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Title Page – – – – – – – – – i
Certification – – – – – – – – – ii
Dedication – – – – – – – – – – iii
Acknowledgements – – – – – – – – iv
Table of Contents – – – – – – – – v
Key to Conventions – – – – – – – – vii
Abstract – – – – – – – – – – viiii
1.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – – 1
1.1 Background of Study- – – – – – – 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem – — — – – – – 5
1.3 Aims and Objectives – – – – – – – 6
1.4 Significance of the Study- – – – – – – 6
1.5 Scope of the Study- – – – – – – – 7
1.6 Methodology – – – – – – – – – 7
Literature Review
2.1 Theoretical Studies – – – – – – – – 9
2.1.1 Introduction – – – – – – – – 9
2.1.2 Principles of Translation- – – – – – – 10
2.1.3 Approaches to Translation – – – – – – 12
2.1.4 Types of Literary Translation – – – – – – 14
2.1.5 Peculiar Problems of Literary translation – – – 16
2.1.6 Importance of Literary Translation – – – – – 23
2.1.7 Methods of Solving Problems of Literary Translation
(Translation techniques). – – – – – – – 25
2.2 Empirical Studies – – – – – – – 30
2.3 Summary – – – – – – – – 34
CHAPTER THREE (Presentation of Target Text)
3.1Target text (Igbo version of Women of owu)- – – – 37
3.2 Source Text (English Version of Women of Owu) See
Appendix 1 (117)
4.1 INTRODUCTION – – – – – – – 95
4.2 Cultural Problems – – – – – – – – -95
4.3 Characterization – – – – – – – – -97
4.4 Problem of Style – – – – – – – – -99
4.5 Ecological Factors – – – – – – – – 107
4.6 Problems of Equivalence – – – – – – – 108
4.7 Linguistic Problems – – – – – – – – 108
5.0 Summary and Conclusion – – – – – – – 112
5.1 Recommendation – – – – – – – – 113
References – – – – – – – – – 115
Appendix 1: English Version of Women of Owu (Source text)- – 118
Appendix 2: Literary translation of songs in the text from Yoruba to
English and Igbo – – – – – – – – 167
Literary translation, which is our major focus, implies the translation of all
genres of literature which include prose, drama and poetry. Literary
translation has to do with translating texts written in a literary language
which are highly connotative and subjective, abound in ambiguities,
homonyms and arbitrariness, as distinct from the language of science or that
of administration which is denotative and direct. Literary translation may as
such be said to have the greatest number of peculiar problems. This research
is therefore aimed at examining the problems and principles of literary
translation. The methodology adopted include applying the techniques of
translation (direct and indirect methods) to obtain the target text. The
analysis of the result showes that cultural, linguistic, equivalence problems
amongst others exist in the course of translating the source text to the target
text. It is recommended that the following steps amongst other be taken to
tackle such problems: the translator must have a sound linguistics
knowledge including a good theoretical and practical knowledge of
translation, the cultural backgrounds and the requisite communicative
competence in both languages, since the quality of translation depends upon
1.1 Background of Study
Translation, one of the most important cross-linguistic and crosscultural practices has been going on in Nigeria for quite some time (Edebiri,
1982:1). The actual time of origin of translation has not been specific. But
according to some scholars, translation started with the Babel theory of
translation. The theory explained the linguistic confusion that followed
man’s first attempt to construct an edifice that will reach God’s abode,
heaven. That edifice was called “the tower of Babylon” (Genesis 11:9).
Some other scholars believe that translation began with the renaissance
school of thought. In the renaissance period, the monks did a lot of work,
translating the document they saved from Greek and Latin into English and
French. The first serious task on translation was assumed to have been
carried out by the Arabs, having conquered the Greek Scientific and
Philosophical works. (New Standard Encyclopedia 1985:258). In the ninth
and tenth century Baghdad, the scientific and philosophical works of
Ancient Greece were translated into Arabic and this learning spread to
Europe through Spain which was virtually a Muslim country from the early
eighth century for four hundred years. The transmission reached its peak
through the school of Toledo where translations were made from Arabic to
Latin and later to Spanish. This situation helped in the scientific and
technological development for the European Renaissance. Since then till
date, translation has helped to develop the whole world together.
