Translation theorists have long disputed the interrelation of the two terms.26

V. Komissarov considers them to denote non-identical but closely related notions. He claims that adequate translation is broader in meaning than equivalent translation. Adequate translation is good translation, as it provides communication in full. Equivalent translation is the translation providing the semantic identity of the target and source texts.27 Two texts may be equivalent in meaning but not adequate, for example:

Никита грозил: «Покажу тебе кузькину мать.» – Nikita threatened , “I’ll put the fear of God into you!” The Russian sentence is low colloquial, whereas the English one, though it describes a similar situation, has another stylistic overtone, a rather pious one.

A. Shveitser refers the two terms to two aspects of translation: translation as result and translation as process. We can speak of equivalent translation when we characterize the end-point (result) of translation, as we compare whether the translated text corresponds to the source text. Adequacy characterizes the process of translation. The translator aims at choosing the dominant text function, decides what s/he can sacrifice.28 Thus, adequate translation is the translation corresponding to the communicative situation. For example, Здравствуйте, я ваша тетя! can be inadequate to Hello, I’m your aunt!, when the Russian sentence is used not in its phatic (i.e. contact supporting) function but in the expressive function (as an interjection) to express the speaker’s amazement.

Close to this understanding of translation adequacy is E. Nida’s concept of dynamic equivalence, “aimed at complete naturalness of expression” and trying “to relate the receptor to modes of behavior relevant within the context of his own culture.”29 Nida’s principle of dynamic equivalence is widely referred to as the principle of similar or equivalent response or effect.30

Y. Retsker states that the notion of adequate translation comprises that of equivalent31. According to him, an adequate target text describes the same reality as does the source text and at the same time it produces the same effect upon the receptor. Translation adequacy is achieved by three types of regular correlations:

1) equivalents, that is regular translation forms not depending upon the context (they include geographical names, proper names, terms): the Pacific Ocean – Тихий океан, Chiang Kai-shek – Чан Кайши, hydrogen – водород.

2) analogs, or variable, contextual correspondence, when the target language possesses several words to express the same meaning of the source language word: soldier – солдат, рядовой, военнослужащий, военный.

3) transformations, or adequate substitutions: She cooks a hot meal in the evening. – На ужин она всегда готовит горячее.

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