Metaphor has been widely discussed within the discipline of Translation Studies, predominantly with respect to translatability and transfer methods. It has been argued that metaphors can become a translation problem, since transferring them from one language and culture to another one may be hampered by linguistic and cultural differences. In terms of translation, a common metaphor can be translated linguistically and culturally. A specific metaphor, however, should be reproduced. Unfortunately, in the latter case, culture may stand as an obstacle to the process of translation.
Translation by means of metaphor seems to be the most relevant technique in terms of distinction. Defining “metaphor” Before discussing the problems that may arise when it comes to translating metaphors, it is practical to discuss exactly what a metaphor is. As a child, I was taught that a metaphor is a comparison made without using words of comparison, including as, such as and like. The word metaphor derives from the Greek word metaphora; meta meaning ‘over’ and phora/pherein, which means ‘to carry’. Aristotle defined metaphor as “the application to one thing of the name of another thing”. Translation theory seems to be lacking a precise definition of metaphor. In his article Can “Metaphor” Be Translated? M. B. Dagut criticizes this approach, and writes: “The rehabilitation of “metaphor” in translation theory must thus, clearly, begin with the restoration to the term of its proper (and vitally significant) semantic content” (1976:22). He divides metaphors into two categories, simplex and complex, which in their “passage from performance to competence” results in the creation of polysemes and idioms accordingly.
The translation of metaphor cannot be decided by a set of abstract rules, but must depend on the structure and function of the particular metaphor within the context of a culture (Dagut, 1976: 32; Snell-Hornby, 1988-1995: 58); The scheme offered by Newmark and followers does not say anything about how the choice from among the procedures is made; Translation according to the typology offered does not do justice to conventional metaphors we live by. It has been argued that the metaphors “that is most alive and most deeply entrenched, efficient, and powerful is those that are so automatic as to be unconscious and effortless” (Lakoff & Turner, 1989: 129) .
Metaphor has traditionally been viewed as the most important form of figurative language, and is generally seen as reaching its most sophisticated forms in literary language. Metaphors in literary works are also usually rich in culture-specific connotations, which give rise to difficulties in the translation process.
There are several problems related to translating metaphors, the most obvious being, as Dagut points out, the fact that “since a metaphor in SL (source language) is, by definition, a semantic novelty, it can clearly have no existing “equivalence” in TL (target language)” (my brackets) (1976:24).
Sylfest Lomheim writes in his book “Omsetjingsteori” that “striking metaphors in SL can only be translated equivalently using as striking metaphors in TL (1995:132), and claims that in order to have a fair chance of achieving this, the translator himself must have a talent for creative writing (1995:134).
As he points out, metaphors both convey meaning in a very economical way, as well as create new ways of using a language (1995:132).
In Dagut’s own words: “The crucial question that arises is thus whether a metaphor can, strictly speaking, be translated as such, or whether it can only be “reproduced” in some way” (1976:24). Metaphor in Fowler’s typology is divided into live and dead metaphors Live metaphors “are offered and accepted with consciousness of their nature as substitutes for their literal equivalence” (1926: 348-49).
A metaphor is called dead when the “speaker and hearer have ceased to be aware that the word used is literal” (1926: 349). Cooper adjusts the statement in accordance, thinking that “the more we forget that it is being used instead of a literal equivalent, the deader is the metaphor” (1986: 119). Basing his view on the consciousness / unconsciousness he qualified Fowler’s approach by “amnesiac scale”. It appears as if both the speaker and the hearer are affected by amnesiac disease.
It seems that the process of distinction between dead and live metaphor in Fowler’s typology is mental, depending upon the degree of consciousness/unconsciousness of the speaker & reader. From this angle, it is appropriate to consider it as a “mental classification.
Tabakowska (1993: 67): “Since metaphor is rooted in man’s experience, which is culture specific, it also has to be culture specific, thus presenting what amounts to often insurmountable problems for translation, which is by definition a transcultural process.”
Schaffner (2004): Discussed some implications for a cognitive theory of metaphor to translating metaphor without trying to draw a theory or a model. Dickins (2005): Simplified Model, Full Model, a reworking of Newmark in terms of lexicalized and non-lexicalized metaphors, where Persian -English translation of metaphor is reduced to exuberance and congruence. An elaboration of a model based on translation perspective would certainly be more useful in terms of theory to help the translator draw a clear-cut between techniques used for each kind of translating metaphor.