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In the early phase of translation studies contrastive linguistics played a

major role. Independent translation studies or, indeed, translatological
approaches were rare because translation theory had not evolved as an
independent area of scholarly research. Such research was usually seen as
belonging to the realm of linguistics until Wilss in 1977 published his
programmatic book which later was published in English (The Science of
Translation. Problems and Methods, 1982).
In his earlier work Wilss was influenced by French representatives of
stylistique compare; Vinay/Darbelnet (1968). He makes frequent use of the
notion of transposition or shift. Transposition and shift are still used to
describe the translation process, the idea being that the need for transpositions or
shifts arises when there is no formal one-to-one correspondence between source
and target language structures.
The basic concept is that whenever there is a need for transposition, we
are faced with a translation problem. For instance if we have to translate an
English sentence such as:
(1) The spelling of catalog/ue is divided, with the shorter form gaining.
There is no way Romanian syntax allows us to imitate the English
construction. We could therefore translate by transposition.
Contrastive approaches to translation would point out such transpositions
or shifts and translation textbooks would collect them systematically with a view
to providing help for translators in difficult situations. Some go one step
further and formulate language-pair specific rules for the translation of certain
syntactic or lexical phenomena, e.g. with plus participle is best translated into
German by the use of a wobei plus finite verb subordinate clause.

Although this approach seems to be rather obsolete from a functionalist

point of view it is still popular.
Implicitly, such approaches are based on the assumption that normally one
can (and should) imitate syntactical structures and semantic-lexical distributions
fairly closely and that it is therefore important to learn about the exceptional
cases where this is not possible. A large amount of international research has
been, and still is, devoted to contrastive studies of this kind, contrasting and
comparing specific areas of language pairs systematically with the ultimate
target to provide a contrastive grammar which will provide rules for
Most recent contrastive studies, however, are well aware of the difficulties
encountered in such an approach and introduce functionalist principles into
contrastive approaches.
Text Typology
The first step in a new direction was small but important. Katharina Rei
in her book Mglichkeiten und Grenzen der bersetzungskritik (1971) still
adhered to the principle of preserving the original function of the source text but
she based her contrastive approach not so much on lexical and syntactic units
but on text-types. It is significant that she did not base her semantic analyses on
traditional models but applied the so-called organon model of the Austrian
psychologist Karl Bhler to translating. According to him the linguistic sign has
three basic functions: it is a symbol of extralinguistic reality (representational
function), it is a symptom of the senders attitude toward the described reality
(expressive function) and it is a signal which stimulates responses from the
recipient (appellative function). Bhlers notion of a threefold function of
language was adapted by Reiss for translation purposes. She talks of the
predominant functions of texts which she labels as (1) content-focused texts
such as news items, business correspondence, official documents or manuals, (2)
form-focused texts which mainly include literary genres such as novels, plays

and poetry, and (3) appeal-focused texts such as advertising, satirical prose,
pamphlets or election speeches.
Rei text types are based on the notion of dominance or hierarchy. She is
aware of the fact that content-focused texts may have sometimes very
obvious formal features. For instance, business correspondence is marked by
a large number of politeness conventions. Also, it is hard to imagine formfocused texts without any content, and appeal-focused texts, such as advertising,
may use formal (sometimes poetic) devices to market a product. For Reis it is a
question of dominance. There is dominance of content over form or form over
content or appeal over both form and content.
By focusing on (high-ranking) text-types, Rei introduces (lower-ranking)
variables into translation. Whereas in traditional contrastive studies words and
phrases are defined as translation units, for Rei the preservation of text types
becomes the aim of translation. Consequently, lower-ranking parts of a text may,
indeed, must be changed if this is the only way to preserve the text type. This
is particularly obvious with the appeal-focused text-type, e.g. in advertising.
In order to appeal to readers and potential customers, publicity for
products often plays with their prejudices and associations. GARDENA garden
tools, for instance, are produced in Germany and their advertisements underline
the technical sophistication of the products. In advertisements placed in the
British press, GARDENA poked gentle fun at the German pedantry and
attention to detail in the manufacturing of their products. Conversely,
advertisements for British products such as AFTER EIGHT MINTS or SIR
WINSTON TEA in Germany play on British snobbery and conservative
Words and phrases may or must be changed if the translation wants to
achieve the same appeal as the source text.
Mutatis mutandis the same principle obtains in the translation of the
expression-focused and information-focused text types: information and appeal

are less important in expression-focused passages of this text type than the
preservation of the expression focus, e.g. rhymes, imagery and alliteration must
be preserved when translating poetry. When translating information-focused
text-types, however, (e.g. Business English, manuals), the information must be
preserved, even if this means that in certain passages appeal- or expressionfocus may be lost.
It is easy to underrate or, indeed, criticise Rei pioneering work with
hindsight and from a modern functionalist or relevance-oriented (see below)
point of view. Seen in the context of its time, it was a major step forward in
introducing more flexibility into translation by moving away from a rigid system
of contrastively defined equivalences.
By making the dominant text type the basis for translation-related
decision-making processes, Rei firmly established that there is no absolutely
correct translation of individual words or phrases out of context. At the same
time she provided her readers with methods and approaches to textual analysis
which helped them to define this context in a more detailed way.
It must be seen, however, that Rei, when discussing the translation of her
text types, does this with a view to preserving the function of the source text.
She is aware of the fact that there are changes of function through translation,
but she essentially sees them as exceptions. So the focus of her approach is still
on the source text.
In 1978, Hans J. Vermeer, then professor at the Faculty of Applied
Linguistics in Mainz/Germersheim, published an article entitled Ein Rahmen
fr eineallgemeine Translationstheorie (A General Framework Theory of
Translation). It marked the beginning of a new approach to translation studies
which later became known as functionalism.
There is no functionalist school in the sense that the concept was worked
out programmatically, but other scholars have contributed to developing the

functionalist approach among them Hans G. Hnig and Paul Kumaul and
Christiane Nord (then University of Heidelberg).
Hans Vermeer went one decisive step further than Rei. He placed
translation firmly in the context of sociolinguistic pragmatics by declaring that
translations must be seen as acts. Texts, according to Vermeer, are produced for
defined recipients and with a defined purpose. This general principle also
obtains for translations they are special cases of text-bound pragmatic acts.
One of the key words to understanding his approach is information
offered, which means that the source text should no longer be seen as the sacred
original, and the purpose (Skopos) of the translation can no longer be deduced
from the source text but depends on the expectations and needs of the target
readers. In order to translate successfully, the translator has to get acquainted
with the specific situation of the recipients of his/her translation in the target
Vermeers ideas have become widely known under the label skopos
theory. The Greek word skopos stands for the purpose of the translation which is
basically decided on by the translator. S/he may be held responsible for the
result of his/her translational acts by recipients and clients. In order to act
responsibly, however, translators must be allowed the freedom to decide in cooperation with their clients what is in their best interests.
The most comprehensive discussion of Vermeers ideas can be found in
the book he wrote in collaboration with Katharina Rei under the title
Framework Theory of Translation (1984). It is probably the most influential
work in translation studies quoted and referred to by both friends and foes of this
framework theory of translation. Skopos theory and functionalism focus on the
translator, giving him/her both more freedom and more responsibility. S/he can
no longer refer to rules of the kind developed by contrastive approaches, and the
traditional notion of equivalence becomes obsolete to those who have adopted
Vermeers ideas.

At the same time translating is described in far more complex terms than
before. Translators do not just apply linguistic rules, nor is translation a purely
linguistic activity. Knowledge and methods from other disciplines, notably






physiology are integrated into translation studies (seen from this angle, Mary
Snell-Hornbys important book Translation Studies. An Integrated Approach,
published in 1988, can be seen in this context of skopos theory and
It is not surprising that Vermeers ideas have been attacked and
occasionally misunderstood. He has been accused of advocating arbitrariness
and a disregard for the value of the source text. In actual fact, he never
maintained that the purpose of a text should always be changed in translation.
He is aware of the present tradition of literary translation in Western cultures
where a literary text remains embedded in the source culture. Indeed, his
approach is far from dogmatic.


Even in the eyes of those scholars who generally adopted Vermeers
ideas, two questions remained open, both connected with the actual decision
making processes involved in translating:
(1) How can we make sure that translators base their decisions for a
certain translation-skopos on intersubjectively valid criteria, thus defending
them against the above-mentioned criticism of acting arbitrarily? This question
was addressed by Christiane Nord.
(2) Is it enough to provide a framework theory of translation, should
there not (at least for didactic purposes) be a more detailed account of
translation relevant decision-making processes?

