An Analysis of the Translation Procedures in Translating English Metaphors in The Sky is Falling into Indonesian

Situjuh Nazara

c7nazara@gmail.com

Mariyati Simanjuntak

mariatisim@gmail.com

Universitas Kristen Indonesia

Abstract

Since metaphor is regarded not only a figure of speech but also a cognitive operation, has been attracting scientists from various fields. In the field of translation, metaphors are viewed the most difficult expression to render to another language. This study aims at analyzing the procedures used in translating English metaphors in the novel The Sky is Falling into Indonesian. This study employed a qualitative approach. The data were taken from The Sky is Falling, a novel by Sydney Sheldon and its Indonesian version Langit Runtuh, translated by Hidayat Saleh. The results of the observation aided by the Metaphor Identification Procedure (MIP), 39 metaphorical expressions were identified. Based on the analysis results, these English metaphors were rendered into by employing for translation procedures, namely: replacing SL image with standard TL image (2 items or 5.13%), translation of metaphor by simile retaining the image (5 items or 12.82%), conversion of metaphor to sense (7 items or 17.95%), and reproducing the same image in the TL (25 items or 64.10%). The procedure of reproducing the same image in the TL is the one mostly applied because it provides the best translation possible to convey the message from the SL while still maintaining the context of the SL.

Keywords: metaphor, translation procedures, image, sense

INTRODUCTION

Translation is the process of reproducing messages from a source language to their closest accepted equivalent in the receptor or target language, first in terms of meaning and second in terms of style (Nida & Taber, 1982). While rendering the content and the structural form of the source to the target text, the translator may find some potential problems. One of the most problematic elements to translate is metaphors. Many scholars have even linked it with the matter of its translatability limits (Van den Broeck, 1981; Dagut, 1987; Newmark, 1988; Monti, 2006; Burmakova & Marugina, 2014).

Translating metaphors can be a real challenge because they have complex contextual meaning, and they are closely related to the culture of the source language. Larson (1988, pp. 276-277) listed five reasons why metaphor is difficult to translate. First, the image used in the metaphor may be unknown in the TL. A metaphor based on snow, for instance, is difficult to figure out in the countries where snow is unfamiliar. Second, the object of metaphor is stated implicitly. For example, in the tide turned against the government, the object of comparison, i.e. public opinion is implicitly stated. Next, the point of similarity is implicit and hard to identify. For example, the sentence he is a snake does not include the point of similarity. Fourth, the TL uses a different image as a comparison. For example, in the SL there might be a sentence which says there was a storm in the national parliament yesterday but it may be that the TL does not use storm to talk about heated debate but fire. Finally, the frequency of using metaphor is different. The speakers of a language using metaphor frequently will make obstruct the readers to understand a text using literal expressions only.

A metaphor has two domains: target domain and source domain. The target domain, called “tenor” is the concept that is described, whereas the source domain, called “vehicle”, is the concept of analogy (Richards in Saeed, 1997). For instance, in the sentence “Teachers are a nation’s sun”, the word “teachers” is the tenor, whereas “sun” is the vehicle. Since the sentence analogizes teachers to sun, it is not an ordinary statement but a metaphoric expression. To translate it appropriately, a translator needs to understand and appreciate the statement deeply.

Despite the great difficulties which may appear in the process of translating metaphors, the history of translation practices tends to support metaphorical translatability. A great number of literary works (poems, fictions or drama) written by Robert Frost, Shakespeare, Hughes, Pablo Neruda, Dickinson, Hemingway, LiPo, etc., which contains various metaphorical expressions have been successfully translated into various languages. So, although some metaphors must be extra carefully translated, as a form of linguistic expression, metaphors are translatable.

To solve the problems encountered in translating metaphors, Newmark (1988, p. 107) proposed seven metaphor translation procedures, including: (1) Reproducing the same image in the TL; (2) Replacing the image in the SL with a standard TL image which does not clash with the TL culture; (3) Translation of metaphor by simile, retaining the image; (4) Translation of metaphor (or simile) by simile plus sense, or occasionally metaphor plus sense; (5) Conversion of metaphor to sense; (6) Deletion. If the metaphor is redundant or serves no practical purpose, there is a case for its deletion, together with its sense component; (7) Translation of metaphor by the same metaphor combined with sense. The addition of a gloss or an explanation by the translator is to ensure that the metaphor will be understood. In line with these procedures, Larson (1998, p. 278-279) proposed five translation strategies. The first is to render SL metaphor into the same metaphor in TL. Second, the SL metaphor is translated into a simile if the simile is easier to understand than the metaphor in the TL system. The third strategy is translating SL metaphor into a different metaphor in the TL, but it has the same meaning as the SL metaphor. Fourth, translating SL metaphor into the same metaphor in TL and adding an explanation of the meaning of the metaphor. Finally, translating metaphor into a non-metaphorical expression.

