Implicit Aspects of Culture in Source and Target Language Contexts

Matthews, Thomas G.; Catherine Rountree; Steve Nicolle
In the context of Bible translation, the concept of implicit information has typically been constrained to cognitive information that was assumed to be known by the source language audience. In this article implicit information is expanded to include both source and target language contexts because the target audience also brings a wealth of information to the translation and interpretation of target language Scriptures. In addition, a prototypical model of culture is applied to more comprehensively explicate both surface and deep structural aspects of culture, i.e., knowledge, practices, beliefs, values, worldview, and image schema, that were either assumed by the original authors for their audience or are encountered in the interpretation by the target audience. A survey of “offline” author intrusive comments, mostly in the Gospels, suggests that the authors carefully gauged the cultural background of their audience, making explicit, as they deemed necessary, components of cultural knowledge, practices, beliefs and values. A selection of Bible translation issues from East African teams demonstrates that the target audience brings a rich cultural context to the target language Scriptures extending from surface cultural practices to deep structural components of worldview and image schema. The topic of implicit information is further investigated by comparing the perspective of two translation models, meaning-based translation practice and Relevance Theory. The somewhat overlapping technical vocabulary of explicatures and implicatures are contrasted including a comparative analysis of a biblical text. An attempt is made to broaden the scope of both models from cognitive processing of information to a more defendable incorporation of culture and its deep structure. For meaning-based translation practice, the concept of meaning should access the cultural deep structure underlying the source and target languages, which impact it. For Relevance Theory this means a consideration of inferences that are non-propositional—where cultural deep structure markedly influences cognitive effects. New definitions of explicatures and implicatures are proposed that incorporate surface to deep aspects of culture. Applications to translation training and practice are anticipated.
Content Language:
target language
surface structure
source language
Relevance Theory
meaning-based translation
implicit information
image schema
deep structure
Nature of Work:
pages 21-48
Entry Number:
43 392