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 thoughts on “Translation Equivalence

  1. 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. 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.

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

  4. Suzan,
    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.

  5. 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

  6. Hamid,
    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.

  7. 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

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

    1. 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.

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

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