ТОП 10:

Rendering of stylistic meaning in translation


Every word is stylistically marked according to the layer of the vocabulary it belongs to. Stylistically words can be subdivided into literary and non-literary. The greater part of the literary layer of the Modern English vocabulary is formed by words of general use (i.e. words of general purpose) possessing no special stylistic reference and known as neutral words. Neutral words comprise common colloquial words and common literary words as well. Colloquial words and some groups of literary words are expressive while neutral words are not.

The stylistic function of the different strata of the English vocabulary depends not so much on the inner qualities of each of the groups as on their interaction when opposed to one another.

“My dear Copperfield”, said Mr. Micawber, “this is luxurious. This is a way of life which reminds of a period when I was myself in a state of celibacy, and Mrs. Micawber had yet not been solicited to plight her faith at the Hymeneal altar.

(Ch. Dickens)

Mr. Micawber’s speech is characterized by highly literary, pompous words and phrases.

„Мій любий Коперфілд”, – сказав містер Мікобер, – „Це розкішно”. Цей спосіб життя нагадує мені ті часи, коли я сам був у стані не шлюбності, а місіс Мікобер ще не благали принести клятви на олтарі Гіменея.


If you don’t keep your yap shut (J.Salinger)

Якщо ти не заткнеш пельку...


Then he really let one go at me.

Тут він мені врізав по-справжньому.

The examples from Salinger are in marked contrast to the quotation from Dickens. The words are not colloquial, but slang words, i.e. emphatically non-literary.

It would be an error to translate a neutral or a literary word by a colloquial one or a colloquial word by a literary one or to introduce a colloquial word in a literary context. A mistake of this nature occurs in the excellent translation of “The History of Henry Esmond” by E.Kalashnikova:

“She had recourse to the ultimo ratio of all women and burst into tears”.

Она прибегла к ultimo ratio всех женщин и ударилась в слезы.


The combination of a Latin phrase with a non-literary phrase is certainly jarring. The set expression “to burst into tears” is neutral and its equivalent would be залиться слезами. They possess an equal degree of expressiveness.


14. Translation of Phraseological Units


Phraseological units are usually classified into three big groups: phraseological fusions, phraseological unities and phraseological collocations.

Phraseological fusions are non-motivated groups forming indivisible wholes both semantically and syntactically. Their meaning in Modern English does not depend on the meaning of the component elements. They seldom, if ever, have equivalents in the S and T languages and are usually rendered by interpreting translation or by paraphrasing, e.g. to paint the lily – намагатися покращити чи прикрасити щось, що потребує покращення або прикрашення; займатися безплідною справою; витрачати час чи сили марно. To show the whitefeather – перелякатися, проявити боягузтво.

The meaning of a phraseological fusion may naturally be rendered by different synonyms, e.g. to go the whole hog – робити щось розважливо, проводити до кінця, не зупинятися на полузаходах, йти на все.

Phraseological unities are motivated units of Modern English; their components are not semantically bound. They are often figurative and the transference of meaning is either metaphorical or metonymical, e.g. to drop a brick – припуститись нетактовності, зробити ляпсус, промах; monkey business – усілякі штучки, фокуси, витівки, пустощі; to eat humble pie – проковтнути образу, примиритися.

This group of phraseological units is heterogeneous and comprises proverbs, proverbial sayings, allusions, euphemisms, professionalisms, e.g.

Little pitchers have long ears – діти люблять слухати оазмови дорослих; What will Mrs. Grundy say? – Що скажуть люди?

Phraseological unities differ by their structure, by their syntactical function in a sentence and by their stylistic features.

According to the principle of their translation phraseological unities can be divided into three groups:

· Phraseological unities having Ukrainian counterparts, which have the same meaning expressed by a similar image. They can often be traced to the same source – biblical, mythological, Latin proverbs or sayings, e.g. a living dog is better than a dead lion (bibl.) – живий пес краще мертвого льва; not all is gold that glitters – не все те золото, що блищить; to cut the Gordian knot (myth.) – розрубити гордієв вузол.

· Proverbs and Proverbial Sayings having the same meaning but expressing it by a different image.

Too many cooks spoil the broth. - У семи няньок дитя без глазу.

To buy a pig in a poke – Купити кота в мішці.

Liberal M.P.’s claimed to be united behind their leader while, at the same time, strewing banana skins in his path.

Ліберали – члени парламенту – стверджували, що вони поєдналися вкруг свого лідера, а в той же час вони підставляли йому ніжку на кожному кроці.

