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Lecture 2. TRANSLATION THEORY………………..………………………………...10

Lecture 3. LEXICAL PROBLEMS OF TRANSLATION……………………………...28




Курс теорії перекладу має на меті підготовку спеціалістів, що володіють знаннями, вміннями й навичками професійного перекладу з англійської мови на рідну і з рідної мови на англійську в обсязі, який є необхідним для виконання завдань вивчення основних теоретичних положень сучасного перекладознавства як системи уявлень про міжмовну й міжкультурну комунікацію; отримання уявлення про сучасний стан науки про переклад в Україні і за кордоном; професійної орієнтації в термінологічному апараті перекладознавчого характеру; засвоєння основних закономірностей процесу перекладу і типу перекладацьких відповідностей на основі гносеології і теорії комунікації; вміння застосовувати сучасну методологію досліджень до розв’язання конкретної перекладознавчої проблеми; систематизації накопиченого фактичного матеріалу згідно з обраними критеріями відбору на основі сучасних теоретичних положень.

Курс теорії перекладу входить до складу фахових дисциплін з іноземної філології і пов’язаний з курсами основ мовознавства, основ теорії мовної комунікації, лінгвокраїнознавства, історії, граматики, лексикології, стилістики іноземної мови, студентською науково-навчальною роботою та практикою наукових досліджень.

Види занять з дисципліни: Курс теорії перекладу складається з лекційних годин та самостійної роботи.

В результаті вивчення диципліни студент повинен

знати: сучасний стан науки про переклад в Україні і за кордоном; теоретичні положення перекладознавчтва як бази для практичних вмінь і - навичок перекладу;

вміти: виконувати адекватний переклад повідомлень і текстів різних стилів і жанрів; проводити підбір фактичного мовного матеріалу за обраною темою наукового дослідження; здійснювати теоретичну інтерпретацію та глибокий перекладознавчий аналіз за темою дослідження.



1. Language and extralinguistic world.

2. Language system: paradigms and syntagmas.

3. Language as a means of communication.

  1. Language and extralinguistic world

It is worthwhile to begin lectures on translation with a short introduction to the phenomenon of language, since not knowing the relationship between language and extralinguistic world one can hardly properly understand translation.

The relation of language to the extralinguistic world involves three basic sets of elements: language signs, mental concepts and parts of the extralinguistic world (not necessarily material or physically really existing) which are usually called denotata.

The language sign is a sequence of sounds (in spoken language) or symbols (in written language) which is associated with a single concept in the minds of speakers of that or another language.

The signs of language are associated with particular mental concepts only in the minds of the speakers of this language. Thus, vrouw, Frau, femeie, kobieta are the language signs related to the concept of a woman in Dutch, German, Romanian and Polish, respectively. It is important to note that one can relate these signs to the concept of a woman if and only if he or she is a speaker of the relevant language or knows these words.

Language signs are a kind of construction elements of which a language is built.

The mental concept is an array of mental images and associations related to a particular part of the extralinguistic world (both really existing and imaginary), on the one hand, and connected with a particular language sign, on the other.

The relationship between a language sign and a concept is ambiguous: it is often different even in the minds of different people, speaking the same language, though it has much in common and, hence, is recognizable by all the members of the language speakers’ community.

The relationship between similar concepts and their relevant language signs may be different also in different languages. This difference may explain many of the translation difficulties.

The mental concept of a word (and word-combination) usually consists of lexical meanings, connotations, associations and grammatical meanings. The lexical meanings, connotations and associations relate a word to the extralinguistic world, whereas the grammatical meanings relate it to the system of language.

Thus, a lexical meaning is the general mental concept corresponding to a word or a combination of words.

A connotation is an additional, contrastive value of the basic usually designative function of the lexical meaning. As an example, let us compare the words to die and to peg out. It is easily to note that the former has no connotation, whereas the latter has a definite connotation of vulgarity.

An association is a more or less regular connection between the given and other mental concepts in the minds of the language speakers. As an evident example, one may choose red which is usually associated with revolution, communism and the like. The relatively regular set of associations is sometimes different in different languages. This fact might affect the choice of translation equivalents.

The most important fact, however, to be always born in mind in translation is that the relation between words (language signs) and parts of the extralinguistic world (denotata) is only indirect and going through the mental concepts.

