A stylistic analysis of poetry translation; Case study of Akbar Jamshidi’s Poem “Smile” Based on Khomeijani Farahani’s Evaluation Framework

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 »  Articles Overview  »  Specialties  »  Art/Literary Translation  »  A stylistic analysis of poetry translation; Case study of Akbar Jamshidi’s Poem “Smile” Based on Khomeijani Farahani’s Evaluation Framework

A stylistic analysis of poetry translation; Case study of Akbar Jamshidi’s Poem “Smile” Based on Khomeijani Farahani’s Evaluation Framework

By Farzad Akmali | Published  10/4/2010 | Art/Literary Translation | Recommendation:
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Farzad Akmali
Iran
Da Inglese a Farsi (persiano) translator
 

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A stylistic analysis of poetry translation; Case study of Akbar Jamshidi’s Poem “Smile” Based on Khomeijani Farahani’s Evaluation Framework


By Behnam Khorshidi Mehr and Farzad Akmali




Introduction
An acceptable and reliable evaluation of every translation must be based on some framework containing some relevant parameters. This point is highlighted when dealing with form-sensitive texts such as poems. One of the most difficult concepts about translating such texts are how one says something can be as important, sometimes more important than what one says (Landers, 2001, p.7). As Cleanth Brooks (As cited in Newton, 1988) maintains “in a successful literary work, form and content cannot be separated, form is meaning” (p. 45).

One of the most outstanding features of every literary work is its style. As Abrams and Harpham (2005) put it “Style has been defined as the manner of linguistic expression in prose or verse - as how speakers or writers say whatever it is that say”(p. 216). The analysis and assessment of style involve the examination of a writer's choice of words, his figures of speech, the devices (rhetorical and otherwise), the shape of his sentences (whether they be loose or periodic), the shape of his paragraphs - indeed, of every conceivable aspect of his language and the way in which he uses it (Cuddon, 1999, P. 872). Landers (2001) suggests that“ the translator should adapt to the style of each author translated – now terse, now rumbling, sometimes abstruse, but always as faithful to the original as circumstances permit” (p. 90). Therefore, style is one of the defining features of every literary text and should be preserved as faithfully as possible.

Furthermore, it has been suggested by Dongming, Ch. and Xiaoshu, S. (2003), that for reproducing “the original style satisfactorily, one must bear two points in mind before undertaking the translation. First, the translator must have a macroscopic point of view, namely, a view of the whole” to render a translation “in conformity with the thought, feeling, and style of the original… Second, he must have a microscopic point of view”, as an illustration, “the linguistic point of view”. In other words, “all the paragraphs, sentences, and words” should be studied so that the feeling, spirit, thought, and style of the original can be produced.


A model for evaluation

As mentioned earlier, any reliable evaluation of every work of translation must be based on some particular scientific evaluation model. Evaluations based on personal impressions and gut feelings, if acceptable, lack reliability and consistency and are unsystematic. Any evaluation framework must possess some parameters for gauging the desired points. Khomeijani Farahani has suggested a framework for an acceptable and systematic evaluation of works of translation. This framework consists of a set of criteria, which he in his own terms chooses to call “translation evaluation criteria”. These criteria are as follows:

1) Accuracy
2) Formal loyalty
3) Naturalness


When dealing with translation of long texts, two other criteria should be added to the above list:

4) Consistency
5) Unity



Naturalness: By naturalness, it is meant that how natural or artificial the translation sounds in the target language. There are two ways to determine the naturalness of any job of translation. The first possible way is to show the TL text to a native speaker of that language ask him or her what s/he thinks about the translation and to judge whether the translation sounds natural and reads smoothly and fluently in his or her mother tongue or not. The second way to determine the degree of naturalness of the translation is to see whether the translator has followed the syntactic structure and word order of the target language or those of source language. To check the naturalness of the translated texts, the evaluator can also look at the translation of idiomatic expressions (Farahani, 2005, p.77-83).

Introducing the poet

Akbar Jamshidi, born in 1900 in Isfahan is a poet, mostly famous for his comic poems containing sardonic, informal tone, and a wry humor. He often uses colloquial expressions to teach lessons. Of his works we may name “Foloon kasak” (Literally means somebody), ”sholoogh poloogh” (pell-mell), and “Labkhand” (smile).

Analysis
Analysis of the selected poem will be conducted stanza by stanza. Each stanza is given, following its translation and then the choice of word, level of formality, tone, the feelings the translation brings about and consideration of stylistic features will be highlighted and analyzed in different respects applying the criteria of the given framework.
Smile لبخند
بیا تا بی سبب کیفور باشیم.
Come let’s rejoice in vain.

