T.C. NECMETTİN ERBAKAN UNIVERSITY
THE INSTITUDE OF EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES
THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH LANGUAGETEACHING
• What is a literal translation?
• Varieties of close translation
• The translation of poetry
• Faithful and False friends
• Words in their context
• Elegant variations
• Back-translationTest (BTT)
• Accepted translation
• Constraints on literal translation
• Natural translation
• The role of context
What is a literal translation?
• A literal translation is a translation that follows closely the form of the
• It is also known asWord forWord translation.
• Newmark 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.
Common features of this
a) Maximal closeness to the SL meaning and structure.
b) Conformity to theTL grammar.
Some authors assume that literal translation lead to a
bad translated text, a translated text where the SL
structure is reflected in an exaggerated and unwanted
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.
Varieties of close translation
1. WORD-FOR-WORDTRANSLATION (CLOSETRANSLATION) =Transferring SL grammar
and word order as well as the primary meanings of all SL words
• He works in the house - now → Il travaile dans la mansion maintenant
2. ONE-TO-ONETRANSLATION (CLOSETRANSLATION) = Each SL word has a
correspondingTL word, but their primary (isolated) meanings may differ.
• Hacer un examen → take an exam Word- for-Word translation
LITERALTRANSLATION (CLOSE TRANSLATION) = Literal translation:
• one word to one word (un beau jardin → a beautiful garden)
• collocation to collocation (make a speech → faire un discours)
• clause to clause (when that was done → quand cela fut fait)
• to sentence to sentence (The man was in the street → L’homme était dans la
The translation of poetry
According to Newmark;
The translation of poetry is the field where most empahasis is normally put
on the creation of a new independent poem,and where literal translation is
• In translating a poem, one of the literary genres, the translator are also likely
to face similar problems:
• literary and aesthetic,
• socio-cultural problems
• The first step to deal with these problems is to find the deep (underlying)
• According to Newmark, the useful procedure is to find the logical subject
first, and then the specific verb.
• If the two important elements are discovered, the rest will fall into place.
• After that the translator can reconstruct the structure in theTL as closely as
possible to the original structure.
• Besides, the structure of each phrase or clause should be examined clearly
Example: A poem
Ini kali tidak ada yang mencari cinta
di antara gudang, rumah tua, pada cerita
tiang serta temali, kapal, perahu tidak berlaut,
menghembus diri dalam mempercaya mau berpaut
(Kasbolah, 1990: 4)
1. This time there's no one looking for love
among the sheds, old houses, near the tale
of the masts and riggings. Ships (and) boats (that) have not gone to sea
are puffing themselves (out) in the believe (they) will be united.
(Kasbolah, 1990: 13)
2. This time no one's looking for love
between the sheds, the old house, in the make-believe
of poles and ropes. A boat, a prau without water
puff and blows, thinking there's something it can catch
(Kasbolah, 1990: 12)
• The translations of the first line both are good in the sense that they put the
adverb, "this time" first, but the translation of the main clause in the second
translation is better for it tries to maintain the poetic structure of the line.
• The further we read the lines, the better we can catch the importance of
maintaining the structure as an attempt to maintain the beauty of the
poem. And finally we may agree that the second translation is more
successfully in maintaining the poetic structure.
Faithful and false friends
• We must not be afraid of literal translation, or, in particular, of using aTL word which looks
the same or nearly the same as the SL word.
• But 'theatre’ is theatre, isTheater, is teatro and is teatr only in Czech is it divadlo (the same
applies to 'music, where the Czech is hudba).
• The translation of objects and movements is usually more literal than that of qualities and
ways of moving.
• Many common adjectives of feeling cut up meaning in their own way, so that we cannot
trust a transparent translation of 'sincere', 'loyal, 'trivial*, 'important', 'truculent', 'brutal';
only one or two like 'excellent and 'marvellous' are usually transparent.
• And again, the more general and abstract words ('phenomenon', 'element', 'affair')
may or may not be translated transparently; there is often a shift at that abstract
level (quality as 'property') but the translation is still usually one-to-one.
• In general, there are more faithful friends and we must not hesitate to use them,
since any other translation is usually wrong.This presupposes that, in context, the
readership of O andT have similar interest and language levels. Otherwise the
translation may well be different.
• So, everything is translatable up to a point, but that there are often enormous
Words in their context
• I find you in every woods and gardens.
The words woods and garden are collocates, and the Indonesian equivalents
are very similar, hutan and kebun. Even the form is very much similar, the
translator must examine first whether the meaning is the same. As it is known,
the word woods in US is not exactly the same as hutan in Indonesia in term of
the characteristics, area, location, etc. In addition, garden is not always the
same as kebun. It may mean taman.The clear examination can only be done if
the translator understands the contextual meaning.
Elegant variation in poetry may occur because of a translator’s need to use a
word which fits the scansion and rhyme pattern of the phrase or sentence.
Example Bendicks of Mayfair have established a reputation respected throughout the
world for the manufacture of chocolate confectionery of the highest qualify.
Bendicks of Mayfair' ont etabli leur reputation, reconnue dans le monde entier, pour la
confection de ckocolats de la plus haute quality.
• The translation is lexically and grammatically literal, but for 'confectionery', which has to
be changed and is satisfactorily conflated with 'manufacture, and the two unnecessary
elegant variations, leur and reconnue.
• A source language word should not be translated into a target language
word which has another obvious one-to-one equivalent in the source
• Back translation involves the translation of a text which itself is a translation
back into the original language.
• the meaning of the term in the back translation does equal the meaning of
the original source.
English source: to impair
Spanish translation: afectar
English back translation: to affect
Some transparent institutional terms are translated literally in at least
languages even though theTL cultural equivalents have widely different
• 'President', 'Senate', 'Prefect', 'Chancellor’, 'Mayor ‘
For these institutional terms, a translator must be careful about
translating the terms directly into theTL, if they already exist but have quite
different functions in theTL culture,
Constraints on literal translation
• If a perfectly natural SL unit produces a clumsy literal translation,
e.g. itne parvenait pas a se digager de sa surprise
'he wasn't succeeding in freeing himself from his surprise,
Then the translation is 'wrong', however expressive the rest of the SL text ;
'he was unable to rid himself of his feeling of surprise', 'he couldn't overcome his
I'heure est venue or les maisons basses:
• if you insist you would not normally say 'the hour has come’ only 'the time
what we might find an acceptable literal translation of an ordinary
language unit is that you find it unnatural.
The Role Of Context
• Context of situation is closely related to various texts. Certain situational
context asks for certain text and in return, certain text creates certain
• In the process of translation, the meaning system is largely determined by
• Studies in register analysis are of significance to translators. In the
translation process, first, through the analysis of the linguistic feature of the
SL, its register can be identified and thus the determination of its context of
situation is possible.
• Second, in the production of theTL, the proper words and expressions in the
TL should be chosen so that the corresponding context of situation can be
reestablished in theTL.
• Seeking the equivalence of meaning is in fact seeking the equivalence of
• In translation, equivalence should not be based on one aspect of meaning;
the translator must pursue the right equivalence.
• Since the complete identity of situational context and meaning system
between cultures is impossible, the complete equivalence is equally