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As we all know, the term translation has several meanings it may cover the area of translation studies itself, it
may refer to the finished product, namely the translated text or it may refer to the translation process, namely the act
of producing a translated text. Therefore, there are several definitions of the terms translation, which cover the
meanings we have just mentioned totally or partially.
1) translation: 1) the act or action of translating; 2) the written or oral expression of the meaning of a word, speech,
book, etc., in a different language
The first sense cover the translation process, while the second one covers the translated text, the product of the
translation process, which means that the term translation can be viewed from two different perspectives. When
speaking about the first sense, what is emphasized is the role of the translator who starts from the source text (ST), or
the original text in the foreign language and who transposes this text into another language, the result being the
target text (TT). The second perspective emphasizes the very product of the translation process, namely the text
translated by the translator. This difference is specific to the second definition of translation suggested below:
2) translation: a loose term which may be understood in various ways. For instance, one can speak about
translation as a product or a process and one can identify various types of translations, such as: lietrary
translation, technical translation; subtitling; machine-translation, a.s.o. As a rule, the term translation refers to the
transposition of written texts; sometimes, the term also covers oral translation, namely interpretation.
The second definition introduces a series of variables, such as the types of translation, which include not only the
classical types (namely literary and technical translations), but also forms which have lately emerged, such as
audiovisual translations (in other words, a written product which is to be read in conjunction with an image pojected
on a screen). The reference to machine-translation highlights the idea that translation is not an exclusively human
activity or privilege and that, under specific conditions, a combination can occur between the capacity of the
computer and mans ability to analyze language and meaning in order to establish the most appropriate form of
expression in the other language.
3) translation: 1. an interlinguistic transfer procedure which covers the interpretation of the meaning of the ST
and the production of a TT in order to establish a relation of equivalence between the two texts, while observing the
parameters inherent to communication as well as the constraints imposed by the translator; 2. any product created
by the application of this procedure; 3. a profession which covers the transfer of ideas expressed in writing from one
language into another one in order to establish a communication relation between two or several languages.

The third definition covers written translation only, it does not involve interpretation at all, as interpretation involves
the mediation of oral communication or the use of body language. According to the definition under 3.1, translation
appears to be a form of `indirect speech`, as the translator is not the author of the ST, he only renders what has
already been written by the author. With reference to 3.3. several important aspects have to be mentioned.
Obviously, ideally, translators should benefit from a training period or apprenticeship in order to acquire the
necessary skills. Generally speaking, professional translations are made into the translators main language (A
language) and involve mainly pragmatic texts, while applied translation interships are tailored depending on the
type of text, the intention (skopos) of the text to be translated as well as the target readership. The quality of such
translations is assessed according to communication-related criteria. Obviously, irrespective of the nature of the text
(pragmatic or literary), professional translation always has the same core objective, namely to render the content of a
work which was initially written in a language which teh target readership does not understand.
In his 1959 work entitled On linguistic aspects of translation Roman Jakobson described three categories of
a) intralinguistic translation, or reformulation, defined as the interpretation of verbal signs by means of other
verbal signs in the same language
eg. He is expected to come tomorrow. / We expect him to come tomorrow. /It is expected of him to come tomorrow
b)interlinguistic translation, namely translation proper, defined as the interpretation of verbal signs by means of the
verbal signs from another language
eg. He is expected to come tomorrow. / We expect him to come tomorrow. /It is expected of him to come tomorrow
Este asteptat maine. / Ne astepatam sa vina maine. / (Lumea) se asteapta ca el sa vina maine.
c) semiotic translation, or transmutation, defined as the interpretation of verbal signs by signs originating in nonverbal systems
eg. Traffic signs/lights; nodding ones head; pointing ones finger to one direction;
Another example of intralinguistic translation would be the reformulation of an expression or a text in the same
language in order to clarify what has been written (idiomatic expressions, for instance to look daggers at
somebody to look angrily or hatefully at somebody). The translation of a written text into a music,
cinematographic or pictorial form are other examples of semiotic translation (Shakesperes play Romeo and
Juliet transposed in Tchaikovskys ballet form, as a movie Franco Zeffirelli or as a painting). In traditional
terms, the type of translation which is of interest to us is the interlinguistic translation, as it covers the rendition
of the meaning of a written text from one language into another also in written form (various translations of the
play into Romanian, for instance by Dan Dutescu, Leon Levitchi, Ion Vinea, etc).

Therefore, the main object of translation studies and research is the translation of a written text from one language
into another, yet, research has covered many other aspects related to linguistic, cultural and ideological
phenomena involved in the translation act. For instance, when we speak about the translation of a play, we also
speak about adapting the historic and geographic space as well the dialect employed. Obviously, in such a case,
there is another legitimate question to be asked, namely where are we to draw a line between translation and
adaptation? What happens if, while translating, part of the ST is omitted? Isnt the nature of the text altered in
this way? At the same time, the political background against which a translation is made should not be
disregarded (communism, censorship) . For instance, for the last 20-25 years, a lot of emphasis has been laid on
the difefrences between Serbian and Croatian, for obvious political reasons, namely the separation of the two
countries (Serbia and Croatia). The result is that now translations are being made between the two languages. Or
the case of Romania and the Republic of Moldova and the latters claim that there is such a language as

In fact, what is important is to define the area covered by the term translation conceptually speaking:

1. the transfer of a written text from the SL into the TL, made by a translator against a specific social and cultural
2. the written product, namely the translated text which results from the process mentioned under 1. and which
operates against the social and cultural context of the TL
3. the cognitive, linguistic, visual, cultural and ideological phenomena which are inherent components of points 1.
and 2.

In fact, translation as an activity has been with mankind for over two thousand years (or even five
thousand if we travel that far back in history). Indeed, quite a few famous thinkers and writers such as
Cicero, St. Jerome, Luther, Dryden, Goethe as well as many more or less widely known scholars such as
Etienne Dolet, Denham, Cowley, Tytler have formulated many valuable ideas about translation. Yet, Translation
Studies as a discipline in its own right was only born in the latter half of the 20th century.
The founding statement for the field of Translation Studies is contained in a paper entitled The Name and
Nature of Translation Studies given by James S. Holmes, a young American scholar working in Amsterdam, at the
translation section of the Third International Congress of Applied Linguistics in Copenhagen in 1972. Translation
Studies has never been and cannot become a single discipline, but it is rather a domain that is willing to consider
and use many disciplines an interdiscipline. Translation theory uses information from Contrastive Linguistics,
Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, Stylistics, Literary Theory, Cultural Studies, Communication Studies, Linguistic
Philosophy, General Linguistics, Machine Translation, Artificial Intelligence, and the list is not closed.
Given this situation, it is obvious that there is no unique theory of translation. However, back in 1972 Holmes
put forward a conceptual scheme that included simple categories that he framed scientifically, and arranged

Holmes establishes the objectives of this study, as follows:
a) the description of the phenomenon represented by the translation act and by the translation product as
manifested in our experience
b) the establishment of general principles which can explain or predict this pehomenon
Subsequent studies have shown that there are two rather general trends:
1) the law of enhanced standardization as a rule, translated texts evince less linguistic variation than ST
2) the law of interference there is a trend to copy syntactic and lexical structures typical of the SL into the TL,
this creating unusual structures in the TL
Thus, one conclusion could be that, generally speaking, a translated language has some specific features, which can
be called translation universals. Eswentially, we are speaking about the fact that, whichever the language pair, the
cohesion and the explicitation level (lack of ambiguity) of the translated text are higher that those of the ST.
Although the discipline as such is relatively new, theories of translation have been around for almost as
long as the activity of translation itself. But there is one significant feature that differentiates the post-1972 period
from everything that has gone before. In his article Twenty-two Theses on Translation, Douglas Robinson (1998)
formulates this difference as follows:

Translation theory from its beginnings has been insistently anecdotal. Until the last few decades, in fact,
theoretical pronouncements on translation have arisen almost exclusively out of specific translators engagement
with specific texts.

And he goes on to say that:

The emergence of an integrated scholarly field called translation studies in the last few decades has
been predicated on the methodological repression or suppression of the fields anecdotal origins.


The anecdotal tradition in translation studies not only continues with unabated strength today; the field is
also unofficially policed by what amounts to an anecdotal ethic.

Robinson finds that a lot of the specialist literature on translation consists of anecdotal material written by
translators about their engagements with specific texts and avidly read by other translators facing similar or
parallel situations in their own work. This rather long quotation from Robinson captures well o n e a p p r o a c h t o
t r a n s l a t i o n . I n f a c t , Robinson believes there is little use in trying to write interestingly about things one has
never tried to actually do. To paraphrase a well-known saying, it would be a mere case of Those who can, do; those

who can't, teach... or theorize. Peter Newmark has also played around with this saying at some point, and he
paraphrased it as follows: Those who can, translate. Those who cannot, teach translation theory, learning
hopefully from their mistakes.
On the other hand, it goes without saying that translators cannot ignore theory either, they need to
know what others have thought and said about translation. Of course, one can translate without knowing or
being aware of translation theory. But what is essential for translators is to become aware of what they are
doing, how, when and why, and then deliberately apply that awareness in order to improve their output.
Moreover, if translators become aware of what they are doing, they can also become more self-critical.
Translation unit /unit of translation
The term translation unit refers to the linguistic level where the ST is reencoded into the TL, in other words it is
the translators working unit in the ST. We may be speaking about words, phrases, sentences or whole texts. There
are theorists who refered to the word as a possible translation unit (eg.Vinay and Dalbernet who started from de
Saussures notion of linguistic sign, defined as the unit between two sides, the signified and the signifier). Ferdinand
de Saussure was the first one to speak about the linguistic sign as a unit between the two the signifier, that is the
phonetic image of the word and the signified, namely the conceptual image of the world. De Saussure emphasizes the
idea that the linguistic sign is arbitrary by nature, and its meaning is apparent by opposition to other signs belonging
to the same system, namely language (eg. tree, copac, arbore). Vinay and Dalbernet reject the word as a translation
unit because translators focus especially on the semantic field and not on the properties of each individual signifier.
It is what Vinay and Dalbernet call the lexicological unit and the unit of thought.
Lexicological unit
The lexicological unit described by Vinay and Dalbernet contains all lexical items grouped so as to make up a
single unit of thought. For instance, simple soldat in French and private in English, or soldat neinstruit in
Romanian which illustrate the lack of correspondence at word level despite the fact that traditional dictionaries are
organised based on the title-words of the dictionary entry, which are then detailed depending on their various senses.

Unit of thought
Vinay and Dalbernet define the unit of thought as the smallest segment of the sentence whose signs are connected
in such a way so that they could not be translated individually. For instance, a possible announcement in an airport:
Due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth-disease , all passangers arriving from the UK and France are kindly
requested to disinfect their footwear on the special carpet provided.
Din cauza/ Ca urmare a izbucnirii epidemiei/a apariiei primelor semne ale febrei aftoase, pasagerii
provenii/venind din Regatul Unit/Marea Britanie i Frana sunt rugai s-i desinfecteze pantofii/nclmintea pe
covorul special pus la dispoziie.
There is a problem related to the Romanian equivalents of a number of concepts ( outbreak, foot-and-mouth disease)
as well the problem of register and the degree of politeness involved by the English text.In other words, the unit of
translation does not coincide with the word, but it rather coincides with the units of thought (semantic units).



As James Holmes published his important paper in 1972, the presentation of the evolution and development of
translation theories will be divided into two periods, pre-1972 and post-1972.

