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Semiotics as a sign study posits that each sign, including a language one, be viewed in three perspectives: syntactic, i.e. the relations of signs; semantic, i.e. the relation between a sign and a real situation; and pragmatic, i.e. the relations of the sign and its users.

Each utterance in a speech act is aimed at somebody. Combined together, words make up a syntactic scheme of the sentence. They refer to specific events, persons or objects, acquiring, thus, a sense.

There are two types of language sign users: an addresser (author) and an addressee (receptor). When speaking, an addresser has a communicative intention, or purpose of the speech act. An utterance has a communicative effect on the receptor: it can inform a receptor of something, or cause some feelings, etc. A communicative effect is virtual: e.g., an advertising text may persuade a receptor to buy something but the receptor may remain indifferent to the promotion. The potential effect of the utterance is its functional force. The communicative effect may override both literal sense and functional force and add further consequences depending on the situation. For example, Shut the dooris imperative in a sense. Its communicative intention may be to carry the force of a request, but the communicative effect could be to annoy the receiver.198

Communicative intention does not always coincide with the communicative effect. A vulgar anecdote, told to make the audience laugh, may have a contrary effect of disgusting the listeners.

In terms of linguistic pragmatics, developed by J. Austen, the three types of relations are locution (reference and the utterance sense), illocution (communicative intention and functional force), and perlocution (communicative effect).199

The adequate translation is the one whose communicative effect is close to that of the source text; at best, its communicative effect coincides with the author’s communicative intention. Regarding this principle, P. Newmark introduced two types of translation – communicative translation,which attempts to produce on its receptors an effect as close as possible to that produced on the readers of the original, and semantic translation, which attempts to render, as closely as the semantic and syntactic structures of the second language allow, the exact contextual meaning of the original.200 Taking these concepts into consideration, the sentence Beware of the dog! could be rendered as Осторожно, злая собака! (communicative translation) or Опасайтесь собаки! (semantic translation).

Close to translation adequacy is the concept of translation acceptability, developed by Israeli theorist of translation studies Gideon Toury.201A translation is considered acceptable when the end-product is admitted into the target system. In other words, an acceptable translation is the text with language use in the natural situation.

In summary, translation pragmatics is a multi-aspect approach. Its analysis requires discussing the role of each of the translation situation components.




The communicative effect of the source and target text upon the receptor should be similar. A lot depends on the functional style (register), genre, language and speech norms. Neither of them can be changed in translation because, ultimately, they make up the functional force of the text, so important from the point of view of pragmatics.

Disregard of the style or register produces a strange impact upon the receptor. Imagine a person declaring love in a businesslike manner – he will not be esteemed in the proper way.

Very often genre requirements of the text are so strict that they cannot but be met in translation, or the target text may be spoiled. For instance, when translating patents, one should observe all the elements of the structure and the necessary formulas and set phrases.

Shifting a set of language units leads to changes in text perception. For example, a scientific text is characterized by impersonal constructions, such as passive voice and indefinite structures. If a text is abundant in personal pronouns, interjections and other expressive means, it will never be considered as belonging to the scientific register.

Incorrect choice of words may result in comic consequences contrary to the expectations of the text author. A. Chuzhakin in his practicum-book “Мир перевода-2” quotes a number of signs and notices discovered in different countries. They are funny because of the violation of speech and English language norms (incorrect meanings and collocations). A notice in a Bucharest hotel lobby: The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable. An ad in a Greek tailor shop: Order your summer suit. Because is big rush we execute customers in strict rotation.202

Thus, a translator should have a good command not only of the target language but also of the style and genre requirements, in particular of style and genre distinctive features in the two languages.

Sometimes the translator faces the contradiction between a text form and its function. In this case, the function predominates. It is the text function that should be kept in translation first and foremost, not the form. For example, the phatic function of formal greeting in English normally has the form of the interrogative sentence: How do you do? In Russian translation, the form is shifted by the imperative Здравствуйте to preserve the function.

In non-literal texts, it is necessary to distinguish between the functions of the source text and those of the translated texts. The reasons for commissioning or initiating a translation are independent of the reasons for the creation of any particular source text.203 This idea brought to life the so called Skopos theory developed in Germany in the late 1970s.204 The Greek word skopos is used as the technical term for the purpose of a translation. Hans Vermeer, the founder of the theory, postulates that it is the intended purpose of the target text that determines translation methods and strategies. The initiator’s, or client’s needs determine the skopos of the target text. The skopos of the target text should be specified before the translation process begins.205

Depending on the skopos, the translation can be full or partial (restricted). This classification, in terms of the extent of translation, belongs to J. Catford.206 In full translation, every part of the source text is replaced by the target language text material. In partial translation, some part or parts of the source language text are left untranslated.

According to the commissioner’s needs, translation can be adapted (that is, adjusted to the target language culture), free, literal or it can be a faithful imitation of the source text.


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