A corpus-bases study of The Translation of Point of View in four Chinese Translations of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea

By Elaine Y.L. Ng (Southern University of Science and Technology, China)

Abstract & Keywords

The paper applies the corpus methodology to examine an extract from Hemingway’s (1952) The Old Man and the Sea and its four Chinese translations from the perspective of modality. Simpson’s (1993) model of point of view built on the basis of a modal grammar is employed as the linguistic tool for textual analysis. Specifically, this research compares a text from the third day’s battle of the old man with the marlin and its corresponding four translations with regard to a range of the deontic, epistemic, and boulomaic modal operators as well as the various modes of point of view. The corpus-based study aims to classify translation shifts and capture the stylistic tendencies of the four translators in their translation of the selected literary text studied. The analysis finds noticeable translation shifts and different stylistic traits among the four versions of the novella in the rendering of the selected lexical features investigated.

Keywords: Simpson’s 1993 point of view model, corpus-based translation studies, deontic, epistemic and boulomaic modals, translation of point of view

©inTRAlinea & Elaine Y.L. Ng (2017).
"A corpus-bases study of The Translation of Point of View in four Chinese Translations of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Corpora and Literary Translation
Edited by: Titika Dimitroulia and Dionysis Goutsos
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL: http://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/2255

1. Introduction

The paper aims to examine an extract from Hemingway’s (1952) The Old Man and the Sea and its four Chinese translations from the perspective of modality. The four Chinese translations of The Old Man and the Sea investigated are respectively the one produced by Hai Guan (1957), Wu Lao (1987), Li Xiyin (1987) and Zhao Shaowei (1987). Simpson’s model of point of view (1993) is employed as the linguistic tool for conducting comparative multilayered stylistic analyses. The source text will be compared to the four target texts with the aim of classifying translation shifts and capturing the four translators’ individual style. The extract mainly deals with the repeatedly unsuccessful attempts of the old man to hook the fish and his eventual success in harpooning it, yet with the tragic ending of the fish being eaten by the sharks. This part of the novella uses a variety of modal operators to represent therather paradoxical worldview of the old man in battling with the marlin and this is the reason why it was considered appropriate for stylistic study of modality in translation. This article explores how the old man encodes in language his worldview, attitudes and beliefs towards the situations around him and the way these are represented in the four translated versions of the novella.

The small parallel corpus of The Old Man and the Sea was compiled manually. The source and target fragments analysed consist of a total of 111 clauses extracted from the third day’s battle of the old man with the marlin. The text investigated consists of about 22 pages, accounting for roughly one fourth of the book examined.The analysis relies on basic corpus tools, including word counts, frequency lists, and Key Word in Context (KWIC) concordances that could be processed manually to uncover translation shifts through systematic comparison of the source text and its four versions. The quantitative findings generated from the corpus study will serve as a starting point for formulating research questions worthy of further investigation. The study presented here focuses on the following linguistic features:

  1. The deontic modals “must,” “can/ could,” “will/ would.”
  2. Epistemic modal operators including “perhaps,” “will,” “may/ maybe” “would rather,” “I do not/ cannot know,” “I wonder,” “might as well have been,” “I am not sure,” “I suppose,” “should have,” “might have,” “But I am sure,” “could have,” “But if I had,” “what he could do,” “But if I had,” “What will you,” “if they come in,” “What can you do,” “Maybe I’ll,” “What could I,” “You might,” “will probably” and “what can.”
  3. The boulomaic modal operator “wish.”
  4. Speech and thought presentation including the stands of Narrative Report of Action (NRA), Direct Speech (DS), Free Direct Speech (FDS), Direct Thought (FD), Free Direct Thought (FDT) and Indirect Thought (IT).

The paper is divided into four parts. Following on from this introduction, I will provide an overview of the core concepts of the three types of modality and the different categories of point of view based primarily on Simpson (1990, 1993). A third section presents the analyses of the source text and the target texts. The conclusion reflects on the overall patterns of choices uncovered in each of the four translations and provides suggestions for future research.

2. Deontic, Epistemic and Boulomaic Modality

Modality refers to “attitudinal” features of language and belongs to the interpersonal dimension of language. It is concerned with a speaker’s attitude towards and opinions about the events around him (Simpson1993: 47).Simpson (1993) broadly divides modality into the deontic, epistemic, and boulomaic systems. He suggests that deontic modality is the modal system of “duty,” expressing a speaker’s sense of obligation towards the accomplishment of certain tasks. Deontic modality is often realised by modal auxiliaries such as “may,” “should” and “must,” showing varying degrees of commitment attaching to the performance of certain actions, as found in the following examples given by Simpson (1990: 67) which illustrate a continuum of commitment ranging from (1) “permission” through (2) “obligation”to “requirement”:

  1. You may leave at ten o’clock.     (permission)
  2. You should leave at ten o’clock.   (obligation)
  3. You must leave at ten o’clock.     (requirement)

Epistemic modality expresses a speaker’s degree of confidence in the truth of a proposition stated. It is generally realised by modal auxiliaries such as “could,” ‘may,” “must,” “might” and “should” (Simpson1993: 48-49). Similar to deontic modality, there is an epistemic modality scale realising a semantic continuum of probability ranging from (1) uncertainty through (2) probability, (3) certainty to (4) logical necessity as illustrated by the following examples provided by Han (2005: 12):

  1. They may be there now. (possible but uncertain)
  2. They should be there now. (probable)
  3. They will be there now. (certain)
  4. They must be there now. (logical necessity)

Boulomaic modality is closely related to the deontic system. It is concerned with the wishes and desires of a speaker, as revealed in the examples below given by Simpson (1993: 48):

  1. I hope that you will leave.
  2. I wish you’d leave.
  3. I regret that you’re leaving.

The use of the modal lexical verbs “hope,” “wish” and “regret” in the above sentences all express the speaker’s wish.