Accuracy: according to accuracy criterion of the framework provided, accuracy refers to the closeness of the two sets of vocabulary items. Considering the level of formality of the original words and English equivalents provided, it seems that these equivalents are more formal than the given Persian words are and in the case of “بی سبب” (translated in vain), the translation doesn’t impart the intended meaning.
Longman Dictionary of contemporary English provides us with these definitions for the equivalents given for the Persian underlined words.
Rejoice: (literary) to feel or show that you are very happy

The word “rejoice” is labeled literary which in comparison with “کیفور” seems more formal and clearly doesn’t convey the same message and tone. A suggestion: cheerful could be used as it is less formal and may convey the same message. In vain: without purpose or without positive results.”بی سبب” literally means without any specific reason. In vain has a negative connotation and doesn’t conform to the positive tone and feeling of the poem. Formal loyalty: considering the criteria of the framework, no expansion and reduction observed but change of style has been occurred. The style of the poem has been altered from informal and colloquial to formal due to the level of formality of the equivalents given. Naturalness: of the three ways suggested for gauging naturalness, the first is impossible for us as we don’t have access to a native speaker. Considering the second way, it seems that the translator has followed the syntactic structure of the TL. Therefore, the translation is acceptable in terms of naturalness. Considering the second factor affecting naturalness, i.e. the issue of collocation, the collocation "rejoice in vain” seems to be unusual in this case and as a result, not natural.

بخندیم و ز غم ها دور باشیم
Let’s laugh and leave our pain

Accuracy: the translation seems to be accurate as the words selected as the equivalents semantically and pragmatically are close, although not totally.

Formal loyalty: no deletion, expansion, and change of style have been observed. Thus, formal loyalty has been observed in this case.

Naturalness: the translation seems to be natural in both cases of following the syntactic structure and application of an acceptable collocation (leave the pain)

به هیچ و پوچ دل را شاد سازیم
Let’s be happy with nought

Accuracy: the translation seems to be accurate as the words selected as the equivalents semantically are close. Consulting the dictionary, we find this definition for the entry nought: BrE: A. The number 0. B. used in some expressions to mean nothing. Thus, it seems that the application of the word nought is appropriate as the equivalent of “هیچ و پوچ”. The expression be happy with nought is also close to the expression “دل را شاد سازیم” but seems to be a little more informal. It may be concluded that this translation is relatively accurate but acceptable.

Formal loyalty: It seems that a case of deletion has occurred. “دل” has been omitted in the translation. No wanton change of style has been observed in the translation of this stanza.

Naturalness: it seems that the translation is natural as the expression seems meaningful and is not unusual.

ز قید غصه ها آزاد سازیم
Let’s abandon what we sought

Accuracy: In this case, the translation is irrelevant to what the poet has said. It seems that the translator has sacrificed the message to produce rhyme. There is no point to discuss about regarding accuracy as no accuracy exists.

Formal loyalty: a blatant case of deletion, a total replacement, if we want to be exact. No change of style has been observed, but the message has not been imparted.


Naturalness: it seems that the translation is natural as the expression seems meaningful and is not unusual. Translator has followed the syntactic structure of the Tl.

فلک هر ساز زد در پی آن ساز
به رقص آئیم و خوش خوانیم آواز
Let’s dance with heavens tune
Let’s sing without fortune

Accuracy: as in the translation two stanzas have been treated as a whole, they are treated altogether for analysis. The translation of the first stanza seems to be relatively accurate at the words selected as the equivalents are semantically, pragmatically, and poetically close. A good equivalent (heaven) has been selected for the word “فلک”. In the second stanza, message has been again sacrificed for the sake of rhythm.

Formal loyalty: in translation of the 2nd stanza, we have a case of deletion. “خوش خوانیم” has been deleted in translation for no apparent reason. A structure parallel to one used by the poet has been applied by the translator to correspond to style of this stanza.

Naturalness: it seems that the translation of the first stanza is natural as the expression seems meaningful. However, the second stanza doesn’t sound that natural as the idiomatic expressions are not translated. Heavens tune is a suitable collocation but without fortune sound unusual, at least in this case.

چو نتوان با فلک در جنگ بودن
Oh destiny! We can’t defy.

Accuracy: considering the level of closeness of vocabulary items, there appears no close relationship between the words as in the translation we have the word defy, which is more formal In comparison to its counterpart “در جنگ بودن”. Furthermore, then the verb needs an object, while none can be observed in this case.

Formal loyalty: an obvious case of deletion, or in more exact terms, a replacement has been occurred. A change of style can be observed as well as the poem is citing an explanation but the translator has used some form of addressing.

Naturalness: translator neither has followed the syntactic structure of the SL, nor has translated the idiomatic expression. Thus, the translation doesn’t seem to be natural in this case.