Various current studies also revealed that metaphors could be translated by employing various strategies and procedures. Suwardi’s (2005) study focusing on the translation of English metaphors in Steel’s The Wedding into Indonesian revealed that the 41 identified metaphors were translated using five translation strategies: (1) translating metaphors into metaphors with the same images; (2) translating metaphors into metaphors with different images; (3) translating metaphors into similes with the same image; (4) translating metaphors into similes with different images; and (5) translating metaphors into literal expression. The results of the analysis show that most ST metaphors are equivalent with the TT metaphors.

Based on a study investigating the translation strategies used in rendering 174 Indonesian metaphors identified in 69 poems into English and the errors committed in the translation, Pardede (2013) found three strategies were used to render the metaphors: (1) reproducing the original metaphor with its exact equivalent (59.8%); (2) replacing the metaphor with a different metaphor which expresses similar meaning (35.6%); (3) and converting the metaphor into its approximate literal paraphrase (4.6%). He also found 11 inappropriate selections of translation strategies causing distortion in the meaning of the message conveyed by the original poets.

Waluyo’s (2007) study on the translation strategy used to render 100 Indonesian metaphors in identified in a novel titled Saman into English revealed the employment of four strategies: (1) translating  metaphors into metaphors with the same images; (2) paraphrasing; (3) replacing the metaphor with a different metaphor which expresses similar meaning; and (4) literal translation.

Realizing that translating metaphors is challenging but rewarding as well, the researchers were interested to analyze the translation procedures of metaphors in the novel The Sky is Falling by Sidney Sheldon. This study was conducted to address the questions, “What translation procedures are used in translating metaphors in the novel The Sky is Falling?”

METHOD

This study uses a qualitative approach employing the content analysis method. As proposed by Carley (1992, p. 35-40), the content analysis is applied in eight stages, i.e.: (1) setting the level of analysis; (2) determining the concepts to be codified; (3) determining whether the encoding is intended to express the existence or frequency of the concept; (4) determining how to differentiate the concepts; (5) developing the text coding rules; (6) determining what to do with irrelevant information or data; (7) codifying the text; and (8) analyzing the results.

The data, i.e. metaphoric expressions, in this study were taken from The Sky is Falling, a novel by Sidney Sheldon and its Indonesian version, titled Langit Runtuh. To collect the data, the researcher used the documentary technique. The procedures conducted to follow the data are as follows: (1) reading the novel The Sky is Falling and its Indonesian version, (2) collecting the data of metaphors in the English version of the novel and identifying their Indonesian translations, (3) analyzing the types of metaphors and the procedures used to translate the English metaphors into Indonesian. To assist in the process of data identification, the Metaphor Identification Procedure (MIP) proposed by the Pragglejaz Group (2007) was employed.

To verify the accuracy of data analysis, the researcher employed the persistent observation, reference adequacy, and member-check. Through the persistent observation, the researcher collected the data by carefully reading the corpus and analyzing the collected data. The researcher did a referential search by reading some referential books related to the theories and the referential search. Finally, the results were submitted to experts to check and ensure the data analysis was accurate.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

As shown by Table 1, the translator employed four procedures to render the 39 metaphors identified in The Sky is Falling. The most frequently used procedure is the reproducing of the same image in the TL. It was applied to translate 25 (64.1%) metaphorical expressions. The next most frequently used procedure is the conversion of metaphor to sense which was used to render 7 (17.95%) metaphors. It was followed by the translation of metaphor to simile, used 5 times (2.82%). The least frequently used procedure is replacing the SL image to a standard TL image. It was used 2 times (equivalent to 5.13% of the whole metaphors). The use of each of the procedure was discussed in details in the following section.

Reproducing the same image in the TL              

This is the most frequently used procedure in translating the 59 metaphors identified in The Sky is Falling. The followings are three examples of the use of this procedure.

