economic or social power. The books were published despite the fundamentalist frantic denunciation following peer review.

Rigorous examinations have long been required and the translator then and now has had to prove mastery not only in words, vocabularies and phrases, but also that the translator’s familiarity with the subject, clime and time.  For example, Moritz Kaposi (1837–1902), an Hungarian Dermatologist,  had discovered an AIDS virus (Kaposi sarcoma, an opportunistic infection) in 1872, yet my research on medical investigations in 3756 BCE written on papyrus showed the virus (or symptoms similar to the twentieth century records) had been around for over 5000 years.[9]  The same technique was required when I wrote my book on the biblical characters Adam (Hebrew: אָדָם, Arabic: آدم, is a central figure in the Abrahamic myth) is a figure in the Book of Genesis, the Quran and the Kitáb-i-Íqán.) and Eve (Hebrew: חַוָּה‎, Arabic: حواء‎) whose purity was defined and attested to their state of being without clothes, yet neither was a person, but a word was defining an action: Adam meaning “red dust” and Eve translating as “creatrix” or “helpmate” or “guide”, and the superior of the two debating hermeneutics (the science of interpretation, especially religious literature).[10]

What teachers of translation, interpretation, research and other similar subjects is to overcome student reluctance to study and lack of responsibility to produce original documents.  Too often, students turn to plagiarizing Wikipedia or other on’-line sources, as if the entire Internet is a reliable library.  It is not and is brushed aside by companies, schools, businesses and governments in quest of translators.[11]

One of the worse translations actually is in the Bible, and it is infamous.  It is the mistranslation of the word keren (קרן) that ancient Apiru, Babylonian and later Hebrew scribes, who were little more than ill-trained copyists defined as horn (צופר).  It should have been rendered beam of light.  The error was allowed to be continued generation after generation as the art of writing was considered sacred since only a few people could perform the task or remember what the characters stood for or how to translate them.  They were known as priests or priestess, depending on the gender of the literate who lived off the fat (literally) of the land.

This error led the devout bible reader Michelangelo to create his magnificent statue of Moses with horns sprouting out of his forehead. This crime against real translations was carried on from the Septuagint (μετάφραση των εβδομήκοντα or 70 [Εβδομήκοντα], but actually, 72 translators [εβδομήντα δύο μεταφραστές]) through the work of Jerome, and into the Protestant Reformation—and continues within various evangelic movements, along with the mistranslation of the prohibition against “consuming of blood” (Genesis 9:4-5; Leviticus 7:26-27; 17:10-12, 14; 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:16, 23-24; 15:23; Acts 15:19-20; concerning sacrifices only: Lev 3:17: חֻקַּ֤ת עֹולָם֙ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם בְּכֹ֖ל מֹֽושְׁבֹתֵיכֶ֑ם כָּל־חֵ֥לֶב וְכָל־דָּ֖ם לֹ֥א תֹאכֵֽלוּ) a commandment given before Israel existed) that has been mistranslated as a prohibition against receiving blood transfusions that has never been discussed in any religion’s literature.

Another bad translation was the recording of Ptolemy’s theory.  Ptolemy argued that the sun circled the earth and actually stopped when Joshua commanded it to stop.  This was the result of any lack of scientific inquiry or investigation but the reliance on personal judgment guided by those who claimed a special wisdom or charm from a supernatural force.  It is what led the Post-Reformation Roman Catholic Church to try Galileo Galilei, condemn Galileo,[12] (Robert cardinal Bellarmine, a Jesuit who was a papal favorite, would not allow a formal record to be made[13]) and give cause for Stephen Hawking to request to read a copy of the trial records written by a transcriber for the Holy Inquisition in 1633.[14]

Other challenges that the translator comes in contact with includes: translating according to contemporary grammar, vocabulary and meaning, interpreting actions according to the culture and climate of the translator, and forcing contemporary values on the reader misstating what the document actually says.  What this does is place the translator and those depending upon the translator at a disadvantage: neither has the opportunity to understand the message as it was written, and this leads to errors, as with the silencing of Copernicus and his studies of heliocentricism.[15]  The most common error, again, appears in theology.  In Islam, the word “jihad” (ﺟﻬﺎﺩ ŷihād) mistranslated as a “holy war”.  It means an internal struggle.[16]

