An assessment of the Problems and Prospects of Translating Hausa Proverbs into English

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An assessment of the Problems and Prospects of Translating Hausa Proverbs into English

Abstract:

Proverbs enshrine a lot of historical and cultural heritage of the people who possess them. They contain a vast treasure of information and knowledge on the socio-cultural life of their beholders. But unlike prose narratives and some other forms of literary genres, proverbs do not lend themselves easily to translation. Translators often encounter a lot of problems in translating proverbs across languages. Some of these problems are linguistic, especially where the source language and the target language are structurally different. Others are cultural, especially where the languages involved are geographically apart. The aim of this research is to identify and discuss the problems and prospects of translating Hausa proverbs into English. The research investigates Hausa proverbs in order to identify their functions, the historical and cultural elements of the Hausa people they contain, the different contexts within which Hausa proverbs could be used, the translation techniques suitable for translating Hausa proverbs into English, and measures to adopt in order to minimize loss of meaning. In doing so, 50 Hausa Proverbs were randomly selected -according to their relevance to the research- from the internet, and from the work of Kirk-Greene (1966) titled: Hausa Ba Dabo Bane and those proverbs compiled by Ibrahim Madauchi, Yahaya Isa and Bello Daura in their book Hausa Customs (1968). In some instances proverbs from the researcher’s personal experience are used based on the Chomskian concept of the validity of native speaker’s intuition. These proverbs are grouped into two; culture bound and culture free. At the end of the research we discovered that Hausa proverbs are used for different functions and in different contexts. They are used to warn, admonish, encourage, rebuke and so on. Furthermore, we discovered that culture bound proverbs tend to pose more problems to translators as a result of the cultural elements ingrained in them. Such proverbs could be translated with minimal loss of meaning only through the use of footnotes to explain the cultural elements, circumlocution, loan translation e.t.c. On the other hand, a similar proverb in the TL could be adopted to translate a culture free or universal proverb.

An assessment of the Problems and Prospects of Translating Hausa Proverbs into English

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