Theories of translation before 1972. It is obvious that the presentation of the theories will take a
diachronic perspective, rather than trying to make a more or less systematic presentation of the more notable
concepts and theories of translation that have been developed over time. Susan Bassnett (2002), noted the
difficulty of studying translation diachronically and she who advocated the use of a loose chronological structure,
avoiding any attempt to set up clear-cut divisions. Nevertheless, the first section will trace the evolution of the
word for word and sense for sense dichotomy over the centuries, but it will also include several other concepts
developed by various theorists of translation. The amount of opinions on this topic is absolutely amazing, but this
should not come as a surprise given the centrality of the dichotomy mentioned above for translation. To quote
Peter Newmark:

The central problem of translating has always been whether to translate literally or freely. The argument has
been going on since at least the first century BC. Up to the beginning of the nineteenth century, many writers
favoured some kind of 'free' translation: the spirit, not the letter; the sense not the words; the message
rather than the form; the matter not the manner. [...] Then at the turn of the nineteenth century, when the study
of cultural anthropology suggested that the linguistic barriers were insuperable and that language was entirely
the product of culture, the view that translation was impossible gained some currency, and with it that, if
attempted at all, it must be as literal as possible. (Newmark 2001: 45)
Ancient Rome. Cicero and Horace. The first significant writings about translation theory and practice
belong to Roman antiquity. It was then that Cicero (106BC-43BC) and Horace (65BC-8BC) formulated the
distinction between word for word and sense for sense (or figure for figure) translation. They both stated that the
most important thing in a translation was to preserve the sense of the original version and not to render the original
verbum pro verbo.
In his De Optimo Genere Oratorum (52 BC), commenting on his translation of the Greek orators Demosthenes and
Aeschines, Cicero said:

And I have not translated them as a literal interpreter, but as an orator giving the same ideas in the same form
and mould, as it were, in words conformable to our manners; in doing which I did not consider it necessary to

give word for word, but I have preserved the character and energy of the language throughout. (Cicero, De
Optimo Genere Oratorum)
On the other hand, Horace in his Ars Poetica (18 BC) warned against the excessively cautious imitation of the
A theme that is familiar can be made your own property so long as you do not waste your time on a
hackneyed treatment; nor should you try to render your original word for word like a slavish translator,
or in imitating another writer plunge yourself into difficulties from which shame, or the rules you have laid
down for yourself, prevent you from extricating yourself. (Horace, On the Art of Poetry)
So, if we were to rephrase these two quotations, one could say that Cicero makes some remarks on his own
translations of the speeches uttered by the two Greek orators. Cicero claims to have translated the speeches as an
orator, not as an interpreter, as he preserved de ideas and the forms, that is the figures of thought, but in a
language adjusted to the uses typical of his time. In other words Cicero did not provide a word-for-word translation,
but he preserved the general style and the expresiveness of the language. When Cicero refers to an interpreter, he
means a person doing literary translations, while his orator is the one trying to produce a speech which will move the
In his turn, Horace underlines the idea that the translators aim is to produce in the TL an aesthetically pleasant,
creative text. Their opinions have greatly influenced all the following centuries. As Susan Bassnett (2002) put it, that
the art of the translator for Horace and Cicero consisted in a judicious interpretation of the source language text so
as to produce a target language version based on the principle non verbum e verbo, sed sensum exprimere de sensu
(of expressing not word for word, but sense for sense), and his responsibility was to the target language readers.

St. Jerome (c. 347-420). St. Jerome, born Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, takes us to the 4


century AD.

By that time, translation had acquired a new role, which was to contribute to spreading the word of God. Bible
translations are one thousand years old, and the history of Bible translation can be considered to be a history of
Western culture in microcosm (Bassnett 2002). There have been quite a few translators of the Bible who have
made inspired comments about translation, such as St. Jerome. He is best known for his translation of the Bible
into Latin, known as the Vulgate, from the Greek and Hebrew originals, which remained the standard text of the
Bible for many centuries. What is of interest to us is St. Jeromes insights as a theorist of translation. As Jerome
completed his translations of each and every book of the Bible, he recorded his observations and comments in a
series of letters he wrote to other scholars. Jerome had been trained in the Latin classics and was strongly
influenced by them, more particularly by Cicero, and this is more than obvious in the letter that contains his
famous reflections on translation, and whose title is a clear echo of the book by Cicero mentioned earlier: Epistula
LVII. Ad Pammachium De Optimo Genere Interpretandi (Letter LVII. To Pammachius on the Best Method of
Translating). Here is a relevant fragment from that letter:
For I myself not only admit but freely proclaim that in translating from the Greek (except in the case of the

holy scriptures where even the order of the words is a mystery) I render sense for sense and not word for
word. (St. Jerome, Letter LVII)
Jerome goes on to quote extensively from Cicero and Horace, expressing his satisfaction to quote the authority of
the translator who has spoken [...] in a prologue prefixed to the orations. And to make his option for non-literal
translation even clearer, Jerome quotes from a Life of Antony supposed to have been the work of Athanasius and
originally composed in Greek, but later rendered into Latin by one Evagrius, bishop of Antioch.
A literal translation from one language into another obscures the sense; the exuberance of the growth lessens the
yield. For while ones diction is enslaved to cases and metaphors, it has to explain by tedious circumlocutions
what a few words would otherwise have sufficed to make plain. I have tried to avoid this error in the translation
which at your request I have made of the story of the blessed Antony. My version always preserves the sense
although it does not invariably keep the words of the original. Leave others to catch at syllables and letters, do
you for your part look for the meaning. (St. Jerome, Letter LVII)
What St. Jerome says may be considered to be best-known declaration on translation, as he defends himself against
criticism that his translation was incorrect. St.Jerome states that he did not go for a word-for-word translation, but a
sense for sense one, even if the very syntax of the Scripture contains a mystery. The saint chose this solution as the
word-for-word translation resulted in absurd TL structures which made the sense even more obscure. It is the sensefor-sense translation which clarifies the meaning or content of the SL. It is, in fact, a d ebate on the free translation
vs.literal translation or content vs. Form, a debate which is of interest even today. When referring to thios debate,
St.Jerome uses a military metaphor, namely he compares the ST to a prisoner which would be marched towards the
TL by its conqueror.
Although St. Jerome clearly stated that translation was to be sense for sense rather than word for word, the
problem of the fine line between what constituted stylistic licence and what constituted heretical interpretation was
to remain a major stumbling block for centuries, and some have even had to give up their lives for having committed
the heresy of non-literal translation.

Martin Luther (1483-1546). We are now one thousand years later, in the time of Martin Luther, who is
famously known as the first and most prominent leader of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century.
During the late antiquity, the Bible was translated into various vernacular languages, so that by the end of the
period the Bible was available and used in all the major written languages then used by the Christians. While Latin
was evolving into the regional versions that were later to become the Romance languages during the Early Middle
Ages, Jeromes Vulgate remained the authoritative text used universally both for scholarship and the
liturgy .During these times, there was a tendency among Bible translators to treat the sacred text with reverence
and great caution, so as not to distort its meaning. They could not really do otherwise, as the Roman Catholic
Church was highly concerned about protecting the correct meaning of the Bible. So translations generally
aimed at formal equivalence, where faithfulness to the text was the top priority. As the attitudes towards the role
of the written text in the church changed during the 13th and 14th centuries, there was a new proliferation of Bible

translations into a large number of languages. The main idea was to provide each and every man with access to
the Scriptures in a language that they could understand. This was not very well received by the Church, and
translators of the Bible were sometimes persecuted and executed as heretics, and their translations were banned.
Non-literal translation was seen as blasphemy, a weapon against the Church. It was not that the Church did not
want people to read the Bible, their concern was related more to the way in which it was translated.
This is the context against which Martin Luther produced his translation of the Bible in the commonly-spoken
dialect of the German people, and thus also made a significant contribution to the development of standard
German. More importantly, this was an opportunity for Luther to add several principles to the art of translation. He
did that in a letter known as the Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen (Circular Letter on Translation), where he
emphasized the importance of the readers response and the need to translate into intelligible language.

We do not have to ask the literal Latin how we are to speak German [...]. Rather we must ask the mother in the
home, the children on the street, the common man in the marketplace. We must be guided by their language, by
the way they speak, and do our translating accordingly. Then they will understand it and recognize that we are
speaking German to them. [...] The literal Latin is a great obstacle to speaking good German. (Martin Luther
Luthers letter contains a wealth of examples from his translation of the Bible, accompanied by comments that
constitute his principles of translation, namely:
-the translator should inquire how the common people would use the language, and use language in a similar
-translator is to translate into the nature of the German language;
-translators are to have a great store of words for each word or expression in the original because one vernacular
word may not fit all contexts;
-the exact literal translation may in special cases have to be retained, where important issues depend on precise
-the translator must take into account the immediate contextual meaning in light of the authors whole message;
-it is necessary (and right) to translate as plainly and fully as possible.
Martin Luther was accused of having added various words in hid translation which did not exist in the original and
which altered the meaning of the Latin version of the text, creating implications which contradicted the generally
accepted religious interpretation. Just like St. Jerome, Luther rejected the word-for-word translation, whcih he
considered unable to convey the same meaning as the ST.

tienne Dolet (1509-1546). Dolet is known as one of the first writers to formulate a theory of translation. And
there is another less glorious first connected to his name: he is often described as the first martyr of the
Renaissance. What is more, the two life facts mentioned above are not at all unrelated: Dolet was actually tried

and burned at the stake for heresy because of a mistranslation of one of Platos dialogues, which could be
interpreted as implying a denial of the immortality of the soul. The Divinity School at the Sorbonne condemned him
under the accusation that, in his translation of one of Platos dialogues, he would have added the expression rien du
tout to a passage on life after death. The translator was charged with blasphemy as he was suspected not to believe
in immortality. In his La manire de bien traduire d'une langue en aultre (How to Translate Well from one
Language into Another) Dolet established five principles for the translator:
(1) The translator must fully understand the sense and meaning of the original author, although he is at
liberty to clarify obscurities.
(2) The translator should have a perfect knowledge of both SL and TL.
(3) The translator should avoid word-for-word renderings.
(4) The translator should use forms of speech in common use.
(5) The translator should choose and order words appropriately to produce the correct tone.
Dolet managed to capture the essence of translation in these five simple sentences, placing a particular emphasis
on the importance of understanding the source text, while also warning against the practice of word-for-word

John Denham (1615-1669). Sir John Denham is remembered mainly as a poet, so it is only appropriate that
part of his theory of translation should have been contained in one of his poems, To Sir Richard Fanshawe, Upon
his Translation of Pastor Fido written in 1648. His attitude towards literal translation can be clearly seen in the
following lines:
That servile path thou nobly dost decline/ Of tracing word by word, and line by line.
He assumes the same attitude in his Preface to his translation of The Destruction of Troy, where he warns against
the use of literal translation in the translation of poetry. He sees it as the translator's duty to his source text to
extract what he perceives as the essential core of the work and to reproduce or recreate the work in the target
Abraham Cowley (1618-1667). Abraham Cowley also denounced literal translation as a vile and unworthy kinde
of Servitude. This is how he began his Preface to his translation of Pindar:
If a man should undertake to translate Pindar word for word, it would be thought that one Mad-man had
translated another; as may appear, when a person who understands not the Original, reads the verbal
Traduction of him into Latin Prose, then which nothing seems more Raving. (Cowley 1656)
Cowley even went further and assumed a more liberal attitude towards translation, that he described as follows:
Upon this ground, I have in these two Odes of Pindar taken, left out, and added what I please; nor make it so

much my aim to let the Reader know precisely what he spoke, as what was his way and manner of speaking.
(Cowley 1656)
Due to these ideas, Cowleys preface to the Pindarique Odes has been considered the manifesto of the libertine
translators of the latter seventeenth century. (T.R. Steiner)
John Dryden (1631-1700). The English poet translated Ovids Epistles into English and he wrote a preface to
his translation, Preface to Ovids Epistles (1680),, where he presented his theory about translation is and where he
divides the translation process into three forms. His preface was to have a huge impact on the theory and practice of
All translation, I suppose, may be reduced to these three heads.First, that of metaphrase, or turning an author
word by word, and line by line, from one language into another. [...] The second way is that of paraphrase, or
translation with latitude, where the author is kept in view by the translator, so as never to be lost, but his words
are not so strictly followed as his sense, and that too is admitted to be amplified, but not altered. [...] The third
way is that of imitation, where the translator (if now he has not lost that name) assumes the liberty not only to
vary from the words and sense, but to forsake them both as he sees occasion; and taking only some general hints
from the original, to run division on the ground-work, as he pleases. (Dryden 1680)
As already stated, Dryden mentions three categories of translations:

the metaphrase, namely the word-for-word or line-for-line translation, which correspondas to literal

the paraphrase translation with latitude where the author is taken into account by the translator, so as
not to lose sight of him, but what is followed more strictly is the sense and not his words such a
translation involves latering whole sentences and roughly corresponds to the sense-for-sense translation of
faithful translation

imitation leaving bothe the sense snd thw ords aside, which would correspond to the free translation and
would roughly mean adaptation