It is significant for the functionalist approach that we talk about strategies

and not about rules or principles. Translation theory must provide support for
decision making strategies, but it cannot and must not establish rules instead of
decision making. Therefore, the principle of the necessary degree of precision
was proposed as a guiding line (for a discussion cf. Snell-Hornby, 1988: 44ff.).
The word necessary, of course, again emphasises the fact that in functionalist
approaches there can never be absolutes what is necessary depends on the
function of the translation. I shall illustrate this principle by giving a few
examples from Hnig and Kusssmaul (1982: 58ff).
When we are faced with institutional terms such as bachelors or
masters degree, grammar school, comprehensive school, county council,
House of Lords etc., there is no equivalent institution in the target culture, and
we have to paraphrase or explain the meaning of the term, but we often do not
know how much information to give our target readers. Is a short paraphrasing
enough or should we add a sentence in brackets or even insert a footnote? Nor is
it sensible to advise translators to tell their readers everything about the
cultural background of these terms and concepts. There has to be a cut-off point
where translators can safely say: This is all my readers have to know in this
But how to find and define it?
The principle of the necessary degree of precision is by no means limited
to culture-specific terms and indeed not to the meaning of words alone, but it
can best be illustrated by this type of translation problem. For instance, the term
public school implies such a large amount of culture-specific knowledge that it
is impossible to render its meaning completely in a translation. Within a
functionalist approach, however, the function of a word in its specific context
determines to what degree the cultural meaning should be made explicit. In a
sentence such as:

(2a) In Parliament he fought for equality, but he sent his son to Eton.
The translation will have to be different from translating the identical term
Eton in the sentence:
(3a) When his father died his mother could not afford to send him to Eton
any more.
The following translations would be sufficiently detailed:
(2b) In Parlament milita pentru egalitate, dar pe fiul sau l-a trimis la una
din scolile englezesti de elita.
3b) Cand a murit tatal lui mama lui nu si-a mai permis sa-l trimita la o
scoala privata costisitoare/scumpa.
Of course, there is more factual knowledge implied in the terms Eton or
public school than expressed in the translation, but the translation mentions
everything that is important within the context of the sentence, in other words,
the translation is semantically precise enough.
This is, of course, not only true for cultural terms. Practically all lexical
items contain several semantic features and it depends on (verbalised) co-textual
or (implied) contextual information which of them is activated. There is a very
illustrative example provided by Barclay et al. (1974) and quoted by Hrmann
(1981). The word piano has (potentially) several semantic features: HEAVY,
however, a person hears or reads the sentences:
(1) The man lifted the piano (HEAVY).
(2) The man smashed the piano (WOODEN).
(3) The man tuned the piano (SOUND-PRODUCING).
(4) The man photographed the piano (BEAUTIFUL).
The verbs in turn activate one of the various features which make up the
meaning of piano. The first sentence activates the feature HEAVY, the second
activates WOODEN, the third SOUND-PRODUCING and the fourth
BEAUTIFUL (Barclay, et al., 1974: 476; Hrmann, 1981: 139).

To return to the examples: if the translation was focused on the British

education system, in explaining to laypersons the difference between public and
state schools, one might consider translating public school in a very detailed
way, perhaps adding an explanatory footnote. If, however, the translator can
safely (i.e. on an informed basis) assume that readers are familiar with British
cultural terms and concepts, s/he could well leave Eton untranslated or
rather, decide to translate it with Eton.
I have now suggested four different translations for one word and that
is, given other, defined functions of the translation there would probably be
two, three or four more. This is exactly what makes the functionalist approach to
translation in general (and translation quality assessment in particular) so
frustrating for its critics: there are no absolute rules, only strategies; there is no
correct translation for any one word, only an acceptable one.
This does not mean, however, that by choosing a functionalist approach
you can justify a mistranslation. Thus a translation such as:
(2c) In Parlament milita pentru egalitate, dar pe fiul sau l-a trimis la
scoala la Eton.
would not be precise enough and would have to be classified as
unacceptable. The feature elitist, which is implied in the term public school
and which is made prominent in the original sentence by the context, cannot be
deduced from the translation by the Romanian reader. Unless, that is, the
translator can provide evidence that his readers are familiar with the concept of
Eton (e.g. if the translation is going to be published in an anglophile and erudite
I shall now return to the first question asked about the functionalist
approach and provide the answer given by Christiane Nord (1993). According to
Vermeers framework theory, one could argue, any skopos convenient to the
translator could be chosen by him/her for his/her translation. But writes Nord
(1993: 17ff) there is no absolute freedom for the translator because his/her

choice is limited by what is accepted in any given society as a translation. These

cultural traditions and conventions define what degree of resemblance must
exist between a source text and its translation in order for it to qualify as a
proper translation.
It is for this reason that Nord introduces the concept of loyalty. Acting
loyally as a translator means taking the responsibilities seriously which
translators have not only with regard to their clients and users of their
translations, but also with regard to the author(s) of the source text. Authors
expect translations to have the features translations have in their cultural
traditions, but they are usually in no position to check whether translators work
in accordance with these norms. A loyal translator will therefore inform his/her
client and/or user if this is the case and s/he will not consciously violate these
norms and traditions without informing the author(s). In other words: the skopos
of the translation must be compatible with the intentions of the source text
author(s). If they are not, it is the translators duty to inform his/her client
Functionalist approaches have become popular in translation studies. The
didactic value of functional approaches lies in the fact that they support
decision-making strategies. They steer a clear middle course between vague,
unreflected maxims for translators like One should translate as precisely as one
can and freely when the need arises and absolute rules. Functional approaches
give translators the guidelines they need for their decisions. As we have seen
from the discussion of the examples, however, there are no simple rules.
Translators should be able to start a chain of reflection, as it were, and see
the links between the textual item, the immediate context, the larger context, the
function of the source text and the function (or skopos) of the target text in its
target cultural situation.


As noted by Bowker and Pearson (2002:28), Because LSP users have










communications. Some specialized subjects will be more easily accessible

to the translator than the others, depending on the complexity of subject
knowledge and the intricacy of conceptual interaction. Some apparently
densely packed texts (conceptually) may often turn out to be an accumulation
of Language Specific Purpose terms linked by Language General Purpose
words, and knowledge of what the terms refer to will often suffice for an
adequate translation. On the other hand, subjects relying on the development
of complex lines of reasoning (e.g. mathematics, quantum physics) may
prove inaccessible even when armed with appropriate terminology, due to the
conceptual organization. Bowker and Pearson remind us that there is a
difference between knowing/learning and subject and knowing/learning the
LSP used to discuss the subject (2000:29). They advocate use of specific
corpus to develop domain-specific expertise.
To be competent to translate texts from some domains, the translator may
require a degree of formal training in the subject (e.g. law), since breakdowns
in communication may entail serious consequences (financial or diplomatic).
For example, culture specificity of the system and its operating principles (a
countrys legal system) may mean that there is no TL concept to express a SL
principle or process. Documents intended to carry equal status in law in
source and target cultures (contracts, patents), will require expert knowledge
of the two systems. However, for translation for informative purposes only,
and also sometimes for highly formulaic documents attesting to simple
information (e.g. birth certificates), careful research (expert corpora) should
generate sufficient understanding to enable the translation to be completed

Domains which may appear to be based on specialized knowledge may in

fact be more accessible to a wider public, thanks to mass media
communications and a general intention by the media to educate the
viewing and reading public, who, as a result, have become more aware of
specialist concepts in fields which interest them. National broadsheets often
carry quite specialized reports on the environment, telecommunications and
IT, the finance industry (shares, loans, credit, investment, and banking), cars,
health, sport, etc. Readers do not usually consider these as specialized texts
but in so far as specialized labels (terms) are required to discuss and
understand the domain, there is a degree of domain-specificity. Translators
who read widely and regularly in the quality national press will acquire
passive awareness of a number of subjects, which can form the basis for
further research. Being aware of the degree of subject knowledge that can be
assumed to be held by the target language addressee is another key factor,
and this can be determined by careful analysis of the translation brief,
including the intended source of publication of the TT; consider the
difference in reader knowledge between readers of a text on a similar subject,
to be accessed via the internet or the weekly press.
For example: the subject of the following extract from an advertisement
for broadband, although a specialized domain, is widely familiar to readers of
the UK broadsheet, THE INDEPENDENT. Special effects include direct
address, rhetorical questions, use of CAPITAL letters, and listing of names of
other companies. The text type is advertising, the communicative function
appellative, and the subject is semi-specialized. This is just one example of
how specialized subjects have become common-place.
Notice how you didnt have to wait for all these words to load?
You just turned the page and there they were. Now why arent web pages that
Thing is they can be, if you get your broadband (T) from us.

