Equivalence and Literary Translation. Short Introduction to the Translation Studies

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2019

56 Pages, Grade: 5.0




Chapter I: Theories of Literary Translation
1.1 Definition of the Term
1.2 Typology of Translation
1.2.1 Specificity of Literary Translation
1.3 Some Important Facts from the History of Translation

Chapter II: Equivalence Theory
2.1. Definition of the term Equivalence
2.2. Chosen Theories of Equivalence
2.2.1. Jakobson
2.2.2. Nida
2.2.3. Koller
2.2.4. House
2.2.5. Catford
2.2.6. Baker
2.3. Equivalence and its Problems

Chapter III: Equivalence in Literary Translation
3.1. The Analysis of Chosen Excerpts from Twilight and its Translation



Conclusion in Polish



The translation is an amazingly broad issue which covers numerous notions of style, meaning, knowledge of the translation topic which is hard to point out looking at the very basics only. Accordingly, numerous researches has been carried out since the notion of the translation emerged as an academic study. Every translation performance, whether an oral or a written, is a kind of conscious act leading to operation of rendering some text from the Source Language (SL) into the Target Language (TL). Literary translation is an odd art because a literary translator takes someone else’s composition and performs it in his own special way. However, above everything – the main point of any translation is for the translator to be the actual specialist within this particular field – whether it is religious or technical or any other type of translation.

In the following paper I would like to show the meaning of translation, its typology, the most important difficulties which often appear in this area and the techniques that can be involved. Due to the fact that my basic material of the research consists of the novel by Stephenie Meyer and her world-wide best-seller Twilight, as well as the involvement of the Equivalence in the literary translation – this points will be discussed broadly.

In order to cover all of the necessary aspects so that the general idea and also some interesting facts could be highlighted, the author of this thesis decided for the following layout:

In the first Chapter there are general information about translation, its various meanings, explanation of what sort of process it is and what stages and techniques the translator should use, as well as what problems he or she can meet on their way to provide the reasonable and well-read final product.

The second Chapter aims at presenting the particular focus of this thesis which is the Equivalence in translation. It deals with the typical problems that one may come across when attempting to apply the equivalence in translation, as well as the benefits of using it.

The last one – Chapter Three, is a practical one showing the results of my research. I would like to use my knowledge and take it into practice, to show what kind of Equivalence were used in each of the chosen examples taken from both the original Twilight and Polish rendering titled Zmierzch. After showing the similarities and differences between these texts I will try to compare and evaluate them.

Good translation can be made in many different ways, however, what is vital for the receiver is to understand the translated text.

Chapter I: Theories of Literary Translation

The following chapter aims at presenting the multi-layered aspect of a phenomenon called ‘literary translation’. In order to achieve this, the chapter is divided into four parts – the first being a short introduction to the term ‘translation’, followed by the typology of translation and the third, the explanation of the term ‘literary translation’ itself. The final part of the chapter deals with the history of the translation, meaning – the short trip through times with the focus on the biggest achievements in particular stages of the translation’s development.

1.1 Definition of the Term

The subject of translation developed in many parts of the world and is clearly destined to continue developing further throughout the twenty first century. Translation studies bring together work in a wide variety of fields, including linguistics, literary study, history, anthropology, psychology and economics.

Moreover, translation is a phenomenon that has a huge effect on everyday life. This can range from the translation of a key international treaty to the multilingual poster that welcomes customers to a small restaurant or hotel virtually anywhere in the world.

Translation is the process during which someone transfers written or spoken source language (SL) texts to equivalent written or spoken target language (TL) texts. The basic purpose of translation is to reproduce various types of texts, comprising literary, religious, scientific, philosophical texts etc. in another language and thus making them available to wider readers, to a greater number of target audience and to bring the world closer.

Therefore, on the basis of primary sources, it is possible to formulate a multi-layered picture of what is the ‘translation’.

If one looks up the term ‘translation’ in a general dictionary, one finds the following definition: “translation n. 1 the act or an instance of translating. 2 a written or spoken expression of the meaning of a word, speech, book, etc. in another language” (Phillips 1997: 803).

