Equivalence and Equivalent Effect in Translation Theory essay
Translation equivalence is an important concept of translation theory. It is one of the main principles of Western theory of translation. Finding translation equivalents is one of the core problems of the translation process. As Catford states, “the central problem of translation-practice is that of finding TL equivalents. A central task of translation theory is that of defining the nature and conditions of translation equivalence.” (Catford, 1965, p. 21). Starting from the middle of the twentieth century a lot of prominent theorists who work in the field of translation theory include the concept of equivalence in their theorizing and research. The concept of equivalence was used to distinguish the difference between free and literal translation. Roman Jacobson became the first who used this term in his work published in 1959. Later a lot of specialists used this term in their works and made a lot of attempts to distinguish the concept of equivalence. Such prominent specialists as Vinay and Darbelet Jakobson, Nida, Catford, House and Baker used the concept of equivalence in their studies. All of them regarded this concept in relation to the translation theory. Translation is a complex process which can be regarded from several perspectives. Some specialists view translation as a merely linguistic process where notions from one language are translation into another one. This group of specialists regards equivalence as literal translating each word and notion. At the same time other specialists state that cultural context is very important for the translation because only the use of the context can help to pass real meaning of the text. In their opinion, equivalence in translation should deal with passing the meaning of the text. These scholars present semantic or functional approach to translation. The third group of specialists take middle position and state that equivalence is used for the convenience of translators. Bakers who shares this approach states that equivalence is used “for the sake of convenience—because most translators are used to it rather than because it has any theoretical status” (Kenny, 1998, p.77). Despite different attitudes to the concept of equivalence, most of the specialists pay much attention to its meaning in the theory of translation.
- Importance of Equivalence in Translation Theory:
It is important to understand the meaning of the term equivalence. In English language it may be used as a technical term, which describes scientific notions. For example, term equivalence is used in mathematics, At the same time term equality may be used in common sense in everyday language. In the theory of translation the term equivalence is used in its general meaning because it is hard to find absolutely identical words and notions in different languages. Different languages have different phonetic, grammar, syntax and vocabulary structures. That is why we can speak only about certain degree of equivalence when we make translation. So, in our case we use term equivalence in the meaning of similarity or approximation and it shows the level of likeness between the source and the target text. This likeness may be achieved on different levels.
Translation is a form of communication and that is the reason it is so important to establish equivalence between the source text and the target text. Nida defines translation as “reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the source-language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style.” (Nida, 1982, p. 12). It is evident that equivalence is one of basic concepts of translation which can not be neglected.
- The View of Different Specialists of Equivalence in Translation:
Roman Jacobson made a valuable contribution to the development of translation theory. He introduced the concept of “equivalence in difference” which had an important meaning for the further development of the translation theory. Roman Jacobson distinguished three kinds of translation, which included:
– intralingual (dealing with one language)
– interlingual (dealing with two languages)
-intersemiotic (dealing with sign systems).
According to Jacobson, translator searches for synonyms when making intralingual translation in order to pass the message. This means that intralingual translation does not imply full equivalence between language units. According to Jakobson: “translation involves two equivalent messages in two different codes” (Jakobson, 1959, p. 233). This means that the task of translator becomes to reach equality in messages despite different grammatical, lexical and semantic structures of ST and TT. Despite difference in grammar and lexical structures translation becomes possible through finding necessary equivalents. As he states: “whenever there is deficiency, terminology may be qualified and amplified by loanwords or loan-translations, neologisms or semantic shifts, and finally, by circumlocutions” (ibid. p.234). Jakobson uses different examples to illustrate his concept. He compares different language structures from English and Russian languages and illustrates cases where it is not possible to find a literal equivalent to the ST unite. In these cases translator should choose the most suitable way to translate the text trying to reach the most possible equivalence.
Same as Vinay and Darbelnet, Jakobson states that linguistic approach does not suit for the need of the translation theory. He stresses on the limitations of linguistic theory and point out different methods which help to make the equivalence in translation the same. Jakobson counts on semiotic approach where translator should extract the message from the source language and then choose the most appropriate means to pass it to the target language.
Later scholars continued the study of translation theory and developed their own understanding of equivalence. Nida and Tiber distinguished two types of equivalence – formal equivalence (correspondence ) and dynamic equivalence. Dynamic equivalence is based on the equivalent effect, while formal equivalence is focused on the message itself. As they state “Typically, formal correspondence distorts the grammatical and stylistic patterns of the receptor language, and hence distorts the message, so as to cause the receptor to misunderstand or to labor unduly hard” (Nida and Taber, 1982, p. 201). Despite the detailed study of both types of equivalence, Nida gives preference to the dynamic equivalence, because it gives more opportunities for the translators and proves to be more effective during the translation procedure. Nida showed other specialists the way and let them distance from the word-to-word translation and make a translation process more dynamic and more reader-oriented.
