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Translation theories edited_by_zainurrahman

  1. 1. The Theories ofTranslationFrom History to ProceduresWritten by: Maruoane Zakhir, Alex Gross, Nigel Massey, Peter Hodges, ElhamRajab Dorry, Behrouz Karoubi, Aiwei Shi, Samira Mizani, Serhiy Zasyekin,Golnoosh Golestany, Jiang Tianmin, Rafael Ferrer Méndez, and MahmoudOrdudari.2009Edited by ZainurrahmanTaken from Translation Directory and Translation JournalsThe Theories ofTranslationFrom History to ProceduresWritten by: Maruoane Zakhir, Alex Gross, Nigel Massey, Peter Hodges, ElhamRajab Dorry, Behrouz Karoubi, Aiwei Shi, Samira Mizani, Serhiy Zasyekin,Golnoosh Golestany, Jiang Tianmin, Rafael Ferrer Méndez, and MahmoudOrdudari.2009Edited by ZainurrahmanTaken from Translation Directory and Translation Journals
  2. 2. Table of ContentsThe History ofTranslation .............................................................................................................. 3Hermes -God of Translators andInterpreters ................................................................................ 8Translation and Interpreting Methods andApproaches................................................................ 25Compare and Contrast Two Theoretical Approaches toTranslation.......................................... 27A Use of Thematic Structure Theory inTranslation....................................................................... 36Beyond TranslationTheories........................................................................................................ 40Hermeneutics and TranslationTheory.......................................................................................... 44CulturalTranslation...................................................................................................................... 49Style and Stylistic Accommodation inTranslation......................................................................... 61Style............................................................................................................................................. 61StylisticAccommodation .......................................................................................................... 62Historicalstyle...................................................................................................................... 64References ............................................................................................................................... 65Gender andTranslation................................................................................................................ 65Translation as a Psycho-SemioticPhenomenon............................................................................ 761.Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 762.Data ................................................................................................................................. 773.Methods........................................................................................................................... 774. Thestudy.......................................................................................................................... 77
  3. 3. 5.Conclusions ...................................................................................................................... 83Meaning: A translators view of how the concept of meaning could be bestconceived and definedfor thetrade ................................................................................................................................ 85The Problems of Third Person Pronoun inTranslation ..................................................................94Translation inContext................................................................................................................ 101Writing andTranslation.............................................................................................................. 113Translationprocedures .............................................................................................................. 114Translation Procedures, Strategies andMethods .......................................................................120The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  4. 4. The History of TranslationBy Marouane ZakhirEnglish translatorUniversity of Soultan Moulay Slimane, Moroccoharaps22@hotmail.comWhen we talk about the history of translation, we should think of the theoriesand namesthat emerged at its different periods. In fact, each era is characterized byspecific changesin translation history, but these changes differ from one place to another. Forexample,the developments of translation in the western world are not the same as thosein theArab world, as each nation knew particular incidents that led to the birth ofparticulartheories. So, what are the main changes that marked translation history in boththe Westand the Arab world?a. Translation in the western worldFor centuries, people believed in the relation between translation and the storyofthe tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis. According to the Bible, thedescendants ofNoah decided, after the great flood, to settle down in a plain in the land ofShinar. There,they committed a great sin. Instead of setting up a society that fits Godswill, theydecided to challenge His authority and build a tower that could reach Heaven.However,this plan was not completed, as God, recognizing their wish, regained controlover themthrough a linguistic stratagem. He caused them to speak different languages soas not tounderstand each other. Then, he scattered them allover the earth. After thatincident, thenumber of languages increased through diversion, and people started to look forways tocommunicate, hence the birth of translation (Abdessalam Benabdelali, 2006) (1).Actually, with the birth of translation studies and the increase of research inthedomain, people started to get away from this story of Babel, and they began tolook forspecific dates and figures that mark the periods of translation history.Researchersmention that writings on translation go back to the Romans. Eric Jacobson claimsthattranslating is a Roman invention (see McGuire: 1980) (2). Cicero and Horace(first centuryBC) were the first theorists who distinguished between word-for-word translationandsense-for-sense translation. Their comments on translation practice influencedthefollowing generations of translation up to the twentieth century.Another period that knew a changing step in translation development was markedby St Jerome (fourth century CE). "His approach to translating the GreekSeptuagint Bibleinto Latin would affect later translations of the scriptures." (Munday, 2001)
  5. 5. (3)The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  6. 6. Later on, the translation of the Bible remained subject to many conflictsbetweenwestern theories and ideologies of translation for more than a thousand years.Moreover, these conflicts on Bible translation were intensified with the comingofthe Reformation in the sixteenth century, when "Translation came to be used as aweaponin both dogmatic and political conflicts as nation states began to emerge andthecentralization of the Church started to weaken evidence in linguistic terms bythe declineof Latin as a universal language." (McGuire, 1980) (4)Needless to say that the invention of printing techniques in the fifteenthcenturydeveloped the field of translation and helped in the appearance of earlytheorists. Forinstance, Etienne Dolet (1915-46), whose heretic mistranslation of one ofPlatosdialogues, the phrase "rien du tout" (nothing at all) that showed his disbeliefinimmortality, led to his execution.The seventeenth century knew the birth of many influential theorists such as SirJohn Denhom (1615-69), Abraham Cowley (1618-67), John Dryden (1631-1700), whowasfamous for his distinction between three types of translation; metaphrase,paraphraseand imitation, and Alexander Pope (1688-1744).In the eighteenth century, the translator was compared to an artist with a moralduty both to the work of the original author and to the receiver. Moreover, withtheenhancement of new theories and volumes on translation process, the study oftranslation started to be systematic; Alexander Frayer Taylers volumePrinciples ofTranslation (1791) is a case in point.The nineteenth century was characterized by two conflicting tendencies; thefirstconsidered translation as a category of thought and saw the translator as acreativegenius, who enriches the literature and language into which he is translating,while thesecond saw him through the mechanical function of making a text or an authorknown(McGuire) (5).This period of the nineteenth century knew also the enhancement of Romanticism,the fact that led to the birth of many theories and translations in the domainof literature,especially poetic translation. An example of these translations is the one usedby EdwardFitzgerald (1809-1863) for Rubaiyat Omar Al-Khayyam (1858).In the second half of the twentieth century, studies on translation became animportant course in language teaching and learning at schools. What adds to itsvalue isthe creation of a variety of methods and models of translation. For instance,the grammar-
  7. 7. translation method studies the grammatical rules and structures of foreignlanguages. Thecultural model is also a witness for the development of translation studies inthe period. Itrequired in translation not only a word-for-word substitution, but also aculturalunderstanding of the way people in different societies think (Mehrach, 1977)(6). With thismodel, we can distinguish between the ethnographical-semantic method and thedynamicequivalent method.Another model that appears in the period is text-based translation model, whichfocuses on texts rather than words or sentences in translation process. Thismodelincludes a variety of sub-models: the interpretative model, the text linguisticmodel andThe Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  8. 8. models of translation quality assessments that in turn provide us with manymodels suchas those of Riess, Wilss, Koller, House, North and Hulst.The period is also characterized by pragmatic and systematic approach to thestudy of translation. The most famous writings and figures that characterize thetwentiesare those of Jean-Paul Vinay and Darbelnet, who worked on a stylisticcomparative studyof French and English (1958), Alfred Malblanc (1963), George Mounin (1963), JohnC.Catford. (1965), Eugene Nida (1964), who is affected by the Chomskyan generativegrammar in his theories of translation, De Beaugrand who writes a lot abouttranslation,and many others who worked and still work for the development of the domain.Nowadays, translation research started to take another path, which is moreautomatic. The invention of the internet, together with the new technologicaldevelopments in communication and digital materials, has increased culturalexchangesbetween nations. This leads translators to look for ways to cope with thesechanges and tolook for more practical techniques that enable them to translate more and wasteless.They also felt the need to enter the world of cinematographic translation, hencethe birthof audiovisual translation. The latter technique, also called screentranslation, isconcerned with the translation of all kinds of TV programs, including films,series, anddocumentaries. This field is based on computers and translation softwareprograms, and itis composed of two methods: dubbing and subtitling. In fact, audiovisualtranslation marksa changing era in the domain of translation.In short, translation has a very wide and rich history in the West. Since itsbirth,translation was the subject of a variety of research and conflicts betweentheorists. Eachtheorist approaches it according to his viewpoint and field of research, thefact that givesits history a changing quality.b. Translation in the Arab worldThe early translations used in Arabic are dated back to the time of Syrians (thefirsthalf of the second century AD), who translated into Arabic a large heritage thatbelongs tothe era of paganism (Bloomshark 1921: 10-12, qtd by Addidaoui, 2000) (7).Syrians wereinfluenced in their translations by the Greek ways of translation. Syrianstranslations weremore literal and faithful to the original (Ayad 1993: 168, qtd by Addidaoui,2000) (8).According to Addidaoui, Jarjas was one of the best Syrian translators; hisfamous Syriantranslation of Aristotles book In The World was very faithful and close to theoriginal.Additionally, the time of the prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) is ofparamount importance for translation history. The spread of Islam and the
