Translation Studies
3. Translation theory and
text linguistics
Krisztina Károly, Spring, 2006
Source: Klaudy, 2003
Text-centredness in translation:
emergence of text linguistics in TS 
Dressler (1973)
Nida and Taber’s book: The Theory and
Practice of Translation (1969)  list 8
universal features of text that should be
taken into account in translation (still not
fully explored!):
“…all languages do have certain important
features which can be used, and which in
’effective’ communications are used, to
mark the units larger than sentences”:
Cont. Nida and Taber (1969, p.152):
8 features of text to be considered in translation
the marking of the beginning and end of
the discourse
the marking of major internal transitions
the marking of temporal relations
between events
the marking of spatial relations between
events and objects
the marking of logical relations between
the identification of participants
highlighting, focus, emphasis, etc.
author involvement
Late 1970’s, early 1980’s:
2 main trends
1. Chernyakhovskaya (1976):
approaches the text from the inside
and concentrates on the way the
differences in the internal structure
of the text affect the solutions of
2. Reiss (1971): looks at the text from
the outside and focuses on how the
various text types influence the
translators’ task.
The internal text structure
preceded by the study of text
coherence independently of
translation in the text linguistics of the
1970’s (e.g., Isachenko, 1965;
Harweg, 1968; Weinrich, 1971; van
Dijk, 1975; Halliday  Hasan, 1976)
analysis of the text-organizing role of
this conceptual structuring in
continuous texts and its linguistic
realizations (Chernyakhovskaya)
The text type-typology approach
Genre-based classification of texts to be
Fedorov (1953)  genre-related translation
problems of 3 groups of texts:
(1) news and reviews, official and technical
documents, and scientific texts,
(2) political texts, newspaper editorials, and
(3) literary texts.
Mounin (1967)  7 groups:
religious texts, literary texts, poetry, children’s
literature, stage texts, movie texts, and
technical texts.
Cont. Text-type typology approach
Katharina Reiss: translation-focused text
typology (the classification of texts is
determined by the role L plays in the given
(1) content-focused texts: the descriptive
function of L dominates
(2) form-focused texts: the expressive
function of L dominates
(3) appeal-focused texts: the appeal
function of L dominates
(4) audio-medial text type: reaches the
receptor not via printed media
(1) The translation of contentfocused texts
E.g.,: press releases, commentaries,
news reports, users’ manuals, patent
specifications, official documents,
non-fiction, specialized books,
essays, reports
are focused on conveying information
 the translator’s task is to transmit
the SL content in full
(2) Translation of form-focused texts
E.g.,: literary prose (essays, biographies,
belles-lettres), imaginative prose (anecdotes,
short stories, romances), poetry
it is not merely what the author says that
matters, but also how he/she says it  the
main task of the translator is to reflect primarily
the form and not the contents
Difficulty: the form is closely tied to the SL 
cannot be automatically transferred into the TL
Reiss: in such cases the translator will not
adopt the SL form, but will try to get
inspiration, and stimulated by this inspiration
he/she will choose the TL form that best
approaches the effect in the TL reader that the
SL form produced in the SL reader  the task
of the translator is not to produce identical
content, but to create formal analogy
(3) Translation of appeal-focused texts
E.g.: commercials, ads, texts related to
missionary work, propaganda materials
both the content and the form are intended to
provoke a particular reaction in the listener
or reader (appeals for likes and dislikes, or for
specific actions -- e.g., shopping -- or the
ceasing of specific actions: e.g., smoking) 
the aim of the translator is not to reflect the
content or the form of the SL text, but to
render its function
the translator may deviate from both the
content and the form of the text (e.g.,
advertisements: the same product must be
promoted using different hints and allusions in
different countries)
(4) Translation of audio-medial texts
E.g.: radio and television genres and theatre
plays (operettas, operas, comedies, tragedies,
the message reaches the receiver (audience,
listener) via a channel the characteristic
features of which need to be taken into
translating a libretto: the translator must not
insist on a faithful rendering of either the
