Translation Theory

Translation Theory

Translation Theory

Communication is the transfer of an intended message, and this is the purpose of language itself. Obviously, this process can be divided into two broad stages: transmission (speaking, writing) and reception (listening, reading).

But there are another two stages: before transmission, formulating the message accurately (coherence) and after reception, understanding the message accurately (assimilation). These sound like simple processes, yet in fact they are not: for example, how often do we really have the patience to listen closely to what someone else is telling us?

Consecutive Interpreting:
The interpreter starts to translate only after the speaker has finished his/her utterance. Often used at smaller conferences etc., generally used in courtroom settings, speeches. Just one interpreter is often enough.

A mother tongue formed from the contact of a European language (esp. English, French, or Portuguese) with another (esp. African) language. (OED)

1. A form of speech peculiar to a particular region.

2. A subordinate variety of a language with non-standard vocabulary, pronunciation, or grammar. (OED)

The interpreter is posted beside the client and in real time discretely ‘whispers’ his/her translation of the speech activity.

Modes of speaking and writing which involve participants in adopting a particular attitude towards areas of socio-cultural activity (e.g. racist discourse, officialese, etc.). (DaL)

Discourse Analysis:
In this context, the study of meaning using a large unit of translation, e.g. paragraph or page level, and taking into account the widest possible context.

Discourse Markers:
Words such as ‘good’, ‘but’, uh-huh’, ‘well’ that divide up (and also link) sections of speech.

Optimum achievement of a communicative goal. (DaL)

Achievement of a communicative goal in the most economic manner possible. Language users normally counterbalance effectiveness and efficiency in order to achieve maximum effect from minimum use of resources. (DaL)

Free Translation:
Translating loosely from the original. Contrasted with word for word or literal translation, this may be the best method depending on the most appropriate unit of translation involved.

Globalization addresses the business issues associated with taking a product global. In the globalization of high-tech products this involves integrating localization throughout a company, after proper internationalization and product design, as well as marketing, sales, and support in the world market. (PGL)

All languages have particular ways of showing politeness (e.g. French tu/vous, Spanish tu/usted, Japanese yomu/yomi-masu). (Aol)

Features of language variation characteristic of an individual speaker: basically, everyone has a unique way of talking.

A change in the form of (a word) to express tense, gender, number, mood, etc. (OED)

Internationalization is the process of generalizing a product so that it can handle multiple languages and cultural conventions without the need for re-design. Internationalization takes place at the level of program design and document development. (PGL)

Interpreting can be defined as the translation of speech orally, as opposed to translation of written texts. (OED)

It requires special skills (note taking, summarizing, language skills), a good memory, sheer mental stamina and, often, arduous training. 

A number of national and international organizations govern the profession, while the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights entitles every defendant in a criminal trial to have the assistance of an interpreter, if necessary.

There are several types of interpreting: simultaneous, consecutive, liaison

Simultaneous interpreting:

The interpreter starts to translate before the speaker has finished his/her utterance. Most often used at large events such as conferences and carried out by panels of at least two interpreters using special equipment. As this type of work is particularly tiring and stressful, the rule of thumb is that an interpreter should be able to take a break after 45 minutes of continuous work.

Liaison interpreting:

A generic name for business interpreting; also just interpreting for trade conventions and other general business situations. Usually refers to the activities of a single interpreter who accompanies an individual or delegation around.

Consecutive interpreting:

The interpreter starts to translate only after the speaker has finished his/her utterance. Often used at smaller conferences etc., generally used in courtroom settings, speeches. Just one interpreter is often enough.

1. The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in an agreed way. (OED)

2. The distinctive form of speech of a particular community, most or all of which is unintelligible to outsiders.

Language Family:
A set of languages that can be shown to derive from a common root. (AoL) (e.g. Indo-European, Austronesian)

Language Type:
According to their word structure (morphology), languages can be divided into four basic types:

1. Isolating: each element is an independent word without inflections (Chinese and Vietnamese)

2. Agglutinating: elements combine without changing their form to express compound ideas (Japanese, German)

3. Inflectional: the boundaries between morphemes are fuzzy, and morphemes can express more than one grammatical meaning at a time (Latin, Russian) (AoL)

4. Polysynthetic: several morphemes are put together to form complex words which can function as a whole sentence (Chukchi) (AoL)

Legal Translation:
Legal translation is a distinct specialty.

What skills does it need? 

Done well, it requires a variety of advanced skills to be present in the translator: first, complete mastery of both source and target languages; second, a good knowledge of the two legal systems involved; third, knowledge of the relevant sub-areas of law; fourth, an awareness of any other relevant disciplines and subject matter, ( e.g. steel making, if the documents of a case concern a steelworks); fifth, training in the art of translation itself.  It’s clear that it’s not easy to find such a combination of skills, especially as they are not acquired quickly — either on their own or collectively.

All this reflects the unique nature of legal language. 

As the noted language authority, David Crystal puts it:

“Legal language shares with science a concern for coherence and precision; and it shares with religion a respect for ritual and historical tradition”

“Legal language has always been pulled in different directions. Its statements have to be so phrased that we can see the general applicability, yet be specific enough to apply to individual circumstances. They have to be stable enough to stand the test of time, so that cases will be treated consistently and fairly, yet flexible enough to adapt to new social situations. Above all, they have to be expressed in such a way that people can be certain about the intention of the law respecting their rights and duties. No other variety of language has to carry such a responsibility.’

When referring to legal English, he states:

“Legal English has several subvarieties, reflecting its different roles. For example, there is the language of legal documents, such as contracts, deeds, insurance policies, wills and many kinds of regulation. There is the language of works of legal reference, with the complex apparatus of footnotes and indexing. There is the language of case law, made out of the spoken or written decisions which judges make about individual cases. There is the spoken language of the courtroom, with the ritual courtesies of judges, counsel and court officials and constraints governing what counts as evidence and what may or may not be said. Legal language is unique in the way utterances are subject to sanctions, such as a fine or imprisonment for linguistic contempt of court.

A fundamental distinction separates the language of the Legislatureχwhich institutes a legal text and the language of the judiciary which interprets and applies that text. A pivotal role is played by set of constitutional statements statutes (Acts), and other documents which come from the Legislature. In these cases, the words, literally are law.” (CoL)

We do legal translation well!


When we want to translate one language, there are so many theories, strategy, method, and technique how to transfer the message to other language. those theory are used by us to make our translation easier. with our knowledge of these theory, we can understand about the reqal translation.


~ oleh adlanpribadi pada April 13, 2012.

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