  9. 9. communication with non-Arabic speaking communities as Jews, Romans and otherspushed the prophet to look for translators and to encourage the learning offoreignlanguages. One of the most famous translators of the time is Zaid Ibnu Thabet,whoplayed a crucial role in translating letters sent by the prophet to foreignkings of Persia,Syria, Rome and Jews, and also letters sent by those kings to the prophet.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  10. 10. The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education( 6Another era that knew significant changes in Arabic translation was related tothetranslation of the Holy Koran. According to Ben Chakroun (2002) (9), the earlytranslatorsof the Koran focused on its meaning. Salman El Farisi, for instance, translatedthe meaningof Surat Al Fatiha for Persian Muslims, who didnt speak Arabic. Ben Chakroun(2002) (10)states that Western libraries still preserve many translations of the Koran, andthat someof them such as the Greek translation of the philosopher Naktis belong to thethirdcentury (BC). Besides, the Holy Koran received a special interest from thetranslators. Itwas translated into Persian by Sheikh Mohamed Al-Hafid Al-Boukhari and intoTurkishlanguage by Sheikh Al-Fadl Mohamed Ben Idriss Al-Badlissi.Despite the proliferation of the Koran translations, this matter was and isstill thepoint of many debates and conflicts in the Arab world. An example of theseconflictsoccurs after the translation of the Koran into Turkish language by the Turkishgovernmentin the time of Mustapha Kamal Ataturk. The latter aimed to use the translationinstead ofthe original book as a way to spread secularism in the Islamic country. This ledto a waveof criticism from Arab intellectuals, journalists and muftis.Besides, the core of the conflicts that existed and still exist in thetranslation ofKoran is related to the reason behind translation itself, i.e., whether to usethe translationas a way to teach the principles of Islam or to use it in praying andlegislation was thedifficult choice that faced translators. In general, translation of Koran knowsvariouschanges, the fact that led to the creation of special committees that took theresponsibility of translating it in a way that preserves it from falsification.Another era that knows important developments in the Arab translation is that ofthe first Abbasid period (750-1250). Translation knew an enhancement with theCaliphAl-Mansour, who built the city of Baghdad, and was also developed in the time oftheCaliph Al-Mamoun, who built Bait Al Hikma, which was the greatest instituteoftranslation at the time. During the period translators focused on Greekphilosophy, Indianscience and Persian literature (Al-Kasimi, 2006) (11).The Arab history of translation is also characterized by the name of Al-Jahid(868-577), one of the greatest theorists in translation. His theories and writings inthe domainof translation are still used today by many professional Arab translators.According to Al-Jahid (1969), "The translator should know the structure of the speech, habits ofthepeople and their ways of understanding each other." (12)In addition to his insistence on the knowledge of the structure of the language
  11. 11. andthe culture of its people, Al-Jahid talked too much about the importance ofrevision aftertranslation. In brief, Al-Jahid puts a wide range of theories in his two booksAl-Hayawan(1969) and Al-Bayan Wa Attabayyun (1968).Further, the Egyptian scholar Mona Baker (1997) (13) distinguished between twofamous methods in Arab translation; the first belongs to Yohana Ibn Al- Batriqand IbnNaima Al-Himsi, and is based on literal translation, that is, each Greek wordwas translatedby its equivalent Arabic word, while the second refers to Hunayn Ibn Ishaq Al-Jawahiri andis based on sense-for-sense translation as a way to create fluent target textsthat preservethe meaning of the original.
  12. 12. The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education( 7Nowadays, Arab translations know many changes. The proliferation of studies inthe domain helps in the development of translation and the birth of newtheorists.Translation in the Arab world also benefits from the use of computers, digitalmaterialsand the spread of databases of terminologies that offer translators aconsiderable numberof dictionaries. This has led to the creation of many associations oftranslation like thecommittee of Arab translators in Saudi-Arabia and many others. However, incomparingthe number of translated books by Arab translators with those of westerners, wefeel thatthe gap between them is still wide, as the translations used by Arabs since thetime of Al-Mamoun up to now do not exceed ten thousand books, which is less than whatSpaintranslates in one year (Ali Al-Kasimi, 2006) (14).In short, the history of translation in the Arab world is marked by many changesand events. Since its early beginnings with Syrians, translation knew the birthof manytheorists who sited up the basis of Arabic translation and theories. In fact, itis in religiousdiscourse where Arabic translation reaches its peak. For the translation ofKoran receivedmuch interest from Arab translators. Today, translation in the Arab world knowsa sort ofprogression, especially with its openness to Western theories and theorists, butit is stillsuffering from many problems and difficulties.To sum up, translation history is rich in inventions and theories. Each era ischaracterized by the appearance of new theorists and fields of research intranslation. It istrue that the western history of translation is larger and rich in proportion tothat of theArabs, but we should not deny that the translation history of the latter startedto developyear by year, especially with the great efforts of Arabic academia in thedomain.Bibliography1-Abdessalam Benabdelali, (2006). Fi Attarjama [In translation], (firstedition). Casablanca:Dar Toubkal, p. 13.2-Bassnett-McGuire S. (1980). Translation Studies, London: Methuen, p. 433-Jeremy Munday. (2001). Introducing Translation Studies, Theories andapplications.London and New York: Routledge, p. 4.4-Bassnet-McGuire. S, op. cit., (1980), p. 46.5-Ibid, p. 65-66.6-Mohamed Mehrach. (1977) Towards a Text-Based Model for Translation Evaluation.Ridderkerk: Ridden print, p. 18.7-Mohammed Addidaoui (2000) Atarjama wa Attawasol [Translation andcommunication].Casablanca/Beirut: Al Markaz Attaqafi Alarabi, p. 83.8-Ibid, p. 83.9-Mohammed Ben Chakroun (2002) Majallat Jamiaat Ben Yousef [The magazine of Benyousef University], "qadaya Tarjamat Ma‘ani Al koraan Al Karim" [Issues on
  13. 13. translating themeanings of the Koran], 2nd ed. Marrakech: Fdala press, p.39.10-Ibid, p. 40.
  14. 14. The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education( 811-Ali Alkasimi. (2006) Torjomiat [Tradictology], "Atar Attarjama Fi Maarifataddat waidrak al akhar" [The effect of translation on the recognition of the other andtheperception of the self]. Rabat: Edition of Racines, p. 83.12-Abo Otman Al-Jahid (1969) Alhayawan [The Animal]. Realized by AbdessalamAharoun.Beirut: Dar Al-kitab Al-Arabi [The house of the Arabic book], p. 75.13-Mouna Baker. (1997). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, PartII:History and Traditions. London and New York: Rutledge, pp. 320-1.14-Ali Alkasimi, op. cit., (2006), p. 90.Hermes - God of Translators and InterpretersBy Alex Grosshttp://language.home.sprynet.comalexilen@sprynet.comAbstractThe case for Hermes as the god of translators and interpreters is a clear andcompellingone. While some European translators have campaigned for St. Jerome as thepatron saint oftranslation, there are probably some good reasons, with all due respect to thetranslator of theVulgate, for having a god of translation rather than a saint. First of all, inglobal terms Asians andothers outside of Europe are more likely to respond to ancient Greek traditionsthan to Christianones (as they do when they attend the Olympic Games), since similar "gods-of-the-road" arerevered in Japanese, Chinese, and even Mayan culture. Furthermore, thecircumstancessurrounding the "divinity" of Hermes may open the way to some surprising newinsights intotranslation history and broaden the scope of Translation Studies as a whole.Hermes was parexcellence the god of interpreting, of quick-wittedness, of wily improvisation,and translation, likewriting itself, was a later development. Several current schools of Linguisticshave their groundingin ancient Greek works on grammar, but as we shall see, the Greeks themselves,following Plato,looked to two authorities where language was concerned: grammarians andinterpreters. Whilegrammarians have until recently rooted their quest for rules and their sometimesdubious claimsof universality in the structure of a single language, interpreters havenecessarily always beenconcerned with at least two or more languages and the frequently jaggedinterface between them.And as will be explained, the tale of Hermes can also open up unexpected vistasonto theprehistory of interpreting, an area usually regarded as beyond our study, andperhaps even help tounravel the mystery of the origins of language itself.It should be added that Hermes of course also acted as divine messenger,presided overcommerce and travel (both clearly linked to translation), and was the tutelarygod of all the artsand crafts, including magic and matrimonial match-making. We may perhaps forgive
  15. 15. him if he wasalso the god of thieves and deceit, since this function may spring somewhatnaturally from someof his other attributes.
