Strategies for Translating and Interpreting Cultural Words Related to Ecology and Material Culture

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Strategies for translating and interpreting cultural words related to ecology and material culture

As you may know, translation and interpretation are a kind of activity which inevitably involves at least two languages and two cultural traditions. As this statement implies, translators and interpreters are permanently faced with the problem of how to treat the culture aspects implicit in a source text and of finding the most appropriate technique of successfully conveying these aspects in the target language. These problems may vary in scope depending on the cultural and linguistic gap between the two (or more) languages concerned. It is possible said that cultural words is one of the problems which translators and interpreters often encounter in the translation and interpretation process. The concept of cultural word was defined as culture- specific words and phrases which are often difficult, if not impossible to translate into another target language. In 1988, Newmark defined culture as “the way of life and its manifestations that are peculiar to a community that uses a particular language as its means of expression”, thus acknowledge also introduced “cultural words” which the readership is unlikely to understand and the translation strategies for this kind of concept depend on the particular text- type, requirements of the readership and client and the importance of the cultural word in the text. Peter Newmark also categorized the cultural words as follows: 1. Ecology: flora, fauna, hill, winds, plains

2. Material culture: food, clothes, houses and town, transport 3. Social culture: work and leisure
4. Organizations, customs, activities, procedures, concepts: political and administrative, religious, artistic 5. Gestures and habits
In this paper, I will focus on the first two cultural categories with some examples and some strategies for translating and interpreting cultural words involved in the Ecology and Material culture in particular and all of cultural categories in general. Ecology

Ecology is something related to geographical features which can be normally distinguished from other cultural terms in that they are usually value- free, politically and commercially. Nevertheless, their diffusion depends on the importance of their country of origin as well as their degree of specificity. Thus “plateau” is not perceived as a cultural word, and has long been adopted in Russian, German and English, but translated in Spanish and usually Italian (mesa, altipiano). Many countries have loan words plains- “prairies”, “steppes”, “tundra”, “pampas”, “savannahs” and ect. -all with strong elements of local colour. Their familiarity is a function of the importance and geographical or political proximity of their countries. All these words would normally be transferred, with the addition of a brief culture- free third term where necessary in the text. This applies too to the “technical” tabuleiros (Brazilian low plateau) if one assumes that the source language writer would not mention them if he does not attach importance to them. The same criteria apply to other ecological features, unless they are important commercially- consider “pomelo”, “avocado”, “guava”, “kumquat”, “mango”, “passion fruit”, “tamarind”- when they become more or less a lexical item in the ‘importing’ target language and may be subject to naturalization: mangue, tamarin, avocet particularly, as here, in French. Nida has pointed out that certain ecological features- the seasons, rain, hills of various sizes (cultural words: ‘down’, ‘moor’, ‘kop’, ‘dune’- where they are irregular or unknown may not be understood denotatively or figuratively, in translation. As the translator is confronted with words in the source language which have no equivalent in the receptor language vocabulary, his first responsibility will be to understand clearly the meaning of word and the use of that word or phrase in the...
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