After analyzing the above definition it is obvious that the first of these two senses relates to translation as a process, the second to the product. This immediately means that the term translation encompasses very distinct perspectives. The first one focuses on the role of the translator in taking the original or source text (ST) and turning it into a text in another language which is the target text, (TT). The second centers on the concrete translation product produced by the translator.

This distinction can be supported by the definition in the Dictionary of Translation Studies:

Translation: An incredibly broad notion which can be understood in many different ways. For example, one may talk of translation as a process or a product, and identify such sub types as literary translation, technical translation, subtitling and machine translation; moreover, while more typically it just refers to the transfer of written texts, the term sometimes also includes interpreting (Shuttleworth and Cowie 1977: 181).

This definition introduces further variables, first the ‘sub-types’, which include not only typically written products such as literary and technical translations, but also translation forms that were created in recent decades, these which followed the spread of multimedia and computerization, such as audiovisual translation, a written product which is read together with an image on screen, for example in cinema, on TV, DVD or in computer game.

Therefore, one may assume that translation is a process which leads to making various pieces of writing available to speakers of different languages all over the world with help of modern achievements of technical world.

Anderman (2003), in Introduction to her Translation Today articulates the most obvious fact, namely that the attempts to define ‘translation’ are numerous and various, often reflecting specific aspects of the social and ideological contexts of their provenance. In addition, the relatively recent acceptance of the term ‘Translation Studies’ may perhaps surprise those who have always assumed that such a discipline exists in view of the widespread use of the term ‘translation’, particularly in the process of foreign language learning. But in fact the systematic study of translation is still in the process of maturing. Precisely because translation is perceived as an intrinsic part of the foreign language teaching process, it was rarely studied for its own sake.

And finally, as Weissbort and Eysteinsson (2006: 5) assume: “It is beyond our capacity to do justice to the multiform nature of English, a world language or related world languages or group of related languages. It might even be said that English has become a language pre-eminently of translation, that is, of diffusion and international communication”.

Whatever nature of the translation, there is a huge work of the translator involved. That work can differ in its character, whenever the actual type of the translation changes. Within the field of the Translation Studies, one can distinguish various kinds of translation and each of them requires a particular knowledge and skills from the translator. The following part of the Chapter will discuss the typology of the translation with the special focus on the literary translation.

1.2 Typology of Translation

It is important that translators are familiar with the product they are translating and also with the tools they are using. The translation process is not the replacement of one word with another, but the formation of concepts in another language. The whole area of translation can be divided into different parts and can include various types of translation. Below, the author of this thesis will present some of the most common types of translations.

a) Commercial translation – also called business translation, covers any sort of the documents applied within the world of business, such as: correspondence, accounts, tender documents, reports and many others. For the purpose of such translations, the translator needs to possess the knowledge of business world and particular language as used there (Hatim and Munday 2004: 112).
b) Legal translation – the translation of legal terminology used for establishing facts in court cases cannot be performed without regard to legal-cultural concepts and differences between legal systems. Legal translation has been described by researchers as a category in its own right (Garzone 2000: 395). What is interesting, in legal translation, many scholars associate legal equivalence with the extent to which the same ‘legal effect’ can be produced in the Target Text while maintaining fidelity to the Source Text.
c) Technical translation – as Byrne (2006: ix) points out, technical translation has traditionally been regarded as the poor cousin of ‘real’ translation. It was often treated as a vocational, practical and at times rather basic type of translation, and therefore it was largely neglected in the literature on translation theory. In reality, ‘technical’ means precisely that, something to do with technology and technological texts. According to Lee-Jahnke (1998:83-84), there are three things that are essential in order to learn how to deal with scientific and technical texts:

- the text structure in the different languages,
- the Language for Special Purposes (LSP) for the area,
- the subject area

d) Marketing translation / ad translations – this type of translation is a close relative to the literary translation and a distant cousin to technical translations. Getting across the impact of the original text is a key quality. In case of a large campaign, it is strongly recommend the use of surveys in the target country. This is the only way to find whether or not an ad will sell. Another key point is that the translator needs access to the positioning and marketing strategy of the company.

