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Translation Theory

  The problems encountered when translating a message from one language into another have concerned linguists for centuries. The knowledge and skills required to translate both written and spoken texts do not differ markedly. The so-called semiotic status of texts does vary, though, since written texts are held in much higher regard than their spoken counterparts. Consequently, fidelity to the author\'s original communicative intentions is more likely to be preserved in the case of written texts.

Linguistic theories of translation, influenced by transformational grammar, argue for a three-phase translation process. First, the surface form of the source language message undergoes a back-transformation into a set of kernel structures. The relatively simple kernel structures at this deep level of analysis are then translated into kernel structures in the target language (TL). Finally, a forward-transformation converts the kernel structures into recognizable TL surface forms.

Linguistic theories of this kind have been criticized for neglecting many other factors, beyond the transliteration of words and structures, which contribute to the meaning of a message. Other theories have emphasized that the overall effect of the words in a message are at least as important as the words themselves. Additionally, consideration must be given to the potential conflict between the cultural assumptions of the message-producer and the intended recipients. MS

See also translation.



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