Chapter 5. Equivalence and adequacy of translation

  1. Adaptive Transcoding. Types of Translation
  2. Adequate translation and the role of context
  4. B) Suggest the methods of translation into Ukrainian of the names of English and foreign companies in the sentences below.
  5. Branches in translation studies
  6. By Ways of Word-for-Word or Loan Translation
  7. C. Match the words in the left-hand and the right-hand columns into combinations. Give their Russian translation.

5.1. Equivalence and adequacy of translation: points of difference

The terms equivalence and adequacy of translation have both been used in translation studies for a long time, yet the borderline between the two is not always clear-cut. Not infrequently the notion of translation equivalence is treated as the adequacy of translation. In view of such a discrepancy, it is necessary to consider each term separately first.

The term equivalence is considered by many scholars as one of the most important ontological features of translation, and yet its proper definition is still a matter of debate. There are several reasons for it. The first cause is connected with its polyfunctional character when it is used in the translation theory, therefore it is necessary to specify what equivalence is really meant in each particular case. According to L.L. Nelyubin [ 2003: 253-255] it can be used in a most general sense as a sense proximity of any two elements which are equated with each other, as well as in more narrow senses it is common to speak about (a) equivalence of a SLT and a TLT, (b) equivalence as a type of lexical correspondence between SLT units and TLT correspondences, (c) equivalence of translation which presupposes identity of all levels of a SLT and a TLT content and (d) equivalent translation.

Besides, it is possible to compare equivalent and adequate translation, equivalent substitutions, etc. Very often equivalenceis used indiscriminately to refer to cases which should be termed properly by the term adequacy.

The termtranslation equivalence is one of the key notions in LTT which can be accounted for by several reasons. Many well-known definitions of translation include equivalence as its basic feature and a condition for qualifying a certain act of interlingual communication as translation (see P.M. Toper, G. Jeger, N.M. Nesterova, etc). Translation equivalence is considered as the most important criterion in determining the status of a secondary text [ 2005].

W.Koller treated equivalence in a broad sense spreading it to various content levels and singled out 5 types of equivalence:

1) denotational(Provides for "content invariance" which takes into account the subject content of the text);

2) connotational(Or stylistic equivalence that presupposes purposeful choice of language means in TL);

3) textual-normative(Points to the genre attributes of a text, as well as to the language and speech norms);

4) pragmaticequivalence (or communicative equivalence in translation studies),

5) formalequivalence (established on the level of transferring artistic, aesthetic, individualizing and other formal attributes of the original) [Koller 1983].

Prof. V.N. Komissarov has advanced the theory of the levels of equivalence which is based on the understanding of equivalence as a measure of semantic community of a SLT and its translation on various levels. In keeping with this principle the author establishes 5 levels of equivalence:

The level of the aim of communication

The level of the situation described

The level of the way of describing the situation

The level of the meaning of syntactic structures

The level of the meanings of lexical units [ 2002].

Compare translations of the following sentences that are made on different levels of equivalence:

"(. )- "Down and Out" (G.Rapall Noyes and A. Kaun), (. . )- "Provincial America"(J.H.C. Richardson), (. ó)- "Within the Whirlwind"(Ian Boland) (equivalence on the level of the aim of communication);

Watch the head! - , . , - This way, please(Equivalence on the levels of the aim of communication and the situation described);

This summer saw a number of terrible air-crashes. - (Equivalence on the levels of the aim of communication, the situation described and the way of describing the situation).

She was driven away, never to re-visit this neighbourhood. - (Equivalence on the levels of the aim of communication, the situation described, the way of describing the situation, the meaning of syntactic structures).

The fog stopped the traffic - (Equivalence on the levels of the aim of communication, the situation described, the way of describing the situation, the meaning of syntactic structures and the meaning of lexical units).

The comparison of the two approaches shows that W. Koller singles out types of equivalence that can co-exist on one and the same language level pointing at various aspects of a speech unit, while V.N. Komissarov's classification brings different levels of equivalence into a hierarchical structure moving from the top level (the aim of communication) which is a decisive factor of equivalence to the lowest.

Thus, it is important to stress that although translation is always an approximation to the original source text due to formal and semantic differences between the SLT and the TLT, theorists and language users accept a translation as the functional, structural and semantic equivalent of the original text.

