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98 10. Equivalence in translation theory W. Koller "Equivalence" is obviously a central concept in translation theory, and much has been written on it. The general consensus nowadays seems to be that it is not helpful to think notion as a uniform one, nondifferentiated. Rather, there are several types
more important than others, some applicable to one type of text and others to other types. Each text needs its own hierarchy ofpriorities. Much
the modern discussion starts with Nida's advocation
against formal equivalence (see the introduction to chapter 9 above). Koller, in this extract from his book (1979), differentiates more types and sets out to clarity some term. The increasing use of computers in linguistic research has an obvious application in, for instance, the study in future. "Text normative-equivalence" (cf. section 3) is obviously linked to the study of text types; see chapter 11 below, which also discusses Bühler's analysis referred to by Koller here. Koller's "pragmatic equivalence" (section 4), with its stress on translating for a particular readership, has close points of contact with Vermeer's chapter 16, below. To Koller's references to studies focusing on literary translation one might also add at least these in English: Brower (1959), Brislin (1976), Holmes (1970), Steiner (1975), Bassnett-McGuire (1980), Rose (1981), Frawley (1984), Hermans (1985). 0. The concepts "equivalence", "equivalent to", "the equivalent" appear in definitions and descriptions of the translation process, particularly in studies with a linguistic or communication approach. Examples are: equivalent elements (Oettinger 1960: 110); equivalent textual material (Catford 1965: 20); as equivalent as possible (Winter 1961: 68); the closest natural equivalent (Nida
the confusion surrounding the
"connotations of frequency"
below), with respect to the both items and
structures in different text types. We can surely expect more studies of this "statistical equivalence"
with respect to level of style (register). proposed in the literature on translation theory: content equivalence (often also: content invariance). must be preserved. The extralinguistic content transmitted by a text. "stylistic equivalence". frequency. or at least that the translation must seek to preserve them as far as possible. bearing in mind these various categories. 2. I call textnormative equivalence (cf. and the picture becomes even more confusing when one looks at the various categories of equivalence that have been 99 stylistic equivalence. The following analysis is an attempt to specify the concept of equivalence more precisely. textual equivalence. functional equivalence. In other words. form. The concept as such does not say anything about the kind of relation: this must be additionally defined. "stylistic equivalence"). The connotations transmitted by means of the word choice (especially where there is a specific choice between synonymous expressions). The requirement of equivalence thus has the following form: quality (qualities) X in the SL text must be preserved. again). communicatively equivalent (Jäger 1975: 36). etc. (a) The concept of equivalence postulates a relation between SL text (or text element) and TL text (or text element). a normative statement is made: there exists equivalence between a given source text and a given target text if the target text fulfils certain requirements with respect to these frame conditions. a maximally equivalent target language text (Wilss 1977: 72). . etc. This means that the SL content. formal equivalence. The mere requirement that a translation should be "equivalent" to a given original is vacuous. function. the kind of equivalence oriented towards this factor I call denotative equivalence (terms commonly found in the literature are "invariance of content" or "invariance at the content level").and Taber 1969: 12). having to do with text-type specific features. Such definitions reveal quite different concepts of equivalence. communicative equivalence. style. The relevant conditions are those having to do with such aspects as content. pragmatic equivalence. 3. The text and language norms (usage norms) for given text types: this kind of equivalence. etc. equivalence of effect. the social and geographical dimension. this is connotative equivalence (cf. Five factors can be argued to play a relevant role in the specification of equivalence types: 1. . style. function. (b) The kind of equivalence relation is defined in terms of the frame and the conditions to which one refers when using the concept of equivalence.
especially with respect to the translation of poetry). The following connotative dimensions are thus relevant for translation (see e. the receiver. even though the language may not always be very economically used in attaining it. 2. etc). it follows that denotative equivalence is in principle attainable. particulary those with what Bühler (1934) called a symptom function. The receiver (reader) to whom the translation is directed (who is supposed to be able to understand the text). Translation as the achievement of denotative equivalence sets translation theory the task of describing the potential equivalence relations between any two languages. together with the textual factors that determine the choice of a given equivalent in any specific case. many to one. the connotative and formal value of the text. With respect to translation equivalence. additional values are also transmitted. metalinguistic aspects. individual stylistic features. this is pragmatic equivalence (cf. since it is here that languages are (or should be) at their most productive (particularly regarding the use of existing or new methods of word formation). . A single denotative meaning can be expressed in various ("synonymous") ways: eat : dine : nosh die : pass away : kick the bucketcomplete : bring to completion we are the guilty ones : the guilty ones are we.4.g. 1. the commonly used term "communicative equivalence"). in order to account for ever-changing and expanding communication needs and aims. to achieve a given effect. "In principle" means disregarding the other factors which play a role in translation (readability and comprehensibility. the term connotative indicates that individual expressions in the textual context. one to zero. one to part) need to be analysed in order that the translation process can achieve referential identity between SL and TL units. although this is admittedly a heterogeneous concept (the literature also refers in this sense to "artistic-aesthetic equivalence". according to the specific means of linguistic expression of the denotatum.g. and to whom the translation is "tuned" in order e. Correspondences of different types (one to many. From the translation point of view. Certain formal-aesthetic features of the SL text. the kind of equivalence that relates to these textual characteristics I call formal equivalence. "expressive equivalence" etc. The central area of concern here is the lexicon (the words and syntagma of a language). do not only have a denotative meaning. and also complex texts themselves. Rossipal 1973. including word play. 100 5.
