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15. Concretization

Some groups of lexical units require concretization in translation. This is due to the difference in the proportion between abstract and desemantized words on the one hand and concrete words on the other in the S and T languages.

Abstract words in English distinctly fall into several groups:

1. Numerous nouns formed by specific suffixes of abstract meaning. Many such nouns have no counterparts in the Ukrainianlanguage, e.g. ministership, presidency, electorate, statehood, etc.

2. Abstract words which have no equivalents in Russian, the so-called lacuna, such as exposure, occupant (unless as a military term).

3. Generalizing words having equivalents in Ukrainian but differing in usage, e.g. man, woman, creature, person.

4. Words of wide meaning which require concretization in translation, some words of this group are on the way to becoming desemantized, e.g. place, piece, stuff, affair, etc.

5. Words of wide meaning which in fact have become partly deictic signs: -thing, -body (something, somebody).

Words belonging to the first group require lexical and grammatical replacements by words possessing a concrete meaning:

C.P.Snow resigned from his ministership because he did not like the way the Labour Government was developing.

Чарльз Сноу пішов зі свого міністерського поста, тому що йому не подобалася нинішня політика лейбористського уряду.

The abstract noun “ministership” is rendered by a concrete noun (пост) with adjective.

An ageing Speaker cannot take the burdens of the presidency (in case of the president’s and vice-president’s assassination).

Старіючий спікер не може прийняти на себе всю вагу президентської влади.

The abstract noun “presidency” is rendered by means of a concrete noun with an adjective as in the preceding example.

Every form of pressure and violence is used by reactionary regimes to compel a reluctant electorate to go to the polls.

Реакційні режими використовують усі форми тиску й насильства, аби примусити впертих виборців прийняти участь у виборах.

Puerto Rico may launch a drive for US statehood.

Можливо, Пуерто Ріко розпочне кампанію за те, щоб стати штатом США.

The abstract word “statehood” is concretized by means of an adverbial subordinate clause of purpose.

Words of abstract meaning which for some reason or other have no equivalents in the Ukrainian language are translated by some concrete word determined by the context. Their meaning is usually conveyed with the help of replacements or additions. It should be borne in mind that in this case the use of the same parts of speech is of no relevance.

He was heavily built. – У нього грузька статура.

The role and the significance of the context is well illustrated by the following example, the translation of which is determined by the macro context.

Two of the shipwrecked seamen died of exposure.

Двоє з тих моряків, хто зазнав аварію, загинули (від холоду чи від спеки).

It was a good solid house built to withstand time and exposure.

Це був гарний, міцний будинок, розрахований на те, щоб протистояти дії часу й непогоди.

Willa, the canary, had flown away. But now there was a vigorously alive little occupant. (D.Eden).

Канарейка Вілла улетіла, але замість неї у клітці була дуже жвава й завжди весела пташинка.

Generalizing words such as man, woman, child, creature etc. which do not have equivalents in Ukrainian but which differ in usage are concretized either by a proper name, the name of the breed (собака, кішка) or some concrete word according to the context.

Anything”, Benjamin said, falling into a highbacked chair across from the man’s kingly desk.

Що завгодно”, сказав Бенджамін, опускаючись у крісло з високою спинкою, що стояло з іншого боку розкішного письмового столу Мастерсона.

The replacement of the noun “man” by a proper name is natural as Benjamin knew Masterson and was in his house.

Burn it, man, and who will be the wiser, eh?”

Спали папірець, і ніхто нічого не узнає?”

Another group is formed by a large number of words of wide meaning. Their reference has widened to such an extent that they have come to be used in a variety of contexts. This ability to be used in different contexts has, in its turn, affected their reference: on the one hand, they have developed new lexical-semantic variants, on the other, their semantic boundaries have become vague and indefinite. This is due to the fact that their meaning is often contextual. Some of them move towards desemantization, such as piece, place, thing, affair, stuff, stunt etc.

