Scholarly article on topic 'The Role of Context in Defining Romanian Equivalents for Russian Terms in the Theory of Translation'

The Role of Context in Defining Romanian Equivalents for Russian Terms in the Theory of Translation Academic research paper on "Computer and information sciences"

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{"theory of transation" / "translation terminology" / "context analysis" / "translation of terms"}

Abstract of research paper on Computer and information sciences, author of scientific article — Valentina Shiryaeva, Georgiana Lungu Badea

Abstract The present paper is based on the materials obtained while translating “Introduction to the theory of translation” by A.V. Fedorov in Romanian language. Defining equivalents for specific terms brought along a number of difficulties, most of which resulted from conceptual differences in the scientific traditions of Russia and Romania. The present study focuses on the role of context in identifying the meaning and adequate Romanian equivalents for Russian terms used in the theory of translation, specifying the levels of context which were analysed, while searching for adequate equivalents and illustrating them with several examples.

Academic research paper on topic "The Role of Context in Defining Romanian Equivalents for Russian Terms in the Theory of Translation"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 92 (2013) 874 - 879

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The Role of Context in Defining Romanian Equivalents for Russian Terms in the Theory of Translation

Valentina Shiryaevaa *, Georgiana Lungu Badeab

a PhD. stud. West University of Timisoara, blvd. V. Parvan, Nr.4, Timisoara, 300223, Romania b PhD. prof., West University of Timisoara, blvd. V. Parvan, Nr.4, Timisoara, 300223, Romania


The present paper is based on the materials obtained while translating "Introduction to the theory of translation" by A.V. Fedorov in Romanian language. Defining equivalents for specific terms brought along a number of difficulties, most of which resulted from conceptual differences in the scientific traditions of Russia and Romania. The present study focuses on the role of context in identifying the meaning and adequate Romanian equivalents for Russian terms used in the theory of translation, specifying the levels of context which were analysed, while searching for adequate equivalents and illustrating them with several examples.

© 2013TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.

Selectionand/orpeer-reviewunder responsibilityofLumenResearchCenterinSocialandHumanisticSciences, AsociatiaLumen.

Keywords: theory of transation; translation terminology; context analysis; translation of terms

1. Introduction

Translation, as one of the means of communication, implicates all language categories. Evidently, concentration and variation of lexical and grammatical units to be reproduced in the target text depends on the volume, genre and subject of the source text. However, the choice of translation techniques (and particularly of language equivalents), while restituting a given material in a foreign language, is determined in many ways by the specific features of the source text language elements.

One of the most explicit cases of this is when the particularities of a lexical element require specific translation procedures for the translation of scientific terms. Terms do not exist independently in the system of a given

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1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Lumen Research Center in Social and Humanistic Sciences, Asociatia Lumen. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.08.769

language - they function within a framework of a particular terminology which defines a conceptual system. A terminological meaning might be included in the range of various meanings of a polysemous word, or expressed by a specific word or expression - either way, its restitution requires an analysis of the context in which this particular term is used (Fedorov, 2003).

The present paper features a case study of determining Romanian equivalents for Russian terms in the field of translation studies. The analysis is based on materials obtained while translating "Introduction to the Theory of Translation" (our translation) by A.V. Fedorov into Romanian language, and focuses on the role of context in the search for adequate terminological equivalents. This essay presents an overview of constant terminological equivalents applied in Russian and Romanian traditions of the theory of translation, and suggests a possible solution to overcoming conceptual and terminological gaps in translation, based on contextual analysis.

2. Problem statement

2.1 Specifics of translating terminology

It is commonly accepted that terms are mostly monosemous and create a unique reference for the reader (Yubin, 2008). As it would seem, the fact that a term supposedly has a single meaning, should facilitate greatly in the process of translation, as evidently, a great deal of difficulty in transferring the sense of a word into another language results from the polisemous character of words and expressions. Consequently, we might assume that a unique meaning suggests a single equivalent in translation.

Although such an assumption would not be completely erroneous, there are some corrections to be made. Firstly, talking about terms, we are not referring exclusively to a formal linguistic sign, but to a designation of a concept. As we have already mentioned, terms are not independent, as "a terminological definition provides a unique identification of a concept only with reference to the conceptual system of which it forms part and classifies the concept within that system" (Sager, 1990, p. 39-40). Provided that terms are valid and relevant exclusively in the framework of a particular conceptual system, a complete match of terms in two given languages is possible, but only when they refer to an identical concept. Once the concept of reference differs, even in the slightest manner, a terminological equivalent may not be applicable at all, or should be used along with specifying additions, compensations etc. (Marco, 2009).

As far as translation terminology is concerned, the conceptual differences, as well as the resulting differences in the formation and usage of terms between the two given languages, are mainly overpassed by an extensive exchange of scientific data; including the translation of major written works. Long-term international connections in the scientific sphere allow the formation of a commonly accepted glossary of terminological equivalents, facilitating the eventual translations (Fedorov, 2003).

