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Rizky Yolanda


State University of Semarang

The Translation Techniques and Methods

Rizky Yolanda


Graduate Program, State University of Semarang

Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia


Translation typically has been used to transfer written or spoken SL texts to equivalent

written or spoken TL texts. In general, the purpose of translation is to reproduce various kinds of

texts including religious, literary, scientific, and philosophical texts in another language and thus

making them available to wider readers.

If language were just a classification for a set of general or universal concepts, it would be

easy to translate from an SL to a TL; furthermore, under the circumstances the process of

learning an L2 would be much easier than it actually is. In this regard, Culler (1976) believes that

languages are not nomenclatures and the concepts of one language may differ radically from

those of another, since each language articulates or organizes the world differently, and

languages do not simply name categories; they articulate their own. The conclusion likely to be

drawn from what Culler (1976) writes is that one of the troublesome problems of translation is

the disparity among languages. The bigger the gap between the SL and the TL, the more difficult

the transfer of message from the former to the latter will be.
The Definition of Translation

According to Nida (1964) Definitions of proper translating are almost as numerous and

varied as the persons who have undertaken to discuss the subject. This diversity is in a sense

quite understandable; for there are vast differences in the materials translated, in the purpose of

the publication, and in the needs of the prospective audience.

Nevertheless, a definition which is not confined to the mere transference of meaning is

furnished by Nida and Taber (1969) who postulate Translation consists in reproducing in the

receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the source language message, first in terms of

meaning and secondly in terms of style.

Bell (1999) seems to have pursued the same line of emphasis on meaning and style in his

translation of the definition given by the French theorist, According to Dubois (1974) Translation

is the expression in another language (or the target language) of what has been expressed in

another, source language, preserving semantic and stylistic equivalences.

W idening the above definitions, Sager (1994) maintains that translation should reflect the

environment in which the professional translation activity takes place, Translation is an

extremely motivated industrial activity, supported by information technology, which is

diversified in response to the particular needs of this form of communication. I n a similar vein,

Koller (1995) describes translation as a ‘text processing activity and simultaneously highlights

the significance of ‘equivalence’, Translation can be understood as the result of a text processing

activity, by means of which a source-language text is transposed into a target language text..

Between the resulting text in L2 (the target-language text) and the source text L1 (the
sourcelanguage text) there exists a relationship which can be designated as translational, or

equivalence relation.

Translation Techniques

One widely-accepted list of translation techniques is outlined briefly below:

A. Borrowing

This means taking words straight into another language. Borrowed terms often pass into

general usage, for example in the fields of technology ("software") and culture ("punk").

Borrowing can be for different reasons, with the examples below being taken from usage rather

than translated texts: the target language has no (generally used) equivalent. For example, the

first man-made satellites were Soviet, so for a time they were known in English as "sputniks".

the source language word sounds "better" (more specific, fashionable, exotic or just accepted),

even though it can be translated. For example, In English and also Bahasa Indonesia we use

“piano”, this word is borrowing from Italian.

B. Calque

This is a literal translation at phrase level. Sometimes calques work, sometimes they

don't. For example, English word “Skycraper” become “pencakar langit” in Bahasa Indonesia.

C. Literal Translation

Literal translation is the translation of text from one language to another "word-for-

word", rather than giving the sense of the original. For this reason, literal translations usually

mis-translate idioms. For example, a literal English translation of the German word
"Kindergarten" would be "garden of children," but in English the expression refers to the school

year between pre-school and first grade.

D. Transposition

This is the mechanical process whereby parts of speech "play musical chairs" (Fawcett's

analogy) when they are translated. Grammatical structures are not often identical in different

languages. For example, in English phrase “Trade secrets and confidential” become “rahasia

dagang” in Bahasa Indonesia.

E. Modulation

Modulation slightly more abstract than transposition, this consists of using a phrase that

is different in the source and target languages to convey the same idea - "nobody doesn’t like it" -

"semua orang menyukai itu".

F. Reformulation (sometimes known as equivalence)

Here you have to express something in a completely different way, for example when

translating idioms or, even harder, advertising slogans. The process is creative, but not always


G. Adaptation

Here something specific to the source language culture is expressed in a totally different way

that is familiar or appropriate to the target language culture. Sometimes it is valid, and sometimes

it is problematic, to say the least. For example, “as white as snow” become “seputih kapas”.

H. Compensation
Another model describes a technique known as compensation. This is a rather amorphous

term, but in general terms it can be used where something cannot be translated from source to

target language, and the meaning that is lost in the immediate translation is expressed somewhere

else in the TT. Fawcett defines it as: "...making good in one part of the text something that could

not be translated in another". One example given by Fawcett is the problem of translating

nuances of formality from languages which use forms such as tu and usted (tu/vous, du/Sie, etc.)

into English which only has 'you', and expresses degrees of formality in different ways. For

example in English to Bahasa Indonesia, “a pair of scissors” become “sebuah gunting”.