The place was full, and they wandered about looking for a table, catching odds and ends of conversation as they did so. (A.Christie).

Ресторан був переповнений; вони ходили по залі в пошуках вільного столика і мимоволі чули уривки розмов.

Desemantized words form one more group.

The word place which is practically desemantized is translated by the concrete word ресторан.

We had a quick breakfast and then our oxygen sets on to our backs. “This oxygen is certainly the stuff”, was my thought. (Edmund Hilary).

Ми швидко поснідали і далі поклали на спину балони з киснем. „Так, без кисню нам не обійтися”, подумав я.

Equivalence in this case is achieved by means of both lexical and grammatical substitutions.

The point of exchanging the E.E.C. is to make it stronger.

Увесь сенс розширення Європейської Економічної Співдружності у його зміцненні.

She (grandmother) was a peppery old party with a will of solid granite and a hot flaring temper. (Ilka Chase).

Бабця була з перцем, як кремінь, з гарячим запальним характером.

The desemantized colloquial word “party” (особа) is omitted in the translation as it serves here merely as a prop-word.

Such words as piece, thing, body fulfill a double function – lexical and grammatical; they can be used as lexical units possessing reference or as a grammatical sign. The noun piece in its lexical function means “a bit of something” (a piece of bread); in its grammatical function it concretizes an uncountable noun, turning it into a countable one (a piece of furniture, a piece of advice, two pieces of furniture, two pieces of advice).

The words “thing” and “body” have, as a matter of fact, moved from one morphological class into another; apart from belonging to referential nouns, they are used as deictic signs or prop-words and in such cases are omitted in translation.

She took things terribly seriously. (A. Huxley).

Вона все приймала дуже близько до серця.

In this case the noun “things” is translated by a generalizing word. But there are also cases when this word requires concretization.

He came in sight of the lodge, a long, low frowning thing of red brick.


Він побачив будиночок приватника, довгу, низьку, похмуру будову з червоної цегли.

Special attention should be paid to the translation of verbs of wide meaning, such as: to come, to go, to turn, to say, to tell, to get, to die and others. They are rendered either by concrete words suitable to the context or by verb equivalents used in corresponding collocations.

So far 65 people have died in floods in Dacca province.

За наявними відомостями, 65 чоловік потонуло (загинуло) під час повені у провінції Дака.

At the by-election victory went to the labour candidate.

На додаткових виборах перемогу одержав кандидат лейбористської партії.

The rain came in torrents. – Полив сильний дощ.

The canary got out of the cage. (D.Eden).

Канарейка випорхнула з клітки.

Concretization is often resorted to in the translation of verbs of saying.

Father!” she cried, “the diamond is gone!”

Are you out of your mind?” I asked her.

Gone!” says Penelope. “Gone, nobody knows how!” (W.Collins).

Батько!”, закричала вона, „алмаз пропав”.

Да ти з глузду з’їхала!” викликнул я.

Зник”, повторила Пенелопа. „Зник, і ніхто не знає яким чином”.

Another verb which has become partially desemntized is the verb “to involve”. Its concrete lexical meaning, its lexical-semantic variant is largely dependent on the context.

I’ll tell you what… you are not involved. You are remote”. (Irwin Show).

Ось що я вам скажу ... вас це не стосується. Ви стоїте осторонь”.

Concretization is often resorted to in translating the verb “to be” in different functions. The principle of semantic agreement is to be observed in such cases.

first he was terrified, then he was sick, then he was in Paris.

... спочатку він злякався, потім його знудило, потім він опинився в Парижі.

(Josephine Tey).


Generalization is the opposite of concretization. In this case a SL word of concrete meaning is rendered by a TL word of general meaning. This type is not so wide-spread and occurs less frequently than concretization. May be this is due to the fact that abstract and desemantized words in English form, a numerous and diversified group, thus supplying a linguistic base to this type of transformation, whereas generalization appears to be lacking a similar linguistic foundation.

