And shows both the strength and limitations of each.

Мы поможем в написании ваших работ!

Мы поможем в написании ваших работ!

Мы поможем в написании ваших работ!


And shows both the strength and limitations of each.

In this lecture we shall discuss the most common theoretical ap­proaches to human translation paying special attention to their limita­tions and ability to explain the translation process.

Roughly, the human translation theories may be divided into three main groups which quite conventionally may be called transformational approach, denotative approach, andcommunicational approach.

The transformational theories consist of many varieties which may have different names but they all have one common feature: the process of translation is regarded as transformation.

•^ According to the transformationalapproach translation is viewed as the transformation of objects and structures of the source language into those of the target.

Within the group of theories which we include in the transforma­tional approach a dividing line is sometimes drawn between transforma­tions and equivalencies11.

11 See, e. g.: Бархударов Л. С. Язьік и перевод. - M., 1975; Латьішев Л.К. Курс перевода. - М., 1981; Латьішев Л.К. Текст и перевод. - М., 1989; Рец-кер Я.И. Теория перевода и переводческая практика. - М., 1974; Ширя-ев А.Ф. Синхронний перевод. - М., 1979; Марчук Ю.Н. Методн моделиро-вания перевода. - М., 1985; Марчук Ю.Н. Проблеми машинного перевода. - М., 1983.

According to this interpretation a transformation starts at the syn­tactic level when there is a change, i.e. when we alter, say, the word order during translation. Substitutions at other levels are regarded as equiva­lencies, for instance, when we substitute words of the target language for those of the source, this is considered as an equivalence.

In the transformational approach we shall distinguish three levels of substitutions: morphological equivalencies, lexical equivalencies, and syntac­tic equivalencies and/or transformations.

In the. process of translation:

♦ at the morphological level morphemes (both word-building and word-changing) of the target language are substituted for those of the source;

♦ at the lexical level words and word combinations of the target lan­guage are substituted for those of the source;

♦ at the syntactic level syntactic structures of the target language are substituted for those of the source.

For example, in the process of translation, the English word room is transformed into Ukrainian words кімната or простір or French words chambre or espace or German words Zimmer or Raum.

The syntactic transformations in translation comprise a broad range of structural changes in the target text, starting from the reversal of the word order in a sentence and finishing with division of the source sen­tence into two and more target ones.

The most common example of structural equivalencies at the syn­tactic level is that of some Verb Tense patterns, e.g. English to German: (shall (will) go —> werde/werden/wird gehen).

The above examples of transformations and equivalencies at various levels are the simplest and, in a way, artificial because real translation transformations are more complex and often at different levels of lan­guages involved in translation.

This kind of transformation is especially frequent when translation involves an analytical and a synthetic language, e. g. English and Ukrain­ian.

From theabove you may conclude that according to the transforma­tional approach translation is a set of multi-level replacements of a text in one language by a text in another governed by specific transformation rules.

However, the transformational approach is insufficient when the origi­nal text corresponds to one indivisible concept which is rendered by the translator as a text in another language also corresponding to the relevant indivisible concept.

For instance, the translation of almost any piece of poetry cannot be explained by simple substitution of target language words and word combinations for those of source language.

This type of translation is characteristic of any text, written or spo­ken, rather than only for poetry or high-style prose and the denotative approach is an attempt to explain such translation cases.

Though denotative approach to translation is based on the idea of denotatum (see above the relationship of signs, concepts and denotata), it has more relevance to that of a concept.

•► According to denotative approach the process of translation is not just mere substitution but consists of the following mental opera­tions:

♦ translator reads (hears) a message in the source language;

♦ translator finds a denotatum and concept that correspond to this message;

♦ translator formulates a message in the target language relevant to the above denotatum and concept.

It should be noted that, according to this approach during transla­tion we deal with similar word forms of the matching languages and con­cepts deduced from these forms, however, as opposed to the transforma­tional approach, the relationship between the source and target word forms is occasional rather than regular.

To illustrate this difference let us consider the following two exam­ples:

(1) The sea is warm tonight- Сьогодні ввечері море тепле.

(2) Staff only - Службове приміщення.

In the first instance the equivalencies are regular and the concept, per­taining to the whole sentence may be divided into those relating to its indi-

vidual components (words and word combinations): sea - море, tonight-сьогодні ввечері, is warm — тепле.

In the second instance, however, equivalence between the original sen­tence and its translation is occasional (i.e. worth only for this case) and the concept, pertaining to the whole sentence cannot be divided into individual components.

The indivisible nature of the concept pertaining to the second ex­ample may be proved by literal translation of both source and target sen­tences - Тільки персонал and Service room. Service - Тільки or room -персонал are hardly regular equivalencies (i.e. equivalencies applicable to other translation instances).

The communicational theory of translation was suggested by O. Kade and is based on the notions of communication and thesaurus. So, it is worthwhile to define the principal terms first.

Communication may he defined as an act of sending and receiving some information, which is called a message

It should go without saying that this definition is oversimplified and not all communication terms used here are standard terms of communi­cation and information theories. Our purpose, however, is to describe the act of communication in the simplest possible terms and to show translation as a part of this act.12

Information, which is sent and received (communicated) may be of any kind (e.g. gestures, say, thumbs up), but we shall limit ourselves to verbal communication only, i.e. when we send and receive information in the form of a written or spoken text.