Catford is another scholar who dedicated much effort to the study of translation theory. His concept of translation equivalence differs from the concept presented by Nida and Taber. Catford’s approach is based on the linguistic approach. Catford expanded translation theory and added new criteria, such as the extent of translation, the grammatical rank and the levels of language involved in the translation. According to Catford, grammatical rank establishes translation equivalence.
Catford’s theory of translation was criticized by many scholars. Snell-Hornby became one of the most active critics of Catford’s ideas. She called equivalence in translation to be an illusion and didn’t believe that translation could be regarded as a merely linguistic process.
The notion of equivalence was changed and developed with the flow of time. Baker’s ideas gave new vision of the problem. She explores the notion of equivalence on different levels and applies it to the translation process. She combines linguistic and communicative approaches in order to make translation process more effective. Baker distinguishes equivalence at the level of the word, at the grammatical level, and at the level of the text . Pragmatic equivalence deals with the purpose of communication and also makes an important contribution to the translation process. All these levels are important for the translator and should be taken into consideration during the translation process because only their combination can result in the qualified translation.
Peter Newmark is another specialist whose ideas had great impact on the development of translation theory. He steps away from Nida’s ideas of recipient-oriented translation and changes the vision of equivalence in translation. Newmark develops ideas of communicative and semantic translation in contrast to literal translation. Not leaving ideas of equivalence and literal translation, Newmark gives preference to semantic and communicative translation. According to Newmark, translation is “rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended the text.” (Newmark, 1988, p. 5). His views had great influence on many other specialists who studied his works and used his approach.
- Equivalence in Translation: Pros and Contras:
Translation is a complex phenomenon which is hard to define. It helps to pass the meaning and form from one language to another and very often equivalence becomes that measure which helps to define the success of this process. A lot of specialists stress on the important role of the equivalence for the translation. Marry Snell-Hornby even states that different definitions of translation process may be regarded as different variants of equivalence description. It is hard to overestimate the role of equivalence in translation. Translation is a bridge which helps to link people who do not understand each other. Translation enables communication between people. This way equivalence becomes the measure of success of translation process. The more equivalent the source and the target text are, the better communication goals will be achieved.
Many scholars and researchers stress on the important role of equivalence in the translation process. At the same time some specialists stress that desire to achieve maximum equivalence may create certain limitations and restrictions. Thus, equivalence may result in extreme concentration on form and structure and thus may cause the loss of sense and message of the text. Specialists who share this opinion center rather on the message of the text and do everything possible to pass it to the recipient even if it may cause the reduction to equivalence level. Equivalence is often used by the specialists who count on linguistic approach to the process of translation. These specialists try to achieve maximum linguistic, grammar and structural equivalence. Their opponents center on the sense and meaning rather than on the form and, thus, do not give too important role to the equivalence or value the equivalence in meaning rather than in its form.
Equivalence is a complex term which describes phenomena from different spheres of human knowledge. In the field of translation it first appeared in the middle of the last century and since then has become an important indicator of the translation process. Most translation theorists and researchers pay attention to the equivalence in translation, despite the fact that their opinions on this phenomenon may differ. Some specialists believe that the equivalence may be regarded as a synonym of the translation process, others believe that the equivalence should not cause the loss of main message of the text. Despite different approaches, the equivalence is an important notion in the translation process and it helps to approach the meaning and value of the translation process in general.
For a journal, see Translation Studies (journal).
Translation studies is an academic interdiscipline dealing with the systematic study of the theory, description and application of translation, interpreting, and localization. As an interdiscipline, Translation Studies borrows much from the various fields of study that support translation. These include comparative literature, computer science, history, linguistics, philology, philosophy, semiotics, and terminology.
The term translation studies was coined by the Amsterdam-based American scholar James S. Holmes in his paper "The name and nature of translation studies", which is considered a foundational statement for the discipline. In English, writers occasionally use the term "translatology" (and less commonly "traductology") to refer to translation studies, and the corresponding French term for the discipline is usually traductologie (as in the Société Française de Traductologie). In the United States there is a preference for the term Translation and Interpreting Studies (as in the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association), although European tradition includes interpreting within translation studies (as in the European Society for Translation Studies).