Sometimes generalization is resorted to for pragmatic reasons in order to avoid expanded explanations or footnotes.

And so the Mad Hatter Scheme – as it was later to be called – was launched.

І ось так почалося здійснення цього божевільного задуму, як дедалі Гаррі Поллітт і члени редколегії жартівливо називали план видання першої щоденної газети Комуністичної партії Британії.

In those days the British communist Party had neither money, no premises. “The Mad Hatter is an allusion to a character in Lewis Carrol’s well-known book “Alice in Wonderland”. The suggested translation is based on generalization. Besides, recourse has been taken to interpreting translation.

Here are some examples of this type of lexical transformation.

In the Arctic of today the frozen face of the deep is changing and man seeks a scientific explanation for its growth and shrinkage.

Крижаний покров Льодовитого океану зараз змінюється, і люди шукають наукове пояснення цьому явищу.

Much more than an effective gun control is going to be needed to cure America of the plague of violence that afflicts it.

Для того щоб позбавити Америку епідемії насильства, не достатньо одного тільки суворого контролю над продажем зброї.

There is a tendency in the English language to use nouns denoting measures of weight, distance, length, etc. in describing people and things which do not require such precision in their description. This method of description is foreign to the Ukrainianpractice and recourse is usually taken to generalization.

He was a young man of 6 feet two inches.

Це був високий молодий чолов’яга.

It led him time and again into positions of fantastic danger and yet enabled him to win every ounce of advantage, especially against an irresolute enemy.

(Desmond Young).

Це постійно приводило його у надзвичайно небезпечний стан і в той же час давало йому можливість скористатися усіма перевагами, особливо, якщо супротивник проявив нерішучість.

Antonymic translation

Antonymic translation usually implies a comprehensive lexical and grammatical transformation: an affirmative construction is translated by a negative one or a negative construction – by an affirmative one. But such grammatical transformation is usually accompanied by lexical transformation – the key word of the SL utterance is translated by its antonym in the TL utterance, e.g. … the undead past – ще живе минуле.

Let a sleeping dog lie. – Не буди спящую собаку.

Nobody was ever sorry to see him. – Усі завжди були раді його бачити.

Antonymic translation is more frequently used when rendering negative constructions by affirmative ones. This may be accounted for by the stylistic use of negative constructions in English for purposes of expressiveness. The English language uses grammatically only one negative in a sentence – either with a verb or with a noun but it maces a stylistic use of two negatives of which one is formed by grammatical means and the other – by means of affixation (negative prefixes or suffixes) or by lexical means, i.e. by words with a negative meanings.

A sentence containing two negatives is negative only on the face of it, actually it is affirmative as the two negatives neutralize each other. The grammatical form in this case is not used in its direct meaning and consequently attracts attention, as does, for example, the rhetorical question which is no question at all but an emphatic statement. The clash between the denotative meaning of the grammatical form and its use in speech makes it highly emotive and increases its expressiveness. Thus a double negation has a special connotative meaning. It is not identical, however, with an affirmative statement. It contains a certain modification. It may be an overstatement or an understatement.

British imperialists never failed to recognize the value of tea and fought many a bloody battle to grab the plantations of India.

Британські імперіалісти завжди чудово розуміли цінність чаю і не раз вели криваві битви, щоб захопити індійські чайні плантації.

The double negation is expressed grammatically by the negative adverb “never” and lexically by the semantics of the verb “to fail” is desemantized to such an extent that in some cases it is equivalent to a simple negative and is translated accordingly, e..g. he failed to appear – he did not appear.

The combination of a grammatical negative with the comparative or superlative degrees of the adverb “little” is always emphatic and is rendered antonymically.

Dickens is hampered by his age, which demands sentiment and reticence, but in the space that is allowed to him he scampers as if he knew no restraint…Never was he less embarrassed by restrictions than in the exuberance of “Pickwick Papers”.