content or the form of the original libretto if in
the TL it does not match the music’s melody
and rhythm, and cannot be sung with ease;
dubbing movies: watch the actor’s lip
The typology of specialized texts
Vannikov’s (1987) study: a detailed and
multidimensional typology of
specialized texts
 lists 12 features on the basis of
which scientific and technical texts
have to be characterized to provide
sufficient guidance for translators:
(1) Characterization on the basis
of linguistic organization
1.1 Texts with a rigorous structure and
with strict linguistic formulation,
1.2 Texts with a soft structure, allowing
the translator greater variety
regarding linguistic formulation;
(2) Characterization on the basis
of the functional style
2.1 Scientific texts
2.2 Technical texts
2.3 Official texts
2.4 Legal texts
2.5 Journalistic texts
(3) Characterization on the basis of
functional register
3.1 Scientific texts  3.1.1 Academic texts,
3.1.2 Texts with an educational purpose, 3.1.3
Encyclopaedic texts);
3.2 Technical texts  3.2.1 Technical
descriptions, 3.2.2 Instructions, 3.2.3 Technical
3.3 Official texts  3.3.1 Official directions,
3.3.2 Management texts, 3.3.3 Official
3.4 Legal texts  3.4.1 Technical
documentation, 3.4.2 Descriptions of
inventions, 3.4.3 Patent management texts);
3.5 Journalistic texts  3.5.1 Scientific
journalistic texts 3.5.2 Popular science texts
(4) Characterization on the basis
of manner of expression
4.1 Narrative texts,
4.2 Descriptive texts,
4.3 Explanatory texts,
4.4 Argumentative texts
(5) Characterization on the basis
of logical content
5.1 Exposition/Discussion,
5.2 Justification,
5.3 Conclusion,
5.4 Definition
(6) On the basis of subjectrelated contents
6.1 Texts in exact sciences,
6.2 Texts in natural sciences,
6.3 Texts in social sciences;
(7) On the basis of manner of
7.1 Texts for oral communication,
7.2 Texts for written communication;
(8) On the basis of genre (e.g.,
within the scientific style)
8.1 Book
8.2 Monograph
8.3 Article/Paper
8.4 Dissertation
8.5 Presentation/Lecture
8.6 Communiqué
8.7 Report
(9) On the basis of the primary or
secondary nature of the information
9.1 Primary information,
9.2 Secondary information
9.2.1 Report,
9.2.2 Annotation,
9.2.3 Review,
9.2.4 Bibliographical description,
9.2.5 Bibliography
(10) On the basis of expressivestylistic features
10.1 Stylistically rich/colourful text,
10.2 Stylistically poor/not colourful text;
(11) On the basis of general
pragmatic features
11.1 Texts addressed to the SL reader,
11.2 Texts addressed to the TL reader,
11.3 Texts addressed to any audience;
(12) On the basis of specific
pragmatic features
12.1 Informative texts,
12.2 Normative texts,
12.3 Instructive texts,
12.4 Systematising texts;
Integration of internal text structure
and text typology approaches:
Vermeer’s (1978) skopos (= aim, in
Greek) theory: a functional theory of
translation. Two main characteristics:
attributing priority to the aim of
translation (coherence rule and fidelity
rule come afterwards),
emphasising the cultural transfer
nature of translation
Cont. integration
most important rule of translation: the
priority of the aim of the translation
coherence rule: intra-textual coherence
and inter-textual coherence (equivalence
with the SL text)  relation of sub- and
super-ordination: inter-textual coherence
has to be subordinated to intra-textual
Cont. integration
Shoshana Blum-Kulka (1986) (”Shifts of
Cohesion and Coherence in Translation”) 
investigates the shifts that occur in the
process of translation in the text’s “external”,
i.e. open and visible organisation (“cohesion”)
and “internal” logical/content-related
organisation (cohesive devices across Ls).
Sonja Tirkkonen-Condit (1986) (”Text Type
Markers and Translation Equivalence”) 
explores the problem that texts (e.g.,
argumentative texts, which can be
considered a kind of dialogue with an
imagined reader) can only be translated
knowing the whole text  it is wrong to set
abbreviated texts as translation examination
Research on quasi-correctness
= explores the differences between two
corpora of texts: authentic or primary
texts and translated or secondary
these differences are subtle, and
hardly perceptible on the sentence
level: it is the whole of the translated
text that differs from original TL texts
Reasons for oddity of translated
the devices ensuring coherence in the
SL do not always work in the same
way in the TL
there are slight shifts in emphases,
leading to slight distortions in
functional sentence perspective
And now let’s see the tasks…

Translation Studies