Eugene Nida Principles of Correspondence Summary

Eugene Nida Principles of Correspondence Summary

After giving a summary of Skopos Theory of Hans Vermeer, Today we’re here with another lengthy summary. Eugene Nida’s Principles of Correspondence are from fundamentals of translation studies and every student of translation in the course of his/her studies has encountered with it: Formal equivalence vs. Dynamic Equivalence. This article is a summary of Eugene Nida’s Principles of Correspondence that is taken from Translation Studies Reader of Lawrence Venuti (2012).

Summary of Eugene Nida: Principles of Correspondence

Eugene Nida believes that no two languages are identical, so there can be no absolute correspondence between languages, nor an exact translation. The total impact of a translation may be reasonably close to the original, but there can be no identity in detail. To start with, different types of translations are provided.

Different types of translations

Differences in translations can generally be accounted for by three basic factors in translating:

  1. The nature of the message,
  2. The purpose or purposes of the author and, by proxy, of the translator, and
  3. The type of audience.

Messages differ primarily in the degree to which content or form is the dominant consideration. Of course, form and content are not separate entities. For example, in poetry, there is obviously a greater focus of attention upon formal elements than one normally finds in prose. rarely can one reproduce both content and form in a translation, and hence, in general, the form is usually sacrificed for the sake of the content. The particular purposes of the translator are also important factors in dictating the type of translation. it is assumed that the translator has purposes generally similar to, those of the original author, but this is not necessarily so. The primary purpose of the translator may be information as to both content and form. One intended type of response to such an informative type of translation is largely cognitive. Or translators may want to suggest a particular type of behavior by means of a translation, under such circumstances, he is likely to aim at full intelligibility (rather than understandability).

A still greater degree of adaptation is likely to occur in a translation which has an imperative purpose. Here the translator feels constrained not merely to suggest a possible line of behavior, but to make such an action explicit and compelling. He is not content to translate in such a way that the people are likely to understand; rather, he insists that the translation must be so clear that no one can possibly misunderstand. In addition to the different types of messages and the diverse purposes of translators, one must also consider the extent to which prospective audiences differ both in decoding ability and in potential interest. Decoding ability in any language involves at least four principal levels:

  1. The capacity of children, whose vocabulary and cultural experience is limited;
  2. The double-standard capacity of new literates, who can decode oral messages with ease but whose ability to decode written messages is limited;
  3. The capacity of the average literate adult, who can handle both oral and written messages with relative ease; and
  4. The unusually high capacity of specialists when they are decoding messages within their own area of specialization.

Obviously, a translation designed for children cannot be the same as one prepared for specialists, and vice versa. Audiences also differ in their interests too. For example, a translation designed to stimulate reading for pleasure will be quite different from one intended for a person anxious to learn how to assemble a complicated machine.

So based on above-mentioned factors and differences, we could have two basic orientations in translation.

Two basic orientations in translating: Formal vs. Dynamic

One must in translating seek to find the closest possible equivalent in translation. There are two different types of equivalence: Formal vs. Dynamic.

Formal equivalence focuses attention on the message itself, in both form and content. In such a translation one is concerned with such correspondences as poetry to poetry, sentence to sentence, and concept to concept. the message in the receptor language should match as closely as possible the different elements in the source language (accuracy and correctness). A very good example of this type of translation is gloss translation. A gloss translation of this type is designed to permit the reader to identify himself as fully as possible with a person in the source-language context and to understand as much as he can of the customs, manner of thought, and means of expression.

In contrast, a translation which attempts to produce a dynamic rather than a formal equivalence is based upon “the principle of equivalent effect”. Here translator is concerned with the dynamic relationship, that the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message. A translation of dynamic equivalence aims at complete naturalness of expression.

Between the two poles of translating (i.e. between strict formal equivalence and complete dynamic equivalence) there are a number of intervening grades, representing various acceptable standards of literary translating.

Linguistic and cultural distance

There are three different types of relatedness, as determined by the linguistic and cultural distance between the codes used to convey the messages.

  1. A translation may involve comparatively closely related languages and cultures. in this case, one should expect to encounter the least number of serious problems but should look out for deceptive superficial similarities and/or false friends.
  2. The languages may not be related, even though the cultures are closely parallel. In this case, the translator is called upon to make a good many formal shifts in the translation.
  3. A translation may involve not only differences of linguistic affiliation but also highly diverse cultures.

In general, differences between cultures cause many more severe complications for the translator than do differences in language structure.

Definitions of translating

A translation acceptable in one period is often quite unacceptable at a later time. In the next part of this paper, Nida gives numerous definitions for ‘Translating’ from different sources. These definitions are mainly to prove one thing only: A translator must not only contend with the special difficulties resulting from such an effective exploitation of the total resources of the source language but also seek to produce something relatively equivalent in the receptor language. In one way or another, this principle of “similar response” has been widely held and effectively stated by a number of specialists in the field of translating. with lots of other definitions, we see that there are lots of attention to the dynamic equivalence and creating the same response in the reader as with original reader.

If a translation is to meet the four basic requirements of (1) making sense, (2) conveying the spirit and manner of the original, (3) having a natural and easy form of expression, and (4) producing a similar response, it is obvious that at certain points the conflict between content and form (or meaning and manner) will be acute, and that one or the other must give way. In general, translators are agreed that, when there is no happy compromise, meaning must have priority over style. correspondence in meaning must have priority over correspondence in style. One cannot, therefore, state that a particular translation is good or bad without taking into consideration a myriad of factors, which in turn must be weighted in a number of different ways, with appreciably different answers. Hence there will always be a variety of valid answers to the question, “Is this a good translation?”