Historically, translation studies has long been prescriptive (telling translators how to translate), to the point that discussions of translation that were not prescriptive were generally not considered to be about translation at all. When historians of translation studies trace early Western thought about translation, for example, they most often set the beginning at Cicero's remarks on how he used translation from Greek to Latin to improve his oratorical abilities—an early description of what Jerome ended up calling sense-for-sense translation. The descriptive history of interpreters in Egypt provided by Herodotus several centuries earlier is typically not thought of as translation studies—presumably because it does not tell translators how to translate. In China, the discussion on how to translate originated with the translation of Buddhist sutras during the Han Dynasty.
Calls for an academic discipline
In 1958, at the Second Congress of Slavists in Moscow, the debate between linguistic and literary approaches to translation reached a point where it was proposed that the best thing might be to have a separate science that was able to study all forms of translation, without being wholly within Linguistics or wholly within Literary Studies. Within Comparative Literature, translation workshops were promoted in the 1960s in some American universities like the University of Iowa and Princeton. During the 1950s and 1960s, systematic linguistic-oriented studies of translation began to appear. In 1958, the French linguists Jean-Paul Vinay and Jean Darbelnet carried out a contrastive comparison of French and English. In 1964, Eugene Nida published Toward a Science of Translating, a manual for Bible translation influenced to some extent by Harris's transformational grammar. In 1965, J. C. Catford theorized translation from a linguistic perspective. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the Czech scholar Jiří Levý and the Slovak scholars Anton Popovič and František Miko worked on the stylists of literary translation.
These initial steps toward research on literary translation were collected in James S. Holmes' paper at the Third International Congress of Applied Linguistics held in Copenhagen in 1972. In that paper, "The name and nature of translation studies", Holmes asked for the consolidation of a separate discipline and proposed a classification of the field. A visual "map" of Holmes' proposal would later be presented by Gideon Toury in his 1995 Descriptive Translation Studies and beyond.
Prior to the 1990s, translation scholars tended to form particular schools of thought, particularly within the prescriptive, descriptive, and Skopos paradigms. Since the "cultural turn" in the 1990s, the discipline has tended to divide into separate fields of inquiry, where research projects run parallel to each other, borrowing methodologies from each other and from other academic disciplines.
Schools of thought
The main schools of thought on the level of research have tended to cluster around key theoretical concepts, most of which have become objects of debate.
Through to the 1950s and 1960s, discussions in translation studies tended to concern how best to attain "equivalence". The term "equivalence" had two distinct meanings, corresponding to different schools of thought. In the Russian tradition, "equivalence" was usually a one-to-one correspondence between linguistic forms, or a pair of authorized technical terms or phrases, such that "equivalence" was opposed to a range of "substitutions". However, in the French tradition of Vinay and Darbelnet, drawing on Bally, "equivalence" was the attainment of equal functional value, generally requiring changes in form. Catford's notion of equivalence in 1965 was as in the French tradition. In the course of the 1970s, Russian theorists adopted the wider sense of "equivalence" as something resulting from linguistic transformations.
At about the same time, the Interpretive Theory of Translation introduced the notion of deverbalized sense into translation studies, drawing a distinction between word correspondences and sense equivalences, and showing the difference between dictionary definitions of words and phrases (word correspondences) and the sense of texts or fragments thereof in a given context (sense equivalences).
The discussions of equivalence accompanied typologies of translation solutions (also called "procedures", "techniques" or "strategies"), as in Fedorov (1953) and Vinay and Darbelnet (1958). In 1958 Loh Dianyang's Translation: Its Principles and Techniques (英汉翻译理论与技巧) drew on Fedorov and English linguistics to present a typology of translation solutions between Chinese and English.
In these traditions, discussions of the ways to attain equivalence have mostly been prescriptive and have been related to translator training.
Descriptive translation studies
Descriptive translation studies (a term coined after Toury's 1995 book Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond) aims at building an empirical descriptive discipline, to fill one section of the Holmes map. The idea that scientific methodology could be applicable to cultural products had been developed by the Russian Formalists in the early years of the 20th century, and had been recovered by various researchers in Comparative Literature. It was now applied to literary translation. Part of this application was the theory of polysystems (Even-Zohar 1990) in which translated literature is seen as a sub-system of the receiving or target literary system. Gideon Toury bases his theory on the need to consider translations "facts of the target culture" for the purposes of research. The concepts of "manipulation" and "patronage" have also been developed in relation to literary translations.