As it has been shown, apart from so-called general translation which is simply translation of any text into other language, not bearing any specialist information in mind, there are various other types of translation. Amongst them, there is a particular type of the translation, the one which is the scope of this thesis – namely, the Literary Translation.

1.2.1 Specificity of Literary Translation

The person who desires to turn a literary masterpiece into another language, has only one duty to perform, and this is to reproduce with absolute exactitude the whole text, and nothing but the text. The term ‘literal translation’ is tautological since anything but that is not truly a translation but an imitation, an adaptation or a parody (Venuti 2000: 77).

Literary translation seems to be a very strange art. It includes the person – the translator sitting at a desk, writing literature that is not of his authorship, that has someone else’s name on it, that has already been written. However, literary translation is an art. What makes it so odd an art is that physically a translator does exactly the same thing as a writer. Bassnett (2002: 114) puts it in the following way:

Although there is a large body of work debating the issues that surround the translation of poetry, far less time has been spent studying the specific problems of translating literary prose. One explanation for this could be the higher status that poetry holds, but it is more probably due to the widespread erroneous notion that a novel is somehow a simpler structure than a poem and is consequently easier to translate. Moreover, whilst we have a number of detailed statements by poet-translators regarding their methodology, we have fewer statements from prose translators.

Fidelity is the most basic ethical term in translation. Infidelity means betrayal of the original work and its author. The literary translator is not expressing himself and has no right to be revolutionary. Instead critics ask, Is the translation faithful to the original? Does it do justice to it? Does it betray it? Is it a reasonable facsimile? Are there any mistakes (and if so, they must be pointed out)?

In translator’s work, it is necessary for an acceptable translation to produce the same or at least similar effects on the target text (TT) readers as those created by the original work on its readers. Lefevre asks: “why is it necessary to represent a foreign text in one’s own culture?” and comments on this fact in the following way:

Translation has to do with authority and legitimacy and, ultimately, with power, which is precisely why it has been and continues to be the subject of so many acrimonious debates. Translation is not just a “window opened on another world,” or some such pious platitude. Rather, translation is a channel opened, often not without a certain reluctance, through which foreign influences can penetrate the native culture, challenge it, and even contribute to subverting it. “When you offer a translation to a nation,” says Victor Hugo, “that nation will almost always look on the translation as an act of violence against itself” (Lefevere 1992: 2).

The difference between an source language and a target language and the variation in their cultures make the process of translating a real challenge. It is necessary to possess a sufficient knowledge which not only refers to both SL and TL but also to culture and history of the country a given piece of document to be translated belongs to.

Apart from that, creativity and translation are inseparable, especially in literary rendition. The translator should always be resourceful in terms of vocabulary and syntactic structures in order to handle repetitions in the ST. Literary translators in particular need to be also creative in translating the ‘formalities’ of the ST. While the translator is constrained in poetry and rhyming prose by the necessities of form as intertwining with content, he or she feels free with unrhymed prose, i.e. novels, short stories, plays. The translator is constrained instead by the mood created, and here creativity assumes a high profile.

With the emphasis firmly on the mode of expression, and with the ultimate aim being that of publication, the translator must demonstrate “an appreciation of and feeling for different styles, tones and nuances in both the source and target languages, thus recreating the mood of the original”(Finlay 1975: 45). Literary translation is more than simply changing words from one language to another, “it involves the intricate task of expressing the words of the writer in a way that express the original intention”(Clifford 2001: 7). In other words, the translator should leave the same impression on the target text reader as the original author did on the source text reader.

And above everything, as in legal translation, one of the most difficult problems in translating literary texts is found in the differences between cultures. Therefore, literary translators need in-depth understanding of the social, historical and cultural context of the original piece of text for accurate translation of the literary text.

Throughout the times, the approach towards the translation changed and shifted the emphasis from one aspect to the other. Also, with the times changing, the focus on particular writings was moving from one position to the other. Accordingly, the following part of the Chapter will focus on the brief history of the translation.