Principles governing a translation oriented toward formal equivalence

a formal equivalence (or F–E) translation is basically source-oriented; that is, it is designed to reveal as much as possible of the form and content of the original message. This kind of translation attempts to reproduce several formal elements, including (1) grammatical units, (2) consistency in word usage, and (3) meanings in terms of the source context. The reproduction of grammatical units may consist of: (a) translating nouns by nouns, verbs by verbs, etc.; (b) keeping all phrases and sentences intact (i.e. not splitting up and readjusting the units); and (c) preserving all formal indicators, e.g. marks of punctuation, paragraph breaks, and poetic indentation.

In attempting to reproduce consistency in word usage, an F–E translation usually aims at so-called concordance of terminology; that is, it always renders a particular term in the source-language document by the corresponding term in the receptor document. An F–E translation may also make use of brackets, parentheses, or even italics for words added to make sense in the translation, but missing in the original document. In order to reproduce meanings in terms of the source context, an F–E translation normally attempts not to make adjustments in idioms, but rather to reproduce such expressions more or less literally, A consistent F–E translation will obviously contain much that is not readily intelligible to the average reader. One must therefore usually supplement such translations with marginal notes.

From what has been said directly and indirectly about F–E translations in preceding sections, it might be supposed that such translations are categorically ruled out. To the contrary, they are often perfectly valid translations of certain types of messages for certain types of audiences.

Principles governing translations oriented toward dynamic equivalence

In such a translation the focus of attention is directed, not so much toward the source message, as toward the receptor response. a D–E translation is not merely another message which is more or less similar to that of the source. It is a translation, and as such must clearly reflect the meaning and intent of the source. One way of defining a D–E translation is to describe it as “the closest natural equivalent to the source-language message.” This type of definition contains three essential terms: (1) equivalent, which points toward the source-language message, (2) natural, which points toward the receptor language, and (3) closest, which binds the two orientations together on the basis of the highest degree of approximation.

Basically, the word natural is applicable to three areas of the communication process; for a natural rendering must fit (1) the receptor language and culture as a whole, (2) the context of the particular message, and (3) the receptor-language audience. Such an adjustment to the receptor language and culture must result in a translation that bears no obvious trace of foreign origin.

A natural translation involves two principal areas of adaptation, namely, grammar and lexicon. In general, the grammatical modifications can be made the more readily, since many grammatical changes are dictated by the obligatory structures of the receptor language. There are in general three lexical levels to be considered: (1) terms for which there are readily available parallels, (2) terms which identify culturally different objects, but with somewhat similar functions, (3) terms which identify cultural specialties. Usually, the first set of terms involves no problem. In the second set of terms several confusions can arise; hence one must either use another term which reflects the form of the referent, though not the equivalent function, or which identifies the equivalent function at the expense of formal identity. In translating terms of the third class certain “foreign associations” can rarely be avoided. when source and receptor languages represent very different cultures there should be many basic themes and accounts which cannot be “naturalized” by the process of translating. Nevertheless, these cultural discrepancies offer less difficulty than might be imagined, especially if footnotes are used to point out the basis for the cultural diversity; for all people recognize that other peoples behave differently from themselves.

The naturalness of expression in the receptor language is essentially a problem of co-suitability – but on several levels: (1) word classes, (2) grammatical categories, (3) semantic classes, (4) discourse types, (5) cultural contexts.

In addition to being appropriate to the receptor language and culture, a natural translation must be in accordance with the context of the particular message.

Some translators are successful in avoiding vulgarisms and slang, but fall into the error of making a relatively straightforward message in the source language sound like a complicated legal document in the receptor language by trying too hard to be completely unambiguous; as a result, such a translator spins out his definitions in long, technical phrases. In such a translation little is left of the grace and naturalness of the original.

Anachronisms are another means of violating the co-suitability of message and context. For example, a Bible translation into English which used “iron oxide” in place of “rust” would be technically correct, but certainly anachronistic. Anachronisms involve two types of errors: (1) using contemporary words which falsify life at historically different periods. (2) using old-fashioned language in the receptor language and hence giving an impression of unreality.

It is essential not only that a translation avoids certain obvious failures to adjust the message to the context, but also that it incorporates certain positive elements of style which provide the proper emotional tone for the discourse. This emotional tone must accurately reflect the point of view of the author. Thus such elements as sarcasm, irony, or whimsical interest must all be accurately reflected in a D–E translation.

A third element in the naturalness of a D–E translation is the extent to which the message fits the receptor-language audience. This appropriateness must be judged on the basis of the level of experience and the capacity for decoding if one is to aim at any real dynamic equivalence.

A translation which aims at dynamic equivalence inevitably involves a number of formal adjustments in three general cases: (1) special literary forms, (2) semantically exocentric expressions, and (3) intraorganismic meanings.

Well, That was a long summary, but it sure worth it, because it is shortened a lot and the main gist of what Eugene Nida means by Principles of Correspondence and dynamic and formal equivalence is given. Please share your summaries and introductions with us to make it appear on Dilmanj.

Header Image cropped from www.biblesociety.org.uk

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