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Catford [I]

Catford, J.C. (1965) A Linguistic Theory of Translation: an Essay in

Applied Linguistics, London: Oxford University Press
Translation is an operation performed on languages; a
process of substituting a text in one language for a text in
[consequently Catford concludes that]
The theory of translation is concerned with a certain type
of relation between languages and is consequently a
branch of comparative linguistics.
(Catford 1965:20)
He followed J.R. Firth and M.A.K. Halliday in regarding
language as enabling communication acts with specific
functions in a given context
Interest in what can be done in translation, given what we know
about the way language works in general (potential that
language offers the translator)
He relates types of translation to language levels (e.g.
phonology, grammar, lexis) and to grammatical ranks (e.g.
sentence, clause, group, word, morpheme).
Catford [II]
Catford [III]
Rythmic Group
Tone Group
Rank Scale
She came in and J ohn locked the door.
Clauses (She came in, John locked the door)
Groups (came in, verb group; the door, nominal group)
Words (She, came, in, etc.)
Morphemes (same as above words, but lock+ ed, 2
Catford [IV]
(1) Total Translation
what is generally meant by translation, i.e. the situation in
which all the linguistic levels of the source text (phonology,
graphology, grammar and lexis) are replaced by target
language material. Equivalence in this type of translation is
normally only achieved at the level of grammar and lexis.
Catford defines total translation as the replacement of SL
grammar and lexis by equivalent TL grammar and lexis with
consequential replacement of SL phonology/graphology by
(non-equivalent) TL phonology/graphology.
Catford [V]
Catford [VI]
(2a) Restricted Translation
at one level only (4 types) - two main types: phonological and
graphological. Restricted translation at the grammatical level or
lexical level only is difficult if not impossible because of the
interdependence of grammar and lexis.
Grammatical Translation: SL grammar is replaced by
equivalent TL grammar without replacing SL lexis by TL lexis.
[Example A]
Lexical Translation: SL lexis is replaced by equivalent TL lexis
without replacing SL grammar by TL grammar. [Example A]
Catford [VII]
(2b) Restricted Translation
Graphological Translation: the graphic substance of the SL is
replaced by equivalent graphic substance of the TL, with no
replacements at the levels of phonology, lexis or grammar except
for accidental changes. [Example B]
Phonological Translation: the phonological units of the SL are
replaced by phonological units of the TL, leaving the grammar and
lexis of the SL intact except for accidental changes idealized
category, based on the idea that the translator might want to give
absolute priority to the phonological level, so that the choice of
lexis and syntax in the target language is dependent on the
criterion of sound alone. [Example C]
[Example A]
Grammatical and lexical translation
This is the man I saw.
Grammatical translation:
Voici le manque jai see-
Lexical translation:
This is the hommeI voi-ed.
Catford [VIII]
Graphological translation
Russian sputnik is written in Cyrillic and
translates graphologically into Roman script as CHYTHNK
Catford [IX]
[Example B]
Phonological translation
Jandls (1966) translation of Wordsworths famous poem
My heart leaps up when I behold / A rainbow in the sky
which begins
mai hart lieb zapfen eibe hold / er renn bohr iin sees kai
Catford [X]
[Example C]
Textual equivalent: any TL text (or portion of text) which is
observed on a particular occasion.. to be the equivalent of a
given SL text (or portion of text).
Formal correspondent: any TL category which can be
said to occupy, as nearly as possible, the same place in
the economy of the TL as the given SL category occupies
in the SL.
Catford [XI]
When these two concepts diverge,
a translation shift takes place
Translation Shift departure from formal correspondence
Level Shifts something is expressed by grammar in language
A but by lexical units (i.e. through vocabulary) in
language B
Il candidato X sarebbe in vantaggio - apparently, allegedly
Category Shifts four kinds:
Structural: change of grammatical e.g. I like pizza
Class: change of part of speech e.g. a medical student
Unit/rank: replacing units of different size e.g. There you go
Intra-system: SL and TL have roughly the same systems, but
the translation involves choosing a
non-corresponding item in the TL
e.g. definite articles and prepositions : his friend, she
looked at him
Catford [XII]
Catford [XIII]
First ever attempt to elaborate a coherent theoretical account of
linguistic aspects of translation at large
Internal consistency and rigour of the approach, robust categories
Translation used as a tool of formal linguistic analysis
Use of invented and decontextualised examples
Takes into account the potential rather than actual translators
No distinction between obligatory and optional shifts
Focus on the sentence level/no mention of context
More on equivalence, adaptation, translation shifts
Linguistic Approaches
(I) Micro-level (focus on linguistic system)
R. Jakobson
E. Nida
P. Newmark
J.-P. Vinay and J. Darbelnet
J. C. Catford (1965)
(II) Macro-level (focus on ST/TT comparison)
Hallidays model of discourse analysis
Sociocultural environment
(field, tenor, mode)
Discourse semantics
(ideational, interpersonal, textual)
(transitivity, modality, theme-rheme/cohesion)
House [I]
House, J. (1977) A Model for Translation Quality Assessment, Tbingen:
Gunter Narr. Second edition 1981.