1.3 Some Important Facts from the History of Translation

Peter Burke, the author of the book Lost (and Found): in Translation: A Cultural History of Translators and Translating in Early Modern Europe. Burke (2005: 3) claims that:

Translation is actually central to cultural history. The role of translated texts in movements such as the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment is of obvious importance – to say nothing of the expansion of Europe into other continents. But I should like to go much further than that. Translation between languages is like the tip of an iceberg. It is the most visible part of an activity sometimes described as cultural translation. If the past is a foreign country, as some scholars like to say, then historians may be regarded as translators between past and present. Like anthropologists, they translate from one culture to another rather than from one language to another. All the same, like the translators of texts, historians and anthropologists need to steer between the opposite dangers of unfaithfulness to the culture from which they translate and unintelligibility to their target audience.

In this thesis the author’s opinion, no introduction to Translation Studies can be treated as complete without consideration of the discipline in a historical perspective. Nevertheless, this scope would be far too big to be covered adequately in a single chapter. Therefore, the aim of this part of the chapter is merely to briefly introduce the most important aspects which occurred throughout the years of the history of the translation.

It can be stated, that translation is linked to the nature of a given group of people within a nation. Therefore, discovering the step-by-step history of the most distinctive translation is a process inextricably bound with the ‘likes and dislikes’ of then people. What is more, not all languages were created as equal to each other and therefore, some languages enjoy a more prestigious status than others, just as some texts occupy a more important position in a particular culture than others – the Catholic Bible, for example, or the scripture of Islamic Qur’an, as Lefevre (1992: 1) claims. That is why:

Placing translated texts into their historical contexts helps define and account for the policies employed by past translators and so gives at least a point of departure for developing strategies. Through history we encounter examples of the darker possibilities of translation, of the opportunities for distortion or manipulation of text, of the translations undertaken with hostile intent. Looking at the history of translation theory gives bases for comparison and demonstrates whether translators are making progress or simply repeating the same mistakes. It also helps to assess whether modern theorists are saying something new or simply repeating the same ideas in different language (Kuhiwczak, K. Littau 2007: 64).

Steiner, in After Babel, divided the literature on the theory, practice and history of translation into four consequent periods (1975: 248-251). The first one, according to him, extends from Cicero and Horace who discussed the translation until the publication of Alexander Fraser Tytler’s Essay on the Principles of Translation in 1791. The main characteristic of that period is so-called ‘immediate empirical focus’, which can be understood as that statements and theories about translation have the roots directly in the practical work of translating.

The second period, which closes with the publication of Larbaud’s Sous I’invocation de Saint Jérome in 1946 is supposed to be characterized by a theory and hermeneutic enquiry with the development of a vocabulary and methodology of approaching translation.

The third period begins with the publication of the first papers on machine translation in the 1940s, and is characterized by the introduction of structural linguistics and communication theory into the study of translation.

Steiner’s fourth period, coexisting with the third has its origins in the early 1960s and is characterized by a vision of translation that sets the discipline in a wide frame that includes a number of other disciplines.

Taken the above into account one can assume that there are certain concepts of translation that prevail at different times, which can be documented. Nevertheless, Berman and Heyveart claim that: “We can no longer be satisfied with the uncertain periodizations concerning the Western history of translation edified by George Steiner in After Babel” (1992: 2). In their opinion, it is impossible to separate the history of translation from the history of languages, of cultures, and of literatures, even of religions and of nations.

As it was mentioned above, some writings occupied the more important role within cultures. One of the most striking example of such ‘document’ can Bible, which - between the invention of printing and the end of the seventeenth century, reached the number of fifty-one languages publications (North 1938: 57). Accordingly, Weissbort and Eysteinsson point out that:

The Bible is the single most important and most translated text in Western history and culture. Seen as a unifying work and functioning as the basis of organized religion in the West, its translation has often manifested cultural and ideological diversity. The very idea of translating the Bible, ‘the Word of God’, from the source languages into the vernacular languages has of course led to extensive even deadly controversy (2006: 8).

Bible translation remained a key issue within the seventeenth century, and then, the problems intensified with the growth of concepts of national cultures and with the coming of the Reformation. Translation became to be used as a weapon in both dogmatic and political conflicts as the centralization of the church weakened, evidenced in linguistic terms by the decline of Latin as a universal language, as Bassnet states (2002: 51).

