INTERLINGUAL CORRESPONDENCES OR "TRANSLATOR'S FALSE FRIENDS". Муратова K.H.


INTERLINGUAL CORRESPONDENCES OR "TRANSLATOR'S FALSE FRIENDS"
Муратова K.H.
Н.рук.: д.ф.н. проф. Аматов A.M.  

Аспекты изучения иностранного языка и культуры: Сборник научных суденческих работ
(по материалам студенческой конференции 11 апреля 2012 г., г. Белгород). Вып. 4. Т. 2. Отв. ред. Е.В.Пупынина. - Белгород, 2012. - 222 с. (с. 25-28)
        Rather systematic and wide studying of similar interlingual correspondence has begun in 1928 with the works of M. Kessler and Z. Derkony based on the materials of French-English and the English-French parallels. They also introduced the term "faux amis du traducteur" ("translator's false friends"). Nowadays this term is standard and is in common use. Two types of "translator's false friends" are defined:
1) "completely false" with similar spelling and different semantics;
2) "partially false" with similar spelling and with general semantics.
        The compound term "Translator's false friends" is used in the works that mainly connected with problems of translation; some Slavic linguists also use this term. Some differential dictionaries that after M. Kessler and Z. Derkony began to be named as dictionaries of "translator's false friends" were published in Russia some years ago" [1].
        Emphasizing distinctions between the concepts of "translator's false friends" and "interlingual homonymy", V.V. Akulenko marks that "a significant place among "translator's false friends" is occupied by some cases of interlingual homonymy and paronymy".
        It is considered to be that the concept of "translator's false friends" is much wider than the concepts of "interlingual homonyms" and "interlingual paronyms": it includes in its structure all lexical units which can cause wrong associations interlingual homonyms, interlingual paronyms, etymological doublets, etc. That is the opinion of some researchers [2].
        However, some linguists use both of the terms, with no differentiating of their semantics So, R.A. Hudagov, having named his own article "Translator's false friends" according to names of dictionaries which data he analyzes, he marks: "interlingual homonyms, words that sound similar but have different meanings are usually called "Translator's false friends"" [3. 3-9].
        J. Vlchek also thought that the term of "translator's false friends" is not the term but "the trope for the name of interlingual homonyms" [4]. The same point of view after R.A.Budagov and J.Vlchck is stated by A. Shidlovsky: interlingual homonyms (words having identical or close pronunciation but different meanings) are called "Translator's false friends" in linguistics [5. 3].
        However, in our opinion, to call the term interlingual homonyms as "translator's false friends" consisting of metaphorical periphrasis could be incorrect: such name does not reflect the fundamental symmetric-asymmetric side of the phenomenon because the homonymy is the expression of symmetry of the form at asymmetry of the contents. The definition "translator's false friends" is comprehensible in translation theory but it does not reflect linguistic aspect of a problem: probably, exactly because of this reason in monographic researches devoted to a problem of interlingual homonymy, for similar words (similar in sounding, but differing in meaning) in different languages some other terms are used.
        Interlingual homonymy (in its wide meaning) covers all that lies within the limits of one-serial language levels formally identical but semantically different in contacting languages. However, as many researchers agreed, the basic (and the main) part of interlingual homonymy is marked on the lexical level in the category of interlingual lexical homonyms [6].
        There are two possible ways to explain reasons of the interlingual homonyms occurrence: casual correspondences of soundings in practically non-contacting languages; and not casual correspondences, caused by the subsequent changes in semantics of genetically related single-root words [7].
        R.A.Budagov marking specificity of interlingual homonyms category in close kindred languages wrote: "One thing, when the talk is about the discrepancy between non-kindred languages (semantic discrepancies of formally similar lexicon); and the other thing, is the discrepancy between kindred languages. In turn, it is absolutely different situation in closely kindred languages than with more remote relation" [8]. This "absolutely different situation" is connected with that the major part of interlingual homonyms and paronyms in such languages result from disintegration of polysemy or as consequence of expansion/narrowing of the word meanings which are going back to the same etymon.
