A lexical quantor as a means of rendering knowledge in translation

The problem of transfer of knowledge in translation is considered. Attention is paid to the cognitive aspects of language as an integral part of the translation process. Disclosure of the essential features of the lexical quantifier as a linguistic sign.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид статья
Язык английский
Дата добавления 12.05.2018
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Byalyk V.D.

Chernivtsi Yuriy Fedkovych National University,

Pennsylvania State University, USA

У статті розглянуто проблему передачі знання при перекладі. Основну увагу приділено когнітивним аспектам мови як невід'ємної частини перекладацького процесу. Передача знання тісно пов'язана з культурним складником перекладу. У цьому зв'язку постає потреба визначити та науково обґрунтувати відповідний термінологічний апарат для використання в перекладознавстві, у якому лексичний квантор пропонується як один із термінів. Лексичний квантор передбачає передачу інформації про когнітивний процес навколишньої дійсності в рамках певного вербального механізму. План форми лексичного квантора відповідає лексемі, словосполученню чи фразі, водночас план змісту представляє інформацію як множину знання і концептів конкретних мовців. Це передбачає розкриття суттєвих рис лексичного квантора не тільки як лінгвістичного знака, але і як позначення культурного концепту у процесі перекладу.

Ключові слова: переклад, передача знання, лексичний квантор, мовний знак, когнітивний процес, концепт, культура.

The article dwells on the problem of knowledge rendering in translation. The major emphasis is laid on the cognitive aspects of language as an ingredient part of translation process. Translation knowledge is closely connected with the cultural constituent of translation.

With the view of an appropriate terminological apparatus to be determined and scientifically well-grounded, a lexical quantor is suggested as one of the terms which might be used in Translation Studies. A lexical quantor implies the rendering of information about the cognitive process of the surrounding reality within the framework of a certain verbal mechanism.

The plane of form of the lexical quantor corresponds to a lexeme, a word combination, or a phrase while its plane of content is represented by the information as a totality of knowledge and concepts of particular speakers. This perspective implies the disclosing essential features of a lexical quantor not only as a linguistic sign but also as a designator for the cultural concept it stands for in the process of translation

Key words: translation, translation knowledge, lexical quantor, linguistic sign, cognitive process, concept, culture.

Knowledge production and dissemination have long been of interest to scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds. Within the field of translation studies, the role of translation in the production, transmission and transformation of knowledge has been the focus of recent investigations by a number of research groups, including, but not limited to, the organizers of the `Circulation of Academic Thought' Conference held in the University of Graz in 2015 and the research team under the guidance of Mona Baker, Professor of Translation Studies, Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies, based at the University of Manchester undertaking the UK's AHRC-funded `Genealogies of Knowledge' Research Project 2016 Ajou University, South Korea 12-14 January 2017, Manchester University Conference 7-9 December, 2017 and others.

The efforts of such groups have initiated an exchange of ideas regarding translation as a form of knowledge-making and the cross-cultural circulation of academic thought.

Evidently, this state of affairs requires the elaboration an appropriate terminological apparatus to elucidate the essence of translation knowledge across cultures in translation process, to identify the basic units in translation that disclose epistemological nature of translation and play an important role in knowledge rendering.

The objective of the paper is to suggest a lexical quantor as a possible translation unit to account for the translation knowledge, to outline its essential features both as a linguistic sign (in Peirce's tradition) and also as a designator for the cultural concept it stands for.

The term knowledge translation has emerged recently to describe a broader concept than knowledge transfer. The former includes all the steps between the creation of knowledge and its application. Rather than beginning at the point at which a message is to be delivered (as knowledge transfer often does), knowledge translation describes an active, multi-directional flow of information which begins at project inception. Partnerships, which are integral in knowledge translation, are encouraged among researchers (within and across disciplines), policy makers and managers and so on. Interactions and exchanges occur before, during, and after the project with the goal of developing research questions, setting a research agenda, and then determining actions. Knowledge translation draws on many disciplines to help close the gap between evidence and practice. This may include informatics, social and educational psychology, organizational theory, and patient and public education [16, p. 12].