Then came the Classics with over 1000 translations from the Greek and Latin classics which were published before the year 1600 alone. Some translations became classics on their own, such as Erasmus, Luther and Calvin (Burke 2005: 7).

According to Hatim and Munday in Classical times, it was normal for translators working from Greek to provide a literal, word-for-word ‘translation’ which would serve as an aid to the Latin reader who, it could be assumed, was reasonably acquainted with the Greek source language (Hatim and Munday 2004: 11). Cicero, describing his own translation of Attic orators in 46 BCE, emphasized that he did not follow the literal ‘word-for-word’ approach but, as an orator, looked for to preserve the general style and force of the language.

Also Horace, similarly to Cicero, in his remarks on translation, makes an important distinction between word for word translation and sense for sense (or figure for figure) translation. The underlying principle of enriching their native language and literature through translation leads to a stress on the aesthetic criteria of the TL product rather than on more rigid notions of ‘fidelity’. Interestingly, Horace, in his Art of Poetry, warns against overcautious imitation of the source model:

A theme that is familiar can be made your own property so long as you do not waste your time on a hackneyed treatment; nor should you try to render your original word for word like a slavish translator, or in imitating another writer plunge yourself into difficulties from which shame, or the rules you have laid down for yourself, prevent you from extricating yourself (Horace in Murray and Dorsch 1965: 77).

Also, in 1769, Jacques Delille, French cleric, poet, and translator, wrote in the preface to his translation of Virgil’s Georgics that for his translation was always a way to enrich a language. And indeed – translation is a process which involves a complex network of decisions to be made by translators on the level of ideology, poetics, and the nature of discourse.

Translation was also important in the Scientific Revolution. It is true that many natural philosophers, like other early modern scholars, wrote in Latin. Even Galileo followed this tradition at the beginning of his career, switching to Italian later in order to reach a wider domestic audience. One of his German admirers, unable to read Italian, wrote to Galileo to protest. However, the gap was soon filled by translation, not into German but into Latin. Newton followed Galileo’s example, writing his Principia in Latin but his Optics in English, confident by this time that it would soon be translated. Thanks to his reluctance to write in any language but English, Robert Boyle was perhaps the most translated scientist in the seventeenth century, or ‘natural philosopher’, as they said in those days.

According to Hodgson, the modern Translation Studies began as an academic discipline in the years after WW II when the changes within a united Europe sped up thoughts on new language and culture policies. Part of this thinking included researching and better understanding of the translation’s role in helping to stabilize populations and cultures, in creating a new type of literature that crossed the boundaries of older nations, and was supposed to overcome centuries-old distinctions between languages-people (Hodgson 2008: 3).

Summarizing, it is easy to say that when thinking about translation, one realizes that it is a highly complex task to deliver the good translation, which is both faithful to the original and is readable. As the above chapter shows, there are various types of the translation and each needs to fulfil some requirements in order to be accepted and acceptable. The history of the translation which is briefly presented clearly reveals that the particular periods had their favourite writings to be translated as well as attitudes towards the theory of the translation. All in all, the chapter provids a general introduction to the subject of the translation.

Chapter II: Equivalence Theory

It is repeatedly stressed that one and the same situation can be rendered by two texts using completely different stylistic and structural methods. In such cases people are dealing with the method which produces equivalent texts. The best example of equivalence can be described by the reaction of a handyman who by accident hits his finger with a hammer: if he were Pole his cry of pain would be transcribed as ‘Oj!’, but if he were English this would be interpreted as ‘Ouch!’ (Hatim--Munday 2004:151).

The following Chapter’s aim is to present the translation technique known by the name of ‘equivalence’.

2.1. Definition of the term Equivalence

Most equivalences are fixed and belong to a phraseological repertoire of idioms, clichés, proverbs, nominal or adjectival phrases, etc. In general, proverbs are perfect examples of equivalences. The method of creating equivalences is also frequently applied to idioms. For example, ‘To talk through one’s hat’ and ‘as like as two peas’ cannot be translated by means of a calque.