Naturally enough when communicating we inform others about something we know. That is in order to formulate a message, we use our system of interrelated data, which is called a thesaurus11.

We shall distinguish between two kinds of thesauruses in verbal communication: language thesaurus and subject thesaurus.

See more in: Естественннй язьік, искусственнме язьїки и информа-ционньїе процессьі в современном обществе. - М.. 1988; Попов З.В. Об-щение с ЗВМ на естественном язьіке. - М.,1982.

See more on thesauruses in: Нариньяни А.С. Лингвистические про-цессорьі и представление знаний. - Новосибирск, 1981; Никитина СЕ. Те­заурус по лингвистике. - М., 1978.

Language thesaurus is a system of our knowledge about the language which we use to formulate a message, whereas subject thesaurus is a sys­tem of our knowledge about the content of the message.

Thus, in order to communicate, the message sender formulates the mental content of his or her message using subject thesaurus, encodes it using the verbal forms of language thesaurus, and conveys it to the mes­sage recipient, who decodes the message also using language thesaurus and interprets the message using subject thesaurus as well. This is a simple description of monolingual communication.

It is very important to understand that the thesauruses of message sender and recipient may be different to a greater or lesser degree, and that is why we sometimes do not understand each other even when we think we are speaking one and the same language.

So, in regular communication there are two actors, sender and re­cipient, and each of them uses two thesauruses (Although they use the same language their underlying knowledge bases may differ).

In special bilingual communication (i.e. translation), we have three actors: sender, recipient, and intermediary (translator).

The translator has two language thesauruses (source and target one) and performs two functions: decodes the source message and encodes the target one to be received by the recipient (end user of the transla­tion).

Ш* O. Kade's communicational theory of translation describes the process of translation as an act of special bilingual communication in which the translator acts as a special communication intermediary, making it possible to understand a message sent in a different lan­guage.

However, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of the com­municational aspect in the success of translation.

To understand this better let us consider an example of message formulation (encoding), message translation (encoding/decoding), and message receipt (decoding).

Let the original message expressed by a native speaker of English (encoded using the English language as a code to convey the mental con­tent of the message) be:

Several new schools appeared in the area.

Let us assume then that the message sender, being a fisherman and using relevant subject thesaurus, by schools meant large number of fish swimming together rather than institutions for educating children, and the correct translation then had to be:

У районі з'явились нові косяки риби whereas the translator who presumably did not have relevant informa­tion in his subject thesaurus translated schools as institutions for educat­ing children:

У районі з'явились нові школи, which naturally lead to misunderstanding (miscommunication).

The above example shows a case of miscommunication based on the insufficiency of extralinguistic information. However, there are also cases of miscommunication caused by the insufficiency of linguistic informa­tion.

This example is, of course, an exaggeration, but it clearly illustrates a dividing line between linguistic and extralinguistic information in trans­lation as visualized by the communicational approach to translation.

Thus, the communicational approach to translation, though saying little about translation as such, highlights a very important aspect of translation.


One may note that the communicational approach pays special at­tention to the aspects of translation relating to the act of communication, whereas the translation process as such remains unspecified, and one may only presume that it proceeds either by a transformational or deno­tative path (see their relevant descriptions above).

•^ According to communicational approach translation is a message sent by a translator to a particular user and the adequacy of translation depends on similarity of their background information rather than only on linguistic correctness.



1. What are the basic theoretical approaches to translation?

2. What is translation according to the transformational approach?

3. What are the steps involved in translation according to the denota­tive approach?

4. What are the principal differences between transformational and denotative equivalencies?

5. What is translation according to the communicational approach? What is the key to successful translation according to this approach?


Ex. 1. Compare the Ukrainian text and its English translation, find mis­matching text elements. Suggest the approach used by the translator.

Слово може обманути. Очі, руки, ритм серця - ніколи... Задля цієї правди якась дитина сьогодні вперше одягне пуанти і стане до станка... І з тої миті, якщо вистачить їй волі і бажання, кожен день власним різцем на власному тілі буде годинами «відсікати все зай­ве»...

Words deceive, while the eyes, hands and heart never do... Learning this simple truth, another youngster dons her toe shoes and approaches the bar for the first time... From this very moment, if she has enough will and desire, she will start shaping her body several hours a day...

Ex. 2. Translate into Ukrainian using the transformational approach and observing syntactical transformations of the italicized text fragments.

No bail for South African police.

Bail should be denied for six white police officers arrested after a videotape showed them setting dogs on alleged illegal immigrants, beating them and shouting racial slurs, Justice Minister said Wednesday

Ex. 3. Translate into Ukrainian using both transformational and denotative approaches. Suggest reasons for your choice of a particular approach.

SPRING-CLEAN The Times, March 162001

The Clinton foreign policy is in for an overhaul For a President who took office with the reputation of being almost exclusively interested in domestic policy, George W. Bush has moved with remarkable speed and concentration to distance his Administration's foreign and security poli­cies from those of the Clinton era. Almost every major aspect of Amer­ica's international profile is under intensive scrutiny. Even on missile defence, where there is no doubting President Bush's determination to press ahead, if possible with the assent and co-operation of America's allies and of Russia but if need be without, analysts have been sent back to the technical and diplomatic drawing boards. But it is already clear how different will be the priorities and style of this Administration.

