Translating Metaphores in the Catcher in the Rye
TRANSLATING COLLOQUIAL IDIOMS/METAPHORS IN THE CATCHER IN THE RYE: A COMPARISON OF METAPHORICAL MEANING RETENTION IN THE SPANISH AND CATALAN TEXTS MICHAEL O’MARA Catholic University of Valencia San Vicente Martir Michael. Omara@ucv. es 57 In spite of the novel’s position among the American Library Association’s list of the one hundred most frequently censored books, The Catcher in the Rye (1951), by J. D. Salinger, is widely considered to be one of the most significant literary works of the twentieth century, frequently found in high school literary curricula throughout Europe and North America.
The controversy concerns its alleged profanity, vulgar language and treatment of sexual themes, elements that typify Holden’s use of the English language, or his idiolect. Idiolect refers to individual speech. It is based on grammar, word selection, phrases, idioms, and includes pronunciation. Of particular note is the author’s use of italics to denote emphasis, or where accents fall when considering rhythm in, and among, certain words. It is possible that this practice was brought almost to perfection in The Catcher in the Rye, in replicating speech patterns in written language.
Quite possibly, it has not been matched since. The author’s ability to capture rhythm and colloquial speech is, indeed, quite remarkable. This is especially obvious for readers who are fluent in, or are native speakers of American English. Consider how the author stresses groups of words: “Wuddaya mean so what? ” (p. 41) “You don’t do one damn thing the way you’re supposed to” (p. 41) “She was blocking up the whole goddam traffic in the aisle” (p. 87) miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Michael O’Mara
Other times, certain words are stressed: “What the hellja do that for? ” (p. 41) “Well, don’t get sore about it… ” (p. 82) “Which is something that gives me a royal pain in the ass. I mean if somebody yawns right while they’re asking you to do them a goddam favor” (p. 28) Finally, and perhaps most characteristic, the author stresses parts of words: “I mean I’m not going to be a goddam surgeon or a violinist or anything anyway” (p. 39) “It’s not paradise or anything… ” (p. 55) “For Chrissake, Holden. This is about a goddam baseball glove” (p. 1) 58 Preserving the uniqueness of Holden Caulfield’s idiolect has been a challenge for translators seeking to preserve the effect and the flavor of the discourse using the techniques that Salinger originally used, namely, stream of consciousness and dramatic monologue in which, directly and intimately, Holden tells his story in retrospect to the readers. This technique has the effect of reproducing the inner workings and thought processes of Holden —disjointed and random— and also provides dialogs that are remarkably fluid and natural.
To represent Holden and his frustrations using the same register in another language is a daunting chore, indeed, especially since Holden attaches his own meanings to the language that he uses. Costello1 reminds us that Holden appropriates common expressions from his period and makes them his own. For example, his free and loose use of “and all” to end thoughts along with the affirmative “I really did” or “It really was” are repeated throughout the novel, helping to forge Holden’s own distinct personality.
Other authors have commented upon the importance of Holden’s speech in defining his character in relation to the readers: “… his language, his own idiolect, full of idioms and colloquialisms, is the main feature that will contribute to Holden’s development as a character in his transition from adolescence to adulthood and his relationship with the reader”2. Although translating Holden’s idioms may present challenges, it may be one of the most important aspects of preserving the flavor of his idiolect and effect it has on readers.
Holden Caulfield’s idioms Like other languages, English is full of idioms such as “to break a leg” and “to pull someone’s leg”. An idiom is a form of expression, grammatical construction, phrase, etc. , peculiar to a language; a peculiarity of phraseology approved by the usage of a language, and often having a signification other than its grammatical or logical one. 3 miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Translating colloquial idioms/metaphors in The Catcher in the Rye Idioms generally have three characteristics: 1.
Their meaning cannot be deduced from their components or any arrangement thereof, and must be learned as a whole. If one were to interpret ‘to break a leg’ solely on the basis of its components it might be very difficult to realize that the actual meaning is positive, meaning to have a good time, not incur injury, especially when used in the imperative. Likewise, nowhere in the expression ‘to pull someone’s leg’ there appears any element that would suggest joking, or specifically, having someone believe things that are not true. 2. None of their constituents may be substituted with words of similar meaning.
For example, if one were to substitute the word ‘fracture’ for ‘break’ in to ‘break a leg’, the meaning would be lost. Likewise, upon being the object of joking one could not say that he or she had had his or her leg ‘stretched’. 3. Finally, idioms cannot be syntactically modified. One would probably not be understood if one were to say ‘I had my leg broken’ meaning ‘I had a good time’; it would be similarly confusing to say ‘I had my leg pulled yesterday’ if one were to communicate that they were joked with yesterday. Without any contextual information a learner of English might have little idea what these expressions mean.