In his definition of translation equivalence, Popovič (1976: 12) distinguishes four types:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

In Bassnett’s (2002) opinion translation involves far more than replacement of lexical and grammatical items between languages and, as can be seen in the translation of idioms and metaphors, the process may involve discarding the basic linguistic elements of the SL text so as to achieve Popovič’s goal of ‘expressive identity’ between the SL and TL texts. But once the translator moves away from close linguistic equivalence, the problems of determining the exact nature of the level of equivalence aimed for begin to emerge (Bassnett 2002: 32).

According to Venuti (2000), in the history of translation, equivalence was understood as ‘accuracy’, ‘adequacy’, ‘correctness’, ‘correspondence’, ‘fidelity’, or ‘identity’; it is a variable notion of how the translation is connected to the foreign text (5). Simply speaking, equivalence is the relationship between a source text (ST) and a target text (TT) that allows the TT to be considered as a translation of the ST. Equivalence was a relationship between two texts in two languages, rather than between the languages themselves.

Translation like many disciplines of science was scientifically developed in the second half of the century. Because of the fact that all theories of translation refer to equivalence as the most crucial factor centrally or peripherally, dealing with the process of finding equivalence is the most significant issue existing among translators. Although finding equivalence is subjective, this subjectivity must be based on the taxonomies defined by translation scholars.

Studying of factors that affect the process of selecting equivalence started under the classifications of translation theoretician. Generally, all translators cope with finding equivalence in order to convey the translation units better. During such study and finding, any translation scholar contemplate about the possible factors which appear to affect it. Some scholars define a borderline between the equivalence which is related to form and the equivalence that is relevant to meaning, however, all of them have something in common that is the approval of some problems which impede finding equivalence. In this matter, an interesting point of view was presented by Pym and Perekrestenko (2007: 24) who assume that:

Translators act as controllers and decision makers using feedback to monitor and constantly minimize deviations from what they perceive to be the information derived from the source text while it is transferred to the target text. The stable, homeostatic state the translation system aims for is the conceptual goal of “equivalence”. However equivalence in this regard is internally defined, as a “goal state” by the translator—a state where information is optimally transferred from source to target text not necessarily according to solely externally defined criteria, but based upon the translator’s internalized and idiosyncratic constraints. Indeed, these constraints can affect the abstraction and interpretation phases by influencing the selection of dominant variables from the source text to be expressed in the target text.

It is also worth mentioning, that during the 1960s and 1970s, linguistics-oriented theorists emphasized the description and analysis of translation operations, producing typologies of equivalence that acted as normative principles to guide translator training. To great extent, that must have bound the translators Hans, involving them In a constant fruitless research and search for the perfect linguistic solution.

In addition, thanks to propagating the concept of borrowings, the translation theories of the 1990s were increasingly concerned with ethical issues. This was partly a reaction against traditional concepts like fidelity and equivalence, which 20th century uncertainty had left without any conceptual grounding, as Kuhiwczak and Littau conclude (2007: 37).

Equivalence is famous for the fact that it caused all-time long controversy and many different theories of the concept of equivalence have been elaborated within this field in the past fifty years. The comparison of texts in different languages inevitably involves a theory of equivalence.

Translation developed mainly in the second half of the twentieth century. Therefore, theory of equivalence has been studied scientifically from the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century up till now.

Some of translation scholars defined their theories as source-oriented theory, others regarded the target-oriented theories. There are also theorists who chose a place in between; however, all translation theories are related to the notion of equivalence in one way or another. Therefore, equivalence plays a crucial role in translation. In fact, both source and target languages include ranges of equivalents from the least meaningful level of a language, namely, morpheme to the big levels like sentence. In the process of translation these levels of language appear to be equivalence levels between source language and target language. For example, if there is a word in the SL, it must be translated into TL at the word level usually. Accordingly, translation is the matter of establishing equivalence between SL and TL.

Equivalence – as defined and explained above has its historical root. Behind these phenomenon, there are linguists, who caused the development and enabled understanding of what is equivalence and how does it exist in the context of translation. The following subchapter will present the most prominent names amongst those who popularized the term of equivalence in translation.

2.2. Chosen Theories of Equivalence

In order to establish equivalence between SL and TL it is necessary to review the theory of equivalence as interpreted by some of the most prominent theorists within the area. These theorists have studied equivalence in relation to the translation process, using different approaches and have provided numerous ideas for further study regarding that subject.

