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III. 1.1.

Definition of translation

The main theoretical concept is translation, a linguistic process and a communicative

activity that implies a bilingual double competence, requiring additional competences.
Translation is inextricable linked to text, so translation cannot pre-exist.1 Translation process
A mental activity performed by a translator/interpreter allowing him/her to
render an ST (oral, written, audio-visual, etc.), formulated in an SL, into a TT
using the resources of a TL. It is a complex cognitive process which has an
interactive and non-linear nature, encompassing controlled and uncontrolled
processes, and requiring processes of problem-solving and decision-making, and the
use of strategies.2
Translation is defined as the process of transferring the meaning from the source language
(SL) into the target language (TL) via a translator, by delivering the appropriate form in the TL.
According to Roman Jakobson, there are three different types of translation3:

 the intralingual translation or rewording, an interpretation of verbal signs by means

of other signs of the same language.
 the interlingual translation or translation proper, an interpretation of verbal signs
by means of the same other language.
 the intersemiotic translation or transmutation, an interpretation of verbal signs by
means of signs of nonverbal sign systems.

III.1.2. The process of translation

The process of translation is a mental activity performed by a translator or an interpreter

who conveys a source text (written, oral etc.), formulated in a SL, into a TT (target text) using
the resources of a TL (target language). It is a complex cognitive process that requires processes
of problem-solving and decision-making, and strategies, such as:

- of internal support (different cognitive operations)

- of external support (the use of documentation sources and technological tools).
The translation process has basic phases related to the processes of comprehension and
re-expression. These phases require the connection of linguistic knowledge, such as pragmatic,
textual, sociolinguistic, morph-syntactic and lexical knowledge, and extra-linguistic
knowledge, for instance, cultural and content knowledge in addition to knowledge about
translation, which has to exist in the translator’s memory.
According to Jeremy Munday4, there are four stages of translation theory, classified as:

Ionescu, Daniela-Corina (2000): Translation Theory and Practice, Editura UNIVERSAL DALSI, București, p. 20.
Munday, Jeremy (2009): The Routledge Campanion to Translation Studies, Tylor & Francis e-Library, London
and New York, p. 235.
Roman Jakobson, apud Munday, Jeremy (2009): The Routledge Campanion to Translation Studies, Tylor &
Francis e-Library, London and New York, p. 5.
Munday, Jeremy (2009): The Routledge Campanion to Translation Studies, Tylor & Francis e-Library, London
and New York, p. 21.
1. The linguistic stage (includes in particular literary texts – word-for-word translation
in opposition of sense-for-sense translation)

2. The communicative stage (includes non-literary and literary texts – it is associated

with the categorization of text registers)

3. The functionalist stage (includes non-literary texts, concentrates on the intention of

a text and its essential message, rather than the language of the source text)

4. The ethical/aesthetic stage (focusing on authoritative and official or documentary

texts and serious literary works).

III.1.3. Translation-oriented text analysis

There are three types of analyses that are important in the study of the complex process
of translation5:

1. Textual analysis is an aid in the translation process, due to the allowance of studying
the relationship between the structure and the content of the text, guiding to new understandings
that may help in translation.
2. Language analysis is a helpful stage in the translation of general or specialized texts,
because the analysis is based on reflecting upon the difficulties of particular language
difficulties and their suitable solutions. This analysis is divided into:

 grammatical analysis – is “the ability to use grammar structures accurately,

meaningfully and appropriately”6
 stylistic analysis – considers the fact that a direct translation is relevant when two
languages use the same conceptual associations and linguistic means, but it is advisable
to use oblique translation procedures:
a) Transpositions/shifts – involve changes in grammar (the change of one part of speech for
another without changing the sense), e.g.: Eva lives dangerously. – Eva lives a dangerous life.
- (adverb into adjective).
b) Modulation – marks a change in the point of view of thought, but without changing the
meaning, e.g.: “rușinos ca o fată mare (said of a boy) = not to be able to say boo to a goose”7.
c) Equivalence-oriented translation – deals with idioms, proverbs, clichés, e.g.: "Better late
than never." = mai bine mai târziu decât niciodată.
d) Adaptation / imitation / rewriting – marks a change at the level of culture; if a situation in
the source culture does not exist in the target culture, it requires a form of re-creation, and an
example is the Turkish word “kebab”.

Morărașu, Nadia-Nicoleta (2015): The Practice of English Language: Texts for translation-oriented analyses,
Editura Alma Mater – Bacău, p. 7.
Larsen-Freeman, Diana (2003), apud Bonta, Elena (2013): Teaching English: a Pragmatic Approach, Ed. Alma
Mater, Bacau, p. 34
Morărașu, Nadia-Nicoleta (2015): The Practice of English Language: Texts for translation-oriented analyses,
Editura Alma Mater – Bacău, p. 8
According to Vinay and Darbelnet (1958/1995: 41)8, there are two types of translation
a) oblique translation
b) direct translation

They concern three levels of language: lexis, grammar and meaning. There are also three
direct translation procedures:

a) calque (includes target language words in source language structure being largely
familiar to the target reader),

b) borrowing (there is no adaptation of source language utterances into target language

forms, certain source language words are used directly in a target language, and eventually
the words became a standard target language terms9),

c) literal translation (a word-for-word conveyance that uses the identical number of

target language words in the form of determined equivalents and the same word order and
word classes10).
3. Cultural analysis – emphasizes the importance of the culture in the process of
translation, and an issue of untranslatability appears when some difficulties are found by the
translator.11 It is important to mention that Susan Bassnett specifies that Catford discriminates
two forms of untranslatability:

 linguistic untranslatability appears when there is no lexical or syntactical equivalent in

the target language for a source language term.
 cultural untranslatability is due to the absence in the target language culture of a relevant
situational feature for the source language text.

