Metaphor and Translation

The cognitive view of metaphor from cognitive linguistics was welcomed by translation scholars, as it provides a framework for motivating translators’ decision-making (Fernandez 2013). In the past, where the focus was on the rhetorical aspect of metaphor, and because of its intricate and culture-specific nature, scholars viewed metaphor as a translation problem (Schaffner 2004). The main debates were about whether and how metaphors could be translated (see Dagut 1976, 1987; Van den Broeck 1981; Alvarez 1993; Dobrzyriska 1995; Nokele 2011; Manipuspika 2018). These studies revealed that translators applied various strategies to deal with issues of non-equivalence: substituting source text (ST) metaphors with metaphors of similar meaning and form (Van den Broeck 1981; Alvarez 1993; Manipuspika 2018); substituting ST metaphors for metaphors with similar meaning but different form (Alvarez 1993; Kruger 1993; Manipuspika 2018); paraphrasing (Van den Broeck 1981; Alvarez 1993; Kruger 1993); omission (Kruger 1993; Manipuspika 2018); replacing ST metaphors with similes (Manipuspika 2018), and, in the case of isiXhosa, adding ideophones to capture the expressiveness of the metaphor (Nokele 2011).

Since translation and metaphor are both cognitive phenomena, CMT brought a new and interesting approach to the study of metaphor translation. Several scholars explored the nature of conceptual metaphors and the implications of a cognitive approach to translating metaphor. For example, Tabakowska (1993) finds that cognitive incompatibilities result in the incorrect translation of metaphor. Mandelblit (1995) stresses the effect of the distance between the languages involved, finding that it takes longer to process metaphors when languages are far apart than when they are related. As a result, he emphasises the importance of translator competence and performance. Schaffner (2004) notes the importance of social and cultural systems when translating conceptual metaphors. Indeed, cultural differences between source and target languages have been mentioned as being the root of the problem (Dagut 1976; Mandelblit 1996). Schaffner (2004) emphasises the need for cross-linguistic and cross-cultural research in order to reveal similarities and differences in conceptual structures. In support of this assertion, Schaffner and Shuttleworth (2013) also stress cross-cultural comparison, using authentic texts to explore differences in metaphor conception. However, while Steen (2014)

Translating Emotion Conceptual Metaphors 147 concurs that metaphor translation requires an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach, he contends that since metaphors are ubiquitous and correspond across languages, they should not present translation problems unless they belong to a limited class of metaphor. This could be true, considering that research conducted on metaphor translation in the past largely involved stylistic or literary metaphors, including novel metaphors. Steen proposes that translators view the metaphor as either deliberate or not, in which case they have a choice of reproducing the metaphor as a metaphor or as a non-metaphor. Therefore, how translators conceptualise the metaphor determines how they translate it. This is in line with the argument that if metaphor is a matter of language and thought, then the translation may differ from the ST, because no two individuals perceive and interpret reality in exactly the same way, even when they share the same language (Hervey and Higgins 1992).

As Jensen (2005) and Steen (2014) observe, metaphor translation also depends on whether translators can actually identify the metaphor. Investigating the application of cognitive principles in the translation of emotion-related expressions, Hanic et al. (2016) find that novice translators choose similar solutions. Investigating how professional and nonprofessional translators deal with conceptual metaphor translation, Jensen (2005) confirms that such translation requires translator competence, and highlights that linguistic competence and cultural knowledge are key to translating conceptual metaphors effectively. Nguyen (2013) finds that the EMOTION IS LIQUID metaphor shares the same type of coherence in English and Vietnamese, and therefore recommends teaching metaphors by categorising them as conceptual metaphors, maintaining that they are an effective communication tool between languages. However, Safarnejad et al. (2014), find that emotion metaphors in English and Persian are not always matched, because of differences in the conceptualisation of experience in the two cultures.

South African Studies

Key South African studies on conceptual metaphor include those by Thipa (1988), Hendrikse and Mkhatshwa (1993), Hermanson and du Plessis (1997), Taylor and Mbense (1998), Hermanson (2006), Nokele (2011, 2014, 2015), Zulu et al. (2015) and Naicker (2019a, 2019b). Phendla (2004) and Hurst (2016) also conduct interesting studies on metaphor, but do not use CMT as their theoretical framework. Thipa (1988) was the first to apply CMT as a theoretical framework to African (specifically to Sesotho and isiXhosa) expressions, but based his study on only a few derived examples.

IsiZulu conceptual metaphors have received the most attention. Hendrikse and Mkhatshwa (1993) apply CMT to isiZulu auxiliaries, confirming that not all aspects of the source domain are highlighted inthe target domain. Taylor and Mbense (1998) compare anger metaphors in expressions collected from isiZulu speakers with English metaphors of anger. They find that embodied metaphors are similar, whereas those that are culturally motivated differ. Hermanson and du Plessis (1997) examine the PEOPLE ARE ANIMALS metaphor in various isiZulu literary texts, concluding that metaphors are hierarchically structured from general to specific. Other studies focusing on Zulu metaphors include Hermanson’s (2006) study of the translation of biblical metaphors in the Book of Amos into isiZulu, and Biyela’s (2014) exploration of personified animal metaphors in Shaka’s praise poems. These studies find that CMT can be applied to African languages, and that metaphor “is not only a matter of language but also find(s) expression in Zulu culture” (Hermanson 2006:170).

To address the need for research on CMT in isiXhosa, Nokele (2011, 2014, 2015) applied the theory to authentic texts, showing language in use, exploring the translation of conceptual metaphors in the isiXhosa translation Indicia ende eya enkululekweni (Mandela 2001) of Mandela’s (1994) Long walk to freedom, and comparing them with the English ST (Nokele 2011, 2014) and the isiZulu translation (Nokele 2015). These studies investigate conceptual metaphors in general, but do not focus on a particular type of conceptual metaphor.

To address the need for research on conceptual metaphors in South African languages other than Nguni languages, Zulu et al. (2015) investigate the poetic discourse in Catholic hymns using CMT, determining that the hymnbook reflects Sesotho cultural discourse. Naicker analyses metaphorical idioms in South African Indian English (2019a) and Northern Sotho (2019b) applying CMT, confirming that idiomatic expressions are based on conceptual metaphors and therefore constitute universal human conceptual systems.

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