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Imagery in Translation. One of the most frequent sacral features in folklore is that of ugliness: monsters, dwarves, cripples and hunchbacks
One of the most frequent sacral features in folklore is that of ugliness: monsters, dwarves, cripples and hunchbacks, creatures with lame legs, crooked nails, hooked noses, etc. Such a creature is not necessarily evil, on the contrary, it may be rather useful and benevolent to people, but in this or that way it belongs to the world of sacral magic or is related to it. Ugliness may fulfil different functions, such as referringto or penetrating into other world, or being evil by nature, or passing through a test of initiation to be reborn, etc. In fairy tales, many heroes are transformed into some ugly disguise, such as a frog, a monster, a snake, or a fearsome animal, to be restored to a better and more handsome image in the end. This transfiguration from the ugly into the beautiful is one of the most wide spread motifs in many folklore traditions around the world.
Folklore logic and ethic formulas. A mythical or fairytale text often includes some particular mnemonic formulas that help to identify the story as belonging wholly or partly to the other world, with its special logic, ethics, morals and reasoring. These are such words and phrases as«грянул он оземь и тутже обернулся серымволком,» in which we can immediately find some contradictory logic, that of a "shape-shifter." A being that changes its shape is admittedly mythical or magic.
Another kind of a mythic logical formula is found in fairytale instructions like "you will go there four times four days"or «пойди туда, не знаю куда, принеси то, не знаю что». Such formulas may represent an illogical taboo, or an order, or a spell, and in the source culture they are familiar, easily identified and used in many other contexts to impart some mythical allusion to an ordinary situation. When translated into the target language, such formulas undergo serious or subtle transformations, which influence their mnemonic status. The number of "four" is sacred among the Native Americans, and when such a formula is used, it
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becomes clear that the situation deals with some supernatural phenomenon without it ever being mentioned directly. When it has to be rendered into Russian, this phrase may trouble thetranslator, for normally one may turn it into «Ходу туда четыреждычетыре дня» or «Добираться туда тебе придется шестнадцать дней». The former is perceived as mythical, while the latter sounds ordinary, without any association with the supernatural. Mathematically, both have one and the same reference but the language of folklore has semantics of its own, within which figures may change "their functions completely. More often than not, such cases require a translator's comment.
The other example, the one describing a task in a Russian fairy tale, leaves a narrower field for semantic manoeuvring. If we translate it literally, it gives "go there I don 't know where, and bring that I don't know what." Such a phrase does not function as a proper formula, it lacks rhythmic arrangement and its associative power is thus vciy shaky. To be more productive, one can invent some play upon words, for example, "'Go wherever to bring whatever!" Or it could be "Go I know not where, bring 1 know not what."
Verses in a folklore tale.Since a folk tale is supposedly a profane version of a sacred myth, which was usually versified in one form or another and was more of a hymn than a story. Verses are scattered all over such tales as the remnants of their mythical origin. They may fulfil different functions, but most of them mark, as it were, the connection between a story and the other world. They are verses or, rather, rhymes at the beginning and end, in a spell, in a dialogue between this world and that, and so on.
A rhyme, especially in a framing position, that is, at the beginning or end of the tale, can be absolutely separate from the content of the story. The English tale about the tricks of Hedley Kow ends with a rhyme about a cat:
Whenever the cat o' the house is black, The lasses o' lovers will have no lack.
Kiss the black cat,
An' 'twill make ye fat;
Практикум по художественному переводу
Kiss the white ane,
'Twill make ye lean.
A cat is usually a symbol of domestic stability, of family life, but at same time it may be a symbol of devilry or witch's tricks. This rhyme is connected with the story in an oblique fashion, as if a spell of the topsy-turvy world. In translation it must sound natural, funny and easily remembered:
Когда в вашем доме живет черный кот, Влюбленным доставит он много хлопот.
Черного погладь кота —
Если хочешь стройным стать —
Лучше белого погладь.
Very often lamentations in a folklore text are of a special nature and invest the text with lyricism or some narrative tension. To translate such a lamenting rhyme properly means to reconstruct its function in the text, which is mostly due to a special rhythm.
Rhyming and rhythmic elements of a folklore text may appear a problem for translation when we deal with a folklore song, be it ritual or epic, or just a piece of folk lyrics. Something hap-. pens to the text when, meant as a song or, at least, a chant to be performed to music, it is turned into sober prose in translation. Such a prose version may present the gist of the story but lacks the greater part of its emotive and expressive power. Compare the beginning of a Russian epic poem "Slovo о polku Igoreve" and
its English version "The Host of Prince Igor." The Russian text is taken by Ivan Novikov's version:
He ладно ли было бы,
Песню нам начать Ратных повестей Словесами старинными —
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