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CULTURE SPECIFIC ITEMS AND RELATED TRANSLATION

STRATEGIES
The structural view of language as consisting of elements that could be defined both
syntagmatically (showing affinities) and paradigmatically (showing substitutability within the
system) has affected agreement on the unit of translation. Admittedly, scholars speak of sentence
and sentence lower-level components (phrases, words) as the unit of translation when
applying translation procedures and of whole texts pertaining to translation methods.
The most influential study seems to be Vinay and Dalbernet (1958) to which several
authors make constant reference (Newmark, 1988). For our current purpose, only a checklist of
translation procedures is useful:
1.
literal translation, further subdivided into word-for-word and one-to-one
translation – the primary meaning of the word gains overall importance alongside with the
norms of the SL grammar. Therefore, the procedure is useful as a draft translation since
there is no 1:1 lexical or grammatical correspondence between the two languages.
Literal translation is further subdivided into word for word translation and one to one
translation. Word for word translation can be accounted for when dealing with simple
sentences.
Ro.
El merge la birou in fiecare dimineaţă.
Engl.
He goes to his office every morning.
The procedure seems to be more productive when two languages belonging to the same
family are involved. Formally, English makes a distinction between the simple and the
continuous aspect (with progressive value); hence there is no exact correspondence between the
following sentences:
Ro.
El merge la birou acum.
Engl.
He is going to his office now.
This is not a singular occurrence; some other example concerns the use of phrasal verbs
in English, which have no direct grammatical counterpart in Romanian and in French. One to
one translation does not consider words in isolation, dealing with collocation and derived
meanings.
Engl.
make a decision
Ro.
a lua o decizie
2.
transference / emprunt / loan word / transcription / adoption / transfer
posits the problem of necessary and fancy borrowings from the SL into the TL; as suggested
by the name, the procedure implies the direct transfer of a word from the source language into
the target one.
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and stylistic specifications. naturalisation is concerned with the compliance with the target language phonological. kilt. the names of products are translated: computer – calculator in Romanian). whenever there is a high degree of cultural correspondence: Engl. 4. ţuică etc. bacalaureat. Romania  kulturems: cowboy. namely the cultural. 3. There is also an almost complete adaptation to the phonological specifications in Romanian. morphological. Papa Ioan Paul al II-lea. Ion by Liviu Rebreanu. liceu. Pope John Paul II. România – Romania (Engl. a kind of universal currency to which different labels are attached.   toponyms (apart from those which are already translated and enjoy wide circulation: Bucureşti – Bucharest (Engl.)). When the translator resorts to transfer. The following categories are often transferred in translation:  anthroponyms – except the names of historical figures and of classical authors which are anglicised: Engl. meci. For example. Compaq (nevertheless. names of periodicals: Adevărul. horă.de –Leu  brand names: McIntosh. Ro. giving rise to a doublet as far as kulturems (culture-specific items) are concerned. respectively. Dolj. Cuza Street. feedback is transferred in Romanian and French being doubled sometimes by retroacţiune and rétroaction.  titles of books and films which have not been translated and acknowledged as such: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. A level or graduation exam. For example. Richard-Inimă. functional or descriptive equivalent. Craiova.). The Times.Loan words are motivated in the case of lexical and cultural gaps. whisky. cultural equivalent – the recognition of similar cultural values within the two cultural frameworks. Ro. with different brand names in different countries.I. A special mention concerns the names of parity products.  addresses: 13 A. Ro. Facultatea de Drept 2 . it is defined as a rough approximation of a culture-specific item or kulturem in the source language. fotbalist At the morphological level. which are transferred. Michael the Brave. high school. there is no word for snow in tropical Africa and no word for heat in the polar region due to their weather conditions. the terms can be determined by the definite article –ul. s/he can complement it by another procedure. Law School.