  • SL: cargo of death (p. 3)
  • TL: muatan maut  (p. 11)

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines “cargo” as “goods carried by ship, aircraft, or motor vehicle”. In this metaphor, death is compared to goods being unloaded from a plane. The translator rendered it into Indonesian by reproducing the same image in the TL because ‘cargo of death’ exactly has the same image as muatan maut.

  • SL: Elliot Cromwell was an enigma. (p. 8)
  • TL: Elliot Cromwell merupakan teka-teki. (p. 16)

This metaphor ”Elliot Cromwell was an enigma” compares a character named Elliot Cromwell in the novel to an enigma, or a puzzle. This indicates that the person is a man who is full of mysteries. Since ‘enigma’ has the same image with ‘teka-teki’, the metaphor was translated reproducing the same image in the TL as in the SL.

  • SL: The Winthrops are a legend. (p. 23)
  • TL: Keluarga Winthrop adalah legenda. (p. 32)

In this metaphor, the Winthrop family is stated as a legend, which means they are very famous like people who have done great things. It was translated by rendering the word “legend” into “legenda”, which has the same exact meaning. Thus, the procedure used is the reproducing the same image in the TL.

As illustrated by these three examples, it is evident that when the image of the SL metaphor is available in TL, the translator tended to choose the procedure of reproducing the same image in the TL as the first alternative. The use of this procedure enabled the translator to produce translation equivalence in both meaning and form.

Conversion of Metaphor into Sense

This translation procedure is applied 7 times in translating the 59 metaphors identified in The Sky is Falling. The followings are three examples the use of this translation procedure.

  • SL: earsplitting scream of air-raid sirens. (p.3 )
  • TL: sirene tanda bahaya yang melengking mengerikan dan  memekakkan telinga. (p. 11)

This metaphor compares “Joan Sinisi” (a person) to “a surprise” (a thing/noun), but the translated metaphor describes Joan Sinisi as “sangat mengejutkan” (adjective) which describes Joan Sinisi’s appearance. The metaphor is converted to sense, in this case, the visual sense.  So the translation procedure used is the conversion of metaphor to sense.

  • SL: The wind was a relentless, howling banshee (p. 344)
  • TL: Tanpa kenal lelah, angin terus menderu. (p. 363)

The wind is compared to a “banshee”, which is a mythical creature in Irish folktales. A banshee is believed to be a female ghost whose cries or wails signify death in the family. So the wind is described as the sound of wailing or howling banshee. It is translated as “Tanpa kenal lelah, angin terus menderu,” which describes in detail how the wind is blowing continuously, and the sound that it makes (“menderu”). The metaphor here is converted to sense, specifically the hearing sense. Therefore the procedure used is the conversion of metaphor to sense.

These examples indicate that the procedure of converting metaphor to sense was applied because the translator could not find the equivalent image in TL. To convert the meaning, he replaced the SL image with an extra broad meaning in terms of sense. Although the message was translated, certain emotive aspect was lost.

Translation of Metaphor by Simile (retaining the image)

This translation procedure is applied five times in translating the 59 metaphors identified in The Sky is Falling. The followings are three examples the use of this translation procedure.

  • SL: … it was  a nightmare (p.37)
  • TL: … kehidupan di sana bagai mimpi buruk (p. 46)

The expression “It was a nightmare” is a cliché normally used to describe something horrible or terrible. In this case, it is used to describe Kemal’s life at Orphans Institute. The translation is “kehidupan di sana bagai mimpi buruk”, which compares “kehidupan” with “mimpi buruk”, using the word “bagai”. This makes the translation a simile.  And it retains the image of “nightmare” (mimpi buruk). Therefore the procedure used is the translation of metaphor by simile, retaining the image.

  • SL: Taylor Winthrop was a magnet for women. (p.64)
  • TL: Taylor Winthrop bagai magnet bagi kaum wanita. (p. 74)

The metaphor “Taylor Wintrop was a magnet for women” compares Taylor Winthrop to a magnet, which means he attracts women. The translation “Taylor Winthrop bagai magnet bagi kaum wanita” is a simile because it uses the word “bagai”, and it retains the image of “magnet” which attracts. Therefore the procedure used to translate this metaphor is the translation of metaphor by simile, retaining the image.

  • SL: But Winthrop is kind of a demigod. (p. 240)
  • TL: Tapi Winthrop seperti manusia setengah dewa. (p. 254)

The metaphor “But Winthrop is kind of a demigod” is translated into Indonesian as “Tapi Winthrop seperti manusia setengah dewa” using the word “seperti”, therefore the translation procedure used is the translation of metaphor by simile while retaining the image (“demigod” translated into “setengah dewa”).

