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Akmal Rais
Nelsi Nurdin


The Word In Different Languages


Lexical Meaning


The Problem Of Non-Equivalence



1. What is the word ?
The word is The smallest unit of language that
can be used by itself ((Bolinger and Sears,
1968:43) in Mona Baker, 1991:17 ).
The word is smallest unit which we would
expect to prossess individual meaning (Mona
Baker, 1991:17)
Meaning can be carried by units smaller than the



Is there a one-to-one relationship between word and meaning?

Two distinct elements of meaning in it : re and build. to built
Example :

Tennis player (english):tenisci (turkish).

Boxing player (english): petinju (ind).



Introducing Morpheme

The term morpheme is the minimal formal element of meaning

in language.

Morpheme cannot contain more than one element of meaning

and cannot be further analysed.

Propositional vs expressive meaning
a.The propositional meaning of a word or an utterance arises
from the relation between it and what if refers to or describes
in a real or imaginary world, as conceived by the speakers of
the particular language to which the word or utterance
b.Expressive meaning relates to the speakers2 feelings or
attitude rather than to what words and utterance refer to.

Presupposed Meaning
Presupposed meaning arises from co-occurrence
restrictions :
a. Selectional restrictions
b. Collocational restrictions
Evoked Meaning
Evoked meaning arises from dialect and register
variation :
a. Geographical
b. Temporal
c. Social

Register variation is a variety of language that a language user
considers appropriate to a specific situation.
Register variation arises from variation in the followings:
a. Field of discourse
b.Tenor of discourse
c. Mode of discourse


The choice of a suitable equivalent in a given context depends on a wide
variety of factors. Some of these factors may be strictly lingusitcs (ex.
collocations and idioms), others may be extra linguistics (ex. pragmatics).
Semantic fields and lexical sets the segmentation of experience
The vocabulary of a language as a set of words referring to a series of
conceptual fields. These fields reflect the divisions and sub-divisions
imposed by a given linguistics community on the continuum of
experience. In linguistics, the divisions are called semantic fields.
Fields are abstract concepts.
Example : the field of SPEECH, PLANTS, or VEHICLES.
Lexical sets are the actual words and expressions under each field.
Example :
SPEECH VERBS OF SPEECH speak, say, mumble, murmur,
mutter, whisper

Non-equivalence at word level and some common strategies for

dealing with
Non-equivalence at word level means that the target language has no direct
equivalence for a word which occurs in the source text.
The type and level of difficulty posed can vary tremendously depending on the nature
of non-equivalence.
Common problems of non-equivalence
a. Culture-spesific concepts
The concept may be abstract or concrete; it may relate to a religious belief, a social
custom, or even a type of food.
Example : privacy, speaker (of the House of Commons)
b. The source-language concept is not lexicalized in the target language
The source-language word may express a concept which is known in the target culture
but simply not lexicalized, that is not allocated a target-language to express it.
Example : standard


The source-language word is semantically complex

A single word which consists of a single morpheme can sometimes
express a more complex set of meanings than a whole sentence.
Example : arruao clearing the ground under coffee trees of
rubbish and pilling it in the middle of the row in order to aid in the
recovery of beans dropped during harvesting


The source and the target language make different distinctions

in meaning
What one language regards as an important distinction in meaning another
language may not perceive as relevant.
Example : kehujanan


The target language lacks a superordinate

The target language may have specific words (hyponyms) but no general
word (superordinate) to head the semantic fields.
Example : the word facilities in English and Russian


The target language lacks a specific term

Language tend to have general words but lack specific ones, since
each language makes only those distinction in meaning which seem
relevant to its particular environment.
Example : the word house in English has many variety of hyponyms,
such as cottage, lodge, villa


Differences in physical or interpersonal perspective

physical perspective has to do with where things or people are in
relation to one another or, to a place.
Example : the word give in Japanese has six equivalents, depending
on who gives to whom.


Differences in expressive meaning

If the target-language equivalent is neutral compared to the sourcelanguage item, the translator can sometimes add the evaluative
element by means of a modifier or adverb if necessary, or building it
in somewhere else in the text.
Example : the differences in expressive meaning in word
homosexuality in English and Arabic


Differences in form
There is often no equivalent in the target language for a particular
form in the source text. Certain suffixes and prefixes which convey
propositional and other types of meaning in English often have no
direct equivalents in other languages.
Example : employer / employee, trainer / trainee, retrieavable,


Differences in frequency and purpose of using specific forms

Example : the using of the continuous ing form in English is more
frequently than other languages which have equivalents for it, for
example German and the Scandinavian languages.


The use of loan words in the source text

The use of loan words in the source text poses a special problem in
translation. This is often lost in translation because it is not always
possible to find a loan word with the same meaning in the target

WORDS as BUNDLES of Meaning

Concept is used in this text to refer; not to the form
(word) but only to the meaning content. A concept is a
recognizable unit of meaning in any given language.
In a given language, the concept unit usually, but by
no means always, is represented by a word; it may also
be represented by a morpheme, or by an idiomatic
expression, or by tone, or by word order. Concepts are
identified in a given language on the principle of contrast
and comparison within the system of that language.
Each concept is associated with a particular area of
meaning which is distinct from that of other concepts in
the language; its function is to refer to some specific
area of meaning. Barnwell (1980:141)

Translate one word of the source language by
several words in the receptor language in order to give
the same meaning.
translate with a word in the receptor language which
is equivalent to the central concept and use a phrase
to add the further definition.

The process of "unpacking" the semantic structure of
a word. A restatement of this kind is usually not good
English style, but it helps the translator identify the
meaning and matches the grammatical categories with
the semantic categories, thus eliminating most of the
skewing and making it easier to translate into a more
verbal language. used in a technical way, to say the
same thing in another way.

When a word is restated to

indicate its full meaning, it is important
to be aware of which concept in the
restatement is central component. In
the example of island given above, the
paraphrase given was land surrounded
by water. Land is the central or nuclear
component of meaning and surrounded
by water delimits or defines more
clearly which land. It distinguishes it
from other land which may take the
form of a desert, plain, or mountain.


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