2.2.1. Jakobson

The structuralist Roman Jacobson is considered to be one of the earliest theorists who were occupied by the study of equivalence in meaning. Jacobson (2001) claims that: “there is ordinarily no full equivalence between code units” (Munday 2001: 233). He introduced the concept of equivalence in difference. He suggested three kinds of equivalence known as:

- Intralingual (within one language, i.e. rewording or paraphrase)
- Interlingual (between two languages)
- Intersemiotic (between sign systems)

Jakobson claims that, in the case of interlingual translation, the translator makes use of synonyms in order to get the ST message across. This means that in interlingual translations there is no full equivalence between code units. According to his theory, “translation involves two equivalent messages in two different codes” (Munday, 2001: 233). Jakobson goes on to say that from a grammatical point of view languages may differ from one another to a greater or lesser degree, but this does not mean that a translation cannot be possible, in other words, that the translator may face the problem of not finding a translation equivalent.

In addition, he acknowledges that “whenever there is deficiency, terminology may be qualified and amplified by loanwords or loan-translations, neologisms or semantic shifts, and finally, by circumlocutions” (Munday, 2001: 234).

2.2.2. Nida

Eugene Nida (1982), in consultation with other pioneers in the field, developed the theory of ‘dynamic equivalence’ or ‘functional equivalence’, which stressed the importance of transferring meaning, not grammatical form. He discussed various kinds of complexity in meaning even at a comparatively early date, beginning with his 1947 publication of Bible Translating and explicitly spoke about translating ‘fullest meaning’ instead of a bare minimum.

In the book The Theory and Practice of Translation, Nida indicates that: “Unfortunately translators of religious materials have sometimes not been promoted by the same feeling of urgency to make sense (1982:1).”

Formal correspondence, as pointed out by Nida (1982) consists of a TL item which represents the closest equivalent of a SL word or phrase. Nida makes it clear that there are not always formal equivalents between language pairs. He therefore suggests that these formal equivalents should be used wherever possible if the translation aims at achieving formal rather than dynamic equivalence. The use of formal equivalents might at times have serious implications in the TT since the translation will not be easily understood by the target audience (Fawcett, 1997).

Nida (1982: 201) asserts that: “Typically, formal correspondence distorts the grammatical and stylistic patterns of the receptor language, and hence distorts the message, so as to cause the receptor to misunderstand or to labor unduly hard.”

On the other hand, dynamic equivalence is defined as a translation principle according to which a translator seeks to translate the meaning of the original in such a way that the TL wording will trigger the same impact on the TC audience as the original wording did upon the ST audience. He argues that: “Frequently, the form of the original text is changed; but as long as the change follows the rules of back transformation in the source language, of contextual consistency in the transfer, and of transformation in the receptor language, the message is preserved and the translation is faithful” (Nida 1982: 200).

There are some scholars of translation who opposed the theory of Dynamic equivalence such as Eco (2001) who sees that: “Equivalence in meaning cannot be taken as a satisfactory criterion for a correct translation, […] We cannot even accept the naïve idea that equivalence in meaning is provided by synonym, since it is commonly accepted that there are no complete synonym in language. Father is not a synonym for daddy, daddy is not a synonym for papa, and père is not a synonym for padre” (Eco 2001: 5).

Eco believes that those who have been involved in the art and craft of translation are definitely in a better position to formulate theoretical reflections on the subject. Moreover, he sees that:

The translator does not translate a text on the basis of the dictionary, but rather “on the basis of the whole history of two literatures. Therefore translating is not only connected with linguistic competence, but with intertextual, psychological, and narrative competence. Thus, the translator is forced at all times to go beyond linguistic competence to the cultural spectrum. Consequently, translations do not constitute a comparison between two languages but the interpretation of two texts in two different languages.” In order for a translation to come to life, “a good translation must generate the same effect aimed at by the original” (Eco 2001: 14).

Yet all translations are preceded by the interpretive perspective that the translator brings to the text, which means that the translator as interpreter must become visible in the translation.

