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Тлумачний словник

Transformations in the Process of Translation.


1. Grammatical problems in translation. 2. Transformations in the Process of Translation.

3. Rendering contextual meaning of the articles. 4. Translation of asyndetic substantial clusters. 5. Ways of Translating of Passive Voice.

  1. Grammatical problems in translation.

The grammatical structure of language is an important part of its overall system, no less important, in fact, than its lexicon or vocabulary. The elements of the grammatical structure, such as affixes forms of inflection and derivation, syntactic patterns, word order, function words, etc., serve to carry meanings which are usually referred to as " grammatical '' or "structural" meanings, as distinct from lexical meanings. The rendering of these meanings in the process of translation is an important problem relating to the general problem of translation equivalence which must be considered at length.

Grammatical forms of different languages only very seldom coincide fully as to the scope of their meaning and function. As a rule there is only partial equivalence, that is, the grammatical meanings expressed by grammatical forms, though seemingly identical, of two different languages coincide only in part of their meaning and differ in other parts of the same meanings.

Speaking about grammatical peculiarities in translation we should mention also different grammatical differences of SL and TL (English and Ukrainian). There are a lot of peculiarities of the English language which can make the problems in translation. They are:

1. Analytical character of English and synthetical character of the Ukrainian language (no inflections in English):

This is a round table. – Це – круглий стіл.

I am sitting at the round table. – Я сиджу за круглим столом.

2. Wide usage of auxiliary verbs.

3. A great number of structural parts of speech which corresponds to inflections in Ukrainian.

4. Strict, rigid and inflexible word order. Each part of the sentence has its definite place and changing the word order speaker changes meaning of the whole sentence.

5. Wide usage of impersonal constructions with participle and gerund which is not typical in our language.

It is possible to solve all these problems only due to master translation, using grammatical transformations.

Alterations in the structural form of language units performed with the aim of achieving faithfulness in translation are referred to as translator’s transformations.

They are carried out either because of the incompatibility of the target language means of expression, which makes the transplantation of some source language units to it impossible, or in order to retain the style of the source language passages and thus maintain the expressiveness of the source language sense units.

The most regular are the following two types of transformations:

1. “inner” transformations;

2. “outer” transformations.


Example of inner transformation: the noun icon apart from its direct Ukrainian meaning ікона may have in some context also the meanings зображення, портрет, статуя. Similarly with the noun idea which may mean apart from its genuine international sense ідея also думка, задум, гадка.

Outer transformations may sometimes change the structural form of the sense unit under translation. Thus, the noun the Orkneys becomes a word-group Оркнейські острови and the Hebrides become Гебридські острови.


Grammatical transformations usually become necessary because of the difference in the means of expressions in the target language. They are mainly employed in the following cases:

1. when translating antonymically:

For the thousandth time I’ve told you, keep you nose out of the business. – Тисячний раз тобі кажу, не втручайся в цю справу.

Fair words fat few. – гарні слова не нагодують. Гарними словами голод не проженеш.

2. when rendering the meaning of most passive constructions;

3. when translating sentences with an inverted word order.

Grammatical structures of two languages are different to such an extent that any attempt at word-for-word is doomed to failure. In the course of translation, it is always necessary to perform various grammatical and lexical changes or translations to achieve translation equivalence. These transformations can be divided into four types:


It should be born in mind that this classification is, to some extent, arbitrary and that in practice it is hardly possible to find these elementary transformations in "pure form''. In most cases they are combined with one another, so that what we observe is a combined use of more that one type of transformation: transposition and replacement, addition and omission at the same time, etc.


What is known as transposition is a change in the order of linguistic elements: words, phrases, clauses and sentences, in the text of translation as compared with the original. Most often this change of order is made necessary due to the necessity of preserving intact what is called `functional sentence perspective`, namely, the division of the sentence into two main parts from the point of view of communication: "known or theme" and "new or rheme". In Russian this division of the sentence is usually expressed by means of word order: what is already known or supposed to be known to the hearer (usually from the preceding context), that is, "theme" is placed at the beginning of the sentence whereas what is new, that is communicated for the first time and, therefore, what forms the semantically most important part of the message ( rheme ) is placed at the end of the sentence. In English the word order is arranged, on the whole, along the same lines; however, in certain cases the "theme" is placed at the end and the "rheme", correspondingly , at the beginning of the sentence due to the fact that the newness of the "rheme" is expressed differently, namely, by the use of the indefinite article (or with plural forms of nouns and with uncountable nouns of the zero article) with the noun which is the subject of sentence. Therefore, in Ukrainian word order in these cases must be reversed, i.e., the sentence subject which is the "rheme" of the sentence must be placed at the end: cf. A boy came in – Зайшов злопчик but: The boy came in – Хлопчик зайшов. Likewise: A match flared, in the darkness – В темряві спалахнув сірник.

