Defining equivalence from an ‘outsider point of view’ immediately indicates the possible problems which may arise in translating a text in a manner which is both equivalent, acceptable and legibile.
Translational equivalence is the similarity between a word (or expression) in one language and its translation in another. This similarity results from overlapping ranges of reference.
A translation equivalent is a corresponding word or expression in another language.1
It has been argued that language is arbitrary. By arbitrariness it is meant that there is no one-to-one correspondence between the form of the word and the shape of the object to which the word refers (Yule, 1985,18). This is especially true in the case of the abstract words such as advice, meaning, feeling, etc. This means that language is based on conventions.
Two views on equivalence:
· varying types, nature and degrees of equivalence Nida (1964), Newmark (1981), Jacobson (1959-2000) and Bayar (2007)
· impossible to reach Broek (1978), Mehrach (1997) and Leuven Zwart (1990)
Indeed, when bearing in mind that “We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages.” Whorf (1940:213-14)2, it may appear that the equivalent translation of one language to another is difficult or or near impossible as a culture is so intrinsically tied to its language (and vice versa) that separating the two and disregarding the fact that different languages are based on different conventions when translating, may be a perilous business resulting in a word-for-word exact, but nonsensical, translation.3
“The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group. No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached” Sapir (1958:69)4
Sapir-Whorf to varying degrees. Idioms?
Definition of equivalence?
Intersemiotic (equivalence between sign systems)
interlingual (equivalence between languages)
intralingual (equivalence within one language; paraphrasing or rewriting the same content).
Absolute synonymy is rare or inexistant
formal equivalence (also known as formal correspondence) is more concerned with word-for-word translation and content faithfulness. Attention to the message itself and correspondence of form and content. This Gloss Translation is aimed towards allowing the reader to take in as much of the original context as possible although it may be too taxing a reading task for some readers
dynamic equivalence is focused upon context and sense-for-sense adaptation where the relationship between the receiver and the message produces the equivalent effect in either language. This functional equivalence tries to convey the fullest meaning, not retaining grammatical form. While fitting, and certainly popular in some contexts and in order to introduce cultures to a foreign but important concepts, translation via the principle of equivalent effect may have the consequence of dubious/sketchy final translations/results. The reader relies on the translator to be non-prejudicial as many of the decisions of understanding have already been made by the translator.5
Semantic and pragmatic mnature of meaning. Meaning is NOT fixed or unchangeable and get their meaning through the culture and context in which they are used.
Influenced Peter Newmark
Translation is not about comparing two languages, but about the interpretation of a text in two different languages, this involving a shift between cultures.6
in spite of much philosophical speculation, while there is not absolute synonymy for lexical items, different sentences in different languages can express the same proposition.
There is no universal language of truth which can convey the same meaning in different languages 7
in the translation of a book it seems legitimate to violate some rules in order to produce the same effect the original author
As Baker (1992) puts it, the difficulty and problem in translating from one language into another is posed by the concept of non-equivalence, or lack of equivalence. This problem appears at all language levels starting from the word level up till the textual level.8
A ST Metaphore is semantically novel in the TT and is therefore unlikely to have an exact existing counterpart and must be ‘created’ by the translator9 In translating idioms, we very often find that this is not done on the basis linguistic elements but rather on the need to translate the function of the idiom. This generally means that idiomatic translation is less of an exercise in linguistic equivalence more of a substitution of one string of signs with another, with each having the equivalent meaning and effect in their respective cultures.
Berman in equivalence
Berman considers the replacing of an idiom or proverb by its TL “equivalent” to be an “ethnocentrism”: “to play with ‘equivalence’ is to attack the discourse of the foreign work”, he says (p.287
In the 80s, 90s, equivalence was generally regarded as a theory which was too linguistically oriented and often discarded on the grounds that theory tried to create a symmetry which did not naturally exist between languages.
Equivalence – as close to original as possible, whenever possible however also who is your target audience? Or the point of the text?10 The type of text we are producing, as well as the function of this text must be established prior to deciding the type of equivalence the translator is aiming for.
Equivalence as similiarity based on the ceontext in which you are translating, and the audience you are translating for.
2 Whorf, Benjamin Lee. 1940. Science and Linguistics. Technology Review (1940) 35: 229-31, 247-8. http://linguistlist.org/ask-ling/sapir.cfm
3 Include the butter/burro translation but maybe witha different concept to say that if you’re trying to translate word for word, you may succeed with the result that your Target audience are very confued by the resultant text.
4 The Status Of Linguistics As A Science (1929), p. 69 (or Sapir, Edward. 1958. Culture, Language and Personality. Berkeley: University of California Press.)
5 http://www.meritresearchjournals.org/er/content/2014/January/Shabnam.pdf – ref only
6https://archive.org/stream/UmbertoEcoEXPERIENCESINTRANSLATION/Umberto%20Eco%20EXPERIENCES%20IN%20TRANSLATION_djvu.txt – preface
9 Bassnett p.31