Ayatollahs (similar to archbishops in Christianity, have distorted this over time with the subtle agreement of mullahs to mean a violent war against heretics and assorted non-conforming believers, much in the manner of the most zealous predators in the Holy Inquisition in Roman Catholicism, Russian, Greek, Ukrainian and other forms of Orthodox.[17] This has, and continues to lead to bloodshed.  The original meaning is clearly stated to be an internal cleansing of the soul (or mind) in an act of submission (Islam: الإسلام, al-Islām) by the believer (Muslim).[18]

This became a heated issue that led to Muslim nations leaguing against the United States of North America in 2001, after the reprehensible attack on the World Trade Center Twin Towers when George W. Bush called on the Congress of the USA to launch a “crusade” (هذا الاقتباس) against the “forces of evil”.[19] This is not a new problem.  Civilizations and the translators operating from a xenophobic perspective and with marginal education limited to direct word-for-word translations have frequently led to holocausts in an effort to portray the patron (person, place, or subject) in the best light even by sacrificing authenticity and rigorous attention to accuracy.[20]

The misreading of texts by not knowing the vocabulary and its distinctions and definitions with the current era was seen in my classes where I used the stellar classic by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol[21] from which I quote as an example:

“He left the room, and went

Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim Cratchit as depicted in an illustration by Fred Barnard

upstairs into the room above, which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christmas.  There was a chair set close beside the child, and there were signs of some one [sic] having been there, lately.  Poor Bob sawn in it, and when he thought a little and composed himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what had happened, and went down again quite happy.


“It is just as likely as not,” said Bob, “one of these days; though there’s plenty of time for that, my dear. But, however and whenever we part from one another, I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim—shall we—or this first parting that there was among us?”

“Never, father!” cried they all.

“And I know,” said Bob, “I know, my dears, that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he was a little, little child; we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.”

“No never, father!” they all cried again.

“I am very happy,” said little Bob, “I am very happy!”

Several of my students at Universidad César Vallejo (Chiclayo) thought Bob mentally ill for visiting the room where the cadaver was laid out for burial. Some suggested that Bob was a pedophile for kissing the boy’s face. Others claimed that Bob Cratchit was insensitive in telling his family that he was “very happy” and “a happy man.”

None of these students realized that the words in 1843 had little in common with the various forms of English in 2013.

“Happy” did not mean “joyful” in 1843.  In the midst of the Industrial Revolution that took its toll on country people who flooded into London in quest of a job to buy food as the potato famine raged, leaving many to starve and others to live in a state of gin-induced stupor, “happy” meant contented, accepting of what life had to offer, and being responsible for what duties were expect of each person. It was a form of fatalism and saw the rise in neurosis and desperation.[22]

Fatalism did not become a point of study in early psychology, but it has been a barrier to personal and societal development for thousands of years.  Dickens captured the psychosis of fatalism in his novelette, even though most students of translations fail to notice it as their academic studies seldom include psychology courses or, especially, an essential course in the psychology of translation and interpretation that few universities offer to their own loss.

Fatalism rises out of a sense of shame, powerlessness, and resulting fatalism, the spiteful individual embarks on a life of reactive passivity rather than one of straightforward self-assertion.[23]  Having been a practicing psychologist/psychiatrist, I continue to notice often those students who go into translation classes and ultimately to work as translators lack most of the basic symbols of drive to translate accurately.  They have little idea of what they are translating. They write off their translations as being but a means to an end: a job, a task, a way to make money, to advance socially, and to claim to have a skill.  This is a negative factor in translation and leads to poor communication and worse reports delivered to the individual or company seeking an accurate translation.

It was the fatalism prevalent in nineteenth century England that spilled over from the previous century (so aptly caught in the wood engravings of social critic and pictorial satirist William Hogarth (10 November 1697 – 26 October 1764) who painfully detailed the decline of civilization in England with the rise of the gin culture and robber barons of industry and agriculture) that became the raison d’être of the Gin Age.  Drinking became secondary only to excessive religiosity and piety that found expression in A Christmas Carol with the often repeated verbal ejaculation “God bless us, every one!” was a near-battle cry for justice and opportunity denied of Tiny Tim.[24]

It was the fatalism of little Bob (an implied appellation that the father had taken the place of the son with Tiny Tim’s death) that led him to declare himself to be “a happy man”.  It was a nineteenth century reality that sorrow and pain of parting from a loved one could be eased into one’s life if they declared themselves as accepting their fate.[25]  Realizing that his job was always at stake, he accepted the abuses hurled at him by the stingy and mean-spirited Ebenezer Scrooge who lives in others to this day. No translation student that I have taught has ever had a course in the psychology of translation much less alone any rudimentary psychology studies.  This needs to be corrected if we are to have competent and qualified translators.

