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Feasibility of Applying Functional Equivalence Theory to Chi

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[a]Foreign Language Teaching Department Inner Mongolia University for the Nationalities Tongliao China. *Corresponding author. Received 28 October 2014; accepted 19 December 2014 Published online 26 January 2015 Abstract Song enjoys

 [a]Foreign Language Teaching Department Inner Mongolia University for the Nationalities Tongliao China. 
*Corresponding author. 
Received 28 October 2014; accepted 19 December 2014 
Published online 26 January 2015 
Song enjoys an enormous popularity among people from different countries. However the fact is that the Chinese translation of English songs is extremely short compared with the great potential marketand accordingly practice and theory of song translation are fairly deficient. Functional Equivalence is one of the most powerful and influential theories in translation study dealing with translation problems in the aspects of meaning style. Nida emphasizes the closest natural equivalent and the reader’s response which are song translation needed. The author hopes functional equivalence theory as theoretical guidance can be applied to the practice of translation of English songs in this thesis. The author also hopes this thesis can not only introduce a new approach to the study of translation of English songs but also impel some translators and interested readers or professors to develop this field further in both the theoretical and practical areas. 
Key words Song translation; Functional equivalence; Feasibility 
Zhang L. Y. 2015. Feasibility of Applying Functional Equivalence Theory to Chinese Translation of English Songs. Studies in Literature and Language 101 <Page>-0. Available from http//www.cscanada.net/index.php/sll/article/view/6245 
DOI http//dx.doi.org/10.3968/6245 
Along with the global integration and development of economy cooperation and cultural communication among countries become more and more frequently. Since Marshall McLuhan first proposed his notion of a “Global Village” there has been a belief that the world has evolved into one massive homogeneous culture. 
In the present study the paper attempts to testify to the feasibility of the Functional Equivalence in Chinese translation of English song. Functional Equivalence is one of the most powerful and influential theories in translation study dealing with translation problems in the aspects of meaning style culture so it provides a completely new horizon for translation study. Functional Equivalence as a translation strategy is widely accepted and popular in China so a study on Chinese translation of English song from the perspective of Nida’s Functional Equivalence is necessary and it paves the way for revealing the differences between Chinese song lyrics and English song lyrics caused by cultural differenceslanguage characteristics and introducing some translation skills.

Some people propose foreign songs should be presented in the language of their originals since in most instances many originals to lose some of their substances and flavor in translation. From the author’s point of view foreign song translation is definitely meaningful and necessary. It is impossible that everyone is a linguist who is quite proficient in any of language in the world. If that happens English song translation and any other forms of translation would disappear in the world. But before that happens English song translation is necessary through all ages as long as there still exists communication of language and people still need songs. 
English song translation is a necessity and the reasons lie in 
Firstly vocal music is different from instrumental music. The audience can feel the musical spirit and musical image of instrumental music without song lyrics. While vocal music is totally different from instrumental music. Vocal music is combined by lyrics and melody. That is to say song lyrics demonstrate social life and literary image and melody composes musical image. Vocal music the integration of lyrics and melody passes aesthetic message to the audience. Song lyrics are the most important part of song which is the key of understanding and accepting song works. If English songs are not translated into the target language the audience in the target culture will not exactly comprehend the content and image of music. If English songs are not sung by the audience in the target language the songs will not give free rein to integrate aesthetic power. Take a song Mum Taught Me a Song for example If there were a translated version the audience from the target language could easily understand the message that the original song delivers. She is teaching her sons and daughters to sing a song that her mom used to teach her when she was young. The audience cannot help crying if he comprehends the meaning of the original lyrics. However if there were not a translated version the audience could not understand the content of the lyrics. He can only feel excited or gloomy by the melody of music but he cannot taste much more specifically the tender feeling conveyed by the song. 
Secondly if a person wants to learn the artistic spirit of English songs and the singer of the target language wants to perform the works vividly and exactly English songs must be translated into the target language. It is impossible for the singers and the audiences to be acquainted with all the foreign languages around the world. Therefore translated version of English songs is very necessary for audience of the target language to understand express and grasp the essence of songs.