Only VIRGIN Media use fibre optic cable (T) to deliver broadband (C) and its
widely available across the UK.
Youll find everyone else BT, TalkTalk, Tiscali, Orange, Sky
(intercultural references) all use copper telephone wire (T) and thats been
around for a hundred years.
The truth is, copper wire wasnt designed for the internet.
The Independent, 03.02.08

Language competence, as Neurbert put it, remains a sine qua non of
translation, and it is more than a commonplace to point out the extreme value of
the mother tongue knowledge and skill, often grossly underestimated by the
translation student; also, alas, by the practitioner and last but not least, by the
commissioner of a translation (Neurbert, 2000:7). While, theoretically, nearperfect knowledge of both L1 and L2 is required for quality translation work, in
practice, the mastery of ones mother tongue is nearly always superior to ones
proficiency in a foreign language.
This is the reason why, for instance, a major translation service such as
that of the European Commission and of the European Parliament distinguishes
between L1-L2 and L2-L1 translations and selects its personnel accordingly.
Christiane Nord made it very clear that her model for a translationoriented source text analysis should be valid for both directions, i.e. translating
into as well as out of the translators native language (Nord, 1991:1-2). Indeed,
it could be argued that many of the errors present in the translations made by
non-native speakers could be eliminated should the translator take the necessary
steps, obtain the brief, identify the translation problems in the source language
text and solve them using the proper tools. However, it is our belief that, when
working into a foreign language, certain aspects definitely require a specific

Strategies for Approaching Informative Texts

First and foremost, translators must never lose sight of the fact that, to
quote the same Nord, what the translator can do, and should do, is to produce a
text that is at least likely to be meaningful to target-culture receivers (Nord,
1997:32). What happens in actual practice, however, is that the translators
confronted with the challenge of working into a foreign language revert to what
they believe to be a safety mode, striving for maximum inclusiveness and
implicitly for linguistic equivalence. Thus, they eventually come to dilute the
core message of the source language text to render it highly ambiguous, buried
under a heap of useless or irrelevant linguistic material.
The following press release was posted in England on the official site of the Romanian
government, accessed on 09.17.2007).

Statement by Prime Minister about the election of the new patriarch

of the Romanian Orthodox Church
I am convinced that through the election of Metropolitan Bishop Daniel as
Patriarch, the Romanian Orthodox Church can reaffirm once more its
important role as moral landmark of Romanian conscience. It can affirm
more its role in the important social projects it has undertaken over the
years. I am glad that it has thus succeeded a very smooth passage which
was necessary with respect to the election of the new patriarch, although I
cannot but express a certain disappointment, seeing the attempts which
have been made lately to politicize this important moment, in which the
entire political milieu ought to get involved to an even lesser extent.

We see that in this case, the intelligibility and readability of the text were
not compromised by grammatical and lexical errors, but rather by the pursuit of
a literal and detailed rendering of the original. Structure like moral landmark,

landmark of Romanian conscience, it has thus succeeded very smooth passage

which was necessary with respect to the election of the new patriarch, and in
which the entire political milieu ought to get involved to an even lesser extent
seems clumsy and out of place. It may have been preferable to speak about the
church as a provider of moral and spiritual guidance, about the PMs happiness
with this prompt and uneventful election of the new patriarch, and about his
desire to see less political involvement in such an event. It is here that Grices
maxim of manner, which advocates clarity, lack of ambiguity, brevity, and
orderliness becomes highly significant. Also relevant in this context is his
maxim of relation, which advises us to render the target text in such a way that
the reader may disregard irrelevant detail and recognize those elements which
belong to the primary ideational structure. Of course, any formally trained
translator knows that unless otherwise required by the brief, he or she should
pursue a functional equivalence between the source-language text and the targetlanguage text, rather than a linguistic equivalence between the two. Translators
must take into account that when working into a foreign language the
imperatives of clarity and economy of means must be given an importance at
least equal to that of functional equivalence. In point of fact, considering the
unavoidable loss incurred in the case of L1 to L2 translations, the safety mode
is not a literal rendering of the source language text, but a clear, simple,
straightforward rendering of its core message. Thus, according to Rice, If a
topic and its discussion (its essential substance) are fully represented in a
translation, the translation must be considered satisfactory (Reiss 2000a:29).
A significant body of specialized literature is available today in order to
persuade translation students of the fact that the loss of certain elements in
translation is less of a disaster than the production of a complex, ambiguous and
ultimately unintelligible message. As Nida himself pointed out, Messages
differ primarily in the degree to which content or form is the dominant
consideration in some messages the content is of primary consideration, and

in others the form must be given a higher priority (Nida, 2000:127). Nidas
observations were taken one step further by Reiss, who classified texts as
informative, expressive and operative1.
According to Reiss, in the translation of informative texts, unity of content
should take precedence over all other considerations (unless otherwise required
by the translation brief). Second, it could be argued that when working into a
language other than their mother tongue, translators unless truly confident that
they are capable of handling stylistic material in the target language should
programmatically seek concision and clarity of message at the expense of style.
Romanian into English translations chiefly specialized literature in the
humanities and nonfiction books has shown that more often than not the
unacceptable elements in a translation were precisely those that did not belong
there in the first place.
Example: Fragments from a statement made by the Romanian Prime
Minister and posted on the official site of the Romanian Government
It is an ambitious project which we want to start and hope to be able to
materialize next year so that all pupils up to high school might extend
this program for the high school too to have a computer to help them in
the education process, to open them new horizons towards knowledge.
Since today, computer has become a wonder of technology; it has become
a working instrument in all the spheres of social economic activities. We
want to allow them access to internet communication, because we are
convinced that this shall represent an important advantage not only on
todays educational process but also in their future training

The category of informative texts would include press releases and comments, news reports,

commercial correspondence, inventories of merchandise, operating instructions, treaties, specific

documents, educational works, non-fction books of all sorts, essais, treaties,theses and specialized
literature in the humanities, the natural sciences and other technical fields.

By and large, we could say that usually the elements that were worst translated
may have been easily dispensed with from the very beginning, or replaced by a
clearer and simpler paraphrase. In the case of scientific texts, the situation is
further worsened by the fact that the Romanian scientific style favours verbose
structures and a complex syntax, either by convention or in the belief that a
simple, straightforward statement of ideas might somewhat be interpreted as a
sign of intellectual simplicity. In English, however, the situation is the precise
opposite. In point of fact, Neurbert and Shreve mentioned that Source texts
may be unclear, ambiguous, verbose, and poorly organized, asking the question
whether the translator should or should not correct such failings. The answer,
obviously, has to do with the priorities set by the translation brief and with the
type of text under discussion. For informative texts of the kinds discussed above,
and especially when they are translated into a language different from the
translators mother tongue, we believe that clarity and economy of means are
advisable if not downright mandatory.
There is just one caveat which needs to be mentioned here. Speaking of
natural translations, translations that read easily in the target language, Nida
pointed out that some translators fall into the error of making a relatively
straightforward message in the source language sound like a complicated legal
document in the receptor language by trying too hard to be completely
unambiguous (Nida, 2000:138). Indeed, while explaining out in the target
language a piece of informative material that was rather tortuously or
ambiguously expressed in the source language is definitely a recommended
strategy, one must not disregard the fact that economy of means is more
important for the clarity of a demonstration than a minute and detailed
presentation of all of its components.
Regarding the necessity of cultural adaptation, one particular aspect
related to this issue has to be highlighted here situationality broadly

understood as the location of a text in a discreet socio-cultural context in a real

time and place (Neubert and Shreve, 1992:85), often disregarded by translators.
The element in question has to do with the place of text reception. It would be
preferable to discriminate between US and UK spelling and vocabulary when
working for one or the other of these language communities.
Other Intratextual Elements
In what concerns sentence structure, simplicity is advisable when working
for instance, from Romanian (L1) into English (L2). As a general rule, English
favours shorter, clearer sentences, especially in informative texts. As this is
hardly ever the case with similar Romanian texts, translators must develop the
skill of breaking the message into smaller, less ambiguous units, and of resorting
to strategies such as paraphrasing or fronting in order to simplify sentence
structure and make the message more clear. The systematic recourse to simple
subject-verb-object in the spirit of the English language is advisable (in the
translation of informative texts) when the translator is not a native speaker of



