Challenged by the rapidly changing social contexts of contemporary globalization, translation becomes a prime vehicle to intercultural communication. Different translation strategies are used in different applicable areas. This paper is geared towards scrutinizing the features and practices of various translation strategies, encompassing literal translation, semantic translation, communicative translation, complication and rewrite.
Literal translation converts the source text (ST) into target text (TT) via word-to-word translation. Newmark (1988) aptly explains “literal translation” as “calque”, which is the case when the translator preserves the word order and imitates the ST grammatical constructions. Take “Come to London and See the world” (See Appendix A:AdvertisingTranslation) as an example. Its corresponding literal translation is “来伦敦看世界”, which follows the structure and manner of expression of the ST. However, as an advertisement, literal translation can not satisfy the target audiences' “appetite”. Instead, it is usually adopted to translate the instructional guides or legal documents for its higher degree of faithfulness to the ST.
Semantic translation resorts to the contextual meaning that communicates through language. Newmark (1988) contends that “semantic translation” differs from “literal translation” only in as far as it captures more aesthetic value of the ST. Following the basic principle of faithfulness, it is highly accurate. Semantic translation is generally adopted in academic and legal translations, but seldom used in business communication since it is not effective and efficient enough in delivering business communication.
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In addition to advertising translation, complication is also applied in intercultural, academic, film and literature translations for its essence of elegance.
In conclusion, it is recognized that literal translation and semantic translation are conducted around faithfulness, communicative translation and complication are implemented based on the rule of expressiveness, while rewrite pursues for elegance. Each of them has its own strengths and deficiencies in different applicable areas.
Hence, it is meaningless to identify which of these five translation strategies is more effective, or used more frequently in the real world than the others. A thorough understanding of the translation purpose is the first and most important step of translation. Each translation strategy should be employed cautiously to avoid any potential miscommunications.
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