Діккенс був зв’язаним своєю епохою, яка вимагала чуйності і стриманості, але у дозволених йому межах він веселиться, не знаючи спину ... Ніколи він не почував себе вільнішим від обмежень, чим у „Записках Піквікського Клубу”, де веселості били ключем.

The double negative construction “not … until” may be regarded as a cliché which is practically always rendered antonymously as лишь тогда, только (тогда), когда possessing the same degree of emphasis.

It was not until I reached the farmyard that I made the discovery. (Susan Howatch)

І тільки коли я дістався ферми, я зробив це відкриття.

He spoke in no uncertain terms. (Susan Howatch)

Він говорив вельми рішуче.

Metonymic translation

Metonymic translation is based on contiguity of notions and is less unusual than is generally believed and takes its place among other linguistic transformations.

Bare and lurid light of street lamps. (C.P. Snow)

Різке й похмуре світло ліхтарів.

That worthy gentleman turned mirth into a cough at just the right time.

(Dickson Carr).

Цей достойний джентльмен якраз вчасно придушив сміх кашлем.

The translation is based on the principle of contiguity. A similar relation appears in the following example.

The odious Mrs. Ruscombe had had the effrontery to come up to her to commiserate, with her false honeyed smile. (G. Heyer).

Огидна місіс Раском мала зухвалість підійти до неї зі своєю нещирою солодкою посмішкою, щоб висловити їй своє співчуття.

Another linguistic feature is to be mentioned here. Metonymy as a means of forming derivative referential meanings is widely used in English but cannot always be preserved in translation.

From Winnipeg the railroad sweeps westward in a wide curve… than the steel bends of northward. (F. Mowat).

Від Вінніпега залізничний шлях широкою дугою йде на захід ... Далі колія повертає на північ.

The English language uses a metonymic denotation – the material “steel” stands for “rails, railway line”.

Coalfields go into action.

Шахтарі страйкують.

Coalfields” – the place of work – stands for the people who work there. Such use is common in English newspaper style.

In all these cases there is a reversal of relationship, in other words, metonymy is rendered metonymically and a comeback to the original notion is thus achieved. But in other cases (as shown above) metonymic translation does not call forth the initial notion but is used a transformational device.

I was photographed against autumn. (M.Drabble).

Я була сфотографована на фоні осіннього пейзажу.

The translation of “against autumnна фоні осені is unacceptable in Ukrainian.


When all other kinds of lexical and grammatical transformations fail, paraphrasing becomes indispensable. Paraphrasing implies rendering the content of the utterance by different semantic and grammatical units. This type of transformation is especially common in translating orders, commands, clichés and phraseological fusions but it is used in other cases, as well.

No parking (here) – Стоянка автомобілів заборонена.

No reason in the world to get upset.

Немає ані жодних підстав засмучуватись.

the Germans proposed to surround all strongholds with deep minefields and fill up the country between them with mines whereas it was “tankable”.

(Desmond Young).

німці збиралися обложити всі укріплені пункти глибокими мінними полями, а інтервали між ними всюди, де могли пройти танки – окремими мінами.

The absence of a corresponding suffix in the Ukrainianlanguage sometimes necessitates paraphrasing.

They (the demonstrators) had run into a solid wall of riot-equipped Washington policemen. (C.Bernstein and B.Woodward).

Учасники демонстрації наштовхнулися на суцільну стіну вашингтонських полісменів, спеціально споряджених для боротьби з вуличними заколотами.

A compound adjective formed by the suffix –ed requires paraphrasing.

…”the Communists”, said Mr. Mc Lennan, “are illegally kept off the air”.

... „Комуністів”, сказав Мак Леннан, „незаконно позбавляють права виступати по радіо”.

This example fully reveals the nature of paraphrasing: the cliché “to keep off the air” is translated by a corresponding Ukrainian cliché – позбавляти права виступати по радіо, conveying the same idea by different grammatical and lexical means.