Clearly, the meaning in these phrases is figurative, or “expressing one thing in terms normally denoting another”4 and metaphorical where “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a similarity between them (as in the ship plows to sea)”. 5 For this reason, the idioms in question found in the book could be referred to as colloquial metaphors6 as some authors prefer: metaphors for the aforementioned semantic arguments and colloquial because they are metaphors which exist in the more informal registers, in this case, slang.
But the term ‘colloquial idiom’ seems to be preferable in most research contexts7. For this reason I will refer to them as colloquial idioms/metaphors. This study focuses primarily on the pragmatic purpose of these metaphors since it is the idiolect of Holden Caulfield that is to be examined in its aesthetic effect and ‘flavor’. Therefore, not all metaphors found in Holden’s idiolect were chosen. In fact, some metaphors are so common that it has been forgotten that they are metaphors, having been accepted into standard use.
Such is the case with the great majority of phrasal verbs in English: ‘get up’, ‘get over’, etc. Also, there are many examples of colloquial word combinations repeated with some frequency in the novel, but they have not been included in the study as their metaphorical qualities are more abstract8 and might rather, and more appropriately, be studied as collocations, or words that are found to occur together, to examine their restrictions of usage in relation to other components (prepositions, verbs, etc. . Here are some examples that use the word ‘hell’: miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 59 Michael O’Mara hell of it as hell The hell out to bang hell (as a noun) The hell with it in hell 29, 61, 73,210 34,35, 37, 38, 94, 113 52, 179 53, 115, 69 146 TABLE 1: Common word combinations not included in the study and their page numbers Theoretical framework We are in agreement with Lorenzo, M. et al. in that the first step a translator must take is to clearly define his objective before producing a translation which is as true as possible to the original text. One of the aspects of Hans Vermeer’s concept of skopos (1989:227) is the establishment of a clearly defined objective or purpose for translation: Any form of translational action, including therefore translation itself, may be conceived as an action, as the name implies. Any action has an aim, a purpose. The word skopos, then, is a technical term for the aim or purpose of translation. 0 This said, we are in agreement with Lorenzo et. al (1999: 324) in the transators’ role to “preserve the purpose of the ST (source text) without any gratuitous alteration. The main objective of any translation should be that of faithfulness to the original text with close attention to coherence. With this objective in mind, any translation of The Catcher in the Rye must consider the possible purposes the author had in using colloquial idioms/metaphors in the first place.
Paul Newmark proposes that there are two purposes that metaphors serve: a referential purpose, which describes “a mental process or state, a concept, a person, an object, a quality or an action more comprehensively and concisely than is possible in literal or physical language”9 and a pragmatic purpose “which is simultaneous, is to appeal to the senses, to interest, to clarify “graphically”, to please, to delight, to surprise. The first purpose is cognitive, the second aesthetic. 10 Although Holden’s colloquial metaphors/idioms do have referential significance, it is arguable that much of their significance in forming an integral part of his idiolect derives from their pragmatic or aesthetic purpose, their contribution to the flavor of Holden’s discourse. Any translation of The Catcher in the Rye would have to be sensitive to the effect that they produce on readers, and try to produce the same effect in the miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 7-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Translating colloquial idioms/metaphors in The Catcher in the Rye translation (Nida’s Equivalent Effect). This would entail, whenever possible, locating in the target language a metaphor used in informal registers whose semantic content overlaps as closely as possible the meanings of the original metaphor. This would require a parallelism between form and meaning or a principle of identity as Lorenzo et al. (1999) describe where: … ny element in the ST [source text] should be translated and translatable into the TT [target text] by paying close attention not only to the content but also to the form. Accordingly, there should be a close structural and meaningful parallelism (=identity) between the source and the target language. The translator, then, should stick to the ST itself as the only base for the process of translation. The TT, therefore, will be the result of a close analysis of the ST by following the identity principle and an attempt at further interpretation or deviation should be discarded. 1 For the sake of simplicity in this research, I will be using Lopez’s (1997) definition12 of lexicalized structures with a slight modification: her definition encompasses idioms and cliches which can be understood in a broader sense as ‘word combinations’, ‘fixed expressions’ and ‘phrasal lexemes’. Although they are distinctive elements in the idiolect of Holden as well, I propose to exclude routine formulae (you could tell, if you know what I mean) and non-canonical expressions, understood by Lyons (1968: 178) in Lopez as ‘schemata’ (How about…? , to focus the research specifically on Holden’s colloquial idioms/metaphors and the methods that were used in their translation. These will be described according to Lopez’s model13, which was derived in part from Baker (1992), who describes four principal methods: literal translation, translation by equivalence, translation by modification and translation by omission. Literal translation involves the use of a lexical structure in the target language that is similar in form and meaning. These correspondences are rarer, but they do occur. For example when Holden says “I damn near dropped dead” (p. 1) the colloquial idiom/metaphor “to drop dead” is translated using the literal translation method as there exists a correspondence in form and meaning in both Spanish “Casi me caigo muerto” (p. 46), and Catalan “Va anar de poc que no caigues a terra mort” (p. 51). Translation by equivalence is a method that is often employed when there is no complete correspondence between structure and form between the source and target language. It involves the use of another lexical structure in the target language that is similar in meaning but different in form. “I wouldn’t have the guts to do it” (p. 9) is translated into Spanish as “no habria tenido agallas para hacerlo” (p. 116) and into Catalan as “no tindria pebrots de fer-ho” (144). The structures themselves are practically identical; the difference resides in the fact that while the noun ‘guts’ can express courage idiomatically in English, the same is not true in miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 61 Michael O’Mara 62 Spanish or in Catalan and is realized by different nouns, namely, ‘agallas’, literally ‘gills’ or ‘tonsils’ in Spanish and ‘pebrots’, or literally, ‘peppers’ in Catalan.