Dryden crticizes the metaphrase which he considers subservient and literal: its as if you were dancing on a rope
with tethered feet a foolish task. Dryden advises translators against being verbal copiers, since Tis almost
impossible to translate verbally, and well, at the same time. Dryden also rejects imitation, where the translator use
ths source text as a starting point to write the would he thinks the author should have written had he lived in that
age and country. Dryden claims that imitation make the translator more visible but makes the greatest wrong
which can be done to the memory and reputation of the dead. In his opinion, imitation and metaphrase (verbal
version) are the two extremes which ought to be avoided.
Therefore we are left with the second option, but in order to be able to paraphrase properly, Dryden says that
translators need to fulfill several criteria:

-to master both the authors language and their own,

-to understand the particular turns of thought and of expression of the original author,
- to conform to the aesthetic canons of their own age by taking care of the outward ornaments, the words.
Yet, at some point in his evolution, when speaking about his translation of Virgils Eneid, Dryden reached a point
located somewhere in-between paraphrase and literal translation: I struggled to make Virgil speak English as fi he
had been living at present.
Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (17471813). Tytler is the author of a volume entitled
Essay on the Principles of Translation, considered to be the first systematic study on translation written in the
English language. Tytler set up three basic principles of translation:
I. That the Translation should give a complete transcript of the ideas of the original work.
II. That the style and manner of writing should be of the same character with that of the original.
III. That the Translation should have all the ease of original composition. (Tytler 1790)
While Tytler praised Dryden for having emancipated poetical translation from its fetters, he was critical of his
extensive use of paraphrase, which at times led to exaggeratedly loose translations. He also made some interesting
remarks on rendering the meaning of the original:
Where the sense of an author is doubtful, and where more than one meaning can be given to the same passage or
expression, (which, by the way, is always a defect in composition), the translator is called upon to exercise his
judgment, and to select the meaning which is most consonant to the train of thought in the whole passage, or
to the authors usual mode of thinking, and of expressing himself. To imitate the obscurity or ambiguity of the
original is a fault; and it is still a greater fault to give more than one meaning [...]. (Tytler 1790)
In Tytlers view, then, a translation should contain a perfect transcript of the sentiments of the original, and
present a resemblance of its style and manner. Moreover, the translation should have all the ease of original
composition. The problem Tytler sees in what a translator has to do is that t h e more he studies a
scrupulous imitation, the less the copy will reflect the ease and spirit of the original. His solution for
accomplishing this difficult union of ease with fidelity is the recreation of the essential spirit, soul or nature of the
work of art. In other words, the translator must adopt the very soul of his author, which must speak through his
own organs, as Tytler puts it.
In fact, Tytler defines the concept of good translation as seem from the viewpoint of a translation oriented towards
the TL reader. Here is the definition: a translation in which the merits of the original work have been transposed so
well into another language that it is understood and perceived by a native speaker of the language into which the
work ahs been translated as intensely as the work in its original language.

With respect to the translation principles established by Tytler, the first covers Dolets first two principles, as it refers
to the idea that the translator must have perfect knowledge of the original, be competent on the topic and render the
authors sense and meaning with fidelity. The second principle, just like Dolets fifth principle, refers to the authors
style, but also involves the fact that the translator nmust identify the very nature of the style and have the ability and
the right taste to recreate it in the TL. The third principle refers the ease of the original composition, which seems
to be the most difficult of all tasks etablished by Tytler. This is why his solution is that the translator must adopt the
very soul of the author. The first two of Tytlers laws can be considered as the essence of the principle of fidelity to the
content and to the form. Tytler ranks the laws he has proposed and suggests that the order of the importance of these
principles can be used as a means to establish whether a sacrifice is necessary or not.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Goethe formulated his ideas on translation in a short passage
contained in an explanatory second part he annexed to his last great cycle of poetry, the West-Eastern Divan,
namely the Noten und Abhandlungen zu besseren Verstndnis des West-stlichen Divans (Notes and Queries for
a Better Understanding of the West-Eastern Divan). Goethe distinguished between three epochs of translation,
and had the following to say:
There are three kinds of translations. The first kind acquaints us with a foreign country in our own terms; a
translation in plain prose serves this purpose the best. [...] Upon the first there follows a second epoch, in which
one is indeed able to imagine oneself in the circumstances of the foreign country, yet is only concerned to adopt
foreign ideas and reproduce them in ones native style. Such periods I would call parodistic in the true sense of the
word. [...] One cannot linger for long in either the perfect or the imperfect, since one transformation must follow
upon another without end, and thus we experienced the third epoch, which can be considered the best and the
last. This is namely the period in which one wishes to make a translation identical to the original, not in such
a way that the former replaces the latter, but rather occupies the place of the latter. [...] Finally let us briefly
explain why we referred to the third epoch as the last one. A translation which strives to make itself identical with
the original ultimately approaches interlinearity and thus greatly facilitates an understanding of the
original. In this manner we are led to the basic text, in which the approximation of the foreign and the native, the
known and the unknown moves, has been closed. (J.W. Goethe 1827)
Goethes approach to translation departs from all the previous theories presented so far. In fact, Goethe
a r g u e s f or both a new concept of originality in translation, together with a vision of universal deep structures
that the translator should strive to meet. The problem with such an approach is that it is moving dangerously close
to a theory of untranslatability.
Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). Besides being considered the first European linguist to identify human
language as a rule-governed system, Wilhelm von Humboldt is also considered to be the founder of the traditional
Romantic theory of translation. His introduction to his German version of Aeschyluss play Agamemnon contains a
brief statement of that theory, which represents a new approach to the problem of translation and proposes
several concepts that were later to be taken up by modern and contemporary translation theories. The quotation
below refers to his view of fidelity in translation:

It can even be argued that the more a translation strives toward fidelity, the more it ultimately deviates from the
original, for in attempting to imitate refined nuances and avoid simple generalities it can, in fact, only
provide new and different nuances. (Humboldt 1816)
Despite what one may infer from the quotation above, Humboldt was not against fidelity in translation. On the
contrary, he considered that fidelity had to direct itself to the true character of the original, and that every good
translation should grow out of a simple and modest love of the original. However, he also spoke about the
limitations of fidelity:
A necessary corollary to this view is that a translation should indeed have a foreign flavour to it, but only to a
certain degree; the line beyond which this clearly becomes an error can easily be drawn. As long as one does
not feel the foreignness (Fremdheit) yet does feel the foreign (Fremde), a translation has reached its highest goal;
but where foreignness appears as such, and more than likely even obscures the foreign, the translator betrays
his inadequacy. (Humboldt 1816)
This is one of the earliest mentions of the dichotomy own/foreign that was later developed by several
important theorists of translation. According to Humboldt, while translators should be faithful to the unique spirit
of the language they are translating from, their ultimate faithfulness or loyalty should lie with their mother tongue.
In other words, in so far as a language has the ability to shape the spirit of a nation, [...] the translators task is
precisely to use this ability to build up, educate, cultivate or create his or her national language, or rather, his or
her nation. This simply means that the translators fidelity is, in the final analysis, a patriotic virtue, a loyalty
to the nation.
August Wilhelm von Schlegel (1767-1845). August Wilhelm von Schlegel, together with Ludwig Tieck, is
universally considered to be the author of one of the best poetical translations into German, or indeed into



of Shakespeares plays. Despite his outstanding achievement as a translator, Schlegel

described the task of the translator as a voluntary and embarrassing slavery which was never gratifying,
because the more translators tried to make the best translation, the more they realized how impossible their task
was. Because Schlegel believed that each text required a different procedure for its translation, he avoided
developing a systematic theory of translation. On the other hand, he devoted quite a few writings to the analysis of
existing translations as well as to commentaries on his own work as a translator. In Schlegels view, very much
depended on the relation between the two languages involved in the translation process, and his main interest
lay in presenting the actual work undertaken with the original text and its translations. Schlegel did not consider
literal translation to be necessarily a good translation, as in his view translators had to be able to translate the
spirit of the text. They had to follow the letter, but they also had to be able to capture some of the innumerable,
indescribable marvels that do not reside in the letter, but float above it like a breath of spirit! (Schlegel 18461848) As he had said in his Works of Homer by Voss, in order to translate a text from a different culture, the
translator needed to maintain the text's naturalness, and could not convert it into something strange; in that
context, there was no need to violate the language or to invent a new language

Friedrich von Schlegel (1772-1829). Friedrich was the brother of August Wilhelm von Schlegel, but his views
on translation were somewhat different. He conceived of translation as a category of thought rather than as an
activity connected only with language and literature. Susan Bassnett believes that those who exalted translation
as a category of thought saw the translator as a creative genius in his own right, in touch with the genius of his
original and enriching the literature and language into which he is translating. (Bassnett 2002: 69) Friedrich
Schlegel is famous for having made several important contributions to the study of literature: he established the
modern concept of the literary work, he developed a new theory of genre, he inaugurated a modern theory of the
novel, he initiated a theory of literary criticism to only mention a few. These achievements were complemented
by his valuable contributions to translation theory, which included the setting of new standards for literary
translation. Schlegel saw translation not just as a practice that would apply valid standards and norms, but rather
as a dynamic operation which would test new varieties of meaning in the medium of language. The task of the
translator, according to Schlegel, is the transfer of meaning on the basis of an awareness of difference. This is
achieved by respect for cultural alterity and the constant attempt to bring about a dialogue between different
Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834). Schleiermacher was another complex personality of German
Romanticism, a consummate translator among many other things, whose main ideas on translation are contained
in an 1813 essay entitled ber die verschiedenen Methoden des bersetzens (On the Different Methods of
Translation). Schleiermacher was a theologian and translator, acknowledged as the founder of modern protestant
teology and hermeneutics. His ideas on translation are based on the Romantic notion od sentiments and inner
understanding of the individual. Unlike his predecessors, Schleiermacher makes a distinction between two types of
translators, who work with two different types of texts:
a) Dolmetscher he who translates commercial texts
b) Ubersetzer he who translates artistic and theoretical texts
The latter is considered a creator, as he breathes new life into the language. Altough it may seem impossible to
translate artistic and theoretical texts, as the meaning of the ST is expressed in a language which is closely connected
to a cultural context to which the TL cannot fully correspond, the real problem, in Schleiermachers opinion is to
bring together the writer of the ST and the reader of the TT. He is probably best known for his distinction between
two possible methods of translation: a) either the translator leaves the author in peace as much as possible and
moves the reader toward him; or b) he leaves the reader in peace as much as possible and moves the writer toward
him. The former approach is generally known as transparency, while the latter is known as extreme fidelity to
the foreignness of the source text. Schleiermacher was clearly in favour of fidelity, which meant bringing the
reader towards the linguistic- conceptual world of the author. This dichotomy has come to be widely known in the
literature as the opposition between domestication and foreignisation (Venuti 1995). In his theoretical
considerations, Schleiermacher demanded that translations from different languages into German should read and
sound different. In his view, readers should be able to guess the original language behind a translation, because if
this is not the case, and all translations read and sound alike, the identity of the source text is lost and levelled in the
target culture. Schleiermacher also proposes a solution that the translator can use to bring the reader closer to the

author, and that would be using the plasticity of language. In his view, if the language into which a translation is
done does not possess the right words and concepts for rendering the original, the translator can bend the language
of the translation as far possible towards that of the original in order to communicate as far as possible an
impression of the system of concepts developed in it. While Schleiermacher accepts that such translations are less
easy to read than those achieved by the opposite strategy of transparency, he claims that this is an acceptable price
to pay given that the only alternative is a failure to convey the authors meaning accurately.
To put it briefly, Schleiermacher prefers the first variant, which presupposes that the reader must be given the same
impression that he, as a German, would have reading that work in the original. In order to be able to do that, the
translator must adopt a foreignization technique, taking into account the language and the content of the ST. The
translator must use the foreign elements in the ST and transfer them into the TL. It is an approach which has at least
two consequences:
1. if the translator wants to communicate the same impression created by the ST, the impression depends on the
level of education and understanding of the target readership, which may be different from the translators
2. a special translation language may be necessary, namely the translator must compensate at some point using
a very imaginative word, while somewhere else he must be content with a poorer expression which cannot
convey the impression created in the foreign language.