However, as far as the exchange of scientific data in the field of translation science is concerned, the interaction of the scientific communities in Russia and Romania could be limited to a very restricted number of translations, which have remained unnoticed on a broad scale (such, for example, was the first anonymous translation of the "Introduction to the theory of translation" dating back to 1953). Furthermore, in some Romanian works, Russian authors are cited and transliterated into the Romanian language (see Kohn, 1983, p. 12; Lungu Badea, 2012, p. 203). Though it definitely proves the presence of a certain flow of information and conceptual exchange, due to a lack of translations the Russian tradition of the theory of translation remains available mainly for speakers of the Russian language.

On the other hand, there is a point in common between the two traditions of translation studies, namely a great interest in the results of the research carried out in Western Europe and North America. In such a manner, all the major works dedicated to translation (works by Vinay J.P., Darbelnet J., Nida, E., Sapiro H., Sapiro G., Kade, O., Mounin, G., Newbert, A., Catford, J.C. etc.) are closely studied and cited both in Russia and Romania, forming a whole system of common terminological and conceptual references in the scientific traditions of the two


2.2 Constant equivalents in Russian and Romanian translation terminology

Despite some differences in certain particular concepts of the theory of translation, the framework of the discipline basically remains the same across various scientific traditions in different countries. Consequently, there are a great number of constant terminological equivalents used in modern translation science defining some widely acknwledged and discussed concepts, such as: eng. theory of translation - ro. teoria traducerii - rus. теория перевода; eng. translation unit - ro. unitate de traducere - rus. единица перевода; eng. equivalent - ro. echivalenfa - rus. соответствие (referring to translation in general); eng. fidelity - ro. fidelitate - rus. верность; eng. acceptability - ro. acceptabilitate - rus. приемлемость (referring to translation quality); eng. translation method - ro. strategie de traducere - rus. метод перевода; eng. translation procedure - ro. procedeu de traducere - rus. прием перевода; eng. target text - ro. text-}inta - rus. переводной текст; eng. source text - ro. text-sursa - rus. исходный текст; (referring to the process of translation) and so on (Lungu Badea, 2012).

A significant part of translation terminology is built by international terms used in general linguistics such as text, context, paratext, anaphora, allusion, idiom etc. Those are easily identified, as they have been fully integrated into the metalanguage of translation, while their equivalents are mostly constant, regardless of the context.

2.3 Terminology and conceptual gaps in translation.

For the most part, the difficulties in translating terms emerge when it comes to representing conceptual differences within the given discipline, provided there are no traditionally formed equivalents established by means of exchange of scientific data (Fedorov, 2003).

The 5th edition of the work "Introduction to the theory of translation" (published under the title "Fundamentals of the general theory of translation. Linguistic problems" (our translation)), has summarised the results of nearly 40 years of intense research in the field of translation studies in Russia and abroad. With practically no tradition of exchange in the scientific data regarding the theory of translation between Russian and Romanian scientific communities, the restitution of such an eminent work would definitely infer overcoming numerous conceptual and terminological gaps.

A thorough analysis of the differences in approach, methodology and theory of translation in Russian and Romanian traditions (as well as the resulting differences in terminology formation and use) should become a subject of separate, more extensive research. Meanwhile, in this paper we are going to focus on the analysis of the context in establishing Romanian equivalents for Russian translation terms used for designation of the concepts which are not represented at all or in part in the Romanian tradition of the studied discipline.

Thus, the further analysis focuses on the levels of context, which are analysed while establishing adequate Romanian equivalents for Russian terms. We have provided as an example, one of the most used terms designating a formal equivalent in translation and the terms used for distinction between the types of context.

3. Suggested solution

The suggested solution for overcoming the conceptual and terminological gaps in the target language employs the contextual analysis of the terms to be translated and their possible equivalents.

Although the meaning of the term is supposed to be the same regardless of the context, the contextual analysis is indispensible for a correct evaluation of the term's meaning and use, as "information is by definition context

bound; and at the same time, the context is the only source of information about the use and meaning of the target item" (Varantola, 2006, p. 218).

Thus, for elaboration of terminological equivalents, we have employed the analysis at three basic levels of context, namely: narrow context, broad context and historical context (which includes the metalinguistic tradition of a given language).

Basically, in the present case study, the narrow context includes several surrounding words, or at most, the sentence in which the term is used, while the notion of a broad context refers to the context of the whole text (Komissarov, 2002). Finally, the historical context, as far as the use of terminology is concerned, refers to information regarding the establishment and development of the designated concept and its terminological definition.

The levels of context in analysing a term's meaning and use allow us to make the right choice as far as the equivalent term is concerned, with particular respect to the stylistic and semantic intentionality. Whether the translator favours the intention which guided the author in choosing the use of a particular semantic or stylistic unit (Nord, 2005), or the pragmatic aspects of translation (Newmark, 1991), the choice of the equivalent term depends on the translation strategy (Lungu Badea, 2005). Thus, the analysis on the level of the narrow context contributes to establishing the linguistic and semantic equivalents; the level of the broad context favours referential and dynamic equivalents, while the historical context allows the choice of functional and pragmatic equivalents - the classification of equivalents is adapted from Lungu Badea (2005).