The concepts being strongly subjective and largely different in different languages for similar denotata give rise to one of the most difficult problem of ambiguity of translation equivalents.

Another source of translation ambiguity is the polysemantic nature of the language signs: the relationship between the signs and concepts is very seldom one-to-one, most frequently it is one-to-many or many-to-one, i.e. one word has several meanings or several words have similar meanings. These relations are called polysemy (homonymy) and synonymy, accordingly.

The peculiarities of conceptual fragmentation of the world by the language speakers are manifested by the range of application of the lexical meanings (reflected in limitations in the combination of words and stylistic peculiarities). This is yet another problem having direct relation to translation – a translator is to observe the compatibility rules of the language signs (e.g. make mistakes, but do business).

The relationship of language signs with the well-organized material world and mostly logically arranged mental images suggests that a language is an orderly system rather than a disarray of random objects. The language system and its basic rules are the subject of the next item.

2. Language system: paradigms and syntagmas

There is a system underlying seemingly random sign of a language. One may note, for instance, that not all the words are compatible with each other; their range of application has certain limitations, and through their lexical meanings and associations they may be united into individual groups.

For example, to take an extreme case, in English speech one will never find two articles in a row or in an official obituary an English speaker will never say that the minister pegged out. An evident example of grouping by meaning and association gives the group of colors in which even a little child will easily include black, red, blue, etc.

Thus, there is some order organizing hundreds of thousands of words making it easier to memorize and properly use them in speech. This order is called the system of a language. Any system is an organized set of objects and relations between them, but before discussing objects and relations in the system of a language it is worthwhile to describe the traditional approach to language system descriptions.

In any language system two general planes are usually distinguished: the formal plane, comprising spoken or written language signs (words and word combinations as well as minor elements, morphemes) and the semantic, comprising mental concepts (meanings) the language signs stand for.

A language system is traditionally divided into three basic levels: morphological (including morphs and morphemes as objects), lexical (including words as objects) and syntactic (comprising such objects as elements of the sentence syntax such as Subject, Predicate, etc.).

For example, -tion, -sion are the English word-building morphemes and belong to objects of the morphological level, book, student, desk as well as any other word belong to objects of the lexical level, and the same words (nouns) book, student, desk in a sentence may become Subjects or Objects and thus belong to the set of syntactic level objects of the language.

At each language level its objects may be grouped according to their meaning or function. Such groups are called paradigms.

For example, the English morphemes s and es enter the paradigm of Number (Plural). Words spring, summer, autumn and winter enter the lexico-semantic paradigm of seasons. All verbs may be grouped into the syntactic (functional) paradigm of Predicates.

One may note that one and the same word may belong to different levels and different paradigms, i.e. the language paradigms are fuzzy sets with common elements. As an example, consider the lexico-semantic paradigm of colors the elements of which (black, white, etc.) also belong to the syntactic paradigms of Attributes and Nouns.

It’s worth mentioning that the elements of language paradigms are united and organized according to their potential roles in speech (text) formation. These roles are called valences. Thus, words black, white, red, etc. have a potential to define colors of the objects (semantic valence) and a potential capacity to serve as Attributes in a sentence (syntactic valence).

The paradigms of the language brought together form the system of the language which may be regarded as a kind of construction material to build sentences and texts. Language paradigms are virtual elements of the language which are activated in syntactically interdependent groups of sentence elements called syntagmas.

In simple language a syntagma is a pair of words connected by the master-servant relationship (This is an approach typical of Immediate Constituent (IC) Grammar).

As an example, consider sentences in English and in Ukrainian: He used to come to Italy each spring and Зазвичай кожної весни він приїздив до Італії.

The following paradigms were used to form these sentences and the following paradigm elements were activated in syntagmas during their formation:

Names of Paradigms Used Elements Activated in the Sentence

to form the Sentence English Ukrainian

Personal Pronouns Paradigm he він

Verb Paradigm used, come приїздив

Verb Tense Paradigm Past Indef. минулий час

Particles Paradigm to none

Prepositions Paradigm to до

Noun Paradigm Italy, spring Італія, весна

Adjectives Paradigm each кожний

Adverbs Paradigm none зазвичай

Noun Cases Paradigm Common Case род. відм.