Functionalist approaches consider translation as a form of deliberate

communicative action, for a fixed purpose, to communicate information in a
written document to a new group of addressees in a target culture, drawing on
Action Theory and the link between intention of the actor, the perception of the
object of the action, and the form of communication chosen. The purpose or
skopos (Vermeer 1984) of the target text, together with awareness of the
presumed knowledge of the target language addressee (concerning source
culture and the subject of the text) will guide the translator in making decisions

about how much of the ST to carry over to the TT, whether or not further
explicitation will be needed, and how best to achieve this. This principle is
equally applicable in any translation situation, regardless of the genre and type
of text. Adopting a functionalist approach to translation should lead to
production of a functionally adequate text, that is, a text which is fit for the
purpose for which it was commissioned (which is detailed in that translation
brief provided by the client).
Reiss (1984) sketches a basic taxonomy of text types, in terms of their
communicative function of a text which will both set up expectations as to its
structure and use of language, and act as the basis for translation decisions. For
example, if a text is primarily appellative (e.g. advertising) but also contains
factual information (e.g. advertisement for a car), then where translation
decisions involve resolving a clash of priorities, the primary function will take
precedence. Other scholars (Nord 2005) use the label text type to denote the
genre or type of communicative event (letter, newspaper report, official bulletin,
Neubert (2000) describes key attributes of a competent translator. These
include language and cultural competence, subject, textual and transfer
competence, all of which add up to an overall translation competence.
Language competence for specialised translation will assume basic native
speaker fluency in SL and TL (ST interpretation and TL production).
Cultural competence will integrate awareness of previous key texts on a
subject and associated culture-based institutions, as well as familiarity
with the relevant body, or bodies, which regulate the domain and the
sharing of information within this.
Subject competence relates to a degree of familiarity with domainspecific concepts, processes and objects, and their interaction with a
knowledge structure.

Textual competence is often overlooked in favour of the other five subskills, and yet this is an integral element of any translation task, not least
for specialised translation. This is about knowing HOW to organize
WHAT in the written text, to be discussed in our consideration of text
type conventions.
Research skills include the ability to search for useful sources to inform
the translation process, and thus include the subject of Corpora.
For would-be translators of specialised texts, the challenge is to identify the
minimum degree of awareness, familiarity and knowledge necessary for
adequate understanding and transfer of the message, in the most appropriate
forms (cf. Neubert and Shreve, 1992: discussion of Standards of Textuality:
acceptability and intentionality).

Culture-Specificity and Text Type Conventions

Communication is a culturally defined activity, often conventionalised through
repeated refinement of practice, in order to achieve maximum clarity and
economy, through the application of patterns of text production and use of
language which both conform to reader expectations and serve to embed even
further these patterns in the collective archive of expectations.
In considering culture-specificity of behaviour, the following definition
may be useful: culture is the values, attitudes, beliefs, artefacts and other
meaningful symbols represented in the pattern of life adopted by people that
help them interpret, evaluate and communicate as members of society (Rice
Texts are described by Chandler (2002) as a collection of signs, and as
complexes of signs which cohere both internally and within the context in and
for which they were produced.
Texts are sub-sets of genres, which are exemplars of communicative
events in a given culture. Writing about the culture-specificity of genres and

their normative effect, Schaffner also notes the need for a translator "to produce
the TT as an instance of the genre for the target culture." Culture specificity in
texts is described by Nord in terms of cultural references to people, places,
institutions and intertextual references. This concept also applies in relation to
formal conventions for macro-textual features: organisation of informative
content or development of an argumentative process. The translators awareness
of how culture shapes text production and content is fundamental to successful
target text production:
The translator is not the sender of the ST message but a text producer in the
target culture who adopts somebody elses intention in order to produce a
communicative instrument for the target culture or a target culture document
of a source culture communication.

For specialised translation, the primary communicative function is usually

informative, as text producers seek to share information about the specialised
domain of activity with others, usually their peers (equivalent level of expert
knowledge) but also sometimes with a wider public (for example through
specilized reports in the press, on television or radio). Information is delivered
through use of correct labels for concepts, objects and processes (terminology
and collocations) and this is often perceived as the major, or indeed sole,
translation challenge. However, in addition to accurate transfer of informative
content and correct use of terminology, the translator will need to understand
how the (written) information should be articulated in the target language
because, being culture-bound communicative signs, both the source and the
target text are determined by the communicative situation in which they serve to
convey a message (Nord).
Texts-in-culture tend, over time, to adopt ever-more standardised or
conventionalised ways of presenting the message, otherwise known as text type
conventions. These will guide and determine a range of text production criteria,
including structure and organisation of macrotextual features (chunks of
information), syntax, style, register, use of punctuation, lay-out, etc.

Communicating intentions, attitudes, facts

Domain specific communication often involves particular use of syntactic
forms to signal communicative intentions, which can be described using the
concept of Speech Acts, for example: to declare, promise, forbid, give or deny
permission, or to indicate obligations, possibility, conditional actions, warning,
emphasis, inter alia. In English these may be realised as follows:
Declare: declare, state, affirm, reiterate, emphasize; promise: pledge,
swear, promise, commit to, future simple (we will do this); forbid: is
forbidden, cannot be done, will not happen; give or deny permission:
the service provider may increase the rental charge, subject to prior
notice/provided that (conditions) the lesser is given advance notice of
this intention; the tenant may not alter the current state of decoration
of the premises without prior permission of the owner; obligations;
bills must be paid by the first of the month; tenants are required to
give the months notice of intention to terminate the contract; notice
shall be given of any changes made to the vehicle; the employee
shall give one months notice of intention to leave the employment.
Possibility, the new Act may also encompass regulations on the
subject of additional payments for renewal of ...;
Warning, if bills are not paid by the due date the tenants will incur
additional costs; non-payment of bills will result in prosecution.

In conclusion, producing an adequate translated text will include

consideration not just of terminology and encyclopaedic knowledge,
language and conceptual structure, but equally important, of text type
conventions, as deviation from expected forms will impede the smooth
flow of message reception.



Translation is a complex and intellectually challenging process, and all those

who commission and edit translations need to familiarize themselves with it.
While the catch-phrase lost in translation highlights the pitfalls, difficulties,
and potential insufficiencies of the translation process, we wish to emphasize
from the outset that successful communication through translation is possible.
Moreover, translation is a creative force: it enriches the target language by
introducing new words and the concepts and conventions that go with them.
The Specificity of Social Science Texts
Are social science texts sufficiently distinctive to warrant an approach to
translation distinct from that used for natural science texts (texts in chemistry,
physics, mathematics, and the like) and technical texts (instruction manuals and
the like) on the one hand and literary texts on the other? We believe they are.
Texts in the natural sciences and technical texts resemble those in the
social sciences in that they require of the translator an intimate knowledge of the
subject matter at hand. However, since the natural sciences deal primarily with
physical phenomena and their measurement, lexical choices tend to be cut and
dried, ambiguities rare. Natural science texts would seem, then, possible
candidates for machine translation. Insofar as certain sub-categories of social
science texts approach the technical nature of natural science texts documents
issuing from governmental agencies, for example they too may lend
themselves to machine translation.
While literary texts thrive on specificity of style and manner of expression
social science texts do not as a rule depend for their meaning and impact on the
manner of expression, though notable exceptions do exist: some social science
texts historical narratives, for instance come close to literature.

Generally speaking, however, literature privileges nuance, social science,

clarity. In literature ideas and facts are created by and in the text; in the social
sciences they come from outside. Both are culture-specific, though social
science texts frequently more so than literary texts, many of them depicting
interactions among cultures.
Social science discourse is also distinctive in that it communicates
through concepts that are shared (or contested) within a specific community of
scholars or groups such as governmental/non-governmental organizations
sharing common goals. Concepts tend to take the form of technical terms, which
in turn tend to be culture-specific. Their specificity may be linked to the period
in which they originate as much as to ethnic or ideological characteristics. They
may also implicitly incorporate historical assumptions. Straightforward
dictionary translations of such words may thus fail to convey subtle
differences in meaning and mislead the reader. Thus in Romanian compromis
can imply a negative connotation absent from compromise in English. The
resultant inter-referentiality demands that the translator be familiar not only with
the subject matter of the text but also with the broader field of meanings through
which it moves. Social science translators need to know the language of the
discipline or organization they are dealing with (its jargon, its givens, its
historical background) as intimately as the natural languages involved in both
source and target languages.
To what extent should a social science translation strive to reproduce
the distinctive rhetoric and style of the source?
Although there can be no absolute answer, the question raises a corollary
one, namely: how much of the meaning of a social science text is conveyed by
form? If the form is lost, is not something of the content lost as well? Here much
depends on the genre and the author. Journalism and popularizations derive
much of their impact from their means of expression. In general, however, the

translator will be seeking a middle ground between clarity and distinctiveness of

