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Practiced since the dawn of time, translation is an activity that continues to evolve and spread with the political, economic and cultural developments of societies and, more recently, technological progress. So the history of translation is almost as old as that of man himself on the planet. Whether oral (interpretation) or written (translation), the translating activity has almost always been practiced on a daily basis. Amparo Hurtado (1986) cited by Fagbohun (2007), thinks that: “translation is a practice, as old as language and writing, whose origins are lost in the mists of time”

Although people are separated by language, culture and distance, they are both brought together by the desire to learn through translation. So, in this era of globalization, speed and incessant information transfer, we can access any type of knowledge as quickly as possible thanks to translation.

There are always individuals in human history who speak several languages ​​and who served as intermediaries between people who do not share the same linguistic code. The word interpreter which designates someone who transmits a message orally from one language to another comes from a practice in antiquity when international traders were always accompanied by bilingual people who served as intermediaries between them. and their foreign trading partners to facilitate commercial transactions. Peter Newmark (1984), traces the history of translation to 3000 BC in the time of the ancient Egyptian kingdom, during the era of the first Elephantine character when inscriptions in two languages ​​had been discovered. History indicates that the Greek slave Livinus Andronicus was the first known translator in Europe.

Due to the multiplicity and diversity of human languages, translation is essential to the social, economic and political development of human society. At a time when globalization is eliminating distances and trivializing everything, especially information, it is important to know clearly what is happening, what is being said, everywhere in the world.

Nowadays, it is thanks to translation that everything is known at the same time and in the same way among those who are informed about it. The practice of translation therefore responds to a pressing need in today’s world which has become, in reality, a small village where everyone meets.

The interest of the subject:

Man always has the desire to have and have more. Therefore, the desire to deepen our linguistic skills in both languages ​​influenced us to choose the translation of a literary text. At the end of our search for a text, we finally arrived at the choice and we also noticed that this text had not been translated. For our purposes, we chose to translate a text into English entitled: BORN TO BE GREAT  by IYOHA, Cyril I, (2005).

What further aroused our interest is that the narrative of the text touches deeply on the socio-cultural realities of the black world from the time of slavery. However, each language has notions to convey, namely: aesthetics, wisdom, culture, and technology. The translation is carried out through the language and this, without doubt, will increase our knowledge of these two languages. As researchers of English-speaking origin, we decided to translate our study text with the aim of demonstrating to the French-speaking world of black Africa the corruption of leaders as well as the facts of social, political, religious and economic reality. which existed at the time.

By making African literary works accessible to people of other cultures through translation, our research work will subsequently provoke a cultural exchange between African English speakers and other peoples of the French-speaking world. Finally, we hope that the translation and possible reading of the novel will highlight, among the intended audience, the political, social, religious and economic problems of developing African countries.

The scope of the subject

Studies that focus on translation as a discipline are numerous and varied. Due to the fact that the time we have for this research does not allow us to address all aspects of translation in general, we have decided to concern ourselves with the translation of a novel into English entitled – Born to be Great by IYOHA CI (2005), translated into French as Born for Greatness. We will then see the similarities and divergences in the definitions given by translation theorists and practitioners. Through our translation, we intend to highlight the translation approaches proposed by renowned theorists such as Jacques Flammand, Georges Mounin, EA Nida and CR Taber, Susan Bassenette Mcquire, Catford, Seleskovitch, Vinay and Darbelnet among others. others. We will subsequently consider some translation processes and we will also see the difficulties that could arise during our translation of the basic text.

Our work will also include a general conclusion and some proposals deemed necessary to carry out translation work.

Goal of the study

The main objective of this research work is the fair and faithful translation of BORN TO BE GREAT by IYOHA Cyril, I. (2005), translated into French as N É POUR LA GRANDEUR    

The specific objectives of the study are:

i           present to the French-speaking public an equivalent text in French of


ii           present the points of view of translation theorists and practitioners, showing similarities and divergences.

iii        Using and reading the translated version will allow French-speaking readers to grasp the message of the original text.

iv         enrich human knowledge

v          strengthen relationships between Anglophones and Francophones.

Methodological approach:

As a starting point, we made a formal request for approval from the author of the text, IYOHA, Cyril Ikponmwosa and the publishing house, to translate the novel. To properly approach our research topic, we began with a comprehensive reading and detailed analysis of our text: BORN TO BE GREAT . We have also made bilingual and monologue dictionaries available to us.

To have a faithful translation and closest equivalent to the message of the original language, we decided to first use the interpretive approach or the theory of meaning. This theory requires the correct use of bilingual dictionaries. This is precisely what we did with our text from the beginning to the end to have the semantic equivalence of the text in question.