It will be scrupulously polite, as Tony Blair found, but on substance it will be a good deal less emollient than the Clinton White House. It will have a preference for the bilateral over the multilateral; and it is deeply sceptical of the Clintonite mantra of «constructive engagement» with governments, such as China's, North Korea's or even Russia's, which in the words of the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, «do not follow interna­tional standards of behaviour». The new Administration may also, al­though the Bush team does not yet, and may not in future, speak with one voice, be more reliable to deal with than the Clinton White House, which was disconcertingly prone to abrupt policy shifts.

This is no «new look» team. Mr Bush has drawn his biggest hitters from his fathers generation, and in so doing has created a novel variation on the tensions, familiar from the days of Henry Kissinger, between the State Department, Defence and the National Security Adviser. Both Gen­eral Powell at State and, to a lesser extent, Condoleezza Rice at National Security are finding themselves outpaced by the formidable duo of Don­ald Rumsfeld at Defence and Richard Cheney, who shows no sign of set­tling into the conventional near-anonymity of the vice-presidency. Both


men view the present through the prism of the Cold War and its imme­diate aftermath and are more at home assessing «the true threats facing America» than they are with the rhetoric of opportunity. Those threats are, in the new conspectus, heavily concentrated in Asia, where China is seen not as a «partner» but a potential strategic challenge and North Ko­rea - with which Mr Bush has cancelled plans for talks and in effect told Pyongyang that the road to Washington lies through Seoul - as an un­predictable, unreformed menace.

Chinas conciliatory reaction goes some way towards proving the wisdom of this more sceptical approach. Time was when Beijing would have taken loud offence at being told that its Foreign Minister must wait in the White House queue behind Japans lame duck Prime Minister; in­stead, yesterday, it hastened to issue its own invitation to Mr Bush. Its chief arms negotiator, Sha Zukang, has even announced that China will not contest US plans to deploy a missile defence system in Asia to protect US troops there - a with its hitherto shrill opposition to missile defence in any form. With Russia showing interest in missile defence and Euro­pean Union resistance slackening, China fears being left out in the cold. Above all, it wants to dissuade the US from equipping Taiwan, as it is inclined to do, with anti-missile defence systems.

There issome risk that Europeans will misinterpret Washington's intentions. On European defence, a muted tone should not be mistaken for assent to EU plans for a rival military structure to Nato; the US will accept no such thing. A second mistake would be to see «realism» to­wards Russia as any; there is more intense US scrutiny of Moscow in Washington than there has been for some time. US foreign policy is un­dergoing athorough spring-cleaning.

Foreign governments would do well to turn out their own attics.


The lecture deals with:

various ranks of translation;

means to ensure adequate translation which have been suggested by dif­ferent scholars and translation ranks;

fields of application and hierarchy of transformational, denotative and communicational approaches depending on type of translation;

priorities in training translators;

meaning, equivalence and extralinguistic information as three basic com­ponents of translation;

theuse of different approaches depending on translation variety.

Even in routine translation practice one can see that there are differ­ent ranks of translation, that one rank of translation consists of rather simple substitutions whereas another involves relatively sophisticated and not just purely linguistic analysis.

Several attempts have been made to develop atranslation theory based on different translation ranks or levels as they are sometimes called. Among those one of the most popular in the former Soviet Union was the «theory of translation equivalence level (TEL)» developed by V. Komissarov14.

According to this theory the translation process fluctuates passing from formal inter-language transformations to the domain of conceptual interrelations.

V. Komissarov's approach seems to be a realistic interpretation of the translation process, however, this approach fails to demonstrate when and why one translation equivalence level becomes no longer ap­propriate and why, to get acorrect translation, you have to pass to a higher TEL.


14 See: Комиссаров В.Н. Слово о переводе. - M., 1973; Комиссаров В.Н. Лингвистика перевода. - М., 1981.

Ideas similar to TEL are expressed by Y. Retsker'3 who maintains that any two languages are related by «regular» correspondences (words, word-building patterns, syntactical structures) and «irregular» ones. The irregular correspondences cannot be formally represented and only the translators knowledge and intuition can help to find the matching formal expression in the target language for a concept expressed in the source


According to J. Firth16, in order to bridge languages in the process of translation, one must use the whole complex of linguistic and extralin-guistic information rather than limit oneself to purely linguistic objects and structures.

J. Catford17, similar to V. Komissarov and J. Firth, interprets transla­tion as a multi-level process. He distinguishes between «total» and «re­stricted» translation - in «total» translation all levels of the source text are replaced by those of the target text, whereas in «restricted» transla­tion the substitution occurs at only one level.

According to T. Catford a certain set of translation tools characteris­tic of a certain level constitutes a rank of translation and a translation per­formed using that or another set of tools is called rank bound. We have borrowed this terminology and call the theories that divide the transla­tion process into different levels theories with translation ranking.

Generally speaking, all theories of human translation discussed above try to explain the process of translation to a degree of precision required for practical application, but no explanation is complete so far.