· SL phraseological unities sometimes have synonymous TL equivalents, the choice is open to the translator and is usually determined by the context, e.g.

Between the devil and the deep sea – між двох вогней, між молотом та наковальнею, між Сциллою й Харибдою, у безвихідному стані.

In the absence of a correlated phraseological unity the translator resorts to interpreting translation, e.g. a skeleton in the closet (cupboard) – сімейна таємниця, неприємність, що приховується від посторонніх.

Target language equivalents possessing national colouring though expressing the same idea should be avoided as they cannot be considered true equivalents because they introduce alien associations and alien national colouring, e.g. to carry coals to Newcastle should not be translated by the Ukrainian proverbial saying – їздити до Тули з власним самоваром. In such cases two solutions are possible: a) to preserve the image of the English phraseological unity – ніхто не возить вугілля до Ньюкаслу; b) to resort to interpreting translation – займатися безглуздою справою.

The same principles are applied to the translation of phraseological unities in the form of simile: cold as ice – холодний як льод; as old as the hills – старий як мир; brown as a berry – засмаглий, бронзовий.

Interpreting translation of phraseological fusions and unities is justified by the fact that their literal meaning is suppressed by what may be termed their transferred meaning which conveys the idea expressed by them.

Phraseological collocations are motivated word combinations but they are made up of words possessing specific lexical valency which accounts for a certain degree of stability in such word groups. They are translated by corresponding collocations in Ukrainian, e.g. to make faces – корчити пику; to make amends – приносити свої вибачення; to make a bed – застелити ліжко; to make allowances – робити знижку.

As seen from the above examples it is always the key word which determines the choice of the Ukrainian verb.

Lexical transformations can be reduced to five distinct types which have a purely linguistic basis. These five types are the following: concretization, generalization, antonymic translation, metonymic translation and paraphrasing.


Some groups of lexical units require concretization in translation. This is due to the difference in the proportion between abstract and desemantized words on the one hand and concrete words on the other in the S and T languages.

Abstract words in English distinctly fall into several groups:

1. Numerous nouns formed by specific suffixes of abstract meaning. Many such nouns have no counterparts in the Ukrainianlanguage, e.g. ministership, presidency, electorate, statehood, etc.

2. Abstract words which have no equivalents in Russian, the so-called lacuna, such as exposure, occupant (unless as a military term).

3. Generalizing words having equivalents in Ukrainian but differing in usage, e.g. man, woman, creature, person.

4. Words of wide meaning which require concretization in translation, some words of this group are on the way to becoming desemantized, e.g. place, piece, stuff, affair, etc.

5. Words of wide meaning which in fact have become partly deictic signs: -thing, -body (something, somebody).

Words belonging to the first group require lexical and grammatical replacements by words possessing a concrete meaning:

C.P.Snow resigned from his ministership because he did not like the way the Labour Government was developing.

Чарльз Сноу пішов зі свого міністерського поста, тому що йому не подобалася нинішня політика лейбористського уряду.

The abstract noun “ministership” is rendered by a concrete noun (пост) with adjective.

An ageing Speaker cannot take the burdens of the presidency (in case of the president’s and vice-president’s assassination).

Старіючий спікер не може прийняти на себе всю вагу президентської влади.

The abstract noun “presidency” is rendered by means of a concrete noun with an adjective as in the preceding example.

Every form of pressure and violence is used by reactionary regimes to compel a reluctant electorate to go to the polls.

Реакційні режими використовують усі форми тиску й насильства, аби примусити впертих виборців прийняти участь у виборах.


Puerto Rico may launch a drive for US statehood.

Можливо, Пуерто Ріко розпочне кампанію за те, щоб стати штатом США.

The abstract word “statehood” is concretized by means of an adverbial subordinate clause of purpose.

Words of abstract meaning which for some reason or other have no equivalents in the Ukrainian language are translated by some concrete word determined by the context. Their meaning is usually conveyed with the help of replacements or additions. It should be borne in mind that in this case the use of the same parts of speech is of no relevance.

He was heavily built. – У нього грузька статура.

The role and the significance of the context is well illustrated by the following example, the translation of which is determined by the macro context.

Two of the shipwrecked seamen died of exposure.

Двоє з тих моряків, хто зазнав аварію, загинули (від холоду чи від спеки).


It was a good solid house built to withstand time and exposure.

