TRANSLATION OF IDIOMATIC/PHRASEOLOGICAL AND STABLE EXPRESSIONS



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TRANSLATION OF IDIOMATIC/PHRASEOLOGICAL AND STABLE EXPRESSIONS



Idiomatic or phraseological expressions are structurally, lexi­cally and semantically fixed phrases or sentences having mostly the meaning, which is not made up by the sum of meanings of their com­ponent parts1. An indispensable feature of idiomatic (phraseological) expressions is their figurative, i.e., metaphorical nature and usage. It is this nature that makes them distinguishable from structurally identical free combinations of words Cf.: red tape (free word-comb.) червона стрічка - red tape (idiom) канцелярський формалізм (бюрократизм); the tables are/were fumed (free word-comb.) столи перекинуті/були перекинуті - the tables are turned (idiom) ситуація докорінно змінилася; супротивники помінялися ролями/місцями; play with fire гратися з вогнем біля багаття (free word-comb.) гратися з вогнем - наражатися на небезпеку (idiom).

On rare occasions the lexical meaning of idiomatically bound expressions can coincide with their direct, i.e., not transferred mean­ing, which facilitates their understanding as in the examples like: to make way дати дорогу; to die a dog's death здохнути як собака; to receive a hero's welcome зустрічати як героя; wait a minute/a mo-mentзачекайте хвилинку/ один момент; to tell (you) the truth правду казати/правду кажучи; to dust one's coat/jacket витрусити пальто/ піджака - дати духопеликів (idiom).

Some proper names can also be endowed with figurative mean­ing and possess the necessary expressiveness which are the distin­guishing features of idioms2: Croesus, Tommy (Tommy Atkins), Yan­kee, Mrs. Grundy, Jack Ketch, etc. These proper names have ac­quired their constant meaning and can not be confused with usual (common) proper names of people. As a result their transferred mean­ing is conveyed in a descriptive way. So Mrs. Grundy means світ, люди, існуюча мораль; JackKetchnar, Croesus Крез, надзвичайно багата людина; Tommy Atkins англійський солдат; Yankee (in Eu­rope) янкі/американець, etc.

Idiomatic/phraseological expressions should not be mixed up with different fixed/set prepositional, adjectival, verbal and adverbial

1 See: Кунин А.В. Фразеология английского язьїка. - М.: Международ.
отношения, 1972. Martin H. Manser. A Dictionary of Contemporary Idioms. - Lon­
don, Pan Books Ltd., 1983.

2 See: Collins V.N. A Book of English Idioms. - Л.: Учпедгиз, 1950. Англо-український
фразеологічний словник. Склав К.Т. Баранцев. - Київ: Рад. шк., 1969.


phrases the meaning of which is not an actual sum of meanings made up by their constituent parts either: by George, by and by, for all of, for the sake of, cut short, make believe; or compounds like: topsy­turvy, higledy-piggledy; coordinate combinations like: high and dry, cut and run, touch and go; Tom, Dick and Harry, etc. These and a lot of other stable expressions can very often be treated as standardized collocations. Their meaning can be rendered in a descriptive way too, like that of genuine idiomatic expressions: fifty-fifty так собі; ні добре ні погано; О.К все гаразд, на належному рівні; cut short обірвати, присікти/припинити щось (поїздку), обірвати (розмову).

Such and the like stable expressions, like most of other stand­ardized collocations, have usually a transparent meaning and are easier to translate than regular idioms (the so-called phraseological fusions). Meanwhile it is next to impossible to guess, for example, the meaning of the English idiom Hobson's с/ю/се from the seemingly transparent meanings of its componental parts. Only a philological inquiry helps establish the meaning of the name and the real sense of the idiom -«no choice whatsoever», «acceptance of what is offered» жодного вибору.

