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  1. Basic Transformations in the Process of Translation
  2. Chapter 6. Transformations in Translation
  3. Ex. 9: Compare the two texts as to the morphological transformations. Give your translation.
  4. Grammar
  5. Grammar
  6. Grammar Exercises
  7. Grammar Exercises


1) The choice of grammatical units in TL largely depends on the semantics and combinability of its lexical elements. Therefore there are practically no permanent grammatical equivalents. The variable equivalents in the field of grammar may be analogous forms in TL or different forms with a similar meaning.

It is common knowledge that English and Russian have different grammatical structures and categories that is why translating procedures comprise four types of transformation involving units of SL grammar: transpositions (перестановки), replacements (замены), additions (добавления) and omissions (опущения). The translator may solve his problem by preserving the syntactic structure of the source text and using the analogous TL grammatical forms or a “word-for-word translation”. This may be called “a zero transformation” and can be easily exemplified, e.g.: John took Marry by the hand. Джон взял Мэри за руку. Every word in the text used in a particular grammatical form and all the words are arranged in sentences in a particular syntactic order.


For instance, both English and Russian verbs have their infinitive forms. The analogy, however, does not preclude a number of formal and functional differences. We may recall that the English infinitive has perfect forms, both active and passive, indefinite and continuous, which are absent in the respective grammatical category in Russia. The idea of priority or non-performed action expressed by the perfect infinitive is not present in the meaning of the Russian infinitive and has to be rendered in translation by some other means.

“The train seems to arrive at 5”. – “Поезд, видимо, приходит в 5”.

“The train seems to have arrived at 5”. – “Поезд, видимо, пришел в 5”.


A dissimilarity of the English and Russian infinitives can be also found in the functions they perform in the sentence. Note should be taken, for example, of the continuative infinitive which in English denotes an action following that indicated by the predicate: “Parliament was dissolved, not to meet again for eleven years”. “Парламент был распущен и не созывался в течении 11 лет“. “He came home to find his wife gone”. “Он вернулся домой и обнаружил, что жена ушла”.

In most cases the translator has to resort to various types of grammatical substitutes.


Transposition is the rearrangement of elements of SL in comparison with TL.

Rearrangement of elements in TL may be exercised at different levels: word-order, phrases, clauses and sentences. The necessity to rearrange elements may be caused by various reasons:

- differences in the accepted word-order in SL and TL;

- availability of emphasis or its absence;

- diversity of means of communicative syntax.

A most common example of dissimilarity between the parallel syntactic devices in the two languages in the rule of sequence: the predicate is preceded by the subject and followed by the object. This order of words is often changed in the Russian translation since in Russian the word order is used to show the communicative load of different parts of the sentence, the elements conveying new information (the rheme) leaning towards the end of non-emphatic sentences. Thus if the English sentence ”My son entered the room” is intended to inform us who entered the room, its Russian equivalent will be. “В комнату вошел мой сын.” But in case its purpose is to tell us what my son did, the word order will be preserved: “Мой сын вошел в комнату.”


Replacement is such a transformation when grammatical forms, parts of speech, parts of the sentence, specific English grammatical phenomena, types of clauses, syntactic bonds are substituted by other grammatical forms, parts of speech, parts of the sentence, types of clauses and syntactic bonds.

In accordance with the requirements of the grammatical system of TL it may become necessary to change the grammatical form of a word:

“And your hair’s so lovely.” У тебя такие красивые волосы.

“The house was sold for 10 thousand dollars.” Дом был продан за 10 тысяч долларов.

Now, try to translate the following English words of the two columns into Russian and pass your comments on your translation.


A watch Opera-glasses

a clock water-colours

a funeral wages

a vacation dregs

an election cinders

a sledge ashes

money contents

chess headquarters

ink barracks

wood means

yeast summons

wallpaper stairs

fruit customs

twilight eaves

scent (perfume) works

knowledge shambles

advice ethics

search oats

applause whereabouts


A similar difference can be observed if one compares the finite forms of the verb in English and in Russian. The English and the Russian verbs both have active and passive forms, but in English the passive forms are more often used. As a result, the meaning of the passive verb in the source text is often rendered by an active verb in the translation: “This port can be entered by big ships only during the tide. Большие корабли могут заходить в этот порт только во время прилива”.

Parts of speech are changed to render the meaning of SL in TL, N>V.

“I am a rapid packer”. “Я очень быстро укладываю вещи.”.

“I didn’t mean to be rude”. “Я не хотел вам грубить”.

One of the most important syntactic peculiarities of the English language is the phenomenon of secondary predication made up by various participial and infinitival constructions which are included in the structure of simple sentences in English while Russian simple sentences may have only one predicative centre. It makes necessary to use a composite Russian sentence for the English simple sentence:

“He does not mind your joining our group. Он ничего не имеет против, чтобы вы присоединились к нашей группе.”

“I want you to speak English.” Я хочу, чтобы вы говорили по-английски.”