Thirdly the foreign songs can only be widely spread among the target culture when they are translated into the target language. It has been proved that it is a truth by innumerable examples. For example the Chinese pop song Rose Rose I Love You õ壬  õ壬  Ұ㡷 the Italian folk song My Sun & Come Back to Sorrento the Italian song in sports To Be Number One the Mexican song Green Eyes the Spanish song The Dove & The Cup of Life the Russian song Moscow Nights are the translated version in English; ӣ the Japanese song 飩 ؾ쳤 the Scotland song Auld Lang Syne ӹȡ the Canadian song The Red valley are the translated version in Chinese. Those translated versions are well received and widely sung by the audience of the target language. 
Fourthly if different countries want to communicate and interact with each other translation can be the best instrument to break through the barriers of languages and help the native to acquaint themselves with foreign cultures. The translated version of English song is sung by the native it will help to promote the comprehension the understanding and the respect enhance the friendship and the communication between different countries and different nations. 
Last but not least the translated version of English song can deepen understanding to the original music and enhance appreciation of literature and musical image and musical perception. 
2.1  Functional Equivalence 
Functional Equivalence according to the Dictionary of Translation Studies is “a term referring to the type of equivalence reflected in a target text which seeks to adapt the function of the original to suit the specific context in and for which seeks to produced” Shuttleworth & Cowie 2004 p.64. 
Functional equivalence theory put forward by Eugene Nida well embodies the spirit of functionalism. The reason for his substitution dynamic equivalence with functional equivalence is partly due to “stress on the concept of function”. In general it is best to speak off “functional equivalence” in terms of a range of adequacy since no translation is ever completely equivalent. A number of different translations can in fact represent varying degrees of equivalence. This means that “equivalence” cannot be understood in its mathematical meaning of identity but only in terms of proximity i.e. on the basis of degrees of closeness to functional identity Nida 1993 p.117.

2.2  Principles of Functional Equivalence 
2.2.1  Semantic Equivalence 
Semantic equivalence can prove to be quite effective in cross-cultural communication because it can provide a vivid rendition of the source language semantics turn or cultural image into the target language. When it comes to the meaning of a sentence the sentence is more than the meanings of the single words put together. In the combination of single words into a sentence the meaning of an individual word is dependent upon the meaning of the rest of the words of the same lexical or conceptual field Bussmann 1996/2000 p.275. So when translating a text of the source language into the target language the translator must try his best to make sure that his understanding of the text is as close as possible to what writer of the source language intends to communicate to his reader. Semantic equivalence requires the song translation that is faithful to the text of the source language; therefore literal translation is firstly taken into consideration. When literal translation fails to convey the meaning of the source language transliteration is also a good way to achieve semantic equivalence. 
2.2.2  Stylistic Equivalence 
Style is the essential characteristic of every piece of writing; the outcome of the writer’s personality and his emotions at the moment and no single paragraph can be put together without revealing in some degree the nature of its author Theodore Savory 1968 p.145. 
Stylistic equivalence means achieve equivalent effects in the target language in terms of the stylistic features of the source language text. Stylistic equivalence is one of the principles guiding translation practice. The translator should try his best to maintain the style of the source language text and translate it into the same style. Translating a song into a song is what the translator needs to do. In an English song translation whether the style of the original song is elegant and forceful sharp and sarcastic or brief and pithy the translated version must render it. The audiences of the target language need to know what the style of the original song is. 
2.2.3  Cultural Equivalence 
Everyone knows that translation involves language as well as culture. So many translators experts make their statements about the relationships between language and culture Lotman’s theory states “no language can exist unless it is steeped in the context of culture; and no culture can exist which does not have at its centre the structure of natural language” Lotman 1978 pp.211-32. Nida’s functional equivalence theory puts emphasis on cultural factors in translation. In Nida’s 1998 view “the most serious mistakes in translating are usually made not because of verbal inadequacy but wrong cultural assumption”. Nida 1964 argues translation shall aim at “complete naturalness of expression and tries to relate the receptor to modes of behavior relevant within the content of his own culture” and “For truly successful translating biculturalism is even more important than bilingualism”. Therefore achieving cultural equivalence that is to say achieving equivalence in cultural response between the original audiences and the audiences in the target culture is one of the most prominent principles of functional equivalence.