The manner in which ideas take shape and find verbal expression differs
from culture to culture. Derrida has gone so far as to posit that only numbers can
be translated without considering the cultural and historical baggage involved.
As a rule of thumb, however, the translator should stretch the stylistic confines
of the target language as far as they will go to reflect the peculiarities of the
source language, and stop just before the result sounds outlandish in the target
language. In other words, the translation needs to be comprehensible, but need
not read as if it were written by a social scientist in the target culture. The goal is
to make the text as plausible as possible in its own terms.
Pitfalls of Social Science Translation
Correcting the text. Although translators function to a certain extent as editorsthey clarify the text and make it acceptable to a new audience- they must not
attempt to correct what they perceive to be errors in the text. If tempted to do so,
they would be advised to introduce any disagreements they may have with the
original in a footnote or a translators introduction, which should be as objective
as possible and take the form of explanations rather than argumentative
commentaries. Translators may feel free to make tacit corrections of minor
errors on the order of spelling mistakes in toponyms.
Levelling stylistic peculiarities. The spirit or genius of a language influences
the ways its users write. Common knowledge has it, for example, that English
syntax favours shorter sentences than do many languages. A translator working
into English may therefore be moved to turn a complex, highly polyvalent
French text, for example, into a text of short, transparent sentences. But
concision is not a value in itself, even in English. While manuals of English
language style may prescribe optimum sentence lengths of ten words and
proscribe sentences of more than twenty as convoluted, English can in fact
accommodate much longer sentences. Careful attention to syntax (and the

concomitant precise use of punctuation) makes it possible to reproduce longer

sentences without violating the spirit of the English language. Translators must
keep in mind that syntax bears a message. Its message may not be as direct as
that of, say, terminology, but it does influence the way we perceive and unpack
an argument. It may therefore even be advisable to go farther and allow a note of
foreignness to enter the translation, without, again, disrespecting the structure
of the target language.
Altering the method of argumentation. Just as the spirit of a language influences
the ways in which its users write, so the intellectual tradition of a culture
influences the ways in which its users think and formulate their arguments.
While translators must try to preserve the quality of the source languages
concepts and argumentation when it differs considerably from those of the target
culture, they must also avoid going so far as to make the author sound foolish.
Examples of such a difference on the ideological level (analogous to the issue of
complex sentences on the stylistic level) are
1) argumentation from the particular to the general (the inductive method)
vs. arguments from general to the particular (the deductive method), and
2) the empirical approach (deriving knowledge primarily from sense-data or
experience) vs. the speculative approach (deriving knowledge primarily
from contemplation and ratiocination rather than observation).
False friends. Translators need to be on the lookout for words that take the same
form in two languages but have different meanings in each: Eng. sympathetic vs.
Rom. simpatic (which means likeable, nice). They are often loanwords (also
called calques), such as Fr. pick-up (which means record player).
Conceptual false friends. A related but more insidious danger is the conscious or
unconscious tendentious translation of technical terms, especially when they are
conceptual false friends.* Globalization may be leading to an increasing
consensus on the meaning of technical terms, but false conceptual cognates still
exist. A literal translation of the state, for example, may give rise to

misconceptions due to discrepancies between Western-based concepts of the

state, which refer either implicitly or explicitly to Webers definition, and
conceptualizations of the state by authors engaged in a critical reading of
Western social science as applied to the social institutions of non-Western
countries. What looks like international terminology may therefore be
deceptive or, in extreme cases, an attempt to impose meanings from one culture
on another. A word like democracy, which would seem to offer automatic
equivalents, may turn out to require an explanatory footnote or -if it affects the
way the reader is to view a concept throughout a work or article- a translators
Conceptual false friends may also develop over time, because the
semantic content might change while the form -the word itself- remains the
same. Such is currently the case in former Communist countries. Thus the
Chinese word, commonly translated as peasant(s) in Communist texts, may
now be translated as farmer(s) to reflect the new economic situation.
Sometimes the issue is more complicated.
Wordiness. Social science texts in most languages tend to be wordy. One way to
deal with the problem in translations is to cut grammatical words:
in order to facilitate implementation > to facilitate implementation
the reforms which have been recently introduced > the recently
introduced reforms
Inconsistent terminology. Generally speaking, a key term that occurs more than
once should be translated by the same word each time, but the translator must
first determine whether the meaning is in fact the same. If it is not, the translator
may choose another word, but the decision must be a conscious one. To foster
consistency, translators may create a personal glossary of key terms as they
work through a text.
Period-specific language. To guard against linguistic and cultural anachronism,
translators must rely on their awareness of differences in thought and convention

between the time the original was conceived and the time the translation is
taking place. For example, they should refrain from imposing politically correct
language retroactively.
Dealing with Technical Terms
Social scientists who introduce new concepts usually express them in words or
phrases devised expressly for the purpose. (Bourdieus capital culturel and
Webers protestantische Ethik are typical examples). If widely accepted, they
become technical terms. The concepts and the terms that convey them are often
highly culture-specific. Their specificity may depend as much on the period in
which they came about as on ethnic or national factors. Moreover, they are
likely to become conceptual false friends, that is, even in one and the same
tradition they may come to mean different things to different authors.
Since the prevalence of technical terms is one of the prime distinguishing
features of social science discourse, translators must take special care not only in
rendering them but also in making their audience aware of them. Although no
blanket solution will cover all instances, the two time-honoured approaches to
devising equivalents for technical terms are
1) accepting the term as a loanword, that is, borrowing it outright (for
example, using Eng gulag (for Russian gulag < gosudarstvennoe
upravlenie lagerei state camp administration) and
2) providing the term with a loan translation as in eng political instructor for
Russian politruk.
Both approaches produce words or expressions that initially sound strange, the
former because they are in a foreign language, the latter because they force the
target language into the mould of the source language. But languages have
accepted and naturalized borrowed words and loan translations from time
immemorial. English was enhanced by untold borrowings from the French after
the Norman Conquest, and it has continued to absorb foreign words to this day.

As for loan translations, how many English speakers realize that the expression
to kill time is a loan translation from the French tuer le temps?
In either case, translators will want to use a footnote when they are
introducing a term they have invented or when they wish to replace an accepted
term with one of their own. They do not need to footnote terms that appear in a
medium-sized monolingual dictionary of the target language (The Concise
Oxford Dictionary or Websters College Dictionary). Thus, gulag would not
require a footnote, but political instructor would. It might read as follows: We
are using the term political instructor to translate politruk, a portmanteau word
derived from politicheskii rukovoditel political instructor. It refers specifically
to a Party official assigned to provide soldiers in the Soviet armed forces with
ideological guidance. A footnote for a term like the Fr grandes coles (which
translators would most likely leave in French in the translation, that is, they
would translate it as a loanword rather than as the great schools, given that
the word cole figures in the names of all the schools at issue) might read: The
grandes coles are the premier institutions of higher learning in France and
include the cole Normale Suprieure, the cole Polytechnique, the cole
Navale, etc.
Footnotes should be spare and to the point. Comments of a discursive or
interpretive nature belong properly in the translators preface. Footnotes can also
serve to identify and elucidate puns and wordplay, proverbs, literary or general
cultural references, etc. They should, however, explain only what is clear to
source language readers but not to target language readers. Furthermore, they
are not the only way to clarify a term. For example, the translator may insert an
unobtrusive word or two by way of explanation. If readers of a text translated
from the French can be expected to perceive from the context that the grandes
coles are French institutions of higher learning but not necessarily that they
stand above the rest in prestige, the translator might inconspicuously insert a
word of explanation: the prestigious grandes coles.