According to Antoine Berman, a more recent theorist of translation, Schleiermachers development of a theory of
translation has to be understood as part of a more generalised problematic of knowledge and identity. The
originality of his thought, as Berman points out, lay in the claim that the object of translation is not merely the
original writing produced by an author, but rather the original as situated within the history of the specific
linguistic and cultural community in which the author is embedded (Berman 1992: 142). Schleiermacher believed
that each language was characterised by a distinct cultural spirit that was inscribed in the language itself and could
not be separated from it. Therefore, a work could not be articulated in terms of a different language, or not without
a loss of its original spirit. As he emphasised, in order for the readers to understand the original, they must
perceive the spirit of the language which was the authors own and be able to see his peculiar way of thinking and
feeling. However, the translator attempts to realise these aims by offering readers only his own language, which at
no point fully corresponds to the other, and his own person, whose understanding of his author is now more, now
less clear. (Schleiermacher 1813). It was this line of reasoning that allowed Schleiermacher to introduce the notion
of untranslatability into translation theory, as seen in this perspective, translation becomes a pointless exercise.
The idea of untranslatability was indeed profoundly novel. According to Andr Lefevere, before
Schleiermachers time languages were not supposed to resist understanding, and translation was not felt to be an
impossible task. It was therefore believed that the same thoughts could be conveniently dressed in different
languages (Lefevere 1990: 17). Schleiermacher contradicted that long-standing idea by positing the impossibility
of a faithful transfer of a text from the source to the target culture and language. Alexandra Lianeri (2002)
summarizes Schleiermachers assertion concerning the existence of an asymptotic relation between source and
target cultures and languages which makes translation impossible as follows:

This assertion expressed an epistemic shift that separated Romantic theory, as well as the entire tradition of
nineteenth- and twentieth-century translation theory from its predecessors. The shift did not so much consist in a
transition from a nave assumption of the transparency of translation to an increased awareness of the opacity
and impenetrability of cultural languages. Rather, the translators gaze towards the other sprang from the
necessity to acknowledge his or her ownboundaries, to declare himself as confined and limited. Yet this
acknowledgement did not act to invalidate translation practice, but rather to produce the conditions for its
realisation. The limits of language became the means by which the translator could both locate and exceed
himself; these limits, which were different for the source and the target languages, provided the only loci in
which translation could be situated. (Lianeri 2002).
Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Ezra Pound was an extremely prolific translator willing to experiment with a variety of
poetic styles and diction. He translated from nine European and four non-European languages, and also covered a
wide chronological range within some of those languages. According to Michael Alexander (1997), Pounds
translations are of two kinds: what Alexander calls copies, which stick close to the original, and what he calls
remakes, which edit and reshape the original, and cast it into the English style Pound chooses or forges for it.
Besides his significant contribution as a translator of poetry, Ezra Pound also contributed several interesting ideas
to the theory of translation. According to Pound, each translation is a kind of criticism of the original. It stresses
the strengths of the original, but it also shows what its limits may have been. On the other hand, no translation has
to reproduce all aspects of the original, but can choose to concentrate on only some of its aspects. It can leave part
of the original out, or it may even add to it or rearrange it in order to accomplish the translator's purpose. All in
all, translations should be new poems in their own right, and they should be artistically welldone. For Pound, history is a product of the present. All knowledge of the past is experienced in our current
reception and reading of it. In this sense, all translation is both a continuity and a re-reading of past texts and


Theories of translation after 1972.
In 1957, Theodore Savory published a book entitled The Art of Translation, which predates the founding of
Translation Studies as a discipline. In this book, the author comes up with a number of translation principles, some
of them quite contradictory, which a very good illustration of the antinomic nature of the domain:
1 A translation must give the words of the original.
2 A translation must give the ideas of the original.
3 A translation should read like an original work.
4 A translation should read like a translation.
5 A translation should reflect the style of the original.
6 A translation should possess the style of the translator.
7 A translation should read as a contemporary of the original.
8 A translation should read as a contemporary of the translator.
9 A translation may add to or omit from the original.
10 A translation may never add to or omit from the original.
11 A translation of verse should be in prose.
12 A translation of verse should be in verse. (Savory 1957: 49 in Venuti 2000)

Ernst-August Gutt quotes Savory in his article Translation

as Interlingual Interpretive Use included in

Venutis Reader (Venuti 2000), and he follows his quote up with the following comment:

Savorys intuition that these paradoxes can be resolved through reader-analysis goes in the right direction
since the different translation principles do reflect differences in what different readers consider to be
relevant. What Savory does not bring out is that the link between different readerships and different translations
lies in the principle of relevance. Thus the contradictions can be resolved when each principle is not stated in
absolute terms, but qualified by the condition: ... when required for consistency with the principle of relevance.
(Venuti 2000)
In fact, the principle of relevance as it is one of the fundamental building blocks of a theoretical framework on
translation. Savory also believes that translation requires audacity. What exactly is so audacious about translation?
Here is his answer, as formulated by Ian Halliday:
Translators, after all, in popular conception lead quiet, sedentary lives, are nine times out of ten invisible,
apparently accountable only to themselves. But in truth they are accountable to their authors, their editors,
their publishers, their readers, their texts. In fact translators are accountable in more ways than most people
who work with words. Theirs is a job of great responsibility. The great audacity in translation lies in the
aspiration to understand a text fully and then to recreate that text in another language, in another system of
expression. Halliday (2009)
In fact, audacity goes hand in hand with the audacity of Translation Studies that cannot be considered as a single
discipline, as we all know, on account of its very audacity and eclecticism.
Linguistic Theories of Translation. Linguistic approaches to translation emerged in the late 50s and they
looked at issues such as the language-specific nature of meaning as a factor in translation, the nature of
communication in general, and its relationship to the limitations of translation. The general purpose was to
establish the boundaries of the linguistic aspects of the translators task: meaning, equivalence and shift. Linguistic
theories of translation have developed under the influence of structural linguistics, and they feature the work of





Jakobson, Eugene Nida, Peter Newmark, Jean-Paul Vinay and Jean

Darbelnet, John C. Catford and Kitty M. van Leuven-Zwart.

Roman Jakobson. Roman Jakobson, one of the most creative and influential linguists of the twentieth
century, has also made a valuable contribution to Translation He proposed a number of important concepts in his
essay On the Linguistic Aspect of Translation (Jakobson: 1959), probably the most widely quoted essay in
Translation Studies ever. In the context of his semiotic approach to language, Jakobson has classified translation
into three categories:
- Intralingual translation or rewording, which is an interpretation of verbal signs by means of other signs of the
same language.
- Interlingual translation or translation proper, which is an interpretation of verbal signs by means of some other
- Intersemiotic translation or transmutation, which is an interpretation of verbal signs by means of signs of

nonverbal sign systems.

For Jakobson, meaning and equivalence are linked to the interlingual form of translation, which involves two
equivalent messages in two different codes. From a grammatical point of view languages may differ from one
another to a greater or lesser degree, but this does not mean that translation is not possible, in other words, that the
translator may face the problem of not finding a translation equivalent. According to Jakobson, whenever there is
deficiency, terminology may be qualified an amplified by loanwords or loan-translations, neologisms or semantic
shifts, and finally, by circumlocution, that is there are always methods available that the translator can choose. It is
the role of the translator to decide how to carry out the translation. What is important is that the translation task
can always be carried out from one language to another, regardless of the cultural or grammatical differences
between two languages.
As already stated, the American linguist of Russian descent defined three types of translations. The one which is of
interest to us is the interlingual translation which covers the translation between two written languages. Jakobson
analyses the important issued related to this type of translation, namely the linguistic meaning and equivalence.
Following on de Saussures relation established between the signifier and the signified, a relation which is artibrary
and unmotivated, Jakobson claims that it is possible to understand what a word signifies even if we have no real
experience of the concept or object. For instance, ambrosia and nectar, mentioned in the ancient legends and myths,
as the gods food and drink, which readers have bever come across in real life. Jakobson also tackles the equivalence
of sense between different languages and shows that usually there is no total equivalence between the units of the
code. For instance, at the beginning of the 1990s, the English code unit cheese and the Romanian code unit branza
were not identical as the Romanian term did not cover the concept of cottage cheese.
Jakobson believes that interlingual translation involves repalcing the messages in one language noy buy separate
code units, but by complete messages in the TL. In other words, the translator reeconodes and conveys a message
received from another source. Translation involves two equivalent messages in two different codes.

Obviously, the

code units employed by the ST and the TT are different as they belong to different systems of signs (languages) which
conceptualize reality in different ways (drept, law, common law, equity).Here is Jakobsons definition of equivalence:
equivalence in difference is the cardinal problem of language and the pivotal concern of linguistics (Jakobson:
1959) For Jakobson, sense and equivalence focus on the differences related to language structure and terminology
and not on the linguistic inability to render a message written in another language. In fact, any language can express
the full meaning of a semantic concept even if it breaks it into several different concepts.
Jakobsons opinion is that the differences between languages focus around some obligatory grammatical and lexical
categories: essential differenves between languages pertain to what they must convey no to what they can convey.
For example:

In terms of gender , the noun house is feminine in Romance languages, neuter in German, while in
English gender is irrelevant

In terms of grammatical aspect the differences between languages lies in the fact that there are
labguages which have a progressive aspect and languages that do not

In semantic terms the English term siblings can be translated into Romanian as frai i surori or only

The verb to be / a fi which is generally expressed as a single lexical item in most languages, in Spanish it
is expressed by two verbs, namely ser and estar, while in Russian it is not explicitly used in the Present

These are but a few examples which illustrate the differences between languages, but they are all concepts which can
be expressed at interlinguistic level. Jakobson believes that only poetry in untranslatable because in the case of
poetry the form conveys meaning, therefore the translation of poetry requires some kind of creatice transposition.