It is important to notice that the boundaries between deontic and epistemic modalities are often not discrete but tend to overlap since the same modal auxiliaries may express diverse meanings that cut across both deontic and epistemic categories. The notion of the basic indeterminacy of the deontic and epistemic meanings has been observed by Coates (1983), as reviewed by Simpson (1990). Coates (1983) suggests that in the study of deontic and epistemic modalities, there are often indeterminate cases where it is hard to decide which of the two meanings is intended.

Coates provides the following example as an illustration (Coates1983: 16, quoted in Simpson1990: 68): “He must understand that we mean business.”

Coates argues that this sentence could be used to express the epistemic meaning that “Surely he understands…” or the deontic meaning that “He will have to understand….” Thus, it appears that there are cases in which both epistemic and deontic meanings are “mutually compatible” and “have undergone a merger” in a specific context (ibid.).

In addition to the overlap of the deontic and epistemic categories, Coates also points out that there is often a gradient of meaning attaching to the same modal verb; for instance, the deontic modal “must” exhibits a spectrum of meaning ranging from the “strong” or “core” meaning to the “weak” or “peripheral” meaning, as revealed in the sentence “You must eat your dinner” in which a strong sense of requirement is expressed from a mother to a child, while the sense of requirement is much weaker in the sentence “Clay pots… must have some protection from severe weather” (Coates1983: 21, quoted in Simpson1990: 68).

3. Speech and Thought Presentation

This section provides a brief review of the different categories of speech and thought presentation introduced in Simpson’s (1993) point of view model. Simpson (1987) conducted a multilayered stylistic analysis of the narrative structure of a passage of forty-four sentences from the central section of The Old Man and the Sea. He employed three different linguistic frameworks to study the grammatical structure (layer 1), textual component (layer 2) and modes of speech and thought presentation (layer 3) of the extract. With insight gained from Simpson’s (1987)stylistic analysis of an extract from The Old Man and the Sea, this study selected examples from the mini corpus of The Old Man and the Sea compiled to illustrate the different categories of speech and thought presentation, including Narrative Report of Action (NRA), Direct Speech (DS), Free Direct Speech (FDS), Direct Thought (FD), Free Direct Thought (FDT) and Indirect Thought (IT). The following briefly reviews the above-mentioned modes of speech and thought presentation.

3.1 Narrative Report of Action (NRA)

The NRA strand provides an external narrative framework around which the modes of speech and thought are woven (Simpson1993: 27). Events and actions are described by a narrator who is an outsider to them, in the third person, thus exhibiting external focalization, as in the following example:

  1. …and from the way the line slanted he could tell the fish had risen steadily while he swam (no. 1298)[1]
  2. He was past everything now and he sailed the skiff to make his home port as well and as intelligently as he could. (no. 1311)

3.2 Direct Speech (DS) and Free Direct Speech (FDS)

Direct Speech (DS) is speech reported verbatim. It is characterised by the presence of an introductory reporting clause and a reported clause enclosed in quotation marks (Simpson1993: 22); for example:

  1. ‘But man is not made for defeat,’ he said. ‘A man can be destroyed but not defeated.’ (no. 1334)
  2. ‘I could not fail myself and die on a fish like this,’ he said. (no. 1299)

A DS presentation may be stripped of its reporting clause or its quotation marks to introduce Free Direct Speech (FDS), as shown in the following example provided by Simpson (1987: 211) in his multilayered analysis of an extract from The Old Man and the Sea:

  1. “How does it go, hand? Or is it too early to know?”

There is no reporting clause in the above speech presentation, producing a freer form of DS, where it is to a greater degree liberated from the narratorial control of report. It is also possible to remove the quotation marks together with the reporting clause to produce the maximally free form of FDS presentation (Simpson1987: 208; Simpson1993: 22), such as changing the above example of FDS to – How does it go, hand? Or is it too early to know?, where the character speaks for himself with little authorial interference.

3.3 Direct Thought (DT), Free Direct Thought (FDT) and Indirect Thought (IT)

The presentation of thought is similar to the presentation of speech in terms of the categories available for thought presentation. Nevertheless, as pointed out by Leech and Short (1981: 337), the presentation of thoughts, even in the most indirect form, is just an “artifice” and a greater degree of “novelistic licence” is required to present the thoughts of a character than is needed in the presentation of speech. The following are examples of Direct Thought (DT), Free Direct Thought (FDT) and Indirect Thought (IT):

  1. ‘I should have brought a stone.’ You should have brought many things, he thought. (DT) (no. 1359-1360)
  2. I wonder what a bone spur is, he thought. (FDT) (no. 1345-1346)
  3. But if I had, and could have lashed it to an oar butt, what a weapon. (FDT) (no. 1368-1373)
  4. and he thought that now, soon, he must hit the edge of the stream (IT) (no. 1297)

Example 1 contains an unmarked reporting clause “he thought” for the first thought presentation within the same paragraph, which is enclosed in quotation marks and thus can be considered a DT. Example 2 omits the quotation marks yet retains the reporting clause, and thus can be viewed as a moderately free form of FDT. Example (3) is stripped of both the reporting clause and the quotation marks, and thus can be considered the maximally free from of FDT. This is close to the stream-of-consciousness technique, signaling an intrusion into the consciousness of the old man and the interior monologue in which he is engaged. Finally, example 4 has an introductory reporting ‘that’ clause, explicit subordination, and a declarative form for the reported clause, and thus can be classified as the IT mode of thought presentation. Since it is impossible to see inside the minds of other people, both DT and FDT modes are viewed as more “artificial”, requiring greater interpretative control than the IT mode (Leech and Short1981: 344-345).