Occasionally the need for footnotes may be attenuated by the inclusion of

the source-language term after the translation in parentheses. Let us return to the
use of political instructor as the English equivalent of Rus politruk. If, again, the
context surrounding the term makes its connection with the armed forces
sufficiently clear, the translator may put it in parentheses in the original after the
translationpolitical instructor (politruk)thereby both indicating its status as
a technical term and signalling its provenance to members of the reading
audience who happen to be conversant with the term in its original form. But it
is not advisable to fall back on such a device frequently because it might turn
into a crutch. It might also undermine confidence in the translators ability.
Technical Issues for Translators and Editors
Punctuation follows the conventions of the target language.
Reproduction of toponyms follows the conventions of the target language: Rus
Moskva > Eng Moscow. Street names appear in the original language, though
the words for street, avenue, etc., especially in languages generally unknown to
the culture of the target language, are translated: Fr Rue de Rivoli > eng Rue de
Rivoli (not Rivoli Street), Sp Avenida de la Constitucin > eng Avenida de la
Constitucin (not Constitution Avenue), Rus Nevskii prospekt > eng Nevsky
Prospect, but Rus ulitsa Gorkogo > eng Gorky Street.
Newspaper and journal titles appear in the original language: Le Monde, The
New York Times, Renmin ribao, Pravda. Book and article titles also appear in
the original language, but are followed by a translation in parentheses.
This holds equally for titles in the text proper and in footnotes. Capitalization of
titles follows the conventions of the language of the title or of the translation of
title, thus: Le Contrat social (The Social Contract), Literatura i revoliutsiia
(Literature and Revolution).
Local units of measurement are followed in parentheses by a conversion into
the metric system: fifty miles (eighty kilometres), a hundred mu (sixty-seven

hectares). Local monetary units are to be preserved; no conversion need be

Names of institutions generally appear in the original language -cole Normale
Suprieure, British Council, the duma -unless conventional translations exist
(White House > Fr Maison Blanche) or the translation tradition of the target
language dictates otherwise. Names of institutions may also be translated,
preferably only the first time they appear, when the literal meaning is necessary
to make a point.
Foreign words used by the author are generally retained (and followed by a
translation should the translator deem it necessary). If the foreign word is in the
target language (for example, if the author uses an English word and the
translation is into English), the translator will want to indicate this by placing the
word in italics or in a footnote.
N.B. This rule does not apply to loanwords that have earned a place in
the target language (like the word marketing in French, Russian, and
many other languages).
References to words and titles in writing systems differing from that of the
target language must be transliterated. Translators should use the standard
transliteration system when one exists. Some systems, such as the Chinese
pinyin Romanization, have been adopted by virtually all languages; other
systems, however, are language-specific. The Library of Congress system (see
Barry Randall, ALA-LC Romanization Tables. Washington: Library of
Congress, 1997) is becoming the standard for transliteration into English, but
not into French, German, Spanish, etc. When the transliteration system is
language-specific, the translator must convert the system used in the source
language to the system used in the target language. (Thus what appears as
Tchernobyl in a French text will appear as Chernobyl in its English translation.)
Sometimes the situation is complicated by the fact that two systems co-exist, a
popular one used primarily for names and toponyms (as in the personal or city

name Gorky) and a scholarly one used for lexical items, titles, references, and
quotations (Gorkii). Translators in doubt as to the proper system to apply
should consult the local translators association.
When the author quotes a passage from a source written in the target language,
the translator must reproduce the original passage, not translate back from the
authors translation of the passage. If the author has not provided the reference,
the translator must search for it, using the relevant data bases, or query the
author. In addition, the translator must render all bibliographical references in
footnotes according to the scholarly conventions of the target text.
The main reference works for the translator are monolingual dictionaries of the
source and target languages. Bilingual dictionaries are useful in two instances:
1) when the translator knows what a word in the source language means but
cannot momentarily come up with the equivalent in the target language, and
2) when the translator has learned from a monolingual dictionary that the word
is a plant, animal, or the like, that is, when equivalence is likely to be one-toone. Thesauruses provide more synonyms than even the most complete bilingual


Terminology studies the labelling and denoting of specific concepts to one

or more domains by researching and analyzing terms within a context so as to
promote a correct use, a norm.
What do we mean by economic terminology?
Technical terminology refers to the specialized vocabulary characterizing
a profession, or some other activities to which a group of people dedicate
significant parts of their lives, or sometimes even a slice of an industry.
Sometimes terminology is improperly labelled as jargon. In its early history,
linguists considered terminology as a mere marginal discipline, showing a single

orientation towards an aspect of the vocabulary of a language. In time, together

with the society evolution, with the progress of sciences and techniques,
terminology changes from a discipline having just a practical aspect, into a
theory ever more interesting and appealing to linguists. Due to the theoretical
concepts it operates with, and thanks to its study object, terminology creates an
interesting link between linguistics and exact sciences.
Technical terminology was the result of the need of experts coming from
a certain area to communicate precisely and concisely, having sometimes the
undesired effect of excluding those unfamiliar with the specific language of a
certain group. This may produce difficulties and misunderstandings, for instance
in the case of patients that can hardly or cannot understand at all the medical
vocabulary, and therefore there own state or the indicated treatment. Difficulties
may also come up when experts belonging to different area of activity that are
still connected, use different terms to denote the same phenomena and
processes. On the other hand, the term jargon may and most of the times it really
happens to bear pejorative connotations, especially referring to business
The rapid development of commerce, international relations, accounting,
management, the more refined organizational systems contribute daily to the
apparition of new specialized economic terms. Thus, within this general label of
economic language there are a lot of specialized financial, banking, accounting,
marketing, planning, administrative terms, just to mention some of them.
For the present Romanian language, the economic vocabulary represents
an organized assembly of terms continuously growing and developing. The
economic technique requires some principles according to which the
terminology of different branches and area subordinated to this science should
be precise, accessible and united.
The importance of studying issues in the economic field seems
indubitable. It is the correct and adequate economic terminology that greatly

decides for a correct communication, and the proper understanding of technical,

organizational problems, the effective communication among specialists, the
employer-employee, manager-manager, successful relationship, and even the
winning business. The investigation domain we are approaching now is
terminology with practical use for economy, meaning conceiving specific
terminologies, term graphical registration of information as databases,
dictionaries, lexicons, specialized encyclopaedias, etc.
There is a linguistic aspect of the economic vocabulary that is of great
interest for the common language. Specialists of a certain area need a
specialized vocabulary to properly communicate about notions and concepts
specific to their field. Anyway, they do not live isolated from the other speakers
of the language, and thus many professional terms come to be used frequently
and to be included in the common language in time. Some other times, the
process proves to be mutual and many items belonging to the common language
may penetrate to specialized vocabulary.
All these changes happen as a result of some linguistic processes:
terminologisation, reterminologisation or the semantic transfer.
A means of creating economic terms: terminologisation
Terminologisation is a linguistic process meaning that a word or
expression of the general language is turned into a term denoting concepts in a
specialised vocabulary. The advantages of this process rely in the fact that the
term is concise and easy to remember, enabling speakers to accept it easier,
growing its chances to be accepted and largely used. The disadvantage is that,
starting from an initial meaning, most of the times by means of a metaphor, its
new usage and meaning may bring about ambiguity.
Terminology actively contributes to the creation, accumulation, synthesis
and generalization of knowledge about the essence of things, phenomena and
processes in nature, society and mind. In time, terms of a language change: the
significant may vary, the meaning may evolve. In order to be capable of

rendering the essence of the new technologies, techniques etc. any language
needs new resources and means of expressing, besides neologisms and
international words. These new resources may come from inside the language.
We could also add to these the strongly effective character of some common
words, subjected to terminologisation offering them a wider meaning with
obvious fluctuating limits and having an extremely comprising applicability.
That explains also the polysemantic character of the newly created terms
motivating their ability to belong to the active vocabulary of the Romanian
language. These words coming from the fundamental lexis are given
terminological context within a scientific context, an economic context in this
particular case, they become new units bearing new meanings, elements of a
different dictionary, not the general one.
The economic terminology has been developing tightly connected to
society. Consequently, it often appears to the common language in order to meet
the time imperatives. A great deal of lexical units of the common usage adapts
themselves to the new functional situation, it gets new meanings - or it is
terminologised - so as to express economic notions, concepts.
For example:
- The common item fluidity state, characteristic of what is fluid has got
an entry in the specialised dictionary as well meaning notion used to
characterise the situation when the offer easily adapts to supply and
The common vocabulary is enriched with words taken from the
specialised vocabularies, which, in their turn find in the common vocabulary a
source that will be offered specific meaning in the respective domains. This
process of terminologisation of some lexical units of the common vocabulary is
a complex semantic phenomenon with multiple aspects based on two semantic
mechanisms that change the meanings of the lexical units - metaphor and
metonymy. The lexical unity of the common language becomes specialised

penetrating the economic language. The new lexemes are settled by entering the
specialised lexicographical works (the economic dictionary). Getting a new
meaning, the word expands the semantic sphere and the functioning potential.
To conclude, we mention that terminologisation, generated by different
word combinations, represents an important place in developing the specialised
lexis and the common one, turning the rigid language of sciences into a vivid,
moving language, spotlighting some areas of vocabularies less studied.