The production and circulation of knowledge across temporal and cultural spaces is a well- established research theme among classicists and historians of political thought, ideas, science and medicine, but recent developments have opened up new perspectives on this area of study. The study of social knowledge flows has advanced our understanding of these transit processes in critical and productive ways. While earlier `diffusionist' models of knowledge production and distribution were predicated on the ascendancy of European thought and science, and the treatment of other cultures as no more than producers of data to be collected, theorized and understood, emerging models of social knowledge foreground how the very process of circulation produces new knowledge and recognize the contribution of all actors and locations traversed by such flows over time. This development is particularly welcome at a time when the media of knowledge production and circulation, successively molded by the manuscript, print and electronic cultures, are being reconfigured in the digital culture of the 21st century. In this deterritorialised and decentralized arena of instantaneous knowledge production and circulation. Social movement and digital media scholars who advocate and practise alternative forms of political participation and collective forms of knowledge construction are therefore increasingly playing an important role in reconceptualizing these trajectories of knowledge production and contestation.

The contribution of translation to these processes across centuries and cultures has long been documented and studied. A significant body of research, often undertaken by scholars outside translation studies, has drawn on a range of case studies to show how concepts and values have been and continue to be renegotiated and transformed at specific historical junctures through processes of (re)translation, rewriting and other forms of mediation. But translation is becoming enmeshed in the study of knowledge production and circulation in new and exciting ways. New and powerful computerized tools promise to enable researchers to trace the genealogy and transformation of key concepts in the humanities and sciences across temporal and cultural spaces through translation. The explanatory power of translation as a key force driving the study of transformation and change, on the other hand, has led scholars in other areas of knowledge to use the concept `as a bunch of culture ' [10]. Translation, thus, is the way of rendering different types of knowledge across cultures, among which these types are most important:

- World / encyclopedic / background knowledge vs situational/contextual knowledge: this is a distinction between stored knowledge about the world and knowledge derived from the situation, or context. This distinction is especially relevant for the characterization of translation and interpreting, respectively, as these two activities allow different degrees of access especially to situational knowledge.

- World / encyclopedic / background knowledge vs linguistic knowledge: in particular cognitive science and artificial intelligence research distinguish between knowledge of the world we talk about and knowledge about the language we use. This distinction is especially relevant in integrated models which intend to give a picture of the translation or interpreting process as a whole or of all the knowledge involved in producing or understanding a text.

- Extra-linguistic / non-linguistic knowledge vs linguistic knowledge: world and situational knowledge is sometimes also jointly referred to as extra-linguistic, or non-linguistic, knowledge in order to distinguish it from linguistic knowledge.

- Procedural knowledge vs declarative knowledge: from a different perspective, knowledge may be distinguished as to whether it is knowledge about how to do something (knowing how, e.g. how to translate or interpret) or whether it is knowledge about how things are (knowing that, e.g. what court levels the legal system in the source and the target cultures work with).

- Explicit vs tacit knowledge: human knowledge may be either conscious or, as such, directly accessible to the translator or interpreter (explicit knowledge), or unconscious and, as such, out of his/her reach (tacit knowledge). This distinction is particular relevant when choosing research methods in translation and interpreting studies. As for example much procedural knowledge is tacit knowledge, it cannot be elicited by asking the translator or interpreter what s/he does when performing the task. Instead, different ways of monitoring the process as it goes on must be applied, such as Think Aloud Protocols (TAPs) in translation, loggings of translators' keystroke behavior, or recordings of interpreters' speech production. On the other hand, explicit knowledge may simply be elicited through retrospective interviews with the translator or interpreter.

Internal vs external knowledge (systems): knowledge systems may be located in human minds, i.e. be systems of thought (internal knowledge systems), or they may be stored outside the human mind, for example in translators' databases (external knowledge systems). This classification is particular relevant for the distinction between human and machine translation: the former type of translation may draw on both internal and external knowledge systems, whereas the latter can only draw on external systems. These moreover have to be more explicit than systems used for human translation due to the restricted “cognitive” capacities of artificial intelligence systems used for computer translation. Also, the classification into internal vs. external knowledge is relevant when describing the different types of knowledge available to translators vs. interpreters: while translators have the possibility of drawing on externally stored knowledge during the task, interpreters can have virtually no recourse to external knowledge as stored for example in databases. Interpreters thus largely have to rely on internal knowledge - which, however, can be complemented with situational knowledge, to which they have better access than translators, as stated above [17, p. 2].

