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- Equivalence is the central issue in translation

- The definition, relevance, and applicability of

equivalence has caused heated controversy. It
has been analyzed, evaluated and extensively
discussed from different points of view and has
been approached from many different
- -> many different theories of the concept of
 It is the relationship between a source text
(ST) and a target text (TT) that allows the TT
to be considered as a translation of the ST.

 Any relation characterizing translation under a

specified set of circumstances.

 Equivalence was a relationship between two

texts in two languages, rather than between
the languages themselves
Jakobson (1959)
Nida and Taber (1982)
Baker (1992)
Jakobson (1959): equivalence is
always possible (regardless of the
cultural or grammatical differences
between ST and TT) since there are
several methods that the translator
can choose
loan-translations, neologisms and
semantic shifts, and circumlocutions
Nida and Taber (1982) : Formal
equivalence and dynamic
 Dynamic equivalence/ functional
equivalence focuses on the message
itself -> emphasizing readability. (e.g..
in translating novels)
 Formal equivalence attempts to
translate the text word-for-word
(literally). (e.g. in translating Bible,
international diplomacy)
Baker (1992)
 Equivalence at word level (chapter 2)
 Equivalence above word level (chapter

 Grammatical equivalence (chapter 4)
 Textual equivalence (chapter 5, 6)
 Pragmatic equivalence (chapter 7)
 Form-based equivalence: (see Baker)
Equivalence at word, sentence, or text level
 Meaning-based equivalence: (see Koller)

Denotative, connotative, pragmatic, formal

 Function-based equivalence: (see Nida)

Dynamic equivalence, formal equivalence

 Quantitative equivalence

One-to-one equiv., one-to-many equiv., One-

to-part-of-one equivalence, Nil equivalence
One-to-one equivalence
 A single expression in TL is equivalent to a single

expression in SL
Information Technology = Công nghệ Thông tin
One-to-many equivalence
 More than one TL expressions are equivalent to a

single SL expression.
To breed Tre
To feed Nứa
Nuôi To raise Bamboo Trúc

To keep Mai
So support Vầu
One-to-part-of-one equivalence
A TL expression covers part of a concept
designated by a single SL expression.
Rồng dragon
Bush Thảo nguyên
Nil equivalence
no TL expression is equivalent to a single SL
Eg: Internet = “Mạng Internet”
B¸nh Ch­ng = Ch­ng cake/Banhchung
¸o dµi = aodai
Koller’s 5 types of equivalence:
 Denotative equivalence
 Connotative equivalence
 Text-normative equivalence
 Pragmatic / Dynamic equivalence
 Formal equivalence
 Denotative equivalence is one in which the SL
and TL words refer to the same thing in the
real world. This is the referential identity
between SL and TL units.

 This is equivalence of the extra linguistic

content of a text, otherwise called ‘content
a rabbit → con thỏ

esides denotative value, SL and TL words should

produce the same communicative values in
the mind of native speakers of the two

r the equivalence transmitted by specific

choices between synonymous expressions with
respect to level of style (register), the social
and geographical dimension, frequency, etc.

g: - ăn nhanh kẻo nguội

 Connotation of speech level: elevated, poetic, normal,
colloquial, slang, vulgar
 Connotation of socially determined usage: student
language, military language, aristocratic language…
 Connotation of geographical relation or origin: American
English, Australian English…
 Connotation of medium: spoken language, written
 Connotation of stylistic effect: pompous, artificial,
 Connotation of frequency: common, uncommon
 Connotation of register: normal usage, technical, medical…
 Connotation of evaluation: positively evaluative, ironic,
 Connotation of emotion: using emotive language to
describe a given topic
As fair art thou, my bonnie Em đẹp lắm, ơi cô gái nhỏ
So deep in luve am I, Anh đắm say em tự bao
And I’ll luve thee stil, my giờ
dear, Anh sẽ mãi còn yêu em đó
Till a’ seas gang dry. Yêu đến ngày biển cạn
sông khô

(A red, red rose. Robert Burns.

Translated by:N.X.Thơm)
 Your majesty  Muôn tâu bệ hạ
 Sir  Th­a ngµi
 As fast as a  Nhanh như kangaroo
 The poor  Underprivileged
 HIV patients  People living with

 Surgeon: A. Swan  Bác sĩ phẫu thuật: A.
 Assistant: Mr. Swan
Dickson  Phụ tá: Ông Dickson
 GA: Dr. Wood  Gây mê tổng quát: Bác sĩ
 Incisions: median Wood
sternotomy and  Đường phẫu: rạch giữa

right thigh and leg xương ức, đùi và chân

 MÆt c« ta lµ tÊt c¶
 Her face is all her
fortune vèn liÕng cña c«
 Con ấy chỉ được mỗi cái
The SL and TL words using the same or similar
text types in their respective languages.

