A comparative discussion on the translation of texts of different genres

Essay, 2008

5 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Essay 1: A comparative discussion

This essay is about the difficulties which a translator has to face when translating texts of different genres and the strategies he or she can use to overcome them. Depending on the audience, the medium it is published in and of course the genre of the text, there are different strategies needed to translate texts.The three texts which are to discuss here, a set of instructions, an advert and an encyclopedia entry, are from different genres and therefore need to be handled differently in a translation. The purpose and the readership of a target text strongly influence the way a source text has to be translated.Hervey, Higgins and Longridge (1996:155) claim that “target texts are purpose-made texts, their manner of formulation heavily influenced, both strategically and in detail, by who and what they are intended for.”

For all three of the discussed text genres, it is advisable for the translator to do some research on the specific topic and read a few parallel texts. Hervey, Higgins and Longridge (1996: 157) recommend translators to “do not produce target texts without having first built up a knowledge of the style of specimen target language texts in the appropriate language.”

Text 1: Instructions for using a finger bandage applicator

The first text is an instruction on how to use a bandage applicator. It is either printed on the back of the box or printed on an extra small manual inside the box. It is an informative text and meant to be read by people who bought the bandages. The translator should keep in mind that the target audience of this text is adults of all levels of education, when considering what register of language to use. It is the main responsibility of the translator to ensure that readers of the target text will be able to correctly use the applicator. Compared to the advertisement, the information is the most important part of the text, not the sound of it, so a rather semantic translation would be advisable. Hervey, Higgins and Longridge (1996: 159) explain that when translating instructions,“the translator’s prime responsibility to the manufacturer is to give a correct, unambiguous and comprehensible account of how the product is to be used. This places limits on possible departures from the substance of the source text. It does not, however, imply that the target text should be a carbon copy of the source text.” Another problem could be that the space on the back of a bandage box is limited, while most texts expand in translation.

The translator should read some manuals or sets of instruction in the target language to find out how certain points are done, like the register that they are usually written in and how to address the reader. In English, it is common to address the reader directly, using the second-person pronoun “you” and the imperative. In other languages, it is more common to address the reader indirectly, sometimes even using the passive voice. For instance, in another language, it could be more common to write “The Tubegauz is to be placed over the finger” instead of “Place the Tubegauz over finger”. Depending on the culture, it can be impolite or even rude to address the reader directly and to repeatedly use the active voice. Hervey, Higgins and Longridge (1996:159) explain that “textual cogency and the conventions by which information is presented are to some extent culture-specific. “


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A comparative discussion on the translation of texts of different genres
The University of Surrey  (Languages and Translation Department )
Introduction to Translation Theory
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428 KB
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Nike Hirschbiegel (Author), 2008, A comparative discussion on the translation of texts of different genres, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/130453


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