Toward a Science of Translating: With Special Reference to Principles and Procedures Involved in Bible Translating

By Eugene A. Nida | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
TYPES OF CORRESPONDENCES AND CONTRASTS

Correspondences and contrasts between source and receptor languages are of two major types: (1) structural and (2) dynamic. Structural features are, again, of two types: (a) formal, comprising problems of phonology, morphology, and syntax (from phrase to discourse); and (b) lexical, involving both single words and semantically exocentric phrases. Dynamic features are likewise of two types: (a) formal and (b) lexical. In dynamic correspondences, however, the problems are related, not to specific units, but to the communication load carried by such units.


PHONOLOGICAL CORRESPONDENCES AND CONTRASTS

Phonological correspondences between source and receptor languages are of three major types: (1) transliteration of borrowed lexical units; (2) plays on words which are phonologically similar; and (3) patterns of form-sound style, involving (a) alliteration (the beginning of two or more stressed syllables of a word group by the same sound or combination of sounds), (b) rhyme, and (c) acrostic arrangements, i.e. a composition, usually verse, in which the initial letters of the successive lines have some special significance.


Transliteration

The most common phonological problems encountered by translators involve transliteration, especially of proper names; such words must usually be borrowed. Since no two languages have exactly the same sounds, it is inevitable that carrying over a word from one language to another will involve some type of adjustment. This adjustment may be based on the sounds involved, or it may be merely a type of transcription of the letters used to identify the names. For example, in reproducing certain texts from ancient languages, e.g. Hittite, Sumerian, and Mycenaean Greek, in which in many instances we do not know the precise character of the sound, it is the general practice to transcribe more or less letter for letter. Even in New Testament Greek we employ a transcription which, though it identifies the principal orthographic contrasts, certainly does not represent what we know to have been the pronunciation. Otherwise we would be obliged to transliterate Greek oi, ei, i, u, and ê (omicron-iota, epsilon-iota, iota, upsilon, and eta) all as /i/, since by New Testament times all these vowel sounds had fallen together.

In borrowing from one living language into another, however, the general practice is to base the transliteration on the spoken form of the language, with results which often seem far from the graphic form of the

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