  16. 16. Hermes‘God of Translators and InterpretersThe Origins of Language and the Prehistory of InterpretingI want to thank you all for expressing your confidence in my little abstract bycomingtoday. Its a rather odd abstract, if youve had a chance to think about it atall. It starts out asthough it were some edifying literary exercise to raise the consciousness oftranslators andinterpreters: Imagine, we must be pretty important after all, we even have agod. Thats prettyimpressive in itself, and perhaps the abstract should have stopped right there.But it didnt‘itwent right on and started wading into some very deep water. It actually claimedthat certainunnamed schools of linguistics base their theories on what they call grammarand look back tosome rather late ancient Greek grammarians for part of their support, when ifthey had beenlistening to Plato, who wrote several hundred years earlier, they would haverealized there aretwo authorities on language they ought to be consulting: both grammarians andinterpreters.Thats pretty heady stuff. It goes far beyond a merely edifying presentationaimed only atinterpreters and translators and actually suggests that the work we do canpenetrate ratherdeeply into both the practical and theoretical side of language, so deeply infact that we mightactually be in a position to correct some of the reigning scholars in the mightyfield of "Linguistics."Specifically, the abstract says:"While grammarians have until recently rootedtheir questfor rules and their sometimes dubious claims of universality in the structure ofa single language,interpreters have necessarily always been concerned with at least two or morelanguages and thefrequently jagged interface between them."Up to that point what was in the abstract was perhaps merely presumptuous, butwhat Ijust read you was something very close to a declaration of war. And if youvetaken a look at mywebsite and seen my piece "Thirty-three Reasons Why the Chomskians areMistaken," youll knowIve gone a great deal further than that.But even in the abstract, things dont stop here either. This author‘I guessits me‘justkeeps on going as though he had no sense at all. Next hes actually claimingthat what were aboutto learn about Hermes can open up "unexpected vistas onto the prehistory ofinterpreting." Mygod, the prehistory of interpreting‘how can there even be such a thing? Evenassuming it existed,how could we ever remotely know about it? But simply look at the speaker‘he evenhas a chartbehind him showing all the stages in human prehistory. Look atthis‘Australopithecus, theSouthern Ape. Can he actually show us some connection between this chart and the
  17. 17. prehistory ofinterpreting? [The "chart" in question is a two-by three-foot 1997 NationalGeographic fold-outposter entitled "Seeking Our Origins," displaying a dramatic visusalization ofhuman developmentover the last four million years.] But he still isnt done‘the abstract actuallyends up with thesuggestion that everything hes said so far--and that was crazy enough‘mightactually help us tounravel the mystery of‘are you ready for this?‘"the origins of language itself."Is the speaker standing here before you simply a raving megalomaniac? Has hefinallygone beyond all reasonable bounds? Can he possibly present any credible evidencefor any ofthese claims?Oddly enough, not only can I present a fair amount of credible evidence forevery singleone of these claims, thats just what Im about to do. So I hope you willforgive me for this slightlyunconventional introduction. From this moment onward I shall observe all thewell-establishedrules for academic presentations and provide clear references and even the oddsource note forevery statement I am about to make. Yes, it will definitely be a moreconventional treatment‘butthat doesnt mean for a moment that its going to be boring.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  18. 18. Id like for us all to take a remarkably long journey together, and as our firststep in thatjourney Id like to start with a fairly prosaic analysis of some of the moreancient words for"translator" and "interpreter." And specifically the ancient Greek wordHermêneus, which istranslated as both "interpreter" and "translator." But wait a second‘its got awhole lot of otherpossible translations as well. Here they all are:[SLIDE 1]HermêneusInterpreter, especially of foreign termsdragomancourt interpretermatrimonial agentgo-betweenbroker, commissionairethe verb Hermêneuointerpret foreign tongues,translateexplain, expound, put into wordsexpress, describe, write aboutWhy do we have all these other possible definitions? They all come from thestandardancient Greek lexicographical source, the Liddell Scott Lexicon. And thatLexicon adds one othercrucial fact that no one has ever disputed, that both these words are directlyderived from thename of the god Hermes.In other words, when you conjugate the verb to translate or interpret in Greek,Hermêneuo, hermêneueis, hermêneuei, what you are also unavoidably saying issomething like Ihermese, you hermese, he or she hermeses, or if you will forgive a slightlyslangier version:I make like HermesYou make like HermesHe or she makes like Hermes...Why is this? Because the God Hermes is seen as an active force of nature, asfulfilling anactive need of nature: to explain, to clarify, to translate, to interpret.In other words, the Greeks take it for granted that things arent alwaysclear‘which theyoften are not‘and that we need some way of making them more clear‘which we oftendo. Andtheyve invented a God to do this for them. And Hermes is that God.Now that word dragoman is especially interesting, and I want to come back to it.But first Iwant to take what we just did with Greek and do much the same thing for Latin.Here the word foreither a translator or an interpreter is a more familiar one:InterpresNow lets look at all the meanings a standard Latin dictionary gives for thisword, and I think youllnote a few similarities with the Greek example:[SLIDE 2]Meanings of interpres:[inter pres: prehendo, prendo, to catch, lay hold of, grasp, take](as in modern Italian: Il ladro, lhanno preso‘they caught the thief)
  19. 19. Literally: "Caught in between"A middle man, mediator,broker, negotiator,The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  20. 20. Interpres divum, messenger, MercuryExplainer, expounder, translator, interpreterThe source for these is also a very standard work, An Elementary LatinDictionary by CharltonLewis.And finally I want to go back and look at the word dragoman, which as we willsee is insome ways the most remarkable of the three, and then I want to make somegeneralizations aboutwhat all three of these words have to teach us.(I should start by reassuring anyone else in the audience who like me just mighthave anear for puns and also an ear for slightly off-color nuances that the word"dragoman" definitelydoes NOT mean a man who dresses up in womens clothing.)[SLIDE 3] Dragoman...One of the worlds oldest words-Spanish: TrujamanFrench: TruchemanLatin: DragumannusGreek: DragoumanosArabic: TargumanAramaic: TurgemanaMishnaic Hebrew: TargûmAkkadian: TargumanuIts meaning: About 50% interpreter, 40% go-between, mediator, middle-man,broker, 10%translatorThis may well be one of the most ancient words we have in all the worldslanguages. Onceagain, Im not making any of this up, my source here is just about any standardcollege-leveldictionary Ive looked at, including the one I use, the Houghton MifflinAmerican Heritage.Obviously a lot of this is etymology and not actual linguistic equivalents, butIve come up with mynotion as to what its overall meaning is likely to be both from my own researchand from talking toCharles Diamond, our Turkish expert in the NY Circle of Translators, who tellsme youll still findpeople calling themselves "dragoman" in Istanbul today, more or less guides tothe sites of the citywith some but not necessarily a great deal of linguistic knowledge, who taketourists around thesites for a fee.Now Id like to pull all of this together by asking you to consider why we haveall theseadditional translations for Hermêneus, or for Interpres, and not simply"translators" or"interpreters." Why are we seeing so much of "middle-man," mediator, go-between,deal-broker,""negotiator," my god, even marriage broker.I think most of you already know the reason for some of this, so this isnt thathard toexplain. Its because weve done all these things in the past, and to a certainextent we still domost of them even today. The fact of being an interpreter or a translator,though especially an
  21. 21. interpreter, frequently puts us in a position where we have to play these otherroles as well. Someof my courtroom interpreter friends have told me of a few rather hairysituations where one sideor the other in a trial‘though perhaps more often the defendant‘would putpressure on them touse language favorable to their side. An Arabist colleague informs me that thegovernment cansometimes exert such pressure in order to convict alleged Muslim terrorists, andalthough I am notan Arabist myself, it sounds to me as if our government may have been exertingundue pressure intheir so-called translation of words spoken by the pilot of the recent EgyptianAir tragedy.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  22. 22. So whether we like it or not, we are frequently called upon to play this middle-man, go-between role, and we sometimes actively seek it out or resent it when we arediscouraged fromplaying it. I think weve all often heard translators asking:Can I drop a footnote?Can I explain something in brackets?Can I get more information from the client,so I can understand the process,so I can translate it properly?Were frequently called upon to play this middleman role, even if we do so-called"technical" translation. As for "marriage-broker," that could often also be apart of our job as deal-maker and even peace-maker: as recently as the nineteenth century peace treatiesbetweennations could be further ratified by a wedding between two royal offspring fromthe disputingnations. And were just about to see what this notion of marriage-broker mayalso have to do withthe prehistory of our profession. There‘I said it, that word, prehistory, andIm going to say itseveral times again. Because when we see all these additional definitions forHermêneus orinterpres, were also seeing all the additional tasks interpreters were expectedto perform, andwere also looking directly back into what life had to be like in thepreliterate era, which is to someextent an alternate way of saying prehistory.But now, just as a slight change of pace, lets listen to two things that Platohad to sayabout our profession. The second one is a bit more flattering than the first,but neither one isreally that terrible. First, from his dialogue Cratylus:SOCRATES: I should imagine that the name Hermes has to do with speech, andsignifiesthat he is the interpreter (Hermeneus), or messenger, or thief, or liar, orbargainer; all that sort ofthing has a great deal to do with language. (Translation by Benjamin Jowett)Here we not only get to see Socrates confirming for us this connection betweenHermesand our trade. Here I think we can also begin to see why translators andinterpreters cansometimes acquire a less than positive image, and not just for translating orinterpretingincorrectly either. In any translation there is always the possibility of amistake. But more than amistake, there is also a chance‘ however slight‘that the translator might knowsomething theclient doesnt know, and so the client might be taken advantage of. After all,the translator orinterpreter knows what is really going on‘he or she is potentially in somethingof a position ofpower. If there is a chance for financial or social or other gain, thetranslator would have to bemore of a saint than the general run of people not to take advantage of it. Andwhenevertranslators or interpreters do something like this, just as whenever they makean error in