Bob Crachit was accepting of the death of his little boy, and for that reason he kissed the entire face of his dead son as it was an old tradition that went back to osculum pacis (the Kiss of Peace and Promise, as Judas offered the Jesus of the Gospels after they were first published in 325 CE,[26] and became part of the ritual between serf and lord, priest and bishop and those who took vows).  The kiss was a promise to see one another again—if not in this world then in the next life.[27] “Parting” was a “gentle way” to describe death—it was neither a temporary separation nor a moving to a different land.  A kiss made it easier and was a common custom found throughout England, especially among the poor and destitute (Bob Crachit made only 15.5 shillings a week—hardly enough to feed a family too large to even provide more than a small goose at Christmas time).

Technical translators should become familiar with the field of professional translation through training. Education and advanced studies are essential before initiating inquiries for translations or presenting documents as being translated.  The word “translation” is Latin in origin, and is derived from the perfect passive participle of translatum.  It means “to transfer” a word correctly and assure and insure that the text meets the past understanding, present needs, and future use.

Students must study theory as well as vocabulary, grammar, customs, history, and the liberal arts. Theory is critical as it is a partial description (mental as well as written) that informs the student to approach a document with caution and respect.[28] Translation specialists read regularly in all subject areas and do not make value judgments on texts presented: their goal is an objective, impersonal rendering of the text requested to be rendered into a different tongue.

Translators who have a plethora of material to draw from and are learnèd in the liberal arts en total are not only more efficient but proficient.  They are a commodity easily marketed by themselves or by the university that offers the weltanschauung of learning[29] by moving the future translator into a cornucopia of courses from art to zoology. Not only are the broadly educated translators more adapt to writing and translating more fluently and patently better,[30] but these translators are able to communicate in speech and body language the intent of the document as is intended for the recipient to study and act upon.

What schools of translation and interpretation have overlooked is that there are numerous jobs for translators and interpreters in the health industry (especially mental health) and in education (besides teaching).  Trained interpreters who can explain words and word choice have promising careers in immigrant and aging centers,[31] work in camps where terrorist victims are huddled with psychotherapists (especially where Spanish speakers are victims or psychotherapists[32]), reintegrate words where trauma has left victims speech impaired,[33] psychological centers devoted to emotional therapy after any attack[34] (such a spousal abuse, deprivation, assault, rape of either gender, and so forth), and more.

The field of business negotiations and translations is not just about marketing or advertising.  It also includes labor relations, ecological awareness[35] and entrepreneurial incentives.  Translation skills enable management to work with and not against labor.  Those who have translation prowess’s can ultimately work within the field of psychology: translating emotions into words, and helping those who are seeking balance and fluidity understand themselves by means of dialogue and reading works that they are not empowered to read and understand.[36]

Fluency in language leads to openings in cultural and political affairs, peace and prosperity programs, and elevate human rights and civil liberties.  When language is restricted the chain that drags civilization down is forged and becomes stronger—as it did in the Middle Ages when language and learning remained the monopoly of a few: the church, the nobility, and the emerging upper class of merchants. Sciences and the liberal arts were restricted, the applied and creative arts narrowly focused, and medicine disappeared from Europe and survived only in Muslim lands that were more open.[37] It was Muslims who preserved and advanced translation skills and studies.[38]

It is past time that the rest of the world catches up to what had been an Islamic monopoly until the nineteenth century but was eroded with the rise and flood of evangelical extremism and the quest for purity in clothing (from the Burqa to Mormon fundamentalist nightwear), speech, association, and justice.  Only with trained literati will there be advances and new developments and the ebb tide flowing away from bigotry.[39]  Trained translators must lead.

References and Notes

[1] http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_women.htm, and Powers, Eileen; Postan M M (1975). Medieval Women. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.  Ide, Arthur Frederick (1980). Medieval Women. Mesquite, TX, USA: Eastfield College.  Derek Baker; Rosalind M T Hill; (1978). Medieval Women.  Oxford, UK: Published for the Ecclesiastical History Society by B. Blackwell. Rosenthal, Joel Thomas (1990). Medieval Women and the Sources of Medieval History. Athens, GA, USA: University of Georgia Press. Mitchell, Linda Elizabeth (2003). Portraits of Medieval Women: Family, Marriage and Politics in England, 1225-1350. New York, NY USA : Palgrave Macmillan. Muriel Tapia, María Cruz (c. 1991). Antifeminismo y subestimación de la mujer en literatura medieval castellana. Caceres [Spain] : Editorial Guadiloba.

