Unit 1: What is Translation?

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[Origin of Translation]

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