The borderlines between some of the above categories are clearly still rather fuzzy, and there is no consensus on exactly how to define them.

Translation generally deals with two major problems: the way of establishing correspondences between the source language and the target language and the way of creating a model (models) of translation activities. The terminological apparatus seems to be most important in this case. And many translation scholars, Korunets I. among them, realizing this importance tried to clarify different notions that translation studies operate. Korunets I. has made his tangible contribution to translation theory in the way of distinguishing and identifying its various basic notions [2; 3; 4]. However, still the question arises: what is to be considered as a unit of translation in the process of translation activity. Taking into consideration the discrepancies in the structural and semantic structures of different languages, we must admit that they result in a variety of ways of expressing the plane of content. This fact may be the reason for considering the unit of translation ranging from a letter (a phoneme) to a text segment or a text as a whole. This vision of the problem is closely associated with the linguistic aspect of translation. Evidently this aspect along with cultural, pragmatic and cognitive issues should be considered as the decisive one in determining the unit of translation. It seems quite reasonable to use the term which could embrace all these parameters. Moreover, translation is also viewed nowadays as a vehicle of rending knowledge and culture.

In this article an attempt has been undertaken to fill in this gap by offering the term `a lexical quantor' [12]. In this respect the task of paramount importance for us is to elucidate the nature and major characteristics of the term under discussion.

The very word-combination `lexical quantor' implies its connection with linguistic phenomena (`lexical', i.e. associated with a word or vocabulary). Obviously, the second element of the word- combination (`quantor') may present some difficulties in its comprehension. Traditionally, this term - quantum (in the Ukrainian terminology `kvantor') is used both in logic and linguistics. In linguistics it is understood as the words with quantitative semantics (`everybody', `some', `few', `many', etc.), cardinal numerals in particular. In the world languages they are manifested by quantum pronouns and pronominal adverbs (`everywhere', `always', `the whole' etc. [see 7, p. 206].

This term is also frequently used in mathematical logic where it is treated as its symbol, a logic operation which gives a quantitative characteristic for a number of objects to which the expression belongs and which is the result of its application [8, p. 223].

Another encyclopedic source reads that the term (Lat. quantum meaning `how many / much') is a logical equivalent of the words, such as `some', `exists', etc., operators that formalize in calculation of predicates the logical properties of these expressions [9, p. 570].

The latter definition focuses on the combination of both linguistic and logic understanding of the term. Thus, we may assume that this term may be viewed both as a philosophical (Q-1) and a linguistic one (Q-2). However, in this text it is suggested that it should be viewed somewhat differently. Here this term is rather a homonym of the previous two (Q-1 and Q-2) and is the result of blending of two words `quantum' and `operator' - `quantor' (Q-3) meaning `an operator of the categorization of a language worldview which renders a certain quantum of relevant information about the surrounding world'. This approach justifies the usage of the term `quantor' in English terminology as the existing words `quantum' or `quantifier' and `operator' in the language may be considered the constituents of the suggested blending.

A lexical quantor implies the rendering of information about the cognitive process of the surrounding reality within the framework of a certain verbal mechanism. Thus, the lexical quantor represents a certain structure of knowledge (a priori and post priori) manifesting its epistemic characteristics and, being a part of a language system, may stand out as a cognitive verbal unit of language and speech. The epistemic character of this unit is quite evident and conforms to the structure of the language. The plane of form of the lexical quantor corresponds to a lexeme, a word combination, or a phrase while its plane of content is represented by the information as a totality of knowledge and concepts of particular speakers.

A lexical quantor may look akin with other long established terms in linguistics and general science sharing some features but still remaining different. Here, we mean first and foremost, the terms which have already been in wide use, such as an informeme [11] and sapienteme [1]. The term `informeme' is used as a unit of information which is rendered in the information space of a Man and the Universe where the thoughts are the results of autogeneration process of the simultaneous input and output of huge torrents of informational and thinking waves (quanta of thoughts) [11, p. 172-173). The `informeme' is a constituent of the universal, the only informational think- and-see language as more than 95 % of information is perceived by people with their eyes. It is the eyes that perceive the information hundreds times quicker than ear channels [11, p. 175].