[2] Eco, Umberto. Experiences in Translation (based on lectures presented October 7, 9, 13, 1998, at the Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto, Canada) University of Toronto Press, p. 23.

[3] Stephen W. Hawking, (1988 {Ingles} en Castellaño, 1990). Historia del Tiempo del Big Bang a los Aguijeros Negros. Madrid, España: Alianza Editorial, p. 180.

[4] Lattis, James M. (1994).  Between Copernicus and Galileo: Christoph Clavius and the collapse of Ptolemaic cosmology. Chicago, IL USA: University of Chicago Press.  Christoph Clavius was a Jesuit astronomer who played a central role in integrating traditional Ptolemaic astronomy and Aristotelian world views into the Church’s accepted teachings. When Galileo first collided with the Church over his own work, he was in effect combating a cosmological and intellectual agenda Clavius had worked to create, and had strengthened the hand of the Vatican over objective science.

[5] Nicolaus Copernicus (1543). Nicolai Copernici Torinensis De revolvtionibvs orbium cœlestium, libri VI. Habes in hoc opere iam recens nato, & ædito, studiose lector, motus stellarum, tam fixarum, quàm erraticarum, cum ex ueteribus tum etiam ex recentibus obseruationibus restitutos: & nouis insuper ac admirabilibus hypothesibus ornatos. Habes etiam tabulas expeditissimas, ex quibus eosdem ad quoduis tempus quàm facillime caculare poteris. Igitur eme, lege, fruere. [Line in Greek]. Norimbergæ, apud Ioh. Petreium. A commentary is available by Erich Sommerfeld (1978). Die Geldlehre des Nicolaus Copernicus : Texte, Übersetzungen, Kommentare. Vaduz: Topos-Verlag (Text in Latin; commentary is in German).

[6] Byrne, Jody (2006) Technical Translation. The Netherlands: Springer.

[7] John Hutchins, “‘The whisky was invisible’, or Persistent myths of MT,” MT News International 11 (June 1995), pp. 17-18.

[8] Dimon, Theodore (2007). Elementos del aprendizaje: Cómo mejorar tus habilidades.  Madrid [Spain}: Neo Person Ediciones.

[9] Ide, Arthur Frederick (1988).  AIDS Hysteria. Dallas, Texas (USA): Monument Press.

[10] Ide, Arthur Frederick (1882). Woman in Ancient Israel under the Torah and Talmud with translation and critical commentary on Genesis 1’3.  Mesquite [Tex., USA] : IHP.

[11] Féralleur-Dumoulin, Carline (2009). A Career in Language Translation: Insightful Information to Guide You in Your Journey as a Professional Translator. Bloomington, IN, USA: Arbor House.

[12] Galilei Galileo; Bernegger Mathias (1636).  Nov-antiqua sanctissimorum patrum et probatorum theologorum doctrina de sacrae scripturae testimoniis in conclusionibus mere naturalibus quae sensata experientia et necessariis demonstrationibus evinci possunt, temere non usurpandis… a Galileo Galileo… nunc vero juris publici facta, cum latina versione italico textui simul adjuncta [a Matthia Berneggero].  Augustae Treboc: imp. Elzeviriorum.  Galileo’s sole supporter was his daughter, a scientist in her own right and one of his staunchest defenders who translated some of his works into other languages, giving credence to Galileo’s argument that there needs to be scholarly scientific translations.

[13] de Jonge, Boudewijn; Robert [Bellarmino], Cardinal, Archbishop of Capua (1611). Roberti Bellarmini … Solida Christianæ Fidei demonstratio. Opera … Balduini Iunii … ex eius operibus controuersiarum desumpta. . Antuerpiæ: sumptibus Hæredum Martini Nutij; excudebat Andræas Bacx.

[14] http://dangerousintersection.org/2006/06/16/pope-john-paul-to-stephen-hawking-stop-studying-cosmology/ Jan Marten Ivo Klaver (2008) [Book Review]. The Galileo Case: Trial/Science/Truth. By Mario D’Addio. “The Church and Galileo”. (Studies in Science and the Humanities from the Reilly Center for Science Technology and Values) Ed. by Ernan McMullin. Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking: The Interplay of Science, Reason, and Religion. By Phil Dowe. The Heythrop Journal, 49, no. 4 (2008): 685-687.

