Is a mode of translation that remains close to the form of the original.
“ A translation which gives priority to lexical correspondences and results in ungrammatical sentences, or it could also mean a translation that is as close as possible to the original while still ensuring TL grammaticality (but not naturalness).”
( Palumbo, Giuseppe )
Palumbo (2009) explains that it is a translation strategy or technique involving a choice of TL equivalents that stay close to the form of the original while ensuring grammar in the TL.
Newmark (1981) agrees that this technique is the best option for translating texts where the form is as important as the content such as great speeches, autobiographies, literary works.
Delisle et al. define literal translation as a translation strategy which preserves the formal features of the ST, while conforming to TL grammar.
Wilss defines it as “structural idendity or near-identity on the syntagmatic and syntatic level” between the ST segment and its corresponding TT segment.
Common features of this translation procedure
Maximal closeness to the ST meaning and structure.
Conformity to the TL grammar.
Some authors assume that literal translation lead to a bad translated text , a translated text where the ST structure is reflected in an exaggerated and unwanted way.
On the other hand, Vinay & Darbelnet explained,
“ My thesis is, however, that literal translation is correct and must not be avoided , if it secures referential and pragmatic equivalence to the original.”
*It can be used when other techniques have failed.