+ dialect X. + medical). (i) connotations of emotion (+ emotive [i. + plain.Baldinger 1968): 101 (a) connotations of speech level (connotative values such as + elevated. (c) connotations of geographical relation or origin (+ non-regional. (d) connotations of medium (+ spoken language. The achievement of connotative equivalence is one of the hardest problems of translation. and then relate these to the connotative dimensions of a given target language. + vulgar). etc). 3. e. (b) connotations of socially determined usage (+ student language. Wilss (1974:37) speaks of "usage norms" because both SL and TL have certain pre-established schemata of linguistic expression. Further research could examine problematic cases in translations of particular texts.g. focusing on particular lexical and syntactic areas that are connotatively "loaded" (cf. In a similar sense. + descriptive. with the support of stylistic studies). Boecker 1973).. using emotive language to describe a given topic]. + American English. to analyse their features and structural elements. in his discussion of translation criticism. (e) connotations of stylistic effect (+ archaic. 1 A major task of translation theory is to characterize the connotative dimensions of individual languages (e. + euphemistic. instructions for use. etc). + neutral). Legal contracts.e. + normal. + military usage. + ironic. fashionable. + uncommon). + pejorative. -(g) connotations of register (+ normal usage. + written). + poetic. +. this makes it all the more important to set up corpus-oriented studies of individual languages and texts. + pompous. etc). and also the translation procedures involved in the area of connotation. + technical. (h) connotations of evaluation (+ positively evaluative. scientific texts and the like all follow lexical and syntactic norms of both selection and usage (i. + educated class. (f) connotations of frequency (+ common. business letters. + colloquial. + artifical. accepted . + slang.g. + working-class language. and can seldom be absolute.e. norms of style). etc). to translate in accordance with these norms is to aim at textnormative equivalence.
5. and addresses its readers with different presuppositions. by exploiting the formal possibilities of the TL or even by creating new forms if necessary. From this point of view. and hence also interlingually conventionalized to some extent. syntax. Lexis. 102 The description and correlation of these patterns of speech usage in particular text types is an important goal of a translation theory oriented towards two given languages. This may . then. Now.e. obligatory patterns of language usage in a variety of actual communication situations. This kind of research can make good use of the methods and results of functional text analysis. into a form that will reach the intended receivers. and establish the principles and procedures whereby pragmatic equivalence can be achieved. translation theory should analyse the communicative conditions appropriate for different receiver groups in different language-pairs and texts. Heger 1976).g. the expectations that the reader brings to a given type of text. it often happens that a text .or even must . To achieve formal equivalence in a TL text is to produce an "analogy of form" in the translation.e. Reiss (1976: 21) describes this kind of equivalence as follows: It [the translation] orients itself towards the particular character of the work of art. The concepts of "usage norm" and "functional norm" introduce a pragmatic point of view: in observing the usage norms for particular texts one takes account of the linguistic/textual expectation norm. and in fact edited. A translation of a political commentary which sought to persuade the original readers to a particular political action usually has a different function in the target language. a legal text . 4.. means translating the text for a particular readership (see e.g. and they must be correlatable. these norms are basically intralingual. style and structure are manipulated in such a way that they bring about in the target language an aesthetic effect which is analogous to the expressive individual character of the source text.forms of linguistic behaviour and restrictive rules. . i.needs to be translated in such a way that the TL text does not follow the usage norms. because the TL readership is not restricted to a narrow circle of legal experts. In such a case the text must be translated. be comprehensible to them. connotative or even denotative equivalence. where the communicative effect of the translation therefore lies in the TL realization of quite specific performance norms. The achievement of pragmatic equivalence.result in deviating from the requirements of text-normative. taking as its guiding principle the author's creative will. which looks at the functionally differentiated.
translation theory needs to analyse the possibilities of formal equivalence with the respect to categories such as rhyme.every segment of a text. It is an urgent task for translation theory . and also with . 104 . In his study of the translation of scientific and technical literature. metaphor and so on. from this he can derive a hierarchy of equivalence requirements for the text or segment in question.Here. There already exist a large number of individual literary studies of different texts and authors. 6. rhythm. the translator who conciously makes such a choice must set up a hierarchy of values to be preserved in the translation. This in turn must be preceded by a translationally relevant text analysis. word play. Jumpelt (1961: 46) refers with good reason to the empirical fact that "translation carinot guarantee a global. and there are also some general discussions of literary translation such as those of Kloepfer (1967). 103 special stylistic forms of expression in syntax and lexis. Levy (1969) and Savory (1968).to develop a methodology and conceptual apparatus for this kind of text analysis." With every text as a whole. verse forms. undifferentiated preservation of all values. translation always involves the necessity of a choice.and one on which no more than some preliminary work has so far been done . and to bring together and systematize such analyses in terms of translationally relevant typologies of textual features.
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