In this respect, the term `informeme' may be viewed as hyperonym for the term `lexical quantor'; on the other hand, it may be viewed in terms of the informational model of the Universe which, in its turn, is an essential quality of the physical worldview and reflects the general conception and the informational reality of the nature as well as generalizes material, logic, hypothetic and other models of world formation [11, p. 144].

Thus, this term may be used for methodological purposes rather than as an instrument of a cognitive philological analysis. The notion of `informeme' may enable penetrating into the essence of linguistic phenomena from the point of view of the cognitive process being accomplished by a man within the activity approach to the study of the phenomena of the surrounding reality disclosing the informational code of a man and the Universe.

The notion of `sapienteme', introduced into linguistics by Yevgeniy M. Vereschagin and Vitaliy G. Kostomarov [2005], takes into account both the informational component and the linguistic status of a linguistic unit but is restricted to a linguocultural sphere of a certain ethnos. The genesis of a sapienteme is described as a process that starts from the most generalized idea which may be either devoid of nomination or may possess a composite and non-use character. Further this idea transforms into a notion which receives nomination in a national language. Some elements of a priori knowledge, so to say, are characterized by a vertical genesis, and their transition to a horizontal level is a contribution of the genius of a certain nation, its soul in cognition of visible and non- visible world.

This is vertical and horizontal on-going learning of the world by a man and then its transition, as we assume, within a certain non-verbal - verbal mechanism. Y. Vereschagin and V. Kostomarov suggest that this mechanism should be called `a sapienteme' [1, p. 840].

The theory of a sapienteme is sufficiently grounded in a theoretical context and verified by evidential basis. It can hardly bid for universality as it is aimed only at one important but not comprehensive aspect of cognition - culture. On the other hand, these ideas are not quite new and we may agree with Yu. Stepanov that the term `sapienteme' was preceded by the views of Karl Popper (from 1967 to 1979) when he spoke of `objective knowledge', `epistemology without a cognizing subject', `the third world as the world of objective knowledge' [1, p. 1033; see also 5, p. 44], and the idea to describe the world of knowledge goes back as far as the times of Plato. However, this, in no way, diminishes the importance and topicality of the theory under consideration for linguocultural studies. A sapienteme being a verbal and non-verbal unit of linguocultural code differs from a lexical quantor. The latter takes into consideration a verbal manifestation of knowledge structure laying emphasis on both cultural and non-cultural factors and, thus, appears to be a verbalized segment of the categorization of the language worldview. So, here the term `lexical quantor' is a hyperonym to the term `sapienteme'. Similarly to sapienteme a lexical quantor possesses a complicated structure incorporating various types of information among which there's a tangible portion of cultural information.

Another attempt was undertaken by A. Chesterman to establish a meme as a unit of translation [13].

Memes are roughly defined as units of cultural transfer - as elements of culture that spread much like genes but via non-genetic means: they, so to speak, leap from brain to brain via imitation [17, p. 4].

In sum, the contribution by A. Chesterman focuses on the spread of knowledge, and key concepts are knowledge management and procedural knowledge in translation practice [17, p. 5].

The term was proposed and first used by Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene (1976) [14], although the actual concept is older, going back at least to Plato's Ideas.

Information is commonly thought of as being somehow static, passive, not necessarily true or justified, often atomistic, often irrelevant, value-free, easily digitizable. Some traditional conceptions of knowledge seemed a bit like this too, as fed into traditional school systems[17, p. 23].

More recent conceptions of knowledge are rather different, based on more interactive and constructivist theories of learning. Knowledge is understood to have a personal dimension as well as an objective one (cf.objectivist vs.individualist conceptions of knowledge). Knowledge requires adequate justification, evidence; it is linked to emotions and values; it is based both on empirical perception and on rational thought; it takes into account of change and patterns of change; it involves actively knowing, building knowledge structures; it is holistic rather than atomistic. Some knowledge is closely linked to action, to skill, to knowing how (procedural knowledge) [17, p. 24].

Still, we must admit that the usage of Chesterman's meme as a translation unit, first and foremost, refers to culture though there's some reference to knowledge, this isn't dominant in his theory.

