Translation as trasmission

28 12 2013

According to Louis G. Kelly , whose masterpiece was published by Basil Blackwell in Oxford (1979), modern linguists distinguish three types of translation: intralingual (rewording in the same language), interlingual (rewording in another language) and transmutation ( reworking in another code altogether).
The problem of translation theory could thus be depicted schematically by a series of levels like the following: 1. Grammatical Structures 2. Possessing lexical Structures 3. Creating a certain sense 5. within the framework of a given style and genre 6. Reflecting the personality of the author.
Augustine in De doctrina Christiana III.i.1, set out his requirements for translation i.e knowledge of the two languages involved and of the subject-matter of the text, some skill in textual criticism, and care for accuracy. The model of the translation process put forward is essentially a two-stage, one of reading the Message in Greek and writing it out in Latin. For some purposes this remained current until the twentieth century, being the model on which Warren Weaver based his famous Rationale for machine translation. This decoding model assumes that there is consistent one-to-one correspondence of small units. From this model rose two relaxed attitudes: that translation was essentially copying and that translators had no right to “comment” or ” interpret”.
But the main weakness of this model lies in taking the human element as a variable that can be controlled.

Dine Bizaad Yee Atah Naayee ‘Yik’eh Deesdlii – The Navajo Language assisted the military forces to defeat the enemy

13 12 2013


Navajo Indians were recruited as US Marines during the Second World War. Using a derivative of their language, the Navajo developed a code to encrypt radio messages and the “codetalkers” (as the Navajo soldiers came to be known), have been credited with turning the tide of war. One Marine Corps signal officer summed up the situation after the war: “Were it not for the Navajo Code Talkers, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima and other places.”

Though the Japanese repeatedly broke other American military codes, they never came close to cracking the Navajos’, which remains one of the handful of codes in military history that were never deciphered. The Navajos’ secret was considered so valuable that it was kept classified until 1968.

Navajo is a tonal language, meaning the vowels rise and fall when pronounced, changing meaning with pitch.  There are four separate tones of voice used: low, high, rising, and falling.  Two separate words with different meanings may therefore have the same pronunciation but with different tones.  Some Navajo words are also nasalized, meaning that the sound comes through the nose instead of the mouth.   The Navajo language is very difficult for non-Navajos to understand because of the precise way in which one object relates to another.  These relationships may seem unimportant to outsiders, but are exceptionally important to the Navajos.  Their view of life, which is that everything they do and that happens to them is related to the world around them, is very apparent in the way they speak. 

Navajo belongs to an entirely different language family from that of Amerindian languages. An expert in Amerindian languages would have no insights into the Navajo language. Navajo and Apache belong to the Na Dene language family. The ancestors of the Navajos and Apaches migrated about a millenium ago southward from the region of the Athapascans in northwestern Canada and eastern Alaska.

Very little had been published about the Navajo language, making it almost impossible for the enemy to acquire any knowledge of the language. German intelligence agencies might have been aware of the potential use by U.S. military forces of Amerindian languages for communications and could gain knowledge of many Amerindian languages from published sources or from Germans who participated in field studies of those languages while students in America.

Navajo was adaptable to the creation of new words within the language rather than using words borrowed from other languages. Such loan words could be easily recognizable in spoken communications whereas new words created within the language would not be recognizable.

The tribes of the Apache and Navajo are now associated with the desert areas of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, but this region was not always their home. Their ancestors migrated into the region within historical times. The original homeland of the tribes was northwestern Canada and eastern Alaska. The discovery of this origin was through linguistics.

The route of migration the migration was primarily down the great plains to the east of the Rocky Mountains, but there is some evidence of migration through the Great Basin region. In the Southwest the Tewa and the Zuñi called the newcomers Apachu meaning strangers/enemies. The newcomers who learned agriculture from the local tribes and settled down to farming were called by the Spanish the Apaches de Nabajó the Apaches of the Cultivated Fields, which was subsequently shortened to Navajos. This is the origin of the Navajos. They were the Apaches who adopted farming and later sheep herding. The name the Apaches and Navajos used for themselves was Na Dené, which means The People.

When linguists began recording and classifying Indian languages they found a surprising affinity of the Apache-Navajo languages to the Athabascan family of languages from northwestern Canada and eastern Alaska. (Athabascan is also spelled Athapascan in the literature.) This affinity consisted not only of grammatical structure and core vocabulary but also vocabulary that had become obsolete in the region of the desert. For example, for many generations no Apache or Navajo had seen a boat but the word used to describe the gliding flight of an owl was the same word used by the Athabascans to describe the movement of a canoe over water. Words used by Athabascans for utensils made from horn were used by the Apache-Navajos for utensils made from gourds. When linguistics queried Apache-Navajos about whether they recognized words from Athabascan languages the Apache-Navajo speakers recognized them as archaic words, words that had been replaced by other words.

 Dené–Yeniseian is a proposed language family or language stock consisting of the Yeniseian languages of central Siberia and the Na-Dené languages of northwestern North America. It has been called “the first demonstration of a genealogical link between Old World and New World language families that meets the standards of traditional comparative-historical linguistics”. If valid, it would be the first proven linguistic connection between the Old and New Worlds, not counting a few Yupik languages found on either side of the Bering Straitin their language.

Dené Navajo students can now learn their tribe’s customs and language while becoming eligible for scholarships, thanks to two Navajo courses now being offered by leading online high school The American Academy.

The American Academy offers courses in Navajo Government and Navajo Language. Both courses are intended to enrich the cultural knowledge of students within and outside of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Government course covers the evolution of Navajo government from its beginnings to the present time. In the Navajo Language course students learn to speak, write, and read numerals, anatomy, conversational phrases and other common terms.