  23. 23. translation, you can be sure that they will be remembered for it.Its also important to remember how truly international this figure of atrickster god whocreates language truly is and how widely recorded it is in the worldsmythology. Hermes recurs inancient Egypt as Thoth, of course, but as Lewis Hyde points out in his bookTrickster Makes ThisWorld, he can also be seen as the African Eshu, as any number of figures such asCoyote or Ravenin Native American folklore, as Loki among the Norse, the child Krishna inIndian tradition, or evenChinas Monkey King, and in the latter case we have an example of a tale about agod beinginspired by the travels of a real-life translator, the seventh century Xuanzang.In other words,Hermes in his various manifestations is truly worthy of being the god oftranslators on aninternational scale.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  24. 24. Now lets look at Platos more positive description of us. It comes from hisdialogueTheaetetus and is a crucially important quotation in the history of bothlanguage and linguistics.Attempting to distinguish knowledge from perception, Socrates teasingly asksTheaetetus whetherpeople truly know a foreign language merely by seeing it in writing or hearingit spoken. In a replypraised by Socrates, Theaetetus states that we can only know what its letterslook like and what itsspoken form sounds like...But we do not perceive through sight and hearing, and we do not know, what thegrammarians and interpreters teach about them. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett)And there they are, side by side, interpreters and grammarians, each of theminvestedwith full powers as teachers. If anything, the interpreters have a slight edge,since it is assumedthat grammarians can only be of use in describing the letters or written form ofthe language (andof the two ancient Greek words for grammarians, both closely related to the wordfor "letters,"the one Plato uses here is the more demeaning one, usually meaning merely a"schoolmaster,"),while only the interpreters can tell us what is truly being said. In otherwords, if you want to knowsomething about language, it might be a good idea to consult both.Its often been observed that in myths we can find recorded or encoded some veryrealhistory. And thats what I think weve discovered here as well, so with that inmind, lets now goback to all those other meanings the Greek and Latin words for translator seemto have, includingmiddle-man and go-between and deal-broker and even marriage-broker. Because inthesemeanings I believe we have a window looking through into the prehistory of ourprofession. Eventhe prehistory of the human race. And that is what I am now going to be talkingabout, theprehistory of interpreting, which is necessarily also the prehistory oftranslation.And I think were going to see that it isnt that hard to discuss this subjecteither, becauseIm going to show you two other ways we can know about that prehistory. Not justbased on themeanings of words, which is what Ive been describing up until now. But there isalso an inferentialmethod of knowing about that prehistory. And theres even a method for knowingabout it basedon observations we can make here and now today, even quite close to home. Andall three of themethods, as you will see, work quite closely together to confirm what I am aboutto tell you.So now lets make an end to all the mystery and proceed into prehistory.What is the prehistory of translation?Thats easy. The prehistory of translation is of course interpreting. History isby definitionthe period for which we have written records. When we go before there was any
  25. 25. writing‘orwhen we talk to people who dont know how to write‘we are totally relying oninterpreting. Andon interpreters for that matter.But how long did prehistory go on for? Now theres an interesting question. Itgoes onback for a very long time. In fact, as you can see from this chart in back ofme, it can potentially goback as far as four million years. Or at least for as long as there have beenspoken languages. Butmy god, how long has that been? Now perhaps you can begin to see why this paperis also talkingabout the origins of language, because its just possible that interpreters‘orpeople not all thatunlike interpreters‘may have played a role even then. But in any of these cases,do we have anyreal standards for measuring how long this period has been?Here the answer is a most definite and even well-defined YES.First of all, we know fairly well when it ended, which is of course around 4000BC in a fewplaces but much later in most other places. But when did prehistory begin? Nowthis is whereThe Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  26. 26. things begin to get interesting, and you can start to see why I am linking upHermes and all theseextra definitions for translator on the one hand with prehistory and the originsof language on theother.Let me pass out these sheets at this time. Each of these sheets shows a time-clock, whichIm calling, like the subtitle for this paper "The Origins of Language and thePrehistory ofInterpreting‘A Chronology." You may have seen something like this time-clockbefore, probablyrelating to geology and the age of the earth, but never in connection with theprehistory oflanguage. The somewhat similar-looking chart youll see in geology books showsthe age of theearth. Or the one for biology that starts with the origin of life. In eithercase the time periods arefar longer than the ones Im showing you here today. The one for geology isbased on the famous4.5 billion year age of the earth, with all of recorded human history enteringin only at one secondbefore midnight.This one is a little easier to comprehend: it includes only the four million orso years thatman in some form has been on this planet, and as you can see based on thistwenty-four hourclock, written history, dating from about 4000 BC only begins about two and aquarter minutesbefore midnight. Thats a lot better than one second before midnight.Ive had to invent a word to describe the problems a lot of people have whenconfrontedby this sort of time frame. I call that word dyschronopia, the inability toconceive of or even look attime in this manner.Dys-, meaning difficulty, faulty, bad, even disease, as in dyslexia. Chron-fromchronos, ortime, as in chronic or chronometer. -opia, looking at, vision, as in myopia, Adifficulty in looking attime.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  27. 27. Thats why I made this chart‘to help us get past that problem of looking attime.CAPTION FOR ILLUSTRATION, taken from the text below:But there is one other excellent reason to suppose that the development tookplace over alonger rather than a shorter period. The sheer complexity of the task of workingour way up fromthe relatively simple signals contained in our scent markings must have requiredmany stages andphases of elaboration before they could take on the nuances of what we like todifferentiate assupposedly "mature" language. Organs of speech had to change and develop, as didorgans ofhearing, not to mention the areas of the brain needed to regulate them. At everystage there musthave been countless disagreements as to what constituted a word or utterance,what should berecognized as a concept worthy of such an utterance, and precisely how thatutterance should bepronounced, all taking place among constantly shifting micro-populations. Forsuch a process tooccur would require a positively mind-boggling panorama over time on anevolutionary scale. Butthis in no way presents an obstacle to the theory I am presenting, rather itconfirms it many timesover, for this is precisely what humankind had at its disposal: a postivelymind-boggling panoramaover time on an evolutionary scale, as we can see right here on the chart Ivegiven you. Dates areof course conjectural, but that is not the same thing as saying they areimpossible.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  28. 28. Parenthetically, Ive also been looking for a word to convey the problems mostpeoplehave in conceiving of astronomical distances. So far the best Ive come up withis agalaxopia. Theinability of looking at‘or conceiving of‘galaxies. Thats because I dont likethe sound ofdysgalaxopia. If anyone has a better idea... Or conceiving of the infinitelysmall‘viruses,molecules, atoms and their particles‘perhaps that one should be amicropia.But lets get back to the prehistory of interpreting. So what were looking atwhen we say"middle-man,""mediator," "go-between," "deal broker" and even "marriage broker"is what wedid throughout prehistory. Its how human beings survived when we lived in farsmallercommunities, closer to the size of the bands in which primates gather to thisday. Its how humanbeings survived, and its how interpreters, people not all that unlikeourselves, helped them tosurvive‘as middle-men, as brokers, and yes, as leaders. Yes, interpreters asleaders. Or as theclose advisors to leaders.Heres an example of what Im talking about [SLIDE 4] from a preliteratesociety, anillustration of a gold finial, the topmost ornament on a traditional linguistsstaff, held by theofficial tribal linguist as he sat next to the chief to advise him on complexnegotiations and toquestion members of other tribes in their own language. It comes from nineteenthcenturySouthern Ghana, a culture rich in its own highly sophisticated traditions, asthose of you who haveseen the PBS presentation on their asafo trading flags may be aware.Now we can argue as to precisely how long our role in that human prehistorylasted,whether it goes back all the way for four million years to Australopithecusanamensis or whether itstarts with the advent of Homo erectus two million years ago or whether it evenhad to wait untilArchaic homo sapiens came along eight hundred thousand years ago.But however long it lasted, even though thats a long time ago, using mydramatic licenseand my background as a playwright, I think I can duplicate for you a dialoguethat went on overand over and over again during that that incredibly long period of time.VOICE 1: Look, weve got to talk with them.VOICE 2: We cant talk with them‘they dont even speak our language.VOICE 3: But theyre our enemy‘they live on the other side of the hill.VOICE 1: But we have to talk to them‘weve got to find a wife for El-El.VOICE 4: And dont forget‘we also have to find a husband for La-La.VOICE 5: Yeah, we cant let them marry each other. That didnt work out so welllast time.VOICE 2: Oh, alright. But how are we going to talk to them?VOICE 1: Weve got Dub-Dub here. He speaks a little of their language. From whenthey kidnappedhim. Can you handle this for us, Dub-Dub?DUB-DUB: Yeah, its a little dangerous, but I can probably handle it for you.
