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Word for word translation

Word for Word Translation

Advantages and disadvantages of Word for Word Translation

Word for word translation or literal translation is the rendering of text from one language to another one word at a time with or without conveying the sense of the original text. In translation studies, literal translation is often associated with scientific, technical, technological or legal texts.

A bad practice

It is often considered a bad practice of conveying word by word translation in non-technical texts. This usually refers to the mistranslation of idioms that affects the meaning of the text, making it unintelligible. The concept of literal translation may be viewed as an oxymoron (contradiction in terms), given that literal denotes something existing without interpretation, whereas a translation, by its very nature, is an interpretation (an interpretation of the meaning of words from one language into another).


A word for word translation can be used in some languages and not others dependent on the sentence structure: El equipo estГЎ trabajando para terminar el informe would translate into English as The team is working to finish the report. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. For example, the Spanish sentence above could not be translated into French or German using this technique because the French and German sentence structures are completely different. And because one sentence can be translated literally across languages does not mean that all sentences can be translated literally.

Literal translation can also denote a translation that represents the precise meaning of the original text but does not attempt to convey its style, beauty, or poetry. There is, however, a great deal of difference between a literal translation of a poetic work and a prose translation. A literal translation of poetry may be in prose rather than verse, but also be error free. Charles Singleton’s translation of The Divine Comedy (1975) is regarded as a prose translation.

Machine Translation

Early machine translations were famous for this type of translation because they simply created a database of words and their translations. Later attempts utilized common phrases which resulted in better grammatical structure and capture of idioms but with many words left in the original language.

The systems that we use nowadays are based on a combination of technologies and apply algorithms to correct the “natural” sound of the translation. However, professional translation agencies that use machine translation create a rough translation first that is then tweaked by a professional translator.

Mistakes and Jokes

Literal translation of idioms results quite often in jokes and amusement among translators and not only. The following famous example has often been told both in the context of newbie translators and that of machine translation: When the sentence “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak was translated into Russian and then back to English, the result was “The vodka is good, but the meat is rotten. This is generally believed to be simply an amusing story, and not a factual reference to an actual machine translation error.

word-for-word translation

1 word-for-word translation

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translation circuit — схема перевода; схема преобразования

machine translation — автоматизированный, машинный перевод

3 word-for-word translation

translation circuit — схема перевода; схема преобразования

machine translation — автоматизированный, машинный перевод

4 word-for-word translation

5 word-for-word translation

6 word for word translation

7 word-for-word translation

8 word-for-word translation

9 word-for-word translation

10 word-for-word translation

11 word-for-word translation

12 word-for-word

13 буквальный перевод

См. также в других словарях:

word-for-word translation — pažodinis vertimas statusas T sritis radioelektronika atitikmenys: angl. word for word translation vok. wörtliche Übersetzung, f rus. дословный перевод, m pranc. traduction mot à mot, f … Radioelektronikos terminų žodynas

Word-for-word translation — Дословный перевод … Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

Translation — For other uses, see Translation (disambiguation). Translator redirects here. For other uses, see Translator (disambiguation). Contents 1 Etymology 2 Theory … Wikipedia

word for word — adverb using exactly the same words he repeated her remarks verbatim • Syn: ↑verbatim * * * 1 they took down the speeches word for word: VERBATIM, letter for letter, to the letter; exactly, faithfully … Useful english dictionary

translation — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ accurate, correct, exact, faithful, good ▪ approximate, free, loose, rough ▪ … Collocations dictionary

Word formation — In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word s meaning. The line between word formation and semantic change is sometimes a bit… … Wikipedia

word-for-word — ˈ ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷ˈ ̷ ̷ adjective Etymology: word for word : being in or following the exact words a word for word translation : verbatim the word for word transmission of legends George Grey * * * word for word «WURD fuhr WURD», adjective. = verbatim.… … Useful english dictionary

word for word — 1) they took down the speeches word for word Syn: verbatim, letter for letter, to the letter; exactly, faithfully 2) a word for word translation Syn: verbatim, literal, exact, direct, accurate, faithful; … Thesaurus of popular words

word-for-word — adjective Date: circa 1611 being in or following the exact words ; verbatim … New Collegiate Dictionary

Translation memory — A translation memory, or TM, is a type of database that stores segments that have been previously translated. A translation memory system stores the words, phrases and paragraphs that have already been translated and aid human translators. The… … Wikipedia