Light was coming into the cellar from somewhere – В підвал звідкілясь проникало світло.

Cigarettes were passed after lunch – Після сніданку подали сигарети.

Within a complex sentence a similar tendency is observed: in Ukrainian the first place is occupied by that part of the sentence ( main or subordinate clause) which must logically precede the second, whereas in English the position of both clauses, though not quite fixed, is in most cases governed by syntactic rules: namely, the main clause precedes, in most cases, the subordinate one. This often calls for a change in the order of clause in the process of translation, as for instance: He trembled as he looked up – Поглянувши в гору він затремтів.

Within a passage of discourse, independent sentences sometimes are also transposed as in the following example: "You goin` to court this morning?" asked Jim. We had strolled over. – Ми підійшли. – Ви в суд підете? – Спитав Джім.

Here the transposition of sentences is used to make up for the absence in Ukrainian of the difference between the Past Indefinite and the Past Perfect ( the action of the second English sentence precedes that of the first).

Replacements are by far the most common type of grammatical transformations. Replacements can affect practically all types of linguistic units: word forms, part of speech, sentence elements, sentence types, types of syntactic relations, etc:

He took the bell-rope in his hand and gave it a brisk tug. – Він взявся за шнур і різко його смикнув.

In this sentence we can see the replacement. The predicate with the object took in his hand is translated with the verb with suffices –ся: взявся, and set phrase gave it a brisk tug is translated with simple verb, we have simple predicate.

Additions are caused by different factors. Very often they are necessary by what may be called structural incompleteness of certain word groups in the source language. Thus, in English in many cases words are omitted that can be easily resorted from the context. While in Ukrainian their actual presence in the word group is necessary, which calls for additions in translation; cf.: pay claim – вимога підвищити зарплату, gun license – посвідчення на право носити зброю, oil talks – переговори з на рахунок нафтового питання, solid engine – двигун на тревдому паливі, the Watergate judge – суддя, призначений на розгляд так званої Уотергейтської справи.

Sometimes additions are necessary to compensate for lack of grammatical forms in the target language. Thus, that lack of plural forms of the corresponding nouns in Ukrainian calls for lexical additions when translating the following phrases: workers of all industries – працівники віх галузей промисловості, modern weapons – сучасні види зброїя, enemy defences – захисні споруди противника, other philosophies – інші філософські теорії/течії/напрямки.

Omission acts in the opposite direction as compared with addition and is used to ensure a greater degree of what is called, "compression", that is, reducing the redundancy of the text by omitting words which can be easily restored, form the context. Thus, the following sentence from J. Salinger's novel: "So I paid my check and all. Then I left the bar and went out where the telephones were" is translated by R. Rait-Kovaleva as: Я рассплатился и пошел к автоматам. The words left the bar are omitted, because of their redundancy (the bar was mentioned in the preceding context and leaving is implied by the subsequent use of went out). Note also other transformations here, such as unification of sentences and replacement of a complex sentence by a simple one, all of which greatly reduce redundancy of the original text. E.g. Her hands rested side by side on her lap. – Її руки спокійно лежали на колінах.

One can trace the omission of word-combination side by side because such position of hand seems to be quite natural and doesn’t need any translation.

  1. Rendering contextual meaning of the articles.

The article, both the definite and indefinite, is a functional word serving to identify or determine the noun (to work – the work), the superlative degree of its quality (the tallest tree) or the order of nouns in a word-group (the first step) or in a row of similar nouns. In some prepositional phrases and word-combinations the definite and indefinite articles may change their lexico-grammatical nature, as in the expression the more, the better – чим більше, тим краще; or acquire some peculiar grammatical, functional meaning: the Browns – подружжя Браунів;the article may be lexicalized as in the Alps/the Carpathian – Альпи/Карпати. Such and the like lexicalized articles, naturally, in no weaken or lose their determining, i.e., grammatical functions. As a result, their lexical meaning is inseparable in theses cases from their functional meaning.

When conveying the lexical meanings of the definite and indefinite articles into Ukrainian, attention should be paid to their functional meanings in the sentence, word-combinations. Thus, the meanings of the definite article are usually expressed through different Ukrainian pronouns, adjectives, participles, adverbs or cardinal/ordinal numerals. The meaning of the numeral one, on the other hand, is always expressed only through the indefinite article, which is historically derived from this part of speech: Most of fellows Quarters share a studio. – Багато хлопців з латинського кварталу орендують гуртом одну студію.

Realization of contextual meanings of the definite article:

  1. as the demonstrative pronoun цей (ця, це, ці):

¤ What his sister has seen in the man was beyond him. – Що його сестра знайшла у цьому чоловікові, він не міг збагнути.