The five types of lexical transformations considered in this chapter: concretization, generalization, antonymic translation, metonymic translation and paraphrasing practically cover the field. Additions and omissions may be added to them.



1. General considerations

2. Grammatical features typical of Modern English

3. Partial equivalents caused by different usage

4. Free and bound use of grammar forms

5. Types of grammatical transformations

1. General considerations

Equivalence, as has been pointed in the previous chapter, is achieved by different transformations: grammatical, lexical, and stylistic. The present chapter deals with grammatical transformations and their causes. The causes generating these transformations are not always purely grammatical but may be lexical as well, though grammatical causes naturally prevail due to differences in the SL and TL grammatical structures.

Not infrequently, grammatical and lexical causes are so closely interwoven that the required transformations are of a twofold character. The following example illustrates this point.

The vigil of the U.S. Embassy supported last week by many prominent people and still continuing, the marches last Saturday, the resolutions of organizations have done something to show that the Prime Minister does not speak for Britain.

Цілодобова демонстрація біля будівлі американського посольства, яка отримала на тому тижні підтримку багатьох видних діячів, все ще продовжується. Ця демонстрація і походи, що відбулися в суботу, а також прийняті різними організаціями резолюції, явно свідчать про те, що прем’єр-міністр аж ніяк не говорить від імені всього англійського народу.

A number of lexical and grammatical transformations have been effected in: 1) the long English sentence in which the subject is expressed by three homogeneous members (the vigil, the marches, the resolutions) is translated by two separate Ukrainian sentences. The structure of the English sentence is typical of the structure of brief notes or of leads which usually contain miscellaneous information on the principles of “who, what, when, where and how”. This, however, is not usual in Ukrainian newspaper style. The word демонстрація is repeated as both sentences have the same subject. 2) The word “vigil” has recently developed a new meaning – “around the clock demonstration”. This new meaning is accordingly rendered by two words (цілодобова демонстрация); similarly, the participle “supported” is also rendered by three Ukrainian words (яка отримала підтримку); 3) a number of additional words have been introduced: біля будівлі (посольства), а також прийняті різними (организаціями резолюції). 4) The word “last” has been omitted as its meaning is implied in the Ukrainian adverbial of time (в субботу); 5) The emphatic meaning of the predicate with its object (have done something to show) is conveyed by the adverb явно. 6) The cliché (speak for Britain) is rendered by a corresponding cliché говорити від імені. 7) Finally, the metonymy (Britain) is translated by the words it stands for весь английський народ.

Strictly speaking only the translation of the complex sentence by meaning of two sentences can be regarded as a purely grammatical transformation, whereas all the other transformations are of a mixed character – both lexical and grammatical.

2. Grammatical Features Typical of Modern English

Naturally only some features of Modern English will be considered here.

The deeply rooted tendency for compactness has stimulated a wide use of various verbal complexes: the infinitive complex, the gerundial complex, the participial complex, the absolute nominative construction. The same tendency is displayed in some pre-positional attributes: the N1 + N2 attributive model, attributive groups, attributive phrases. None of them has any equivalents in Ukrainian grammar and as a rule they require decompression in translation. Causative constructions also illustrate this tendency for compactness.

He …soon twinkled Paul out of his sulks (R.F.Dalderfield).

Він почав підморгувати Полю, і той припинив дутися.

Translation is sometimes impeded by the existence of grammatical homonymy in Modern English. For example, the Gerund and Participle I are homonyms. The analytical forms of the Future-in-the-Past are homonyms with the forms of the Subjunctive mood: should (would) + infinitive. The difficulty is aggravated by a homonymous form of the Past Indefinite of the verb “will” expressing volition. The Infinitive of Purpose and the Infinitive of Subsequent Action may easily be confused. Grammatical homonymy may often be puzzling and may sometimes cause different interpretations. In such cases recourse should be taken to a wider context, e.g.

What we stand for is winning all over the world. (L. Barkhudarov, Lectures).