Ro. in Romanian the adjective is preposed only in emphatic structures). NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) 9. the number of morphosyntactic changes in translation is hard to define. One possible generalization concerns the position of adjectives (in English the adjective is generally preposed. nursery rhymes / silly rhymes / mother goose rhymes is equated to poezioare or cântecele pentru copii de vârstă preşcolară in Romanian. Engl. kind/nice person. which are provided indirect equivalents via the change of the referent. puny effort. cricket and Encyclopaedia Britannica mean for the British what cyclisme and Larousse mean for the French. implies the neutralisation of kulturems. For example. Carosabil umed Engl. No smoking. efort mic 8. Îmi face plăcere să lucrez cu tine. this definition resembles the ones encountered in explanatory dictionaries (a noun phrase). bilingual / lexical synonymy – intended to capture specialization of meaning. 7. Proaspăt vopsit. NATO shift / transposition – the procedure comes into play at the morpho-syntactic level. persoană amabilă. through translation / calque / loan word – mostly concerned with the translation of the names of international organizations: Engl. We shall focus on the following examples: Engl. Wet paint. Working with you is a pleasure. Morpho-syntactically.5. Ro. Yet. What is interesting is that / The interesting thing is that / The interest of the Ceea ce este interesant este faptul că / Interesant este că 3 . For instance. 6. Comisia Europeană. Ro. descriptive equivalent – provides an explanation for the term belonging to the source language. functional equivalent – the focus is finding culture-free items. Slippery when wet Fumatul interzis. matter is that Ro. Ro. Engl. European Commission.

effect → cause: Engl. 4 . He shut the door in my face. a dormi sub cerul liber. an unmarried one. birth-control pills. Mi-a trântit uşa în nas. anticoncepţionale. girlfriend. kinetoterapie 13. [±adult]. 4. 3. a young. For example. a female child. formerly. . a daughter: My wife and I have two girls. from birth to full growth. the latter if there is further need for clarification.10. abstract → concrete: Engl. occupational therapy Ro. din scoarţă în scoarţă reversed perspective: Engl. componential analysis (CA) – the search for semantic primes or primitives (semes) in the attempt to find the proper equivalent.. the lexeme girl: . esp. pars pro pars: Engl. [+female]. from cover to cover. Ro. You are quite a stranger. 1996) reduction and expansion – the former if the information seems redundant or recurrent. Prioritate de dreapta compensation – omission of some irrelevant or inappropriate information at the moment of decision may be supplied later in the translation and vice versa. to sleep in the open. 2. Ro. 12. Ro. sweetheart.is defined as 1. Nu te-am mai văzut de mult. sometimes Offensive.is described as: [+person]. immature woman. Yield right of way Ro. a grown woman 5. modulation – implying a change of perspective (the two languages seem to partition reality from a different point of view):      11. Ro. they imply a quantitative difference in translation: Engl. pars pro toto: Engl. (The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language.

Engl. Facultatea de Litere . 15.meals: In UK and in Romania. may be defined as explanation or restatement. Engl.14.) . 16. or. the following elements are adapted in translation: . in a narrow sense. Nevertheless.50 ml. but there are different recipes. Intrarea liberă adaptation – presumably. Engl. paraphrase – the practice is encouraged only if the translator finds it impossible to cater a single equivalent word / phrase. cartiere rezidenţiale 5 . Ro. mile. The Faculty of Letters. applies to idioms.social life: Engl.names of institutions that cannot be equated directly: Ro. four o’clock in the afternoon. Ro. Ro.oz.7 fl.patru după amiaza. . the most difficult problem for the translator to solve as there is no correspondence of situation in the two languages (the referential base is not secured). equivalence – the term is restricted to the idiomatic use of language. Ro. kilometru. leghe. soup is served for lunch. residential areas .grevă în care se încetineşte ritmul muncii (Ro.units of measure: Engl. there are cases when no optimal equivalent is found as for example: a go-slow (En. Roughly speaking. 1. to standardised language in order to be functionally adequate. Open to the public.). Ro. to use an umbrella term. literature recommends that paraphrase should be the translator’s last resort. . . proverbs. Engl.