Ш* The transformational approach quite convincingly suggests that in any language there are certain regular syntactic, morphological, and word-building structures which may be successfully matched with their analogies in another language during translation.

Besides, you may observe evident similarity between the transforma­tional approach and primary translation ranks within theories suggesting the ranking of translation (Komissarov, Retsker, Catford and others).

As you will note later, the transformational approach forms the basis of machine translation design - almost any machine translation system uses the principle of matching forms of the languages involved in trans­lation. The difference is only in the forms that are matched and the rules of matching18.

•* The denotative approach treats different languages as closed sys­tems with specific relationships between formal and conceptual as­pects, hence in the process of translation links between the forms of different languages are established via conceptual equivalence.

This is also true, especially in such cases where language expressions correspond to unique indivisible concepts. Here one can also observe similarity with higher ranks within the theories suggesting the ranking of translation.

^ The communicational approach highlights a very important as­pect of translation - the matching of thesauruses. Translation may achieve its ultimate target of rendering a piece of information only if the translator knows the users' language and the subject matter of the translation well enough (i.e. if the translator's language and subject thesauruses are sufficiently complete). This may seem self-evident, but should always be kept in mind, because all translation mistakes result from the insufficiencies of the thesauruses.


15 Рецкер Я.И. Теория перевода и переводческая практика. - М., 1974.

16 Firth J.R. Linguistic Analysis and Translation // For Roman lakobson.
The Hague. - 1956.

17 Catford J. A Linguistic Theory of Translation. - London, 1967.

See, e. g. Staples Ch. The LOGOS Intelligent Translation System // Proceedings of Joint Conference on AI. - Karlsruhe, 1983; SYSTRAN Linguistische Beschreibung. - Berlin, 1990; Hiroaki Kitano. Speech-to-speech Translation: A massively parallel memory-based approach. - Boston, 1994.

Moreover, wholly complete thesauruses are the ideal case. No trans­lator knows the source and target languages equally well (even a native speaker of both) and even if he or she does, it is still virtually impossible to know everything about any possible subject matter related to the translation.

Scientists and translators have been arguing and still do about the priorities in a translators education. Some of them give priority to the linguistic knowledge of translators, others keep saying that a knowledge­able specialist in the given area with even a relatively poor command of the language will be able to provide a more adequate translation than a good scholar of the language with no special technical or natural science background.

In our opinion this argument is counter-productive - even if one or another viewpoint is proved, say, statistically, this will not add anything of value to the understanding of translation. However, the very existence of this argument underscores the significance of extralinguistic informa­tion for translation19.

Summing up this short overview of theoretical treatments of transla­tion we would again like to draw your attention to the general conclusion that any theory recognizes these three basic components of translation, and different approaches differ only in the accents placed on this or that component. So, the basic components are:

Meaning of a word or word combination in the source language (concept or concepts corresponding to this word or word combination in the minds of the source language speakers).

Equivalence of this meaning expressed in a word or word combina­tion of the target language (concept or concepts corresponding to this word or word combination in the minds of the target language speakers).

Extralinguistic information pertaining to the original meaning and/or its conceptual equivalent after the translation.

19 This viewpoint is also shared by, e. g.: Batori I. Paradigmen der maschineller Sprachuebersetzung // Neue Ansaetze in maschineller Sprachbearbeitung. - Tuebungen, 1986; Новиков А.И., Слюсарева Н.А. Линг-вистические и зкстралингвистические аспектьі семантики текста. - М., L982.

So, to put it differently, what you can do in translation is either match individual words and combinations of the two languages directly (transformational approach), or understand the content of the source message and render it using the formal means of the target language (denotative approach) with due regard of the translation recipient and background information (communicational approach).

The hierarchy of these methods may be different depending on the type of translation20. Approach priorities depending on the type of trans­lation are given in Table below.


Translation Type Translation Method Priorities
Oral Consecutive Denotative, Communicational
Oral Simultaneous Transformational, Communica­tional
Written (general & technical) Transformational
Written (fiction & poetry) Denotative

Thus, in oral consecutive translation priority is given to denotative method, because a translator is first listening to the speaker and only after some time formulates the translation, which is very seldom a structural copy of the source speech.

In simultaneous translation as opposed to consecutive priority is given to direct transformations since a simultaneous interpreter simply has no time for conceptual analysis.

In written translation, when you seem to have time for everything, pri­ority is also given to simple transformations (perhaps, with exception of po­etic translation). This is no contradiction, just the path of least resistance in action - it is not worthwhile to resort to complex methods unless simple ones fail.

It should be born in mind, however, that in any translation we ob­serve a combination of different methods.

See, e. g.: Ревзин И.И., Розенцвейг В.Ю. Основи общего и машинно­го перевода. - М., 1964.

From the approaches discussed one should also learn that the matching language forms and concepts are regular and irregular, that seemingly the same concepts are interpreted differently by the speakers of different languages and different translation users.

Now, having discussed briefly the main theoretical treatments of human translation, we pass over to basic translation parameters being the subject of the following lectures.


1. What is the main idea of Komissarov's theory of 'translation equiva­lence level'?

2. What is translation according to Retsker, Catford and Firth?

3. What is translation ranking?

4. What translation ranks do you know?

5. What relationship is there between the approaches to translation and types of translation?


Ex. 1. Translate into Ukrainian. Divide translation equivalents into regular and occasional.

