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Functional Theories of Translation

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Talia Girton

on 28 October 2013

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Transcript of Functional Theories of Translation

Functional Theories of Translation
Integrated Approach
Katherine Reiss (1970). Text types theory.

Mary Snell-Hornby (1988). Integrated Approach.

Justa Holz-Manttari (1984). Translatorial Action.

Text Types
Operative Text
Produce the desire response in the TT receiver.

Create and equivalent effect among TT readers.

Appeal to target audience even if new words and images are needed..

1. Informative Text Type

Plain communication of facts.

Language dimension is logical
or referential.

The content or “topic” is the main
focus of the communication.

2. Expressive text type

Creative composition

Uses the aesthetic dimension
of language

The author and form of the
message is foregrounded.

3. Operative Text Type

Inducing Behavioral Responses

The function is to appeal or
persuade the reader to act in a
certain way.

E.g. advertisement, political

4. Audio-medial texts

Supplement the other three

E.g. films, visual images, music.

Hybrid types. ‘The transmission
of the predominant function of the
ST is the determining factor by
which the TT is judged’.

Translation Methods
Equivalents-text typology

Motto: Text identify type of text

Text type influences the translation but it is not the only method. That is why it is limited.

Katharina Reiss:
Four Types of Text
Informative Text
Transmit full conceptual

‘Plain prose’ without redundancy
and with the use of explicitation.

Transmit the factual content
and terminology and not
worry so much about stylistics.

Expressive Text
Transmit the aesthetic and
artistic form of the ST.

Translator adopting the standpoint and perspective of the ST author.

The style of the ST author is a priority.

Audio-Medial Text

Supplement written words
with visual image and music.

Offers, relays info
Literary texts, aesthetic effects
Political speeches, ads, sermons
TV ads, films, visual-spoken ads
I you!
Turn that upside down !
Discussion of the Text
Type Model
Can texts be differentiated on the basis of
the primary function?

E.g. Business or Financial Report

Expressive side: Use of metaphors.

“profits/credit soar, peak, dive, plummet”
“banks employ a scorched-earth policy”

Operative Text: Persuade shareholders and market analysts.

Level A
Integrates ‘literary’, ‘general language’ and ‘special language’ into a continuum rather than separated areas.
Level B
Indicates prototypical basic text types
Level C
Shows the non-linguistic disciplines which are inseparably bound to translation.
Level D
Covers the translation process:

Understanding the function of the ST.

The TT focus.

The communicative function of the TT.

Level E
Covers areas of linguistics relevant to translation.

Level F
Deals with phonological aspects such as alliteration and rhythm for stage translation, film dubbing, etc.
Translatorial Action
Sees translation as: purpose-driven, outcome-oriented and human interaction.
Translation is a communicative process that involves a series of roles and players
The Initiator: company or individual that needs the translation.

The Commissioner: individual or agency that contacts the translator.

The ST producer: the individual(s) who write the ST.

The TT producer: the translator(s) and translation agency.

The TT user: the person who uses the TT.

The TT receiver: the final recipient of the TT.

Places translation within its socio-cultural context, the real world of commercial translation. For example, the inter-play between the translator and the ST writer.
The form and genre of the TT must be guided by what is functionally suitable in the target culture.
The translator needs to make sure that the intercultural transfer takes place. The needs of the receiver are the determining factors for the TT.
Skopos Theory
Skopos is the Greek word for "aim" or "purpose."
Hans J. Vermeer
A TT, called the 'translatum' by Vermer, must be fit for a purpose; in other words, it must be "functionally accurate." Knowing why a ST is to be translated and what the function of the TT is is crucial for the translator.
Rules of Skopos Theory
1) A translatum (TT) is determined by its skopos.

2) A TT is an offer of information in a target culture and TL concerning an offer of basic information in a source culture and SL.

3) A TT does not initiate an offer of information in a clearly reversible way.

4) A TT must be internally coherent.

5) A TT must be coherent with the ST.

6) The five rules above stand in hierarchical order, with the skopos rule predominating.
Rule 2 is important in that it relates the ST and TT to their respective linguistic and cultural contexts
Rule 3 points out that the function of a translatum (TT) in its target culture is not necessarily the same as the ST in the source culture.
Rules 4 and 5 touch on how the success of the action and information transfer is to be judged, on its "functional adequacy": a) the "coherence rule" and, b) the "fidelity rule"
Coherence Rule: the TT must be translated in such a way that it makes sense for the TT receivers, given their circumstances, knowledge, and needs
Fidelity Rule: There must be coherence between the TT and the ST
The hierarchical order of the rules has caused much controversy over the theory. Does it mean that 'anything goes' as long as the TT purpose is fulfilled?
In spite of criticisms, an important advantage of skopos theory is that it allows that the same text may be translated in different ways depending on the purpose of the TT and commission (goals and conditions under which the goals are to be achieved) given to the translator.
Documentary and Instrumental Translation
Christiane Nord
Nord makes a distinction between two basic types of translation product and process...
Documentary Translation
Serves as a document of a source culture communication between the author and the ST recipient.

The reader is well aware it is a translation

Word for word and literal translation
Seeks to preserve local color

Food items such as 'Quark' (a kind of cheese) or 'Wurst' (a type of sausage from a German ST.
Exoticizing Translation
Instrumental Translation
Intended to fulfill its communicative purpose without the recipient being conscious that the text is a translation.

TT receivers read the TT as if it were an ST written in their own language.

Function Preserving Translations
The translated text should fulfill the function of instructing the TT reader in the same way as the ST does for the ST reader.

Computer manual, software
In some cases it is not possible to preserve the same function in translation...
Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" for children

"Homer" as a novel for contemporary audiences
Functionalist Approaches
Christiane Nord
Importance of the Translation Commission
Before the contextual analysis, the translator needs to compare the ST and TT profiles defined in the commission to see where the two texts may diverge.

The translation commission should give the following information in both texts:

The intended text functions
The addressees (sender and recipient)
The time and place of reception
The medium (speech or writing; online or hard copy)
The motive (why the ST was written and why it is being translated).
The Role of ST Analysis
Once the ST-TT profiles have been compared, the ST can by analyzed to decide on:
a) the feasibility of translation
b) the most relevant items at hand
c) the translation strategy
Intracontextual Factors
Subject matter, content, presuppositions (cultural nuances), text composition, non-verbal elements, lexis, sentence structure, suprasegmental features (stress, intonation, rhythm)
Functional Hierarchy of Translational Problems
A) Comparison of the intended functions of the ST and the TT helps to determine the type of translation (documentary or instrumental)

B) Analysis of the translation commission determines which elements may need to be adapted to the TT addressees' situation

C) Type helps determine style. A documentary translation will be more source-culture oriented; an instrumental on more target-culture oriented

D) The problems of the text can then be tackled
at a lower linguistic level
Turn to page 132 in your Munday book and determine the intended text function, addressees, time and place of text reception, medium, and motive.
In groups of two or three students compare the two texts about the Tyrannosaurus Rex taken from Answers.com in English and Spanish and decide if satisfies the major features of a good informative translation.

Activity! In groups of two and three students compare the translation of the poem and decide if the translator captures the language and aesthetic dimensions of the original.

Consider the following examples for discussion:
Activity: How does this example demonstrate 2 different skopos?
What did you notice?
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