[15] Nicolaus Copernicus; Mieczysław Brożek; Jerzy Dobrzycki (1994).  Mikołaja Kopernika “O obrotach” Księga pierwsza.  Toruń, Poland: Tow. Naukowe w Toruniu, 1994.  Sobel, Dava (2011). A more perfect heaven: how Copernicus revolutionized the cosmos. New York, NY USA: Walker. Kuhn, Thomas S; Amsterdamski Stefan (1966).  Przewrót kopernikański : astronomia planetarna w dziejach myśli. Warszawa [Poland]: Państwowe Wydawn. Naukowe.

[16] Bernard Lewis (1988). The Political Language of Islam. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Cf. William M. Watt, Islamic Conceptions of the Holy War In: Thomas P. Murphy (1974), The Holy War. Columbus, OH, USA: Ohio State University Press, p. 143

[17] Ide, Arthur Frederick (2004).Defending the faith: Violence and War in ancient Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Garland [Tex.], USA: Tangelwüld, 2004.

[18] Ide, Arthur Frederick (2002). Jihad, Mujahideen, Taliban, Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush & OilÑ A Study in the evolution of terrorism and Islam. Garland, Tex., USA: Tangelwüld Press, ©2002.

[19] http://www.alternet.org/story/19785/the_bush_crusade. Malik, Aftab Ahmad; Esposito, John L; El Fadl, Khaled Abou (2005).With God on our side: politics & theology of the war on terrorism. Bristol, UK: Amal Press. Cf. Muḥammad Mūrū (2005).  الحرب الصليبية : من البابا أربان إلى البابا بوش / al-Ḥarb al-Ṣalībīyah : min al-Bābā Arbān ilá al-Bābā Būsh. مكتبة جزيرة الورد، [Cairo] : Maktabat Jazīrat al-Ward.

 [20] Shaheen, Jack G; Greider, William (2001). Real Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. New York : Olive Branch Press.

[21] Dicken, Charles (1843). A Christmas Carol. London, UK: Chapman and Hall. Stave IV, pp. 60, 61.

[22] Foster, John (1977). Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution: Early Industrial Capitalism in Three English Towns. London, UK: Routledge.

[23] Shabad, Peter (2000).  “Giving the devil his due: Spite and the struggle for individual dignity.” doi: 10.1037/0736-9735.17.4.690. Psychoanalytic Psychology, Vol 17(4), 690-705.

[24] Dickens, op. cit., p. 40.  This turn to drink has only recently come under the focus of psychologists and psychiatrists but it is yet to be studied by translators and those who act as interpreters; cf. Sadava, S. W.; Thompson, M. M. (1986). “Loneliness, social drinking, and vulnerability to alcohol problems”. doi: 10.1037/h0079980. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, Vol 18(2), Apr 1986, 133-139 (the abstract is in French). Its negative effect is that it leads older people to self-rejection, slows them down (as we read Mrs. Crachit’s comment on the increasing lethargy and slow movement of her husband (pp. 59-60): “… “I wouldn’t show weak eyes to  your father when he comes home, for the world. It must be near his time.” [next paragraph] “Oat it rather, Peter answered, shutting up his book. “But I think he walked a little slower than he used [to do], these few last evenings, mother.” Cf.  Caplan, Leslie J.; Schooler, Carmi (2003). “The roles of fatalism, self-confidence, and intellectual resources in the disablement process in older adults”. doi: 10.1037/0882-7974.18.3.551. Psychology and Aging, Vol 18(3), Sep 2003, 551-561.

[25] McCrae, Robert R. (1984). “Situational determinants of coping responses: Loss, threat, and challenge”. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.46.4.919.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 46(4), April, 919-928.