◦in correspondence

Faithfully yours Trung thành của bạn

Kính thư
Art.2. the organization  Điều 2. để đạt được
and its members, in những mục đích nêu ở điều
pursuit of the purposes 1, liên hợp quốc và các
stated in Article 1, shall thành viên liên hợp quốc
act in accordance with hành động phù hợp với
the following những nguyên tắc sau đây:
1) Liên hợp quốc được xây
1) the organization is
based on the principle dựng trên nguyên tắc bình
for the sovereign đẳng chủ quyền của tất cả
equality of all its các nước thành viên…
The SL and TL words have the same effect on
the reader Or mainly aiming at the receiver, to
whom the translation is directed
Also called “communicative equivalence
Examples: anh (§¾c Lª)
Y (D­¬ng T­êng)
HE g· (Lª Ba K«ng)
 It’s cold in here.
◦ Trong này lạnh quá.
◦ Làm ơn đóng hộ cửa sổ / bật điều hoà.

 Chào nhé, đi đâu đấy?

◦ Hi, where are you going?
◦ Hi, how are you?
 Possibilitiesof formal equivalence with
respect to categories such as rhyme,
verse form, rhythm, special stylistic
forms of expression in syntax and lexis,
word play, metaphor and so on.
 Formal equivalence is particularly used

in translation of poems, songs, etc.

 Also called ‘expressive equivalence
“The war’ly race may riches chase
And riches still may fly them, O!
And tho’ at last they catch them fast
Their hearts can never enjoy them. O!”
(Green Grow the Rashes by Robert Burns)
“Bọn người đời hám giàu sang theo đuổi
Tưởng giàu sang bốc họ lên giời
Dẫu cuối cùng giàu sang đạt tới
Nhưng cõi lòng đâu đã thảnh thơi.”
( Cây Bấc Xanh” translated by Nguyên Xuân Thơm)
Where do I be gin?
C©u chuyÖn t×nh n¨m x­a
To tell a s tory of how great a love can
Tõ thêi xa x­a nay ®· trë vÒ
trong t«i
Where do I start?
According to Baker (1992) when the translator
starts analyzing the ST s/he looks at the words
as single units in order to find a direct
'equivalent' term in the TL.
Some strategies to deal with non-equivalence
at word level
2. culture-specific concepts: concepts from the
source culture which are unknown in
E.g. vegemite, Speaker (of the House of
Common), hen party

Suggested solution: Translation using cultural

substitution or using loan word plus explanation
2. The target language lacks a specific term
E.g. Comb, brush hair
Wash, clean, shampoo hair
Curl, perm hair
sheer, great, active, fertile,
fevered imagination

Solution: translate with more general words

 The SL lacks specific terms
◦ Mũ: hat, cap, helmet
◦ Xanh: blue, green

 Mismatch in meaning components

◦ brother vs anh, em trai
(for componential analysis, read Newmark)
3. The source and target make different distinctions
in meaning
E.g. bring: carrying things to a place where the
speaker is or is to be
take: conveying things to a place where the speaker
is not.
Vietnamese does not make this distinction.
E.g. see, look, watch
Solution: Translation by adding meaning to
For more problems with equivalence at word
level and strategies to deal with them, refer to
the book In other words: A book on translation.
 Translating idioms
 Translating collocations
. What is an idiom?
“a fixed group of words with a special meaning
that cannot be guessed from the combination
of the actual words used” (Longman
Dictionary of Contemporary English, 1981).

E.g. turn over a new leaf not turn over new

Problems in translating idioms
a. Some idioms are misleading
E..g take someone for a ride, Have a bun in
the oven
b. English idioms with no equivalent in
E.g. to be born with a silver spoon in one’s
mouth or at the
eleventh hour, burning the candle at both
ends, or a
skeleton in the closet.
c. Some English idioms are particularly
to carry coals to Newcastle
2. Techniques for translating idioms
a. Exact equivalence
to fight like cats and dogs
b. Reduction
He kicked the bucket last Sunday.
He's head over heels in love with her.
c. Paraphrase
She's putting a very brave face on things.
d. Omission or compensation
See the book In other word
• - grammatical rules vary across languages ->
cause remarkable changes in the way the
information or message is carried across.
(number, tense and aspects, voice, person and
• -> the translator either to add or to omit
information in the TT (Vietnamese) because of
the lack of particular grammatical devices in the
TL itself (Vietnamese) .
- textual equivalence = the equivalence between
a SL text and a TL text in terms of information
and cohesion

- three main factors = the target audience, the

purpose of the translation and the text type.
• - the translator needs to work out implied
meanings in translation in order to get the ST
message across. -> to recreate the author's
intention in another culture in such a way that
enables the TC reader to understand it clearly.
 Baker, Mona (1992) In Other Words: a
Coursebook on Translation, London:

 Jakobson, Roman (1959) 'On Linguistic

Aspects of Translation', in R. A. Brower (ed.)
On Translation, Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, pp. 232-39.

 Nida, Eugene A. and C.R.Taber (1969 / 1982)

The Theory and Practice of Translation,
Leiden: E. J. Brill.