3.1  Functional Equivalence in Rhyme 
Rhyme refers to the regular correspondence of sounds especially at the ends of lines which are very important element in Chinese translation of English song. The English and the Chinese have great distinguished in rhyme and rhyme scheme. In English original song it is easy to notice that these rhymed words appear at the end of the line which means the end of the line they belong to but not end of a sentence. However in corresponding Chinese translation these rhymed words appear at the end of the sentence which usually means the end of the semantic sentence. 
Whether rhyme is arranged in song lyrics or not can be one of the important criterions of being a good song because the length of song is usually short and song relies on hearing. If a song translator fails to reproduce well-organized rhyme structures in his translation then he will not be able to fully demonstrate the charm of the original song. The function of rhyme is to bind lines together into larger units of composition Brook & Warren 2004. However it does not mean that the more rhyme in song is needed the better. How to adopt different rhymes in translated lyrics is crucial for the completion of a successful song translation. Commonly rhyme in Chinese song is required in the even lines but not necessary in odd lines and always starts at the first line. The adoption of rhyme does not work in the same way due to the different features of each song. Take Jingle Bells for examples 
Jingle Bells 
Dashing through the snow [?u] 
In a one-horse open sleigh [ei] 
All the fields we go         [?u] 
Laughing all the way.         [ei] 
Bells on bobtail ring           [?] 
Making spirits bright         [ait] 
What fun it is to ride and sing   [?] 
A sleighing songtonight.       [ait] 
The Chinese version of Jingle Bells 
ƴѩ               e 
ѩϣ           ang 
챼۹Ұ             e 
ǻЦָ質           ang 
춣           ang 
˾໶           ang 
ǽѩ֣       e

ѻѩ.             ang 
Deng 2001 p.192 
The rhyme structure of Jingle Bells is ababcdcd. In order to enhance the singability of the translated version and increase the combined effectiveness of the artistic appeal for Chinese audience the translator Ms. Deng Yingyi organizes a series of words which rhyme in “ang” to make the translated words rhymed and to match the original melody. Final vowel “ang” illustrates the rhyme here which is often used for songs that aim to convey enthusiasm and excitement. This translated version is called 춣 which is still popular in China by the characteristics of having the catchy sound of a simple repetitious rhyme. 
To sum up seeking rhyme equivalence in Chinese translation of English song does not mean that the translated Chinese lyrics have the same rhyme scheme as the original English lyrics. Depending on their customs in song different countries will choose different rhyme scheme which has the same function and express the same emotion as the original. 
3.2  Functional Equivalence in Rhythm 
Rhythm is often defined as the orderly movement of music in time which controls all the relationships within a musical work down to the minutest detail Turek 1988 p.12. “Artists must make the thoughts and feelings blend in pitches and rhythms from which the audience can feel such thoughts and feelings and ultimately they get touched” Zhu 1987 p.229. The rhythm in song translation work will definitely influence the singability of the translated song. 
Xue Fan summarizes two principles that produce appropriate rhythm which helps translated lyrics match with the melody and it will achieve functional equivalence in rhythm with the original 
Firstly the numbers of translated words should be identical with the numbers of syllables in the original lines that is to say one Chinese word must equal with one English syllable. Take Edelweiss for examples 
E – del - weiss 
E – del - weiss 
Ev - ’ry  morn - ing  you greet    me. 
Small and white 
С       ף 
Clean and bright 
You look hap - py to  meet me.

             ҡ  . 
Blos - som of    snow 
May you  bloom and grow 
Bloom and grow for – ev    -  er. 
    Զ           . 
E – del - weiss 
E - del - weiss 
Bless my home - land for – ev -  er. 
     Զ     ף           . 
Xue 2005 pp.142-143 
The numbers of Chinese words in the above lyrics are strictly under the restriction of the numbers of foreign language syllables that is to say one Chinese word occurs on a note or notes in the same way just as the original syllable does. An additional word can be acceptable on the basis of keeping the original rhythmic features. “ѩ” in the fourth line of the Chinese translation of Edelweiss are words should not be stressed in the translation unless they have special functions in the original song. 
Secondly the position of pause and transition in the translated lyric should be coherent with the places where singers take a breath which ensures that the song has the right breathing position and reflects the musical sentence of the original. 
In brief not only the numbers of Chinese characters in the translated version should be the same as the numbers of English syllables in the original song but also positions of the Chinese characters in the translated version should be the same as the positions of English syllables in the original song. Words can be added and deleted in the translation but it makes a condition that it should not violate change and damage the rhythm of the original. 
3.3  Functional Equivalence in Style 
Style is nominally a vital factor in translation. Both Nida and Wilss put style on par with meaning and content. When Nida proposes that translating consists of reproducing in the receptor language the closet equivalent of the source language message first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style and summarizes the actual procedures in translating that is the first step is a relatively fast translation with emphasis on style. More and more Chinese translators pay attention to this. Liu 1991 maintains “Style represents the essential characteristics of each writer’s writing. Various writers have various styles…the translator must strive to reproduce their respective characteristics in writing….” Other literary forms require the translators keep the stylistic characteristics of the original let alone song translation. One of the main purposes of English song translation is to reproduce the stylistic features of the original song. People need to sing a song whose style is the same as the original one. Take an episode of Green sleeves for an example

Green sleeves 
Alas my love you do me wrong 
To cast me off discourteously 
I have loved you all so long 
Delighting in your company 
Green sleeves was all my joy 
Green sleeves was my delight 
Green sleeves was my heart of gold 
And who but my Lady Green sleeves 
Green sleeves are an England folk song which spreads among the gold miners. Typy of folk song is the oral transmission and the continuous recreation. The style of this song is elegant simplicity. Lyrics are clear and easy to understand. Here is a translated version of Green Sleeves prevailing on the Internet. 
˼ϳ ˲. 
Զȥ ѵ. 

