Equivalents in translation

Equivalents in translation

1. The notion of equivalents
2. Formal and dynamic equivalents
3. Referential and functional equivalents
4. Levels of equivalents

Equivalents is a measure of semantic similarity between the SL and TT. It is based on mathematical law of transitivity.

If A equals C and B equals C then A = B.

A is a word of one language that equals to a certain concept. B is a word of another language, which equals to the same concept. A equals B when a word or word combination of one language equals to a word or word combination of another language.

American translator Naida distinguishes between formal and dynamic equivalents.
Formal equivalents is the closest possible match of form and content between source and target text.

Dynamic equivalents – the main principle is to produce an effect on TT readers. It is to be defined in terms of the degree to which the receptors of the method in the receptor language respond to it in substantially the same manner as the receptors in the SL.

This response can never be identified for the cultural and historic settings are too different but there should be a high degree of equivalents of response, or the translator will have failed to accomplish its purpose.

The normal translation should aim at the comprehension of the message of the original which is defined as the total meaning of a discourse. The concept and feeling, which the author indents the reader to understand and perceive.
Referential equivalents seeks to produce the meaning of words as symbols, which refer to objects, events, abstracts and relations.

It is based on a traditional contrastive approach, which systematically contrasts and compares specific areas of language between source text and target text.
Functionalist approach is a kind of cover term for the research of scholars, who argue that the function or purpose of the target text is the most important criteria in translation.

Source text should no longer be seen as a sacred original and the purpose of the translation can no longer be deduced from the ST but depends on expectations, means of translation readers according to Vermeer’s Scopos theory.

Equivalents between ST and TT may be based on reproduction of different parts of ST contexts. Accordingly, Komisarow distinguished between 4 levels of equivalency.

1) On the first level of equivalent’s only the purpose of communication is retained:
I am all ears.

He answered the telephone.

2) Identical situation.

Chernivtsi saw a rainy summer last year.

You are not serious.

3) Semantic paraphrase of the original.

I am fed up with your excuses.

In this group the semantic similarity of the previous types of equivalents is reinforced by the invariant meaning of the syntactic structures in the original.
In such translations syntactical structure can be regarded as derived from those in the original through direct or backward transformations.

Maximum possible semantic similarity between texts in different languages.
These translations try to retain the meaning of all words used in the original text. The part of the content, which contains information about general intent of the message, its orientation towards certain communicative effect can be called the purpose of communication.

Each subsequent type of equivalents retains the part of the original, contents, which include the information preserved in the previous types.

Types of translation correspondences

Professor Retzker’s classification:

1. Types of equivalents
2. Ways of rendering equivalent – lacking units

Language units are classified into two groups:

- those that have equivalents
- those that don’t have equivalents

Professor Retzker distinguishes between:

1) equivalents – constant correspondences that don’t depend in their majority on the context
2) analogy – TL synonyms correspond to SL words, the choice of which is conditioned by the context
3) descriptive rendering is applied, when foreign words denote notions and phenomena that don’t exist in our life: “to dine with duke Humpry”, “to give a wet Willy”.

Equivalents can be permanent: full or regular, or non-permanent: contextual and partial.

Equivalents are functional substitutes for SL units. Some SL units have permanent equivalents in TL. That is one to one correspondence between such units and their equivalents (terms, geographical names).

Full equivalent is presumed when there is a complete coincidence of pragmatic meaning of the SL and TL units.

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

Depending on the type of language units involved in the translation process regular equivalents can be defined as lexical phraseological and grammatical.

Linguistic context in equivalents in subdivided into immediate and general. We call the context the length of speech necessary to specify the meaning and translation of the given word. Immediate linguistic context is a sequence of syntactic and syntactically related words that determines meaning and syntactic function of the given word and forms the bases for its translation.

General linguistic context is a source text as a whole. It includes the situational context, temporal, special and other circumstances under which source text was produced as well as all facts, which the receptor is expected to know, so that we can adequately interpret the message.

An exceptional translation of a SL unit, which suits a particular context can be described as an occasional equivalent or a contextual substitute.
The choice of grammatical units depends on semantics.

Ways to create occasional equivalents and to render equivalent-lacking units are:

1) using long words – imitating in target language the forms of the SL word or word combinations. By this technique we understand using transcription of transliteration exclusively.
2) by transcription of transliteration and explication of their genuine nationally specific meaning.
3) using a descriptive explanation to convey the meaning of the ST unit.
4) by translating componential parts and additional explanation of units of the nationally-bound lexicon.
5) using appropriate substitutes or semantic analogy, i.e. words with similar meaning, which is extended to convey information.
6) by ways of word for word translation.
7) using all kinds of lexical transformation modifying the meaning of a SL word.

Equivalent-lacking idioms are translated either by reproducing their form in TL through a word for word translation of by explaining the figurative meaning of the idiom.

There are the following types of rendering equivalent-lacking units:

1) Zero translation – when meaning of grammatical unit isn’t rendered in the translation since it is practically identical to the meaning of some other units and can be safely left out.
2) Approximate translation – when the translator makes use of a TL form, partially equivalent to the equivalent-lacking source language unit.
3) Transformational translation – when the translator resorts to one of the grammatical transformations.