  1. as the demonstrative pronoun такий (той, та, те, ті) той самий (саме той, та сама), такий самий:

¤ But surely Ruth did not understand it, he concluded. How could she, living the refined lift she did? – Рут навряд чи зрозуміла цей твір. Та і як вона могла зрозуміти, живучи таким витонченим, як у неї, життям?

¤ The fellow behind us in the crowd was talking again. – Той самий хлопець з натовпу позад нас тепер озвався знову.

  1. as the possessive pronoun її, їхні, свій (соя, своє, свої):

¤ “Why don’t you eat?” he demanded as Martin dipped dolefully into the cold, half cooked oatmeal mush. – «Чому ти не їси?» - запитав він, бачачи, як неохоче Мартін копирсає свою недоварену вівсяну кашу.

  1. as the identifying pronoun весь, вся, все/цілий:

¤ He looked up, and it seemed that the room was lifting – Він підвів голову, і йому здалося, що всякімната ходить ходором.

  1. as the relative pronoun який (яка, яке, які):

¤ She did not know the actual fire of love. – Вона не знала, яке то справжнє полум’я кохання.

  1. as the indefinite pronoun якийсь (якась, якесь), певний:

¤ For the moment the great gulf that separated them then was bridged. – На якусь мить через велику безодню, що розділяла їх, був наведений міст.

  1. as the identifying attributive pronoun сам, сам собою, інший/інша:

¤ The toil meant nothing to him. – Сама собою ця праця нічого не важила для нього.

  1. as an adjective or adjectivized participle (according to the contextual meaning):

¤ Martin Eden didn’t go out to hunt for a job in the morning. – Мартін Іден не пішов наступногоранку шукати роботу.

¤ He had worked the day before in thebasement and themoney had been kept all the time. – Напередодні він також працював у підвалі фабрики і ще не витратив заробленігроші.

  1. as a particle emphasizing the attributive pronoun, numeral or some other part of speech:

¤ But the story was grand just the same, perfectly grand. – А так це оповідання – чудове, ну просто чудове.

¤ The next afternoon, accompanied by Arthur, she arrived in the Morses carriage. – На другий жедень в супроводі Артура вона приїхала до нього в кареті Морзів.

Realization of contextual meanings of the indefinite article.

  1. by the cardinal numeral один (одна, одне):

¤ He said something about a schooner that’s getting ready to go off. – Він тут розповідав щось проодну шхуну, яка готується відпливати.

  1. in some contexts the indefinite article may acquire a lexical meaning which corresponds either to the Ukrainian cardinal numeral один, to the ordinal numeral перший or to the indefinite pronoun якийсь (якась, якесь).

¤ Only for an instant he hesitated, then his head went up and his hand came off. –

- Він був у нерішучості (вагався) тільки якусьмить…

- Він був у нерішучості (вагався) тільки першумить…

- Він був у нерішучості (вагався) тільки однумить …

¤ It was only for amoment. – Це тривало тільки одну/якусь мить.

  1. by the indefinite pronoun якийсь only, without the attendant meanings of the cardinal or ordinal numerals:

¤ Sometimes, when with her, she noted an unusual brightnessin his eyes, and she liked it. – Часом, коли він бував з нею, вона помічала якийсь особливий блиск в його очах, що подобався їй.

  1. when the lexical meaningful indefinite article precedes the noun under logical stress, it functions as the demonstrative pronoun, which is translated into Ukrainian as цей, ця, це:

¤ This was his progress for a week. – Це була його програма на цей тиждень.

¤ Here was a man who could do anything, was the message she read there. – Ця людина здатна на все – ось що вона прочитала в його погляді.

  1. as one of the possessive pronouns (according to the contextual meaning):

¤ When she returned with the grammar, she drew a chair near his. – Коли вона повернулася з граматикою, вона присунула свій стілець до його стільця.

  1. as the negative pronoun жоден or the negative particle ані (when the determined noun is preceded by the negative particle not):

¤ You were not following a word. – Ви не чули жодного слова/ані слова.

  1. as the relative adjective цілий which is lexically equivalent in the sentences below to the Ukrainian identifying pronoun весь (вся все):

¤ - (his) day’s work was the equivalent to a week’s workof the average successful writer. – (його) доробок за день дорівнбвав доробкові якого-небудь модного письменника за цілийтиждень.

  1. more common in Ukrainian contextual substitutes for the lexically meaningful indefinite article are different relative adjectives, the most often used being справжній:

¤ This small sum seemed a fortune.– Ця маленька сумв здалася справжнім скарбом.

