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NB : Permanent equivalents provide the translator with reference points helping him/her to choose the appropriate translation variants.

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Thus some of the SL words have a one-to-one correspondence with their equivalents in TL.


Other SL words may have several equivalents each. Such one-to-many correspondences between SL and TL words is characteristic of most regular equivalents. The existence of a number of non-permanent, in other words, variable equivalents in SL units implies the necessity of selecting one of them in each particular case, taking into account the way the word is used in a SL text and the points of difference between the semantics of its equivalents in TL.

The choice of the equivalent will depend on the relative importance of a particular semantic element in the act of communication, for instance, the English word "ambitious" may denote either praiseworthy or inordinate desires. Its translation will depend on which of these aspects comes to the fore. Thus, “the ambitious plans of the would-be world conquerors” will be translated as "честолюбивые планы претендентов на роль завоевателей всего мира", while "the ambitions goals set by the United Nations" will give грандиозные цели, поставленные ООН.

As for the English word "attitude" it is translated as отношение, позиция, политика, depending on the variant the Russian language prefers in a particular situation. Here the choice between variable equivalents is determined by TL factors:

a) I don't like your attitude to work (отношение).

b) There is no sign of any change in the attitudes of the two sides (позиция).

в) He stood there in a threatening attitude (поза).


A great number of SL words have no regular equivalents in TL. They are called equivalent- lacking words.The latter make up two groups:


The first group is made up of words that reflect and manifest reality in the people's specific manner. (hand/arm - рука, finger/toe - палец; blue – синий/голубой).

Traditionally some aspects of reality are reflected in language as differentiated notions in the mind of one nation and as undifferentiated notions in the mind of another nation.


The second group. Equivalents-lacking words are often found among SL names of specific national phenomena "solicitor, condominium, impeachment, baby-sitter, home-sitter, sexist language, effective communicator, conversationalist, qualifier " which cannot be translated to the people of the TL community as one word; the so-called "national realia".


The words which are permanent equivalents or variable equivalents are relatively independents of the context. The choice in the above-dealt cases depends on the knowledge of the TL factors and the communication goals.

This is not the case, however, with most words in the English vocabulary whose meanings in any sentence largely depend on the context in which they are used. True, all words have meanings of their own which are defined in dictionaries but the context may specify or modify the word meaning, neutralize or emphasize a certain part of its semantics. And before determining an equivalent, the translator has to make a careful study of the context to identify the contextual meaning of the word to be rendered in translation. Their meanings are the result of the interaction between the word semantics and the methods of its actualization in the speech act.

E.g. "Few Europeans know the first thing about Mandarin". Here we understand that the Mandarin does not mean the Chinese fruit or an official. Could you guess it by yourselves?

The context may modify the meaning of a word to such an extent that its regular equivalents will not fit a TL text. In the following sentence: "History has dealt with Hitler; history will deal with all would-be Hitlers" the translator has to do with the verb "to deal" used in the sentence in the meaning which is usually rendered into Russian as "обходиться" or "поступать". But obviously history has dealt with Hitler as severely as he deserved and the translator will resort to a stronger occasional equivalent like "покончить".

The ability to render the contextual meanings is an essential element of the translator's professional skill.

E.g. When translating the word "an abolitionist", the choice of the equivalent will depend on the period described. In different historical periods abolitionists were people who sought the abolition of slavery, prohibition laws or death penalty. Accordingly, in the Russian translation the person will be described as "аболиционист (сторонник отмены какого-либо закона)". Also, nowadays this word means a person who stands strongly agaist pro-life laws which allow later terms of abortions in contrast to pro-choice laws.

While translating the TL factors should not be disregarded. Distinguish between:

to explode a bomb - взорвать бомбу;

to explode a myth - развеять миф;

to make hay - косить, заготовить сено;

to make money – зарабатывать деньги;

to make a sacrifice - приносить жертву;

to make a step - сделать шаг;

to make a mistake - сделать ошибку;

to make tea – заварить чай;

to make a dress - шить платье

to make war - вести войну.




Equivalent-lacking.words. may be dealt with in translation with the help of transcription(rendering the SL image of the word sound by sound as the TL permits) which is used very often to translate permanent equivalents: Downing street 10 - Даунинг стрит,10, impeachment – импичмент, management –менеджмент, strip-tease – стриптиз, file - файл. The difference lies in the phonetic systems of the languages only. Try yourselves to continue the list.


Transliteration (rendering the SL image of the word letter by letter by means of the alphabet of the TL.) transforms Waterlooo into- Ватерлоо. Likewise: twist - твист, realtor - риэлтор ,

This technique is used with mute and double consonants between vowels or at the end of the word and with neutral vowels: Dorset – Дорсет, Bessie – Бесси, Tess – Тесс..

There are some traditional exceptions in rendering the names of historic personalities and geographical names: Charles - I - Карл I; James I - - Яков II. Accordingly, the translator has to remember that there ys a way to translate the names of the political leaders starting with W with the help of the Russian letter B, whereas the names of writers are presented in Russian starting with the letter У: Prime Minister Wilson – премьер министр Вильсон, science fiction writer Herbert Wells – писатель фантаст Герберт Уэллс.


One should note that the names of outstanding personalities referring to earlier centuries mat have their peculiar way of representation as William Shakespeare – Вильям Шекспир, Walter Scott – Вальтер Скотт, John the Landless – Иоанн Безземельный, Richard Coeur de Leon – Ричард Львиное Сердце, Mary Stuart – Мария Стюарт, etc. The thing is that many of these names came to Russian languale through intermediate languages: French, German, Italian, Polish, etc.

Not to lose national and historical markers interpretors have to use some borrowed lexical units, which strictlly speaking do not refer to the milieu of the SL such as fuerer (фюрер), duce (дуче), caudillo каудильо) instead of the possible "вождь, руководитель, лидер", “мисс, мадемуазель, сеньорита, фрейлин" вместо возможных "девушек, сударыня, барышня, госпожа" и т.д.


In case of composite words loan-translations (калька) can be coined

in the TL.

sky - scraper - небоскреб

shadow cabinet - "теневой кабинет"

backbenchers - заднескамееч¸ники

air - bridge - воздушный мост

nuclear umbrella - ядерный зонт

Here we see that both the parts of these words are rendered into Russian and then put together to get the TL equivalent.


Approximate rendering of the notion (translation on the analogy)


Walk-in wardrobe - громадный шкаф –(the size is focused)

bug juice - дешевый напиток –(the price is stressed)

computer word processing - работа на ЭВМ в режиме редактора.

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