4. Analysis of the Source Text

This section presents the analysis of the deontic, boulomaic and epistemic modalities coupled with the various modes of speech and thought presentation in The Old Man and the Sea. The fragment chosen for study abounds in deontic and epistemic modal operators showing, on the one hand, the old man’s strong sense of obligation and will power to catch the marlin and, on the other, his uncertainty and bewilderment when faced with successive defeats to hook it and subsequent attacks of the sharks to eat the whole marlin he eventually kills. I will first begin with the analysis of the deontic and boulomic modal operators.

4.1 Deontic and Boulomic Modal Operators

The modal operators “must” and “will/ would” are the most frequently used, each with a total of twenty instances, followed by “can/ could,” with a total of fourteen instances. The deontic modal expressions “I must,” “I will” and “I can/ could” all express intrinsic deontic modality, revealing the old man’s strong degree of commitment to fulfil his mission of hooking the fish . A distinction can be made between the modal auxiliaries “must” and “will,” whereby the former generally communicates a higher value of deontic modality, expressing a stronger sense of duty than the latter. The stronger deontic modal operator “must” is particularly prominent in the early phase of the third day’s battle. As he is successively defeated in his attempts to hook the fish, and starts having moments of doubt, the deontic modal auxiliary “must” becomes less common and a series of “will,” are used in expressions such as “I’ll take you” (1316), “I’ll just steer south,” (1317), “I’ll pull him,” (1318), “I’ll try it,” (1319) and “I will try it” (1320) . Therefore, while the two modal auxiliaries express the old man’s sense of duty to fulfill his mission of hooking the fish, they are used to convey different degrees of involvement at different points of the battle. The modal operator “can/ could” is used mostly to convey deontic ability, expressing the old man’s self-driven will to control the circumstances. Expressions such as “I cannot fail myself” (1299), “I can control mine,” (1300) and “I can last”(1302)are used to convey the old man’s strong will power to overcome his physical limitation and overcome the circumstances.

There is one instance – “they must have taken a quarter of him and of the best meat” – (1293) in which “must” is used not to convey deontic duty but to convey epistemic certainty, describing the old man’s assessment of the situation regarding the portion of the marlin that has been torn by the sharks. There are also three instances in which the modal auxiliary “will” – “Then in two or three turns more I will have him” (1315), “I’ll take you at the turn” (1316) and “This time I’ll pull him over” (1318) – can be interpreted as both the old man’s projected self-command to hook the fish (i.e. “will” is used in the deontic sense) and his assessments of the probability of hooking the fish (i.e. “will” is used in the epistemic sense). Moreover, there are seven instances in which “will” is used mainly to convey epistemic probability, expressing the old man’s judgment of the likelihood of the events occurring, such as the healing effect of water (1322), the coming of more sharks (1325), the coming of night time and the possibility of seeing lights (1328-1329). Finally, there are two instances of “would” that are used to express the old man’s wishes (1330, 1331).

Regarding the use of the modal auxiliary “can / could,” there are four instances in which they can be interpreted as either deontic ability or epistemic possibility. For example, the clauses “what can I think of now?” (1304), “He could only use it effectively with one hand because of the grip of the handle” (1305) and “I could have in my time” (1306) can be interpreted, respectively, as referring to the old man’s ability to think, to use the oar handle with one hand and to kill the fish in his prime time, or to the possibility of all these events occurring. Furthermore, there are four instances in which the modal auxiliaries “can/ could” are used primarily to convey epistemic possibility, expressing the old man’s assessments of the situations regarding the fish’s circling (1298), his possibility of killing the sharks by using a bat with two hands (1307-1308) and his distance from the harbour (1309). Also, the epistemic modal operators “could have” and “surely” used in the sentence – “If I could have used a bat with two hands I could have killed the first one surely” (1307-1308)– deserve attention. These are clauses governed by the logical condition that the old man could have used a bat with two hands. The use of the epistemic operators indicates a very low degree of confidence since they are expressed in the past subjunctive denoting a hypothetical rather that a real situation. The non harmonic combination of the epistemic modals “could have” with the ironic use of the modal adverb “surely” at the end of the clause serves to qualify further the statement, indicating more the old man’s tentativeness rather than his conviction towards the truth of the proposition expressed.

Finally, there are eight clauses including the boulomaic modal operator “wish,” expressing the old man’s wish that the painful reality of losing his fish did not happen. He repeats three times that he wishes the reality was just a dream and that he had never hooked the fish (1382, 1283, 1388). The old man seems to seek consolation in dreams when faced with the painful reality of losing the fish he eventually hooks.

4.2 Epistemic Modal Operators

A variety of epistemic modal devices are used throughout the corpus compiled to express the old man’s uncertainty and bewilderment in battling with the fish and the sharks. The modal auxiliaries most frequently used are “may,” “maybe,” “might have,” “might as well have been” and “should have,” which account for seventeen of the total of forty-six epistemic modal operators found in the corpus. Generally they convey epistemic possibility rather than certainty in the old man’s assessments of the likelihood of his hooking the fish and defending it from the sharks’ attacks. The use of tentative modal auxiliaries reveals the old man’s doubts regarding his control over the circumstances. In his most vulnerable moments, he thinks that the reality is just a dream, and that he can only count on luck to help him and hope that things may turn out well (1362, 1363, 1374-1375).