House, J. (1997) Translation Quality Assessment: a Model Revisited, Tbingen:
Gunter Narr
Translation Quality Assessment model (TQA)
Comparative analysis ST/TT profiles
Evaluative perspective adopted
Linguistic/textual features related to context (of both ST & TT)
Analyses of complete texts rather than isolated sentences
Authentic examples used
Overall objectives
Describing the linguistic & situational peculiarities of the
source text
Comparing source and target texts
Making objective statements about the relative match of
the two texts
House [II]
House [III]
Towards a definition of Translation
Before attempting to develop a model for translation quality
assessment, we first have to be more precise about what
we mean by translation. The essence of translation lies in
the preservation of MEANING across two different
languages (House 1981:25).
3 basic aspects of meaning
Defining Translation
Translation is the replacement of a text in the source language by
a semantically and pragmatically equivalent text in the target
language. (House 1981:29-30)
Translation is primarily a pragmatic reconstruction of its source
text. (House 1981:28)
Semantic-pragmatic equivalence
equivalence in function
House [IV]
The function of a text is the application or
use which the text has in the particular
context of a situation
(House 1981:37)
Meaning is realized as function in a
given context of situation
House [V]
House [VI]
Meaning is realized as function in a
given context of situation
Expressing content Expressing speakers
attitude towards
interlocutors, expressing
social roles
where language makes
links with itself and
with the situation;
the construction of
texts becomes
possible because of
this linkage
Meaning is realized as function in a
given context of situation
CONTEXT OF SITUATION: two dimensions
House [VII]
A. Dimensions of Language
1. Geographical Origin
2. Social Class
3. Time
B. Dimensions of Language
1. Medium: simple/complex
2. Participation: simple/complex
3. Social Role Relationship
4. Social Attitude
5. Province
House [VIII]
Functional Match Needed to Achieve
Translation Equivalence
A translation text should not only match its source text in
function, but employ equivalent situational-dimensional
means to achieve that function. (House 1981:49)
House [IX]
House [X]
An overt translation is one in which the TT
addressees are quite overtly not being directly
addressed; thus an overt translation is one
which must overtly be a translation, not, as it
were, a second original.
In an overt translation, the ST is tied in a specific
way to the source language community and
culture; the ST is specifically directed at source
language addressees but is also pointing beyond
the source language community because ST
independent of its source language origin is
also of potential general human interest. STs that
call for an overt translation have an established
worth or value in the source language
community and potentially in other communities.
(House 1981:189)
A covert translation is a translation which enjoys
or enjoyed the status of an original ST in the
target culture. The translation is covert because
it is not marked pragmatically as a TT of an ST
but may, conceivably, have been created in
its own right.
A covert translation is thus a translation whose
ST is not specifically addressed to a target
culture audience, i.e. not particularly tied to the
source language community and culture. An ST
and its covert TT are pragmatically of equal
concern for source and target language
addressees. Both are, as it were, equally directly
A ST and its covert TT have equivalent
purposes; they are based on contemporary,
equivalent needs of a comparable audience in
the source and target language communities.
(House 1981:194-95).
House [XI]
House [XII]
Model seemingly based on the assumptions that the socio-cultural
expectations of ST and TT readers are comparable
No special secondary function is added to TT
Predominantly poetic-aesthetic or form-oriented works (such as
poetry) excluded
Complexity of the analytical categories used (nature, terminology,
First attempt at developing such a comprehensive and thorough
analytical approach.
1997 refinements
Functionalist Approaches
Focusing on the function or functions of texts and translations
(Nord 1997:1)
Translation as an activity, embedded in theory of human action
Text Typology (Reiss)
Skopostheorie (Reiss and Vermeer)
Text Analysis model (Nord)
Translational Action (Holz-Mnttri)
Reiss [I]
Text Typology
Informative texts
Emphasis on content.
