8/30 Pym Chapter 2 & Equivalence and Translatability from Routledge Encyclopedia

Pym Ch. 2

  • Natural Equivalence (pg. 6-7)
    • Fluidity between ST & TT
    • “Equivalence does not say that languages are the same; it just says that values can be the same.”
      • There are words with Natural Equivalence, however, not every word is easy to translate; untranslatables, otherwise the languages would signify the same cultural identities.
    • Mary Snell-Hornby
      • equivalence – “an illusion of symmetry between languages…”
        • Are we creating a natural equivalence that is not explicitly there?
  • pg. 8-11
    • Equivalence does not have to be conceptualized in the stylistic manner of a text, (i.e. syntax, # of words), it is stating that EQUAL VALUE can be achieved.
    • Vinay and Dabelnet
      • cultural equivalence
    • Eugene Nida
      • Formal Equivalence – Mimicking the Spanish form
      • Dynamic Equivalence – activates same/similar cultural function
    • Example of The Price is Right
      • stylistic difference – syllables/rhyme
      • changing semantic meaning
    • Markedness – some things are natural and others are less natural
  • 2.2 Equivalence vs. Structuralism
    • Wilhelm von Humboldt to Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf – “different languages express different views of the world”
      • culturally implied semantic meaning in words
  • Theories of equivalence
    • Signification: “value” = language system & “signification” = actual use of language
    • Language use: level of language use rather than the language system
    • Text levels: Catford – translational shifts, “rank-bound”
    • Componential analysis: list all the functions and values of the source-text item and see how many are in the TL
  • 2.3 Procedures for Maintaining Natural Equivalence (pg. 12-17)
    • Vinay and Dabelnet
      • Attaining equivalence
        • Borrowing: SL word is transferred directly to TL (transpose by sounds) – Nabokov
        • Calque: SL expression or structure is transferred in a literal translation
        • Literal: “word for word”
        • Transposition: switching of grammatical categories
        • Modulation: adjustments are made for different discursive conventions
        • Correspondence: cultural adjustment; “proverbs and referents”
        • Adaptation: cultural adjustment; loosely using cultural function
    • Prosodic effects
      • the results of maintaining natural equivalence
        • Amplification: TT more words than ST
        • Reduction: TT less words than ST
        • Explication: TT gives specifications that are implicit only in ST
        • Implication: TT does not “___”
        • Generalization: specific/concrete term translated into a broad/lose term
        • Particularization: opp of Generalization
      • Compensation: TT has stylistic differences than ST


Equivalence (Routledge)

  1. necessary condition for translation
  2. obstacle to overcome in order to progress in translation studies and
  3. useful category for describing translations
  • SL – TL denotative, referential – word for word
  • SL-TL connotative – mind’s associations
  • SL/TL text-normative – words being used in same context
  • SL/TL pragmatic/dynamic – having the same effect
  • SL/TL formal – having same orthographic and phonological parts

Baker: ST/TT devices in cohesive roles – textual equivalence

Newman: not all variables in translation are relevant to the situation – functional equivalence

  1. one to one equivalence – single expression in the TL for a single SL expression
  2. one to many equivalence – more than 1 TL expression for a single SL expression
  3. one to part of one equivalence – a TL expression that covers part of a concept designated by a single SL expression
  4. nil equivalence – no TL expression for an SL expression


  • “fact of reception”
    • the socially determined TTs should stand in some kind of equivalence relation to their STs


  • commutation – finding textual equivalents by asking a bilingual informant to translate sketches of text than making changes to ST to reflect how each change has contributed to the translation.

Machine Translation – errors in old versus new translations


equivalence postulate

  • argues that equivalence is a given between the ST and TT
  • allows the qs of “why type and degree of translation equivalence they reveal”


Translatability (Routledge)

  • ^understood as the capacity for “some kind of meaning” to be translated from one language to another without radical changes.
  • What meanings are transferred? Can you transfer all meanings?
  • Illocutionary/locutionary/perlocutionary acts – are they transferable?


  • rationalist – meanings (think) and representations (speak) are loose
  • relativist – meanings and representation tightly bound – impossible to translate (Humboldt)
  • acknowledger – acknowledge that all languages have individuality, texts can still be translated
    • Schleiermacher said there was a “mediation between thinking and speaking, meaning and expression”
    • “sense” affects ‘the system of concepts and their signs in the language’ (Schleiermacher

Walter Benjamin

  • “mode of intention” & “pure language”
  • universality of language


  • “the task of a translation is ‘to reproduce the same reference and the same sense with the means of another language’”


  • stimulus-meaning
  • occasion sentences
  • standing sentences
  • observation sentences
  • logical connectives


  • in favor of translatability; dynamic translation
  • translation operating within languages as well as between them
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About Tyler Candelora

Tyler Candelora is a first-year student at Bucknell University. He is from Coal Township, PA. He speaks English but is currently learning Spanish, French, and Arabic. Tyler is a comparative humanities and language major.

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