Other than those mostly frequently occurring modal auxiliaries mentioned-above, there are four instances of the modal auxiliary “will,” which are used to convey epistemic possibility regarding the chances of the old man seeing the fish (1336), having luck (1374), other fishermen worrying about him (1364)and being attacked by the sharks again (1379). In the modalized expression “They will probably hit me again” (1379), the modal auxiliary “will” is used in combination with the modal adverb “probably” to weaken the epistemic commitment attaching to the propositional information. Other than the use of the modal “will” to convey epistemic possibility, there is one other instance in which “will” is used to convey deontic duty ­­– “But I will try it once more” (1344), expressing the old man’s recurrent inclination to try once again to catch the fish despite his repeated failures to do so.

The epistemic possibility conveyed by the use of the modal auxiliaries as listed above is reinforced further in some cases by the use of the modal adverb “perhaps” and in others by a range of modal lexical verbs. There are five instances of the use of the modal adverb “perhaps” to indicate the old man’s partial detachment from the truth of the propositions expressed – “Perhaps in an hour I will see him” (1355), “perhaps it was a dream” (1347), “Perhaps not….Perhaps I was only better armed” (1348-1349), “and perhaps it is just a noise” (1350) –. Modal lexical verbs used include “I do not / cannot know” (1342, 1343, 1355), “I wonder” (1345, 1353), “I suppose” (1358); together with the adjectival construction “sure that” found in the modalized expressions “and I am not sure that I believe in it” (1356) and “But I am sure he would have confidence” (1364). All these epistemic modal operators tend to be pre-posed, governing the subsequent propositions stated, and thus qualifying them to express a very low degree of commitment to the truth of the propositional content. For example, in the last two sentences, the two statements “I believe in it” and “he would have confidence” are respectively qualified by the pre-posed modalized adjectival construction “I am not sure that” and “But I am sure,” detaching the speaker from making full commitment to the following propositions expressed. The old man actually is not sure about the modal assessments stated.

Finally, there is a series of other modalized expressions used in the form of interrogatives to express the old man’s self-doubt:  “But do you think…” (1354), “what he could do to a shark if he were….” (1366), “But if I had, and could have …” (1368-1369), “What will you do now…if they come in? What can you do?” (1370-1373). The use of the conditionals “if” is prominent in these clauses, and this series of expressions all use the Free Direct Thought mode to present the old man’s first-person view, highlighting his most vulnerable moments when he is on the verge of losing the battle.

4.3 Speech and Thought Presentation

There are altogether twenty-two instances of Direct Speech (DS), four of Narrative Report of Action (NRA), two of Indirect Thought (IT) and eighty-three of Free Direct Thought (FDT) in the fragment investigated. Events are mainly narrated from a position outside the consciousness of the old man via a non-participating narrator, as realized by the NRA and DS strands. The use of DS is characterized by the presence of introductory reporting clauses (usually placed in the first clause of every paragraph of speech presentation), and reported clauses enclosed in quotation marks. The reporting clauses are alternately “he said” and “the old man said.” In addition, the DS clause in clause 1384 contains some narrative report of action in its reporting clause – “the old man said after he had checked the lashing on the oar butt.” Events are mediated through the consciousness of the old man in the mode of FDT, The thoughts of the old man are presented uniformly in the form of FDT but not in the maximally free type since, even though the reported clauses are all stripped of the quotation marks, they retain the reporting clause in the first thought presentation within every paragraph of thought presentation (as is the case in reported speech). The reporting clause is formed alternately by “he thought” and “the old man thought,” except for clause1319 in which the reporting verb “thought” is changed to “promised.” There are two instances in which the reporting clauses are removed to produce the maximally free form of FDT. This occurs in clauses 1356-1358, when the old man encounters the shark’s attacks on the marlin, and clauses 1368-1373, when he laments the loss of the marlin. The use of FDT mode signals intrusion into the active mind of the old man. He is allowed to express his sequences of thoughts freely without explicit authorial intervention.

5. Analysis of the Target Texts

In this section I categorise the translation shifts identified in the four versions on the basis of Simpson’s (1993) point of view model, and provide quantitative analyses regarding the adjustments techniques used by the four translators in rendering the specific linguistic features investigated. I found prominent shifts in the four Chinese translations and obvious differences are to be found across the four translators’ approaches. Generally, the translation strategies used can be classified into four types: (1) omission, (2) addition, (3) modification and (4) restructuring of the sequences of details. Omission refers to the deletion of details, reproducing relatively reduced pictures of description. By contrast, addition refers to the incorporation of new features into the target text that do not appear in the source text. They are mostly presuppositions or inferences made explicit on the basis of the given information in the original to explicate the specific contexts in which events take place. As for modification, the original images are transposed to new ones to create different descriptions. It should be noted that the boundary between addition and modification is sometimes notclear. In some cases, a rendering can be viewed as an addition or a modification, depending on the angle adopted in the analysis. Finally, the category ‘restructuring of the sequences of details’ describes a situation where the same amount of information is basically preserved in the translation, yet its sequence is altered to produce different emphases.