  1. the contextual meaning of the indefinite article may sometimes be expressed in Ukrainian through different adverbs:

¤ There is a great difference.– Це зовсім різніречі/зовсім інша річ.

  1. the contextual meaningof the indefinite article may be expressed through the interrogative or indefinite pronoun also enforced by some emphatic particles:

¤ - apenniless young fellow, a mere nobody. - ... молодик без шеляга за душею, - власненіщо.

¤ What a lovely day! – Який же гарний день!

  1. Translation of asyndetic substantial clusters.

Asyndetic noun clusters are word-groups consisting of two, three or more nouns like yarn production, yarn production figures; the House of Commons debate; mother and child care.

Irrespective of the number of components in these clusters or their structure, they are always in subordinate relation to each other, i.e., they function as adjunct (attributive component) and head (nucleus). The former occupies the left-hand (initial) position and the latter – the right-hand (closing) position in the cluster. The subordinate relation between the parts of the binary asyndetic substantival cluster can be graphically presented as follows: yarn → production, the House of Commons → debate, mother and child → care.

Many asyndetic noun clusters have often extended adjuncts and extended heads as in examples Upper Clyde Shipbuilders → shop stewards; Noise Advisory Council → working group representative.

Asyndetic noun clusters may be of the following structure: NN, NNN, NNNN.

It goes without saying that each lexeme in the asyndetic substantival clusters adds some new meaning to its general semantic structure. Hence, the more lexemes the cluster consists of, the more unlike the other ways of approach to its translating there may be.

There may be various approaches to rendering the lexical meaning of asyndetic substantival clusters. These approaches are predetermined by the following main factors:

1. by the number of nouns making up the cluster;

2. by the structure of the adjunct and head;

3. by the semantic relations between the constituent parts of the asyndetic substantival cluster which may be local, temporal and others by nature;

4. by the presence or absence of the preceding adjective, participle, possessive pronoun or ordinal numeral.

There are two- , three - , four - , five - , six – componential asyndetic noun clusters. Two - , three - , five – componential asyndetic noun clusters are of great use in the English language. Translation of two componential asyndetic NN-structure clusters may start:

1. with the head noun: board members – члени правління, policy change – зміна політики;

2. beginning with the adjunct or with the head: dinner-time break – обідня перерва/перерва на обід, school reform – шкільна реформа/реформа школи, students groups – студентські групи/групи студентів;

3. in a descriptive way: nine-men defense - захист із 9 гравців, two-thirds majority - більшість у дві третіх голосів.


The meaning of the A+NN type noun clusters can be rendered into Ukrainian by the following main approaches:

1. beginning with the initial adjective after which the head noun and its adjunct noun is translated in succession:English amateur champion – англійський чемпіон аматор/непрофесіонал, public protest meeting – загальні збори/мітинг протесту;

2. beginning with the adjective after which the adjunct and then the head noun are translated in succession: London cab drivers - лондонські кебмени/таксисти, Royal Shakespeare company - Королівська шекспірівська трупа.

Translation of three-componential noun clusters is dependent on the semantic interrelations existing between their componential parts. Among possible approaches to translating of the three components N+NN-type asyndetic noun clusters the following are to be pointed out:

1. beginning with the initial adjunct noun of the N+NN sense unit: London trade Unions – Лондонські профспілки, state security police– державна таємна поліція;

2. in the 1-2-3 order: world weight lifting championship – світовий чемпіонат штангістів.

The three-componential noun clusters may also be often preceded by adjectives, participles, numerals. Their meaning is conveying starting with the initial attributive component and then proceeding according to the rules employed above: the massive riot police operation – масова операція поліції (по розгону демонстрації), the national cash register factory – державний завод касових апаратів.

The four-componential NNNN-type asyndetic noun clusters are less frequently used in newspaper or scientific and technical texts than the three-componential ones: the US Defense Department officials decision – рішення представників міністерства оборони США, Kyiv career club open meeting – відкриті зустрічі в Київському клубі працевлаштування, the Sunday Express newspaper leader writer - автор передових статей газети «Санді експрес», the House of Representatives Government Operations Committee – комісія урядових заходів палати представників, Gloucester County Cricket Club – крикетна команда/клуб Глосестерського графства.

Translation of the six- and seven- componential asyndetic noun clusters is realized according to the same principles and approaches as the four- and five- componential asyndetic noun clusters: The Post Office Workers London district council – Лондонська окружна рада профспілки поштових працівників.

But these multicomponential asyndetic noun clusters may be translated by different approaches as well, each of which may faithfully render the clusters’ meaning: New Zealand world mile record holder Peter Snell – 1. новозеландський світовий рекордсмен з бігу на милю Пітер Снелл; 2. новозеландець Пітер Снелл, чемпіон світу з бігу на милю.


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