Another paradigm shift in translation theory can be dated from 1984 in Europe. That year saw the publication of two books in German: Foundation for a General Theory of Translation by Katharina Reiss (also written Reiß) and Hans Vermeer, and Translatorial Action (Translatorisches Handeln) by Justa Holz-Mänttäri. From these two came what is known as Skopos theory, which gives priority to the purpose to be fulfilled by the translation instead of prioritizing equivalence.
The cultural turn meant still another step forward in the development of the discipline. It was sketched by Susan Bassnett and André Lefevere in Translation - History - Culture, and quickly represented by the exchanges between translation studies and other area studies and concepts: gender studies, cannibalism, post-colonialism or cultural studies, among others.
The concept of cultural translation largely ensues from Homi Bhabha's reading of Salman Rushdie in The Location of Culture.Cultural translation is a concept used in cultural studies to denote the process of transformation, linguistic or otherwise, in a given culture. The concept uses linguistic translation as a tool or metaphor in analyzing the nature of transformation and interchange in cultures. "Nonetheless, despite the fact that translation brings cultures nearer, in each translation, there will be a definite deformation between cultures.".[clarification needed]
Eco-translatology is a research orientation developed by Hu Gengshen of the Macao Polytechnic Institute. It sees translation as being involved in processes of adaptation and selection across cultures, focusing on the integrity of translational ecosystems and the central role of the translator. Its key concepts are "translator-centeredness", "eco-balance", and translation as working on "textual transplants". The International Association for Eco-translatology Research has organized five symposia on eco-translatogy and has published the Journal of Eco-Translatology since 2011.
Fields of inquiry
Translation history concerns the history of translators as a professional and social group, as well as the history of translations as indicators of the way cultures develop, interact, and may die. Some principles for translation history have been proposed by Lieven D'hulst and Pym. Major projects in translation history have included the Oxford History of Literary Translation in English and Histoire des traductions en langue française.
Historical anthologies of translation theories have been compiled by Robinson (2002) for Western theories up to Nietzsche; by D'hulst (1990) for French theories, 1748–1847; by Santoyo (1987) for the Spanish tradition; by Edward Balcerzan (1977) for the Polish experience, 1440–1974; and by Cheung (2006) for Chinese.
Sociologies of translation
The sociology of translation includes the study of who translators are, what their forms of work are (workplace studies), and what data on translations can say about the movements of ideas between languages.
Postcolonial translation studies
Postcolonial studies look at translations between a metropolis and former colonies, or within complex former colonies. They radically question the assumption that translation occurs between cultures and languages that are radically separated.
Gender studies look at the sexuality of translators, at the gendered nature of the texts they translate, at the possibly gendered translation processes employed, and at the gendered metaphors used to describe translation. Pioneering studies are by Luise von Flotow, Sherry Simon (de), and Keith Harvey. The effacement or inability to efface threatening forms of same-sex sexuality is a topic taken up, when for instance ancient writers are translated by Renaissance thinkers in a Christian context 
In the field of ethics, much discussed publications have been the essays of Antoine Berman and Lawrence Venuti that differ in some aspects but agree on the idea of emphasizing the differences between source and target language and culture when translating. Both are interested in how the "cultural other [...] can best preserve [...] that otherness". In more recent studies scholars have applied Emmanuel Levinas’ philosophical work on ethics and subjectivity on this issue. As his publications have been interpreted in different ways, various conclusions on his concept of ethical responsibility have been drawn from this. Some have come to the assumption that the idea of translation itself could be ethically doubtful, while others receive it as a call for considering the relationship between author or text and translator as more interpersonal, thus making it an equal and reciprocal process.
Parallel to these studies the general recognition of the translator's responsibility has increased. More and more translators and interpreters are being seen as active participants in geopolitical conflicts, which raises the question of how to act ethically independent from their own identity or judgement. This leads to the conclusion that translating and interpreting cannot be considered solely as a process of language transfer, but also as socially and politically directed activities.
There is general agreement on the need for an ethical code of practice providing some guiding principles to reduce uncertainties and improve professionalism, as having been stated in other disciplines (for example military medical ethics or legal ethics). However, as there is still no clear understanding of the concept of ethics in this field, opinions about the particular appearance of such a code vary considerably.
Audiovisual translation studies
Audiovisual translation studies (AVT) is concerned with translation that takes place in audio and/or visual settings, such as the cinema, television, video games and also some live events such as opera performances. The common denominator for studies in this field is that translation is carried out on multiple semiotic systems, as the translated texts (so-called polysemiotic texts) have messages that are conveyed through more than one semiotic channel, i.e. not just through the written or spoken word, but also via sound and/or images. The main translation modes under study are subtitling, dubbing and voice-over, but also surtitling for the opera and theatre.
