Vol. 51:2 (2005) ► pp.161–173
The present paper starts by defining proverbs and discussing their form and meaning. The fixed or fossilized form of proverbs gives them one of their defining characteristics; their meaning is the standard interpretation their speech community assigns to them, which may or may not coincide with their literal meaning. The use of proverbs helps enrich the text in which they are used, since they draw on traditional wisdom and, therefore, carry the weight of popular acceptance as authentic truth. To achieve optimal translation of such a text, the translator is faced with the problem of maintaining this richness and is required to find an equally rich text with the compactness a proverb enjoys, a task that is not always possible. This is due to the fact that the kind of equivalence aimed at in this case can only be achieved when a proverb is found in the target language which can be used in situations similar to those where the source language proverb is used. The chances of finding such a proverb are not always available. We conclude that compete equivalence is, more often than otherwise, unattainable where translating proverbs is concerned.
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