چرا باید چنین دلتنگ بودن
Why gloomy then….you and I

Accuracy: regarding the chosen words, it seems that the translation has met the criterion of accuracy. The word gloomy imparts the sense sadness and at the same time emotional suffering, probably what the poet had intended by using the word “دلتنگ”.

Formal loyalty: an appropriate use of expansion can be seen in the translation of this stanza. In seems that in the original text the pronoun “we” has been left implicit. This implicitation is easy to grasp for native speakers but may not be clearly comprehensible to foreign readers. Referring to the style, it can be seen that the translator has used an interrogative structure, the same the poet has done. It seems that the translation has met this criterion as well.

Naturalness: the translator has applied an interrogative structure which is syntactically correct in the TL. The structure is similar to one used in the TL as well. Therefore, it can be claimed that the translation satisfies the criterion of naturalness.

غم از بهر بشر سوهان جان است
Sorrows the file of mans soul

Accuracy: It seems that selection of the word sorrow is appropriate for the word “غم” as both are labeled formal and are used, in particular, kinds of literary works. Furthermore, regarding the connotation, they convey, more or less, the same level of sadness. Regarding the equivalent of the word “سوهان”, the chosen word does not sound to be meaningful in this case.

A Suggestion: nibble away at man’s soul.

Formal loyalty: in this case, the image intended by the word “سوهان” has been deleted, although some word has been used for it.

Naturalness: Although the translator has followed an acceptable syntactic structure, he has been unsuccessful in producing the image intended through inappropriate translation of idiomatic expression of “سوهان جان”. Therefore, the translation doesn’t seem to be natural.

نشیند هر که غمگین ناتوان است
Feeble man takes sorrow bowl!

Accuracy: It seems that selection of the words is appropriate regarding the level of formality and semantic aspects.

Formal loyalty: in this case, there is no pointless change of style. Both the translation and the original text seem to at the same level of formality, so style has not altered.

Naturalness: the translator has been successful in translating the idiomatic expressions by creating an acceptable collocation and therefore, has secured naturalness.

یکی را می شناسم اندر این شهر
I happen to know a fellow citizen

Accuracy: It seems that selection of the words is appropriate regarding the level of formality and semantic aspects.
Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style matches SL text. Both the translation and the original text seem to at the same level of formality. A case of expansion is observed, which gives an added flavor to the translation.

Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure. Furthermore, he has added a phrase (I happen) that although doesn’t exist in the SL, makes the translation more natural as it is a common phrase in the TL.

که شکر در دهان اوست چون زهر
In whose mouth sugar tastes of poison

Accuracy: It seems that selection of the words is appropriate regarding the level of formality and semantic aspects.

Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style matches SL text. Both the translation and the original text seem to at the same level of formality. A case of expansion is observed, which gives an added flavor to the translation.

Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure. This stanza has been translated using an acceptable idiomatic expression, thus produces the right image and adheres to a word order which is acceptable in the TL.

بود میلیونر اما از ره آز
He’s a millionaire but from avarice

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are appropriate regarding the level of formality and semantic aspects. Avarice is on the par with آز regarding the level of formality.

Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style matches SL text. There is no inappropriate shift of style.
Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure that follows TL acceptable grammatical rules.
شده از لاغری چون گردن غاز
A goose neck is heavier than his.

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are inappropriate regarding the pragmatic aspect. The message intended by the poet is not conveyed.
Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style does not match SL text. The intended image and feeling are not produced in the language applied by the translator.

Naturalness: the translator has not produced a natural syntactic structure. This structure is more similar to SL structure. It seems that the translator has failed in producing the image intended as he has not provided a good idiomatic translation. Therefore, naturalness is not secured.

غم بیهوده او را پیر کرده
In prime of youth, he seems old from sorrow.

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are appropriate regarding the level of formality and semantic aspects.
Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style matches SL text. There is no inappropriate shift of style. There is a good case of expansion (in prime of youth) which flavors and reinforces the message. Furthermore, there is a case of deletion (“بیهوده” has not been translated), but does not dent the formal loyalty, all in all.

Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure.

ز عمر و زندگانی سیر کرده
And his forehead carries many a furrow

Accuracy: It seems that for translating this stanza, translator has focused on conveying the message not through the semantic words, but through an image. If considered generally, the image rendered can impart, to some extent, what the poet intended.

Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style does not match SL text as one phrase (many a furrow) in the translation is more formal compared with the TL, but justifiable considering the translation all in all.

Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure. This stanza has been translated using an acceptable idiomatic expression, thus produces the right image and adheres to a word order which is admissible in the TL.

سرای او بود مانند بستان
He has a house blossoming in all seasons.

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are appropriate regarding the pragmatic aspect. The message intended by the poet is conveyed.

Formal loyalty: It seems that the style the translator has rendered is some kind of approximation. Translator has used expansion to describe a single word (“بستان”) and fills the semantic gap.

Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure. This stanza has been translated using an acceptable idiomatic expression, thus produces the right image and adheres to a word order which is acceptable in the TL.

ولی باشد به چشمش همچو زندان
But in his eye like a prison

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are appropriate regarding the pragmatic aspect. The message intended by the poet is conveyed.
Formal loyalty: It seems that the style the translator has rendered is, to some extent, simplified and has become informal. The original text seems more formal.

Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure. This stanza poses no such difficulty for a translator.
نشیند گوشه ایوان خانه
In its balcony he sits, lonely I mean

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are appropriate regarding the pragmatic aspect. The message intended by the poet is conveyed. The application of " for “ایوان” seems appropriate.

Formal loyalty: It seems that the style the translator has rendered is some kind of approximation. Translator has used expansion to produce the image of sadness and being lonely.
Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure.

نی قلیان گذارد زیر چانه
With a hookah-tube under his chain

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are inappropriate regarding the pragmatic and semantic aspect. The message intended by the poet is not conveyed. It seems that it this translation is merely a literal translation.

Formal loyalty: It seems that the language the translator has used does not produce the feeling intended by the poet.
Naturalness: the translator has produced an unnatural syntactic structure due to following SL word structure. Furthermore, the translation of the idiomatic expression is not successful as it does not produce the image intended.

پی سودی که از مالی نبرده
For the benefit he is not able to take

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are appropriate regarding the syntactic aspect and level of formality.
Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style matches SL text. There is no inappropriate shift of style.
Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure.

به خود پیچد چو مار زخم خورده
He writhes in pain as a wounded snake

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are appropriate regarding the pragmatic and semantic aspect. The message intended by the poet is conveyed.

Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style matches SL text.

Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure. Furthermore, the translation of the idiomatic expression is successful as it does produce the image intended. The translator has beautifully described the feeling and the picture the poet has had in the mind.

بلی مانند این مرد ترشروی
Of this category crabbed, there are many

Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are appropriate regarding the pragmatic and semantic aspect.

Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style matches SL text. Translator has put the first part of the next stanza in this stanza to produce the rhyme that seems justifiable.
Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure.

فراوانند در دنیا به هر سوی
In this temporal world of tyranny


Accuracy: It seems that the words given by the translator are inappropriate regarding the pragmatic and semantic aspect as they possess negative connotations, which are not perceived in the original text.

Formal loyalty: in this case, it seems that translation style does not match SL text.

The translation is clouded with a halo of pessimism, which is in opposition to the perspective of the poet and the general optimistic mood of the poem. A case of expansion can be observed, which seems to have the function of making the stanza rhythmic.

Naturalness: the translator has produced a natural syntactic structure but unsuccessful in imparting the tone.


Macroscopic and Microscopic analysis of translation style
According to the criteria of macroscopic analysis (Dongming, Ch. and Xiaoshu, S.; 2003). , the translation should generally have a view of the whole to render a translation “in conformity with the thought, feelings, and style of the original”. Considering these factors, generally translation is unsuccessful as the translator has not managed to produce a parallel style because if back translated, is different substantially. Considering the microscopic point of view, “namely, the linguistic point of view, all the paragraphs, sentences, and words” should be studied so that the “feeling, spirit, thought, and style of the original” can be produced. It seems that translation is not acceptable in this case as well due to change of style pursuant to application of some words that pragmatically was not appropriate or were at a different level of formality compared to the original text. Of the other factors contributing to failure of the translator is an unsuccessful translation of some idiomatic expressions that played a great part in transferring the feeling and spirit of the poem.


Conclusion:

Despite some positive points observed, the translation generally is unsuccessful in producing the image, tone and the feeling a native speaker can easily grasp from reading such a poem. Some factors have contributed to this such as an inappropriate choice of words, unsuccessful translation of some idiomatic expressions regarding stylistic features and tone, not the semantic aspect. By and large, the message has been imparted but translation lacks the feeling and the tone embedded in the poem.





Works cited


Brooks, C. (1988). The Formalist Critic. In K.M. Newton (Ed). Twentieth-century literary Theory. London: MacMillan Education Ltd.

Cuddon, J.A (1999). Dictionary of literary terms and literary theory London: Penguin books.

Childs, P. and Fowler, R. (2006). The Routledge dictionary of literary terms. London: Routledge.


Dongming, Ch. and Xiaoshu, S. (2003). Translation of Literary Style. Retrieved August 28, 2010 from: http://accurapid.com/journal/23style.htm Translation Jurnal.


Khomeijani Farahani, A.A. (2005). A framework for translation evaluation. Translation studies.Vol.9. Tehran: Allame Tabatabaei
university press.


Landers, C.E. (2001). Literary translation: A practical guide. Great Britain Cromwell Press Ltd.


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