Similarly treated must also be many other English and Ukrain­ian picturesque idioms, proverbs and sayings, which have national literary images and reflect the traditions, customs, the way of con­duct or the mode of life of a nation. Their meaning, due to absence of similar idioms in the target language, can be rendered descriptively, i.e. through a regular explication. The latter, depending on the seman­tic structure of the source language idiom, may be sometimes achieved in the target language with the help of a single word. Cf.: English:an odd/queer fish дивак; Canterbury tale небувальщина, вигадка; blue bonnet («синій берет») шотландець; ніде курці клюнути crammed; зубами тертяка вибивати to be chilled. Most often, however, the meaning of this kind of idioms is conveyed with the help of free word-combinations: to dine with Duke Humphrey залишитись без обіду (нічого не ївши); to cut off with a shilling позбавити когось спадщини. Similarly in Ukrainian:ноги на плечі to go quickly (or very quickly) on one's feet; зуби з'їсти на чомусь to have great experience in something; кивати/накивати п'ятами to run away quickly/hurriedly.

It goes without saying that none of the phraseologisms above can be translated word-for-word since their constituent images would lose their connotative, i.e., metaphorical meaning in the target lan­guage. So, пообідати з герцогом Гамфрі or * обрізати шилінгом could be understood by the Ukrainian language speakers in their lit-


 




eral meaning. The same can be said about our idiom ноги на плечі та й гайда, i.e., *with one's legs on the shoulders which would never be understood, when translated literally, by the English language native speakers. Therefore, the componental images, when mechanically transplanted to the target language, may often bring about a complete destruction of the idiomatic expression.

The choice of the way of translation of this kind of idioms may be predetermined by the source language context or by the exist­ence/absence of contextual equivalents for the idiomatic/stable ex­pression in the target language. Thus, in the examples below units of this kind can be translated into Ukrainian either with the help of a single word or with the help of a standardized phraseological expres­sion: to give a start здригнутися; to give heart to one підбадьорювати, морально підтримувати когось; the weaker vessel (facet) жінка (прекрасна стать; жіноцтво; слабша половина людства), me Holy /МотегБогоматір.

Not infrequently the meaning of a standardized collocation (af­ter Acad. V.V.Vinigradov) like that of a regular idiom may have syn­onymous single word equivalents in the target language. The choice of the equivalent is predetermined then by the meaning of the stand­ardized collocation/phraseologism and by the style of the sentence where it is used: to make sure упевнитись (пеконатися), забезпечувати; to make comfort втішатися; to take place відбуватися; траплятися; the world and his w/feyci.

Similarly treated are also traditional combinations which have in the target language several stylistically neutral free equivalents (words or word-combinations) as: to run a risk ризикувати, йти на ризик, to apply the screw натиснути (на когось); to drop like a hot potato швидко позбутися когось, обірвати стосунки, раптово припинити знайомство.

Faithful translating of a large number of picturesque idiomatic/ phraseological expressions, on the other hand, can be achieved only by a thorough selection of variants having in the target language a similar to the original lexical meaning, and also their picturesqueness and expressiveness. This similarity can be based on common in the source language and in the target language componental images as well as on the structural form of them. As a result, the meaning of such idioms is mostly guessed by the students, which generally facilitates their translation.

A few examples will suffice to prove it. English:a grass widow (widower) солом'яна вдова (вдівець); not to see a step beyond one's


nose далі свого носа нічого не бачити; measure twice and cut once сім раз одміряй, а раз відріж; nor for love or money ні за які гроші/ ні за що в світі; Ukrainian:не знати/тямити ні бе, ні ме, ні кукуріку (not to know chalk from cheese); вночі що сіре, те й вовк all cats are grey in the dark, який батько, такий син, яка хата, такий тин (яблучко від яблуні далеко не відкочується) like father, like son; not a cat's/dog's chance жодних шансів/можливостей, (однієї) клепки бракує (he) has not all his buttons, etc.

It often happens that the target language has more than one semantically similar/analogous phraseological expression for one in the source language. The selection of the most fitting variant for the passage under translation should be based then not only on the se­mantic proximity of the idioms/phraseologisms but also on the simi­larity in their picturesqueness, expressiveness and possibly in their basic images. The bulk of this kind of phraseological expressions belong to the so-called phraseological unities. (Vinogradov). Here are some Ukrainian variants of the kind of English phraselogisms: either win the saddle or loose the horse або пан, або пропав; або перемогу здобути, або вдома не бути; many hands make work light це згода, там і вигода; гуртом і чорта побореш; гуртом і батька добре бити; громада - великий чоловік; a man can die but once від смерті не втечеш; раз мати народила, раз і вмирати; раз козі смерть; двом смертям не бути, а одної не минути; haste makes waste/the more haste, the less speed тихше їдеш - далі будеш, поспішиш - людей насмішиш, хто спішить - той людей смішить.