The translation of the sentence depends on the grammatical interpretation of the –ing form, i.e. whether it is interpreted as Participle I or as a Gerund. According to the former interpretation, the word combination “is + winning” is the form of the Present Continuous Tense; according to the latter, it is a nominal predicate – link verb + Predicative. These different interpretations result in different translations:

  1. Те, за що ми виступаємо, отримує перемогу в усьому світі.

  2. Мы стоимо за те, щоб добитися перемоги в усьому світі.

A different grammatical interpretation involves a different political interpretation.


Some English grammatical forms and structures have no corresponding counterparts in Ukrainian, others have only partial equivalents. The first group (non-equivalents) includes articles, the gerund and the Past Perfect Tense.

Articles. The categories of definiteness and indefiniteness are universal but the ways and means of expressing these notions vary in different languages.

In English this function is fulfilled by the articles whereas in Ukrainianby word order. Both the definite and indefinite articles in English are meaningful and their meanings and their functions cannot be ignored in translation.

Every utterance falls into two parts – the so-called theme
and rheme. The theme indicates the subject of the utterance while the rheme contains the information about the subject. The theme, in other words, represents a known thing, which has probably been mentioned before, whereas the rheme introduces some new information. Thus the theme is the starting point of the utterance and as such it can sometimes introduce a new subject about which the rheme gives some information. In this case the indefinite article is used to indicate indefiniteness. The theme usually occupies the initial position in the sentence. The theme in the English language with its fixed word order usually coincides with the grammatical subject of the sentence. When the theme again occurs in the text it is preceded by the definite article.

A lady entered the compartment. The lady sat down in the corner seat


The categories of indefiniteness and definiteness are expressed by the indefinite and the definite articles respectively and these categories are rendered by word order in translation.

У купе війшла пані. Пані сіла в кутку біля вікна.

When the articles are charged with some other meanings apart from the categories of definiteness and indefiniteness lexical means come into play in translation.

If these meanings are not rendered lexically the Ukrainian sentence is semantically incomplete.

The influence and authority of the Secretariat depends to an extent (though not nearly to the extent that is popularly supposed) on the talents of one individual – the Secretary-General. (Peter Lyon, The U.N. in Action).

Вплив і авторитет Секретаріату залежить у певній мірі (хоча і не в такій мірі, як зазвичай вважають) від здібностей однієї людини – Генерального секретаря.

The Gerund. Another non-equivalent form is the gerund. It fulfils various functions in the sentence and can be translated by different means.

I wonder at Jolion’s allowing this engagement”, he said to Aunt Ann

(J. Galsworthy).

Мені дивно, що Джоліон дозволив ці заручини”, – сказав він тітоньці Енн.

The gerund modified by a proper noun in the possessive case is translated by a subordinate clause.

The gerund used in the function of a prepositional object is also rendered in translation by a subordinate clause.

The mayor of the island is talking of opening up its lush and virgin interior to beef-and-dairy cattle ranching.

Мер острову промовляє про те, щоб використовувати соковиті, незаймані луки його внутрішньої частини для м’ясомолочного господарства.

The so-called half-gerund may also be translated by a subordinate clause.

There was nothing more to say: which didn’t prevent, as the game went on, a good deal more being said. (G.F.Snow).

Розмовляти більше не було про що, але це не завадило тому, що в ході гри було сказано ще дуже багато.

The Past Perfect Tense. The meaning of the Past Perfect Tense is usually rendered in Ukrainian by some adverbs of time.

The stone heat of the day had gentled down. (I.Shaw).

Жар, який йшов днем від розпеченого каміння, вже спав.

But in many cases the Past Perfect Tense is translated by the Ukrainian Past Tense without any temporal specification.

The mainspring of his existence was taken away when she died… Ellen was the audience before which the blustering drama of Gerald O’Hara had been played. (M. Mitchell).

Опора його існування зникла з її смертю. ... Еллін була тією публікою, перед якою розігрувалася бурхлива драма Джеральда О’Хара.

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