Only those who have talent and willpower can make the most daring dreams come true. Many of us thought that we already knew all about the professional abilities of Bogdan Stupka, People's Artist of Ukraine and winner of numerous prizes. However, the news again held quite a surprise. The news of his tremendous success and the international rec­ognition heaped on him this year reached us quickly and shattered all the long established clichiis in one big bang. Bogdan Stupka won his latest victory in the movie With Sword and Fire. Jerzy Hofman's film shown in Poland, the United States and Australia raised the Ukrainian actor to the level of international film star. It was indeed his finest hour.

Ex. 2. Translate into Ukrainian using appropriate ranks (levels) of transla­tion as required by the source text content and style. Comment on your deci­sions. 1) «I am trustworthy, loyal, and helpful. But I struggle with obedient.»

Tripp smiled faintly. «I am not looking for a boy scout,» he said.

«Next best thing,» I said.

«Well» Trip said, «Lieutenant Quirk said you could be annoying, but you were not undependable.

«He's always admired me,» I said.

«Obviously you are independent,» Tripp said. «I understand that. I've had my moments. 'He who would be a man must be a non­conformist.'» (R.B.Parker).

2) ANIMALS HAVE TRADITIONALLY SHAPED HUMAN EVENTS. Leading article The Times, April 27, 2001

There everyone is, caught between horror at the ghastly enormity that is foot-and-mouth and ennui that it has dragged on for so long, when suddenly from the ashes there rises the sacred calf, Bambi reincar­nate. With her fluffy white fur, ox-eyed gaze and perfect pink pout Phoenix is the prettiest page 3 star Fleet Street has had in years. Suddenly amid the big, ugly world of slaughter trip the words «tiny», «white» and «innocent». Ministers quail and policy is made on the hoof.

People talk about causes needing a human face, but on the whole prefer an animal countenance. Mute bestial appeal is considered easier on the ear than, say, the guttural petition of asylum-seekers. We can be fairly indifferent to our own kind; it takes an animal to make us human. Phoenix's life would have been pretty dreadful under normal circum­stances, but no matter. She has assumed the symbolic status of The Cow That Changed History.

Animals have altered the course of events more often than might be imagined. Many's the time when mankind has felt himself to be sturdily at the helm, when in fact matters have been bunted along by beak or snout. Europe itself began this way when Europa was carried off into the ocean by a bullish Zeus, kicking and flailing before submitting to become a continent. For Christians the instigating beast is the serpent, worming his way into Eve's confidences with sinuous insinuations.

Ancient history is a positive bestiary of cloven goings on. The no­blest incidence of animal magic came in the form of the sacred geese whose cackling alerted their masters to a stealthy advance upon the Capi-toline Hill. Caligula's bestowal of a consulship upon his horse was rather less successful, being one of all-too-many final straws that broke the populace's back and led to his being dispatched at the Palatine Games. Cleopatra's exit pursued by an asp showed far better judgment.

Animals also throw up historical «what-ifs». What if Richard III had traded his kingdom for a horse, Dick Whittington not been so bounteous with his cat, or Catherine the Great been less pony crazy? In the multi­media age pets can win the ultimate prizes and emerge as global mega-stars. The orbit of Sputniks dog, Laika, made him the fantasy comrade of the worlds youth.

The Prime Minister's personal intervention as Phoenix's saviour is a bow to the electoral beasts of the apocalypse. It is a case of chicken, but the public will see only a happy ending to The Calfs Tale.

Ex. 3. Translate into Ukrainian. Suggest the ranks (levels) of translation and explain your decision.

The first plant you will notice by the glass doors of the terminal will be a tangerine tree with tangerines «for real». The aroma, the color of their warm peel and even tiny dimples on the surface are so attractive that you, sick and tired of stony winter landscapes, will feel very much like putting some tangerines in your pocket. This country is fun already!



This Lecture:» introduces the notion of equivalence and translation units;

» shows:

how the notion of equivalence can be applied to translation at syntactic, semantic and pragmatic levels;

how dictionary equivalents can be used in translation;

how translation equivalence is related to that of units of translation;

• discusses:

the optimal length of text for translation;

to what extent the idea of full equivalence is adequate;

how and how often translators deal with partial equivalents;

the importance of semantic and pragmatic similarity.

Translation equivalence is the key idea of translation. According to A.S. Hornby21 equivalent means equal in value, amount, volume, etc. What does it mean if applied to translation? This lecture is an attempt to answer this question which - you will see it yourself - is not so simple.

The principle of equivalence is based on the mathematical law of transitivity that reads: if A is equal to C and В is equal to C, then В equals A.

•* As applied to translation, equivalencemeans that if a word or word combination of one language (A) corresponds to certain con­cept (C) and a word or word combination of another language (B) corresponds to the same concept (C) these words or word combina­tions are considered equivalent (connected by the equivalence rela­tion).

In other words, in translation equivalent means indirectly equal, that is equal by the similarity of meanings. For example, words table and стіл are equivalent through the similarity of the meanings of the Ukrainian word стіл and one! of the meanings of the English word table. In general sense and in general case words table and стіл are not equal or equiva­lent - they are equivalent only under specific translation conditions.