Eugene Nida. Nida began his activity as a Bible translator, and his practical activity was the basis of the translation
theory the American theorist porposed. It is presented in two major works published in the 1960s, namely Towards
a Science of Translating (1964) i The Theory and Practice of Translation (co-authored with Taber,
1969). Nida tried to move translation thoery towards a more scientific period, incorporating the most recent
linguistic theories. He borrowed a number of concepts and terminology from Noam Chomskys generativetransformational grammar, as well as from semantics and pragmatics. Nida presents various scientific approaches to
meaning starting from the new semantic and pragmatic theories and moves away from the idea that a written word
has a fixed meaning. He aims at a fucntional definition of meaning according to which a word acquires meaning in
context and can generate various reactions depending on the cultural environment in which it is used.
Nida makes use of some elements of the Chomskian model and he divides meaning into linguistic meaning,
referential meaning (the dictionary denotative sense) and the emotive meaning (conotative). The translatot can make
use of a number of linguistic techniques to establish the meaning of several linguistic items. For instance, the
denotative meaning and the referential one are etablished by analyzing the structure of the words and by establishing
the difference between them and other similar words belonging to the related semantic field. We may speak about
hierarchical structuring, namely differentiating series of words depending on the level where they occur (for
instance the noun animal which is a hypernim and the words goat, dog, cow which are its hyponyms). We may
also be speaking about componential analysis which identifies or delimits the specific features of a series of
related words. For instance kinship terms can be organized depending the values of some features such as gender
(masculine, feminie), generation (the same, once removed, twice removed, three times removed) or lineage (ancestor
/ direct or indirect descendent). The results of such an analysis are very useful for translators who work with
languages where kinship terms are wide apart. Another technique is the analysis of the sematic structure by means
of which Nida separates various senses of the English word spirit demons, angels, gods, ghost, ethos, alcohol, etc
depending on features such as [human] or [good]. The idea is to teach the translator apprentice that the meaning
of a semantically complex term (such as spirit or bachelor) varies and depends on the context. Nida underlines the
importance of the context for communication, especially when it comes to metaphoric meaning or cultural idioms,
where the meaning of the expression is different from the sumtotal of the separate lexical items (beat somebody
black and blue; let the cat out of the bag).
The most important contribution to linguistic scholarship of Eugene Nida, the great Bible translator, is most

probably his work on the ground-breaking concept of dynamic equivalence (which later developed into functional
equivalence). This theory advanced translation scholarship beyond a search for one-to-one, word-for-word
equivalents. According to Nida, the most accurate translation of a text is one that communicates the same ideas the
original audience would have understood.
The translator must strive for equivalence [between the source and target languages, resulting in] the closest
natural equivalent of the source-language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style.
(Nida: 1969: 12)
Dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence have often been understood as fundamentally the same as
sense-for-sense translation and word-for-word translation, respectively, and Nida has often seemed to be using
them this way. However, his original definition of dynamic equivalence is rhetorical: the idea is that the translator
should translate so that the effect of the translation on the target reader is roughly the same as the effect of the
source text once was on the source reader. We should not forget, however, that this concept has been
developed to ensure that the message of the Bible would be faithfully translated into other cultures. For Nida,
therefore, content should come first in translation. He argues that formal translators who focus more on forms of
poetry, for instance, are more likely to misinterpret the "intention of the author", and more apt to "distort the
meaning" (Nida, 1964). According to Nida, the dynamic translator is more faithful than the literal one, since he
may perceive "more fully and satisfactorily the meaning of the original text" (Nida, 1964).
On the other hand, any approach to translation dominated by the notion of equivalence is likely to focus on
the word as the unit of translation, since it is easier to say that a word is equivalent to some other word than to say
that a sentence is equivalent to other sentences, a paragraph is equivalent to other paragraphs, or a full text is
equivalent to other texts. It is in that context that Nida developed the technique of componential analysis that
could be used to gauge the degree of equivalence between words, and thus ensure their correct translation. This
technique, whereby words are split up into their components, has remained perfectly useful for translators to this
day. According to some scholars (Lefeve, 1992), it is one of the few linguistics-based concepts that have proved to
be of immediate relevance for both the production and the study of translations. It is important, however, not to
overlook the reductionistic character of componential analysis, and consider it to be the definitive statement about
meaning. Another element that should not be forgotten either is that there is a difference between the meanings of
the words taken individually and the meanings that are generated when the words are used to build phrases and
sentences. Moreover, a sentence is always somewhat more than a string of equivalent words, and a text is always
somewhat more than a string of equivalent sentences. These are elements that have not been given adequate
consideration at the time.
Nida has provided a significant discussion on almost every aspect of translation, including the relationship
between translation and communication. Nida discusses communication in several of his books, occasionally
mentioning information theory, or communication theory as it is sometimes called. In his view, translation falls
within the general domain of communication. His theory on the code-model of communication is based on two
fundamental assumptions: (a) any message can be communicated to any audience in any language provided that
the most effective form of expression is found; (b) humans share a core of universal experience which makes such
communication possible.

Eugene Nida emphasizes that Language [...] is essentially a code in operation, or, in other words, a code
functioning for a specific purpose or purposes. Thus we must analyze the transmission of a message in terms
of a dynamic dimension. From this construct of language as code of communication of a message, Nida goes on to
say: This analysis is especially important for translating, since the production of equivalent messages is a process,
not merely of matching the parts of utterances, but also of reproducing the total dynamic character of the
communication [of the message].
Nida employs two models of communication. The simpler of the two is composed of only three elements:
source, message, and receptor. His other model is more technical and complicated, and we are not going to
describe it.

Peter Newmark. Two of Newmarks works ( Approaches to Translation 1981; A Textbook of Translation
1988) have been widely used for translator trainig courses, yet he departs from the line adopted by Nida, namely
Nidas orientation towards the receiver. Newmark believes that the success of the equivalent effect is an illusion.
Newmark suggests the replacement of the preceding concepts by the concepts of communicative translation and
semantic translation:

Communicative translation attempts to create on the readership an effect as close as possible to the
one on the original readership (some resemblace to Nidas dynamic equivalence)

Semantic translation attempts to render the exat contextual meaning of the original as closely as
possible, to the extant allowed by the syntactic and semantic structures of the second language (some
resemblance to Nidas formal equivalence)

Semantic translation belongs more in the realm of equivalence. It tries to provide an equivalent semantic content for
words found in the source text, and it concentrates more on the meaning of that text. Communicative translation, by
contrast, is more or less equivalent to a cultural adaptation of the source text, so that the readers in the target
culture find it easier to read. But before that, the words may prevent them from understanding. Semantic translation
stays closer to the original text, and is recommended when the distinctive style of the original author is thought to
be worth preserving. It may involve unusual forms of expression in the target text. Communicative translation
can depart further from the original, and the result may look no different from any non-translated text in the target
language. Serious works of literature where the author has a notable personal style may be translated semantically;
"popular" fiction is more likely to be translated communicatively. Semantic translation is accurate, but may not
communicate well; whereas comunicative translation communicates well, but may not be very precise. Newmark
also draws a distinction between translation methods and translation procedures. He states that, "[w]hile
translation methods relate to whole texts, translation procedures are used for sentences and the smaller units of
language" (Newmark 1988: 81). The methods of translation he mentions are the following:

Word-for-word translation: in which the SL word order is preserved and the words translated singly by
their most common meanings, out of context.

Literal translation: in which the SL grammatical constructions are converted to their nearest TL

equivalents, but the lexical words are again translated singly, out of context.

Faithful translation: it attempts to produce the precise contextual meaning of the original within the
constraints of the TL grammatical structures.

Semantic translation: which differs from 'faithful translation' only in as far as it must take more account
of the aesthetic value of the SL text.

Adaptation: which is the freest form of translation, and is used mainly for plays (comedies) and poetry; the
themes, characters, plots are usually preserved, the SL culture is converted to the TL culture and the text is

Free translation: it produces the TL text without the style, form, or content of the original.

Idiomatic translation: it reproduces the 'message' of the original but tends to distort nuances of meaning by
preferring colloquialisms and idioms where these do not exist in the original.

Communicative translation: it attempts to render the exact contextual meaning of the original in such a
way that both content and language are readily acceptable and comprehensible to the readership (Newmark
1988: 45-47).

On the other hand, he lists the following translation procedures:

Transference: it is the process of transferring an SL word to a TL text. It includes transliteration.

Naturalization: it adapts the SL word first to the normal pronunciation, then to the normal morphology of
the TL.

Cultural equivalent: it means replacing a cultural word in the SL with a TL one. However, "they are not

Functional equivalent: it requires the use of a culture-neutral word.

Descriptive equivalent: in this procedure the meaning of the culture-bound term is explained in several

Componential analysis: it means "comparing an SL word with a TL word which has a similar
meaning but is not an obvious one-to-one equivalent, by demonstrating first their common and
then their differing sense components." Synonymy: it is a "near TL equivalent." Here economy trumps

Through-translation: it is the literal translation of common collocations, names of organizations and

components of compounds. It can also be called: calque or loan translation.

Shifts or transpositions: it involves a change in the grammar from SL to TL, for instance, (i) change from
singular to plural, (ii) the change required when a specific SL structure does not exist in the TL, (iii)
change of an SL verb to a TL word, change of an SL noun group to a TL noun and so forth.

Modulation: it occurs when the translator reproduces the message of the original text in the TL text in
conformity with the current norms of the TL, since the SL and the TL may appear dissimilar in terms of

Recognized translation: it occurs when the translator "normally uses the official or the generally accepted
translation of any institutional term."

Compensation: it occurs when loss of meaning in one part of a sentence is compensated in another part.

Paraphrase: in this procedure the meaning of the CBT is explained. Here the explanation is much more
detailed than that of descriptive equivalent.

Couplets: it occurs when the translator combines two different procedures. (Newmark, 1988: 82-91 passim)

Newmark has been criticized for his strong prescriptivism, but this is not the only thing he has been criticised for.
Another element he has been criticised for is his apparent support for word-for-word translation in the age-long
debate between sense-for-sense and word-for-word translation. Let us see whether this is indeed so. On the one
hand, Newmark agrees with the dominant tradition that translation is rendering the meaning of a text into another
language in the way that the author intended the text. On the other hand, he claims that we do translate
words, because there is nothing else to translate; there are only the words on the page; there is nothing else there
(Newmark 1988: 73). But he does not stop there. This is what he has to say:
We do not translate isolated words, we translate words all more or less (and sometimes less rather than more,
but never not at all) bound by their syntactic, collocational, situational, cultural and individual idiolectal
contexts. (...) The basic thought-carrying element of language is its grammar. But since the grammar is
expressed only in words, we have to get the words right. (Newmark 1988: 73)

Therefore, any process of translation departs from the words. Words are not considered as individual, isolated
elements of language, but they are perceived and transferred in the target language depending on the relations
established between words. When Newmark argues that words must stretch and give only if the thought is
threatened and you only deviate from literal translation when there are good semantic and pragmatic reasons for
doing so, what he is trying to say is that the tradition too often and too readily dismissed literal translation when
it might have been the best solution at hand.
I am not making any plea for literal or one-to-one translation, since, if it is translationese (and there is far too
much translationese published), it is wrong. But the re-creative part of translation is often exaggerated, and the
literal part underestimated (...). (Newmark 1988: 73)
As to the equivalent effect, Newmark believes it does not operate as long as the text is outside time and space
(Homers poems, for instance. Whoever the translator may be, whichever the TL, he cannot hope to cause on the TT
readership the same effect as the poems had when they were listened to in the SL in ancient Greece). Newmark
defines the qoncepts with which he operates in the following way:


Semantic translation
Focus on the thinking processes of

Communicative translation
Subjective, focus on the TT

the the transmitter as an individual; it reader, specific language and

transmitter /receiver

must only help the TT reader


decode some connotations if they







It keeps to the SL culture

Transfers foreign elements to

the TL culture
Not fixed in time and space; the Ephemeral; rooted



translation has to be redone with

contemporary context

every new generation

Always inferior to the ST; loss of

May be better that the ST; may

Relationship with the ST


gaib force and clarity even if

Use of the SL form

If the SL norms are abnormal,

there is loss of semantic content

Respect for the SL form; but

Period and origin




be goes beyonf loylaty to the TL

reproduced in the TT; loyalty to norms

TL form

the ST
More complex, awkward, detailed,



Assessment criterion

Soother, simpler, clearer and

to more direct, more conventional,


a tendency to undertranslate
For most texts, such as


personal non0literary texts, technical and










Accuracy of the ST sense rendition

Accuracy of the conveyance of
the SL message into the TL

But, if there is a conflict between the two forms of translation, namely if the semantic translation resulted into an
abnormal TL text, the communicative translation should be used. (For instance the Romanian warning Cine ru
cannot be semantically translated into English as Bad Dog, but communicative translation has to be resorted to,
namely Beware the dog).
In conclusion, the starting point of any translation are the words, but not as isolated pieces of the text,
independently transferred, but as connected elements, the (syntactical, collocational, situational, cultural) relations
which trigger meaning.
Jean-Paul Vinay & Jean Darbelnet. Jean-Paul Vinay and Jean Darbelnet are considered to be classics in the

field of translation theory and comparative stylistics. They have been criticised for their view on literal translation
and blamed for recommending it too warmly to translators.
They compare the stylistic features of the alnguage in different social contexts, analyze the nature of various
translation operations and describe them as categories or types of operations performed on language units, They
differentiate between a language unit and a translation unit which operate at different levels thinking unit or
conceptual unit; lexical unit or syntactic unit, all of them based on the total meaning and not on the meaning of the
individual items. The translation unit is the linguistic manifestation of the linguistic unit, but it is subject to the rules
of the language system within which it has to operate. They approach various types of units, showing that conceptual
realities are categorized differently by different languages, depending on the general view of the world specific to that
language. They also mention the principle of compensation, namely the recovery in a different part of the text of
what could not be translated in another part of the text. They limit compensation only to adjacent parts of the text,
namely compensation operates only a few words away from the segment which caused problems. Many translators
believe that the use of compensation is inappropriate as a balancing technique.
Eg. Play upon words. If the subject of the text obliges the translator to use a play upon words and the TL does not
have the words to be used, than it is untranslatable.
French Le socialisme franais est un cadavre exquis. The last two words may be interpreted literally, as
good-looking corpse, as French socialisme id dead, but they may also be interpreted figuratively, meaning that
French socialialism was a mixture of conflciting tendencies. Apprently, there is no way to adequately translate this
play upon words. So, the suggestion was made that the translator should use a play upon words in another section of
the text to compensate for the loss.
Vinay and Dalbernet classify translation procedures into two categories: direct or literal translation and indirect,
or oblique translation. They further identify three direct translation procedures borrowing, calque and literal
translation - and four types of oblique translation transposition, modulation, equivalence, adaptation.

Borrowing is the simplest form of translation the aim of which is to overcome a lexical gap, but also
to create a stylistic effect by rendering the local colour. According to Vinay and Dalbernet, borrowed words
usually penetrate a certain language through translations and they may become so familiar that they are no
longer perceived as borrowings.

Eg. The term sputnik which the Western press borrowed from Russian when the Russians launched their first space
satellite; glasnost (openness), perestroika(recosntruction), nomenklatura.
Eg. marketing, leader, soft, etc
Eg. trademarks the perfume called Bodymist launched on the German marked under the same name as nobody had
told the manufacturers that mist means manure in German
So, in case of a trademark, the decision to borrow, translate or adapt a name must be carefully weighed .A delicate
balance must be found between the appropriate connotations, the need to mark the nationality of the product and the
need to avoid the useless costs involved by packaging and publicity, although preserving the SL name may seem an
act of cultural imperialism.

Calque is a special kind of borrowing which consists in borrowing an expression from another language
and translating it element by element. Vinay and Dalbernet distinguish between lexical calque, which
observes the syntactic structure of the target text and introduces a new mode of expression and structural
calque, which introduces a new construction in the target language.

Eg. weekend sfrit de sptmn; House of Commons Camera Comunelor; Skyscraper zgrienori,
Romanian advertisments the translation of English adverts - pasta de dini precum cerneala penetreaz creta;
scutece un copil uscat

Literal translation, also called word-for-word translation, is the direct transfer of the original text while
observing the grammatical rules of the target text. It is also important to note that in principle, literal
translation may be tested by means of back-translation. This strategy of translation is facilitated when the
source and the target language belong to the same family (such as Romance languages) and having similar

Eg. I have a headache Am o durere de cap (the natural form in Romanian is M doare capul) Vinay i Dalbernet
call the form M doare capul oblique translation or transposition. It is used when literary translation

Creates a different meaning

Is meaningless

Is impossible from the point of view of the language structure

Does not have a corespondent within the TL metalinguistics

Has a correspondent in the TL but not at the same language level

Vinay and Dalbernet state that translation may turn to oblique strategies of translation only if the three methods
presented above fail to render the meaning of the source text and instead: give another meaning, have no meaning,
are structurally impossible, do not have a corresponding expression, or have a corresponding expression, but
not within the same register.

Transposition implies the replacement of a word category by another, while preserving the meaning of
the message (grammar changes) This strategy may be used also within the same language, where a
common phrase or sentence may be transposed to another one, less common. It is important to note that
transposition can be obligatory or optional

Eg.Lconomie na cess de crotre. translated as The economy did not stop growing. When it should
ahve been translated as a Verb+Adverb in Englisgh, namely The economy grew steadily.

Modulation is a variation of the form of the message, obtained by a change in the point of view. Its use is
justified whenever a literal or transposed translation would result in a grammatical but awkward utterance
in the target text. Again, modulation may be either optional (free) or obligatory (fixed). Unlike optional

modulation, fixed modulation is mentioned and acknowledged in dictionaries. An optional modulation may
become fixed if it is extensively used and eventually documented in dictionaries. (in fact, metaphor,
metonymy, synecdoche).
Eg. give a pint of blood donner un peu de votre sang (abstract concrete)
Dont be a stranger On ne se voit plus (effect cause)
You can have it je vous le laisse (reversal of terms)
Dont get so excited Linitete-te (negative opposites)

Equivalence means that the same situation may be expressed through different means from one
language to another and various strategies are employed to produce a target text equivalent to the
source text. In Vinay and Dalbernets opinion, the most eloquent cases of equivalence are onomatopoeia,
proverbs and idioms.

Eg. as thick as two short planks (very stupid)

Adaptation, or situational equivalence, is a special instance of equivalence where a situation

unknown to the target language and culture must be transposed.

Eg. white as snow the translation would sound absurd in a culture which does not know snow.
Vinay and Dalbernets approach is an attempt to provide the translator with a series of strategies that might
solve problems frequently occurring in translation. They underline how important it is to have good knowledge
of grammar and vocabulary, of the nuances of the foreign language as well as all the resources of the mother
tongue. Vinay and Dalbernet divide the translation startegies into three major categories:

Those covering the vocabulary (aspects of the vocabulary)

The way in which words combine in sentences (syntax)

The message, connected to factors such as situation, context, contextual meaning, stylistic effect, the
impact of the view of the world, the impact of the different perspectives on the conceptyal structure
and the presentation of the information. It also include cultural references (specificity, transferability,
translatability into the TL)

To conclude, the knowledge of the features of the two languages allows transfering the message from its SL form into
the most appropriate TL form, but emphasizes the idea that reality and experience will be interpreted in L2 using
forms and structures differnt from those of L1. The foundation of this idea is the fact that there is a shared reality or
at least many shared features. So, a new perspective on the translation process is opened which depends on the
comparison between what the two authors call the stylistic features of the two languages.
The general translation approach advocated by Vinay and Darbelnet leads them to conclude that the
traditional controversy between literal and free translation is a red herring. IIn other words, the choice is not between
literal and free translation, but between exact and inexact translation.

John C. Catford. Ian Catford's approach to translation equivalence clearly differs from Nidas since Catford has a
preference for a more linguistic-based approach to translation. His main contribution in the field of translation
theory is the introduction of the concepts of types and shifts of translation. The term shift probably appeared for
the firts time in Catfords book entitled A Linguistic Theory of Translation (1965). Catford has proposed some broad
types of translation in terms of three criteria:
a. The extent of translation (full translation vs. partial translation);
b. The grammatical rank at which the translation equivalence is established
(rank-bound translation vs. unbounded translation);
c. The levels of language involved in translation
(total translation vs. restricted translation).
Catford also makes a fundamental difference between the formal correspondence and textual equivalence.
Formal correspondence any category in the TL (unit, class, structural element, etc) about which we can say
that it occupies approximately the same place in the economy of the TL as the place occupied in the SL.
Textual equivalence - any text or text fragment in the TL about which we can notice at some point in time that it
is the equivalent of a text or text fragment in the ST.
Thus, textual equivalence is related to a specific pair of itemes in the SL and the TL, while formal equivalence is a
more general concept, based on the systems of the two languages. When the two concepts drift apart and take
opposing directions there appears a translation shift. Catford defines such translation shifts as departures from
formal correspondence in the process of going from the SL to the TL.
Only the second one of these types concerns the concept of equivalence. In rank- bound translation an equivalent is
sought in the TL for each word, or for each morpheme encountered in the ST. In unbounded translation
equivalences are not tied to a particular rank, and there are also equivalences at sentence, clause and other levels.
Catford finds five of these ranks or levels in both English and French. Thus, a formal correspondence could be
said to exist between English and French if relations between ranks have approximately the same configuration in
both languages, as Catford claims they do.
One of the problems with formal correspondence is that, despite being a useful tool to apply in comparative
linguistics, it seems that it is not really relevant in terms of assessing translation equivalence between ST and TT.
For this reason, another important concept to consider is Catford's other dimension of correspondence, namely
textual equivalence which occurs when any TL text or portion of text is 'observed on a particular occasion ... to be
the equivalent of a given SL text or portion of text' (Catford 1965: 27). He implements this by a process of

commutation, whereby 'a competent bilingual informant or translator' is consulted on the translation of various
sentences whose ST items are changed in order to observe 'what changes if any occur in the TL text as a
consequence' (Catford 1965: 28).
As far as translation shifts are concerned, defined as already stated as 'departures from formal correspondence in the
process of going from the SL to the TL' (Catford 1965: 73), Catford argues that there are two main types of
translation shifts, namely
level shifts, where the SL item at one linguistic level (e.g. grammar) has a TL equivalent at a different level (e.g.
lexis) (the French conditional translated by a lexical correspondent in English - Trois touristes auraient t tus. /
Three tourists have been reported killed), and
category shifts which are divided into four types:
1.Structure-shifts, which involve a grammatical change between the structure of the ST and that of the TT;
S-V-O structures in English and French ( I like jazz. / Jaime le jazz) ared translated into Romance languages
(Romanian, Spanish, Italian) as IO V O (mi place jazzul. / Me gusta el jazz. / Mi piace il jazz)
2.Class-shifts, when a SL item is translated with a TL item which belongs to a different grammatical class, i.e. a verb
may be translated with a noun;
Eg.medical student etudiant en medicine, student la medicin
3.Unit-shifts, which involve changes in rank. Rank refers to the hierarchy of the linguistic units, namely sentence,
phrase, word, morpheme
Eg. The genie [inhabiting the lamp]Participial Clause helped Aladdin fulfill his desires.
The nonfinite participial clause is translated as an NP.
[Spiritul lampii]NP l-a ajutat pe Aladin sa-si indeplineasca dorintele.
4.Intra-system shifts, which occur when 'SL and TL possess systems which approximately correspond formally as
to their constitution, but when translation involves selection of a non-corresponding term in the TL system'.
For instance, when the SL singular becomes a TL plural.
Eg. The use of the article and the use of number in French/ Romanian and English - advice des conseils - sfaturi
Il a la jambe casse. / Are priciorul /un picior rupt./ He has a broken leg. (definite and indefinite article)

To concluse, SL and TL texts are translation equivalents when they are interchangeable in a given situation. We do
not translate words or grammatical forms, but texts. Texts have similar content and effect in both the SL and the TL,
that is the TL readership will react just like the SL one.
Catford has been very much criticised for his linguistic theory of translation. One of the most scathing criticisms
came from Snell-Hornby (1988), who argued that Catford's definition of textual equivalence is 'circular', his
theory's reliance on bilingual informants 'hopelessly inadequate', and his example sentences 'isolated and even
absurdly simplistic' (Snell-Hornby 1988: 19-20). She considers the concept of equivalence in translation as being an
illusion. She asserts that the translation process cannot simply be reduced to a linguistic exercise, as claimed by
Catford in this case, since there are also other factors, such as textual, cultural and situational aspects, which
should be taken into consideration when translating. In other words, she does not believe that linguistics is the only
discipline which enables people to carry out a translation, since translating involves different cultures and different
situations at the same time and they do not always match from one language to another and this is how the
concept of Translation Studies as an interdiscipline has come to be developed
Kitty M. Van Leuven-Zwart. The most detailed model of shift analysis has been developed by Van LeuvenZwart, who goes to an incredible level of detail. She starts ftrom some categories proposed by Vinay and Dalbernet,
which she applies to the descriptive analysis of a translation. It includes 8 categories and 37 sub-categories, and it is
"intended for the description of integral translations of fictional texts" (Van Leuven-Zwart 1989: 154) and contains
two complementary models: a comparative model which involves a detailed manual classification of
microstructural shifts (semantic, stylistic and pragmatic, modulation, modification and mutation) between the ST
and the TT, and a descriptive model which attempts to calculate the effects of the microstructural shifts on the
macrostructural level using the three functions of language from systemic linguistics (interpersonal, ideational
and textual functions) as well as discourse concepts. Van Leuven-Zwart's analysis (1990: 178), segmentation (i.e.
word order change) and cohesion are highlighted as two areas where the effects of microstructural shifts are
visible on the textual and interpersonal functions of language and the discourse level.
Here is a brief presentation of these two models:
The comparative model involves a detailed comparison between the ST and the TT as well as a classification of
microstructural shifts at the level of sentences, subordinate clauses and phrases.