Translation by modification involves paraphrasing or explaining the metaphorical meaning of a lexicalized structure. The result is the loss of figurative meaning; the idea is no longer expressed in metaphorical terms. This method is usually employed when no equivalent or near equivalent structure can be found in the target language. Baker argues that this technique is also used when “it seems inappropriate to use idiomatic language in the target text because of differences in stylistic preferences of the source and target languages”. 14 For example, “Old Stradlater was one of his pets… (p. 43) is translated in Spanish as “Stradlater era uno de sus favoritos… ” (p. 60) and Catalan as “L’Stradlater era un dels seus preferits… ” (p. 71). In English ‘pet’ has the following meanings: “1: a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility; 2a: a pampered and usually spoiled child; b: a person who is treated with unusual kindness or consideration: darling”. 15 The meanings of this word in Spanish (animal domestico” or “mascota”) and in Catalan (“animal domestic”) are not usually extended to describe people who are treated with “kindness and consideration”.
Here, a similar metaphor in meaning but not in form could be used, or, as is the case in this example, the metaphor might be paraphrased or explained. The last method, omission, is used when a metaphor in the source language is not translated since an equivalent cannot be found, or because it is not easy to explain, or for stylistic reasons is not deemed appropriate for inclusion. This last method introduces some interesting concerns: it is quite possible that there is no similar structure in the target language to explain the paraphrasing of a metaphor, but if such similar or equivalentt structures were to exist, there ight be other elements within the greater cultural context of the target language (elements absent in the greater cultural context of the source language) that could impact the appropriateness of their use. Perhaps, what should be considered is whether the possible connotations that the metaphor could have or produce outside its culture of origin might distract the reader from the original field of reference of the metaphor, or introduce secondary meanings that are not necessarily present in the circumstances of the original metaphor. miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 7-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Translating colloquial idioms/metaphors in The Catcher in the Rye Source text colloquial metaphors and their target text representations: Description METAPHOR ST (P. ) 1 … I got pretty run-down… (1) SPANISH TT (P. ) … me quedara bastante hecho polvo… (9) Equivalence 2 It killed me. (2) Me dejo sin habla. (10) Equivalence 3 Strictly for the birds. (2) Bobadas. (10) Modification 4 So I got the ax. They give guys the ax quite frequently at Pencey. (4) Asi que me expulsaron. En Pencey expulsan a los chicos con mucha frecuencia. (12) Modification 5 I have no wind,… (5) No tengo nada de fuelle… 13) Equivalence 6 They got a bang out of things,… (6) Pero se lo pasaban bomba con sus cosas,… (16) Equivalence 7 … though – in a half-assed way, of course. (6) … un poco a lo tonto, claro. (16) Equivalence 8 It gets on your nerves sometimes (7) A veces te ponia nervioso. (17) Modification16 9 That knocked him out. (8) Se hizo una gracia tremenda. (17) Equivalence 10 I mean he didn’t hit the ceiling or anything. (8) Vamos, que no se puso como una fiera ni nada. (18) Equivalence CATALAN TT (P. ) … d’acabar ben desinflat… (7) Equivalence En va deixar de pedra. (8) Equivalence Sense comentaris. 8) Modification O sigui que em van fotre al carrer. Foten la gent al carrer ben sovint, a Pencey. (11) Equivalence 63 No aguanto gens… (13) Modification S’ho passaven be,… (15) Modification … pero a mig gas, es clar. (15) Equivalence A vegades et posava nervios. (16) Modification Aixo el va fer petar de riure. (17) Equivalence Vull dir que no va pujar per les parets ni res d’aixo. (18) Literal miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Michael O’Mara METAPHOR ST (P. ) 11 So I shot the bull for a while (12) SPANISH TT (P. ) … asi que me enrolle un buen rato. 23) Modification CATALAN TT (P. ) Aixi que vaig xerrar una estona. (24) Modification Es ficaven pel coi de finestra i tot. (24) Literal Aquesta historia em va deixar ben de pedra. (32) Equivalence … i llegeixo molts llibres de guerra i de misteri i etcetera, pero no m’entusiasmen gaire. (33) Modification “Suare sang… ” (47) Equivalence … m’ho passo de por imitant-les. (49) Equivalence No aguanto res de res. (49) Modification 12 They were coming in the goddam window. (13) Los habia a patadas. (24) Equivalence 13 That story just about killed