What Is Lost in Translation from One Language to Another? Why?

Topics: Translation, Language, Poetry Pages: 2 (791 words) Published: January 22, 2011
”A cowboy went to the hairdresser’s. When he got out again, his pony was gone.“ Do you think this joke is funny? It is translated word by word from German into English. In German this sentence is a joke. The part which makes this sentence funny, however, cannot be translated into English because the German word for pony and fringe is the same – ”Pony“. This shows that the joke is lost in translation. This essay is going to analyse what is lost in translation from one language to another and why it is lost. “Anything that can be said in one language can be said in another, unless the form is an essential element of the message“ says Eugene Nadi in his book “The Theory and Practice of Translation“. Nadi’s theory applies to the example above. It is an ambiguous joke which is hard to translate into another language, because some words have two meanings in the one language, but not in the other. Normally, these so-called homonyms, which are a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation, can be translated without a problem, but in the case of a word joke the essence is mostly lost in translation. Proverbs are hard to translate literally as well. The article ˝The Perception of Proverbiality“ published in 1984 by Shirley Arora says that typical stylistic features of proverbs are alliterations, parallelisms, rhymes and ellipses. All these stylistic devices are the reason why proverbs are likely to be lost in translation. Either they are grammatically not possible to exist in another language or in the case of an alliteration, the direct translation would not contain an alliteration anymore. The writer Riley Frost says that poetry is lost in translation. Poetry is a good example for the use of connotations. A connotation is defined as a meaning of a word or phrase that is suggested or implied, as opposed to a denotation, or literal meaning. It is a characteristic of words or phrases, or of the contexts that words and phrases are used in. If...
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