New texts, business correspondence etc
Expressive texts
Various literary genres, e.g. poetry, novels, short stories
Informative aspect overruled by aesthetic effect
Operative texts
Advertisements, political propaganda
Both content and form are subordinate to extralinguistic effect
Reiss [II]
The transmissionof the predominant function of the ST is the
determining factor by which the TT is judged
Different translation methods (depending on text type)
TT of INFORMATIVE text translation in plain prose, no redundancy and
explicitation when required
TT of an EXPRESSIVE text translation should use the identifying
method, with the translator adopting the standpoint of the ST author.
TT of an OPERATIVE text translation should employ the adaptive
method, creating an equivalent effect among the TT readers.
TT of an AUDIO-MEDIAL text requires the supplementary method,
supplementing written words with visual images and music.
+ intra/extralinguistic criteria
Reiss [III]
Reiss [IV]
Attempt to go beyond the lower linguistic level (words on a
page) towards a consideration of the communicative purpose
of translation
Three types of language functions identified: are they enough?
Can text types really be differentiated?
How are the translation methods to be applied in the case of a
specific text?
Skopos, Greek word meaning aim, purpose
Each text is produced for a given purpose and should serve
this purpose. The Skopos rule thus reads as follows:
translate/interpret/speak/write in a way that enables your
text/translation to function in the situation in which it is
used and with the people who want to use it and precisely
in the way they want it to function (Vermeer, cited in, and
translated by, Nord 1997:29)
Vermeer [I]
Underlying rules
A translatum is determined by its skopos
A translation is an offer of information in a target
culture and its language about a source culture and its
A TT is not clearly reversible
A translation needs to be coherent in itself
A translation needs to be coherent with the source text
The five rules above stand in hierarchical order, with the
skopos rule predominating
Vermeer [II]
Includes a goal and the conditions under which the goal is
to be achieved
It is the measure of translational action
In the translation of a source text or element, adequacy
refers to the relationship between the source and target
text in relation to the skopos that followed in the translation
Vermeer [III]
Criticisms of Functionalism
Source text is dethroned
Applicability to literary translation?
No distinction between good and bad purposes
Fascination with terminology and inconsistent use of this
Neglect of cultural difference? Concepts of source and
target culture underdefined
Not based on empirical studies
Vermeer [IV]
Nord [I]
Nord, C. (1988/2005) Text Analysis in Translation: Theory, Methodology and
Didactic Application of a Model for Translation-Oriented Text Analysis,
Amsterdam: Rodopi
Nord, C. (1997) Translating as a Purposeful Activity: Functionalist Approaches
Explained, Manchester: St Jerome
Nords theory aims to provide translation students with a model of
ST analysis which is applicable to all text types and translation
situations (// Reiss and Vermeer)
More attention devoted to the features of the ST + complex series
of extratextual factors and intratextual features in the ST.
Three aspects of functionalist approaches useful in translator
Nord [II]
1. Importance of translation commission (i.e. brief)
it should give the following info about the text:
Intended text function
Addressees (sender and recipients)
Time and place of text reception
Medium (speech and writing)
Motive (why the ST was written and why it is being
Nord [III]
2. Model of ST: deals with the criticism of Skopostheory not
paying enough attention to the linguistic nature of the ST
and TT more detailed functional model incorporating
elements of text analysis to examine organization at or
above sentence level.
Intratextual factors is one possible model for ST analysis:
Subject matter
Content (including connotation and cohesion)
Presuppositions (real-world factors of the communicative
situation presumed to be known to the participants)
Composition (including micro- and macro-structure)
Non-verbal elements (italics, illustrations, etc)
Lexic (dialect, register, specific terminology)
Sentence structure
Suprasegmental features (stress, rhythm and stylistic
3. Function-based hierarchy of translation problems i.e.
functional hierarchy when undertaking a translation.
The intended function of the translation should be decided
(documentary or instrumental cfr overt/covert by House)
Nord [IV]
Serves as a document of a
source culture
communication between the
author and the ST recipient
serves as an independent message
transmitting instrument in a new
communicative action in the target culture,
and is intended to fulfil its communicative
purpose without the recipient being
conscious of reading or hearing a text
which, in a different form, was used before
in a different communicative situation
Useful for thinking about translation as a PROFESSIONAL
ACTIVITY, it puts translators into focus
To what extent does it account for the reality of the translation
profession? idea of empowerment of the translator, who works
on an equal footing with others
Emphasis on skopos and function that it seems to subordinate
translation to purely commercial issues
(see House, Gentzler, etc)
Assessment of functionalist approaches