For instance, one of the most frequently used terms defining types of equivalents in the work "Introduction to the theory of translation" is словарное соответствие, (lit.: equivalent given by the dictionary), which in the mentioned earlier translation was restituted as corespondenfa de vocabular. Such a translation could be acceptable in the limits of a narrow context, with a single correction - the use of the term corespondenfa is no longer applicable as in the Romanian tradition the term echivalenfa has been adopted for designating the relation of identity between the two given language units (Lungu Badea, 2012). The analysis on the level of the broad context (in this case the whole work), nevertheless, would demonstrate that the term словарное соответствие is used as a synonym for the формальное соответствие (formal equivalent), thus permitting the use of the possible synonym echivalenfa formala for special stylistic purposes. And finally, with the analysis of the translation terminology formed in the Romanian scientific tradition, we could affirm a parallel to the use of the term echivalenfa lingvistica and the Russian term словарное соответствие.

The historical context constitutes the most complicated level of the analysis. It includes the study of corpora, both in target and source language, aimed at avoiding the use of false equivalents or formal terminological equivalents that make a reference to a different concept in the target language. Evidently, translating a new work into a foreign language with an established terminological system in the field of the respective scientific discipline would suggest the introduction of new terms in an already defined structure of designations for similar concepts, which forms its own contextual references. Thus, the fact that "source and translation texts relate to different contexts" (House, 2006, p. 344) affects also the process of establishing and using terminological equivalents.

In such a way, for instance, the notions of narrow and broad context intersect with the concepts suggested by Levitchi (1975), namely minimum and broad context (contextul minimal and contextul largit), of which the former refers to linguistic elements transmitting the sense defined by grammar categories (namely, definite or indefinite articles, possessive pronouns etc.), while the latter refers to the verbal surrounding of a linguistic unit which determines its meaning in this particular situation. As we can see, the suggested notion of the minimum context is significantly more limited than the notion of narrow context used in the Russian tradition. Moreover, the broad context as understood by Levi^chi, basically defines the linguistic unit as the narrow context in Russian terminology. Consequently, the use of literal equivalences in translation of these particular terms could create false references and should be avoided. One of the possible solutions to this is applying a specifying lexical addition, namely contextul verbal restrans and contextul verbal largit.

As seen previously, the study of historical context may reveal that expected equivalent terms match the originals ones only in part. It should be pointed out, nevertheless, that the lack of a complete match in the concept of reference does not always make it impossible to favour a linguistic equivalent.

For instance, analysis of the Russian term функциональное соответствие (functional equivalent) in its historical context would reveal that its meaning is substantially more complex than the meaning of the literal — and most expected — translation into Romanian: echivalenfa funcfionala. The commonly accepted Russian classification of language equivalents is less differentiated than the Romanian classification system; in the Russian tradition, the three types suggested by Retsker (2007) are mainly used rather than the eight types summarized by Lungu Badea (2012) in Romania. The notion of functional equivalent in Russian is generally used, as opposed to the notion of formal equivalent, and it includes any language element (vocabulary or grammar) that fulfils the same function as the original from the semantic, pragmatic, or stylistic point of view (Fedorov, 2003). Thus, the meaning of that term in Russian in various contexts overlaps with the meaning of the Romanian notions of pragmatic, functional, and stylistic equivalent: echivalenfa pragmatica, funcfionala, stilistica (Lungu Badea, 2012). However, in this case, the use of the terms echivalenfa stilistica and echivalenfa pragmatica. (even if they reflect in the closest way the implied meaning) is unacceptable because they create false connotations for the reader, suggesting that the Russian classification of language equivalents uses the same differentiations as the Romanian one. Thus, in our translation, we are forced to use the literal equivalent, introducing the necessary specifications of meaning in the context.

4. Conclusions

The existing body of translation terminology in any language could hardly be called definitively structured and univocal. Probably, it is "unrealistic to expect a human science or discipline to be perfectly consistent in its use of terminology. Since what is under scrutiny is not a phenomenon given once and for all, but subject to different perspectives and interests; it is almost bound to generate different sets of terms to refer to it" (Marco, 2009, p. 68). And that condition does not make the translator's task any easier.

Due to the lack of translations from Russian into Romanian (and vice versa) in the field of translation science, the search for equivalent terms is often troublesome and time-consuming.

In the present paper, we have studied the importance of contextual analysis while determining Romanian terminological equivalents, defining three major context levels to be considered during the search and choice of adequate linguistics units.

It should be mentioned, however, that the suggested solutions are not to be considered prescriptive and definitive. The establishment of a well-defined body of equivalent terms between the two given languages is a complicated process which involves research in various scientific disciplines, including terminology, linguistics and theory of translation. However, it could be suggested that the research needs to focus further on the study of terminology and terminological gaps in connection with conceptual differences traced in the Russian and Romanian traditions of the science of translation. Such an approach would facilitate greatly the formation of a more univocal Russian-Romanian glossary of terms and contribute to further development of the theory of translation in both countries.


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