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Translation as Process

Source text (ST) the beginning point for the act of translation, the text to
be translated;
Target text (TT) the goal of the act of translation, the text that results from
Source language (SL) the language of the source text;
Target language (TL) the language of the target text.
More authors who worked with a specific linguistic code in some culturally defined context and
had both an audience and certain goals in mind defined the text as a COMMUNICATIVE ACT
MODEL (CAM) to serve as the template for orienting the student in consistently identifying a
minimum set of features crucial to the translation process of any text:
(1) Author(s) (including intention, purpose/goal).
(2) Audience (including the addressee(s) and intended/unintended participants).
(3) Contexts (including referent(s) and the more general socio-historical and
cultural contexts) this category always has two levels of context.
(4) Code (including the language, register, dialect features where relevant, diachronic placement
if other than standard contemporary language).
(5) Message (as content AND as aesthetic).
(6) Channel (including mode of contact and how contact is initiated and/or maintained).
CAM is based on the Jakobsonian speech act model.
Each of these six factors must be present in any communicative act, but their relationship to each
other will shift from act to act. That is, the dominant factor (or factors) of a communicative act is
not a constant, but negotiated in each instantiation. To illustrate how this model works, note the
following example:
Why is it that you always say husband and wife and not wife and
Because it sounds better.
But Hubble and Willy and Willy and Hubble both sound okay, so it
cant really be about the sounds themselves, right?
In this example, the content is focused around a discussion of the code itself, thus making
the code one of the dominant characteristics of the exchange. The mode of contact is a basic
question and answer format in spoken dialogue. The author, if this is from a written text, will
most often be a third party, not one of the speakers/addressees in the dialogue. We have no direct
information about the context, we know nothing about the speakers/addressees, but we can state
that the utterances are in contemporary standard English. One must read the entire exchange in
order to postulate some of the possible meanings of the discourse beyond a literal rendering of
the questions and answer. So, for example, this exchange could be about lexical gender
categories and a tendency to put the male referent in front of the female referent. If this is the
case, then the message and code share dominant roles in the communicative act.
Now consider the following dialogue for translation:
What did you do last night?
A friend came over and brought me an autographed copy of Petrushevskayas
latest collection of short stories.
Here, the target language may require additional information that the English
text does not directly state. So, in the case of a TT in Russian from an ST
in English, we would have to note several things as we initiate the translation

process, including:
(1) Last night in English may refer to the time after 5 p.m. (approximately) and end around
midnight. In Russian, we have to decide if the event occurred before midnight or after (give or
take an hour or two). The two best options include:
(a) yesterday evening and (b) last night after midnight (sometime between
midnight and four-ish in the morning) .
(2) Russian has several options for the term friend in English.
(3) Russian has grammatical gender, which means it is essential to reveal the
gender of the friend in five out of six typical lexical options (, , ,
, , ). (Note that the term may refer to either sex in the meaning
of very close friend.)
(4) Verbal aspect in the Russian verb requires the translator to make a call about whether the
friend came over and stayed/spent the night or left. The same principle applies to the fate of
the collection of short stories, as well.
Beyond all of these factors, it is essential to realize that there are grammaticalizations of
pragmatic functions of a text that may be very different from ST to TT. In the case of
contemporary standard Russian, it is not common for a speaker to refer to a friend as in
the presence of interlocutors that are not close to the speaker. In such cases, speakers will often
choose a more neutral term (cf. , - , , ). This takes us
back to our communicative act model. It matters who is listening/reading and to whom the
message is spoken/written.
Any text is, thus, a conglomerate of elements that come together to convey meanings from one
set of participants to another. In general, the text assumes that the addresser(s) and addressee(s)
share important linguistic, cultural, and contextual information. It is essential that the translator
is sensitive to all of these aspects of the text in order to understand the ST, and develops the
appropriate strategies in the translation process to produce a TT.
Jakobsons description includes three primary modes of translation:
(1) intralingual translation within one language, rewording;
(2)interlingual translation between different languages translation proper;
(3) intersemiotic translation between different sign systems (may or may not include
human language as one of the two), transmutation.
An example of intersemiotic would be common activities like a raised hand in class indicates
that the student wishes to be recognized by the instructor.
Jakobson identifies these different linguistic modes of translation to make the point that
translation is an important part of all communication, both within one language and across verbal
and other sign systems. Furthermore, he acknowledges that it is almost impossible to find true
equivalences in translation. His central point is that the translator will inevitably have to deal
with the code-based categories (grammatical and lexical) that are critical to the structure of any
language. This framework is descriptive, not analytic, and focuses primarily on the linguistic
Peter Newmarks (1981) work continues in the tradition that equivalence, while desirable, is not
an achievable goal. Thus, he suggests a change in terminology and focus with the introduction of
the following terms:
(1) communicative translation fundamental goal is focus on the addressee/reader of the TT,
such that (s)he is affected comparably by the ST as a one would be affected by the TT;
(2) semantic translation fundamental goal is to duplicate the context-driven meaning as closely
as possible (the focus remains within the original culture.

The trend is for communicative translation to be more generic and simple, while semantic
translation is more complex and detailed (ibid.). The difference between the two is one of
emphasis rather than kind). Newmarks method of translation values word-for-word
translation if at all possible and his approach is very focused on the linguistic code and its effect
on the addressee/reader.
One of the common methods of intralingual and interlingual translations involves what often
involves an abbreviating of the original text, which is called a gist translation. There are several
types of translations that may fall under this cover term, such as retelling the ST in ones own
words, paraphrasing, abbreviating to the central message, and producing a short TT based on the
translators interpretation of the goal of the ST. Exegetic translation, another type of translation
that brings to bear the individual translators knowledge of the two cultures in question through
additional elaboration in the TT (as opposed to abbreviation), also plays a central role in the
process of translation. These additions found in exegetic translation do not have to result in a
longer TT, but often do. In many cases, translations will be hybrids of these two basic types.