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Levels of transfer in Komissarov’s theory (1973


1/ the level of linguistic signs,

2/ the level of utterance,

3/ the level of message, content levels (to which both

4/ the level of situation, the SL and the TL text can

5/ the level of the communicative goal be broken down)

1/ The level of linguistic signs:

In utterances of similar structures different words can be used: The roof should be
mended. The roof ought to be fixed.

2/ The level of utterance:

When the message is being worded, the linguistic signs available for it have to be
arranged in a linear order, in which the elements can be organized into different
structures. The message of the roof having to be mended can be conveyed by
various utterances: The roof should be repaired; It is to be mended; The roof
wants mending; Why not mend the roof?

3/ The level of message:

The situation, however, cannot be completely covered at one single time, and its
different characteristics are described in different ways: The roof needs mending.
When the autumn rains set in you have to wear a macintosh even indoors. Or, as
Petőfi put it in Pató Pál úr: the sky peeps in through the attic “Pallásról néz be az

4/ The level of situation:

To achieve this goal, the speaker informs the recipient about real objects,
persons, abstract phenomena or the relationship between them (miserable living
conditions: the roof is leaking).

The sender can choose one of the situations available for the desired goal of communication. • Thus. de boldog vagyok.e. • The production of a text is the result of numerous decisions. irrespective of what situation. . i..e. crunching the r-s like the French do) • The level of situation: can also exclude the equivalence of all the other lower levels.g. a tenant would like the landlord to mend the roof). The fact that someone pronounces the consonant /r/ in a French manner can be translated only with words containing this consonant..5/ The level of communicative goal: The speaker. say. the selection of the TL equivalent is determined by the goal of communication. mázolvaI in E: Wet paint! irrespective of how it is structured in H. wants to inform the reader. or would like to make them carry out an act (e. Vigyázat. said the countess. To formulate the selected message one of the several utterances is chosen and a selection of the linguistic signs available is made. i. the receiver about something. even if one’s linguistic behaviour is described.. both a receiver and a sender. • The translator. if a character has a foreign accent. would like to raise some emotion in them. In the analysis phase he proceeds from the linguistic signs to the goal of communication. • The comprehension of a text: the receiver covers the same way in the opposite direction. covers both ways. The following example is a frequently quoted translation error: “Ó. To describe the selected situation he chooses one of the messages. for example. the listener. hogy eljött – mondta a grófnő franciásan ropogtatva az r-eket. message. whereas in the synthesis phase he proceeds from the goal of communication to the linguistic signs. utterance or linguistic signs it is expressed by in the SL.” (I’m so happy you’ve come. starts from the linguistic signs and reaches the sender’s communicative goal.

it can only be translated into H Ne lógasd az orrod! • The level of utterance determines the formulation of the TL equivalent of an E passive in H: The doctors were puzzled by the fact. and some of this trouble can be spared only if the selection of the TL equivalent is determined by the goal of communication or the situation.. Az orvosok rejtélyesnek találták a tényt. A 22-es csapdája). if you are to comfort someone by saying Cheer up! Chin up! Don’t lose heart!.. translators translate elements.g. • 2/ On the other hand. • The level of linguistic signs allows no choice in the translation of international organisations which have a constant equivalent in the TL (ENSZ-UNO). his meals were brought to him in bed. • 3/ In reality... who pursues various strategies at the same time. as a rule. • Advantages and disadvantages of the equivalence level model • 1/ Advantages: gives a more nuanced picture of the work of a translator.(Heller: Catch 22..• The level of message: excludes lower level equivalents.. he idealizes the translator’s work saying that in the phase of analysis the translator always covers all the steps from the level of linguistic signs to that of the goal of communication.a kosztot ágyba hordták neki. e. .. at the level of linguistic signs and step a stage higher only if setting up equivalents at this level meets with some unexpected difficulty. which are “higher levels”....