Це був гарний, міцний будинок, розрахований на те, щоб протистояти дії часу й непогоди.

Willa, the canary, had flown away. But now there was a vigorously alive little occupant. (D.Eden).

Канарейка Вілла улетіла, але замість неї у клітці була дуже жвава й завжди весела пташинка.

Generalizing words such as man, woman, child, creature etc. which do not have equivalents in Ukrainian but which differ in usage are concretized either by a proper name, the name of the breed (собака, кішка) or some concrete word according to the context.

“Anything”, Benjamin said, falling into a highbacked chair across from the man’s kingly desk.

„Що завгодно”, сказав Бенджамін, опускаючись у крісло з високою спинкою, що стояло з іншого боку розкішного письмового столу Мастерсона.

The replacement of the noun “man” by a proper name is natural as Benjamin knew Masterson and was in his house.

“Burn it, man, and who will be the wiser, eh?”

„Спали папірець, і ніхто нічого не узнає?”

Another group is formed by a large number of words of wide meaning. Their reference has widened to such an extent that they have come to be used in a variety of contexts. This ability to be used in different contexts has, in its turn, affected their reference: on the one hand, they have developed new lexical-semantic variants, on the other, their semantic boundaries have become vague and indefinite. This is due to the fact that their meaning is often contextual. Some of them move towards desemantization, such as piece, place, thing, affair, stuff, stunt etc.

The place was full, and they wandered about looking for a table, catching odds and ends of conversation as they did so. (A.Christie).

Ресторан був переповнений; вони ходили по залі в пошуках вільного столика і мимоволі чули уривки розмов.

Desemantized words form one more group.

The word place which is practically desemantized is translated by the concrete word ресторан.

We had a quick breakfast and then our oxygen sets on to our backs. “This oxygen is certainly the stuff”, was my thought. (Edmund Hilary).

Ми швидко поснідали і далі поклали на спину балони з киснем. „Так, без кисню нам не обійтися”, подумав я.

Equivalence in this case is achieved by means of both lexical and grammatical substitutions.

The point of exchanging the E.E.C. is to make it stronger.

Увесь сенс розширення Європейської Економічної Співдружності у його зміцненні.


She (grandmother) was a peppery old party with a will of solid granite and a hot flaring temper. (Ilka Chase).

Бабця була з перцем, як кремінь, з гарячим запальним характером.

The desemantized colloquial word “party” (особа) is omitted in the translation as it serves here merely as a prop-word.

Such words as piece, thing, body fulfill a double function – lexical and grammatical; they can be used as lexical units possessing reference or as a grammatical sign. The noun piece in its lexical function means “a bit of something” (a piece of bread); in its grammatical function it concretizes an uncountable noun, turning it into a countable one (a piece of furniture, a piece of advice, two pieces of furniture, two pieces of advice).

The words “thing” and “body” have, as a matter of fact, moved from one morphological class into another; apart from belonging to referential nouns, they are used as deictic signs or prop-words and in such cases are omitted in translation.

She took things terribly seriously. (A. Huxley).

Вона все приймала дуже близько до серця.

In this case the noun “things” is translated by a generalizing word. But there are also cases when this word requires concretization.

He came in sight of the lodge, a long, low frowning thing of red brick.


Він побачив будиночок приватника, довгу, низьку, похмуру будову з червоної цегли.

Special attention should be paid to the translation of verbs of wide meaning, such as: to come, to go, to turn, to say, to tell, to get, to die and others. They are rendered either by concrete words suitable to the context or by verb equivalents used in corresponding collocations.

So far 65 people have died in floods in Dacca province.

За наявними відомостями, 65 чоловік потонуло (загинуло) під час повені у провінції Дака.

At the by-election victory went to the labour candidate.

На додаткових виборах перемогу одержав кандидат лейбористської партії.


The rain came in torrents. – Полив сильний дощ.

The canary got out of the cage. (D.Eden).

Канарейка випорхнула з клітки.

Concretization is often resorted to in the translation of verbs of saying.

“Father!” she cried, “the diamond is gone!”

“Are you out of your mind?” I asked her.

“Gone!” says Penelope. “Gone, nobody knows how!” (W.Collins).


„Батько!”, закричала вона, „алмаз пропав”.

„Да ти з глузду з’їхала!” викликнул я.

„Зник”, повторила Пенелопа. „Зник, і ніхто не знає яким чином”.