A number of phraseological units, due to their common source of origin, are characterized in English and Ukrainian by partial or complete identity of their syntactic structure, their componental im­ages, picturesqueness and expressiveness (and consequently of their meaning). Such kind of idioms often preserve a similar or even identi­cal word order in the source language and in the target language. Hence, they are understood and translated by our students without difficulties: to cast pearls before swine кидати перла перед свиньми; to be born under a lucky star народилася під щасливою зіркою; to cherish/warm a viper in one's bosom пригріти гадюку в пазусі; to be/ fall between Scilla and Charybdis бути між Сціллою і Харібдою/між двох вогнів.

One of the peculiar features of this type of idiomatic expres­sions is their international nature. Only few of them have phraseologi­cal synonyms of national flavour, being thus restricted to correspond-


 




ing speech styles, whereas international idioms predominantly belong
to the domain of higher stylistic level:
Genuine Internationalisms National/Colloquial Variants

The apple of discord яблуко The bone of contention. The

розбрату, яблуко чвар bone of discord

Strike the iron while it is hot make hay while the sun shines

куй залізо, доки гаряче коси, коса, поки роса

neither fish nor flesh ні Богові свічка, ні чортові

ні риба ні м'ясо шпичка; ні пава, ні ґава

to cross the Styx to turn one's toes up

канути в Лету; піти в непам'ять простягти/витягнути ноги

National/colloquial variants of international idiomatic substitutes, therefore, always differ considerably by their picturesqueness, expres­siveness and their lexical meaning. They are only semantically analogous to genuine equivalents, which may sometimes lack absolute identity in the source language and in the target language (to cross the Styx канути в Лету; to drop from the clouds з неба впасти; neither fish nor flesh ні пава ні ґава).

As can be seen, some international idiomatic expressions slightly differ in English and Ukrainian either in their structural form and lexical/idiomatic meaning or in the images making up the idioms. Thus, the idiomatic expression to fish in troubled waters has in Eng­lish the plural of waters whereas in its Ukrainian equivalent has a singular form, moreover, the component to fish is detalized and ex­tended to ловити рибку (рибу) в каламутній воді; the Society of Jesus is орден єзуїтів (but not the Order of Jesus) and the Babel of tongues is вавілонське стовпотворіння and not *Вавілон мов.

Slight divergences are also observed in several other English and Ukrainian international equivalents: the game is (not) worth the candle (singular) варта гра свічок (plural). The idiom a sound mind in a sound body, on the other hand, has a reverse position of its component parts: у здоровому тілі здоровий дух.

Therefore, each of the above-given idiomatic expressions has either a different form of a component/image, a different word order or a slightly different lexical meaning of a componental part. And yet despite the pointed out divergences such and the like idiomatic ex­pressions/phraseological units do not cease to be absolute equiva­lents in either of the two languages.


Apart from the kinds of idiomatic expressions singled out on the foregoing pages, there exists in each language a specific national layer of idiomatic/phraseological expressions comprising also prov­erbs and sayings, which are formed on the basis of componental im­ages pertaining solely to a concrete national language. Such idioms are first of all distinguished by their picturesqueness, their expres­siveness and lexical meaning of their own. Due to their national par­ticularity, these idioms/phraseologisms can not and do not have tradi­tionally established literary variants in the target language. As a re­sult, their structural form and wording in different translations may often lack absolute identity. In their rough/interlinear or word-for-word variants they mostly lose their aphoristic/idiomatic nature and thus are often subject to literary perfection: the moon is not seen when the sun shines місяця не видно, коли світить сонце/ місяця не помічають, коли світить сонце; it is a great victory that comes with­out blood велика та перемога, яку здобувають без пролиття крові or найбільша та перемога, яка здобувається без пролиття крові.

Similarly translated are some Ukrainian national phraseologisms into English: один дурень так зіпсує, що й десять розумних не направять what is spoiled by one fool can not be mended by ten wisemen; малі діти - малий клопіт, великі діти - великий клопіт small children - smaller troubles, grown-up children - grave troubles.