III.1.4. Literary Translation

Considering the source text, translation is divided into:

a) translation of literary texts (poetry, drama, novels etc.),
b) translation of non-literary texts (magazine, legal texts, journalistic texts, scientific texts etc.).

A literary text has the role of transmitting a message but the author expresses his or her
self in an artistic and emotional way, and a non-literary text delivers a message and transmits
information; it does not have the purpose to transmit emotions.

Munday, Jeremy (2009): The Routledge Campanion to Translation Studies, Tylor & Francis e-Library, London
and New York, p. 35
Morărașu, Nadia-Nicoleta (2015): The Practice of English Language: Texts for translation-oriented analyses,
Editura Alma Mater – Bacău, p. 13
Munday, Jeremy (2009): The Routledge Campanion to Translation Studies, Tylor & Francis e-Library, London
and New York, p. 182.
Bassnett, Susan (2002): Translation Studies, Third edition, Routledge - Tylor & Francis e-Library, London and
New York, p. 39.
The easiest way to establish the difference between the literary and non-literary
translation is

…to say that the latter translates what is in the text, whereas the former must
translate what the text only implies, however, a composition in another
language always differs somehow in semantic content, because semantic
content is itself subtly – or unsubtly altered by being transposed to a foreign culture.12

In translating a literary text, we must take into consideration the fact that both
extralinguistic and linguistic factors are very important. The author’s intention is as important
as the recipient that defines the communicative situation and the function of the text.

Decoding the author’s universe, rendering the denotations and the connotations
in the target language, rendering the message, as well as identifying with the
author’s universe in the target language system, and with the target language

Connotations are difficult to be rendered in the target language because the translation
of connotations has to have text-to-text correspondence and not a word-for-word
correspondence. A text-to-text correspondence (conveying the sense of the text, to translate the
content from the reader’s point of view) is used for literary texts and a word-for-word
correspondence (conveying a word-by-word translation) is associated with scientific, legal,
technical or technological texts. Connotations derive both from primary dictionary meaning
(denotation) and secondary dictionary meanings. The connotative meanings are particular
meanings offered by a specific context.

Non-equivalence between the source text and the target text is a difficult task for a
translator because there are cases in which some words from the source language do not have a
direct equivalent in the target language.

Shifts or transpositions can appear in translation and they are translation procedures that
include changes in grammar from the source language to target language.

III.1.5. Translating Poetry

The translation of poetry is in most cases the most challenging and difficult form of
translation. Translating poetry is a process of poetic re-creation and it requires a very good
knowledge of synonymy, collocability (achieving appropriate collocations in the target
language text) of both source language and target language and stylistic features conducive to
transmit the exact shades of meaning and feeling-tones, in the same manner the rhythm and
rhyme of the original poem. The most reliable thing is that the target language poem must have
the same effect on the foreign reader as the source language poem has on the native reader. That
is the spirit of the original poem must be transferred.14

Ionescu, Daniela-Corina (2000): Translation Theory and Practice, Ed. Universal Dalsi, București, p. 38.
Croitoru, Elena (2004): English Through Translations, Ed. ,,Dunărea De Jos”, Galați, p. 7.
Croitoru, Elena (2004): English Through Translations, Ed. ,,Dunărea De Jos”, Galați, p. 17.
A question that occurs in all studies is whether poetry can be translated. It is correct to
say that poetry is difficult to translate but in fact, translated poetry plays an important role in
the literature of most cultures however, it may seem evident that it can. Poetry translation is
problematic or even impossible, but it has always been widely translated. Two hypothesis are
emerged: (1) translated poetry should be poetry in its own right, (2) poetry is difficult,
ambiguous, cryptic and exhibits a special relationship between form and meaning. These
hypothesis imply that translation of poetry stands in need of special critical abilities and special
writing abilities. 15

The translator has to transmit the same ideas that are expressed in the original poem,
reproducing the author’s vocabulary, his metaphors and prosodic code; he has to render the
“unchanged core” of the original poem. The translator has to take into account all the aspects
of translation; more than that, he must consider the cultural aspects; he has to succeed in dealing
with language barriers and also the culture and time limits; his ideal is “to transfer from the SL
into the TL not only the universe of ideas, but also the feelings of the original poem. By means
of a different linguistic system, he has to make a transfer of spirit re-reacting the poem” (Banaș,
Croitoru 1998:133).
1. Phonetic translation – which attempts to reproduce the SL sound in the TL while at the
same time producing an acceptable paraphrase of the sense.
2. Literal translation – word-for-word
3. Metrical translation – reproduction of the SL meter
4. Poetry into prose
5. Rhymed translation
6. Blank verse translation
7. Interpretation – imitations

-dialect, style and register
-socio-cultural differences

Baker, Mona, Saldanha, Gabriela (2009): Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, 2nd edition, Tylor &
Francis e-Library, USA and Canada, p. 194.


Borrowing is a translation procedure that involves using the same word or expression in original
text in the target text. The word or expression borrowed is usually written in italics.

e.g. The girl is wearing a sombrero for the party.


This means a word-for-word translation; a literal translation can only be applied with languages
which are extremely close in cultural terms.


Transposition involves moving from one grammatical category to another without altering the
meaning of the text. This technique introduces a change in grammatical structure.


Modulation is about changing the form of the text by introducing a semantic change or


This is a translation procedure which uses a completely different expression to transmit the
same reality. Through this technique, names of institutions, interjections, idioms or proverbs
can be translated.


Adaptation, also called cultural substitution or cultural equivalent, is a cultural element which
replaces the original text with one that is better suited to the culture of the target language. This
achieves a more familiar and comprehensive text.