Another verb which has become partially desemntized is the verb “to involve”. Its concrete lexical meaning, its lexical-semantic variant is largely dependent on the context.

“I’ll tell you what… you are not involved. You are remote”. (Irwin Show).

„Ось що я вам скажу ... вас це не стосується. Ви стоїте осторонь”.

Concretization is often resorted to in translating the verb “to be” in different functions. The principle of semantic agreement is to be observed in such cases.

…first he was terrified, then he was sick, then he was in Paris.

... спочатку він злякався, потім його знудило, потім він опинився в Парижі.

(Josephine Tey).



Generalization is the opposite of concretization. In this case a SL word of concrete meaning is rendered by a TL word of general meaning. This type is not so wide-spread and occurs less frequently than concretization. May be this is due to the fact that abstract and desemantized words in English form, a numerous and diversified group, thus supplying a linguistic base to this type of transformation, whereas generalization appears to be lacking a similar linguistic foundation.

Sometimes generalization is resorted to for pragmatic reasons in order to avoid expanded explanations or footnotes.

And so the Mad Hatter Scheme – as it was later to be called – was launched.

І ось так почалося здійснення цього божевільного задуму, як дедалі Гаррі Поллітт і члени редколегії жартівливо називали план видання першої щоденної газети Комуністичної партії Британії.

In those days the British communist Party had neither money, no premises. “The Mad Hatter is an allusion to a character in Lewis Carrol’s well-known book “Alice in Wonderland”. The suggested translation is based on generalization. Besides, recourse has been taken to interpreting translation.

Here are some examples of this type of lexical transformation.

In the Arctic of today the frozen face of the deep is changing and man seeks a scientific explanation for its growth and shrinkage.

Крижаний покров Льодовитого океану зараз змінюється, і люди шукають наукове пояснення цьому явищу.

Much more than an effective gun control is going to be needed to cure America of the plague of violence that afflicts it.

Для того щоб позбавити Америку епідемії насильства, не достатньо одного тільки суворого контролю над продажем зброї.

There is a tendency in the English language to use nouns denoting measures of weight, distance, length, etc. in describing people and things which do not require such precision in their description. This method of description is foreign to the Ukrainianpractice and recourse is usually taken to generalization.

He was a young man of 6 feet two inches.

Це був високий молодий чолов’яга.


It led him time and again into positions of fantastic danger and yet enabled him to win every ounce of advantage, especially against an irresolute enemy.

(Desmond Young).

Це постійно приводило його у надзвичайно небезпечний стан і в той же час давало йому можливість скористатися усіма перевагами, особливо, якщо супротивник проявив нерішучість.


Antonymic translation


Antonymic translation usually implies a comprehensive lexical and grammatical transformation: an affirmative construction is translated by a negative one or a negative construction – by an affirmative one. But such grammatical transformation is usually accompanied by lexical transformation – the key word of the SL utterance is translated by its antonym in the TL utterance, e.g. … the undead past – ще живе минуле.

Let a sleeping dog lie. – Не буди спящую собаку.

Nobody was ever sorry to see him. – Усі завжди були раді його бачити.


Antonymic translation is more frequently used when rendering negative constructions by affirmative ones. This may be accounted for by the stylistic use of negative constructions in English for purposes of expressiveness. The English language uses grammatically only one negative in a sentence – either with a verb or with a noun but it maces a stylistic use of two negatives of which one is formed by grammatical means and the other – by means of affixation (negative prefixes or suffixes) or by lexical means, i.e. by words with a negative meanings.

A sentence containing two negatives is negative only on the face of it, actually it is affirmative as the two negatives neutralize each other. The grammatical form in this case is not used in its direct meaning and consequently attracts attention, as does, for example, the rhetorical question which is no question at all but an emphatic statement. The clash between the denotative meaning of the grammatical form and its use in speech makes it highly emotive and increases its expressiveness. Thus a double negation has a special connotative meaning. It is not identical, however, with an affirmative statement. It contains a certain modification. It may be an overstatement or an understatement.


British imperialists never failed to recognize the value of tea and fought many a bloody battle to grab the plantations of India.

Британські імперіалісти завжди чудово розуміли цінність чаю і не раз вели криваві битви, щоб захопити індійські чайні плантації.


The double negation is expressed grammatically by the negative adverb “never” and lexically by the semantics of the verb “to fail” is desemantized to such an extent that in some cases it is equivalent to a simple negative and is translated accordingly, e..g. he failed to appear – he did not appear.