This simple idea is very important for the understanding of transla­tion: the words that you find in a dictionary as translations of the given for­eign language word are not the universal substitutes of this word in your language. These translations (equivalents) are worth for specific cases which are yet to be determined by the translator.

Let us recall now the relationship between signs of the language, mental concepts and denotata (see Lecture 1). As you might remember the relation between a language sign (word or word combination) and the fragment of the real world it denotes is indirect and intermediated by the mental concept. You might also recall that the mental concept of a given language sign is usually rather broad and complex, consisting of a lexical meaning or meanings, a grammatical meaning or meanings, con­notations and associations. It is also worth reminding that the mental concept of a word (and word combination) is almost never precisely out­lined and may be different even in the minds of different speakers of the same language, not to mention the speakers of different languages.

All this naturally speaks for the complexity of finding the proper and only translation equivalent of the given word. Moreover, considering all just said, one may conclude that translation equivalence never means the sameness of the meaning for the signs of different languages.

Ш* Translation equivalents in a dictionary are just the prompts for the translator. One may find a proper equivalent only in speech due to the context, situation and background knowledge.


21 Hornby A.S. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English Oxford, 1982.

Let's take an example. English word picture is generally considered equivalent to Ukrainian word картина. However, already in the context to take pictures {фотографувати) this equivalent is no longer correct and the word picture seems to have here no equivalent (zero equivalent); in another context English in pictures because of the situation (pictures in the book are small) equivalent картина acquires a diminutive suffix англійська в картинках; in a different situation, that of a painters stu­dio or gallery it is полотно that becomes the Ukrainian equivalent of the English word picture and this equivalent, as well as others, disappears again in the context put me in the picture (введіть мене в курс справ).

Even in case of terms and geographical names one cannot say for sure that their meanings in different languages are universally equivalent. Again one can say this only in relation to a specific context, situation and piece of background information. For example, such seemingly unambi­guous chemical term as zinc diethyl dithiophosphate is translated in spe­cial texts as протизадирна присадка but not always as діетилдитіо-фосфат цинку. То take another example, Africa is not always translated as Африка, one may also find чорний континент as its equivalent and this again means that translation equivalence depends on the context, situation and background knowledge.

•► The idea of translation equivalence is strongly related to that of the unit of translation,i. e. the text length required to obtain proper equivalent.

From our previous discussion we already know that one word is hardly a common unit of translation. It is especially true for so called analytical languages like English in which the words are usually polyse­mantic and their meaning strongly depends on the environment.

One is more likely to find a universal equivalent for a word combi­nation, in particular for a clicheed one (e. g. hands up, ready made, good riddance, etc.), because a word combination is already a small context

and the clicheed expressions are commonly used in similar situations. The general rule of translation reads: the longer is the source text, the big­ger is a chance to find proper and correct translation equivalent11.

Ш* Traditionally and from practical viewpoint the optimal length of text for translation is a sentence.

Being a self sustained syntactic entity a sentence usually contains enough syntactic and semantic information for translation. However, there are cases (and not so rare ones) when a broader stretch of the source text (called discourse25) is required. It supplies additional informa­tion necessary for translation.

Let's consider the sentence: Partisans do not always play to type. One can obtain its proper Ukrainian equivalent Члени партії не завжди діють відповідно до типового уявлення про цю партію only having considered the information supplied by the discourse (that George W. Bush after the election might not behave as a typical Republican).

Thus, put with certain degree of simplification, equivalence is a similarity of meaning observed in the units of different languages and used for translation. The units of the target language with meanings similar to the relevant units of the source language are called translation equivalents. Modern translation theory suggests two basic grades of translation equivalents.

a) Full Translation Equivalents

From the previous discussion (bearing in mind differences in mental images standing for the equivalent words in different languages and con­text dependence of equivalents) it may be righteously presumed that one can hardly find truly full and universal equivalents for a word. However,

This makes so hard the task of a simultaneous interpreter who deals with small speech fragments.

23 A discourse is a text fragment united by common topic, author and style (Нелюбий Л.Л. Переводческий словарь - M., 1999).

as you all know practical translation dates back to ancient times and since then translations are commonly regarded and used as full-pledged substitutes of the relevant source texts. That is why despite contradicting theoretical evidence full equivalence is commonly accepted as a convenient makeshift.

•► For practical purpose full equivalence is presumed when there is complete coincidence of pragmatic meanings of the source and target language units24.

This rule applies both to individual words and their regular combi­nations. Speaking generally, translation equivalents of all words and word combinations one finds in a good dictionary are full because the translation practice reflected in dictionaries shows them as complete sub­stitutes universally accepted by the speakers' community of the target language (i. e. as pragmatically equivalent).

Of them the stylistically neutral words with reference meanings25 (terms, geographical and proper names, words denoting physical objects and processes) are more likely to have full translation equivalents be­cause semantic and pragmatic parts of their meaning are less ambiguous.

b) Partial Translation Equivalents

To understand the partiality and incompleteness of translation equivalence let us consider the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic aspects of equivalence, because the partiality of equivalence is, as a matter of fact, the absence of one or more of these aspects.