2.2.3. Koller

Koller proposes the following working definition of what he takes to be translation: “Between the resultant text in L2 (the TL text) and the ST in L1 (the SL text) there exists a relationship which can be designated as a translational, or equivalence, relation” (1995:196).

In trying to work out a notion of equivalence that steers clear of either extreme – the narrowly quantitative approach vs. the open-ended text-and-beyond view – Koller maintains a distinction between formal similarity at the level of virtual language systems (langue), and equivalence relations obtaining between texts in real time at the actual level of parole, a distinction the author of this thesis examined in relation to Catford.

Koller advocates that it is the latter, parole -oriented notion of equivalence (which the Germans call Äquivalenz) that constitutes the real object of enquiry in Translation Studies. Textual equivalence proper may thus be seen as obtaining not between the languages themselves at the level of the linguistic system but between real texts at the level of text in context.

One way of reconciling the two extremes of langue - vs. parole -oriented approaches to translation is to define equivalence in relative (not categorical) terms and in hierarchical (not static) terms. That is, equivalence is not an ‘either/or’ choice, nor is it an ‘if X, then Y’ formula. Translation approaches informed by pragmatics as the study of intended meaning are ideally suited for this dynamic view of equivalence, and the model of equivalence proposed by Koller is an excellent example of an approach that is variable and flexible in accounting for relationships between comparable elements in the SL and TL.

Like all matters to do with text in context, however, translation decisions are rarely straightforward and ‘sequential’. They are rather highly complex and, as Koller intended his relational frameworks to be, ‘hierarchical’. The hierarchy is in fact iterative in the sense that one progresses through the text, one can come back again and again to decisions already taken, reviewing and altering them.

2.2.4. House

Within House’s (1977) discussion the most prominent are two concepts – that of overt and covert translations. In an overt translation the TT audience is not directly addressed and there is therefore no need at all to attempt to recreate a ‘second original’ since an overt translation ‘must overtly be a translation’ (House 1977: 189). By covert translation, on the other hand, is meant the production of a text which is functionally equivalent to the ST. House also argues that in this type of translation the ST is not specifically addressed to a TC audience’ (House 1977: 194). House also argues that in this type of translation the ST is not specifically addressed to a TC audience.

House (1977:203) sets out the types of ST that would probably yield translations of the two categories. An academic article, for instance, is unlikely to exhibit any features specific to the SC; the article has the same argumentative or expository force that it would if it had originated in the TL, and the fact that it is a translation at all need not be made known to the readers. A political speech in the SC, on the other hand, is addressed to a particular cultural or national group which the speaker sets out to move to action or otherwise influence, whereas the TT merely informs outsiders what the speaker is saying to his or her constituency. It is clear that in this latter case, which is an instance of overt translation, functional equivalence cannot be maintained, and it is therefore intended that the ST and the TT function differently.

In fact, according to her theory, every text is placed within a particular situation which has to be correctly identified and taken into account by the translator.

2.2.5. Catford

Catford’s (in Fawcett 1997) approach to translation equivalence clearly differs from that adopted by Nida since Catford had a preference for a more linguistic-based approach to translation and this approach is based on the linguistic work of Firth and Halliday. His main contribution in the field of translation theory is the introduction of the concepts of types and shifts translation.

He also defines the shifts which exist within different languages and described his latest category of equivalence while it is worth realizing that he is a notable contributor in the field of translation.

One of the problems with Caford’s (1997) formal correspondence is that, despite being a useful tool to employ in comparative linguistics, it seems that it is not really relevant in terms of assessing translation equivalence between ST and TT.

Catford was very much criticized for his linguistic theory of translation. One of the most scathing criticisms comes from Snell-Hornby (1988), who argues that Catford’s definition of textual equivalence is ‘circular’, his theory’s reliance on bilingual informants ‘hopelessly inadequate’, and his example sentences “isolated and even absurdly simplistic” (Nida and Taber 1982: 19-20). She considers the concept of equivalence in translation as being an illusion.


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Equivalence and Literary Translation. Short Introduction to the Translation Studies
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translation, equivalence, literary translation
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Marta Zapała-Kraj (Author), 2019, Equivalence and Literary Translation. Short Introduction to the Translation Studies, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/591327


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