⣬ Ļ. 
Ʈ⣬ ijտ. 
ҡ⣬ . 
⣬ . 
Obviously it is ancient Chinese version. Nida proposes that translating consists of reproducing in the receptor language the closest equivalent of the source language message first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style. The receptors may understand what the ancient Chinese language means but it is still not a success translated version. Equivalence in meaning is achieved in some degree but translation in style is far away from equivalence. Look at another translated version of Green Sleeves 
 ҵĻ֣ 
 ҵ⣬ 
 е䱦 
Xue 2005 p.189 
This translated version is from Xue Fan. Basic rhymes rhythms and main ideas are equivalent to the original. Translating means communicating and this process depends on what is received by persons hearing or reading a translation. What is important is the extent to which receptors correctly understand and appreciated the translated text Nida 1993 p.116. The style of the translated version is clear and easy to understand which the same as the original is. It achieves stylistic equivalence. 
3.4  Functional Equivalence in Culture 
It is clear that language is embedded in culture and culture is embodied by language and culture is an indispensable element to be considered in the translation. Culture plays a very important role in Nida’ translation theory. Especially English and Chinese two languages have a long cultural distance. Cultural elements must be considered so as to produce functional equivalence between two languages. Most people of English-speaking countries are Christian; there must be some religious elements in English songs. Take Hallelujah for an example

I heard there was a secret chord 
That David played and it pleased the Lord 
But you don’t really care for music do you 
Well it goes like this 
The fourth the fifth the minor fall and the major lift 
The baffled king composing Hallelujah 
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah... 
Hallelujah comes from Hebrew reads as Hal-le-lu-jah. Its English meaning is “Praise the Lord”. It is used in religious songs and worship as an exclamation of praise and thanks to God. People sometimes say “Hallelujah ” when they are pleased that something they have been waiting a long time for has finally happened. Hallelujah implies profound religious background. Hallelujah Hal-le-lu-jah should be translated into “·”. In this way the original number of characters can be kept without destroying the matching for the notes; what’s more most of the Chinese audiences are very familiar to those words such as God Jesus etc. so there is no need to give additional explanations. 
Song translation is an integration of linguistics literature and music. In Xue Fan’s Exploration and Practice in Translation of Songs he emphasizes that song translators need to put the elements of music in the very first place in the process of translating foreign songs. Every form of art has a soul and it is important for song translators to concentrate on the combination between the original words and the translated words. Song is an integration of melody and song lyrics. Because melody is pre-existing and cannot be changed English song lyrics are vital element in English song translation. The Chinese translation of English songs encounters a number of difficulties so it is impossible for English song translators to create a translated version completely equivalent to the originals both in the form and content. Moreover Nida 1993 states that translation means translating the meaning and he also points out that equivalence can not be understand in its mathematical meaning of identity but only in terms of proximity i.e. on the basis of degrees of closeness to function identity. From this point functional equivalence can be applied in the Chinese translation of English songs. The author hopes this thesis arouse the translator’s more attention to the filed. The author also hopes that this thesis can lay a foundation for the further study and pave a way for the future translators who are willing to dedicate themselves to the research and development in this subject. 
Brooks C. & Warren R. P. 2004. Understanding poetry p.183. Beijing China Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press. 
Deng Y. Y. 2001. 101 classical English songs p.45 259. Beijing China the People’s Music Publishing Press. 
Nida E. A. 1993. Language culture and translating pp.116-117.  China Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. 
Shuttleworth & Cowie. 2004. Dictionary of translation studies. p.64. China Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. 
Turek R. 1988. The elements of music Concepts and applications volume 1 p.12. United Stated McGraw-Hill INC. 
Xue F. 2002. Exploration and practice in translation of songs p.84. Hubei China Hubei Education Press. 
Xue F. 2005. World popular choral works collection volume 1 Music drama selections and foreign folk songs pp.142-143 189. Beijing China the People’s Music Publishing Press.