Translation Methods

Translation method refers to the way a particular translation process is carried out in

terms of the translator’s objective, such as a global option that affects the whole text. There are

several translation methods that may be chosen, depending on the aim of the translation:

interpretative-communicative (translation of the sense), literal (linguistic transcodification), free

(modification of semiotic and communicative categories) and philological (academic or critical

translation) (see Hurtado Albir 1999). Each solution the translator chooses when translating a

text responds to the global option that affects the whole text (the translation method) and depends

on the aim of the translation. The translation method affects the way micro-units of the text are

translated: the translation techniques. Thus, we should distinguish between the method chosen by

the translator, e.g., literal or adaptation, that affects the whole text, and the translation techniques,

e.g., literal translation or adaptation, that affect micro units of the text.
Logically, method and functions should function harmoniously in the text. For example,

if the aim of a translation method is to produce a foreignising version, then borrowing will be

one of the most frequently used translation techniques.

Newmark (1988) mentions to the following methods of translation:

1. Word-for-word translation: in which the SL word order is preserved and the words

translated singly by their most common meanings, out of context.

2. Literal translation: in which the SL grammatical constructions are converted to their

nearest TL equivalents, but the lexical words are again translated singly, out of context.

3. Faithful translation: it attempts to produce the precise contextual meaning of the original

within the constraints of the TL grammatical structures.

4. Semantic translation: which differs from 'faithful translation' only in as far as it must take

more account of the aesthetic value of the SL text.

5. Adaptation: which is the freest form of translation, and is used mainly for plays

(comedies) and poetry; the themes, characters, plots are usually preserved, the SL culture

is converted to the TL culture and the text is rewritten.

6. Free translation: it produces the TL text without the style, form, or content of the original.

7. Idiomatic translation: it reproduces the 'message' of the original but tends to distort

nuances of meaning by preferring colloquialisms and idioms where these do not exist in

the original.
8. Communicative translation: it attempts to render the exact contextual meaning of the

original in such a way that both content and language are readily acceptable and

comprehensible to the readership (1988).

The method of translation is introduce by Newmark (1998) as V diagram to show to

different translation polar. In one polar, Newmark state the important of source language system

and culture on the other polar is focusing the importance of target language system and culture.


Word-for-word translation Adaptation

Literal translation Free translation

Faithful translation Idiomatic translation

Semantic translation Communicative translation

According to Larson (1984) translation method is divided into two categories. First

category is from-based or literal translation. Secondly, it is meaning based or idiomatic

translation. By literal translations, he means, the translation faithfully follows the form of the SL.

On the other hand, the idiomatic translation tries to convey the meaning intended by the SL

writer in a natural form of the receptor language. Larson then adds that in applying the literal

translation, there is rarely a true literal translation. The methods spread in the continuum from

very literal, to literal, to modified literal, to near idiomatic, idiomatic, and unduly free. The

continuum is drawn as follow:

1. Very literal is an interlinear translation. For some purposes, it is desirable to reproduce

the linguistic features of the source text, as for example, in a linguistic study of that


2. Literal translation is a translation which its sounds like nonsense and has little

communicative value. It may be very useful for the purposes related to the study of the

source language, they are of little help to speakers of the receptor language who are

interested in the meaning of the source language text.

3. Modified literal methods are a way to modify order and grammar of the source language

in an acceptable sentence structure in the receptor language. However, the lexical items

are translated literally.

4. Inconsistent mixture mixes literal and idiomatic translation in the final draft of


5. Near idiomatic reproduces the meaning of the source language (that is the meaning

intended by the original communicator) in receptor language without losing the natural

form of the source language.

6. Idiomatic translation reproduces the meaning of the source language (that is the meaning

intended by the original communicator) in the natural form of receptor language.

7. The unduly free translation adds extraneous information, which is not stated in the

source text. It changes the meaning of SL; it distorts the fact of the historical and

cultural setting of the source text.

Prior to Newmark and Larson, Robet Holmes (1970) cited in Gentzler (1993) mentions

that there are four methods of translation, as follows:

1. First method retains the form of the original.

2. The second attempts to discern the function of the text in the receiving culture and seeks

parallel function within the target language tradition.

3. The third is content-derivative, taking the original meaning of the primary text and

allowing it to develop into its own unique shape in the target language.

4. The fourth deliberately retains minimal similarity for other purposes, for which Holmes

gives no example.


Translation techniques and methods are different in characteristics and uses. Each

technique and method has its own advantages that differ according to the texts under translation.

No one can judge the validity and prevalence of one techniques and methods over the other. It is

up to the translator to choose the one he sees more practical and helpful in his translation task.

Besides, the translator may restrict himself to one technique and method, or exceed it to two,

three, or even four techniques and methods in the same translated text.


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