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The context of an idea or event is the

general situation that relates to it, and
which helps it to be understood
(Collins Co-build Dictionary, 1995)
bottom up /Top down processing
Bottom up processing refers to the ability to
construct meaning from sequences of
morphemes, phrases and clauses.
Top down processing refers to the ability to
process text by an analysis of the situation.
A crucial aspect of top down processing is the
way context creates expectations for
understanding the content of a discourse.
Scenarios are mental representations of a
situation based on the stereotypical
components inherent to it. Communicative
acts rarely confront participants with totally
new phenomena. This is because
communicative acts largely conform to
patterns of language uttered, written, read
and heard in similar circumstances, either by
participants, or other participant who have
been read, seen or heard at some other time.
Context and linguistic content
This means that context and linguistic concept are
circumscribed. When unexpected utterances occur in
contexts the result is either shock and outrage at one
extreme, or comedy at the other.
Translation entails re-enacting scenarios at a later time,
but the linguistic choice originally made in line with the
demands of the situation must be respected.
Translators are constantly called upon to enter into the
original writers scheme of things in order to fully
understand the scenario.
( Taylor p75-6)
Versions of the scenario concept
Minsky: frames. These might be described as mental windows or
pop up menus containing our knowledge of a situation.
Schrank and Abelson: scripts, i.e. a representation of a process
rather than a statistic set of data (which) accommodates the notion
of expectancy.
This expectancy leads us to predict how a discourse will progress,
based on situational context, but also on the dynamics of the text.
(Taylor 75/6).
Johnson Laird mental model
Sanford and Garrod scenario
Kintsch schemata and situation model, i.e. the cognitive
representation of events, actions, and personswhich integrates
the comprehenders existing world knowledge with information
derived form the text.
Context: someone speaking to
someone somewhere
Firths outline of context contains the
following elements:
The participants, including role and status
Verbal, non-verbal action of participants
Relevant objects and events
Effects of the verbal action
Hymes componential breakdown of
elements comprising context
Participants (speaker and audience)
Message form (different ways of speaking for different situations)
Message content (topic of text or communication)
Setting (where the communication takes place)
Medium of communication (spoken or written)
Intent of communication
Effect of communication
The key (the tone: formal/informal)
The genre (type of text)
The norms of interaction (conventions governing certain speech
acts turn taking, politeness forms, standard expressions, fossilised
usages, etc.)
Hallidays context of situation
According to Halliday, every communicative
act (i. e. text of some kind) takes place in a
situational and cultural context.
It is the the context of situation that
determines what sort of language will be
The three components of Hallidays
context of situation
Field: subject matter and the nature of the activity, i.e.,
what is happening, to who, when and where. What the
participants know, why they are doing what they are
Tenor: social (power and status) relationships existing
between participants. How they regard each other, and
how familiar they are with each other.
Mode: how the language is being used, organised,
whether it is written or spoken, written to be spoken,
spoken to be written. Also refers to how the text is
produced: spontaneous, prepared, performative or
Relevance of context of situation to
the translator
Translators should attempt to maintain the situational and
cultural context by matching as far as possible the three
elements in the TT version.
Field entails matching terminology and lexis, relevant
grammar for the kind of activity the text embodies, and the
degree to which knowledge can be taken as shared
between ST writer and TT reader;
Tenor will indicate what register should be adopted in the
translation (formal/ informal, technical/ non-technical,
archaic/modern etc.,) also what moods should be used.
Mode indicates how the information should be presented
and organised.
Houses Contextual Model
J. Houses Contextual model was designed as
an instrument for comparing source and
target texts in translation.
It is based on parameters called dimensions.
Their purpose is to ensure that the TT matches
the ST version at all levels.
There are two kinds of dimension in this
system: language user and language use
Dimensions of language user
Language user dimensions:
Geographical origin
Social class
These parameters establish the text in space,
register, and time. The refer to geo-socio-
historical factors determining the language used
in the text, and they must be accounted for in the
Dimensions oflanguage use
Language use dimensions:
Social relationship
Social attitude
These dimensions broadly coincide with aspects
of situation identified in the systems above.
(Taylor pp. 81-81)