The semantic transfer - new valences of economic terms

The semantic transfer is the process by means of which a term that already
exists is used to denote another concept as a result of a logical extension.
When referring to the economical terminology we refer to changing the
semantic content of the term according to the economic field. What is worth
mentioning is that both the initial meaning and the new valences got after the
semantic reinterpretation receives a status of semantic- functional independence.
Here are some examples: the lexical unit distribution repartition functioning
initially in the terminology of arts, the technical terminology (DEX) is also
attested in economy: totality of economic and organizational actions so as to
direct and transmit goods and products from producer to consumer (DM).
In non-economic context: the distribution of parts in a movie (casting). In
economic context: product distribution. Other examples: operation (medicine,
mathematics, economy), value, etc.
Being used in different context and activity domains, terms suffer several
changes, leading to the appearance or to the developing of multiple meanings.
We could conclude that the economic terminology obtains more and more
elements from other languages, enriching it, and semantic transfer is extremely
useful for the language as it reduces the non-motivated terminological

Inter-Disciplinary Borrowings
Most of the changes that may occur in any language are extra-linguistic: the
evolution of the society, the use of the most modern means of communication
and information, the complexity of the economic relations, just to mention some
of the causes that favored transformations of the Romanian language.
The inter-disciplinary borrowing refers to the phenomenon by which a
term belonging to one domain is attributed to a new concept coming from
another domain, the two domains being associated through analogy (e.g.
memory used both in psychology and computer sciences).
The general vocabulary permanently interacts with other specialised
vocabularies. This is a double way phenomenon: on one hand it is a
specialization of words belonging to the usual vocabulary so as to gain the
status of terms, and, on the other hand, the specialised terms become useful for
the common language. This migration process from a specialised area to the
general, common use is called determinologisation and the gain is a richer
literary language, it becomes more colourful and full of linguistic expressivity.









determinologisation the process of updating the economic terms and of

including them in different functional styles or registers of the language.
As a conclusion we can say that this process reflects the general tendency
of enriching the literary language greatly using the other specialised domains of
the language.

Types of Metaphors in the Business Media Discourse

A major criterion that governs conceptual metaphor classification is the degree
of conventionality with which one particular mapping is associated.
It is relevant to aproximate how well worn or how deeply entranched a metaphor
is in the usage of a linguistic community.

The following metaphorical samples are highly conventionalized in both

respects; most English speakers would find the following expressions as natural
and ordinary language used in connection with money:
1. The stock prices of the Japanese megabanks are high, but the profits are
2. McGraw-Hill Q4 Revenue Climbs 13,2 % as Margins Slide.
3. Dollar Declines As Investors Await Fed Rate Decision.
4. Currency Drop Doesnt Mean Crisis.

Conceiving of the value of money in terms of directional movement is a matter

of convention, popular with experts in the field and non-expert people alike.
Such linguistic expressions representing the conceptual metaphor THE VALUE
metaphors that have become conventional tools in the financial reporting toolkit.
As there are both conceptual metaphors and their corresponding linguistic
expressions, conventionality/lack of it may manifest itself at either the
conceptual or linguistic level, or both.
Unconventionalized metaphorical expression can also be spotted in the media
business discourse.
Consider the examples:
1. Born January 1, 1999, the euro had a gestation period of about six years.
It is a big baby, taking its place with the dollar, pound, and numerous other
world currencies. As with any new commercial birth, it will take years of actual
experience to sort out the intricacies.

2. Moreover, it says, notes have a short life: they circulate fast and furiously,
and quickly turn to shreds.
=> Money IS A Person; significant elements in the birth or life schema get
mapped via metaphorical projection.
As for novel conceptual and linguistic metaphors, no one would expect business
discourse to be their recipient; the following examples are however by no means
1. Maybe, but the euro is the alarm clock that woke us up.
2. After a miserable performance in the first two years, at least in terms of the
exchange rate, the single European currency seems to have confirmed its yearend recovery against the dollar.
3. Euro-illusion; a natural experiment.


The use of metaphor to extend our concepts in science is a tradition; legends

include Bohrs model of the atom based on the solar system analogy. Metaphor
is vital to the modeling processes that pave the way for scientific research and
Metaphors are widely present in economic discourse. The fragment below
remarkably illustrates the emphasis laid on metaphors with a didactic purpose in
mind; the ensuing explanations further specify the analogy:
Let us consider the roles that are necessary for encouraging
entrepreneurship in the firm. First, each innovation in an
organization begins with an idea champion. This is an
employee who generates an idea and retains responsibility

for developing that idea in the organization. Often, the idea

champion with expertise power is a technical or professional
employee with few management responsibilities. The idea
champion recognizes a problem and generates a solution.
For each idea champion, there must be a sponsor who
nurtures the new concept and applies organizational
resources to the increasingly disruptive and expensive
development of the idea. The sponsor, who may be from
another department, lends his positional power (and perhaps
his reputation) to the idea, project, process, service or
product in question. The best sponsors are former or current
idea champions. They are employees who like to innovate
and who tolerate pressure to be innovative.
For the new concept to succeed, the organization must have
employees who occupy the role of orchestrator or
godfather. This individual handles all of the political
obstacles surrounding the commercialization of the product,
service, etc. He is often the president or general manager
who has the authority to say: Were going to develop this
concept. The godfather makes resources available, gets
people working together and builds coalitions which help
convert non-believers. The best godfathers were once idea
champions and sponsors themselves.

The creation of the special roles noted above is not sufficient to sustain
entrepreneurship and innovation in the large organization. The organization
must also create horizontal coordination mechanisms which protect innovation
teams from outside interference. Galbraith calls these islands for unencumbered
creative thinking reservations or greenhouses.

The bolded phrases were all bolded in the original version of the text
(Organisational Behaviour, by Robert Deily, an MBA course book). This
printing emphasis foregrounds the metaphorical expressions that- facilitate
comprehension and enhance memo ability, assist the expert reader in the
learning process, although similar other metaphors have been inserted in the text
(nurtures, orchestrator, islands, etc.)



Legal translators rely on translatorial procedures and practices that are not
so widely different from the ones used in general translation practice. However,
the distinctive quality of legal texts is now widely acknowledged in translation
studies and most authors agree that, as the translation of legal texts is confronted
with such a high incidence of extra-linguistic issues, the legal translator
frequently has to adopt special strategies to suit the specificity of legal
translation problems. Knowledge and awareness of both the difficulties of legal
translation and of a set of dedicated strategies to cope with them is a key
requirement for the legal translator.
The process of translating a legal text into a foreign language is littered
with a series of various obstacles, which may be divided by type. Obstacles in
translation are likely to be posed first by the comprehension of the legal text
itself, which may be hampered, on the one hand, by syntactic and stylistic
peculiarities of legal texts, and , on the other hand, by the level of competence of
the author of the text and, consequently by the clarity and accuracy of the text.
Secondly, problems caused by differences in cultures are more tightly related to
the ideational content of legal texts. It is a well-known fact that the legal

translation as such poses many problems due to the differences in legal systems
from one country to another. Among these problems, that of terminological
equivalence, more specifically the lack of correspondence between legal terms,
is one of keen current interest.
While selecting the appropriate strategy for the problem at hand, the legal
translator is guided by a number of criteria, among which prevail the functional
ones, i.e., purpose and use of the source and target text, recipients, author intent,
intended legal effect, the very fine distinctions made in contrastive terms
between different text genres and types, but also by the degree of divergence
established between the legal systems involved and the context of translation
(e.g. translation within a single national legal framework, within a bilingual or
multilingual framework, or in a supernatural framework). This functional
orientation is relevant not only for the selection of the overall strategy applied in
translation, but also for the lower-level translating decisions made in drafting the
target text with regard to microstructures (terminology, sentence organization,
stylistic features), as well as text format and layout.
Strategic Decisions and Translation Techniques
This outline is based on the study of two text types and situations of
translation, namely the translation of a Romanian law (Legea privind societatile
comerciale - Business Corporation Law) in English and French, Commissioned
by the Romanian Ministry of Justice, published in a bilingual compendium and
posted on its official website; and the official translations into Romanian of a
European Union directive (Council Directive of 11 December 1986 on the
application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged
in an activity, including agriculture, in a self-employed capacity, and on the
protection of self-employed women during pregnancy and motherhood) and of a
regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 23/97 of 20 December 1996 on
statistics on the level and structure of labour costs), undertaken by a state