me. (18) Esa historia por poco me deja sin habla. (31) Equivalence 4 … and I read a lot of war books and mysteries and all, but they don’t knock me out too much. (18) … y leo un monton de libros de guerra y de misterio y todo eso, pero no me vuelven loco. (31) Equivalence 15 64 “… I’ll be up the creek… ” (28) “… me la cargo… ” (43) Equivalence 16 I get a bang imitating them. (29) … lo paso bomba imitando a… (44) Equivalence 17 I have hardly any wind at all (29) Tengo muy poco fuelle. (44) Equivalence 18 I damn near dropped dead. (31) Casi me caigo muerto. (46) Va anar de poc que no caigues a terra mort. (51) Literal Literal I no ho deien nomes per dir. 63) Modification El feia tornar boig… (69) Equivalence L’Stradlater era un dels seus preferits… (71) Modification 19 And they weren’t just shooting the crap. (38) Y no lo decian por decir. (54) Modification 20 It drove him crazy… (41) Le sacaba de quicio… (59) Equivalence 21 Old Stradlater was one of his pets… (43) Stradlater era uno de sus favoritos… (60) Modification miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Translating colloquial idioms/metaphors in The Catcher in the Rye METAPHOR ST (P. ) 22 I’d been given the ax… (51) SPANISH TT (P. ) … e habian expulsado… (71) Modification CATALAN TT (P. ) … m’havien fotut fora… (85) Equivalence … i jo estava aqui, expulsat una altra vegada. (85) Modification No hi toca gaire… (86) Equivalence Aixo em va deixar clavat. (91) Equivalence Aixo em va matar. (91) Literal Despres vaig comencar a deixar anar la llengua de debo. (92) Equivalence … i vaig poder descansar la llengua. De totes , maneres no em sap greu haver-la fet anar una estona. (93) Equivalence … despres del que li vaig deixar anar… (94) Equivalence Que n’era una de ben grossa… (95) Equivalence Tenia ganes de trucar algu. 97) Modification Despres vaig pensar de trucar a la mare de Jane Gallagher… (97) 65 23 -and here I was getting the ax again. (52) … mientras me estaban expulsando otra vez. (71) Modification 24 She doesn’t have all her marbles any more… (52) Esta un poco ida… (72) Equivalence 25 That killed me. (55) Me dejo sin habla. (76) Equivalence 26 That killed me. (55) Me dejo sin habla. (76) Equivalence 27 Then I really started chucking the old crap around (56) Entonces fue cuando de verdad empece a meter bolas. (77) Equivalence 28 … and it gave me a chance to quit shooting it. I’m glad I shot it for a while, though. (57) .. me dio la oportunidad de dejar de largar. Pero me alegre de haber largado un rato. (78) Equivalence 29 … after all the crap I shot, (57) … despues de todo el rollo que le largue… (78) Equivalence 30 Which was really a hot one… (58) Esa si que era buena… (80) Modification 31 I felt like giving somebody a buzz. (59) Tenia ganas de llamar a alguien. (81) Modification 32 Then I thought of giving Jane Gallagher’s mother a buzz,… (59) Luego pense en llamar a la madre de Jane Gallagher… (81) miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Michael O’Mara METAPHOR ST (P. SPANISH TT (P. ) Modification CATALAN TT (P. ) Modification … no hi hauries de fer el ximple… (102) Equivalence Vaig passar-me tota la nit festejant amb una hipocrita terrible… (103) Equivalence … vaig comencar a jugar amb la idea de trucar a la Jane,… (103) Modification 33 … you shouldn’t horse around with her at all,… (62) … no deberias hacer el indio con ella… (85) Equivalence 34 I spent the whole night necking with a terrible phony… (63) Me pase toda la noche besandome y todo eso con una chica falsisima… (85) Modification 35 I started toying with the idea,… , of giving old Jane a buzz… 63) … empece a jugar con la idea de llamar a Jane,… (86) Modification 36 Anyway, I went over to the phone and gave her a buzz. (63) Bueno, pues fui al telefono Es igual, vaig agafar el y la llame. (86) telefon i li vaig trucar. (104) Modification Modification … , va anar de ben poc que no truco a la Phoebe,… (110) Modification Pero no podia arriscar-me a fer-li una trucada,… (110) Equivalence … no m’hauria fet res xerrar una estona amb la Phoebe. (110) Modification … L’Allie tenia en barco de vela i li agradava jugar-hi… (112) Modification Sabia que no el deixaria anar gaire lluny amb ella… 130) Modification 66 37 … I damn near gave my kid sister Phoebe a buzz,… (66) … estuve casi a punto de llamar a mi hermana Phoebe. (90) Modification 38 But I couldn’t take a chance on giving her a buzz,… (66) Pero no podia arriesgarme a llamarla… (90) Modification 39 … I certainly wouldn’t have minded shooting the crap… (67) Pero no me habria importado pegar la hebra… (90) Equivalence 40 Allie had this sailboat he used to like to fool around with… (68) Allie tenia un barquito de vela con el que le gustaba jugar… (92) Modification 41 I knew she wouldn’t let him get to first