Media accessibility studies is often considered a part of this field as well, with audio description for the blind and partially sighted and subtitles for the deaf or hard-of-hearing being the main objects of study. In audiovisual translation studies, the various conditions and constraints imposed by the different media forms and translation modes influence how translation is carried out, and this often at the heart of most studies of the product or process of AVT. Many researchers in the field of AVT Studies are organized in the European Association for Studies in Screen Translation (ESIST), as are many practitioners in the field.
Non-professional translation refers to the translation activities performed by translators who are not working professionally, usually in ways made possible by the Internet. These practices have mushroomed with the recent democratization of technology and the popularization of the Internet. Volunteer translation initiatives have emerged all around the world, and deal with the translations of various types of written and multimedia products.
Normally, it is not required for volunteers to have been trained in translation, but trained translators could also participate, such as the case of Translators without Borders.
Depending on the feature that each scholar considers the most important, different terms have been used to label non-professional translation. O'Hagan has used user-generated translation,fan translation and community translation. Fernández-Costales and Jiménez-Crespo prefer collaborative translation, while Pérez-González labels it amateur subtitling. Pym proposes that the fundamental difference between this type of translation and professional translation relies on monetary reward, and he suggests it should be called volunteer translation.
Some of the most popular fan-controlled non-professional translation practices are Fansubbing, Fandubbing, ROM hacking or Fan translation of video games, and Scanlation. These practices are mostly supported by a strong and consolidated fan base, although larger non-professional translation projects normally apply Crowdsourcing models and are controlled by companies or organizations. Since 2008 Facebook has used crowdsourcing to have its website translated by its users, and TED conference has set up an Open Translation Project in which volunteers use the Amara platform to create subtitles online for the TED talks.
Studies of localization concern the way the contemporary language industries translate and adapt ("localize") technical texts across languages, tailoring them for a specific "locale" (a target location defined by language variety and various cultural parameters). Localization usually concerns software, product documentation, websites and video games, where the technological component is key.
A key concept in localization is internationalization, in which the start product is stripped of its culture-specific features in such a way that it can be simultaneously localized into several languages.
The discipline of Interpreting Studies is often referred to as the sister of Translation Studies. This is due to the similarities between the two disciplines, consisting in the transfer of ideas from one language into another. Indeed, interpreting as an activity was long seen as a specialized form of translation, before scientifically founded Interpreting Studies emancipated gradually from Translation Studies in the second half of the 20th century. While they were strongly oriented towards the theoretic framework of Translation Studies, Interpreting Studies have always been concentrating on the practical and pedagogical aspect of the activity. This led to the steady emancipation of the discipline and the consecutive development of a separate theoretical framework based - as are Translation Studies - on interdisciplinary premises. Interpreting Studies have developed several approaches and undergone various paradigm shifts, leading to the most recent surge of sociological studies of interpreters and their work(ing conditions).
Cognition and process studies
Translation studies has developed alongside the growth in translation schools and courses at the university level. In 1995, a study of 60 countries revealed there were 250 bodies at university level offering courses in translation or interpreting. In 2013, the same database listed 501 translator-training institutions. Accordingly, there has been a growth in conferences on translation, translation journals and translation-related publications. The visibility acquired by translation has also led to the development of national and international associations of translation studies. Ten of these associations formed the International Network of Translation and Intrepreting Studies Associations (INTISA) in September 2016.
The growing variety of paradigms is mentioned as one of the possible sources of conflict in the discipline. As early as 1999, the conceptual gap between non-essentialist and empirical approaches came up for debate at the Vic Forum on Training Translators and Interpreters: New Directions for the Millennium. The discussants, Rosemary Arrojo and Andrew Chesterman, explicitly sought common shared ground for both approaches.
Interdisciplinarity has made the creation of new paradigms possible, as most of the developed theories grew from contact with other disciplines like linguistics, comparative literature, cultural studies, philosophy, sociology or historiography. At the same time, it might have provoked the fragmentation of translation studies as a discipline on its own right.
A second source of conflict rises from the breach between theory and practice. As the prescriptivism of the earlier studies gives room to descriptivism and theorization, professionals see less applicability of the studies. At the same time, university research assessment places little if any importance on translation practice.
Translation studies has shown a tendency to broaden its fields of inquiry, and this trend may be expected to continue. This particularly concerns extensions into adaptation studies, intralingual translation, translation between semiotic systems (image to text to music, for example), and translation as the form of all interpretation and thus of all understanding, as suggested in the work of Roman Jakobson.
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