Adjective Cases Paradigm none род. відм.

Comparing the paradigm sets used to form the above English and Ukrainian sentences and paradigm elements activated in the syntagmas of these sentences one may easily note that both the sets used and the set elements activated are often different.

They are different because English and Ukrainian possess different language systems. It goes without saying, that this fact is very important for translation and explains many translation problems.

Any language has a particular multi-level organization: its elements are organized in sets (paradigms) at various levels and a language speaker is using the elements of these sets to generate a message intended for communication with other speakers of this language and entirely incomprehensible for those who have no command of this language. So a language is a code understood only by its users. Then, may be, translation is a process of decoding a message in one code and encoding it in another which is understood by another group of users using a different code.

3. Language as a means of communication

Thus, a language may be regarded as a specific code intended for information exchange between its users. Indeed, any language resembles a code being a system of interrelated material signs (sounds or letters), various combinations of which stand for various messages. Language grammars and dictionaries may be considered as a kind of Code Books, indicating both the meaningful combinations of signs for a particular language and their meanings.

The process of language communication involves sending a message by a message sender to a message recipient – the sender encodes his mental message into the code of a particular language and the recipient decodes it using the same code (language).

The communication variety with one common language is called the monolingual communication.

If, however, the communication process involves two languages (codes) this variety is called the bilingual communication.

Bilingual communication is a rather typical occurrence in countries with two languages in use (e.g. in Ukraine or Canada). In Ukraine one may rather often observe a conversation where one speaker speaks Ukrainian and another one speaks Russian. The peculiarity of this communication type lies in the fact that decoding and encoding of mental messages is performed simultaneously in two different codes. For example, in a Ukrainian-Russian pair one speaker encodes his message in Ukrainian and decodes the message he received in Russian.

Translation is a specific type of bilingual communication since (as opposed to bilingual communication proper) it obligatory involves a third actor (translator) and for the message sender and recipient the communication is, in fact, monolingual.

Thus, a language is a code used by language speakers for communication. However, a language is a specific code unlike any other and its peculiarity as a code lies in its ambiguity – as opposed to a code proper a language produces originally ambiguous messages which are specified against context, situation and background information.

Let us take an example. Let the original message in English be an instruction or order Book! It is evidently ambiguous having at least two grammatical meanings (a noun and a verb) and many lexical ones (e.g., the Bible, a code, a book, etc. as a noun) but one will easily and without any doubt understand this message:

  1. as Book tickets in a situation involving reservation of tickets or

  2. as Give that book! in a situation involving sudden and urgent necessity to be given the book in question.

So, one of the means clarifying the meaning of ambiguous messages is the fragment of the real world that surrounds the speaker which is usually called extralinguistic situation.

Another possibility to clarify the meaning of the word book is provided by the context which may be as short as one more word a (a book) or several words (e.g., the book I gave you).

In simple words a context may be defined as a length of speech (text) necessary to clarify the meaning of a given word.

The ambiguity of a language makes it necessary to use situation and context to properly generate and understand a message (i.e. encode and decode it). Since translation according to communicational approach is decoding and encoding in two languages the significance of situation and context for translation cannot be overestimated.

There is another factor also to be taken into account in communication and, naturally, in translation. This factor is background information, i.e. general awareness of the subject of communication.

To take an example the word combination Electoral College will mean unless one is aware of the presidential election system in the USA.

Apart from being a code strongly dependent on the context, situation and background information a language is also a code of codes. There are codes within codes in specific areas of communication (scientific, technical, military, etc.) and so called sub-languages (of professional, age groups, etc.). This applies mostly to specific vocabulary used by these groups though there are differences in grammar rules as well.

As example of the elements of such in-house languages one may take words and word combinations from financial sphere (chart of accounts, value added, listing), diplomatic practice (credentials, charge d’affaires, framework agreement) or legal language (bail, disbar, plaintiff).



1. Translation definition.

2. Basic translation theories.

2.1. transformational approach;

2.2. denotative approach;

2.3. communicational approach.

3. Translation ranking.

4. Translation equivalence and equivalents.

5. Types of translation equivalence

6. Levels of equivalence

7. Types of translation

8. Factors influencing the choice of equivalents

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