In some cases it is possible to replace the principal clauses by a subordinate clause, and vice versa: “They put him under laughing-gas one year, poor lad, and drew all his teeth, and gave him a false set, because he suffered so terribly with toothache.” Он так жестоко страдал от зубной боли, что однажды его, беднягу, усыпили, под наркозом вырвали все зубы и вставили искусственные челюсти”.


The failure to use a parallel structure in TL may involve a change in the number of independent sentences by using the partitioning or the integrating procedures.

As a rule, the translator renders the original text sentence by sentence and the number of sentences remains the same. However, it may so happen that the structural and semantic problems of translation event can be best solved by breaking an original sentence into two parts, i.e. translating it with two independent sentences or two clauses in TL.

The partitioning of sentences in translation can be used to overcome the difficulties caused by the idiomatic semantic structure of the original text, e.g. “This was a man to be seen to be understood. Чтобы понять этого человека, надо было его увидеть”.

Sometimes the translator can prefer partitioning to the other possible methods of translation, as producing a variant more suitable stylistically or emotionally. Consider the following examples: “The annual surveys of the Labour Government were not discussed with the workers at any stage, but only with the employers. Ежегодные обзоры лейбористского правительства не обсуждались среди рабочих ни на каком этапе. Они обсуждались только с предпринимателями.

The contrast in the last part of the sentence can be best reproduced in Russian by making a separate unit of it.

And this how this procedure can be used to reproduce the emotional implications of the original: “How well I recollect it, on a cold grey afternoon, with a dull sky, threatening rain.” Как хорошо помню я наш приезд! Вечереет, холодно, пасмурно, хмурое небо грозит дождем”.

Here is another example of such translations: “The two boys flew on and on towards the village speechless with horror.” Мальчики бежали вперед и вперед по направлению к деревне. Они онемели от ужаса.”


It should be noted that a parallel form may prove unsuitable because of its different stylistic connotations. For instance, both English and Russian conditional clauses can be introduced by conjunctions or asyndetically. But the English asyndetical form is bookish while its Russian counterpart is predominantly colloquial. As a result, it is usually replaced in the target text by a clause with a conjunction, e.g.: “Had the Security Council adopted the Russian proposal, it would have been an important step towards the solution of the problem.” Если бы Совет Безопасности принял предложение России, то это было бы важным шагом к решению проблемы”.

The integration procedure may be caused by close semantic ties between adjacent sentences: “We did not want scenery. We wanted to have our supper and go to bed. Мы не хотели красивых пейзажей – мы хотели поужинать и лечь спать.


The opposite procedure means integrating two or more original sentences which are grammatically too incomplete to provide its separate reproduction in translation: “It is not possible to do the work in two days. Nor is it necessary. Выполнить эту работу за два дня нет ни возможности, ни необходимости”.


The portioning and integration procedures may be used together, resulting in a kind of syntactic and semantic reshuffle of sentences in translation. Here is an example:

But occasionally an indiscretion takes place, such as that of Mr. Woodrow Wyatt, Labour M.P., when Financial Secretary to the War Office. He boasted of the prowess of British spies in obtaining information regarding armed forces of East European Countries. (J. Gollan) – Однако по временам допускается нескромность. Так, например, лейборист, член парламента Вудро Уайт в бытность свою финансовым секретарем военного министерства хвастался ловкостью, проявленной английский шпионами в деле получения сведений о вооруженных силах восточно-европейских стран.

The end of the first sentence is replaced by the personal pronoun in the second sentence. The sentence can, therefore, be broken into two and its last part integrated with the second sentence.


Note a regular transformation “The text says (the telegramme, the letter)” – “в тексте (телеграмме, письме) говорится о том, что¼”

Types of Replacement:

- word forms;

- parts of speech;

- a simple sentence by a composite sentence, or vice versa;

- the principal clause by a subordinate one, or vice versa;

- subordination by coordination, or vice versa;

- syndetic connection by asyndatic, or vice versa;

- partitioning and integration procedures.


Addition is a transformation which involves the structure of the sentence to explain equivalent-lacking words and implied words. Such a transformation requires the knowledge of deep-structure and surface structure grammars as well as extralinguistic realia of SL & TL.

“George McGovern’s 1972 economic programme turned into a vote-losing albatross.” “Экономическая программа Джорджа Макговерна обернулась для него неудачей и привела к потере голосов избирателей”. (In sailors’ slang “albatross” is an omen of misfortune).

“John graduated from New Haven in 1995” should be translated as “Джон закончил Йельский университет в 1995 году”. (New Haven is the local University city, renowned in the USA).


Omission is a transformation, which is caused by stylistic considerations. It is not structurally obligatory.

“The treaty was pronounced null and void”. “Договор был признан недействительным”.

This is a wide spread case of synonym reduplication, so common for the English language, which is usually ignored in the Russian language or substituted by a structure with an intensified meaning.


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GENERALIZATION| There is no hard and fast dividing line between types of grammatical transformations: replacement of parts of speech and the transposition of words.

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