Discussion Questions (8/30)

Here are some questions that I thought about when going over the readings:

How are issues of untranslatability accounted for? It seems that in translating the equivalent of an untranslatable from the ST to the TT that the general tone and style must change. So, can you consider an untranslatable  to have an equivalent?

Since there are many circumstances by which equivalence occurs, how can we as readers understand such circumstances by which the translator considered? Do we assume that the translator is effectively accounting for various cultural, syntactical and language differences?

Should you consider a translated text a new piece of work  if it diverges considerably from the style of the ST? When should you consider the TT as an original text?

Reading Notes (8/30)

PYM Chapter 2 

The relation of the source text and the translation is that of equivalence (equal value). The relation is that the languages do not say the same, but the values are the same. Equal value prior to translation is that of natural equivalence, in which translation from language A to B or vice verse makes no difference in value. The value can vary: level of form, reference, function. Natural in definitions: “Translating consists in reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the source language message” I think it is important to understand that is it is the closest natural equivalent, allowing for differences in language, culture, etc. Markedness is the idea that some things are natural and others are less natural. Different languages express different views of the world. Languages considered to be a set of structures. Thus, structuralism says that we should study those relations rather than analyze them. It will ultimately demonstrate more value in doing so. Translation studies developed equivalence theory to explain the inconsistencies with language.

Signification – close attention to what is meant by “meaning” It depends on the actual signification in regards to the actual use of the language

Language Use – Closer look at language than as a system. If something like equivalence can be demonstrated, then there were systems beyond language

Text levels – does not depend solely on isolated word but whole texts. It must provide equivalence for layers of text


Componential analysis – More lexical within semantics, it is to list all that are equivalent within value and functions of the source text and the target-side

Natural equivalents do exists but rarely exist in the natural state. Problems arise when things are untranslatable which begs the question: how do you find an equivalence for untranslatables? Literal translation provides nearly straightforward word to word translation. Procedures of correspondence: correspond proverbs and referents & adaptation: to refer to different things are loosely equivalent with cultural functions must be considered. Considered prosodic effects.

Amplification: translation uses more words than source text to express same idea.

Reduction: the opposite of amplification

Explicitation: procedure whereby translation gives specifications only implicit in the source text

Implicitation: opposite of explicitation

Generalization: when a specific term is translated to a more general term

Particularization: opposite of generalization

Main point is that translation can give more or less. These try to mitigate the systemic differences between source and target language. Directionality is a obstacle. Compensation: procedure by which tenor of the whole piece is maintained by playing in a stylistic detour. Many ways and methods to cut up the conceptual space. John Catford saw equivalence as being mostly “rank-bound”, in that its not established on all linguistic levels at the same time. Five frames for equivalence: denotative, connotative, text-normative, and formal. Three basic text types: informative, expressive and operative. Danica Seleskovitch understands it as “deverbalizing”, to not look at the linguistic forms in great detail. Natural equivalence presupposes a non-existent symmetry. The test of equivalence have no psychological basis. New information cannot be nature, new ideas cannot be translated as natural. Natural equivalence is a hirostical idea. Some languages at one point were considered in a  hierarchical manner in which some were superior to others. Equivalence was a difficult idea to maintain prior to the printing press. In general, Pym Chapter 2 defends the equivalence paradigm

Encyclopedia of Translation – Translatability and Equivalence 

Trainability is the capacity for one meaning to be transferred from one language to another. However, there are debates as to what kind of “meaning” is involved. Translatability may operate in three ways: meanings are universal and generally translatable, thinking and speaking are more tightly bound, although languages have individuality, texts should still be able to be translated. In hermeneutic terms, translatability can rest of grammatical structure. Translatability very much depends on the target language. Translatability is extremely a dynamic category.


Notions of equivalence are highly controversial. Relationship between source text and target text that allows the TT to be considered as a translate of the ST in the first place. Referential or denotative equivalence mean the SL and TL words refer to the same thing in the real world. Connotative equivalence means SL and TL words trigger the same meaning for native speakers of the two languages. Text-normative equivalence is that words are being used in the same or similar contexts. Pragmatic or dynamic equivalence is that they have the same orthographic or phonological features. Textual equivalence is that the concept covers similarities in TL and SL information flows. One-to-one equivalence is that there is a single expression. SL and TL features must have some sort of reliability in order to be equivalent. Equivalence as a equality of exchange value in which its a negotiation of entity. Even narrowing down the scope of term equivalence leaves large rooms for competition of conceptual notions.. Commutation is a method of discovering textual equivalents. Equivalence postulate is to ask not whether or not the two texts are equivalence but what type and kind of translation equivalence. It is that equivalence occurs under certain circumstances.

First Homework Questions on Translation – 8.25.16

In searching for a recently translated book on the New York Times’ Book Review, I came across a page that reviewed ‘This Should Be Written in the Present Tense,’ by Helle Helle (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/books/review/this-should-be-written-in-the-present-tense-by-helle-helle.html). The reviewer describes the relation of the original text to the translation mainly in regards to tone and style, saying “Helle’s prose, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken, is at once frank in its directness and elusive in its selective ­economy”. The reviewer accounts for and acknowledges the original style of the book when talking about the translation. The reviewer mainly speaks to the original text, highlighting and offering the storyline while talking about the style in which it is written. The reviewer also speaks to the quality of the translation, suggesting that Helle Helle should further pursue translations of future works due to the success of this one. Much of the discussion between the two works (translation and original) doesn’t seem to occur. The reviewer seems to mainly speak to the book as a whole, instead of differentiating between the two. I wonder if that is an indication of the translation as being very closely relatable to the original text in regards to voice, syntax, style, and prose. The review seems to follow a very commonplace review to that of a novel that wasn’t translated, which begs the question of whether or not the reviewer truly took time to acknowledge the differences in texts.