Translations by Marcelo González

On translating metaphors / Sobre la traducción de la metáfora

2.1.1  Metaphors


Often posing translational challenges on multiple levels, metaphor “is a pervasive feature in language” (Dickens 229) and “epitomizes the complexity of communication” (Samaniego Fernández 161). In two widely-cited articles, Dagut describes metaphor as being “by definition ‘original’” and “at the frontier of linguistic change” (1976: 22-23); “an individual creative flash of imagination fusing disparate categories of experience in a powerfully meaningful semantic anomaly” that “presents a particularly searching test of the translator’s ability” (1987: 77). In this vein, Hanne states: “Translating metaphor is one of the most fascinating challenges for translators of journalistic and literary texts, since it requires us to draw on a great range of our imaginative, cultural and linguistic resources” (208) (also see, inter alia, Dobrzyńska; Pisarsca; Schäffner 2004a; Q. Al-Zoubi et al; Prandi; Schäffner and Shuttleworth).

  In this context, what follows is a selection of metaphors, together with their proposed translations and related analyses, preceded by back-translations (i.e., re-translations into the SL) to elucidate the cross-lingual transfer of figurative meaning and my work as a translator-researcher. It is worth pointing out that these translations should be viewed as products of scholarly inquiry and recontextualization, as well as the subject of practice-led research that is descriptive in nature. Indeed, as “[t]he proper task of translation theory would not be to speculate how metaphor should be translated, but to describe and account for actual renderings of metaphors” (Samaniego Fernández 163); that is, these translations should be considered a creative work in-progress, as well as the fruits of practice-led research in Descriptive Translation Studies (DTS) (Toury 1991, 1995). In discussing DTS “as a distinct branch” of Translation Studies, Schäffner (2004b) states:

The empirical data for DTS scholars are translations (as facts of the target culture) themselves and also “paratexts”, e.g. reviews of translations, translator’s prefaces [and] footnotes […]. (135)

In this vein, Peter Bush describes the creative processes resulting in two volumes of Juan Goytisolo’s autobiography, Forbidden Territory and Realms of Strife; as the writer of these translations, he states:

Breaking the silence that mystifies the art is perhaps the best form of self-defence for a profession that has too long worn the hair shirt of modesty wished upon it by those who exploit the fruits of its alchemy. (2006: 32)

Excerpt from González, J. Marcelino, "Metaphor and Agency in the English-Spanish Translation of Texts in the Social Sciences." PhD thesis. Melbourne: Monash University 2015 (pp. 47-48).