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




equivalence, some

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


dynamic equivalence

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"

(cf. 2(f)

below), with respect to the both items and

structures in different text types. We can surely expect more studies of this "statistical equivalence"

etc. proposed in the literature on translation theory: content equivalence (often also: content invariance). This means that the SL content. etc. frequency. textual equivalence. The text and language norms (usage norms) for given text types: this kind of equivalence. The relevant conditions are those having to do with such aspects as content. In other words. the social and geographical dimension. form. equivalence of effect. The mere requirement that a translation should be "equivalent" to a given original is vacuous. 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. functional equivalence. Five factors can be argued to play a relevant role in the specification of equivalence types: 1. style. The requirement of equivalence thus has the following form: quality (qualities) X in the SL text must be preserved. communicative equivalence. I call textnormative equivalence (cf. a maximally equivalent target language text (Wilss 1977: 72). again). or at least that the translation must seek to preserve them as far as possible. (a) The concept of equivalence postulates a relation between SL text (or text element) and TL text (or text element). 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"). etc. The connotations transmitted by means of the word choice (especially where there is a specific choice between synonymous expressions). having to do with text-type specific features. (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. must be preserved. function.and Taber 1969: 12). bearing in mind these various categories. The concept as such does not say anything about the kind of relation: this must be additionally defined. "stylistic equivalence"). 2. formal equivalence. . "stylistic equivalence". pragmatic equivalence. . style. 3. this is connotative equivalence (cf. The extralinguistic content transmitted by a text. Such definitions reveal quite different concepts of equivalence. and the picture becomes even more confusing when one looks at the various categories of equivalence that have been 99 stylistic equivalence. function. communicatively equivalent (Jäger 1975: 36). The following analysis is an attempt to specify the concept of equivalence more precisely. with respect to level of style (register).

in order to account for ever-changing and expanding communication needs and aims. the receiver. together with the textual factors that determine the choice of a given equivalent in any specific case. Certain formal-aesthetic features of the SL text.g. 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. do not only have a denotative meaning. one to zero. 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). additional values are also transmitted. Correspondences of different types (one to many. The following connotative dimensions are thus relevant for translation (see e. and to whom the translation is "tuned" in order e. 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. individual stylistic features. many to one. and also complex texts themselves. "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.4. metalinguistic aspects. although this is admittedly a heterogeneous concept (the literature also refers in this sense to "artistic-aesthetic equivalence". the connotative and formal value of the text. 2. "expressive equivalence" etc. The central area of concern here is the lexicon (the words and syntagma of a language). Rossipal 1973. one to part) need to be analysed in order that the translation process can achieve referential identity between SL and TL units. even though the language may not always be very economically used in attaining it. especially with respect to the translation of poetry). . including word play. 1. to achieve a given effect.g. 100 5. etc). it follows that denotative equivalence is in principle attainable. the commonly used term "communicative equivalence"). With respect to translation equivalence. according to the specific means of linguistic expression of the denotatum. From the translation point of view. the kind of equivalence that relates to these textual characteristics I call formal equivalence. this is pragmatic equivalence (cf. particulary those with what Bühler (1934) called a symptom function.

etc). + plain. + military usage. (d) connotations of medium (+ spoken language. e.g. norms of style). and then relate these to the connotative dimensions of a given target language. to analyse their features and structural elements. + poetic. scientific texts and the like all follow lexical and syntactic norms of both selection and usage (i.g. +. etc). + normal. 1 A major task of translation theory is to characterize the connotative dimensions of individual languages (e. using emotive language to describe a given topic]. + ironic. and also the translation procedures involved in the area of connotation. focusing on particular lexical and syntactic areas that are connotatively "loaded" (cf. The achievement of connotative equivalence is one of the hardest problems of translation. + vulgar). (c) connotations of geographical relation or origin (+ non-regional. in his discussion of translation criticism. this makes it all the more important to set up corpus-oriented studies of individual languages and texts. + neutral). + uncommon). to translate in accordance with these norms is to aim at textnormative equivalence. accepted . + colloquial. business letters. Boecker 1973). (b) connotations of socially determined usage (+ student language. + slang. + educated class.e. + euphemistic. + pejorative. + American English. + pompous. and can seldom be absolute. with the support of stylistic studies). (e) connotations of stylistic effect (+ archaic. + medical). Legal contracts.. fashionable. etc). instructions for use. (f) connotations of frequency (+ common. + technical. 3. + written). -(g) connotations of register (+ normal usage.e. + dialect X. Wilss (1974:37) speaks of "usage norms" because both SL and TL have certain pre-established schemata of linguistic expression. (i) connotations of emotion (+ emotive [i. In a similar sense. Further research could examine problematic cases in translations of particular texts. etc). (h) connotations of evaluation (+ positively evaluative. + working-class language. + artifical. + descriptive.Baldinger 1968): 101 (a) connotations of speech level (connotative values such as + elevated.

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.e. by exploiting the formal possibilities of the TL or even by creating new forms if necessary. taking as its guiding principle the author's creative will. 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. The achievement of pragmatic equivalence.g. Heger 1976).g. connotative or even denotative equivalence. 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. which looks at the functionally differentiated. This kind of research can make good use of the methods and results of functional text analysis. because the TL readership is not restricted to a narrow circle of legal experts. these norms are basically intralingual. a legal text .or even must . In such a case the text must be translated. i.forms of linguistic behaviour and restrictive rules. and hence also interlingually conventionalized to some extent. then. Now.needs to be translated in such a way that the TL text does not follow the usage norms. and establish the principles and procedures whereby pragmatic equivalence can be achieved. into a form that will reach the intended receivers. and they must be correlatable. Reiss (1976: 21) describes this kind of equivalence as follows: It [the translation] orients itself towards the particular character of the work of art. where the communicative effect of the translation therefore lies in the TL realization of quite specific performance norms. be comprehensible to them. 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.e.result in deviating from the requirements of text-normative. From this point of view. means translating the text for a particular readership (see e. 4. 5. the expectations that the reader brings to a given type of text. This may . Lexis. and in fact edited. .. obligatory patterns of language usage in a variety of actual communication situations. it often happens that a text . To achieve formal equivalence in a TL text is to produce an "analogy of form" in the translation. translation theory should analyse the communicative conditions appropriate for different receiver groups in different language-pairs and texts. syntax. and addresses its readers with different presuppositions.

translation theory needs to analyse the possibilities of formal equivalence with the respect to categories such as rhyme.and one on which no more than some preliminary work has so far been done ." With every text as a whole. and to bring together and systematize such analyses in terms of translationally relevant typologies of textual features. In his study of the translation of scientific and technical literature. verse forms. from this he can derive a hierarchy of equivalence requirements for the text or segment in question. 6. and there are also some general discussions of literary translation such as those of Kloepfer (1967). It is an urgent task for translation theory . rhythm.Here. Jumpelt (1961: 46) refers with good reason to the empirical fact that "translation carinot guarantee a global. word play. undifferentiated preservation of all values. This in turn must be preceded by a translationally relevant text analysis. Levy (1969) and Savory (1968). 104 .to develop a methodology and conceptual apparatus for this kind of text analysis.every segment of a text. and also with . translation always involves the necessity of a choice. 103 special stylistic forms of expression in syntax and lexis. There already exist a large number of individual literary studies of different texts and authors. metaphor and so on. the translator who conciously makes such a choice must set up a hierarchy of values to be preserved in the translation.

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