Translation of proverbs

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  • Publicado : 26 de mayo de 2011
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PROVERBS AND TRANSLATORS: FRIENDS OR ENEMIES?

Proverbs are generally known thruough dictionaries and didactic materials as short sayings in frequent and widespread use that belong to the culturalheritage of a language and express a basic truth that is part of the popular wisdom. It is also commonly accepted the fact that they have a social end which is usually a didacic purpose. However, insome articles like Yisa Kehinde’s (1997) we find an interesting point of view about this definition. After anylising forty-six English proverbs which compare women to animals, food, plants, propertyand trouble, she realizes how misogyny can be reflected in them and concludes that such sexist linguistic units cannot be called wisdom or truth. A clear example of the lack of agreement on what aproverb is the work of Wolfgang Mieder (1999) which includes fifty-five different definitions to end up describing the proverbs as “a short sentence”, since this seems to be “the common denominator” ofthem all.

Therefore, considering the controversial nature of the proper definiton of proverb, we can get an idea of the difficulty the task of moving them from one language to another represents.Some of the obstacle with which we deal when translating proverbs are the following: first of all, the fact that they are traditional, that is, they had a story behind which is their reason for being,and also a history as they have suffered changes in time belonging to a certain culture. Second of all and consequently, they use the manner of speech of the culture in question. Moreover, some of themare metaphorical which causes problems when deciding whether translate also the original image to the target language or not. This difficulties can be appreciated at the origins of some proverbs,when the source of proverbs in a language is another language. This is a common way in which they get into different cultures. So, as Archer Taylor (1996) points out “In the history of a translated...
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