Филологические науки / 6. Актуальные проблемы перевода

Vira Syssoeva, Natalia Shtepan

East European University of Economics and Management, Cherkasy, Ukraine

Pragmatic Aspects of Translation


Pragmatics of translation is a wide notion which covers not only pragmatic meaning of a word, but some problems connected with various levels of understanding by speech acts communicants of certain meanings or messages,  depending on linguistic or paralinguistic factors [6, 214],  that is, background knowledge. A well-known linguist Konissarov points out that pragmatic aspect of translation should be considered from three points. One of them is conveying pragmatic meaning of words [2, 101]. This point chiefly pertains to the translation of national realia and equivalent lacking words that is, various names.

The term pragmatic meaning of a word is not yet fully investigated. But some linguists point out that the pragmatic component of the word meaning, which is realized in various kinds of emotive and stylistic connotations, is individually-occasional or collectively used meanings [3, 43-44]. They reflect the conditions of a language unit use, the conditions such as situation and  place of communication, subject and purpose of communication; social, ethnic, and individual peculiarities  of communicants, their attitude towards one another [1, 38-39] Irrespective of the fact whether pragmatic aspects are singled out into a certain type of a word meaning or whether it is considered among other components of its meaning, pragmatic meaning, which is fixed in a word, plays an important role and its retention ensures complete communicative adequacy of translation to the original.

Pragmatics as a linguistic term means the analysis of language in terms of the situational context, within which utterances are made, including the knowledge and beliefs of the speaker and the relation between speaker and listener [5, 1518]. Pragmatic information is actualized in translating the equivalent–lacking lexical units, first of all personal names, geographical names, national realia by way of transcription and transliteration.  But in some cases, while translating the names of states, boroughs, counties and provinces explication of their implicit information is needed. For example: Georgia штат Джорджія (США) (In case the context indicates that the author writes or speaks about the USA)

Alberta провінція Альберта (Канада)

Surrey – графство Сурей (Англія).

Explication is also required in cases when one and the same name designates several notions: ALBANYОлбані – поетична назва Шотландії

Олбані – чоловіча тюрма на острові Уайт (Англія)

Олбані – річка у центральній частині Канадu.

Олбані – порт і курортне місто у південно-західній частині Австралії.

The communicative situation at translating names having different meanings should be also taken into consideration. Thus, the word LINCOLN may be used in the following phrases: 1) He is from Lincoln only last yearВін закінчив коледж Лінкольна (в Оксфорді) тільки минулого року. 2) He participated in Lincoln while a student – Коли він був студентом, він брав участь у скачках Лінкольн”. 3) He owns Lincoln breeds – Він є володарем лінкольнської породи довгошерстих вівців.

As a rule, personal names are translated be means of transcription or transliteration (or both combined). But when a proper name acquires the connotation as an important pragmatic factor, it should be translated on a communicative but not on a semantic level. For example: MIDAS – 1) Багата людина; 2) Людина, яка постійно примножує багатство.

As to the meaning of national realia it is more often than not rendered by means of transcription or transliteration, but very often explication of their national meaning is also necessary. Thus, kulish, borsh are rendered by way of descriptive translation – thick meal cooked with grain. The same with the English national realia Class listсписок випускників університету, які отримали ступінь бакалавра з відзнакою; Classman – випускник університету, який отримав ступінь бакалавра з відзнакою.

While translating the names of national holidays the pragmatic approach is also required. For example, Easter Monday translated word-for-word does not give any notion of this holiday. Its interpretation as перший понеділок після Пасхи is more understandable for the Ukrainian recipient.

Some additions in the translation help to make it more accurate and exact. For example, It was Friday and soon they’d go out to get drunk. (Braine. Room at the Top) In the Russian translation by Kudriavtseva and Ozers’ka the sentence is Была пятница, день получки. Вскоре эти люди выйдут на улицу и напьются. For making this information explicit it was necessary to add not only день получки but to explain that in Great Britain the people receive payment weekly, on Friday.

There are cases when generalization is used for replacing the proper name, usually of shops, clubs, colleges, schools etc. For example: I could see my mother going in Warren’s Sports and Games – Я бачив, як моя мама заходила у спортивний магазин.

In some cases the word which designates national realia is not important in the semantic structure of the text. Then the translator may employ the method of omission. For example: There were pills and medicines all over the place and everything smelled like Vicks Nose Drops. Vicks is the name of pharmaceutical firm which products are not sold in Ukraine and they are unknown for the Ukrainians. So, in translation it may be omitted.

Sociolinguistic aspect of the theory of translation includes the consideration of translation as socially determined communicative process, social norm of translation and viewing translation as the reflection of a social world. The objects of description are various kinds of socially conditioned pragmatic relations, which determine the essence of translation as communicative act: pragmatics of source text, which determines  its functional type; pragmatics of target text, oriented to a different culture [4, 18]; orientation of the translator for meeting the requirements of the society, that is, social norm of translation; pragmatics of the language units of both source and target languages, the pragmatics, which is connected with stratification and situational varieties of lexicon.

The importance of socio linguistic factors for reaching adequacy of translation can’t be underestimated. It may be illustrated by possible translations of the personal pronoun you, which may be translated as ти and ви. Pragmatic approach to the analysis of the situation will show the translator the right way.

To sum up the above said, it is necessary to stress the importance of the translator’s background knowledge. That is, profound knowledge of history, culture, mode of life of the country, the language of which he studies and is supposed to know for being a good translator.

Translating process reveals double pragmatic orientation. On one hand, it is realized within inner lingual communication and thus being oriented to the original. On the other hand, translation is a concrete speech act which is pragmatically oriented to a certain recipient. Pragmatic task of the translation aims at ensuring maximal equivalency with the original. Pragmatic aspect of the translation is very important especially in translation of nationally-biased units of lexicon.



1.     Азнаурова Э.С. Прагматика художественного слова. – Ташкент, 1988.

2.     Комиссаров В.Н. Теория перевода (лингвистические аспекты). М.: Высшая школа, 1990. – 253 с.

3.     Левицкий В.В. К вопросу о структуре лексического значения // Значение и его варьирование в тексте. – Волгоград, 1987. – С. 36-46.

4.     Швейцер А.Д. Социолингвистические основы  теории перевода // Вопр. языкознания. – 1985. – № 5. – С.15-23

5.     Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language. – New York, 1996.

6.     Wiezhbitska F. Semantic Metalanguage for a Cross-Cultural Comparison of Speech Acts and Speech Genres. – N.Y., 1988.