Generally, it is believed that translation is as old as written literature.
In Nigeria, translation started as an offshoot of missionary activity. During
the colonial conquest, the missionaries translated the Bible into the various
indigenous languages of Nigeria because they saw that it could enhance their
work. Lack of an established orthography in the indigenous languages posed
a problem to them. So, the missionaries proceeded to design orthography for
the local languages and to translate the Bible into these languages. Apart
from translating the Bible to the Nigerian indigenous languages, some
missionaries also translated some aspects of the Nigerian indigenous
literature into English. In Nigeria, translation started by rendering the Bible
from English to the indigenous Nigerian languages while literary translation
took off in the opposite direction from indigenous to English language
(Oraka 1983:28).
Edebiri (1982:20) confirm the work of these missionaries when he
said that by the middle of the last century, they had already rendered the
Bible into the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Ijaw, Efik and Kanuri languages.
Every translation activity has one or more specific purposes and
whichever they maybe, the main aim of translation is to serve as a crosscultural bilingual communication vehicle among people (Constanza,
In the past few decades, the activities of translation have developed
because of rising international trade, increased migration, globalization, the
recognition of linguistic minorities, and the expansion of the mass media and
technology. For these reasons, the translator plays an important role as a
bilingual or multi-lingual cross-cultural transmitter of culture and truths by
attempting to interpret concepts and speech in a variety of texts as faithfully,
and accurately as possible (Contanza, 2000:1).
Translation means different things to different people. House (2009:4)
sees translation as the replacement of an original text with another text. With
this type of replacement, translation has been regarded as a kind of inferior
substitute for the real thing, and it has been likened to the back of a carpet,
or a kiss through a handkerchief.
Dabelnet (1997:7) says:
Translation consists in transferring from one language
into another all the elements of the meaning and only
these elements which ensuring that they retain in their
target language, their relative importance as well as
the tonality and also taking into account their relative
differences present by the culture to which the source
language and target language correspond respectively.
In this definition, Darbelnet emphasizes the meaning and cultural
differences of both the source and target languages. Sharing a similar view,
Nida and Taber (1969:210) see translation as a reproduction in the receptor
language of the closest natural equivalence of the source language message,
first in terms of meaning and second in terms of style.
Cartford (1965:20) defines translation as the replacement of the textual
material in one language (SL) by the equivalent textual material in another
(TL). In a similar view, Newmark (1981:7) sees translation as an exercise
which consists in the attempt to replace a written message in one language by
the same message in another language.
Thriveni (2000:1) says that translation is not simply a matter of
seeking other words with similar meaning but of finding appropriate ways of
saying things in another language.
Ezeuko (1997:19) points out that translation could well be considered,
not only as an activity or art but also as the product of the art or activity.
Translation provides access to something, some message, that already
exists. With this, translation is seen as providing access to something, some
message, that already exists, and it is always therefore a secondary
communication (House 2009:3). Translation is the process of replacing an
original text, known as the source text, with a substitute one, known as the
target text.
House (2009:4) says that such process is usually an interlingual
translation in that the message in the source language text is rendered as a
target text in a different language. She adds that sometimes the term is also
used to refer to an intralingual translation, a process whereby a text in one
variety of the language is reworded into another. Example is when a text in,
say, old English is reworked into a text in modern English, or a text in one
dialect or style is reworked into another. We also have intersemiotic
translation. This is when replacement involves not another language but
another non-linguistic means of expression, in other words, a different
semiotic system. Example is when, for instance, a poem is translated into a
dance or a picture, a novel into an opera or a film. She concludes that what
all these processes have in common is that they involve replacement of one
expression of a message or unit of meaningful content by another in a
different form.
