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Lexical transformations change the semantic core of a translated word. They can be classified into the following groups:

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 молодой is not always translated as young; rather, it depends on its word combinability: молодой картофель is equal to new potatoes. This translation equivalent is predetermined by the word combination it is used in. This type of translation can hardly be called substitution, since it is a regular equivalent for this phrase.

Deliberate substitution as a translation technique can be of several subtypes:

a) Specification, or substituting words with a wider meaning with words of a narrower meaning: Will you do the room? – Ты уберешься в комнате? I’ll get the papers on the way home. – Я куплюгазеты по дороге домой. The underlined English words have larger scopes of meaning than their Russian counterparts and their particular semantics is recognized from the context.

b) Generalization, or substituting words of a narrower meaning with those of a wider meaning: People don’t like to be stared at. – Людям не нравится, когда на них смотрят. If we compare the semantic structure of the English and Russian verbs, we can see that the English stare specifies the action of seeing expressed by the Russian verb. The Russian смотреть can imply staring, facing, eyeing, etc. The specific meaning in the Russian sentence can be expressed by the adverb пристально. Another reason for generalization in translating can be that the particular meaning expressed by the source language word might be irrelevant for the translation receptor: She bought the Oolong tea on her way home. – По дороге домой она купила китайского чаю. Oolong is a sort of Chinese tea but for the receptor this information is not important; therefore, the translator can generalize.

c) Differentiation is a rather rare technique of substitution. It takes place when we substitute a word by another one with parallel meaning, denoting a similar species: bamboo curtain – железный занавес. Both bamboo and железо (iron) are materials known for their hard nature. They are used figuratively to denote the barriers between the Western and Communist countries (bamboo curtain in reference to China, железный занавес in reference to other Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Aid) states. There are no hyponymic relations between the notions of bamboo and iron (though the referential area of железный занавес is of course much wider than that of bamboo curtain.)

d) Modulation is a logical development of the notion expressed by the word: But outside it was raining. -– Но на улице шел дождь. The primary equivalent of the word outside is снаружи. But it is impossible to say in Russian *Но снаружи шел дождь. By means of unsophisticated logical operation the translator finds another equivalent: на улице. Thus he takes into consideration a tradition of the word combination and acceptability of collocation. He is aided in this by the metonymical closeness of word meanings based on contiguity of the two notions.

2.Compensation is a deliberate introduction of some additional element in the target text to make up for the loss of a similar element in the source text. The main reason for this transformation is a vocabulary lacuna in the target language. For example, one of the Galsworthy’s characters was called a leopardess. But there is no one-word equivalent of the same stylistic coloring in Russian. Therefore, the translator compensated the word by using the word тигрица to characterize the lady.

3.Metaphoric transformations are based on transferring the meaning due to the similarity of notions. The target language can re-metaphorize a word or a phrase by using the same image (Don’t dirty your hands with that money! – Не марай рук этими деньгами!) or a different one (Он вернет нам деньги, когда рак свистнет. – He will pay us our money back when hell freezes over). The source language metaphor can be destroyed if there is no similar idiom in the target language: Весна уже на пороге. – Spring is coming very soon. Or, on the contrary, the target text is metaphorized either to compensate a stylistically marked word or phrase whose coloring was lost for some reason, or merely to express a source language lacuna: Он решил начать жить по-новому. – He decided to turn over a new life.


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