Let us start from examples. Книга as an equivalent of the English word book is full in all equivalence aspects because it has similar syntactic functions (those of a Noun), its lexical meaning is also generally similar,

and the pragmatic aspect of this equivalent (the message intent and tar­get audience reaction) coincides with that of the English word. Thus, книга is conventionally regarded as a full equivalent of the word book16.

Strictly saying, however, the Ukrainian word протестувати, for example, is a partial equivalent of the English word protesting (say, in the sentence Protesting is a risk - Протестувати ризиковано) because of different grammatical meanings (a Gerund and a Verb), the semantic and pragmatic aspects being similar.

To take another example of partial equivalence consider the English saying Carry coal to Newcastle. If one translates it as Возити вугілля до Ньюкасла it would lack the pragmatic aspect of equivalence (The intent of this message Bring something that is readily available locally would be lost, because the Ukrainian audience could be unaware of the fact that Newcastle is the center of a coal-mining area). If, however, one translates it їхати до Тули з власним самоваром' it would lose the semantic simi­larity, but preserve the pragmatic intent of the message, which, in our opinion, is the first priority of translation. Anyway, both suggested trans­lation equivalents of this saying are considered partial.

Partial equivalence is, as a matter of fact, the absence of one or more of equivalence aspects, i. e. of syntactic, semantic or pragmatic aspect.

It should be born in mind, however, that syntactic equivalence of translation units longer than several words is a rare case, indeed, if one deals with two languages having different systems and structures (English and Ukrainian are a good example). Moreover, it is hardly a translator's


" By pragmatic meaning of a translation equivalent we understand the reaction of the translation user to the verbal message in target language.

25 Reference (or direct) meaning directly refers a word to the fragment of the reality (Zgusta L. Manual of Lexicography. - Prague: Academia, 1971).

26 It should be noted, however that the complete formal equivalence be­tween the English and Ukrainian language units is, of course, missing in this case* as well as in all other translation cases - because all paradigmatic forms in the two languages never coincide.

target to preserve the structure of the source texts and in many instances this means violation of syntactic and stylistic rules of the target language.

Semantic similarity between the source and target texts is desirable, but again it is not an ultimate goal of a translator. More often than not slight differences in meaning help to adapt the idea of the original mes­sage to the target audience.

What is really important for translation adequacy is the pragmatic equivalence. When the original message is lost for the target audience it is a failure of the translation and translator and no semantic or syntactic similarity will redress the damage.

Let us take several examples of semantic and/or pragmatic equiva­lents to illustrate the idea;

зелений - green; (недосвідчений) verdant; зелений горошок - green peas; зелений театр - open-air stage; зелений хлопчисько - greenhorn; зелена вулиця - green, go; давати зелену вулицю - to give open passage, to give the go-ahead; туга зелена - utter boredom; зелене будівництво -laying out of parks, etc.; зелений борщ - sorrel soup; потопати в зелені -to be buried in verdure

Thus, one may suggest that translation equivalence partiality is more a translation tool than a flaw in translator's ability to render the content of the source message in its full. This evidently does not apply to the pragmatic equivalence which is a universal prerequisite of good transla­tion.


1. What is translation equivalence? Define it.

2. What helps to find proper translation equivalents?

3. What is a unit of translation? What are the optimal units for practi­cal translation?

4. What is full and partial translation equivalence? Give definitions.

5. What are syntactic, semantic and pragmatic aspects of translation "equivalence? Which of them is the most important for adequate translation?


Ex. 1. Translate into Ukrainian. Define translation equivalence conditions (context, situation, background information) that helped you find proper equivalents. Divide the text into translation units and prove your choice of units.

BUSH PUSHES RESEARCH ON GLOBAL WARMING Washington Post Service; Monday, June 11, 2001

Europe to Get Offer of Alternative to Kyoto

President George W. Bush plans to tell European allies this week that he wants to spend millions of dollars on research into the causes of global warming and the technologies to reduce it, but he will not back down on his opposition to mandatory controls on emissions of green­house gases, administration officials say. .The research and technology initiatives, which the president plans to outline in a speech on Monday before leaving Washington for Europe, constitute the administration's first detailed response to the criticism from Europe and Asia that fol­lowed Mr. Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto global warming treaty. White House officials said Mr. Bush plans to emphasize how seriously he regards the problem of global warming, even as he remains adamant in his rejection of the 1997 accord reached in Kyoto, Japan..That agreement committed the United States and 167 other nations to the first binding limits on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that scientists say may cause catastrophic changes in the planet's climate.

Ex. 2. Translate into Ukrainian. Indicate missing aspects of translation equivalence, if any.

a) Chief justice; justice of the peace; court is in session; take the lead; take shape; to hold at arm's length; closed matter; harbor hopes; take a dim view; exit polls; gender gap; popular vote.

b) Keep off the grass; in the exact middle; floors tiled and carpeted; for time out of mind; to throw caution with the wind; to collect one's wits.

c) He felt very weak and wobbly in the legs; a crown of leaves; to be a little way ahead; it looks as if my dreams were coming true; there was nothing to be done to tighten the belt round the empty stomachs, and trudge along without any great hope of ever getting to the end before they lay down and die of starvation. Dead silence fell in the middle of the world. I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are in­clined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow) wear no shoes because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they eat twice if they can get it). (Tolkien)

Ex. 3. Translate into Ukrainian, suggest units of translation and types of equivalents used in translation. Pay special attention to the italicized text and suggest background information required for translation.