Word-sense disambiguation — Disambiguation redirects here. For other uses, see Disambiguation (disambiguation). In computational linguistics, word sense disambiguation (WSD) is an open problem of natural language processing, which governs the process of identifying which… … Wikipedia

Ways of translation

Significance of translation

The importance of translation in the modern society has long been recognized. Not a single contact at the international level or between 2 foreign persons can be established without the help of translation. Translation is important for functioning of different international bodies. Numerous branches of national economies can be kept up with the modern development thanks to the everyday translation. The other branches of human activity dealing with the translation are: nuclear science, exploration of outer space, ecology, mining, medicine, electronics etc. The social and political role of translation has been the most felt in the XX-XXI century when it provided the dissemination (=spreading) of political ideas. Translation is a perfect means of sharing achievements and enriching the national languages, literatures and cultures. Finally, whatever the type of matter is translated, the linguistic and social significance of translation remains unchanged because it promotes the enrichment of lexicon in the target language.

Translation as a means of interlingual communication

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Translation makes possible an exchange of information between users of different languages by producing the TL text which has an identical communicative value with the SL text.

However, the TLT is not fully identical with the SLT as to its form or meaning/content due to the limitations imposed by the formal and semantic differences between the SL and the TL. But the users of the translation (translation receptors) identify the TLT with the SLT functionally, semantically and structurally. There are 3 types of identification:

The functional identification – the TLT (the translation) functions as if it were the SLT (quoted, published, cited etc.).

The structural identification – the structure of translation (of the TLT) should follow that of the original. There should be no change in the sequence of narration or in the arrangement of the segments in the text (not the structure of every sentence!)

The semantic identification – the TLT (the translation) should have the same meaning as the SLT (the original) (the meaning of the whole text, not every word, otherwise it would be word-for-word translation, not literary artistic/proper).

The translator is allowed to resort to different translation transformations if direct translation is impossible for some reasons.

Ways of translation

Literal translation is used at the level of separate words, which have the same lexical meaning and similar form in the SL and in the TL.

There are 2 ways of performing literal translation: transcription and transliteration.

Transcription is the substitution of sounds in the process of translation.

impeachment – імпічмент (but not імпеачмент)

Transliteration is the substitution of letters in the process of translation.

London – Лондон (but not Ландан)

Literal translation renders the meaning of the following words: 1) proper names (Іванов – Ivanov), 2) geographical names (Дніпро –Dnipro), 3)international words (football – футбол), 4)units of specific national lexicon (вареники – varenyky), 5)neologisms (metrosexual – метросексуал).

The translator’s false friends are those words that have similar form but different meaning in the SL and in the TL.

magazine – журнал (but not магазин)

lunatic – божевільний, шалений (but not лунатик)

artist – художник, митець (but not артист)

Verbal translation is used at the level of separate words, which have the same lexical meaning but different lingual form in the SL and in the TL.

Verbal translation renders sometimes the morphological structure of the SL words (ex. helpless – безпорадний, superprofit – надприбуток).

In most cases, the morphological structure is not preserved because of the differences in the morphological systems of the SL and the TL.

Verbal translation permits the choice of variants, which is practically impossible in literal translating:

minister – міністр (literal), посланник, священик (verbal)

bank – банк (literal), берег (річки), край, мілина, вал/насип (verbal)

Verbal translation, however, does not provide a faithful conveying of sense/content at other than word level. When employed at the level of word-combinations or sentences it may often make the language units ungrammatical and pervert or completely ruin their sense:

I am reading now – is not Я є читаючий зараз but Я читаю зараз

to take measures – is not брати міри but вживати заходів

Word-for-word translation/ consecutive verbal translation (дослівний послідовний) is used at the level of word-combinations and sentences, which have the same structure, word order, and the same lexical meanings of the constituents in the SL and the TL.

Who took my book? – Хто взяв мою книжку?

Word-for-word translation is often used at the initial stage of translation. It does not always work with phraseological units (cold as a cucumber – незворушний) except some cases when a phraseological unit is taken from a third language – Latin or Greek (to cross the Rubicon – перейти Рубікон).

Interlinear translation is used for a faithful rendering of the meaning (but not structure) expressed by word-combinations and sentences, which are different in structure, at the level of some text. The sense of phraseological units is not conveyed.