Isomorphic is also the existence in both the languages of a number of idiomatic expressions which are of regular sentence-type structure containing some common componental parts. Hence, their lexical meaning, nothing to say about their componental images, their picturesqueness and their expressiveness are identical as well. This is predetermined by their common source of origin in English and in Ukrainian: if you run after two hares, you will catch neither якщо побіжиш за двома зайцями, не впіймаєш жодного; a drowning man will catch (snatch) at a straw потопаючий хапається за соломинку (і за соломинку вхопиться, хто топиться); Bacchus has drowned more men than Neptune Вакх утопив більше людей, ніж Нептун (вино загубило більше людей, ніж море); he who spares the rod spoils the child хто жаліє різку, той збавляє дитину.

As can be noticed from these examples, some English and Ukrainian idiomatic expressions are far from uniform lexically, struc­turally, and by their componental images, picturesqueness and ex­pressiveness. They do not always spring from the same source of origin either. Because of this a faithful translation of phraseological/


 




idiomatic expressions depends upon some factors the main of which are as follows:

1) whether the idiomatic expression in the source language and in the target language is of the same/different source of origin;

2) whether the idiomatic expression has in the target language only one, more than one or all componental images in common;

3) whether the componental images, when translated, are per­ceived by the target language speakers;

4) whether the structural form of the idiomatic expressions can be retained in the target language without any transformations;

5) whether there exists an analogous/similar in sense idiomatic expression in the target language, etc.

All these and some other factors should not be neglected when translating idiomatic/phraseological expressions from and into Eng­lish. In fact, here exists a regular interdependence between the lexi­cal meaning, the origin, the picturesqueness and the expressiveness of idioms on the one hand and the method of their translating on the other.

Taking into account these and some other factors, the following ways of faithful rendering the idiomatic/phraselogical expressions are to be identified:

1. By Choosing Absolute/Complete Equivalents

This is the method of translating by which every componental part of the source language idiom is retained in the target language unchanged. The componental parts include all notionals and also the lexically charged functionals which contribute to the lexical meaning of the idiomatic/phraseological expression. The notional components also create the main images (the picturesqueness), the expressive­ness and the figurative (connotative) meanings of idiomatic expressions. Translating with the help of equivalents is resorted to when dealing with idioms which originate from the same source in both the languages in question. These sources may be:

1) Greek or other mythology: Augean stables авгієві стайні (занедбане, занехаяне місце); Cassandra warning застереження Кассандри (застереження, на які не звертають уваги, але які збуваються); Hercules' Pillars (the Pillars of Hercules) геркулесові стовпи (Ґібралтарська протока); a labour of Sisyphus сізіфова праця (важка і марна праця); Pandora's box скринька Пандори/Пандорина скриня (джерело всіляких лих); the Trojan horse троянський кінь (прихована небезпека); Aladdin's lamp Аладдінова лампа; between Scilla and Charybdis між Сціллою і Харібдою;


 

2) ancient history or literature: an ass in a lion's skin (назва однієї з байок Езопа) осел у левовій шкурі; to cross (pass) the Rubicon перейти Рубікон (прийняти важливе рішення); the die is thrown/cast жеребок кинуто (рішення прийнято); the golden age золотий вік (золоті часи); / came, I saw, I conquered прийшов, побачив, переміг;

3) the Bible or works based on a biblical plot: to cast the first stone at one першим кинути у когось каменем; to cast pearls be­fore swine розсипати перла перед свиньми; the golden calf золотий телець/ідол; a lost sheep забпудпа вівця; the massacre (slaughter) of innocents винищення немовлят; the ten commandments десять заповідей; the thirty pieces of silver тридцять срібняків; prodigal son блудний син.