BOY POWER Lock up your daughters and unleash your sons Leading article, The Times, APRIL 26, 2001

Life used to be so straightforward. Father made a daily trek to the of­fice, while Mother held the fort at home, cooking, sewing and popping the odd tranquilliser. Their 2.2 children watched and learnt. Peter wanted to be an engine driver when he grew up, but would end up in middle man­agement like his father. Jane wanted to be just like Mummy, but better dressed. The only thing their upbringings had in common was a shared affection for Pat the dog. It was a man's world and that world meant

work. A «Girl's World» was a ghoulish dummy's head on which to ex­periment with make-up.

Then came the bra-burning, banner-wielding, placenta-eating Sixties and suddenly Jane got herself some options. Wimmin needed men like fish needed, well, any form of transport, sisters were revolting and nights were reclaimed. Everywhere was insurrection and the flap of dungaree. But it took another couple of decades to realise that the next generation of Janes should be dragged to their parent's work-places to alert them to the -professional choices before them. «Take Our Daughters to Work Day» was born and today is the latest outing for these loitering Lolitas.

And what dazzling monsters feminism has created. Little girls used to be made of sugar and spice. These days they are made out of an inde­structible combination of stamina and ambition. Girls outshine boys at all stages of their development from thumb-sucking to number-crunching. And at last these Amazons are reaching adulthood ready set to head butt the glass ceiling. Backlash was inevitable. An American academic called Christina Hoff Sommers has published a polemic entitled «The War Against Boys» in which she argues that it is males who have become the «second sex», while girls continue to be cosseted by positive discrimina­tion.

Certainly too many boys loaf around in a state of affable fecklessness - skate-boarding, girl-watching and navel-gazing their way through school, pickling themselves at university and slacking through their careers. The only statistics in which young men consistently beat girls are those for criminality and suicide.

With this in mind, forward thinking organisations might choose to extend tomorrow's invitations to the less fair sex. Boys can get a taste of the feminine work ethic. Girls can stay at home to witness the one spec­tacle that would promise them a more optimistic future - the phenome­non of fathers participating on the domestic scene in any way at all.



This Lecture

deals with the style as an essential component of adequate translation;



major styles: belles-lettres (prose, poetry, drama); publicistic style; newspaper style; scientific style; official documents style;

stylistic devices and expression means (metaphor, metonymy, pun, irony, transferred qualifier, zeugma, paraphrase, overt and covert quotations and allusion).

The problem of translation equivalence is closely connected with the stylistic aspect of translation - one cannot reach the required level of equivalence if the stylistic peculiarities of the source text are neglected. Full translation adequacy includes as an obligatory component the ade­quacy of style, i. e. the right choice of stylistic means and devices of the target language to substitute for those observed in the source text. This means that in translation one is to find proper stylistic variations of the original meaning rather than only meaning itself.

For example, if the text You'll see... everything will be hunky-dory27 is translated inneutral style (say, Побачиш...усе буде добре) the basic meaning will be preserved but colloquial and a bit vulgar connotation of the expression hunky-dory will be lost. Only the stylistically correct equivalent of this expression gives the translation the required adequacy: (e. g., Побачиш...усе буде тіп-топ).

^ The expression of stylistic peculiarities of the source text in translation is necessary to fully convey the communication intent of the source text.

Stylistic peculiarities are rendered in translation by proper choice of the target language translation equivalents with required stylistic color­ing. This choice will depend both on the functional style of the source text and the individual style of the source text author.

The types of texts distinguished by the pragmatic aspect of communica­tion are called functional styles. Modern stylistics distinguishes the follow­ing varieties of functional styles28

1. belles-lettres (prose, poetry, drama);

"2. publicistic style;

3. newspaper style;

4. scientific style;

5. official documents

Any comparison of the texts belonging to different stylistic varieties listed above will show that the last two of them (scientific style variety and official documents) are almost entirely devoid of stylistic coloring being characterized by the neutrality of style whereas the first three (belles-lettres (prose, poetry, drama), publicistic and newspaper style) are usually rich in stylistic devices to which a translator ought to pay due attention.

Ш* Special language media securing the desirable communication effect of the text are called stylistic devices and expression means.

First of all a translator is to distinguish between neutral, bookish and colloquial words and word combinations, translating them by relevant units of the target language. Usually it is a routine task. However, it sometimes is hard to determine the correct stylistic variety of a transla­tion equivalent, then - as in almost all instances of translation - final de­cision is taken on the basis of context, situation and background infor­mation.


Greene G. The Captain and the Enemy. - London: Penguin Books.

Galperin I.R. Stylistics. - M., 1981.

For example, it is hard to decide without further information, which of the English words - disease, illness or sickness - corresponds to the Ukrainian words хвороба and захворювання. However, even such short contexts as infectious disease and social disease already help to choose ap­propriate equivalents and translate the word disease as інфекційне захворювання and соціальна хвороба, accordingly.

This example brings us to a very important conclusion that style is expressed in proper combination of words rather than only in stylistic coloring of the individual words.

•► Metonymy is similarity by association, usually one of the con­stituents of an object replaces the object itself

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