Now and again I stumble across something that surprises me, even at this relatively late stage in my research.
Today I was comparing my use of German terms embedded in the translation with the ones that William Ashton Ellis retains. I’d expected a lot of overlap, but surprisingly only 3 overlap: Werdens, Stabreim and unbestimmt bestimmende.
Obviously, the big question is, “Why the difference?”I think it arises from our different strategies. Ellis seeks to produce something close to a word-for word translation. He therefore feels the need to elucidate on any terms that he can’t find an exact English equivalent for, such as compound nouns and abstract nouns. He also seems to insert the German word if he is unsure of a translation. Thanks to technology, it is easier for me to search around for difficult words. There are extensive online dictionaries and corpora and I can easily compare translations of a term and decide on the most suitable. Additionally, I have a lot more Wagner scholarship to draw on than Ellis!
My strategy differs from Ellis in that I am seeking to produce a more accessible, fluent translation. I am less interested in translating word for word and more interested in translating the sense of a clause. Also, I am writing primarily for an audience of musicians – students, performers and connoisseurs! They are most likely to be interested in Wagnerian terms to do with his musical theories, so these are what I have included.
Take a look at the table below (TT1 = Ellis, TT2 = me) – it’s quite interesting:
Source Text terms retained in Target Texts
|künstlerisch Auszuführendes||something to be thought or worked out by the artist||Erinnerung||reminiscence|
|Vorzuführendes||to be carried on||Erscheinung||appearance, phenomenon|
|ein Seiendes||a Being||Absicht||intent|
|dichterische Absicht||Poetic Intent|
|Werdens||Becoming, organic growth||Werdens||Becoming [or the creation]|
|an ihrer gedachten Dichtung||its thinking work of composition||Sprachgedankens||spoken thought|
|die unbestimmt bestimmende||the indefinitely determining language||unbestimmt bestimmende||indeterminate determiner|
|uneiniger||discordant||bereits tönenden Wortsprache||already resonant spoken language|
|vielgewundenen||labyrinthine||Worttonsprache||fusion of melody and verse|
|Stabreim||form of alliteration (footnote)|
|in Nichts setzen||to set it at naught||Einheit des Inhaltes||unity of content|
|Das in Zeit und Raum nothwendig Getrennte (footnote)||the severed by the necessity of Space and Time||Raum und Zeit||place and time (+ footnote)|