5.1 Translation of the Deontic and Boulomaic Modal Operators

As shown in Table 1.2, most of the deontic and boulomaic modal operators are preserved in all four Chinese versions, though noticeable adjustments of some of the modal operators are found in the versions by Hai, Li and Zhao. Liappears to make the most adjustments in the translation of the deontic and boulomaic modal operators(twenty-three instances), followed by Zhao (fifteen instances), and Hai (twelve instances). Wu appears to be the most faithful to the original, with only one instance of adjustment made. Table 1.1. below provides a list of the translations of the deontic and boulomaic modal operators found in the four versions to show how they are generally rendered. .

must / mustn’t

一定, 必須, 得, 可不能, 該, 決不要, 就

can / could

可以, 能, 得, 必須, 該, 會, 準能, 準

will / would

要, 會, 還得, 就要, 就能, 就得, 就是, 就成, 還要

wish

想, 但願, 真希望, 情願, 真盼望, 最好, 還不如, 倒情願, 渴望, 巴不得

Table 1.1     Chinese Translations of the Deontic and Boulomaic Modal Operators in the The Old Man and the Sea Mini Corpus

Translation strategy / frequency

Hai

Wu

Li

Zhao

Omission

0

1

6

0

Addition

1

0

1

7

Modification

1

0

14

6

Restructuring of the sequences of details

10

0

2

2

Total frequency

12

1

23

15

Table 1.2     Translation strategies used for of Deontic and Boulomaic Modal Operators

It is noteworthy that the deontic modal “will” in clause 1315 is interpreted differently among the four translators – Hai translates it into“要” to convey the deontic meaning of duty, while Wu and Li both translate it into “就能” and Zhao into “就” to convey the epistemic meaning of probability. Likewise, the deontic modal “will” in clause 1318 is interpreted differently by Hai and Zhao – Hai translates it into “會” to convey the epistemic meaning of probability, Wu and Li simply omit it, whereas Zhao translates it into “要” to convey the deontic meaning of duty. The different interpretations of the modal “will” among the four translations could be a result of the overlap between deontic and epistemic modalities discussed above; the same modal can often be used to convey both deontic and epistemic meanings.

Wu’s translation is the most faithful among the four versions. He made only a slight adjustment by omitting the deontic modal ‘ll’ in expressing the old man’s attempt to pull the fish over to him again (1318).Next to Wu is Hai, there are altogether twelve adjustments made, ten of which are restructurings of the sequences of details, coupled with one addition and one omission. The ten restructurings of the sequences of details are all contributed by fronting the reporting clauses “he thought” and translating them either as “他想:” (a total of eight out of the ten instances) or “他想,” (a total of two out of the ten instances) at the beginning of every thought presentation. In addition, the extensive use of a colon after the reporting clause signals the presence of an omniscient narrator in the thought presentation, which is not found in the original reporting clause of the FDT presentation. Overall, Hai’s rendering of the reporting clauses of the FDT presentation is worthy of attention since it is unique among the four translations examined. As for the one instance of modification, it is a noticeable shift made by changing the reporting clause “the old man promised” in a Free Direct Thought presentation to “但他又下了決心:” (1319-1320). It highlights the old man’s strong determination to try catching the fish once again. Similarly, the recreation of the colon “:” in the presentation of the old man’s thought signals greater authorial intrusion into the old man’s consciousness by indicating the presence of the narrator as it is commonly used in reporting speech in Chinese discourse. Regarding addition, there is one instance of the conjunction “but” and the particle “ah” – “可是啊,” coupled with a repetition of the verb “撐” associated with the modal auxiliary “must” – “可是啊,你不撐也得撐” (1302) – added to emphasise the old man’s deontic duty to endure the battle with the fish.

As for Li’s translation of the deontic and boulomaic modal operators, he made the most adjustments among the four versions studied. There are a total of twenty-three instances of adjustments made, fourteen of which are modifications of the modal auxiliaries, the boulomaic modal operator “wish” and the reporting clauses, together with changing the original declarative statement to interrogative. Regarding the modification of the modal auxiliaries, two of which concern the modal auxiliaries “must” (1291, 1292); one concerns the modal auxiliary “will” – changing “But I will try it” to “我就不客氣” (1327, meaning I will not be friendly); and one is the modification of the boulomaic modal operator “wish” – changing “I wish I had a stone for the knife” to “需要一塊磨刀石” (1384, expressing that the old man needs a stone for the knife). Furthermore, there are three modifications of the reporting clauses – changing the reporting clauses “he thought” to “他盤算好:” (1295, meaning he calculated well); “he thought that” in an IT (Indirect Thought) to the FDT “他想:” (1297, recreating a colon after the reporting clause); “the old man promised” to “老人暗下決心” (1320, meaning the old man was determined secretly). Also, Li seems to have a preference for rhetorical questions. There are two noticeable instances of changing the original statements from declarative to interrogative, one of which is changing “If I could have used a bat with two hands I could have killed the first one surely. Even now,” to “要是我雙手使棍,第一條肯定性命難保。誰笑我老了不中用了?” (1307-1308, meaning if I could have used a stick with two hands, the first shark definitely could have been killed. Who tease me for being old and feeble?) The rhetorical question “誰笑我老了不中用了?” emphasising the old man’s existing vigour is a creation that is not found in the original. Another instance of a creation of a rhetorical question is found in clause 1292 in which “I must not deceive myself too much” is rendered as “何苦自欺欺人?”, highlighting the old man’s affirmation not to deceive himself and others. In addition, there are five modifications made specially by Li to add concrete details of description regarding the part of the fish the shark tears (1293), the old man’s recall of his past accomplishment (1306), the healing effect of the salt water (1322), the way the old man puts the fish in the skiff (1323-1324) and the lights the old man wishes to see (1386-1388). Lastly, there are two restructurings of the sequences of details which appear to be creations of a marked syntactic structure in Chinese that are not attributed to the original; for example, the originally unmarked structure as it could be expressed as “(1)我現在(2)想些什麽好呢?”in the translation of clause 1304 is rendered specially into a marked structure by Li as “(2)我想些什麽好呢?(1)現在,” ; and “(1)人總不會在(2)海上迷路的, (3)何況島是長長的一條” as it could be rendered in the translation of clause 1332 is translated deliberately as “(2)海上,(1)人總不會迷路的,(3)何況島是長長的一條, ” emphasising respectively “the present moment” when the old man is thinking and “the sea” in which a man is never lost. Such creations of a marked syntactic structure produce special stylistic effects that are not found in the original.

