Adequacy, precision and equivalence as related notions characterizing translation. All the theory of T. boils down to several notions: scholars say, if T. is possible, so you have to speak about adequacy and precision, exactness and punctuality. All these notions belong to the same level of preserving both form and content. But the notions themselves are very difficult to translate, for the terms are not monosynaptic. If we are guided by the dictionary, we can translate «точный перевод» as accurate translation. Adequate T. doesn’t mean precise T., but it is precise functionally and semantically. This term implies that the SL and the TL are different. By precision we shall mean accuracy – that is the fact that the translation disregards the TL and conforms to the laws of the SL. Adequacy means observing the laws of the TL. Equivalence belongs more to the Lang. Adequacy – to content. Eq. relies upon the correspondence and the tr-or’s ability to find the correspondents (words, phrases) in the TL and use those to convey the meaning. If the SL text contains some lang. phenomenon that doesn’t exist in the TL, you can hardly produce an equiv. T. (ex. “He is a public figure” – общественный деятель; “At the reception there were some very important public figures” – государственный деятель). Some scholars subdivide T. into 3 groups: 1) equivalents; 2) analogies (adequate, but not equivalent); 3) adequate substitutions. Equivalents don’t depend upon the context (ex. The League of Nations – лига Наций; ill - больной). Adequate substitutions mean that you have to choose words or phrases that relate the same notions, but you have either to generalize or to specify the notion that exists in the SL. (ex. Father-in-law – свекор; Sibling – брат). Equivalence can range btw. Zero Eq. to complete Eq. Sometimes the complete eq-nt can be found in a meaning, but the form can be a challenge (ex. Can any of you do it? I can!– but in Rus.: Кто-то может это сделать? Я!). But the modality is preserved, though “can” is omitted.
NB! Adequate translation may be defined therefore as that which is determined by semantic and pragmatic equivalence between the original and target-language text.
Equivalence and adequacy
Both of them are used when we try to render the same meaning factual and emotional in another language. If we can’t find equivalents we produce an adequate text, which fulfils the same function. Equivalence of the SL and TL items may be found on the level of morpheme, word, phrase, clause sentence, paragraph and the whole text as a linguistic entity. The comparison of texts in different languages involves a theory of equivalents and they are the central issue of translation, although its definition, relevance and applicability have caused controversy. Translation is a matter of linguistics and the translator is always dealing with two different cultures at the same time. This aspect was studied by linguists from the point of view of functionally oriented approach. Then come the scholars who are in favor of a linguistic approach and who seem to forget that translation isn’t merely a matter of linguistics. Some scholars stand in the middle and claim that equivalence is used for the sake of convenience, because most translators are used to it rather than because it has any theoretical status.
Equivalence can be said to exist only between factors equally present in SL and TL texts. Those TL factors requested that are not contained in the SL text can hardly be said to be equivalent, because there’s no textual basis of comparison; it doesn’t make much sense to speak of equivalence in these cases. Here adequacy is the better term. The notion of fidelity or being faithful seems to make sense in both translation situations referred to. If so wished, the translator should be faithful to SL text factors as well as to any factors not present in the SL text itself. In each case s/he will be faithful to the wishes expressed by the client if conforming to the factors laid down.
Equivalence in meaning can’t be taken as a satisfactory criterion for a correct translation, because first of all in order to define the still undefined notion of translation one would have to employ a notion as obscure as equivalence of meaning; and some people think that meaning is what remains unchanged in the process of translation. We can’t even accept the naïve idea that equivalence in meaning is provided by synonymy, since it is commonly accepted that there are no complete synonyms in a language. “Father=/= daddy=/= papa”
Equivalence on the different levels is different. What is being carried onto the TL text is the united semantic-pragmatic function of the S text. It means that the original text is being reconstructed in a new semantic-pragmatic entity, redesigned within the textual universe of the TL community.
It is not about what is explicitly said, but about what is implied. Therefore the translator needs to work out the implied meaning in translation in order to get the SL meaning across. So the duty of the translator is to relate the author’s intention. The difficulty is that s/he has to take into consideration another culture to enable TL reader to understand it.
The notion of equivalence is undoubtedly one of the controversial and problematic issues in the field of translation theory. So the term itself is causing heated debates. People sometimes mess up equivalence and adequacy, which is related only to cases when equivalence is impossible. The translator has to render SL text by a text that will have the same functions and produce the same impact upon the reader or listener. A universal approach to equivalence is impossible, but we don’t need any, as we understand that translation is possible and untranslatability is a notion that shouldn’t interfere with everyday duties of the translator.
Levels of equivalence and the concept of adequate translation
The problem of levels was discussed in connection with distinction between semantic and pragmatic equivalence.
*The sun disappeared behind the clouds.
Every word in the original corresponds to the word in the translation. Here we find similarity of form and meaning. Such cases are rare, because of differences between languages, Russian and English. This case is a case of formal equivalence. We can speak about semantic equivalence, which is the case that characterizes the major quantity of translations. Semantic equivalence exists when the same meaning is expressed in two languages in a different way.
*Troops were airlifted to the battlefield. – войска были переброшены по воздуху к месту сражения
Some scholars speak of situational equivalence. It is established between utterances that differ both in linguistic devices being used and semantic components being expressed, but nevertheless the two utterances describe the same extra linguistic situation.
*To let someone pass – уступить дорогу
The formal equivalence is insufficient. As to semantic equivalence, it can be of two types: semantic equivalence + formal equivalence and semantic equivalence without formal equivalence. As to situational equivalence we can say that this type of equivalence is a variety of semantic equivalence and it differs from the 1st type of semantic equivalence only because it has different semantic components. Levels: formal equivalence, semantic equivalence, pragmatic equivalence.
As to pragmatic equivalence, this type implies a close fit between communicative intention and the receptor’s response. But sometimes it is required at all levels of equivalence and sometimes it may appear alone without formal or semantic equivalence as in the case:
*С днем рождения – Many happy returns of the day
Formal and semantic equivalence may accompany semantic and pragmatic equivalence, but it is not mandatory. It has been pointed out that translator doesn’t set the task of preserving the syntactic relations of the original, nor does he set himself the task to keep the formal ties between the original and the translation. Usually formal equivalence results from similarity between the grammatical forms and the lexical terms of both languages, but it does not arise from a deliberate effort. Adequate translation may be defined as a type of translation, which is determined by a semantic and pragmatic equivalence. It may be produced when the translator has to establish some semantic and pragmatic relations between the original and the translation.
Literal translation is the type of translation, which relies on the formal equivalence, and this regards semantic or pragmatic equivalence. It reproduces the morphological and sound form of the original as in Чуковский’s translation for “compositor” instead of “composer” and “cheery orchard” instead of “вишневый сад”.
It may also reproduce lexical items overlooking idiomatic meaning of the phrase. In other words, literal translation reproduces the form at the expense of the meaning and distorts the original. In some cases it may violate the stylistic norm reproducing the syntactic form of the message.
Literal translation may reproduce the linguistic form and the denotational meaning, but ignore the pragmatic aspect of the message. The message doesn’t get across and the necessary effect isn’t attained. As a result, free translation is opposed to literal translation. It consists in pragmatically unmotivated translation, also in omissions, but in both cases (literal and pragmatic translations) the original message is distorted. But free translation plays at least the same role as the original. If there are losses there should be compensations. For those who adhere to free translation, it is necessary to decide what to lose and what to gain.