The African Proverb in a Novel: A Nightmare for the Foreign Language Translator
This study investigates the translation difficulties pertaining to African proverbs in novels. It sets out on the premise of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis which sought to prove that due to the nature of language, it is impossible to translate it correctly into another language. The translation of an African proverb in a novel into a second or foreign language tends to uphold this view due to the fact that the
languages of these novels, that is, English, French, Portuguese, etc., are mere linguistic codifications of the African experience. The situation is more complicated if it comes to the translation of proverbs in these novels. These proverbs are mostly coined from the close observation of elements of the African geo-linguistic continuum. The majority of these proverbs are comparisons of specific elements
or real situations. The study, however, finds that it is possible to go round these difficulties especially with specific techniques and procedures to render a text in another language as expounded by Steiner, Seleskovitch, Catford, Ballard, Vinay, Darbalnet and others of this school of thought. With the examples of selected African proverbs, it also finds that among these techniques, word-forword,
borrowing, equivalence and correspondence are the most appropriate to translate these proverbs while the ghosts of Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf continue to haunt the translator.
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