Regarding Zhao’s translation, there are seven additions, six modifications and two restructurings of the sequences of details found. As for the seven additions made, they all appear to be minor details as logical presuppositions made explicit on the basis of the given information in the original to reproduce expanded descriptions; for example, adding the repetition “我決不要自己瞞自己” (1292, meaning I should not deceive myself) to “I must not deceive myself too much”. As for the six modifications, four are made to the reporting clauses of the FDT presentation. Overall, Zhao appears to be more creative than the other translators in rendering the reporting clauses “he thought” into varied descriptions of the old man’s “saying,” “estimating” and “asking” to himself instead of just merely “thinking” as that described in the original. Another creative rendering of Zhao’s translation is found in his translation of the deontic modalized expressions contained in the DS presentation– “He’ll be up soon and I can last. You have to last. Don’t even speak of it” (1302), which are rendered as “它快上來了,我撐得住。哼,你就得撐著,這還用說!”The interjection “哼” (pronounced as “heng”) is added to the original, giving the old man’s speech a livelier tone than that in the ST, and an exclamation mark “!” is added to produce emphasis at the end of the creation “這還用說!” , highlighting the old man’s self-esteem and confidence in his ability to endure the battle with the fish. Moreover, there is a slight adjustment made in the description of the old man’s sailing the skiff – “and he sailed the skiff to make his home port as well and as intelligently as he could” (1311), in which the circumstance of manner “as well and as intelligently as he could to” is changed to “駕得盡量穩當, 盡量用心,” depicting that the old man sails the skiff steadily and attentively, showing once again a more flexible rendering of the original diction “well” and “intelligently.”

Finally, there are two instances of the restructuring of the sequences of details found in Zhao’s translation of the deontic modals; one of which is in the modalized expression “Now I must prepare the nooses and the rope” (1288), in which the original order of “the nooses” and “the rope” is reversed as “繩子跟活套,” showing a slight adjustment of the original sequence of details. Another striking example of shift is found in the restructuring of the unmarked syntactic structure as it could be normally expressed in Chinese – (1)因為槳把子上有個把手, (2)要一隻手拿著才好使” – into a marked structure in the translation – “ (2)要一隻手拿著才好使,(1)因為槳把子上有個把手” (1305). In Chinese, the conjunction “因為” regarding the cause is normally put before “所以” regarding the result in the conjunctions linking clause, yet in this example Zhao deliberately follows the original sequence of events and presents the result “要一隻手拿著才好使” (He could only use it effectively with one hand) before the cause “因為槳把子上有個把手(because of the grip of the handle), reproducing a marked syntactic structure that appears to be influenced by the original. Such a way of recreating a marked syntactic structure is displayed similarly in Li’s rendering of clauses 1304 and 1332 as explained above. On the whole, Li and Zhao appear to be more flexible and creative in reordering the original sequences of events compared with Hai and Wu.

5.2 Translation of the Epistemic Modal Operators

Generally, most of the epistemic modal operators are retained in the four translations with only minor adjustments made by Hai and Zhao, and obvious shifts only to be found in Li’s version. Wu’s translation is still the most faithful to the original with no obvious shifts uncovered. There are totally four, seven, and eleven instances of the four types of adjustment found respectively in the versions of Zhao, Hai, and Liin the translation of the epistemic modal operators, which are all relatively less than those found in the translation of the deontic and boulomaic modal operators. Table 1.3 below first provides a list of the translations of the major epistemic modal operators identified in the four Chinese translations to show how they are generally rendered. It is then followed by Table 1.4, which outlines the frequencies of the four types of adjustment made in the translation of the epistemic modal operators in the four versions. As in the previous section, following the presentation of statistics is an overall description of the findings uncovered.

Perhaps

說不定, 也許可能, 沒準兒, 怕也未必, 或許

May

就會, 也許會, 該是, 還可, 會, 也許, 還會, 倒可以

Maybe

也許, 作興, 或許, 沒準兒, 說不定

Will

就會, 就能, 就, 會, 還要, 要, 也會

I wonder

我不懂, 不知道, 不明白, 我不曉得

I suppose

我猜想, 我看, 我想

should have

應該, 原該, 總該, 也會

might have

也許, 也許, 說不定, 那也可能

I do not know

我摸不透, 我弄不懂, 我不知道, 真不知道

I cannot know

我可沒法知道, 我沒法知道, 我沒法兒知道

Table 1.3     Chinese Translations of Major Epistemic Modal Operators in the The Old Man and the Sea Mini Corpus