First of all, the passages selected are divided into comprehensible textual units called transemes. For
instance, she sat up quickly may be considered a transeme the Romoanian corerspondent of which would be
s-a ndreptat de spate.

Then the architransemes are defined, namely the invariable sense of a transeme In the ST which is used as the
basis for compariosn between the two languages. In the example abobe it would be to stand / a se ridica.

Then a comparison is made between each individual transeme and the architranseme so as to establish the
relationship between the two transemes. If the two transeme are synonyms of the architranseme, no transfer
is necessary. If there is no synonymy, a transfer is necessary. The three categories of transferare:
modulation, modification and mutation.

Modulation - one of the transemes is a synonym of the architranseme, but the other one differs stylistically
and semantically. The example already mention is an example of modulation as the meaning of the adverb
quickly is lost in the meaning of sit up.

Modification both transemes depart from the architranseme (stylistically, sematically, syntactically and

Eg. you had to cry te-a fcut s plngi

Mutation no architranseme can be identified because an addition, a deletion or a radical change in the TT
meaning has occurred .

Eg. As to the boy well, thank heaven, mother had taken him; he was mothers, or Beryls, or anybodys who wanted
Ct despre micu......slav domnului, din fericire se ocupase mama lui de el; era al ei, al lui Beryl, sau al oricui l
The ST transeme mothers and the TT al ei - two microtransfers can be identified
1) A syntactic and semantic modification the English `s Genitive becomes a Genitive marked a Genitive
article in Romanian
2) A syntacic and pragmatic modification the choice of the English `s Gentive mothers instead of hers,
which means that the English reader is offered more information than the Romanian reader who has to
understand the connection between al ei and mama.
When all the transfers have been identified and classified at microstructural level, the number of transfers in
category is calculated and then the cumulative effect is calculated using a descricptive model.
The descriptive model a macrostructural model to be used for the analysis of literay translations. It is based on
concepts originating in narratology and stylistics. It brings together concepts such as discourse level (the linguistic
expression of the iamginary world) and story level(the narrative, the narrative point of view) with three linguistic
metafunctions (interpersonal, ideational, textual). The Ductch theoretician illustrates this interaction using a
complex scheme which pairs micro and macro structural transfers with the three functions at discourse level and
story level.

The Dutch researcher used this analysis on a 5000 word-text, for which she counted the number of

occurrences of each transfer type and she analysed the results (for instance, for Spanish texts translated into English,
semantic transfers are very frequent, while there also cases of specification and explicitation). VanLeuven-Zwart
believes that her analysis is a TT-oriented translation startegy which emphasizes the acceptability in the target
Advantages a step forward towards higher levels of discourse analysis; attempt to identify how norms operate
Problems the comparative is much too complex. It is made up of eight categories of transfers which cover 37
subcategories, the differences among them being rather blurred. It is difficult to keep track of all these transfers in a
very long text. The use of the architransemes is, in fact, a matter of subjectivity.


Functional theories emergesd in the 1970s and 1980s, especially in Germanay:
Katharina Reiss text type and language fucntions
Justa Holz-Mnttari theory of translational action
Christiane Nord a model for a more detailed analysis of the text which continues the fucntionalist

Katharina Reiss a German linguist and translation scholar, born in 1923. She is best known for her work in the
field of translation criticism. She is a defender of the skopos theory, which will be later developed by Christiane Nord.
In the 1970s, she starts from the concept of equivalence, but she does not refer to the word or sentence levels as the
levels wehere communication is achieved. She considers the text is the level where equivalence must be looked for.
Initially, her approach is intended as a method to assess translations and builds upon Karl Buhlers three functions
of the language. Reiss establishes a link between the three functions of language and the text types in which they are
used, and also add a fourth type of text:
1. Informative texts - plain communication of facts information, knowledge, opinions, etc. The
language is logical and referential, the main focus of the communication is the content. In this case the TT
(target text) should transmit the full referential content and the translation method should be something
which might be called plain prose with the necessary explicitation, if required, and without redundancy.
Types of texts reference work (scientific), reports, lectures, operating instructions, tourist brochures. Yet,
the plain prose method may not work all the time. In English, for instance, business texts are full of
metaphors which are quite difficult to translate into other langauges

Eg. Bear/bull market piata in scadere/piata in urcare; hostile take-over bid oferta de preluare
2. Expressive texts creative composition the aesthetic dimension of language; the author or sender of
the text as well as the form of the message are foregrounded, as the authors attitude is expressed. Focus is on
the form of the message. In this case the TT (target text) should transmit the aesthetic and artistic form of the
ST. In this case the translation method should be an identifying method, a method which adopts the
perspective of the ST author. Text types literature (poems, plays, novels), fiction, biographies
3. Operative texts inducing behavioural responses the aim of the appellative function is to appeal to
or persuade the reader of the text to act in a certain way. The form of the language used is like a dialogue. In

this case the

TT (target text) should elicit the desired response. The translation method should be

adaptative as what is required is to create an equivalent effect among the TT readers. Text types
advertisments, electoral speeches, sermons.
4. audiomedial texts (Reisss type) films, visual and spoken advertisments which supplements the other three
functions with visual images, music, etc. The translation method should be a supplementary method,
adding written words to visual images and music.

Obviously, many of the text types may be seen as hybrid types. For instance, a sermon has an informative
component, as it gives information about religion, but it also has an operative function as it attempts to


the congregation to behave in a specific way. Reiss suggests that specific translation methods should be used to
highlight the predominant function of the ST. Of course, the function of the TT may differ from the function of the
ST. For instance, an election speech, which is an operative type of text in its source language, may acquire an
informative and expressive function when translated, if the TT addresses foreign political analysts who are interested
in finding out what policies have been presented and how.
Reiss moved from the level of words and sentences to the level of texts and the communicative purpose of
translation, which is significant, and her work was continued by Christiane Nord.

Justa Holz-Mnttari - a Finnish translation scholar, born in 1936. She developed the Theory of Translatorial
Action and the concept of "message carrier. Justa Holz-Mnttris theory of translational action takes into account
practical issues while, at the same time, places the emphasis firmly on the reader of the TT. This means, for example,
that things like the source text type may be altered if it is deemed to be inappropriate for the target culture. She sees
translation as an action that involves a series of players, each of whom performs a specific role in the process. The
language used to label the players very much resembles that of Western economic jargon initiator, commissioner,
ST producer, TT producer, TT user, TT receiver, that is adding another dimension to the theory of translation as yet
rarely mentioned. The Greek expression skopos that means aim or purpose was introduced to translation
theory by Hans Vermeer in the 1970s. Skopos theory, linked to Holz-Mnttris translational action theory, centres
on the purpose of the translation and the function that the TT will fulfill in the target culture, which may not
necessarily be the same as the purpose of the ST in the source culture. The emphasis once again stays with the reader
of the TT, as the translator decides on what strategies to employ to reach a set of addressees in the target
culture. Therefore, in a specific sociolinguistic context, cultural issues need to be considered. Skopos is important
because it means that the same ST can be translated in different ways depending on the purpose and the guidelines
provided by the commissioner of the translation. Translational action views translation as purpose-driven, and
focuses on the process of translation as message-transmitter compounds involving intercultural transfer. Interlingual
translation is described as translational action from a source text and as a communicative process involving a series
of roles and players:

the initiator the company or person who needs the translation

the commissioner the person who contacts the translator

the ST producer the person within the company who writes the ST, not necessarily involved in the text

the TT producer the translator

The TT user the person who uses the TT, for instance as teaching material

The TT receiver final recipient of the TT for instance the students in the class of the TT user

Translational action focuses on producing a TT that is functionally communicative for the receiver. The needs of the
receiver are determining factors for the TT. For instance, a technical term in the ST manual may require clarification
for a non-technical TT user. Moreover, in order to maintain cohesion of the TT reader, terms should be translated
consistently. Obviously, Holz-Manttari focuses mainly on professional non-literary translations.

CHRISTIANE NORD - In 1984 Vermeer and Reiss co-authored Groundwork for a General Theory of Translation
based primarily on skopos, which tries to create a general theory of translation for all texts. Yet , skopos is criticized
for the fact that it applies only to non-literary work, as it downplays the importance of the ST; and does not pay
enough attention to linguistic detail.
Christiane Nord in Text Analysis in Translation (1989/91) states that there are two types of translation:
1) Documentary where the reader knows that the text has been translated.
2) Instrumental where the reader believes that the translated text is an original.
She places emphasis on the ST as she proposes a ST analysis that can help the translator decide on which methods to
employ. Some of the features for review are subject matter, content, presupposition, composition, illustrations,
italics, and sentence structure. In Translation as a Purposeful Activity (1997) her theory is developed as she
acknowledges the importance of skopos. The information provided by the commissioner allows the translator to rank
issues of concern in order before deciding on inclusions, omissions, elaborations, and whether the translation should
have ST or TT priority. By also giving consideration to Holz-Mnttris role of players, she manages to provide a
viewpoint that accommodates three important concepts in the functional approach to translation.
Nords main aim is to provide translation students with a model of ST analysis which is applicable to all text types
and translation situations.
Translation theories based on discourse analysis
In the 1990s discourse analysis came to be regarded as important for translation studies. There is a link to Christiane
Nords model of ST analysis as she investigates the organization of the text above sentnece level. Yet, there is a major
difference because text analysts like Nord describe the organisation of the text (sentence structure, cohesion, etc),
while discourse analysts look at the way in which language communicates meaning as well as social and power
relations. The most influential model is Hallidays systemic functional model.

Hallidays model

Michael Hallidays model is based on what he calls systemic functional grammar, focusing on the study of
language as communication. Halliday sees meaning in the linguistic choices made by the writer and links them to a
wider sociocultural framework. Hallidays identifies a link between the surface realization of the linguistic fucntions
and the sociocultural framework. Thus, genre (that is the text type as conventionally defined and associated with a
specific communicative fucntion for instance a business letter) is conditioned by the



and, in turn, determines the other elements in the systemic frameowrk. The first element is the register, which
includes three variakle elements:
Field what is being written about (for instance, about a goods delivery)
Tenor who is communicating to whom ( a sales representative to a customer)
Mode - the form of the communication (written)
All these variables are associates with a strand o meaning, which, taken together, form the discourse semantics of
the texts and stand for three metafunctions of the texts, namely ideational, interpresonal and textual. The
metrafunctions are realized by means of the lexical and grammatical (syntactic) structures in the text. Broadly
speaking, the links operate as follows:
The field of a text is associated with the ideational meaning, which is realized by means of the verbs
patterns ( verb classes, active and passive structures, the argument structure of the verbs, etc
The tenor of a text is associated with the interpersonal meaning, realized by the patterns of modality
(modal verbs, modal adverbs, evaluative adjectives)
The mode of a text is associated with the textual meaning, realized by means of the thematic and
information structures, namely the order and structure of a clause as well as by means of cohesion
(use of pronouns, ellipsis, collocations, repetition, etc)
The model focuses on the analysis of the metafucntions, as lexical and grammatical structures are closely related to
metafucntions, and the analysis of verb patterns, modality, thematic and cohesion patterns reveal how the
metafunctions work and how the meaning is created. Hallidays model is very complex and not all of it is important
for translation theory.

