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SITUATIONAL MODEL OF TRANSLATION
One and the same situation is denoted by the source and target language. But each language does it in its own way.
To denote means to indicate either the thing a word names or the situation a sentence names. Hence is the term of denotative meaning, or referential meaning, i.e. the meaning relating a language unit to the external world; and the term of denotation, or a particular and explicit meaning of a symbol.
To translate correctly, a translator has to comprehend the situation denoted by the source text - as P. Newmark stressed, one should translate ideas, not words55 and then find the proper means of the target language to express this situation (idea). If the translator does not understand the situation denoted by the source text, his or her translation will not be adequate, which sometimes happens when an inexperienced translator attempts to translate a technical text. The main requirement of translation is that the denotation of the source text be equal to the denotation of the target text. That is why a literary word-for-word translation sometimes results in a failure of communication. Возьми хлеба в булочной. is equivalent to the English Buy some bread in the bakery. only because the receptor of the Russian sentence knows that the situation of buying in Russian can be denoted by a more general word взять whose primary equivalent (not for this context) is to take which does not contain the seme of money-paying.
Thus, this model of translation emphasizes identification of the situation as the principal phase of the translation process.
This theory of translation is helpful in translating neologisms and realia: to give a proper equivalent to the phrase Red Guards, which is an English calque from Chinese, we should know what notion is implied by the phrase. On finding out that this phrase means ‘members of a Chinese Communist youth movement in the late 1960’s, committed to the militant support of Mao Zedong, we come to the Russian equivalent of this historic term – хунвэйбины.
As a matter of fact, this model of translation is used for attaining the equivalent on the situation level. It is the situation that determines the translation equivalent among the variables: instant coffee is equivalent to растворимый кофе but not *мгновенный кофе.
The situation helps to determine whether a translation is acceptable or not. For example, we have to translate the sentence Somebody was baited by the rights. Without knowing the situation, we might translate the sentence as Кто-то подвергался травле со стороны правых as the dictionary’s translation equivalent for to bait is травить, подвергать травле. But in case we know that by the smb President Roosevelt is meant, our translation will be inappropriate and we had better use the equivalent Президент Рузвельт подвергался резким нападкам со стороны правых.
A weak point of this model is that it does not explain the translation mechanismitself. One situation can be designated by various linguistic means. Why choose this or that variable over various others? The model gives no answer to this question.
Another flaw in this theory is that it does not describe the systemic character of the linguistic units. Why do the elements of the idiom to lead somebody by the nose not correspond to the Russian обвести за нос? Why does this idiom correspond to the Russian держать верх над кем-то? This model does not describe the relations between the language units in a phrase or sentence and thus gives no explanation of the relations between the source and target language units. This model gives reference only to the extralinguistic situation designated by the sentence.
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