A lexical quantor has some advantages in this respect as it aims to reveal within the knowledge constituent all other aspects pertaining to different types of information about the concept. It also renders pragmatic, ideological, political, economic, and other types of information. This converts a lexical quantor into a cultureme, pragmeme, ideologeme, politologeme, economeme respectively in the process of realization of the knowledge structures which this lexical quantor contains. This assertion may be illustrated as follows:

Q >qi, Q >qe, Q >qpr, Q >qp, Q >qc etc., where

Q - a lexical quantor

qi - quantor-ideologeme

qe - quantor-economeme

qpr - quantor-pragmeme

qp - quantor-politologeme

qc - quantor-cultureme etc.

On the other hand, a lexical quantor may be considered as a linguistic sign which serves to exteriorize the thought. `Semiotics studies the production, transmission, exchange, and interpretation of messages consisting of one or more signs', according to the words of Gorlee D. [15, p. 11]. So, evidently, it has much common with translation and cognitive linguistics in general. This fact is very often underestimated by the scholars but it should be included if we speak of terminological apparatus of translation studies.

The combination of the linguistic (lexis) and the extra-linguistic (information, mind) in a lexical quantor makes it possible to reflect the surrounding reality in its spatial and temporal entity. This entity is reflected both in a language consciousness of a speaker and linguistic units of different types and levels.

The linguistic unit embodied in a lexical quantor may be represented by a variety of word-forming structures, i.e. a lexical quantor as a verbalized quantum of information about the surrounding reality may be expressed by a non-derived lexeme, a derivative, a compound word or even a phrase, i.e. by a nominative unit.

It is obvious that a more complicated structure will be characterized by a higher semantic load and, thus, will contain more information about the concept it designates (Cf.: Q = q1 + q2 + q3 ... qn, where Q - is a lexical quantor, and q1, q2, q3 ... qn - quanta of information represented by the semantics of the components of a word-building structure). So the role of word-formation patterns is of paramount importance for the linguistic presentation of knowledge by a lexical quantor as each structural element of the lexical quantor stands for a certain quantum of information. It should be noted that the very sum of the meaningful constituents of a lexical quantor doesn't render the whole epistemic nature which is inherent in it. It is only realized in totality with pragmatic, cognitive, discursive factors in the communication process, i.e. transference of knowledge, its processing, and perception.

Thus, it is necessary to take into account the linguistic status of a lexical quantor (as a nominative unit of language and speech), its realization in actual speech, i.e. discourse, taking into consideration its cognitive characteristics in order to understand its nature. It is also necessary to focus on the semiotic nature of a lexical quantor, its place in a language semiotic system, mechanism of its genesis and functioning in speech. Such an approach would conform to the established triad `form - content - function' of the methodological principle of the study of linguistic phenomena taking into account its interpretation in interdisciplinary and intercultural perspective. This perspective implies the disclosing essential features of a lexical quantor not only as a linguistic sign but also as a designator for the concept it stands for. It seems appropriate here to mention the assertion of Anatoliy M. Pryhodko who emphasizes that linguistic conceptology doesn't duplicate the object and subject-matter of linguistic semiotics at all by using new terminology but is a turning point in scientific understanding of lexical semantics where the cognition process is reflected at a new turn of an evolution spiral of linguistics [6, p. 7].

We should state that a lexical quantor is a polyhedral psychic and mental linguistic formation which is a substitute for a certain amount of knowledge obtained in the process of cognitive human activity necessary for successful communication. It is characterized by certain semiotic, linguistic, epistemic, cognitive, and discursive features which should be taken into account while analyzing its nature.

On the other hand, a lexical quantor may well serve as a unit of translation as it contains all important information (linguistic, pragmatic, cultural, and cognitive) in the plane of content. Taking into account these characteristics of a lexical quantor in the process of translation makes it possible to achieve adequacy and accuracy of rendering information of the source text in the target one.

In future studies it is reasonable to do research as for the historical, cultural, and social conditions under which translators and institutions engage in the production, dissemination, and reception of knowledge and elucidate the ways in which translators have participated in the process of transmitting scientific and expert discourses across linguistic and cultural boundaries.

It would be also of further interest to learn how “foreign” cultural, political, and scientific concepts were transmitted, circulated, and received in Ukraine during periods of political, economic, and intellectual transformation.


lexical quantor knowledge translation

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