By using any bilingual dictionary, the approach asks the translator to use the situational meaning closest to the message in the text to be translated. With this interpretative approach and the use of Vinay and Darbelnet’s processes, we believe we have produced the semantic equivalent closest to our chosen text.

Expected results

i        Without a doubt, reading the text translated into French will expose the culture of English-speaking Africa to the French-speaking public of the world.

ii       We will make the points of view of translation theorists available to all who need them, showing similarities and divergences.

iii     We hope to share the message of the basic text with the French-speaking public.

iv       Through our translation of the work, we believe we have greatly enriched human knowledge.

v        Reading the translated version will serve to further strengthen the relationship between Anglophones and Francophones.

Finally, we hope that our translated text would be read and understood by the reader of the French language, especially in French-speaking Africa.

Contributions to knowledge

i         The translation of the text BORN TO BE GREAT into French could serve as a good reference document in literature among Francophones

ii      Reading the literary work in French will allow French-speaking readers to share experiences lived by the people of Iseyin in the Yoruba region of Nigeria during the era of slavery.

iii     Future translators will also benefit from the theories and processes used to carry out translation work.

The author’s life

IYOHA, Cyril Ikponmwosa (2005), is an educator, historian, writer and poet. Born in Benin City, Nigeria, in November, 1952, he attended the University of Benin, where he received his BA Ed and M.Ed degrees. He began writing while he was in high school (1966-1970). Most of his novels, poems and plays were presented by the school’s theatrical society but these works were not published.

His first collection of poems, titled  Shadows of War   written during his secondary school days, was published in 1972. He continued with this writing profession up to the level of College of Education in Abraka, where he graduated the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) diploma, in English and history. His teaching profession started at Idia College, Benin, in 1972, and he taught in several schools. He is now retired.

Mr. Iyoha has published several books including: plays, poems, novels, short stories as well as textbooks. Her hobbies include gardening, raising animals, reading, and storytelling. He is married with children.

Summary of the chosen work

According to the author himself,  BORN FOR GREATNESS  is the story of the experiences of Samuel Ajayi Crowther and his rise to greatness. Born into a simple, idolatrous family, he suffered an unexpected shock when he was captured in a raid and sold into slavery, a journey that led to changing the course of events in his life.

However, the book is about more than Ajayi’s personal experiences. It is a narration of the conflict that resulted from the arrival of slavers in Africa. It highlights the insecurity that characterized that period, the threat to the culture of the people and the struggle for supremacy among the adherents of different religions in the lands visited.

This is not a religious book. It is neither a biography nor a historical text. Rather, it presents facts in fictional forms written like a novel. Often this style is called “fictional fact” that is, facts mixed with fiction.

In general, Africa suffered greatly during the civilizing mission as well as during the era of slavery and these activities contributed to the change of certain traditional beliefs. But yet, each African country has told its own story of these facts at home as well as legends and courageous men who took advantage of the opportunity to make themselves well known in the world.

This is the case of Ajayi, from the African village called “Iseyin” during the civilizing mission where his neighboring village “Osoogun” conspired with the slavers to capture black people from Iseyin into slavery in order to get rich.

Upset by the civilizing mission and its consequences in his village, Ajayi admitted that he would surely return to his village “Iseyin” one day. To this dream he clung even though he heard that the captured slaves would never return. His father died during the war and his family was captured by slavers. He hoped to see them again one day.

Mistreated by the slavers who captured him, he is saved by other white masters who did not believe in slavery. Ajayi who was supposed to be a priest of Ifa but did not want to, began to realize his dreams as soon as he found himself in the hands of master Samuel Crowther who treated him as his child. His intelligence isolated him from the crowd. As he always wanted to serve Olorun, the creator of the world, Master Crowther, having seen his abilities, helped him realize his dreams by sending him to school. After his studies, he became a great preacher of the word of God and it was in one of his missions that he met his family in Badagry. Very happy, he continued his task of convincing the idolaters and even his family that Olorun is the true God.

His relationship with Master Samuel Crowther made him adopt the name Samuel Ajayi Crowther and who also certainly became a bishop following his contributions to the preaching of Christianity. This new belief prompted him to forgive the villagers of Osoogun who conspired with the whites during the war.

This story is told by IYOHA, Cyril Ikpomwonsa so that we can remember the wickedness of white people towards black people before; the wickedness of the Blacks (Chief Kings) towards the Blacks; the consequences of slavery; the triumph of the arrival of Christianity in Nigeria; the deception of the whites and the greed of the blacks, everything, during the civilizing mission followed by slavery.





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