        It is natural that between kindred languages and close kindred languages the relative density of similar correspondence is much higher than in non-kindred languages. Moreover, there can be a lot of interlingual homonyms or interlingual paronyms between words of kindred languages; it can be a consequence of unequal development of common origin words' meanings.
        M.F. Rylsky, the Ukrainian writer and brilliant translator dealing with Slavic languages, was one of the first who has paid attention to the phenomenon of interlingual homonymy and called scientists to its scientific studying. Emphasizing conditional character of the term of "interlingual homonyms", M.F. Rylsky named interlingual homonym as a word, "that is sounded similar or identically in two or several languages, but have unequal, sometimes opposite meaning" [9. 163-164].
        Later on the term of "interlingual homonyms" got wide circulation in linguistic literature. However, the analysis of available points of view connected with the phenomenon of homonymy has shown that even now there is no certain standard definition of the concept of "interlingual homonymy". Researchers' opinions differ both concerning the expression and connotation of interlingual correspondences having homonymic character.
        Having relatively formal identity of interlingual homonyms admitted by the majority of scientists, the degree of a semantic divergence is not clearly determined.
        The conditional term of "interlingual homonyms" (semantic structures of compared words coincide partially or differ only in shades of meanings) is such more appropriate than terms like "interlingual relative synonyms" or "interlingual polysemes" used in some comparative works. So, V.V. Akulenko considering the given category of words on the basis of Russian and English languages materials called them interlingual relative synonyms. The researcher's opinion is that "interlingual synonyms are words of both languages that completely or partially coincide in the meaning (and accordingly are equivalent in their translation)" [10. 10-42].
        We should emphasize that the list of given terms is not complete. Some linguists offer to qualify interlingual correspondences coinciding in their expression and various in different degrees of their meaning as "false equivalents" [11. 194], "translator's false friends" [12], "deceptive language resemblances" [13. 228-238], "words-analogues" [13. 160], "pseudo-internationalisms"[13. 16], "approximates", "false lexical parallels" [14], and "heteronyms" [15. 84-110].
         V.V.Dubichinsky in order to prevent different interpretations and discrepancies recommends linguists and translators to unite such well-known terms as "international lexicon ", "translator's false friends", "interlingual homonyms", etc. into one terminological system. "The lexemes coinciding in expression and similar/dissimilar in connotation" are suggested to be given such a general term like "lexical parallels" [16].
        Great number of terms proposed by researchers in order to name interlingual correspondences having homonymic character confirm the complexity of the given phenomenon and the necessity to use such linguistic methods that will help to avoid ambiguity in interpretation of interlingual homonymy category.
1.1. TRANSLATOR'S FALSE FRIENDS
        There are words in the source and target languages which are more or less similar in form. Such words are of great interest to the translator since he is naturally inclined to take this formal similarity for the semantic proximity and to regard the words that look alike as permanent equivalents. The formal similarity is usually the result of the two words having the common origin, mainly derived from either Greek or Latin. Since such words can be found in a number of languages, they are considered to be "international" [16].
        As a matter of fact, very few international words have the same meanings in different languages. In respect to English and Russian we can cite the words like English "parliament, theorem, diameter" and their Russian counterparts "парламент, теорема, диаметр". In most cases, however, the semantics of such words in English and in Russian do not coincide and they should rather be named "pseudo- international". Their formal similarity suggesting that they are interchangeable, is, therefore, deceptive and may lead to translation errors. For that reason they are often referred to as the translator's false friends.
        The pseudo-international words can be classified in two main groups. First, there are words which are similar in form but completely different in meaning. Here the risk of making a bad mistake is very great whenever the translator fails to consult his dictionary. Lots of mistakes have been made translating such English words as "decade, complexion, lunatic, accurate, actual, aspirant" and the like. Example:
(1) It lasted the whole decade.
(2) She has a very nice complexion.
(3) Well, he must be a lunatic.