[26] Constantine wrote Eusebius:

I have thought it expedient to instruct your Prudence to order fifty copies of the sacred Scriptures, the provision and use of which you know to be most needful for the instruction of the Church, to be written on prepared parchment in a legible manner, and in a convenient, portable form, by professional transcribers thoroughly practised in their art. (Vita Constantini, IV,36, in Greek)

After accomplishing what the Emperor’s demanded, Eusebius wrote back:

Such were the emperor’s commands, which were followed by the immediate execution of the work itself, which we sent him in magnificent and elaborately bound volumes of a threefold and fourfold form. (Vita Constantini, IV,37, in Greek)

[27] Byam, Henry (1641). Osculum pacis : Concio ad clerum habita Exoniæ, in trien. visit. R.P. ac D.D. Jos. Hall  episcopi Exon. Ab H.B. Londini : per J. Raworth pro N. Butter, anno Dom. Cp. Wenzel, Alphons; Ris, Johann B; Steinsdorffer, Ignatius (1700).  Osculum justitiae et pacis Seu Mysterium Incarnationis ex suis Causis consideratum. Ratisbonae: Raith.  Arnoldi, Johann Konrad; Fischer, Johann Ludwig (1711). Darmstadt [Deutschland]: Mutuum Pacis Et Iustitiae Osculum, In Regnis Saturniis Obvium, Exercitatione Mythologico-Historica Proponit, & … Sub Praesidio Dn. M. Joh. Conradi Arnoldi … Cathedra exponit, Joannes Ludovicus Fischer, Erbacensis : Ad d. XVII. Februarii, MDCCXI. Officina Aulica, 1711. Hiller, Caspar; Georg Johann, Sachsen Kurfürst I.; Sibylla Magdalena, Sachsen Kurfürstin (1607). Sanctum justitiae et pacis osculum, applaudente clementia et veritate ad auspicatissimum in urbem Dresdam ingressum.  Dresdae. Cp. Ganshof, François Louis (1947). Qu’est-ce que la féodalite? (2d éd). Neuchátel, Éditions de la Baconnière. Bürki, Bruno (1988). Osculum pacis, ein Zeichen im Gottesdienst heute Hannover [Deutschland]: Lutherisches Verlagshaus, 1988.

[28] Boase-Beier, Jean, “Who Needs Theory?” in Translation: Theory and Practice in Dialogue, edited by Antoinette Fawcett, Karla L. Guardarrama Garcia, and Rebecca Hyde Parker.  London, UK: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010, pp. 25-38.

[29] Baddock, Barry; Vrobel, Susie (1998). Translation skills : German – English; ein abwechslungsreiches Trainingsprogramm [Hauptbd.]. Ismaning, Deutschland: Hueber 1998.  Fischbach, Henry (1998).  Translation and Medicine. Amsterdam ; Philadelphia : J. Benjamins, [1998].

[30] Abbott, Robert D.; Berninger, Virginia W.; Fayol, Michel (2010). “Longitudinal relationships of levels of language in writing and between writing and reading in grades 1 to 7”. doi: 10.1037/a0019318. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 102(2), May, 281-298.

[31] McCutchen, Deborah; Covill, Amy; Hoyne, Susan H.; Mildes, Karen (1994) “Individual differences in writing: Implications of translating fluency”. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.86.2.256. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 86(2), June, 256-266.

[32] Verdinelli, Susana; Biever, Joan L. (2009). “Spanish–English bilingual psychotherapists: Personal and professional language development and use”. doi: 10.1037/a0015111. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Vol 15(3), July, 230-242.

[33] Landerl, Karin; Wimmer, Heinz (2008). “Development of word reading fluency and spelling in a consistent orthography: An 8-year follow-up”. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.100.1.150 Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 100(1), February, 150-161.

[34] Melnyk, Bernadette Mazurek (2004).  “Translating research evidence on the psychological impact of terrorist attacks into primary care practice: A call to action”. doi: 10.1037/1091-7527.22.1.31. Families, Systems, & Health, Vol 22(1), 31-34. Special Section: Addressing Psychosocial Issues Related to Terrorism.

[35] The “great diversity of coupling between psychologists and psychological phenomena can be divided into 2 types which produce data of crucially different significance for the science of psychology” Barker, Roger G. (1965) argues in his “Explorations in ecological psychology”. doi: 10.1037/h0021697. American Psychologist, Vol 20(1), January, 1-14:  (1) Psychologists as Transducers—T Data: The psychologist transforms data and in effect is a translating machine. (2) Psychologists as Operators—O Data: The psychologist achieves control that allows him or her to focus upon segments and processes of particular concern to his or her study, via data that refer to events that he or she, in part, contrives.  Psychologists “as operators and as transducers are not analogous, and… the data they produce have fundamentally different uses within science. A central problem of our science is the relation between ecological events (the distal stimuli) at the origin of E-O-E [environment-organism-environment] arcs and the succeeding events along these arcs.” There “are a number of reasons for avoiding the role of transducer in psychological research… . The skills and personality attributes required of a successful transducer are different from those of a successful operator… . The techniques of the transducer are in many respects more difficult than those of the operator.”