base with her,… 80) Sabia que no le habria dejado llegar hasta el final con ella… (105)17 Modification miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Translating colloquial idioms/metaphors in The Catcher in the Rye METAPHOR ST (P. ) 42 … and a lot of other very tricky stuff that gives me a pain in the ass. (84) SPANISH TT (P. ) … y un monton de florituras de esas que me dan cien patadas. (110) Equivalence CATALAN TT (P. ) … i tota una altra pila de filigranes que em fan venir mal d’estomac. (137) Equivalence Soc un d’aquells tios forca gallines. (143) Equivalence … no tindria pebrots de fer-ho. 144) Equivalence No es pas gens divertit ser gallina. Potser no soc gallina del tot. No ho se. Em sembla que potser soc nomes una mica gallina… soc una mica gallina… El que no s’hauria de ser es gallina. (145) Equivalence Es ser gallina d’una manera molt curiosa… pero es ser gallina, i tant. (146) Equivalence Ell va quedar ben torrat… (146) Equivalence Tens ganes de sucar aquesta nit? (147) Equivalence … no m’havia de mudar ni res per una prostituta… (149) Equivalence Quan fa una estona que les petoneges,… (150) Modification 43 I’m one of these very yellow guys (88) Soy un tio de lo mas cobarde. 115) Modification 44 I wouldn’t have the guts to do it. (89) … no habria tenido agallas para hacerlo. (116) Equivalence 45 It’s no fun to be yellow. Maybe I’m not all yellow. I don’t know. I think maybe I’m just partly yellow… I’m partly yellow… what you should be is not yellow at all. (89) No tiene gracia ser cobarde. Aunque quiza no sea cobarde del todo. No se. Creo que en parte soy cobarde… en parte cobarde… No se debe ser cobarde en absoluto; (117) Modification 67 46 It’s a funny kind of yellowness… but it’s yellowness, all right (90) … es un tipo de cobardia bastante raro, pero aun asi es cobardia. 117) Modification 47 He got stinking,… (90) El acabo curda perdido… (118) Equivalence 48 Innarested in a little tail t’night? (91) ?Te interesa echar un polvo esta noche? (118) Equivalence 49 I know I didn’t have to get all dolled up for a prostitute or anything… (91) … no tenia que ponerme de punto en blanco ni nada de eso para una prostituta… (119) Equivalence 50 After you neck them for a while,… (92) Despues de que te has besado y achuchado y todo eso con ellas,… (120) Modification miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Michael O’Mara METAPHOR ST (P. 51 When I’m horsing around with a girl… (93) SPANISH TT (P. ) … cuando estoy enrollandome con una chica… (121) Equivalence CATALAN TT (P. ) … quan estic amb una tia… (151) Equivalence Vaig pensar de trucar a la Jane,… (169) Modification … si no ens haguessim petonejat tant i tant. (170) Modification … la persona que estic petonejant… (170) Modification Em tocava molt l’oremus… (171) Equivalence … m’havien tornat a fotre fora. (173) Equivalence … faria una trucada a la Jane… (186) Equivalence Podia agafar alguna cosa ben jazzy… i xiular-ho tan facil i be… que et podia deixar de pedra. 198) Equivalence Vam fer una mica de comedia al taxi. (200) Equivalence Ets pitjor que un gra al cul… (212) Literal 52 I thought of giving old Jabe a buzz,… (105) Pense en llamar a Jane… (136) Modification 53 … if we hadn’t necked so damn much. (105) … si no nos hubieramos besado y achuchado tanto. (137) Modification 54 … whoever I’m necking… (105) … la persona con la que me estoy besando y todo eso… (137) Modification 68 55 She gave me a pain in the ass… (106) Me caia como una patada en el culo… (138) Literal 56 I got the ax again (107) … me habian expulsado otra vez. (139) Modification 7 … I’d give old Jane a buzz… (116) … podia llamar a Jane… (149) Modification 58 He could take something very jazzy… and whistle it so nice… it could kill you. (124) Podia coger una cancion muy de jazz… y la silbaba tan bien y tan suavecito… que te podias morir. (158) Literal 59 We horsed around a little bit in the cab… (125) En el taxi… nos besamos y nos achuchamos un poco. (159) Modification 60 You give me a royal pain in the ass… (133) … me caes peor que una patada en el culo. (169) Literal miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368
Translating colloquial idioms/metaphors in The Catcher in the Rye METAPHOR ST (P. ) 61 Boy, did she hit the ceiling when I said that. (133) SPANISH TT (P. ) Jo, como se puso cuando le dije aquello. (169) Equivalence CATALAN TT (P. ) Hosti, si va tocar el sostre quan vaig dir aixo. (212) Literal Ho vaig anar tallant gradualment. (225). Equivalence … els hipocrites hi entren per les finestres. (225) Literal Nomes feia comedia, jo. (229) Equivalence Me n’he d’anar… (235) Modification Era estrictament pitjor que un gra al cul… (236) Literal … va fotre el camp de la sala… (237) Equivalence Nomes feia comedia, es clar. 243) Equivalence … i xerraria una estona amb ella. (248) Modification … la Phoebe sempre porta algun vestit que et deixa de pedra. (253) Equivalence Els quaderns dels nanos fan pixar de riure. (255) Equivalence Anava torrat… (259) 69 62 I gradually cut it out. (141) Deje de ir poco a poco. (179) Modification 63 … the phonies are coming in the window. (141) … hay tios falsos a patadas. (179) Equivalence 64 I was only horsing around. (144) Solo estaba haciendo el indio. (182) Equivalence 65 I have to tear… (148) Tengo que largarme… (187) Modification 66 He was strictly a pain in the ass… (149)