Interlinear translation may be practically applied to all speech units (sentences, passages etc.)

It is used at the higher level of translator’s activity. It is performed with transformations when there is no identical form in the TL.

Interlinear translation offers more variants than word-for-word translation.

Who took my book? – Де моя книжка?/ У кого моя книжка?

Various transformations in interlinear and literary translations are inevitable because of grammatical/structural, stylistic and other divergences in the SL and in the TL.

She said she would come. – Вона сказала, що прийде.

Transformations are also inevitable when there is no direct equivalent for the SL units in the TL.

a trip – коротка подорож, to ski – їздити на лижах

Interlinear translation is widely practiced at the intermediary and advanced stages of studying a foreign language.

But it doesn’t convey the literary merits/artistic features and beauty of the original (e.g. translation of a stanza or passage)

Literary translation represents the highest level of a translator’s activity. It can be either literary artistic or literary proper depending on the type of the matter under translation.

Literary artistic translation (художній літературний) is used to translate prose or poetry and faithfully conveys the content and artistic merits of belles-lettres /bel’letr/ texts or passages of the literary text.

Literary proper translation (власний літературний) is used to translate some texts that may include scientific or technical matter, business correspondence, newspapers and documents. In short, any printed or recorded matter devoid of artistic merits (epithets, metaphors etc.).

Literary translations are always performed with many transformations because of stylistic differences between the SL and the TL. Transformations are necessary to convey the meaning of the original, and to achieve ease and beauty of the original composition.

Literary proper/artistic translation of a larger passage often requires some additional research or linguistic, historical and other enquiries in order to clarify the obscure places (historic events, units of specific national lexicon, neologisms, archaisms etc.). Sometimes even the title of a work may require a philological or historical inquiry.

Ex. «Слово о Полку Ігоревім» — “A word about Ihor’s Regiment” (in a word-for-word translation, which doesn’t correspond to the real meaning)

“The Tale/ lay of the Host of Ihor”, “The Song of Igor’s Campaign”, “Prince Igor’s Raid against the Polovtsi” (which corresponds to the real meaning of the title – повість, пісня про Ігореве військо, дружину)

«Тихий Дон» (М.Шолохов) – “And Quiet Flows the Don” or “The Don Flows home to the Sea” (a word-for word translation “The Quiet Don” or “The Still Don” would not convey the poetic flavour of the original title)

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These variants could have been suggested by the translator only after a deep inquiry into the novel’s content, into its main idea and into the whole system of images of these works.

Word-for-Word translations

St. Rollin Weeks writes:

As an FMC member, I have attended two of your sessions.

I am interested in the prospect of time «before» the Big Bang, Time and Eternity, God’s foreknowledge and man’s free will, the Arrow of Time (Roger Penrose), Time Reborn (lee Smolin), and the books and papers on ‘time’ by William Craig Lane and J P Moreland of the Apologetics Dept. in Talbot Theol. Seminary at Biola.

But what I am really into right now is writing a paper on the King James Only (KJO) controversy. I have narrowed it down to 3 essential issues: (1 which are the best manuscripts (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic) to use—the issue of Textual Criticism’? (2 if God preserved His Word perfectly throughout the ages, what mechanisms did He use, and where in the Scriptures do we find evidence that He would use these mechanisms?, and (3 how do we deal with the very intractable problem of translation from the original languages?

I have an MA in Linguistics, and I have done field work in Brazil with an indigenous tribal people. Some translation issues I have become aware of are:

ancient historical translations ((Coptic, Syriac, Septuigint) have used slightly different source texts. Were these the genuine Word of God?

Greek-to-English translation works fairly well, because both have highly developed vocabularies, but this is not the case when translating into a language with vastly different cultural emphases and interests, and

Greek and English are both members of the Indo-European Families. Ancient Hebrew to English is not so good a fit. When one gets into other wildly different languages, word for word translations become impossible.

I hope to join in again in one of your classes.

In Christ,
Rollin Weeks

Hi Rollin, I’m glad you enjoyed the classes. That’s a nice grab bag of issues you mention there, but since you highlight King-James-only-ism, I think I’ll focus on that. I find it difficult to even take the KJO view seriously, for a variety of reasons.