Adequacy is also used in several meanings with reference to: adequacy of translation, adequate translation and adequate substitutions [ 2003]. Adequacy of translationis understood in two senses: (1) it is the reproduction of the unity of content and form of a SLT by means of another language; (2) it is identical information conveyed by similar or identical means of a different language.

Adequate translationhas over 10 meanings with which the term is used in different contexts: (a) a TT which fully and without distortions renders a SLT; (B) which takes into account a broad context and retains stylistic peculiarities of a SLT; (C) which evokes a reaction of a TL reader which is in keeping with the communicative intent and purpose of the sender of a SL message: (d) an adequate translation is an equivalent translation, etc. (Ibid.).

There is no less controversy of opinion concerning differentiation of the terms equivalent / adequate translation. A few authors regard them as synonymous, and yet the majority treat them as related to different features of translation.

The difference was studied in great detail by K. Reiss and H. Vermeer [Reiss, Vermeer 1984]. As the starting point, they stress that it is necessary to use the term equivalence in two senses: equivalence of texts and equivalence of textual segments. There is no one-to-one dependence between the two, as the equivalence of texts does not imply equivalence of textual elements, and vice versa, the equivalence of textual elements does not ensure the equivalence of texts. The authors argue that equivalence of texts has a cultural dimension. This is a very important conclusion, though it seems logical to apply the notion of cultural equivalence to the level of textual language units as well. This is true even of proper names which have a rather simplified semantic structure as compared to most common nouns, cf. Waterloowhich has a correspondence in Russian - , But the English word has three meanings: (1) a battle fought in 1815 near Brussels, Belgium in which Wellington led the British and Prussians and defeated Napoleon and the French; (2) a severe and deserved defeat after a time of unusual success; (3) one of the mainline railway stations in London just South of the Thames[LDELC]. It is generally known to the average Russian reader only in the first meaning. Hence, it is not so simple to translate the English phraseological unit 'to meet one's Waterloo ' which means 'to suffer a very severe defeat or failure, especially one which causes people to finally give up what they are trying to do'(Ibid). So, instead of the English idiom there is no other way of translating it into Russian preserving the same image, than by means of a word-combination: . The comparison of these phrases shows that besides the difference in their character in English and in Russian there is also a culturally relevant semantic component in the English phraseological unit linked with the cultural symbol of the historic battle of Waterloo which is not retained in translation.

The difference between equivalence and adequacy of translation can be established in regard to the character, object and the content of the two categories:

in terms of the characteradequacy of translation is viewed as an evaluative category, thus an adequate translation means a good translation; an equivalent translation is a technical category referring to an established standard which implies the greatest possible identity or similarity of all content levels of a SLT and a TLT. The questions asked in both cases are not the same, namely: if the final text version corresponds to the initial one (equivalence), and if translation corresponds to the communicative situation and conditions (adequacy).

In terms of the objectadequacy of translation refers to the procedure (process) of translation and thus it relates to the conditions of an interlingual and intercultural communicative act and determines the use of speech filters (semantic, combinatorial, word-building, etc), the choice of translator's strategies that meets the communicative situation. Equivalent translation is aimed at a desirable result and establishes to what extent the TLT corresponds to the SLT as both perform similar communicative functions in various cultures.

In terms of the contentadequacy of translation is based on the actual practice of translation and approves of translation solutions of a compromise nature on condition that they better correlate with the communicative situation; equivalent translation presupposes maximum possible transference of the communicative functional invariant of the SLT.

These points of difference between adequate and equivalent translation bring us to an important conclusion that a translation text that is fully equivalent to the original does not always meet the demands of an adequate translation. On the other hand, an adequate translation does not always imply relations of full equivalence between the SLT and the TLT and their textual segments. Compare the two translations of the Russian sentence into English: ³ , -

1) He learned of the hardships that had befallen the people.

2) He saw the hardships the people were suffering.

The first version makes use of dictionary equivalents, and yet the editor has improved it by replacing some of them by the contextual substitutions which prove to be more adequate for the situation described and in keeping with stylistic register, adequate theme-rheme correlation, typical combinability of words in the TL.

© -