Era igualito que una patada en el culo… (187) Literal 67 … she beat it out of the room… (149) … se largo… (188) Modification 68 I was only horsing around… (153) … solo estaba haciendo el indio… (192) Equivalence 69 … just sort of chew the fat with her for a while. (156) … pegar la hebra un rato con ella. (196) Equivalence 70 Phoebe always has some dress on that can kill you. (160) Phoebe lleva siempre unos vestidos que te dejan sin habla. (200) Equivalence 71 Kids’ notebooks kill me. (161) Los cuadernos de los crios me dejan sin habla. (202) Equivalence 72 I was plastered (163) Estaba curda (204) iscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Michael O’Mara METAPHOR ST (P. ) SPANISH TT (P. ) Equivalence CATALAN TT (P. ) Equivalence Em va deixar de pedra. (259) Equivalence Volia dir per que m’havien fotut al carrer un altre cop. (264) Equivalence Em feia pixar de riure. (276) Equivalence Nomes fem una mica de comedia a dins de casa. (277) Equivalence Aixo em fa molta gracia. (277) Equivalence … li trucaria,… (283) Modification … anava una mica alegre. (287) Equivalence … et posa nervios… (287) Modification … anava forca alegre. (296) Equivalence Segurament li trucare… 300) Modification … pero la Phoebe es moria de riure. (310) 73 She kills me. (164) Me deja sin habla. (204) Equivalence 74 She meant why did I get the ax again. (167) Se referia a que hubieran vuelto a expulsarme. (209) Modification 75 She kills me. (175) Me deja sin habla. (219) Equivalence 76 We just horse around… (175) Solo hacemos el indio… (219) Equivalence 70 77 That kills me. (175) Me deja sin habla. (220) Equivalence 78 … I’d give her a buzz… (180) … la llamaria… (225) Modification 79 … he was a little oiled up. (182) … estaba un poco bebido… (227) Modification 80 … it gets on your nerves… 182) … le pone a uno nervioso… (228) Modification 81 He was pretty oiled up,… (188) … estaba bastante curda. (234) Equivalence 82 I’m probably gonna give her a buzz… (191) Probablemente la llamare… (237) Modification 83 … but it killed old Phoebe. (197) … pero a Phoebe le hizo muchisima gracia. (245) miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Translating colloquial idioms/metaphors in The Catcher in the Rye METAPHOR ST (P. ) SPANISH TT (P. ) Modification CATALAN TT (P. ) Equivalence … aniria fins al tunel Holland i faria dit, fins que em carreguessin… 311) Equivalence Com si algu hi acabes de fer un riu. (314) Equivalence … algun desgraciat pervertit que es devia haver ficat a l’escola de nits per pixar o alguna cosa aixi… (315) Modification … la vam fer petar una estona. (316) Equivalence Es va girar i va fotre el camp. (319) Equivalence Es mes gallina que un plat de caldo… (319) Equivalence … un d’aquells tunels que sempre fan pudor de pixats. (328) Modification 71 84 I’d go down to the Holland Tunnel and bum a ride… (198) … iria al Tunel Holland, subiria a un coche… (246) Modification 85 Like somebody’d just taken a leak on them. (200) … omo si alguien acabara de mear ahi. (248) Modification 86 … some perverty bum that’d sneaked in the school late at night to take a leak or something… (201) … un pervertido que habia entrado por la noche en el colegio a mear o algo asi… (249)18 Modification 87 … I shot the breeze for a while. (201) … estuvimos de charla un rato. (249) Modification 88 He turned around and beat it. (204) Se volvio y salio corriendo. (252) Modification 89 He’s got a yella streak a mile wide (204) Es de un cobarde que no vea… (252) Modification 90 … those little tunnels that always smell from somebody’s taking a leak. (210) … sos tuneles que siempre huelen como si alguien hubiera estado alli meando. (258) Modification miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Michael O’Mara Discussion of results The purpose of this investigation was to determine which of the two translations, Spanish or Catalan, retains the greater degree of figurative/metaphorical meaning in their representations of the colloquial idioms/metaphors that Holden Caulfield uses, having said that the use of colloquial metaphors is one of the most unique and defining aspects of the idiolect of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye.