There is simply no such thing as a perfect translation. Even from Greek to English, word-for-word translation is not always the most accurate or faithful way to translate. I assume you know that Greek is a case language, meaning that (unlike English) it is the endings of the words, rather than their position in the sentence, which determines their grammatical role in the sentence (subject, object, possessor, etc.). Instead they used word order for purposes of emphasis. The first and last words in a sentence are the ones which are being emphasized.

Another issue is particles. In a normal Greek sentence, there are a few two or three letter words called «particles» which normally appear right after the first word. When you are first learning how to translate Greek, you simply leave these words out since they don’t seem to affect the basic meaning. For Greek experts (as I am not!) they show how the ideas in the sentence are connected to the ideas which have gone before.

There are various tricks which can be used to render these meanings into English, but they usually involve departing from the word-for-word ordering. In these respects, «paraphrases» like the New Living Version or St. Phillips’ translation can sometimes actually be more accurate than a more «literal» translation, since they have the freedom to signal emphasis and connection-between-ideas in other ways.

In the absence of a specific divine revelation, it is simply hubris to say that God specially favors one particular English translation, given the existence of numerous good translations both before and after the KJV. That being said, given the time and the lesser degree of scholarly knowledge, the KJV was a remarkably good translation, combining literalness with style in a skilled way (partly with the help of archaic English «particles» such as «lo!»). Another very nice feature is that when the original language is ambiguous, they tried to translate into English in a way which reflects that ambiguity, instead of just picking one possibility.

I said it was a good translation: since the meanings of many English words have changed over 400 years, and many passages now convey an incorrect meaning to modern readers. To use the KJV today, especially with uneducated readers, is to guarantee that they walk away with wrong ideas about what the Bible says.

Regarding issues of Textual Criticism, the Textus Receptus differs from the accepted scholarly text in numerous places. This has a lot to do with the fact that St. Erasmus’s Greek text was based on only 7 relatively late Greek manuscripts, each including only parts of the New Testament, and all but one from a single textual tradition. And we are supposed to believe that this is more accurate than all other more carefully compiled texts? That God miraculously preserved his word through Erasmus, while allowing all other scholars everywhere else to fall into error? Because of his special desire for later English-speaking people (but apparently not people in other cultures) to have a perfect translation? Ridiculous!

Regarding the Old Testament textual issues, you are right that the Septuagint seems to have been based on a somewhat different version of the Hebrew text than the Masoretic, which is used by almost all modern translations. Which text is more accurate in a given place is anyone’s guess, but the Dead Sea Scrolls are more similar to the Masoretic text. There are many instances in which we know that the Septuagint was poorly translated (sometimes they even left out large chunks which they didn’t know what to do with!), although in other cases we have to defer to them because the meaning of the Hebrew words is otherwise unknown, or in when the Masoretic text is corrupt (e.g. 1 Samuel 13:1, which in the Masoretic text says that Saul was one year old when he became king, and that he reigned for two years!)

I believe that God has promised this about his word:

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

This, however, is not a promise about every word being preserved perfectly in some static sense. It’s a promise about God getting the results which he intended to get: namely a harvest of righteousness and justice in the lives of those who are transformed by God’s word.

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The belief that this transformation will somehow be inhibited if we don’t have 100% certainty about every word (or even 100% certainty about which books should be in the Old Testament!) is a Fundamentalist notion which has little connection to actual progress in holiness. Yes, God’s word is fully inspired and should be treated with respect, down to the last «jot and title»—at least when we know what they are—but we can’t lose sight of why he gave us his word.

I believe that God is very unscrupulous in how he reaches people. His Spirit can sometimes even use translation mistakes to bring people closer to him (and in that sense, they may be God’s word to that particular individual), but we should still do our best to avoid making them.

There’s a very important word which is missing from this post so far. That word is «Jesus». Muslims believe that the highest revelation from God is a Holy Book, dictated to a prophet without any human contamination, and perfectly preserved from error through the centuries. We also have a Holy Book, but we believe that God’s final revelation is a Person. That’s why God chose to use the human personalities of the biblical authors as a means to communicate to us the personality of Jesus.

What we need is not a word-for-word translation onto paper, but a «Word-for-Word» translation onto our hearts and minds. Remember what St. Paul says:

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. (2 Cor 3:1-6)

Word-for-word translation

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