  29. 29. And there it all starts to come together. Go-between. Mediator. Marriage-broker.Interpreter.And thats not the only kind of argument they could have. People could alsoargue overthe correct form of words. I say the word for hill is wug-wug. The people on theother side of thehill call it wug-a-wug. And weve even got a few people in our own group whothink you needseparate words for the side of the hill, ooowug, the top of the hill, wugooo,and the way the hilllooks in the twilight, wugganah.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  30. 30. After all, people fight over the correct form of words even today, so whywouldnt theyhave done much the same then as well? And some of those fights could sometimesturn nasty.Just as they can today, even among highly literate people. You just have tolisten to some of thedisagreements between rival academic linguistic clans to know what Im talkingabout.So what happens if those people who say ooowug and wugooo get angry and movearound to another side of the hill to form a new clan? They take those wordswith them, and mostof our people grow up not even knowing what they mean.And lets be honest, humans beings are sometimes not all that bright. So thissort of thingwent on for what?‘two, three, maybe four million years...I cant say for sure, but I think the longer period is more likely. Ill tellyou why after a bit.Guess how many times during all those years that little dialogue, or somethingvery like ittook place. Or how often that disagreement about the correct form of words tookplace. Not allthese little arguments ended happily. Not all of the groups agreed to work witheach other. Add toall this competition over turf and hunting rights.Not all of the interpreters were successful. Not all the women found husbands orthe menfound wives.How do we know this? Inference based on the present. Things like this stillhappen today.Even during the historical period weve seen a slow process of small familiesbecoming clans, clansbecoming larger tribes, tribes moving towards alliances, and alliances movingtowards nations.You just have to take that process back further until you get close to groups ofprehistoric peopleclose to the size of bands of apes and even monkeys.Heres an example from Chinese. This is the character qiao, second tone [SLIDE5]. Itsusually translated as "overseas," as in hua qiao, overseas Chinese. Huaqiao deqiao. But myChinese professor tells me that its original meaning was simply "someone fromthe next village."And later someone from the next region or province. So there you see once againthe process thevillage moving outward until it becomes the entire world.And it could also be positively dangerous being an interpreter. One trulydramatic exampleof this, to jump back into recorded history for a moment, comes from Plutarch inhis life ofThemistocles:"When the king of Persia sent messengers into Greece, with an interpreter, todemandearth and water, as an acknowledgment of subjugation, Themistocles, by theconsent of the
  31. 31. people, seized upon the interpreter, and put him to death, for presuming topublish the barbarianorders and decrees in the Greek language; this is one of the actions he iscommended for..." (Thiswas translated by my honored colleague John Dryden.)I think we also have to imagine this sort of event happening over and over againthroughout the countless centuries of prehistory as well, as tribes and clansmoved in everypossible direction. The interpreters motives could easily be misunderstood,even by his ownpeople. And we wouldnt expect him to be enormously popular with members of theopposinggroup either.So we know a great deal more about our prehistory than we thought we knew simplythrough inference. Another way we know about this incredibly long period of timecalledprehistory is that it still isnt completely over. There are still lots ofpeople left on this planet livingin a preliterate condition.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  32. 32. As soon as I say that, some of you will think, oh yes, well perhaps somewherefar away, sayin Africa or India or South America. How about just a few blocks away? More andmore of thosepeople are coming right here to the US. They really dont understand what ourfabulous modernlife is all about, though theyre happy enough to latch onto some of itsexternal features.And guess who among us has a very good chance of running into them? Once again,its us,its you‘interpreters who work in the hospitals or the courtrooms. Because manyof theseilliterate or preliterate or semi-literate people have a very shaky notion ofour legal system or ofmodern medicine and what they do know can often run counter to both. And wequickly discoverthat they are also relying on age-old notions of family loyalty and seeking outhusbands or wivesthrough marriage brokers.So this is pretty much what happened to us, the human race, as we began tomature andlanguage slowly developed among us.Which brings us rather organically to the question of the origin of language.How did theseearly versions of man, or woman, or person, Australopithecus, the Southern Ape,learn to speak inthe first place? What we are going to see is that just as the many meanings ofthe Greek and Latinwords for interpreter provided us with a window onto prehistory, so what we nowknow aboutprehistory also provides us with a window opening directly onto the origins oflanguage.There has been an enormous amount of conjecture over these origins in recentyears, withlarge numbers of scholarly papers devoted to this question. In fact there iseven something calledthe Language Origins Society (LOS)‘it was founded in 1983 and has been holdingyearlyconferences entirely devoted to ferreting out the answer to this enigma eversince 1985. Whiletheir aims could not possibly be more earnest, based on many papers presented attheseconferences it would appear to be open season on this subject, with just abouteveryone free totake a pot shot. One problem is that everyone is so specialized today that theycan only see theirown little segment of the subject‘the blind men and the "language originselephant," so to speak.Another problem is something that I would love to have remembered as GrosssLaw: allscholarship tends to expand exponentially to occupy the total number of scholarsavailable tocarry it out. And/or the total number of budget lines available to fund it. Andso you find vastnumbers of specialists with no real background in the practical side of languageall trying to comeup with novel theories of their own. Some concentrate on the shape of the vocalchords over time,
  33. 33. some on almost infinitely small problems of neuroscience, others on so-calledlogical languages.Other papers presented at these conferences, all supposedly aimed at discoveringthe origins oflanguage, have been concerned with communication in the womb, gesture as proto-language,proto-indo-european root forms, Gestalt psychology, the possible influence ofbird songs,paleolaryngeology, echolocation, Chomskyan linguistics, and assorted hyper-symbolical,postmodernist, and other French litcrit approaches. Quite a few papers manage toavoid the topicof language origins altogether.And almost all of them assume that there had to be some truly momentous event,somegreat divide, some magical, decisive, and defining moment in which humanlanguage suddenlytook flight and completely separated itself from those horribly rude and basenoises made byanimals. After all, were different from animals, were superior to them, arentwe? Theres no waythat we could be using the same method that animals use to communicate, isthere?Promise me you wont walk out of this hall until I have fully explained what Iam about tosay. It is my contention, it is more than my contention, it is in my opinion amatter ofdemonstrable proof that human beings‘and I can even offer some evidence for whatI am aboutto say‘that human beings and animals even today still communicate in exactly thesame way.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  34. 34. Did I say that human beings go around mooing and clucking and oinking andbarking theway animals do? No, thats not what I said at all, I said that human beings andanimals even todaystill communicate in exactly the same way. The difference between them isentirely a question ofdegree, not a question of method, or essential nature, or of definition.Ive already published a brief version of my position in a fairly obscurepublication, I have amuch longer and more elaborate version I am working on‘though not necessarily abetter one‘and hope soon to publish in some form, and I also have a more humorous versionof this theory, ascontained in my computer program Truth About Translation, which if time were topermit‘whichit doesnt‘I could also read to you.But let me start with the brief version, and I hope youll forgive me for usinga fewparagraphs Ive already published‘they have a somewhat different meaning intodays context inconnection with interpreters and Hermes. They first appeared in the ATAs ownSci-TechTranslation Journal back in 1993 and as slightly revised here remain by far thebest shorterdescription of this process Ive come up with so far.The long-debated origins of language‘variously attributed to a number of equallyunlikelytheories‘are so inauspicious and unpersuasive that readers may wonder what pointthere canbe‘like so much else in linguistics‘to any further discussion at all. But oncewe turn ourattention to biological development, both of the species and of our relatedanimal cousins, adifferent perspective may unfold, and some startling insights may just be withinour view. Ashuman beings we frequently congratulate ourselves as the only species to haveevolved truelanguage, leaving to one side the rudimentary sounds of other creatures or thedance motions ofbees. It may just be that we have been missing something.On countless occasions TV nature programs have treated us to the sight ofvarious sleek,furry, or spiny creatures busily spraying the foliage or tree trunks around themwith their ownpersonal scent. And we have also heard omniscient narrators inform us that thepurpose of thisspray is to mark the creatures territory against competitors, fend offpredators, and/or attractmates. And we have also seen the face-offs, battles, retreats, and matings thatthese spray markshave incited.In an evolutionary perspective covering all species and ranging through millionsof years, ithas been abundantly shown time and time again‘as tails recede, stomachs developsecond andthird chambers, and reproduction methods proliferate‘that a function working inone way forone species may come to work quite differently in another. Is it really too