Translation strategy / frequency

Hai

Wu

Li

Zhao

Omission

0

0

1

1

Addition

2

0

1

2

Modification

0

0

9

0

Restructuring of the sequences of details

5

0

0

1

Total frequency

7

0

11

4

Table 1.4     Translation strategies used for  Epistemic Modal Operators

As shown in Table 1.4 above, most of the epistemic modal operators are rendered into their similar counterparts according to the original over the four translations. In Hai’s translation of the epistemic modal operators, there are slight adjustments made in the form of addition (a total of two instances) and restructuring of the sequences of details (a total of five instances), which are all contributed by the fronting of the reporting clauses “he thought” or “the old man thought.” As for addition, a reporting clause “他想:” is specially added to the FDT presentation – “I do not know. But I will try it once more” (1343-1344), while in the original the reporting clause “the old man thought” occurs only once at the beginning of the FDT presentation. Moreover, a slight addition is made by adding the expression “話又說回來” (meaning in retrospect) to the past subjunctive “But if I had, and could have lashed it to an oar butt, what a weapon” (1368-1369) to highlight the old man’s projected view on his possibility of lashing the shark to an oar butt. As for the five restructurings of the sequences of details, four of which are made by fronting the reporting clause “he thought” and translating it as “他想:” at the beginning of the FDT presentation, while one is contributed by fronting the reporting clause “the old man thought” and translating it as “老頭兒想:”. By fronting the reporting clause and adding a colon after it in every FDT presentation, Hai puts extra emphasis on the voice of the narrator in reporting the old man’s thoughts. Such a way of rendering the reporting clauses of the FDT presentation is found consistently throughout the corpus studied in Hai’s version as explained before.

As for Li’s version, one omission, one addition and nine modifications were found, accounting for a total of eleven shifts, showing that he has consistently made the most changes among the four translations investigated. Three of the nine modifications concern the epistemic modal auxiliaries “may” (1337, 1362) and “should have” (1359). The epistemic modal “may” in “It may make him jump through” (1337) is changed to “它該是要跳的呀” (meaning “it should jump”), shifting the low value of possibility conveyed by “may” in the original to the high value of certainty expressed by the modal auxiliary “該是”; and another “may” in “you may have much luck yet” (1362) is changed to “你交上好運的” (meaning “you will have luck”), thus similarly enhancing the value of possibility conveyed by “may” in the original to the value of probability conveyed by “會” in the translation. Moreover, the epistemic modal “should have” in “I should have brought a stone” (1359) is changed to “我帶一塊來就好” (meaning it would be good if I brought one), weakening the deontic sense of duty conveyed by the original deontic modal “should have.” In addition, the modal lexical verb “I wonder” contained in the FDT clause “I wonder how the great DiMaggio would have liked the way I hit him in the brain” (1353) is changed to the subjunctive “如果迪馬齊奧見我一叉擊中它腦門,不知該多麽高興?” in the form of an interrogative to denote the hypothetical situation that DiMaggio would be happy to see the old man hit the fish’s brain. The rhetorical question “不知該多麽高興?” (meaning “how he would have liked it”) is a creation that is not found in the original. Other than the modification of epistemic modals, there are two marked alterations of reporting clauses; one of which is changing the reporting clause “he had thought” contained in the IT clause “he had thought perhaps it was a dream” (1347) to “心裏就想過:”, shifting the original IT presentation to one of FDT by signaling the reporting clause with a colon, expressing the old man’s thought – “也許這只是個夢”(meaning “perhaps it is a dream”) in the first person from his own view. Another instance is found in the rendering of the reporting clause in the FDT presentation “and what he could do to a shark if he were swimming free. I should have chopped the bill off to fight them with, he thought” (1366-1367), in which the reporting clause “he thought” is fronted at the beginning of the FDT presentation and rendered specially as “他總想著大魚:” (meaning “he kept thinking of the fish”) with a colon after which to signal the presence of the narrator. Moreover, the subsequent detail regarding the old man who chops the shark’s bill in fighting with it is slightly modified as “我可以把它的劍吻砍下來當作武器” (meaning “I should have chopped the bill off and used it as weapon”). The remaining three modifications are all minor adjustments made to the concrete details such as that about the old man’s feeding many people (1358), and his confidence that the boy will worry about him (1364),

Regarding Zhao’s translation of the epistemic modal operators, only slight adjustments are made, including one omission, two additions and one restructuring of the sequence of details. For omission, the epistemic modal lexical verb “I am sure” in “But I am sure he would have confidence” (1364) is omitted, presenting the proposition more like a categorical assertion than a modalized expression as used in the original – “不過他一定會有信心。上點兒歲數的漁民,有好些會著急。” For the two additions, they are both further details added on the basis of the given information to explicate the contexts of events, such as adding “我撐不撐得下去” to “I do not know” (1342) to make clear that the old man does not know whether he can last or not, and adding the adverb “本來” (1378, meaning “originally”) to emphasise that the old man might originally have bought luck. Lastly, there is a restructuring of the sequences of events regarding the old man’s doubt about whether the great DiMaggio would have liked the way he hit the shark’s brain; the detail “would have liked the way,” translated as “喜不喜歡?” (1353), is placed specially at the end of the clause for emphasis, showing a more flexible rendering of the original sequences of events.

5.3 Translation of Speech and Thought Presentation

Regarding the translation of the speech and thought presentation, it appears that the strands of NRA, DS and FDT are generally rendered faithfully in the four translations, except for the special fronting of the reporting clause “he thought” or “the old man thought” and the addition of a colon after it to form the reporting clause “他想:” or “老頭兒想:” in Hai’s translation (with a total of fifteen instances, two of which are formed by a comma rather than a colon after each), and the recreation of the reporting clauses into a range of interesting expressions in Li’s translation such as “他盤算好:” , “他總想著大魚:” and in Zhao’s translation such as “他心裏在說,” “他心裏說,” “他估計” and “他心裏在問.”

FDT presentation is subject to important changes in the translations by Hai, Li and Zhao. The use of the colon after the reporting clause in Hai’s version and a few similar instances in Li’s translations as mentioned above can be said to highlight more strongly than the original the presence of the narrator in FDT. Furthermore, there are two peculiar instances in which the IT mode in Li’s translation is changed to FDT by recreating the reporting clauses “and he thought that” to “他想:” (1297), and “he had thought” to “心裏就想過:” (1347), presenting the old man’s thoughts from his own first-person view rather than from a third-person view via an external narrator in the form of IT as that appears in the original.

