Skip to main content

TRANSLATION EQUIVALENT

TRANSLATION EQUIVALENT. An expression from a LANGUAGE which has the same meaning as, or can be used in a similar context to, one from another language, and can therefore be used to translate it: for example, English I don't understand, French Je ne comprends pas, Italian Non capisco, Modern Greek Dhen katalaveno, Japanese Wakarimasen. Achieving such correspondences involves special bilingual skills to cope with the tendency among languages to ‘lack of fit’ (technically, non-isomorphism or anisomorphism). Thus, the source-language expression may be a single word, a phrase, or a sentence within a text, but its target-language equivalent may have to be rendered at a different level: for example, the English idiom It's pouring (with rain) cannot be translated word-for-word into German, but the meaning can be redistributed as Es regnet in Strömen (It rains in streams). Most bilingual speakers can supply examples of such equivalents, and bilingual dictionaries codify them in bulk, but it is the job especially of the translator and interpreter to decide whether a particular expression is a fitting match for a particular passage. A number of complex strategies are needed to find translation equivalents, ranging from literal procedures such as direct transfer, substitution, and loan translation to devices of free translation such as transposition, adaptation, and circumlocution (which aim to find the closest functional equivalent). The literal approach can work well when language pairs have a similar structure: for example English and German with mother/Mutter, Mother's Day/Muttertag: but see FAUX AMI. The free style, however, is demanded even in similar languages whenever anything close to idiom occurs: mother-country/Heimat (homeland), necessity is the mother of invention/Not macht erfinderisch (need makes inventive).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"TRANSLATION EQUIVALENT." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"TRANSLATION EQUIVALENT." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/translation-equivalent

"TRANSLATION EQUIVALENT." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/translation-equivalent

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.