A great many absolute equivalents originate from contempo­rary literary or historical sources relating to different languages (mainly to French, Spanish, Danish, German, Italian, Arabic). English:Time is money час - гроші; self made man людина, що сама проклала собі шлях у житті; my house is my castle мій дім - моя фортеця. French:after us the deluge після нас хоч потоп; the fair sex прекрасна стать; the game is worth the candle гра варта свічок; more royalist than the king більший монархіст ніж сам король; to pull the chestnuts out of the fire вигрібати (чужими руками) каштани з вогню; one's place in the sun місце під сонцем; Spanish:blue blood блакитна кров; the fifth column (introduced in English by E. Hemingway)* п'ята колона; to tilt at the windmills (introduced by Cervantes) воювати з вітряками; Italian:Dante's inferno Дантове пекло; finita la commedia ділу кінець; Arabic:Aladdin's lamp лампа Аладдіна; German:da ist der Hundbegraben ось де собака заритий; Sturm und Drang буря і натиск.

Some mots belonging to prominent English and American au­thors have also turned into regular idiomatic expressions. Due to their constant use in belles-lettres they have become known in many languages. Especially considerable is the amount of Shakespearean mots: better a witty fool than a foolish wit краще дотепний дурень, ніж дурний дотеп; cowards die many times before their deaths боягузи вмирають багато разів; something is rotten in the state of Denmark, etc. не все гаразд у Данському королівстві; vanity fair (J. Bunyan) ярмарок марнославства/суєти; to reign in hell is better than to serve in heaven (J. Milton) краще панувати в пеклі, ніж слугувати в раю;

* First used by Emilio Mola Vidal, a nationalist general during the Spanish Civil War.


 




the banana republic {О. Henry) бананова республіка; the last of the Mohicans останній з могікан; to bury a hatchet (F. Cooper) закопати томагавк (укласти мир); the almighty dollar (W. Irving) всемогутній долар; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today ніколи не відкладай на завтра те, що можна зробити сьогодні; the execution of the laws is more important than the making of them (T. Jefferson) закони виконувати важче, ніж їх створювати/писати; the iron heel (J. London) залізна п'ята (ярмо); gone with the wind(M. Mitchell) пішло за вітром/знесено вітром; fftecold war(W. Lippamn) холодна війна; Iron Curtain (W. Churchill) залізна завіса, silent majority (Pres.Nixon), etc.

Translating with the help of monoequivalents, as the absolute equivalents are sometimes called, is very often made use of when dealing with the sentence idioms containing the subject, the predi­cate, and some other parts of the sentence, though some minor al­terations in their structure/word order may not be excluded altogether. Such alterations, however, do not change either the denotative mean­ing or the componental images, the picturesqueness, expressiveness or connotative meaning of idioms: appetite comes while eaf/пдапетит приходить під час їжі; kings go mad and the people suffer from it королі божеволіють, а народ страждає (cf. пани скубуться, а в мужиків чуби тріщать); the last drop makes the cup run over остання краплина переповнює чашу; let the cock crow or not, the day will come співатиме півень, чи ні, а день настане; money is the sinews of war гроші - «м'язи» війни; of two evils choose the least із двох лих вибирай менше; out of the mouths of babies speaks the truth (wisdom) устами немовлят говорить істина/мудрість; the pen is mightier than the sword перо могутніше за меч; Caesar's wife must be beyond suspicion (Caesar) Цезарова дружина не повинна бути під підозрою/ повинна бути поза підозрою; the invasion of armies is resisted, the invasion of ideas is not (Hugo) вторгненню армій можна чинити опір, вторгненню ідей - ніколи, attic salt/wit дотепи, тонка насмішка, etc.

As has been said, the target language variants of phraseologi­cal monoequivalents may sometimes slightly differ in their structure or in the order of words from the source language idioms (cf. let the cock crow or not співатиме півень чи ні). These minor changes in the structural form, however, do not influence in any way the meaning and the expressiveness or picturesqueness of absolute equivalents in the target language.

Not only regular idioms but also many so-called standardized word-combinations, which may often originate in the two languages


from a common source, can be translated by absolute equivalents. Due to this, they retain in the target language the semantic identity and the componental structure of the source language units: to give help подавати/надавати допомогу; to win/gain a victory здобути/ здобувати перемогу; to make an attempt зробити спробу; to throw light проливати світло, etc.

Standardized word-combinations, as will be shown below, can also be translated in some other ways, which is an obvious testimony to the unchangeable inconsistency of the way identified as «translation by means of loans» («кальки», «калькування»),



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