Juliane House
In her book entitled Translation Quality Assessment: A Model Revisited (1997) Juliane House also examines ST and
TT register, and expands on Hallidays ideas of field, tenor and mode. She creates a model for translation, which
compares variables between ST and TT before deciding on whether to employ an overt or covert translation. An overt
translation is one that clearly centres on the ST, in no way trying to adapt the socio-cultural function to suit the target
audience (like Nords documentary translation). This means that the target audience is well aware that what they are

reading is a translation that is perhaps fixed in a foreign time and context. Such is the case with a novel written in the
19th century (Les Miserables by Balzac) translated into Romanian, foer instance. Romanian readers know that they
are reading a translation of a description of the 19 th c French society, which retains all proper nouns of the original
French text (Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, inspector Javert). This is just one of the techniques used to reveal the
overt nature of the text. A covert translation (like Nords instrumental translation) is one in which the TT is perceived
to be an original ST in the target culture. Such is the case with the guide leaflets distributed to visitors at of a
monument Memorialul Victimelor Comunismului de la Sighetul Marmatiei, which seem to have been created
individually for an English audience and a French audience (and possibly German, Spanish, Italian audiences), so
much so that it is almost impossible to tell which is the ST and which is the TT

House selects register as the central concept of her model, but despite the similarities between her model and the
other fucntional models, House rejects the concept of translation approprietness in the sense of a translatiion more
target audience-oriented, as she believes this concept to be wrong. House relies on a comparison between the ST and
the TT which leads to a quality assessment of the translation as it highlights the mismatches and errors. House
includes a series of categories into the register analysis of field, tenor and mode, Halliday style. The model
presupposes a systematic analysis of the ST and TT textual profile by means of lexicla, syntactic and textual means.
Textual means theme-dymanics thematic structure and cohesion
- clausal linkage: by coordination (and, in addition, but, however), by
- iconic linkage parallelism of structures
Individual textual function

(generic purpose)

- subject matter
relations among
- medium (simple/complex)
- social
-authors provenance
and stance
- participation(simple/complex)
-social role
- social

In Juliane Houses model, register includes a variety of elements, some of them mentioned by Halliday. Field
refers to the subject matter and social action and covers the specificity of lexical items. Tenor includes the authors

temporal, geographical and social provenance as well as his personal viewpoint (intelelctual, emotional,affective).
Social attitude refers to the formal, consukltative or informal style.

All of these incude an element of

individuality, so there a stance specific to the author. Mode refers to the channnel (written/oral, etc) and the
degree of participation between the author and the public (for instance, a monologue ora a dialogue).
Juliane Houses model operates as follows:
1. a profile of the ST register is established
2. a description of the ST genre based on register is added
3. these two elements are cumulated so as to establish the ST function, including the ideational and
interpersonal components of the function (meaning whta information is conveyed and what the
relation between the author and the public is)
4. the same descriptive proccess is carried out for the TT
5. the profiles of the ST and TT are compared, so as to identify the mismatches orthe errors, classiifed
according to genre and the situational dimensions of register and genre. se compar profilul TS i cel
al TS, astfel se identific nepotrivirile sau erorile, clasificate cf. genului i dimensiunilor situaionale
ale registrului i genului. Dimensional errors are called covert errors so as to distinguish them from
ocert errors, namely denotative mismatches or target system errors.
6. a quality assessment of the translation cam be made now (statement of quality)
7. finally, the translation can be included in one of the two categories overt translation or i covert
Overt translation a TT which does not pretend to be an original text.For instance, the translation of one of
Winston Churbills political speeches, delivered during WWII, a speech clearly connected to a specific Source Culture
and a historical context or the translation of literary works are anchored in the source culture.Such translations entail
the fact that the target readers of the translations are not the readers to whom the source text was initially addressed.
In such cases, House believes that equivalences should be looked for at the level of the language/text, register and
genre. Yet, the fucntion of the TT can no longer be identical to the function of the ST as the two text operate intwo
different worlds. So, House suggests a new type of equivalence, namely second-level functional equivalence so
that the TT could enable access to the ST function and the TT readers couls eavesdrop on the ST.

Covert translation a translation which, in the target culture, has the same status as the ST in the original. The ST
is not particularly linked to the source culture or readers; bothe the ST and the TT adress their respective readers

For instance a tourist information booklet, an article carried by a publication of an international

organisation (UNO, UNESCO). The fucntion of such a translation is to recreate, to reporduce or to represent in the
translated text

the fucntion the original has its linguistic, cultural and discourse world.

Reproduction or

representation happen without transporting the reader in the ST discourse world, so it is necessary to acgieve
equivalence at the level of the genre and function of the text, but the translator has to apply what House calls a
cultural filter, thus modifying the cultural elements to create the impression that the TT is an original text. Changes

may occur at the level of the language and register of the text. For instance , a letter drafted in English by a company
CEO is rather ineterpersonal, but a translation in a different language must take into account the standards of the TL.
If the ST genre does not exist in the TL, the translator must come up with a covert version of the text rather than a
covert translation.

Mona Baker text and pragmatic level analysis

Mona Baker (In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation (1992)) also uses Hallidays work, and raises a number
of important issues. She examines textual structure and function and how word forms may vary between languages,
such as the substitution of the imperative for the infinitive in instruction manuals between English and
French. Gender issues are raised as she discusses ways in which ambiguous gender situations can be overcome, such
as adjectival agreement in French. She also discusses three pragmatic concepts where pragmatics is the way
utterances are used in communicative situations
1) Coherence relates to the audiences understanding of the world, which may be different for ST and TT readers.
2) Presupposition is where the receiver of the message is assumed to have some prior knowledge. Its a shame about
Uncle John! assumes the reader knows that something bad has happened to that person called Uncle John. This
raises problems in translation because TT readers may not have the same knowledge as ST readers. Possible
solutions are rewording or footnotes.

3) Implicature is where the meaning is implied rather than stated. John wanted Mary to leave may imply that John
is now happy that Mary left, which can lead to a mistranslation of the intention of the message.
Baker analyses the concept of equivalence at various levels word, above word, gramamr, thematic structure
(theme/rheme), cohesion and the incoerporation of pragmatics.
Thematic structure (theme/rheme
Semantically speaking, the information conveyed by a sentence is organized as follows: theme (what the sentence is
about, the known infornation) and rheme (what is said about the theme, the new information). Usually, the first
position in the sentence is occupied by the theme and what follows is the rheme. Themes may be classified depending
on the linguistic nature of the constituent occupying the first position. All departures from this norm are called
marked themes. Information is structures differently in different languages. Some languages have rich verb
inflection systems and the V can appear in the first position in the sentence (Romanian VSO language), while
English is an SVO language where the presence of the subject is obligatory. Romanian is a pro-drop language, while
Englidh is a non-pro-drop language.

Am discutat aceasta problema acum doua zile



disussed this matter two days ago.

non-pro-drop Su


Using Hallidays analysis, the English pronoun I in the Su position is the theme, as English is a non-pro-drop
language, while in Romanian, the inflected verb occupies the theme position as Romanian is a pro-drop language.
Baker acknowleges this fact and suggests the alternative thematic model that takes into account communicative
dynamism and word order, which is more appropriate to VSO languages.
For the translator, the most important element pertaining to the ST thematic structure analysis is the fact that the
translator should be aware of the relative markedness of the thematic information in the two languages. Baket
beliesthat the translator is more aware of the choices made by the writer and can decide whether to translate using a
marked form or not. Obviously, copying the English SVO when translating into Romanian, which is a VSO language,
can only produce a monstruous translation:
Eg. copying the English pseudo-cleft sentences
What pleases the public is to know exactly what the government is going to do in each specific situation.
Ceea ce face plcere opiniei publice este s tie ce va face guvernul........ (stngace)
Opinia public este ncntat / Opiniei publice i face plcere s afle ce face guvernul........
Just like in the case of thematic structure, what is important in a text is the density and the way cohesion ties are
realized in that text. The ties may difer in the ST and the TT, as cohesion is not produced by the same means in all
Eg. The translation of EN adjectives into a language with a rich morphology
EN: Fat or thin? (ntrebarea cu care ncepe piesa lui Pinter intitulat Old Times )
RO: traducerea trebuie s expliciteze genul referentului din aceast ntrebare

Pragmatics and translation

Mona Bakers definition of pragmatics:
Pragmatics is the study of language in use. It is the study of meaning, not as generated by the linguistics system
but as conveyed and manipulated by participants in a communicative situation . (Baker 1992:217)

coherence it depends on the expectations and the experience of the world that teh reader (receiver) has.
Obviously, there is a difference between the ST and the TT readers.

Eg. a paragraph on the London department store Harrods which carries the NPs the flagship Harrods i the
spendid Knightsbridge store. To understand the text, the reader must know that the two NPs have the same referent
in the real world. In a translation into a language of a culture which has no knowledge of this department store,
coherence is achieved by repetition (ex. the main store Harrods ; the spendid Knightsbridge store)
Presupposition pragmatic deduction (inference). It refers to the linguistic and extralinguistic
knowledge that the reader is supposed to have or which is necessary for him to understand the authors
Eg. in 1999 in a speech delivede in the European Parliament Parlamentul, the British Commissioner l Sir Leon
Brittan used the following expression:
Let me now turn to bananas,
which implies that the MEPs were aware of the trade dispute between the EU and the USA over banana imports,
while a third party who would hear this sentence would not know what it is about.
This is a typical context inwhich the translatot can presuppose that the TT raeders do not have the same knowledge
as the ST readers, either due to cultural differences, or because the translatio is made at a moment in time when the
information pertaining to the cultural frameworkd is no longer activated by reference.
Implicature what the authors means or implies rather than say

Eg. 1. Mary had a baby and got married

The implicature may be that Mary first had the baby and the got married.

2. A. How did you like the guest lecturer?

B. Well, Im sure he was speaking English.
The implicature is that the speech delivered by the guest speaker was so confusing and the language did not really
resemble English that the hearer did not really get the meaning.
Paul Grices maxims (1975) they generally operate in normal conversations
1. The maxim of quantity, where one tries to be as informative as one possibly can, and gives as much
information as is needed, and no more.
2. The maxim of quality, where one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is
not supported by evidence.

3. The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion.
4. The maxim of manner, when one tries to be as clear, as brief, and as orderly as one can in what one says,
and where one avoids obscurity and ambiguity.
There are some authors that add the maxim of politeness Be polite in your comments (Brown i Levinson 1987).
The maxims are generally observed or they may be flouted in order to create a humorous effect. The translator has to
overcome a number of problems when the maxim of manner and the maxim of quality fucntion differently in the two
languages (EN an Arabic; EN and Japanese), which means that the translator must know which are the principles
operating in the two languages.
Hatim and Mason the semiotic level of context and discourse
Basil Hatim and Ian Mason co-authored two works: Discourse and the Translator (1990) and The Translator as
Communicator (1997), in which some sociolinguistic factors are applied to translation. They look at the ways that
non-verbal meaning can be transferred, such as the change from active to passive voice which can shift or downplay
the focus of the action. They also examine the way lexical choices are conveyed to the target culture. Mason, in his
essay Text Parameters in Translation: Transitivity and Institutional Cultures (2003) thinks that Hallidays
Systemic Grammar should be viewed in the context of translational institutions, such as the European Union where it
might make a more significant contribution to translation studies. Interestingly, the outcome of this paper reveals a
tendency for EU translators to stay fairly close to their source texts