6. Conclusion

In view of the linguistic findings of the translation shifts gathered in this corpus-based study with regard to modality, it is clear that Li’s and Zhao’s translations have made more drastic changes to the original than Hai’s and Wu’s translations. Li has consistently made the most adjustments whereas Wu the least in the translation of all types of linguistic features investigated. Li uses rhetorical questions, changes declaratives into interrogatives, and modifies the reporting clauses creatively. In addition, the most prominent strategies Li uses are omission and modification. Li tends to omit rather than to explicate information, reproducing relatively reduced pictures of descriptions. Furthermore, he employs modification extensively to transpose the original images into new ones. Different from Li’s version, Zhao’s is the most creative among the four in reordering the sequences of information flexibly to reproduce different emphases or stylistic effects in descriptions. Restructuring of the sequences of details and addition are his outstanding strategies used. The additions are mostly presuppositions or inferences made explicit to explicate the specific contexts in which events take place. Furthermore, modifications are occasionally used to reproduce slightly shifted images. Yet compared to Li, Zhao makes less drastic adjustments; his translation replicates the original to a greater degree. It is worthy of attention that Li’s and Zhao’s translations both display new linguistic and stylistic features that are not found in the original and the other two versions, particularly in the rendering of FDT and the choice of diction. For example, they both invent marked syntactic structures, producing special stylistic effects that attract attention. Also, they both render the reporting clauses interestingly into varied expressions, representing the old man’s monologues in a livelier manner. In contrast to Li’s and Zhao’s translations, Wu’s translation is the closet to the original with only very slight adjustments made. As for Hai’s translation, except for generally fronting the reporting clauses “he thought” and translating them as “他想: ” to indicate the presence of the narrator, an instance of changing the FDT to DT, and a few instances of modifying the reporting clauses to highlight the old man’s strong determination to fight the battle, Hai’s translation can be considered to stick quite closely to the source text. More importantly, though obvious shifts occur in all four translations and they each exhibit their own distinctive features, generally they still fall within the boundary of the original in replicating it quite closely. Overall, the adjustments made in the translations by Hai, Wu and Zhao can be considered light. In addition, the NRA, the DS and the FDT presentation are generally retained with innovative creations of new stylistic features by Li and Zhao.

As a conclusion, I identified the recurring patterns of linguistic behavior or stylistic traits of the four translations of The Old Man and the Sea through systematic comparison of the original and its four translations by using simple corpus processing tools. The quantified findings generated serve as a useful starting point for spotting interesting areas of investigation, but they tend to be individual decontextualized lexical choices that provide little insight into the translators’ motivations. Thus, in future research, qualitative analysis could be conducted on the basis of the prominent findings of the quantitative analysis to inspect individual options within their immediate cotext and context. Those instances revealing distinctive individual styles of the four translators in the translation of modal expressions and speech and thought presentation could be selected for further close critical analysis. Moreover, extra-textual information related to the translators’ intention and orientation and the translation situations could also be collected for complementing the quantitative method of analysis in understanding better the translators’ choices.

References

Hai, G. (Trans.). (1957). The Old Man and the Sea [Lao Ren Yu Hai]. Shanghai: Xin Wenyi.

Han, Y. (2005). Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics (Distance learning course materials). Hong Kong: The Open University of Hong Kong.

Hemingway, E. (1952, 1993). The Old Man and the Sea. London: Arrow Books.

Leech, G. N. & Short, M. H. (1981) Style in fiction. London: Longman.

Li, X. Y. (Trans.). (1987a) The Old Man and the Sea [Lao Ren Yu Hai]. Sichuan: Sichuan Wenyi.

Simpson, P. (1990). Modality in literary-critical discourse. In W. Nash (Ed.), The writing scholar studies in academic discourse vol. 3 (pp.63-94). London et al.: Sage Publications.

Simpson, P. (1993). Language, ideology and point of View. London & New York: Routledge.

Wu, L. (Trans.). (1987). Torrents of Spring / The Old Man and the Sea [Chun Chao / Lao Ren Yu Hai]. Shanghai: Shanghai Yiwen.

Zhao, S. W. (Tran.). (Tran.). (1987). The Old Man and the Sea [Lao Ren Yu Hai]. Lijiang: Lijiang.

Notes

[1]Examples are selected from the parallel corpus of The Old Man and the Sea I compiled to illustrate the specific linguistic items introduced. The number in brackets beside each example given refers to the number of the clause labelled originally in the corpus.

About the author(s)

Elaine Ng received a PhD in Comparative Literature from University College London in the UK. Her areas of research are stylistics, systemic functional grammar of English and Chinese, corpus-linguistics and translation studies. She is currently a lecturer in English Language at the Center for Language Education of Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China. Previously, she served as an Assistant Professor and the Programme Coordinator of Applied Translation Studies at United International College (UIC) in Zhuhai, China from 2010 to 2013 where she taught English language and literature and translation courses. Earlier in her career after graduation from her PhD studies in 2009, she was a lecturer at the School of Continuing Education (SCE) of Hong Kong Baptist University. She has substantial experience teaching English, linguistics, translation and literature courses in Universities in Hong Kong and China. She has been actively participating in Conference and scholarly activities and has published peer-reviewed articles related to her research interests.

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©inTRAlinea & Elaine Y.L. Ng (2017).
"A corpus-bases study of The Translation of Point of View in four Chinese Translations of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Corpora and Literary Translation
Edited by: Titika Dimitroulia and Dionysis Goutsos
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL: http://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/2255

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