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TRANSLATIONAL EQUIVALENCE IN A BILINGUAL DICTIONARY Bâhukosyam LADISLAV ZGUSTA The purpose of this paper1 is to discuss the so-called translational equivalent and its various problems and to discuss its relation to different types of bilingual dictionaries. To get the proper contrast, various forms of explanatory equivalents will be discussed as well. The notion of the translational equivalent is well explained in the following quotation from Arnold Lissance's article, "The Translator's Dictionary": Integration of reading matter is blocked when the dictionary gives linguistic museum pieces or, at a loss itself, merely defines the idea rather than furnishing the contemporary English equivalent with all its dynamic associations. Words like Lebensfrische and Entschlusskraft are good illustrations in point. Bilingual dictionaries render them with 'freshness of life' and 'ability to make up one's mind (make decisions).' These renderings evoke no familiar language patterns. If the dictionaries gave "vigor" and "initiative" instead, the context would immediately be clear because these are words associated with concepts the reader is accustomed to manipulate in his everyday pursuits. Translations must be in the idiom of the reader. If they are not, the information, if remembered at all, becomes peripheral to his mind. Readability of a translation, therefore, is of more than academic interest.2 The main requirement is well expressed here: the dictionary should offer not explanatory paraphrases or definitions, but real lexical units of the target language that, when inserted into the context, produce a smooth translation. 1 2 Translation^ Equivalence in a Bilingual Dictionary This is a perfectly natural requirement; lexicographers have followed it since time immemorial. But we also see that they did not do so in each and every case. When we go through the Greek glossary of Hesychios, whose sources belong mostly to the first centuries of our era, we see that he offers translation^ equivalents in the majority of his glosses: (1) aas- es aúrion. Boiotoí abalé· akhreîon. Lákones (in the Ace.) abartaí- ptenaí. Kúprioi abarú· oríganon. Makedónes abeliakón· heliakón. Pamphúlioi (in the Ace.) The fact that this is not (with the possible exception of Macedonian) a dictionary of different languages but of different dialects is immaterial; the main point is that, e.g., a Boeotian expression (indicated before the raised period) is translated into normal Koine Greek (following the raised period). Thus, the glosses have the following structure: aas- 'till tomorrow'. Boeotians. As the words to be translated are taken from concrete contexts they are sometimes in the accusative rather than in the nominative {abalé, abeliakón); accordingly, so are their Koine equivalents. However, there are also glosses of the following type: (2) aber- oíkema stoàs ékhon, tameîon. Lákones Here, the Laconian word aber is not only translated by the Ladislav Zgusta Koine equivalent tameîon, but is also explained by the phrase oikema stoàs ékhon 'a building that has arcades or magazines'. The reason for this is clear: tameîon or tamieîon is a polysemous word; its dominant sense, the one that would occur first to a speaker of Koine Greek, was probably 'treasury'. The explanatory paraphrase is added in order to prevent a misunderstanding, because the sense 'store-house' is the one that applies here. Abavus, a medieval Latin-French glossary, indicates translational equivalents in a similar way: (3) febritare, avoir fièvre erubescere, avoir honte but in other entries, it gives explanatory paraphrases like: (4) cathecuminus, qui croit foy The reason is that at that time the translational equivalent of post-renaissance French, catéchumène, was not yet established. Some entries in both editions of Abaev's Russian-Ossetic dictionary have a similar form: (5) atom, atom (materijy lystágdár khaj) 1950 atom, atom (materijy lystàg khaj) 1970 The parenthesized explanation 'small' (or 'the smallest') 'particle of matter' is added, because it is only reasonable to assume that if somebody does not know what Russian atom means, he will not understand Ossetic atom either.3 4 Translational Equivalence in a Bilingual Dictionary We see that there are situations that cannot be treated by a (mere) translational equivalent, even if a perfect one (e.g., [5...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 1-47
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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