  35. 35. absurd to suggest thatover a period of several million years, the spraying mechanism common to so manymammals,employing relatively small muscles and little brain power, may have wandered offand found itsplace within a single species, which chose to use larger muscles located in thehead and lungs,guiding them with a vast portion of its brain?This is not to demean human speech to the level of mere animal sprayings or tosuggestthat language does not also possess other more abstract properties. But wouldnot such anevolution explain much about how human beings still use language today? Do wereally require"scientific" evidence for such an assertion, when so many proofs lie so self-evidently all around us?One proof is that human beings do not normally use their nether glands‘as dosome but by nomeans all mammals‘to spray a fine scent on their surroundings, assuming theycould do sothrough their clothing. They do, however, undeniably talk at and abouteverything, real orimagined. It is also clear that speech bears a remarkable resemblance to spray,so much so that itis sometimes necessary to stand at a distance from some interlocutors.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  36. 36. (I should add that I insert a footnoteat this point pointing out that thisresemblanceextends even to the etymology of the two words, speech and spray, which areclosely related inthe Indo-European family, as shown by a variety of words beginning with spr-orsp-related tospraying and spreading: English/German spread, sprawl, spray, sprinkle,sp(r)eak, spit, spurt, spew,spout, Spreu, spritzen, Sprudel, Spucke, spruehen, sprechen, Dutch spreken,Italian sprazzo,spruzzo, Latin, spargo, Ancient Greek spendo, speiro, etc. The presence of themouth radical in theChinese characters for "spurt," "spit," "language," and "speak" may to someextent also indicatehow related these concepts are on a cross-cultural level.]Would not such an evolution also aptly explain the attitudes of many "literal-minded"people, who insist on a single interpretation of specific words, even when it ispatiently explainedto them that their interpretation is case-dependent or simply invalid? Does itnot clarify why manymisunderstandings fester into outright conflicts, even physical confrontations?Assuming the rootsof language lie in territoriality, would this not also go some distance towardsclarifying some of thecauses of border disputes, even of wars? Perhaps most important of all, doessuch a developmentnot provide a physiological basis for some of the differences between languages,whichthemselves have become secondary causes in separating peoples? Would it not alsopermit us tosee different languages as exclusive and proprietary techniques of spraying,according to different"nozzle apertures," "colors," viscosity of spray, or even local sprayingconditions? Could itconceivably shed some light on the fanaticism of various forms of religious,political, or socialfundamentalisms? Might it even explain the bitterness of some scholarly feuding?Of course there is more to language than spray, as the species has sought todemonstrate,at least in more recent times, by attempting to preserve a record of theirsprayings in other media,such as stone carvings, clay imprints, string knottings, and of coursescratchings on tree barks,papyri, and different grades of paper, using a variety of notations based oncharacters, syllabariesor alphabets, the totality of this quest being known as "writing." Thesestrivings have in turn led tothe development of a variety of knowledge systems, almost bewildering in theirnumber anddiversity of styles, slowly merging and dissolving through various eras andcultures in a multidimensional,quasi-fractal continuum. Thus, language may turn out to be something we havecreated not as a mere generation or nation, not even as a species, but in theembryologist VonBaers sense as an entire evolutionary phylogeny.Now of course I realize that this theory‘I think its more than a theorymyself‘has acertain shock value. People dont like to be reminded that theyre not all that
  37. 37. different fromanimals. This was true in Charles Darwins time, and its still true today, whenwe find thatDarwins ideas are still under attack. If anything, I believe this account ofhow language developedrepresents one more major proof that Darwin was totally and stunningly correct.If we can saythat Darwin dropped one shoe, the biological shoe when he published his theory,I would trulylove to imagine‘though I apologize in advance for such grandiloquence‘that Ivedropped theother shoe, the linguistic shoe, today, if only because it may focus attentionon the true grandeurof the original discovery.I have a few other comments Ive developed about this matter, and Ill get tothem in amoment‘and I hope theres time for me to read the semi-humorous version of thetheory as well,though I doubt it. But I would like to add that I have done one small piece ofresearch which Ibelieves strengthens the validity of my position. If we assume that ourimmediate ancestors in thehuman family tree, seen here in the chart, had already begun to abandon scentmarkings in favorof language, it would be reasonable to also assume that the hominid apes,chimpanzees andgorillas among them, were already busy doing something similar. I sent a copy ofthe articleThe Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  38. 38. containing what I just read you to my colleague Dr. Jane Goodall and asked herwhether or notchimpanzees used scent markings to any great extent, and she most graciouslysent me back areply that, much as we might expect, no, they do not, though males ready to matedo give off arather strong odor.This is one of the main reasons why I favor the earlier date and the longerperiod‘a fullfour million years‘during which humans started to play with language. Sincetodays hominidapes are already in the process of abandoning scent markings, it would appearlogical to assumethat humans had already begun to abandon them as well and were in the process ofdevelopinglanguage. This may be the only type of field evidence that may be available toconfirm my position,and Im happy to note that in this instance it does appear to do so, though in afew minutes I willbe suggesting a small scientific experiment each of you can perform even whilelistening to mespeak that also tends to confirm this theory. Almost all other animals, greatand small, do to oneextent or another most definitely use scent markings as a means ofcommunication. And in theirelaborated, evolved form as language, leaving out the olfactory element alongthe way, that iswhat human beings use as well.But there is one other excellent reason to suppose that the development tookplace over alonger rather than a shorter period. The sheer complexity of the task of workingour way up fromthe relatively simple signals contained in our scent markings must have requiredmany stages andphases of elaboration before they could take on the nuances of what we like todifferentiate assupposedly "mature" language. Organs of speech had to change and develop, as didorgans ofhearing, not to mention the areas of the brain needed to regulate them. At everystage there musthave been countless disagreements as to what constituted a word or utterance,what should berecognized as a concept worthy of such an utterance, and precisely how thatutterance should bepronounced, all taking place among constantly shifting micro-populations. Forsuch a process tooccur would require a positively mind-boggling panorama over time on anevolutionary scale. Butthis in no way presents an obstacle to the theory I am presenting, rather itconfirms it many timesover, for this is precisely what humankind had at its disposal: a postivelymind-boggling panoramaover time on an evolutionary scale, as we can see right here on the chart Ivegiven you. Dates areof course conjectural, but that is not the same thing as saying they areimpossible.Most other argument on this subject has centered around whether or not thelarynx ofour prehistoric ancestors could support something as sophisticated as truespeech and whether or
  39. 39. not the hyoid bone in those species was capable of supporting the larynx. I seeno reason why ourancestors had to suddenly discover "true speech" all at once, and in any casethe evidence is notoverwhelming either way in either area. Nor is there any compelling reason toassume‘as dosome theorists‘that the earliest languages had to possess as many sounds as ourmodernlanguages: here too an evolutionary process may taken place. And at least sometheoristsspeculating on this question are clearly suffering from "dyschronopia:" forinstance, Steven Pinkerin his recent book Words and Rules insists that it is simply reasonable toassume that languagemust have evolved only once, thus coming close to the Biblical assumption of asingle languageand a Tower of Babel incident that cast them asunder. In so doing, he also comesclose to thesilliness of Voltaires famous court lady at Versailles who said:What a pity that accident with the Tower of Babel should have got languages allconfused-otherwise everyone would have always spoken French.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  40. 40. Pinker fails to recognize that human evolution has necessarily been a remarkablyslow andmassive continuum, lasting over four million years, during which language couldeasily in fact haveevolved hundreds of times, if such a process had been required. Evolution stillcontinues to takeplace, even at the most primitive level, in the seas all around us and perhapsalso in the seas of ourbloodstream as it nourishes our brains.I am not sure how much more support I truly need to express for the theorypresentedhere‘I rather believe that it is the obligation of those who may oppose it toprovide a negativeproof, that this theory is not true. In my opinion this would be even harder todo than for me toprovide definitive proof that it is true, as so much circumstantialevidence‘along with theexperiment I will soon be explaining‘suggests it may be.Here are some of the other thoughts I have developed about this matter,published only ina manner of speaking, since the sole place they appear is in a special file onthe full registeredversion of my computer program Truth About Translation.In other words, lets just play with the idea‘without necessarily taking itseriously‘thatour languages (and perhaps even our understanding) might simply be a damp anddubious outercoating, an actual biological, evolution-determined extension of ourselves thatwe carry aroundwith us, even though it has no totally physical form or shape, something that wecan neither seenor see beyond. The proof that it exists is simply all the ways we act andinteract every day, all theways we understand and misunderstand each other, all those mistakes orshortcomings intranslation between two languages or merely understanding a single one we commitwithout everbeing aware of them. I wonder if this comparison to animal spray is really thatmuch more farfetchedor counter-intuitive or totally crazier than some of the cosmological andmoleculartheories going the rounds with their supposed galactic soap bubbles and vastclouds of virtualparticles perpetually switching on and off in the middle of vast intergalacticvacuums.I also find it quite revealing that this idea of language being related toanimal spray orscent markings should seem to have such a high shock value, at least for somepeople. Biologistshave never hesitated to call scent markings a form of communication, so the onlyissue that seemsto be shocking some people is that these scent markings have here been directlycompared tohuman language and found analogous if not absolutely identical. The usualapproach to describinghuman language is usually much more sanctimonious and self-congratulatory. Theultimate proofthat we humans must be superior to all other animals, we are often told, is thatwe alone have
