Limits of translatability of language and cultural specificities: A case study of a translation of Runyoro-Rutooro folktales, proverbs and poems into English
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The present study aims at finding out the limits of translatability of language and cultural specificities in Runyoro-Rutooro folktales, proverbs and poems when they are translated into English and discovering ways of solving them. To do this study, the researcher examined Runyoro-Rutooro expressions considering its literal and communicative translation. Runyoro-Rutooro expressions provided evidence from which the thoughts themselves needed to be inferred. The meaning of a text is not in words. The words of a text are but pointers towards its intended meaning. To grasp the words on the page we have to know a lot of information that is not set down on the page. The proportion between what is explicitly stated and what is implied lies below the surface of the text and is composed of the reader’s own relevant knowledge. The relevance theory guided the translation. The relevance theory states more precisely that knowledge comes from the cognitive environment of the reader. The total cognitive environment of a person consists of all the information accessible to him or her at the time, either from perception, memory or by inference. In translation using the relevance theory, the researcher’s aim was to make sure that the target text interpretively resembles the source text adequately and to make the target text as relevant to the target reader as the source text to its reader. The translation was tested using back translation technique. The researcher categorized her findings in two main terms namely: linguistic untranslatable specificities and cultural untranslatable specificities. The results of the linguistic untranslatable include loss of emotive features, lack of appropriate lexis, lack of a similar metaphor, loss of formal features and difficulty to translate repetitions. Examples of cultural specificities include lack of corresponding cultural background, ecological features, lack of a similar experience, cultural values and practices. The solutions applied were using paraphrase, explanation, getting a similar experience from a target language and by inference. The findings are an eye opener to future scholars that translatability of folktales, proverbs and poems from Runyoro-Rutooro into English is possible when untranslatable specificities are identified. The strategy used included comparing literal and communicative methods of translation. This research has established some of the linguistic and cultural specificities that limit translatability from one language to another and in this case from Runyoro-Rutooro to English. The study has also come up with possible solutions and recommendations that can be applied in translating language and cultural specificities.