Lexical transformations

But, semantic correlation between two languages is not to be interpreted as semantic identity. Due to complexity of semantic structure “one-to-one” correspondence between the semantic structure of correlated polysemantic words in the source language and target language is hardly possible, and so lexical transformations are needed.

The causes of lexical transformations are:

1. Different vision of the same objects of reality in the source and the target languages (vision of their different aspects), which is reflected in their different usage;

2. Different semantic structure of a word in the source language and the target-language (even words, which seem to have the same meaning in two languages are not identical);

3. The lexical valency, which is the ability of a word to appear in various combinations, of correlated words in different languages is not iden­tical since every language has its own syntagmatic norms and patterns of lexical valency. So, different lexical valency or сollocability often calls for lexical and grammatical transformations in translation though each component of the collocation may have its equivalent in the target language.

Lexical transformations can be classified into:

1. Lexical substitution or putting one word in place of another. It often results from the different semantic structures of the source language and target language words. Thus the word молодий is not always translated as young; it depends on its word combinability: молода картопля is equal to new potatoes.

2. Specification, or substituting words with a wider meaning with words of a narrower meaning: Will you do the room? – Ти прибереш у кімнаті? The underlined English words have larger scopes of meaning than their Ukrainian counterparts and their particular semantics is recognized from the context.

3. Concretization is a most frequent device in translation from English into Ukrainian. There is a large group of English words of wide semantic volume. These words belong to different parts of speech: nouns, adjectives, verbs, e.g. thing; point, stuff, affair; nice, fine, bad; to get, to come, to involve. As the meaning of such words is relatively unclear they can be used in different contents, and their valency is therefore extremely broad. So a context, at least a microcontext (a minimal stretch of speech), is necessary to de­termine their meaning.

4. Generalization, or substituting words of a narrower meaning with those of a wider meaning: People don’t like to be stared at. – Людям не подобається, коли на них дивляться. The English stare specifies the action of “intent seeing” while the Ukrainian дивитись is more general and can imply the action of “staring, looking, gazing, facing, eyeing, etc.”

Another reason for generalization in translating is that the particular meaning expressed by the source language word might be irrelevant for the translation receptor: She bought the Oolong tea. – Вона купила китайського чаю. While Oolong is a sort of Chinese tea but for the receptor this information is not important; therefore, the translator can generalize.

Generalization is also sometimes used in rendering non-equivalents.

5. Compensation (addition) is an introduction in the target text of some additional element absent in the source text aimed to convey its meaning correctly. The main reason for this transformation is a vocabulary lacuna in the target language. For example, Non-members of the organization are invited to the conference as observers. – Країни, що не є членами організації, запрошуються для участі в конференції в якості спостерігачів.

6. Omission is used to remove double (tautological) lexical units: to declare null and void – оголошувати нечинним; rules and regulations – норми; The proposal wasrejected and repudiated – Цю пропозицію було відкинуто.

7. Antonymic Translation. Antonymic translation is a kind of grammatical and lexical transformation which substitutes an affirmative construction for a negative or vice versa with some accompanying lexical change, usually substituting the antonym for the original word: failed to detect – не зміг виявити; to continue – не зупинятися; unallowed – заборонений; not impossible – можливий; Large-scale structures of the universe did not become a preoccupation of cosmology untilthe mid-1980s. – Великі структури всесвіту стали об’єктом докладного дослідження лише в 1980-і роки.


8. Paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is rendering of the meaning of some idiomatic phrase in the source language by a phrase in the target language consisting of non-correlated lexical units, or rendering of a phraseological unit by a corresponding Ukrainian phraseological unit expressing the same idea in different words, e.g. to bear in mind – пам’ятати, as matters stand – за існуючщго стану речей, to be beside the point – не стосуватися справи.



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