Translation Equivalence

A key concept in translation is equivalence and this helps establish our approach to translation. Equivalence centres around the processes interacting between the original source text and translated text.

We can talk of six types of equivalence: (1) Referential equivalence is established when the words in the source language (SL) refer to the same objects in the world as the words in the target language (TL). (2) Connotative equivalence is established when the words in both languages and texts trigger the same associations and connotations. (3) Pragmatic equivalence refers to words in both languages having the same effect on the readers in both languages. (4) Contextual equivalence is established when words in both languages are used in the same or similar contexts. (5) Formal equivalence refers to words in both languages having similar phonological or orthographic features. (6) Textual equivalence refers to aspects of cohesion and coherence which are similar in both texts and languages.

An equivalent text is therefore more than just one isolated feature and is rather a whole host of inter-related aspects.


21 Responses to “Translation Equivalence”

  1. Madzia B Says:

    Apparently, all of us knows that not every word/phrase/idiom has its equivalent. Therefore, we need to stick to the meaning to make the phrase/word translated according ti its proper meaning.

  2. transubstantiation Says:

    Very ambiguous and general. How does one ‘stick to the meaning’? Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that and that is why we need help with ideas of equivalence and theoretical aids.

  3. Magda W. Says:

    From my point of view, if one item do not have one equivalent word in the target language, it should be translated in another way, for instance, we should find some connotative equivalent, that is a word or expression that triggers off the same associations or connotations. MAybe we can also find some expression that would invoke the same effects on the target reader as the source item had on the source reader, and in this case that would be pragmatic equivalence.
    Generally, equivalences given above may help a lot in the case of untrastability.

  4. transubstantiation Says:

    Most certainly. We have to use this list of, for example, six types of equivalence in order to be able to ascertain which word best suits what we want to translate.

  5. And now for some theory… | yndigo Says:

    […] plays a role on how the translator translates, too, and for this I’m referring to an informative post on the transubstantiation blog. I would venture to say that, outside of literary translation, most […]

  6. Suzan Says:

    Can you please tell me what is it meant by the term Cultural References in Translation?. or what does Cultural References mean ?.

  7. transubstantiation Says:

    Cultural references can mean a variety of things but within translation, cultural references usually concern elements that directly or indirectly refer to cultural elements in a given language. For example, a Polish text might discuss ‘pierogi’, or a British text might refer to ‘elevensies’ in which case the translator has to deal with these elements with particular sensitivity. Nearly all texts include some sort of cultural reference due to the fact that language and culture and inextricably interwoven.

  8. Hamid Says:

    Can you tell me what`s Pragmatic equivalence? And how can one find whether a translated text has succedded in utilizing the pragmatic equivalence? I mean does it have any principles?? Thanks

  9. transubstantiation Says:

    Many thanks for the question. Pragmatic equivalence is the most difficult to pinpoint as it concerns the ‘effect’ the text has on the readers. Pragmatic equivalence relates to:
    1) cohesion,
    2) coherence,
    3) relevance,
    4) implicature.
    One of the best tests of whether this has been fulfilled is through back-translation.

  10. makpal Says:

    please can you tell me about *TYPES OF EQUVALENTS* it is for my exzam.THANKS VERY MUCH…87776464738 or 87024453005 if you may pls sent to my mobile with msg.THANK YOU VERY MUCH, I’ll late

  11. makpal Says:

    Pls, tell me about “types of equivalents” and how many types has? Which? so else. thank you,I’ll waite…

  12. Karolina Says:

    Can you tell me something about leipzig school and their approach to equivalence?

  13. Irina Says:

    Could you tell me what author determined these types of equivalence?

  14. Tawhito Says:

    CAn you please tell me any examples of Pragmatic equivalence ?
    Thank you

    • transubstantiation Says:

      This is a great simplification but, for example, the English word “whatchamacallit” (from ‘what do you call it’) and the Polish “wieheister” (from the German ‘wie heist er’) could be seen as pragmatic equivalents if one was in a workshop and needed to obtain a tool without knowing its name. Then one might use these words in each respective language.

  15. K-anne Says:

    Can someone give me examples for each kind of equivalence. like a word or sentences or phrases…

  16. hamid ouhmid Says:

    thanks for your additions but if possible i need some examples about types of equivalance to understand more

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