The combination of a grammatical negative with the comparative or superlative degrees of the adverb “little” is always emphatic and is rendered antonymically.


Dickens is hampered by his age, which demands sentiment and reticence, but in the space that is allowed to him he scampers as if he knew no restraint…Never was he less embarrassed by restrictions than in the exuberance of “Pickwick Papers”.

Діккенс був зв’язаним своєю епохою, яка вимагала чуйності і стриманості, але у дозволених йому межах він веселиться, не знаючи спину ... Ніколи він не почував себе вільнішим від обмежень, чим у „Записках Піквікського Клубу”, де веселості били ключем.


The double negative construction “not … until” may be regarded as a cliché which is practically always rendered antonymously as лишь тогда, только (тогда), когда possessing the same degree of emphasis.


It was not until I reached the farmyard that I made the discovery. (Susan Howatch)

І тільки коли я дістався ферми, я зробив це відкриття.


He spoke in no uncertain terms. (Susan Howatch)

Він говорив вельми рішуче.


Metonymic translation


Metonymic translation is based on contiguity of notions and is less unusual than is generally believed and takes its place among other linguistic transformations.


Bare and lurid light of street lamps. (C.P. Snow)

Різке й похмуре світло ліхтарів.


That worthy gentleman turned mirth into a cough at just the right time.

(Dickson Carr).

Цей достойний джентльмен якраз вчасно придушив сміх кашлем.


The translation is based on the principle of contiguity. A similar relation appears in the following example.

The odious Mrs. Ruscombe had had the effrontery to come up to her to commiserate, with her false honeyed smile. (G. Heyer).

Огидна місіс Раском мала зухвалість підійти до неї зі своєю нещирою солодкою посмішкою, щоб висловити їй своє співчуття.

Another linguistic feature is to be mentioned here. Metonymy as a means of forming derivative referential meanings is widely used in English but cannot always be preserved in translation.

From Winnipeg the railroad sweeps westward in a wide curve… than the steel bends of northward. (F. Mowat).

Від Вінніпега залізничний шлях широкою дугою йде на захід ... Далі колія повертає на північ.

The English language uses a metonymic denotation – the material “steel” stands for “rails, railway line”.

Coalfields go into action.

Шахтарі страйкують.

Coalfields” – the place of work – stands for the people who work there. Such use is common in English newspaper style.

In all these cases there is a reversal of relationship, in other words, metonymy is rendered metonymically and a comeback to the original notion is thus achieved. But in other cases (as shown above) metonymic translation does not call forth the initial notion but is used a transformational device.

I was photographed against autumn. (M.Drabble).

Я була сфотографована на фоні осіннього пейзажу.

The translation of “against autumnна фоні осені is unacceptable in Ukrainian.




When all other kinds of lexical and grammatical transformations fail, paraphrasing becomes indispensable. Paraphrasing implies rendering the content of the utterance by different semantic and grammatical units. This type of transformation is especially common in translating orders, commands, clichés and phraseological fusions but it is used in other cases, as well.


No parking (here) – Стоянка автомобілів заборонена.

No reason in the world to get upset.

Немає ані жодних підстав засмучуватись.

…the Germans proposed to surround all strongholds with deep minefields and fill up the country between them with mines whereas it was “tankable”.

(Desmond Young).

… німці збиралися обложити всі укріплені пункти глибокими мінними полями, а інтервали між ними всюди, де могли пройти танки – окремими мінами.


The absence of a corresponding suffix in the Ukrainianlanguage sometimes necessitates paraphrasing.

They (the demonstrators) had run into a solid wall of riot-equipped Washington policemen. (C.Bernstein and B.Woodward).

Учасники демонстрації наштовхнулися на суцільну стіну вашингтонських полісменів, спеціально споряджених для боротьби з вуличними заколотами.

A compound adjective formed by the suffix –ed requires paraphrasing.

…”the Communists”, said Mr. Mc Lennan, “are illegally kept off the air”.

... „Комуністів”, сказав Мак Леннан, „незаконно позбавляють права виступати по радіо”.

This example fully reveals the nature of paraphrasing: the cliché “to keep off the air” is translated by a corresponding Ukrainian cliché – позбавляти права виступати по радіо, conveying the same idea by different grammatical and lexical means.

The five types of lexical transformations considered in this chapter: concretization, generalization, antonymic translation, metonymic translation and paraphrasing practically cover the field. Additions and omissions may be added to them.

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