ТОП 10:

Non-equivalents, ways of translation


Non-equivalents are SL words which have no corresponding lexical units in the TL vocabulary.

The absence of equivalents may be explained both by extralinguistic and linguistic reasons. Accordingly, non-equivalents may be divided into two groups. The first group consists of words denoting referents unknown in the target language – things, objects, notions, features of national life, customs, habits, etc. the words of this group bear a distinctly national character and are tied up with the history of the people speaking that language, the growth of its culture, its way of life and traditions. Cultural discrepancy accounts for the appearance of words which are untranslatable in the literal sense of the word. Yet there are different ways of rendering these words in translation and of overcoming the so-called “barrier of untranslatability” (cultural untranslatability). The words belonging to this group cover a wide range of denotata, e.g. speaker, parliament, public school, landslide, coroner, teach-in, drive-in, know-how, striptease, brain drain, backbencher, grill-room, as well as titles of politeness, etc.

The second group embraces words which for some linguistic reason have no equivalents in the target language, the so-called linguistic lacunae, e.g. privacy, involvement, glimpse, conservationist, environmentalist, oralist, readership, riser, bedder, vote-getter, statehood, etc.

It should be stressed that the term “non-equivalents” merely implies the absence of a word or a word-combination in the vocabulary of the target language but does not exclude the possibility of rendering “non-equivalents” in translation, usually by descriptive translation.

Translation of Non-Equivalents

There are three ways of rendering non-equivalents in translation.

By Borrowings

The borrowed words may be either transliterated or transcribed, e.g. ale –ель, roastbeef – ростбіф, sweater – светр (transliterated borrowings). Parliament – парламент, striptease – стриптиз, speaker – спікер, know-how – ноу-хау, establishment – істеблішмент (transcribed borrowings). The latter principle is, as seen from the above examples, applicable to the rendering of neologisms.

By translation loans

House of Commons – Палата Общин, backbencher – задньоскамієчник, brain trust – мозковий трест.

By Descriptive or Interpreting Translation

Landslide – перемога на виборах з величезним перевісом голосів;

a stringer (америк.) – частково зайнятий кореспондент, праця якого оплачується з розрахунку кількості слів;

a conservationist (environmentalist) – людина, яка переймається забрудненням чи знищенням навколишнього середовища.

Differences in cultural background frequently require detailed additions which are explanatory. What is familiar to the native reader may be unfamiliar to the reader of the translation. Additions in this case make up for the implicit information, contained in the text.

Her home is filled from top to toe with Victoria, classically elegant, very together.

Її дім зверху донизу наповнений меблями й усілякими речами вікторіанської епохи, все у строгому й елегантному стилі, дуже добре поєднується між собою.

The presidential campaign of 1976 produced the neologism “oralist”.

This college professor is what campaign sides describe as an “oralist” – someone who isn’t asked to hammer out position papers, but can drop by or call up with some words of advice.

Організатори виборчої кампанії називали цього професора „усним радником” – він не повинен був писати програмні документи; він тільки забігав, аби дати коротенькі поради або давав їх по телефону.


Translation of Neologisms


There are also three ways of rendering neologisms in translation.

By Borrowings

By borrowed words may be either transcribed or transliterated. E.g. hippy – хіппі; smog – смог. It should be noted that transcription of such words is not always exact, e.g. nylon – нейлон; laser – лазер.

By Translation Loans

Neutron bomb – нейтрона бомба.

By Descriptive or Interpreting Trnslation

Feedback – зворотній зв’язок, activism – агітаційна діяльність, bugging – таємне спостереження за допомогою технічних засобів.

In some cases neologisms may be regarded as non-equivalents and translated accordingly.


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