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The Functional Approach:

Literal / Direct Translation

Theory and Practice of
Unit 4

Literal translation, ordirect translation,

is the rendering of text from one language to
another "word-for-word" (Latin: "verbum pro
verbo") with or without conveying
thesenseof the original.
In translation
studies, "literal
denotes technical
translation of
technological or
legal texts.

theory, another
term for "literal
translation" is
"metaphrase"; and
") translation

Bad Practices
When considered a bad practice of
conveying word by word
ormorphemetolexeme) translation
of non-technical type
literaltranslationshas the meaning
of mistranslatingidioms,for
example, or in the context of
translating ananalytic languageto
asynthetic language, it renders even

Poetry to Prose
Literal translation can also denote a
translation that represents the precise
meaning of the original text but does not
attempt to convey its style, beauty, or poetry.
There is, however, a great deal of difference
between a literal translation of a poetic
work and a prose translation. A literal
translation of poetry may be in prose rather than
verse, but also be error free.Charles Singleton's
translation ofThe Divine Comedy(1975) is
regarded as a prose translation.

The concept ofliteral
translationmay be viewed
n in terms), given
something existing without
interpretation, whereas
atranslation, by its very
nature, is an interpretation
(an interpretation of the
meaning of words from one
language into another).

The term "literal translation" often

appeared in the titles of 19thcenturyEnglishtranslations of classical,
Bible and other texts.
Literal translations ("cribs,"
"ponies", or "trots") are
sometimes prepared for a writer
who is translating a work written in
a language he does not know. For
example,Robert Pinskyis
reported to have used a literal
translation in preparing his
ofDante'sInferno(1994), as he
does not know Italian.
Similarly,Richard Pevearworked
from literal translations provided
by his wife,Larissa
Volokhonsky, in their translations
of several Russian novels

Literal Translation
"Literal" translation
implies that it is
probably full of errors,
since the translator has
made no effort to
convey, for example,
correct idioms or shades
of meaning, but it might
be also useful in seeing
how words are used to
convey a meaning in
the source language.

Literal (Mis)Translation
A literalEnglish
"Kindergarten" would
be "children garden,"
but in English the
expression refers to
the school year
between pre-school
and first grade.

Literal translations in
which individual
components within words
or compounds are
translated to create
new lexical items in
the target language (a
process also known as
loan translation) are
calledcalques (see Unit
5), e.g.beer garden
from German

As a bad practice
Literal translation of
"So che questo non va bene"
("I know that this is not good"),
"Know(I) that this not goes(it) well,"
which has


Translation Studies

Live up to the task

Further Reading / Consultative


Trivia: Did you know that

Glossolalia, often
understood among
Protestant Christians as
speaking in tongues,
is the fluid vocalizing of
speech-like syllables that
lack any readily
comprehended meaning,
in some cases as part of
religious practice. Some
consider it as a part of a
sacred language.

Trivia: Definition

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