Transformations of lexical units in the process of translation

Transformations of lexical units in the process of translation

Objectively and subjectively conditioned transformations of lexical units in the process of translation

Transformations of nationally peculiar lexical units in the pro­cess of translation, as will be shown below, are sometimes of particular interest as well. These transformations become inevitable as a result of differences existing between the ways and means of expres­sion of the same meanings in the source language and in the target language. Among the lexical units that change their outer/structural form in the target language as a result of translation are a number of simple and compound words belonging to different parts of speech and representing various layers of lexicon. They include three main stylistically distinguished classes of units: 1) Stylistically neutral lexis; 2) stylistically evaluative lexis; 3) culturally biased national specific units of lexicon pertained to each source language and to every target language. Such transformation are lexical substitutions.

1. Among the numerous stylistically neutral simple and com­pound words both in the English and Ukrainian languages there are variousdifferent notional parts of speech – nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, numerals, pronouns, the semantic equivalents of which in the target language may be single words, word-groups and even sen­tences. Because of this the choice of their lexical equivalents in the target language is not always easy. Cf.:

advertiser той /та, ті/, хто дає/що дають рекламне оголошення, пропонують на продаж товар;

akimbo взявшись руками в боки, тримаючись руками в боках, руки в боки;

answerable той, та, те, що/на що можна відповісти/дати відповідь;

backer той, хто підтримує когось/допомогає, сприяє комусь у чомусь;

boatful пасажири й команда корабля/судна; заповнене/ завантажене судно/корабель;

indulge робити собі приємність у чомусь, віддаватись якимось утіхам (читанню, слуханню музики, грі в футбол, тощо);

airsick той/та, те, ті, що погано переносять повітряне подорожування (в літаку).

A considerable number of stylistically neutral Ukrainian simple and compound words have very often word-groups or sentences for their semantic (but not structural) equivalents in English as well. Cf.:

грамотний person who can read and write or well informed in


пополудні in the afternoon, post meridiem; принатися/прискакати to come quickly running or riding (to come galloping);

обороноздатність the strength of the defensive capacity of a country;

перекотиполе rolling Аах(рослина) and rolling stone (про людину);

пустомолот/пустомеля an idle tale-teller, copious speaker (chatterbox);

світогляд conception of a person’s world/world outlook/ one’s


A great number of such and the like stylistically neutral words are given in any bilingual English-Ukrainian dictionary and never present any difficulty for the translator to check up their meaning.

2. A separate group of lexical units, which may sometimes have the same meaning but quite different outer/structural expression in English and Ukrainian is presented by diminutives. They have a very poor representation in English (only among some nouns) but there is a very large quantity of them in Ukrainian, where they exist practically among all parts of speech. These words may be used in English only as diminutives or they may express diminutive evalua­tion as well, which is regularly identified in context. It is difficult to say, for example, whether booklet, manikin or hillock are diminutives only or diminutives and evaluatives at the same time. As diminutives they mean брошура, карлик and горбок respectively, and as diminu­tive evaluatives they may express the meanings of книжечка, брошурка, чоловічок (small and handsome or scornful), горбочок (not high but pleasant hillock).

This distinction is almost always clearly identified and expressed in Ukrainian where diminutive suffixes may also point to an escalating gradation of a diminutive quality in a noun. This can be seen from each second or third outer form of the following nouns:

1. ручка 2. ручечка 3. рученька 4. рученя 5. рученятко 6. рученяточко 7. руця;

1. голова 2. головка 3. головочка 4. голівка 5. голівочка

6. голівонька/головонька;

1 дівчина 2. дівчинка 3. дівча 4. дівчатко 6. дівчаточко

7. дівонька 8. дівчинонька, etc.

Similar meanings have to be expressed (and are to some ex­tent expressed) in English with the help of lexico-syntactic means, i.e., by means of some additional adjectives containing the seme of smallness. Cf.: голівка small head; голівочка/голівонька small/little head; дівчинонька dear/lovely girl, lovely little girl, etc.

English diminutive and evaluative meanings are not always clearly and fully expressed by isolated nouns, except for those which have corresponding suffixes as daddy, sissy, granny, and a few others whose direct Ukrainian equivalents are respectively татко / татунь, таточко; сестричка /сеструня/ сестронька; бабуся / бабка, бабуня, бабусенька, etc.

Part 2: Transformations of lexical units in the process of translation