These examples revealed that the translator employed the procedure of changing the metaphor into a simile because simile is more easily understood in TL.

Replacing the SL image with a standard TL image

This procedure is used only twice in translating the 59 metaphors identified in The Sky is Falling. The followings are the two metaphors translated using this procedure.

  • SL: Gary Winthrop was America’s Prince Charming. (p. 9)
  • TL: Gary Winthrop adalah “putra mahkota” Amerika

“PrinceCharming” is known in the Western culture as the prince who usually rescues and eventually marries the main lady character in a story, such as in Cinderella or Snow White stories.  It has no equivalence in Indonesian culture. Therefore, the translator translated it as putra mahkota (the crown prince), which is the closest TL image that can be used. Therefore the procedure used is reproducing the SL image with a standard TL image.

  • SL: you’re history. (p.36)
  • TL: riwayatmu sudah tamat. (p. 46)

The metaphor “you’re history” is a cliché that is usually used to describe someone who has been successful, but has now become a failure. Or it can also be used to describe someone who has got him/herself in a very deep trouble that he/she can be considered as “dead” or “gone”. In the Indonesian language it is common to describe someone in this situation as “riwayatnya sudah tamat” or in this case “riwayatmu sudah tamat”. In the story, this metaphor is used by a boy who taunts Dana’s (the main character) adopted son by saying “You’re history,” meaning that he is in such a deep trouble that he can be considered “dead”. It is translated as “riwayatmu sudah tamat”, which has the closest expression in Indonesian to describe a person in such a situation. Therefore the procedure used is replacing SL image with standard TL image.

These two examples indicated that the translator decided to use the procedure of replacing SL image with standard TL image when the SL image has no equivalence in TL. Among the four procedures employed, this seemed to be the last resort.

CONCLUSION

There are four metaphor translation procedures applied by the translator in rendering the 59 English metaphors identified in The Sky is Falling into Indonesian. The procedure of reproducing the same image in the TL is the most frequently used, because most images of the SL metaphors are universal. The translator could find their equivalence in TL. The second most frequently used procedure is the conversion of metaphor to sense. It is employed because the translator could not find the equivalent image in TL. To retain the meaning, he translated the metaphors by replacing the SL image with an extra broad meaning in terms of sense. The third procedure is the translation of metaphor to simile by retaining the image. The translator employed this procedure because he thought simile will be more easily understood in TL. The fourth procedure,replacing SL image with standard TL image was employed because the SL image has no equivalence in TL.

Based on the analysis, it can be concluded that translating metaphor is not easy. It is hardly possible to translate all the SL metaphor into TL metaphor by maintaining both meaning and aesthetic equivalence. If the image of the SL metaphor is universal, it can be easily translated into TL without sacrificing equivalence. But when the image of the SL metaphor is unfamiliar in TL, the translator decided to translate by keeping the meaning and ‘sacrificing’ the aesthetic aspect.

Since this study focused on the translation procedure only, further researches are recommended to analyze the acceptability and the readability of the translated metaphorical expressions.

References

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Monti, E. (2006). Dwelling upon Metaphors: The Translation of William Grass’s Novellas. Nordic Journal of English Studies. 5(1), pp. 117-132.

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Nida, E. A. and Taber, C. R  (1982). The theory and practice of translation. Leiden: E. J. Brill.                                                                                                           

Pardede, P. (2013). Strategi Penerjemahan Metafora Bahasa Indonesia ke dalam Bahasa Inggris dalam Antologi Puisi “On Foreign Shores: American Image in Indonesian Poetry”. Jurnal Dinamika Pendidikan, 6(2), pp.56-54. Retrieved July 2016 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259469142

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Saeed, J.I. 1997. Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell Publisher Ltd.

Saleh, H. (2001). Langit runtuh. Jakarta: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama.

Sheldon, S. (2001). The sky is falling. New York: Warner Books

Suwardi, A. (2005). An analysis of the translation of metaphors in Danielle Steel’s “The Wedding” into Indonesian in Ade Dina Sigarlaki’s ‘Pernikahan”. (Magister Thesis). Yogyakarta: Sanata Dharma University).

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Note: This article was presented in The UKI English Education Department Bimonthly Collegiate Forum held on Friday, February 16, 2018.

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