Delisle as quoted in Constanza (2000:2) illustrates what a subtle form
of torture translation is: “Translation is an arduous job that mortifies you,
puts you in a state of despair at times, but also an enriching and
indispensable work that demands honestly and modesty”. He concludes that
there are many thorns that can mortify us during the translation process and
whatever the nature of the text we face, the translators should be aware of
A person who concerns himself with translation of literary texts is a
literary translator. A literary translator, according to Newmark (1981:23),
generally respects good writing by taking into account the language,
structures, and content, whatever the nature of the text. This work focuses on
literary translation which include prose, drama and poetry, their problems
and prospects. Women of Owu was selected because it is a literary text
(drama precisely) and it combines features both prose and poetry
1.2 Statement of Problem
A lot of works have been carried out on translation generally but not much
have been done on literary translation. Literary translation has to do with
translating literary texts which include prose poety and drama. As distinct
from the language of science or that of administration, literary language is
highly connotative and subjective because each literary author is lexically
and stylistically idiosyncratic and through his power of imagination, he uses
certain literary techniques such as figures of speech, proverbs and
homonyms through which he weaves literary forms.
Owing to the nature of literary text, problems abound in its translation.
These problems include the following:
• Problem of style.
• Problem of translation of cultural words where there is no cultural
overlap between source language and target language.
• Linguistic relativity. Each language has its own metaphysics which
determines the spirit of a nation and its behavioural norms. The way
languages realize their sounds are not the same, some words spelt and
written alike also have different meanings and to worsen the problem,
words are not arranged in the same way in different languages.
• Figures of speech and idiomatic expression constitute their own
problems since they are not easily interpreted and even when you
interperete them , you may not find equivalent proverbs or words to
express them and bring out the sense as was intended by the writer of
the original
• The question of exact equivalence in translation constitutes another
The magnitude of these problems depends on who is translating. These
problems of literary translation make translation of literary texts difficult.
Translation of Drama which is a type of literary translation is one of such
neglected areas. This prompts the desire for this research work. This
research therefore attempts to overcome the aforementioned problems in the
course of translating a drama titled women of Owu from English to Igbo.
1.3 Objective of Study
This study is aimed at examining problems and principles of literary
translation. This will be achieved through the following objectives:
(i) Translating the drama titled Women of Owu by Femi Osofisan
(2006) from English to Igbo.
(ii) Examining the problems involved in such translation.
(iii) Making recommendations that will aid potential translators in
carrying out the job of literary translation effectively.
1.4 Significance of Study
This study will be of immense help to potential translators, while
exposing them to existing problems in literary translation. The source text
being a WAEC recommended text, its translation from English to Igbo, will
enhance its understanding by students of south east geo-political zone of
Nigeria, since it is written in their native language. The loan words will be
added to list of words whose equivalence will found in Igbo and this will
help to build up Igbo vocabulary. Information contained in the source text
will also be disseminated to the target audience, since it will be transferred
in the target text in their native language.
1.5 Scope of Study
This study is limited to the translation of a drama text by Femi Osofisan
titled Women of Owu from English to Igbo, examining problems
encountered in translating the English drama to Igbo and subsequently
highlighting constraints experienced in translation. The methods used in the
translation exercise are direct and indirect techniques of translation as
suggested by Vinay and Darbelnet (1976:4).
1.6 Methodology
The text women of Owu was actually translated into Igbo adopting
almost all the seven translation techniques with the exception of calquing
and Adaptation. The source text was read over and over to enhance
understanding of the text. During the translation exercise, expert like Prof.
Onyekaọnwụ, a translator in the Department. of Igbo, African and Chinese
study, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka was consulted, English and Igbo
dictionary were also consulted, the first, second and third drafts were written
and each of these drafts subjected to correction; editing and recopying them
severally till the final draft (the actual Tt).
The work was translated from the source language to the target
language. The problems encountered were highlighted and they include:
Cultural, Characterization, Style, Ecological, Equivalence and Linguistic
problems. The analysis was carried out based on the above mentioned
problems. The examples where presented in a tabular form. Note also that
source text and source language were used and they were referred to as St
and Sl respectively while target text and target language were referred to as
Tt and Tl respectively in the analysis.


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