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13. The problem of equivalence in translation studies
Equivalence is a substantial quality of translation. "Equivalence" may be found in any definition of translation. Every new school of the theory developed its' own understanding of the concept of equivalence. Main job was done by Catford and Nida.
Catford: "Translation is a replacement of textual material in one language by equivalent of textual material in the other language".
Distinction: textual equivalence - any TL text or portion of text which is observed on a particular occasion to be the equivalent of a given SL text or portion of text. Textual equivalents are observed on a particular occasion. (Mon fits a 6 ans. My son is six); formal correspondence is any TL category (unit, class, structure, element of structure, etc.) which can be said to occupy, as nearly as possible, the same place in the economy of the TL as the given SL category occupies in the SL. Formal correspondence - matter of language, textual equivalent - matter of speech. Can be both – like prepositions in European languages (The door of the house. La porte de la maison).
Formal correspondence leads to textual equivalence which can be aligned through translation shifts:
-structure shifts (involve shift in grammatical structure): John loved Mary. Gaelic: It loved at John on Mary
-intra-system shifts – like sing-plur: news - les nouvelles. advice - les conceilles
-class shifts: (one part of speech becomes another). medical - medicine
-unit shifts – like article and word order. A woman came out of the house. Из дома вышла женщина.
Also, source language and target language texts are translation equivalents when they are interchangeable in the similar situations. So, translation equivalence may be achieved at the sentence level. (Я пришла (род, время), Je suis arrive (род, время), Ich bin gekommen (время))
Untranslatable things: poetry and realia.
Criticism: for using separate sentences and words; for using invented (not authentic) sentences to exemplify his categories; for working only on the language level, compared not texts, but only linguistic systems. Didn't pay much attention to the complex problems, which real-life translators have to face.
Nida: dynamic equivalence ("Theory and practice of translation", in cooperation with Taber). The main focus on the readers of the target text. Translator should strive for equivalence rather than identity. Bible in translation should not show in stylistic form any trace of ambiguity, strangeness, or oddness. Dynamic equivalence is opposed to formal correspondence. Set of priorities:
1) contextual consistency has priority over verbal
2) dynamic equivalent has a priority over formal correspondence
3) the aural (heard) form over the written form
4) forms that are used by the audience the translation is aimed at.
These 4 priorities reflect 4 different perspectives:
1) translation in terms of its' linguistic forms
2) reactions of the receptor
3) typical circumstances of communication (the Bible is typically heard not read)
4) types of audience
context vs word for word. Translation is viewed in terms of reflectors of the target audience. The more similar theor response, the higher equivalence.
Criticism: not in touch with translator's practical work; approximate approach and subjectivity
Zadornova thinks that this criticism is not truly justified. A competent translator who takes upon himself a task of translating the Bible is capable of operating appropriate solutions to these problems.
Komissarov. 5-level taxonomy (5 уровней эквивалентности) at which equivalence is achieved.
1) уровень телекоммуникации level of communicative intention -That's a pretty thing to say - Постыдилась бы!
2) указание на определённую ситуацию Level of situation greetings, forms of address etc.
3) уровень способа описания ситуации (варьирование семантической структуры высказывания) Hair-wash makes me bad-tempered - От мытья волос у меня портится характер
4) уровень способа описания ситуации (варьирование синтаксической структуры ситуации) The level of syntactic variation practically the same words, but different syntax. The house was being built. Дом строили.
5) Уровень языковых знаков level of separate linguistic units features of all preceding levels. The closest and the most precise equivalent. Я видел его в театре - I saw him in the theatre.
Гак introduced less detailed classification of the levels of equivalence. -formal -semantic - situational
Швейцер's scheme: syntactic - semantic - pragmatic
Correlation between equivalence and accuracy.
Some scholars use those terms interchangeably. Швейцер tries to clarify the meaning of these terms in his book «Теория перевода. Статус проблемы аспекта». Не assumes that the concept of equivalence is closely connected with the concept of invariant. This invariant should be preserved in translation be all means. Швейцер and Komissarov believed that the most general invariant feature is correspondence between the communicative intention of the source text and communicative intention of the target text. So, the level of communicative intention is the most important level. Requirements to the translation: equivalence has to be prescriptive and normative category. Adequate translation is an optimal translation, appropriate in a particular