Unit 1: What is Translation?



[Origin of Word Translation]

When saying 'translation' one generally refers to the act of interpreting or rendering the meaning of the content in a text or utterance from a language to another, sticking to the message in the original text.

The word 'translation' means to carry or bring across. The Latin term 'translatio' designates a transfer, while the Greek 'metaphrasis' points to the meaning of speaking across.

One of the widely accepted and still most comprehensive definitions of translation is that of Eugene A. Nida:

“Translating consists in 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.”

Five important points in this definition:

  1. Reproducing the message: It means the words and structure of the source language should not be given importance but the message, the meaning, or the idea which must be reproduced in the receptor language.
  2. Closest equivalent: There may be more than one equivalent from for a word, a phrase, etc., but usually only one of them is the closet in the receptor language vocabulary or structure.
  3. Natural equivalent: Natural means common. It can be inferred from this point that among the equivalent which may be found in the receptor language only one of them is the most used among the speakers of that language. This equivalent can be considered as the most natural.
  4. Equivalent: The Term equivalent itself is a point of interest that has to be considered upon. It indicates that the term which will be used in the receptor language must exist in that language; therefore, in many cases the equivalent cannot be ‘coined’ or ‘created’ by the translator, but it must be ‘chosen’ or ‘looked up; from among the existing ones in the receptor language. It must be mentioned that the meanings of ‘words in isolation’ are not important, but what a word means in a certain ‘context’ must be attended to in translating a text.
  5. First in terms of meaning, secondly in terms of style: This means that in non-literary translations and the exceptions, translators must give priority to reproducing the meaning of the source language text. Style of the text must be given second importance. This is correct both at word and sentence levels.

History of Translation Studies

Translation Studies since 1970s:

  • TR developed into an academic discipline
  • US: TR workshops, creative writing, Princeton, Iowa; comparative literature (cultural studies)
  • Contrastive analysis (TR - subject of research): Linguistic approach : languages in contrast (1960’s – 1970’s)
  • Holmes: 1972 / 1988 – 2000: The name and nature of TR studies -> ‘the complex of problems clustered round the phenomenon of translating and translations’
  • M. Snell-Hornby 1988: TR studies: An Integral Approach -> ‘the demand that TR Studies should be viewed as an independent discipline … has come from several quarters in recent years’
  • M. Baker (1997) The Routledge Encyclopaedia. -> TRS:‘exciting new discipline’, bringing together scholars from a wide variety of often more traditional disciplines

History of ELT Method

1800 Grammar Translation Method see more 1

1900 Direct Method see more 2

1945 Audio-Lingual Method see more 3

1950 Silent Way see more 4

1960 Community Language Learning see more 5

1970 Suggestopedia see more 6

1970 Total Physical Response see more 7

1970 Cognitive Approach see more 8

1980 Communicative Approach see more 9

1985 Humanistic Approach see more 10

1987 Task Based Language Learning see more 11

Back to HyunJu Yoo- Portfolio