        The respective Russian words «декада, комплекция, лунатик» are pseudo-international and cannot be used in translation. Example:
(1) Это продолжалось целое десятилетие.
(2) У нее прекрасный цвет лица.
(3) Да он, должно быть, сумасшедший.
        Second, there are many international words which are not fully interchangeable though there are Mime common elements in their semantics. They may become the false friends if the translator substitutes one of them for the other without due regard to the difference in their meaning or to the way I lie English word is used in the particular context. The translator should bear in mind that a number of factors can preclude the possibility of using the formally similar word as an equivalent. Among these factors the following are most important:
        1. The semantic factor resulting from the different subsequent development of the words borrowed by the two languages from the same source. For instance, the English "idiom" can be well rendered by its Russian counterpart to convey the idea of an expression whose meaning cannot be derived I torn the conjoined meanings of its elements but has developed such additional meanings as dialect (local idiom) and individual style (Shakespeare's idiom). When the word is used in either of these meanings its equivalent in Russian will not be "идиом", but "диалект, наречие " or "стиль ", respectively.
        As often as not, the translator may opt for an occasional equivalent to a pseudo-international word just as he may do while dealing with any other type of the word.
        Example: South Vietnam was a vast laboratory for the testing of weapons of counter-guerrilla warfare. Южный Вьетнам стал полигоном для испытания оружия, используемого в войне против партизан.
        2. The stylistic factor resulting from the difference in the emotive or stylistic connotation of tlie correlated words. For example, The English "career" is neutral while Russian «карьера» is largely negative. The translator has to reject the pseudo-international substitute and to look for another way out.
        Example: Davy took on Faraday as his assistant and thereby opened a scientific career for him. Дэви взял Фарадея к себе в ассистенты и тем самым открыл ему путь в науку.
        3. The co-occurrence factor reflecting the difference in the lexical combinability rules in the two languages. The choice of an equivalent is often influenced by usage preferring a standard combination of words to the formally similar substitute. So, a "defect" has a formal counterpart in the Russian «дефект» but "theoretical and organizational defects" will be rather «теоретические и организационные просчеты». A "gesture" is usually translated as «жест» but the Russian word will not be used to translate the following sentence for the combinability factor.
        Example: The reason for including only minor gestures of reforms is the program... Причина включения в программу лишь жалкого подобия реформ...
        4. The pragmatic factor reflecting the difference in the background knowledge of the members of the two language communities which makes the translator reject the formal equivalent in liivor of the more explicit or familiar variant. The reader of the English original will usually need no explanation concerning the meaning of such terms as "the American Revolution", or "the Emancipation Proclamation" which refer to the familiar facts of the US history. In the Russian translation, however, these terms are usually not replaced by their pseudo-international equivalents. Instead, use is made of the descriptive terms better known to the Russian reader.
        Example: The American Revolution was a close parallel to the wars of national liberation in the colonial and semi-colonial countries. Война за независимость в Америке была прямым прототипом национально-освободительных войн в колониальных и полуколониальных странах.
        Example: This counter-revolutionary organization was set up to suppress the Negro - poor white alliance that sought to bring democracy in the South in the Reconstruction period. Эта контрреволюционная организация была создана для подавления совместной борьбы негров и белых бедняков, которые добивались установления демократии на юге после отмены рабства.
        The Senator knew Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation by heart.
        Example: Сенатор знал наизусть провозглашенную Линкольном декларацию об отмене рабства. With the knowledge of, and due regard to, these factors the translator stands a good chance of making the pseudo-international words his good friends and allies.
        Nowadays, the problem of international lexicon translation is one of the most actual problems and, unfortunately, it isn't studied very well. The translator should be afraid of numerous pseudo- internationalisms that can confuse even skillful specialist and completely distort the sense of the statement; he also is faced with some difficulties connected with the choice between preservation of the international form and selection of some equivalent of native or foreign language. In this work we tried to touch upon some widespread mistakes trapping the translator in the process of his work with such kind of lexicon; we also tried to explain some reasons of their occurrence and the way to avoid these mistakes.

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