  41. 41. invented Language. "Language"‘invariably with a capital "L"‘is far beyond thecapability of allother species, who can therefore only be inferior to us. Language separates usfrom the beasts!But if true, why are we so defensive‘and so arrogant‘about this supposed mark ofsuperiority?Certainly language is far more complex than any system of animal signals so farstudied,even though this could simply be due to the fact that we are interested in allsorts of matters thatanimals find relatively unimportant. But the resistance by some to the notionthat language andanimal spray could be linked may tell us more about ourselves than we care toadmit. This notionis so counter-intuitive to so many observers that their resistance may comeclose to recalling thefirst reactions to Darwins theory that man and ape might share a commonancestor. Whateverthe final truth about human language and animal spray may finally prove to be,perhaps no theorycapable of irritating so many people can be entirely mistaken.In the meantime, here is the more formal reply to this question. It takes theform of adefinition of "Language," as seen through the defining lens of this theory:The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  42. 42. "Language, any of the numerous complex systems of exudations or spray-soundmarkingsemitted by human beings and projected onto objects, other human beings, abstractprocesses,and seemingly repeatable occurrences. These networks of exudations purport todefine, describe,explain, and classify relationships, artifacts, and value systems created by thehuman beings whoproduce the exudations. More or less similar systems of humid markings areshared by variousgroups of humans, these groups sometimes being known as families, tribes,nations, or cultures,and are commonly called "languages." Such systems vary to a greater or lesserextent amongthese groups, and a process of integration or disintegration in these systemscan be readilyidentified throughout history and in human society today. On a biological andevolutionary scale,these systems may have evolved over time from analogous systems of scentmarkings producedby many animals for territorial and/or mating purposes. The territorial natureof human language,along with its similarity to animal markings, is evident in warfare,negotiations for treaties orbusiness contracts, and much academic feuding."Specific systems of these markings as well as individual spray-soundspurporting toidentify perceived objective realities or perceived relationships vary greatlyamong groups ofhumans. Over the centuries various attempts have been made to establish aunifying principlelinking these systems, such as a "universal grammar" or a "conceptual glossary,"but no suchattempt has as yet proved truly workable. Qualified mediators between twosystems, known as"translators" or "interpreters," have often enjoyed considerable success inconverting betweenspecific pairs of these systems, depending on the complexity of the material athand, the amountof time allotted for the task, and the skill or ingenuity of the individualtranslator or interpreter."I have spoken of circumstantial evidence supporting this theory, but by thistime some ofyou may ask if there is any real proof for what I have been describing, any hard"scientificevidence." I believe I can show you quite dramatically that such scientificevidence does in factexist, so let me come almost to the end of this paper by summarizing all thereasons favoring thistheory.1) Vast numbers of animals, including almost all mammals, employ some form ofscent markingsas a means of communication, so why would human beings be an exception?2) This theory can provide a reasonable explanation for the entire period whenthe evolution oflanguage must have taken place, quite possibly starting four million years agoand extending tothe present.3) Many known evolutionary processes in other animals display a comparabletrade-off over timebetween form and function: fins becoming wings, forelegs becoming arms that
  43. 43. reach, tailsbecoming sacral vertebrae and their adjoining coccyx, so it is by no meansunprecedented thatscent markings would have metamorphosed into the spray-sound markings oflanguage.4) As already noted, the goals of both scent marking and spoken language havemuch in common:the defense of turf, the assertion of status, and both attracting and clearlyidentifying a mate.5) The obvious truth that humans do not use scent markings as such as a form ofcommunication.Where else has this function gone if not into the development of language? Andwhy has humansensitivity to olfactory signals declined within the same time period?6) The unmistakable similarities between the words used for "speaking" and thewords used for"spewing" or "spraying" in most Indo-European languages.7) The embarrassing but equally unmistakable truth that the very act ofemploying spokenlanguage also involves the emission of a thin but nonetheless quite discerniblefilm of spray. Asdoes even whispering. If you doubt this, then here is a little "scientificexperiment" you can all tryout for yourselves. Simply try speaking or whispering while standing directlybefore a mirror andThe Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  44. 44. watch its surface slowly become misted over just in front of your mouth. Orbetter yet, you can trythis experiment right now without disturbing anyone by whispering to yourselfdirectly into thepalm of your hand. If you do so long enough, you will notice that one area ofyour palm hasbecome a bit damper than the rest. So if you were looking for scientificevidence that speech andlanguage are akin to animal spray, now you have it, and you hold it quiteliterally in the very "palmof your hand." (My wife somewhat maliciously suggested that I should ask you towhispercontinuously into your neighbors ear instead, but I wont inflict that on you.)In any case, what wecall our lips have always been seen in biological terms as a flexible, nozzle-like orifice covering thebuccal cavity, containing mucous membranes and their embedded salivary glands,empowered bya whole host of nearby aeration devices and spray-producing mechanisms.8) The tragic but indisputable fact that disagreements between humans overlanguage can havemuch the same consequences as conflicts over scent markings among animals:confrontations,attacks and retreats, and even battles ending in death.Having listed these eight arguments favoring the evolution of language fromscentmarkings, I do not believe it is the authors responsibility to offer anyfurther defense for thistheory. It is rather for those who imagine they oppose this theory to prove thatit is mistaken. I donot believe they will be able to do so for the simple reason that such a proofwould involve thetotally unworkable task of trying to prove a negative over the unwieldy andremarkably elusiveperiod of the last four million years.And now I think Ive told you just about everything I promised I would. Wevetalked aboutHermes, and how interpreters functioned in prehistory, and weve discussed theorigins oflanguage. And everything I have presented today has come to us from the GodHermes, from thevarious meanings of the word interpreter in ancient Greek. In closing, Id liketo take us back toHermes with a brief invocation to that God, coming from the Homeric Hymn toHermes, probablywritten sometime around 800 B.C.In this passage the God Apollo honors Hermes by bestowing upon him thetripartite sacredstaff or caduceus by which he is known. Its just a few lines, Ill say themtwice, once in ancientGreek, and once in English, and with this brief passage honoring Hermes I willclose mypresentation:And now the English, as translated by H.G. Evelyn-White:And Apollo swore also: `Verily I will make you alone to be an omen for theimmortals andall alike, trusted and honored by my heart. Moreover, I will give you a splendid
  45. 45. staff of riches andwealth: it is of gold, with three branches, and will keep you beyond all harm,accomplishing everytask, whether of words or deeds that are good, which I claim to know through theutterance ofZeus.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  46. 46. Translation and Interpreting Methods and ApproachesBy Nigel Massey,Leeds, UKinfo[at]axistranslations.comAxis TranslationsThe disciplines of language translation and interpreting serve the purpose ofmakingcommunication possible between speakers of different languages.In the past there has been a tendency to perceive interpreting as an area oftranslation,but from the second half of the 20th century differentiation between the twoareas has becomenecessary.As supported by many researchers, translation and interpreting can be perceivedas the processthat allows the transfer of sense from one language to another, rather than thetransfer of thelinguistic meaning of each word.Firstly it is necessary to understand the difference between the concepts oflinguisticmeaning and sense.According to the definition given by Bolinger and Sears, ‘the word is thesmallest unit oflanguage that can be used by itself‘ (Bolinger and Sears, 1968:43). Each unithas a lexical meaning,which determines the value and the identity of each word in a specific language.However thisdoes not necessarily mean that lexical units also correspond to the basicmeaningful elements in alanguage, as meaning is usually carried by units that can be smaller or largerthan the word.Furthermore each word corresponds to a phoneme. However a phoneme can carryseverallinguistic meanings, depending on the way it relates to the rest of the speech.For example, theItalian translation of the English phoneme /nait/, isolated from its context,can be either‘cavaliere‘ (knight) or ‘notte‘ (night). However if the speaker talked about a‘chivalrous andcourageous knight‘, there would be no hesitation in choosing the Italiantranslation ‘cavaliere‘,rather than ‘notte‘.Therefore Seleskovitch points out that when drawing a difference betweenlinguisticmeaning and sense it is important to remember that in speech words lose some ofthe potentialmeanings attached to their phonemic structure and retain only their contextualrelevant meaning.However even whole utterances that have a clear linguistic meaning can raiseproblems ifisolated from the context. Therefore during the act of communication thelistener automaticallyattaches his previously acquired knowledge to the language sounds, which
  47. 47. immediately clarifiesthe sense of the utterance. This cognitive addition is independent from thesemantic componentsof the speech and represents another fundamental difference between linguisticmeaning andsense.This cognitive process is significantly reduced in translation compared tointerpreting,especially when dealing with ancient or unfamiliar texts, as the translator cantake his time toanalyse every single word or phrase, preventing consciousness from immediatelyidentifying thesense of the utterance. Interpreters instead are restricted by the immediacy ofthe process ofcommunication and have to grasp the meaning regardless of the equivalence at theword-level.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  48. 48. Memory is another fundamental part of communication, as the listener retains hispreviously acquired knowledge to grasp the sense.Seleskovitch also adds that sense is always conscious. When we speak our ownlanguagethe choice of words is not deliberate. All we do is to convey the message in thebest way we can,so the result can change from one speaker to another. As a consequence, therecan be severalways to express the same idea but all the utterances produced with that purposewould reflect aparticular shape, which results from the semantics of a specific language.Nevertheless different languages do not express the same idea with the samesemanticcomponents and that is why a simple conversion of one language into anothercannot besatisfactory in translation or interpreting.Seleskovitch argues that words are meaningless unless there is a cognitiveaddition onbehalf of both the sender and the recipient of the message. Words becomemeaningful only whenreferred to a specific object or concept. However words that have the samemeaning in differentlanguages do not associate with the same words in more complex contextsdesigning the samething in different languages. This is because languages only reveal part of ourknowledge, thusleaving implicit concepts unsaid.Therefore the cognitive addition is necessary.For example, the literary English translation of the Italian phrases:Il presidente del Consiglio si è recato a Mosca. Would be: The President of theCouncilwent to Moscow.This translation would misinterpret a crucial information in the speech. In fact‘Presidentedel Consiglio‘ is one of the ways to designate the Prime Minister in Italian.Thus in most cases if the translation or the interpretation was carried out onlyon a wordlevel it would either produce utterances that sound very unnatural to the nativespeaker of thetarget language or it would distort the meaning.In support of this statement I would like to show an example of how a word-by-word translationfrom Italian into English can produce misleading utterances.Let‘s take into analysis the following Italian phrases:Fammi avere tue notizie ogni giorno.A back translation into English would produce:Let me have your news every day.
