Translation has been top of mind for decades. Linguists like Roman Jakobson, for example, speak about three main types of translation: intralingual, interlingual, and intersemiotic translations, which he describes in his book On Linguistic Aspects of Translation.
According to Jakobson, intralingual translation occurs in the same language, or in other words, paraphrasing or rewording. In contrast, interlingual translation is what we usually associate translation with, the conversion of text from one language to another. Lastly, intersemiotic translation is between sign systems.
But, sophisticated as it may seem, this taxonomy is not the only one. JC Carlford, another great linguist, speaks about three translation categories, according to extent, level, and rank. What does all this mean?
Extent. In terms of extent, Carlford distinguishes between partial and full translation. In full translation, the source-language text is replaced by the target-language text. Conversely, in partial translation, some words or phrases are left untranslated.
Level. Within this category, there are two sub-types of translation: total and restricted. This differentiation is more in terms of the levels or layers of language engaged in translation. Total translation is defined as the “total” replacement of vocabulary (lexis) and grammar of the source language in the target language.
Rank. This type of translation relates to the grammatical or phonological rank at which the translational correlation is established.
Considering this categorisation, Mildred Larson refers to form-based translation, which resembles the source language structure, also known as literal or direct translation, and meaning-based translation. Unlike the former, meaning-based or semantic translation captures the meaning and intent of the source language.
According to Larson, there is no clear-cut definition of translation. The translation process is a continuum of literal to creative translation, or transcreation, which is often idiomatic.
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