This is not an assessment of how diligently the translators strove or how successful they were in finding equivalents in the target languages and in no way implies a value judgement as to which translation is more ‘accurate’. It is clear that translators work only with the tools that are available in their target languages and cultural contexts. Nevertheless, what this study attempts to provide is data that can help to clarify to what degree the metaphorical nature of ideas expressed using colloquial metaphors in the source text were preserved as such in the Spanish and Catalan translations.
Our results seem to suggest that the colloquial metaphors represented in the Catalan translation retain more of the original figurative meaning present in the source text. This translation employs on significantly more occasions the equivalence method of metaphor translation, used on 53 occasions in the Catalan translation and on 41 occasions in the Spanish version. These data are significant because when this method is used to translate an idea expressed as a metaphor in the source text, the idea retains its status as a metaphor in the target text, the only difference being in its form, or appearance.
Since no two languages are alike, target languages cannot always provide correspondences in both form/structure and meaning. Our conclusion is also supported by the fact that the modification method of translation was used on significantly more occasions in the Spanish translation than in the Catalan version: it was used 44 times to produce the Spanish translation and 29 times in the production of the Catalan translation.
In other words, the colloquial metaphors that Holden uses in the book are found to be explained or paraphrased significantly more in the Spanish translation than in the Catalan version, which represented these metaphors through either equivalence or the literal method. This last method, although to a lesser degree, supports our conclusion as well: it was found that the Catalan translation used a lexicalized structure similar in form and meaning on 8 occasions while it was found on 5 in the Spanish version.
Put differently, although the difference is small (5-8), the Catalan translation uses the same or nearly the same metaphor on more occasions than the Spanish translation. Considered numerically, in the Spanish translation the most frequent method used was that of modification (44), followed by equivalence (41), literal translation (5) and finally omission (0); and in the Catalan translation the most frequent method used was equivalence (53), followed by modification (29), literal (8) and finally omission (0) as may be seen in Table 3: miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 7-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 72 Translating colloquial idioms/metaphors in The Catcher in the Rye 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Spanish Catalan Equivalence 41 53 Modification 44 29 Literal 5 8 Omission 0 0 TABLE 2: Translation techniques: frequency 73 Our results can be compared to similar studies such as Lopez Rua (1997) in “The translation of the idiolects in The Catcher in the Rye: An approach through lexicalized structures” and Lorenzo, M. et al. , (1999): “Lack of meaning interaction between English, Galician and Spanish in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye”.
Although the focus of neither study is the translation of colloquial idioms/metaphors, both studies discuss loss of meaning upon translation from English to Spanish and from English to Galician, and coincide in the need to maintain form and meaning between source text and target text. Specifically, Lopez Rua found that the most marked similarity in both translations is the misuse and misapplication of the technique of modification or paraphrasing: Most of the inadequacies detected in the Spanish and Galician versions are related to the translations by paraphrase and by omission.
In my view, they are due to the fact that the translators have failed to recognize the defining features of the characters’ idiolect (for example, the systematic use of some lexicalized structures). Apparently, they are not aware of the fact that the writer is deliberately resorting to trite and monotonous vocabulary in order to define the characters and their speech habits. Both translations (but particularly the Spanish one) seem utterly unable to render the characters’ idiolects accurately.
Instead of trying to convey those idiolects whenever possible (of course, adapting them to the peculiarities of the TL), in most cases the translators resort to the systematic omission of recurrent structures, and some other times they translate those recurrent structures in many different ways miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Michael O’Mara without taking into account the context, the style, and the character who uses them. As a result, the translation becomes expressionless. 19 The results of Lorenzo et. al. 1999), can be applied as well to our study, especially in terms of the importance of a strict adherence to the identity principle20, from which the Spanish and Gallician versions could have benefited: the majority of the possible errors just studied could have been avoided if the translators had taken into consideration the identity principle… In fact, the identity principle, since it is based on the parallelism between form and meaning in the ST and the TT, would have proved a more accurate mechanism when dealing with the process of translation from a given L1 to L2 and L3. 21 Notes 1 See Costello (1959:173). 74 2 . See Lorenzo, M. , et al. (1999: 324). 8 . Some of these word combinations have been the object of other studies. For example, see Lopez Rua (1997). 9 . See the Oxford English Dictionary’s entry for ‘idiom’: http://dictionary. oed. com/cgi/entry/50111256? single=1&query_ type=word&queryword=idiom&first=1&max_ to_show=10. 4 . Definition provided by Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary (1994: 374). 5 Definition provided by Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary (1994: 630). 3 . See Newmark (1988: 104). . Ibid. (1988:104). . See Lorenzo, M. , et. al. (1999: .