  49. 49. Although the word news (notizie) can be used in both languages in a similar waythe Englishtranslation sounds extremely unnatural. In English we can have news fromsomebody, but notyour or his or their news. However, even if the utterances was translated as:Let me have news from you every day,it would not sound spontaneous.A native speaker would probably say: I‘d like to hear from you every day.Therefore both the grammatical structure ‘fammi‘ and the semantic componentsused in theoriginal version would be replaced by more appropriate alternatives in English.There are other cases where the lexical meaning of the word ‘notizia‘ would nothave anequivalent in English.The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  50. 50. I giovani d‘oggi non fanno più notizia.A word-by-word English translation of this phrase would be:The youth of today do no make the news anymore.In English the same linguistic meanings cannot convey the sense of the originalsentence. Iftranslated as:The youth of today does not appear in the news anymore,the sense conveyed by the Italian ‘fare notizia‘ would be misinterpreted. A morefaithfultranslation would be:The youth of today does not shock us anymore.This shows that translation and interpreting go beyond the transfer of thelinguistic meaning ofeach word from one language to another.About the Author:The author is a partner at Axis Translations Hespecialises in themanagement of Italian translation and technical projects.Compare and Contrast Two Theoretical Approaches to TranslationBy Peter Hodges,University of Newcastlepeterjhodges [at] bigpond . comDuring the course of this essay, two theoretical approaches to translation ‘Skopos andPolysystems ‘ will be examined. They will be placed in historical context beforethe main featuresof each, accompanied by relevant critique, are discussed in some detail. Casestudies will then helpdetermine advantages and disadvantages before a final comparison is made toreveal similaritiesand differences between the two positions.Skopos theory lies within the realm of the Functional Linguistic approach totranslationtheory (Berghout 7/9/05) that originated in Germany during the 1970s and 1980s,signalling achange in thinking from the structural linguistic approach that had dominatedthe previous twentyyears. It follows in the footsteps of Katharina Reiss‘ work, which moves theconcept of equivalenceaway from the micro-level of the word or sentence to that of the macro textuallevel, in whichtranslation options for different text types are proposed (Munday, 2001, pp 73-76). Skoposprecedes but is incorporated into Holz-Mänttäri‘s theory of translational actionwhere TTemphasis also takes into account some practical issues, including the role ofthe participants in theThe Translation Theories: From History to Procedures
  51. 51. Edited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  52. 52. translation process (Munday, 2001, pp 77-78); and Christiane Nord‘s translation-oriented textanalysis, which places more emphasis on the ST than Skopos (Munday, 2001, pp 81-84).Skopos is the Greek word for ‘purpose‘ or ‘aim‘ (Munday, 2001, p.78) and,according toHans Vermeer who introduced the term in the 1970s, it ‘is a technical term forthe aim or purposeof a translation‘ (Vermeer, 1989, p.227). The German equivalent is skopostheorieand it is detailedin the book Grundlegung einer allgemeine Translationstheorie (Groundwork for aGeneral Theoryof Translation) that Vermeer and Katharina Reiss collaborated on in 1984. Thefundamentalprinciple of the Skopos theory lies in determining the reasons for which thetranslation is beingcommissioned and the function of the TT in the target culture. This is done inorder for thetranslator to decide upon which methods will be employed in the production of asuitable TT ‘Vermeer‘s ‘translatum‘.The basic rules of the Skopos theory as laid down by Vermeer and Reiss are:1) The final version of the TT is determined by its skopos and the role it willplay in the targetculture.2) The role of the ST in the source culture may be different to the role of theTT in the targetculture.3) The TT must take into account the receiver‘s situation and backgroundknowledge ‘ it must be‘internally coherent‘.4) The TT must be faithful to the ST ‘ ‘coherent with the ST‘. Here thetranslator is the key, as theinformation provided by the ST must be determined, interpreted and relayed tothe targetaudience.5) These rules are in order of importance, so skopos has the prime position(Munday, 2001, p.79).The commissioning of the translation is critical to Skopos theory. Vermeerdefines thecommission as ‘the instruction, given by oneself or by someone else, to carryout a given action ‘here: to translate‘ (Vermeer, 1989, p.235), so the purpose of a translation canbe determinedeither by the translator him/herself or by another party ‘ an editor orpublisher, or the board ofdirectors of a multinational corporation, for example. In the modern world, thecommissioningprocess is usually rather precise in detail, providing information about the aimof the translation,deadlines, payment, etc. According to Holz-Mänttäri, the translator is the keyplayer in thetranslation process, ‘the translator is the expert‘ (Holz-Mänttäri in Vermeer,1989, p.235). It is upto the person in this role to determine whether the proposal can be realizedwithin the givenspecifications. If not, suggestions and alternatives should be offered in orderto achieve realisticoutcomes (Vermeer, 1989, p.235). For example, if the commissioner of atranslation needs a 200page technical report finalised in a couple of days for use in an important
  53. 53. boardroom meeting, thetranslator should offer advice as to the feasibility and offer suggestions onhow it can be made tohappen, which may also include the renegotiation of the fee because of the tighttime frame.If the commission falls beyond the scope of the specifications, that is if thetranslator isunable to produce the best possible TT available, then an ‘optimal‘ versionshould be agreed upon(Vermeer, 1989, p.236). Vermeer offers four definitions of the term ‘optimal‘:-‘one of the best translations possible in the given circumstances‘-‘one of those that best realize the goal in question‘-‘as good as possible in view of the resources available‘-(as good as possible) ‘in view of the wishes of the client‘ (Vermeer, 1989,p.236).As previously mentioned, the purpose of the commission needs to be clearlystated at theoutset so that translation strategies can be put in place. A translator maydecide to employ atechnique suggested by Dryden in 1680 ‘ metaphrase (word-for-word), paraphrase(sense-for-The Translation Theories: From History to ProceduresEdited by ZainurrahmanSource: Personal Journal of Philosophy of Language and Education(
  54. 54. sense) or imitation (rewrite) (Berghout 10/8/05); or opt for House‘s overt orcovert translationmethods (Munday, 2001, pp 93-94) where ST features are either retained orsuppressed,depending on the circumstances. In the case of the 200 page technical reportcited above, oneconcept of the ‘ideal‘ translation would be faithful adherence to text type i.e.reproduction of thedetailed report. However, because of the obvious time limitations, another texttype such as asummary may be proposed as an alternative. This may offer the extra advantage inthat the keypoints raised for discussion in a boardroom meeting may be more easilyaccessible in asummarised form.Whatever the final format of the TT, if it fulfils the instructions of themutually agreedupon commission, then it is deemed to have achieved its purpose and can beconsidered to beadequate. In light of this, it can be seen that the emphasis of the skopostheory lies firmly on theTT, with the ST playing a role of secondary importance. The major advantage ofSkopos, therefore,lies in the fact that the same ST can be translated in different ways dependingon its role andpurpose in the target culture.However, Skopos has been criticised on several grounds. Firstly, it has beensaid that itdoes not apply to literary texts, because it could be considered that they serveno purpose.(Munday, 2001, p.81; Vermeer, 1989, p.230). If this were the case, then Skoposcannot claim to bea legitimate general theory for translation, as indicated by the title of Reissand Vermeer‘s 1984publication. Vermeer argues strongly against this point by insisting thatliterary works are createdwith a specific goal in mind, even if it is reduced to the simplest ‘art for thesake of art‘ premise(Vermeer, 1989, p.231). The application of skopos to a literary text may, infact, suppress some ofthe intended deeper levels of meaning that are open for reflection to readers ofthe ST. However,Vermeer counters this particular argument by claiming that if the reading of aliterary TT onmultiple levels is desired, it should be clearly stated at the time of thecommission (Vermeer, 1989,p.232). From a linguistic perspective, Skopos has been condemned for beingstylistically andsemantically loose, as well as for not paying enough attention to TT micro-levelfeatures (Munday,2001, p.81). Vermeer could, I suppose, counter this criticism in the same mannerby claiming thatattention to linguistic detail should also be stated in the commissioningprocess.In view of these criticisms, it seems that the major weakness of the skopostheory lies inthe fact that almost any translation can be justified and any criticismdismissed as long as the finalversion of the TT satisfactorily fulfils the outcomes stated at the beginning ofthe assignment. This