institution charged with such official translation of European Community

legislation, Institutul European din Romania.
One of the most traditional translation strategies is literal translation, a
remnant and a corollary of traditional approaches to translation. Literalness has
been the subject of much debate over the faithfulness and loyalty to either the
letter or the spirit of the law, over transferring the form rather than the
substance. Literal translation implies the close maintenance of the wording of
the text and of all its constituent elements; words, order and syntax. According
to some authors this strategy has the status of a default value, and Chesterman
maintains that one only needs to deviate from literal translation if for some
reason or other it does not work. No one can deny that literal translation has its
usefulness, especially between cultures that have similar or related legal
systems, but the point that translators should only bear in mind is that they must
always be alert to the situations where literal translation does not work.
If we admit to the usefulness of literal translation in certain cases, then the
question to be answered is which cases are appropriate for literal translation.
Literal translation is actually advocated in a number of cases by both translation
theorists and lawyers. The approach adopted for the translation of legal
documents produced within the framework of a single national legal system is
usually literal, since the translated text has the status of a parallel text, a gloss,
and has no validity of its own until it is officially transcribed or legalized in the
legal system of the target culture. Within this framework, a special case is that of
sworn translations and of translations that are to be presented as court evidence,
for which, most of the times, a strict literal approach, almost bordering on
interlinearity, is prescribed. A sworn translation must be completely transparent
and literal to the point that it also reproduces the omissions and mistakes that
may be present in the original document.
If we take into account the criteria of both text type and function of the
translated text, then the common trend is for authentic versions of national,

international and supranational legislation to require absolute literalness,

whereas legislative texts translated purely for information purposes, i.e., for the
information of foreign businessmen, investors, lawyers, etc., may be translated
somewhat more freely. Since their purpose is to offer information about the
source legal system, such cases argue in favour of a more idiomatic translation,
one that is easily comprehensible, so that the foreign reader can benefit from it.
In spite of a widening margin of creativity allowed for secondary
European legislation, intertextual correspondence still seems to predominate in
Community translations. This is partly due to the requirement of uniform text
formats across languages within the European Union. However, another reason
that favours literalness is the relative simplicity of the terminology. In trying to
eliminate some of the problems presented by the different national concepts,
approaches and terminology, of the different legal systems, the European Union
managed to create entirely new concepts with corresponding new terminology.
Thus, gradually, a special language, labelled Euro-legalise, is being generated,
which is apt to make the translators task much easier.
The original texts of both the directive and the regulation are the French
versions. Consequently, the Romanian translation can undertake a literal
approach with impunity, without sounding awkward or stilted. The reason is that
French and Romanian are Romance languages and rely on similar syntactic rules
and structures. Moreover, a large number of Romanian legal terms and
expressions were borrowed directly from French, which only urges the translator
to resort to a literal approach. The Romanian translation fares better compared to
the English one. Nevertheless, both translations are perfectly comprehensible
and accurate, their syntax is not overly complicated, and they make the
necessary syntactical and terminological adjustments and adaptations, if
Things are not so good with the translation of the Romanian law into
English and French. The two translations are made for information purposes

only, and the foreign language versions have no legal validity on the Romanian
territory. Being documentary translations, according to Christiane Nords
typology, they are allowed, in theory, a wider creativity margin, and could easily
lend themselves to idiomatic translation. Moreover, they can accept a certain
degree of explanation and paratext, since their purpose is precisely this: to make
known and explain the law to foreign readers. However, the two translated
versions do just the opposite, adopting a very strict literal approach, often to the
point of incomprehensibility and ungrammaticality. This is much truer of the
English than of the French version, as the close relatedness between and French
facilitates the rendering into French.
A great number of the syntactic structures of the English translation are
unnatural and visibly superimposed on the Romanian word order and sentence
structure, frequently verging on ungrammaticality. It makes use of too many
embedded phrases and clauses, as well as of nominal structures that are
uncharacteristic for English. The text abounds in grammatical mistakes (e.g.,
are bond to instead of are bound to). Lexical or terminological mistakes are
also frequent, especially those due to false friends, i.e., asociat translated by
associate (associate implies a subordination relation in English, and not
persons enjoying equal status and equal rights in a corporation; the appropriate
equivalent is partner in this context).
The French translation follows the same literal approach, but due to the
close relation between Romanian and French legal languages, the French text is
much more comprehensible than the English one.
One strategy is closely related to literal translation is calque, which refers
rather to close translation of terminological units, whereas literal translation
implies close rendering of a whole syntactic unit, so it covers both the lexical
and syntactic unit. Calque is also a form of borrowing although not in the sense
that the original items are preserved, but only the structure, the arrangement
principle. This is translating lexical word for lexical word, and making

adjustments of prepositions, endings, and other grammatical features if

Calque certainly proves in many cases to be not only a legitimate and
feasible technique in legal translations, but sometimes, the only appropriate or
possible way. Calques are, as a matter of fact, widely used in the translation of
the names of the international organizations: e.g. Le Conseil de LUnion
Europeene The Council of the European Union Consiliul Uniunii
On the other hand, the translations of the Romanian law in English and
French show a surprising number of examples of unwarranted calques where
they could easily be supplanted by appropriate functional equivalents. Calque is
an obvious and easy solution that does not require much effort on the part of the
translator. However, there are certain conditions that limit the use of calques.
One of them is that the calqued combinations may take the place already
occupied by other terms, being thus the cause of polysemy or homonymy. Some
of these unhappy calques lead to confusion or nonsense (e.g., trading
companies as a translation of societati comerciale is a misnomer, since
trading companies deal exclusively with buying and selling commodities or
securities and other financial instruments, whereas the Romanian term,
societati comerciale, has a much wider scope, including all institutions created
to conduct business of any kind for a profit, which could be successfully
translated into English by the term business firm/company.
Another method used to overcome the difficulty of translating a term or a
concept, which is absent in the target cultures, is finding the functional
equivalent. This is using a target language expression that is the nearest
equivalent concept. This does not imply that the word used rigorously
corresponds to an identical concept, only to an analogous one. Perfect functional
equivalence does exist, but only within the framework of a bi- or multilingual

but monolingual country, where accepted exact translations of legal terms

usually exist.
Although it is one of the most common procedures used in legal
translation, functional equivalence remains very controversial, because
confusion may occur when technical terms of a certain legal system are used as
functional equivalents for terms used in another legal system. On the other hand,
it is a much more economical method, as functional equivalents provide a sort of
access key to the legal value and meaning of the text. Readers can relate much
more successfully to functional equivalents than to literal translation or calque,
which still sound foreign to them.
Functional equivalence is used to a much lesser extent than possible in the
two translations from Romanian. Literal translation is the predominant approach
in these two versions, especially the one in English, which is hardly readable
and appears quite artificial. They certainly do not enlighten much the foreign
reader on the realities and obligations of business corporations. In our opinion,
they could have profited much more from the use of functional equivalents,
which could have afforded a better understanding of the target text than the
calques and the literal translation used: e.g., incorporation instead of setting
up used for constituire; partner instead of associate used for asociat.
However, the translator was put at a disadvantage since she/he could not have
envisaged or predicted the context of reception or the readers. Naturally, that
made the task of identifying the proper functional equivalent much more
Of course, the use of functional equivalents runs the risk of creating
confusion in the target readers mind, but receivers should always keep in mind
that the target language terms used as equivalents for the specific terms in the
original must be understood according to the original concepts, i.e., must be
interpreted in the context of the source legal system, and must not be assigned

target system meanings. One way to avoid this danger is to warn readers and to
make them aware of this, possibly in a translators note.
As a literal translation and calque often prove too difficult to comprehend,
translators may resort to substituting, which implies the use of a more general or
more abstract term instead of the legal term for which no functional equivalent
can be found. Substituting with a heteronym is a strategy which is present in the
text discussed here: e.g., liberat (of debts) paid/actiunea in daune
Sometimes the substitute may also be a hyponym: e.g., sarcini (de care
sunt grevate imobilele) mortgages and other obligations.
The latter procedure, descriptive substitute, is related to that of descriptive
paraphrase since it involves the addition of extra words, that were not present in
the original text, as a sort of clarification of the source language term:
semnatarul nu va putea invoca the subscriber cannot be in a position to
invoke/ motivele recursului written notes which explain the reasons for
the appeal.
Paraphrase is used as an attempt to compensate for conceptual
incongruity. It involves explaining the source language concept. However, its
main disadvantage is its length, and as such, it collides with the conciseness
requirement, typical of legal texts.
Difference in function between source text and translation, as well as text
type, play a crucial role in determining the strategy of a legal translation. For
instance, official versions of laws or treaties require a more close literalness,
whereas legislative texts translate for purely information purposes, i.e. for the
information of foreign lawyers, businessmen or comparative law can be
translated more freely.