See Lopez Rua (1997: 147). . Ibid. (1997: 148). . Baker, M. (1992:74) in Lopez Rua 10 11 324). 12 13 14 The term ‘colloquial metaphor’ has been used before, especially in online sources: Answers. com, etc. It was found to be used in some non-linguistic academic contexts (legal) such as “Why originalism won’t die – Common mistakes in competing theories of judicial interpretation”, Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy, Online Edition, 2007. Duke J. Con. Law & Pub. Pol’y 230, page 238. 7 . In books that have been published on the subject the term ‘Colloquial idioms’ seems preferable: Ball, W.
J. 1972. A Practical Guide to Colloquial Idiom, Wood, F. T. 1976. English Colloquial Idioms, etc. 6 (1997: 148). 15 . Definition provided by Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary (1994: 752). 16 . While it is true that both translations of “It gets on your nerves sometimes” retain figurative/metaphorical meaning, they can be better understood as collocations —”ponerse” (Spanish) and “posarse” (Catalan) collocate with “nervioso” (Spanish) and “nervios” (Catalan)— and their accepted use in both standard Spanish and Catalan is fairly widespread.
Here they serve to clarify the original metaphor which in English is generally considered more informal. miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368 Translating colloquial idioms/metaphors in The Catcher in the Rye 17 . The translation of the colloquial metaphor “to get to first base” with someone here is somewhat inaccurate. The Catalan translation is closer in meaning to the ST, where the metaphor is used in relation to romantic intimacy: first base refers to initial contacts such as kissing; a “homerun” generally refers to sexual intercourse. 8 . The absence of a translation for the word “bum” in the Spanish translation may be considered somewhat inaccurate: although the word “bum” does not form a part of the metaphor itself, it does contribute to the atmosphere in which the metaphor is presented. In this case, the “perverty bum” was left just as “un pervertido” in the Spanish translation, omitting the vital bit of information that the person is a “bum” i. e. a homeless and/or poor person. The Catalan version translates it as a “desgraciat” or unfortunate, unlucky, or even wretched person.
One might suggest that a “perverty bum” is more in keeping with the idiolect of Holden than just a “pervert”. 19 . See Lopez Rua (1997: 149). . See Lorenzo, M. et al. (1999: 5). . Ibid. (1999:329). 20 21 Works cited American Library Association. http://www. ala. org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/bbwlinks/100 mostfrequently. htm BAKER, M. 1992. In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation. London: Routledge. BALL, W. J. 1972. Practical guide to colloquial idiom. London: Longman. COSTELLO, D. P. 1959. “The language of The Catcher in the Rye,” American
Speech, Vol. 34, no. 3, October:172-81. LOPEZ RUA, P. 1997. “The translation of the idiolects in The Catcher in the Rye: An approach through lexicalized structures”. Miscelanea: A Journal of English and American Studies, 18: 139-158. LORENZO, M. , et. al. 1999. “Lack of meaning interaction between English, Galician and Spanish in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye”. Estudios de linguistica contrastiva. Universidade de Santiago de Compostela: 323-330. MERRIAM-WEBSTER Inc. 1994. Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary.
New York: Black Dog & Leventhal. Received: 11 June 2007 Revised version: 17 January 2008 NEWMARK, P. 1988. A textbook of translation. London: Prentice Hall International. OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY: http://dictionary. oed. com/cgi/entry/50034626? single=1&query_ type=word&queryword=catharsis&first=1&max _to_show=10 SALINGER, J. D. 1951. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. —. 1990. El vigilant en el camp de segol. Trans. E. Riera & J. Fonalleras. Barcelona: Editorial Empuries. —. 2006. El guardian entre el centeno.
Trans. C. Criado. Madrid: Alianza Editorial. SMITH, T. 2007. “Why originalism won’t die – Common mistakes in competing theories of judicial interpretation”. Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy. Online edition, 159: 230-238. VERMEER, H. 2004. “Skopos and comission in translational action”. In Venuti, L. (ed. ) The translation studies reader. London: Routledge. WOOD, F. T. 1976. English colloquial idioms. London: Macmillan. 75 miscelanea: a journal of english and american studies 35 (2007): pp. 57-75 ISSN: 1137-6368