[36] Izard, Carroll E. (2002).  “Translating emotion theory and research into preventive interventions”. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.128.5.796. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 128(5), September, 796-824.  A well-educated translator would be an individual who not only knows words but phrases, actions, and enable learning. Scientific advances in the field of emotions suggest a framework for conceptualizing the emotion-related aspects of prevention programs that aim to enhance children’s socio-emotional competence and prevent the emergence of behavior problems and psychopathology. There are seven principles for developing preventive interventions: the use of positive and negative emotions, emotion modulation as a mediator of emotion use, emotion patterns in states and traits, different processes of emotion activation, emotion communication in early life, and the development of connections for the modular and relatively independent emotions and cognitive systems. Each principle’s practical implications and application comes with quality translations of texts, conversations, and attitudes. Bi-lingual and multi-lingual speakers are more readily able to change with circumstances and be available to those who need them. Cf. Hickey, Leo (1998). The Pragmatics of Translation. Clevedon [England] ; Philadelphia, PA, USA: Multilingual Matters.

[37] Morgan, Michael Hamilton (c. 2007). Lost history: the enduring legacy of Muslim scientists, thinkers, and artists. Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, ©2007.  ibn al-Ḥusayn Ibn Hindū, Alī; Ṭībī, Āidah; Savage-Smith, Emilie; Centre for Muslim Contribution to Civilization (2009). The key to medicine and a guide for students = Miftāḥ al-ṭibb wa-minhāj al-ṭullāb. Reading, PA, USA: Garnet Pub., ©2010.  İhsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin; Research Centre for Islamic History, Art, and Culture ().Transfer of modern science & technology to the Muslim world: proceedings of the International Symposium on “Modern Sciences and the Muslim World”: science and technology transfer from the West to the Muslim world from the Renaissance to the beginning of the XXth century, (Istanbul 2-4 September 1987). Istanbul, Turkey: Research Centre for Islamic History, Art, and Culture, 1992.

[38] Borrowman, Shane (2008).  “The Islamization of Rhetoric: Ibn Rushd and the Reintroduction of Aristotle into Medieval Europe”. Rhetoric Review, 27, no. 4: 341-360.

[39] Cp. Chevalier Tracy; Sidiyqian, Tahirah ().Dukhtari ba gushvarah murvarid. Tehran : Tandis, ©2002; text is in Farsi (Persian); it is also in Hebrew: שבלייה, טרייסי. טרייסי שבלייה, מאנגלית: ליטל ידין. ידין, ליטל.


3 comments to Translation: Problems and Potential

  • Phillip  says:

    A riveting read. This really sent me down a rabbit-hole exploring different ideas of how to connect us more as a whole with communication.

  • Woody Besse  says:

    Language is a living thing. It grows as the vocabulary expands almost daily with the advancement of science and technology. I am reminded of a friend when in Army training told of the number of foreign servicemen in the class and when discussing some technical aspect of a weapon or system, they had to make up words on the spot as the English, or American, words had not ever been translated in to the foreign language.
    Language dies as words no longer used are dropped from definition. “Don we now our gay apparel” has sadly, taken on a different meaning, in some circles. And then there are all the words used by each generation to express themselves from the “hip hop” of the 50’s to the cyber language of wireless technology of our phones and computers today. And this phenomenon in communication changes
    every day. And then there are those encrypted little notes I’ve yet to figure out .. “LOL” “BFF” but I do know what “FYI” means.
    Reading a novel that has been translated into English can be especially tricky. Sometimes I have to stop and try to figure out just what the author is saying. But it can also be amusing and fun.
    I do not want to even mention Biblical translations. It turns out to be just about what the translator(s) want it to be. Take your pick.
    Grammatical construction evolves also and I’m not too good at that. So I’ll leave it alone.
    More than anything else I think this writing on translation problems is informative and interesting. The potential of language and translation is awesome when one considers the mass of political propaganda flying around the World today. Understanding translations and it’s potential flaws is vital to understanding in today’s highly politicized world.

    • Arthur Frederick Ide  says:

      We need more critical thinkers, like you Woody. I appreciate your well-thought out comments. Unfortunately, most writers put down words without introspection and regurgitate what is popular but not always correct.

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