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Different Usage - Конспект лекцій Дніпропетровськ дну 2008



Different Usage


Traditional usage of words of word combinations is typical of each language. Traditional S.L. and T.L. usage or clichés do not coincide. The words forming such clichés often have different meanings in the two language but they are traditionally used to describe similar situations. The problem of the proper selection of equivalent words and clichés can be solved only if the peculiarities of the correlated languages are taken into consideration, e.g.

^ He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Он оставил после себя жену, сына и дочь. (После него остались жена, сын и дочь.)

She never drank boiled water.

Она никогда не пила сырой воды.


Sometimes different usage in partly due to different vision:


The city is built on terrace rising from the lake.

Город построен на террасах, спускающихся к озеру.


As a matter of fact there two verbs (to rise and спускаться) may be called conversives, that is, they describe the same situation from diametrically opposite angles.

Sometimes different usage is apparent in the use of semantically complete prepositions.

^ He wrote under several pseudonyms, many of his essays appearing over the name of “Little Nell”. (F.Johnson).

Он писал под разными псевдонимами, многие его очерки появлялись под подписью «Крошка Нелл»


Usage is particularly conspicuous in set expressions.


The New Zealand earthquake was followed by tremors lasting an hour. No loss of life was reported.

После землетрясения в Новой Зеландии в течение часа ощущались толчки. Жертв не было.


The fact that the US Government was finally and firmly coming to grips with crime impressed many.

На многих произвело впечатление то, что правительство Соединенных Штатов, наконец, очень энергично начало борьбу с преступностью.


Usage plays an important part in translating orders and instructions.


Commit no nuisance – останавливаться воспрещается.


Usage is closely linked with the history and development of the language, of its lexical system. Hence every language creates peculiar clichés, ready-made formulae. They are never violated by the introduction of additional words or by the substitution of their components.


Translation of Monosemantic Words


Monosemantic words are comparatively few in number and the bulk of English words are polysemantic. English monosemantic words usually have full equivalents in Russian. There are the following lexical groups of monosemantic words: 1. proper names, 2. geographical names, 3. names of the months and the days of the week, 4. numerals, 5. some scientific and technological terms, 6. names of the streets, 7. names of hotels, 8. names of sports and games, 9. names of periodicals, 10. names of institutions and organizations.

The group of monosemantic words presents considerable variety because of its heterogeneous character.


Rendering of Proper Names in Translation


The function of proper name is purely nominative. They help to distinguish a person, a pet or a place, to recognize them as unique. Thus they have only nominal meaning and are designated by a capital letter.

There are two ways of rendering proper names in translation: transcription and translation.

Transcription is now universally accepted: Mary – Мэри. Phonetic peculiarities, however, sometimes interfere and modify this principle by causing certain departures, e.g. the name of the well-known novelist Iris Murdoch is rendered with the inserted letter (and sound) “p” – Айрис Мэрдок.

Translation or representing a SL word by means of the more or less corresponding corresponding TL characters, that is, in a graphic way, is no longer regarded as an acceptable method of rendering proper names in translation. But tradition has preserved it in some cases and therefore this method still survives, e.g. Lincoln is rendered as Линкольн and Wellington as Веллингтон. O’Henry – О’Генри.

Traditionally, names of prominent people are rendered by their Russian counterparts: Isaak Newton – Исаак Ньютон, Abraham Lincoln – Авраам Линкольн, King James – Король Яков. All these factors explain the existence of double forms of proper names.

A problem by itself is presented by the translation of the so-called token names which reveal some typical features of the character named. Sometimes attempts are made to translate them, in this way following the writer’s intent, e.g. Humpty-Dumpty – Шалтай Болтай, Тяпкин-Ляпкин – Slap-Dash, etc. unfortunately this tendency inevitably conflicts with the principle of preserving the national character of the origin. So Mr Surface in Sheridan’s “School for Scandal” would hardly be recognizable as an English dandy if he were called Вертопрахов.


Rendering of Geographical Names in Translation


Geographical names are an integral part of the Russian language, so tradition is very strong in this group of words. They are usually rendered according to the usage of earlier days, e.g. ^ England – Англия, Scotland – Шотландия, Ireland – Ирландия.

Some geographical names have their translation equivalents in Russian: Cape of Good Hope – Мыс Доброй Надежды, Easter Island – Остров Пасхи, etc. usually geographical names of this type are token names, as they are named after the name of the holiday on which they were discovered.


Rendering of Names of Months, Seasons and Days of the Week


The names of the seasons, months and days of the week come very close to proper names. They are rendered by their Russian counterparts: spring – весна, Monday – понедельник, Varch – март, etc.


^ Rendering of Numerals


This group of words comes very clise to terms. Their Russian counterparts are naturally used in translation: ten – десять, hundred – сто, thousand – тысяча.


Rendering of Scientific and Technical Terms


Terms are generally associated with a definite branch of science or technology. They tend to be monosemantic in the given branch of science or technology and therefore easily call forth the required concept. They are translated by corresponding Russian terms: calorie – калория, equator - экватор, polysemantic – многозначный, etc. but it should be borne in mind, that one and the same term may have different meanings in different branches of science and technology, e.g.: line – 1) контейнер, поточная линия; 2) трубопровод, etc. thus a term may sometimes be polysemantic, e.g.: power (phys.) – сила, мощность, энергия; power (math.) – степень.

There is a special group of words of terminological nature: names of animals, birds, plants, natural elements, e.g.: tiger – тигр; cat – кошка; swallow – ласточка; lily–of-the-valley – ландыш; drought – засуха; rain – дождь; lightning – молния, etc.

The names of the rare or little known animals or plants are as a rule monosemantic and have full equivalents: coyote – койот; armadillo – броненосец; porcupine – дикобраз; baobab – баобаб.


Rendering the Names of Streets


The names of streets are transcribed: Bayswater Road – Бейсуотер роуд.

The names of streets in historical novels which sometimes happen to be token names are translated, e.g. the “Economist” publishing office is in Threadneedle street – редакция журнала «Экономист» помещается на Треднидл стрит but “tailors lived in Threadneedle street” – портные жили на улице Иголка с Ниткой.


Rendering of Names of Hotels


Names of hotels are usually transcribed, e.g. Hotel Carlton – отель Карлтон. Names of old inns are as a rule translated, e.g.: The Red Lion – гостиница Красный Лев.


Rendering of Names of Sports and Games


These are also usually transcribed, e.g.: football – футбол, hockey – хоккей.


Rendering of the Names of Periodicals


^ The Times – газета Таймс. It should be noted that for pragmatic reasons such words as газета, журнал, еженедельник are added respectively. The United States News and World Report – американский еженедельник «Юнайтед Стейтс Ньюс энд Уорлд Рипорт».


Rendering of Names of Institutions and Organizations


These classes of proper names are usually transcribed, e.g.: General Motors – Дженерал Моторс, British Airways – Бритиш Эруейс.

But certainly there are exceptions to this rule: The Common Market – Общий Рынок; The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – федеральное бюро расследований (ФБР). These are accepted translated equivalents.


Translation of Polysemantic Words. Polysemantic Words and the Context

A polysemantic word, as has been shown, is a word having several meanings or lexical-semantic variants. These lexical-semantic variants possess both lexical and grammatical features which are closely interwoven. These different meanings or lexical-semantic variants of polysemantic words are revealed in the context. By the term “context” is understood the minimum stretch of speech determining each individual meaning of a word.

The context individualises the meaning of the word, brings it out, reveals the intended lexical-semantic variant. It is in this sense that we say that the meaning of a polysemantic word is determined by the context. The term context comprises both the narrow or micro context and the wide or macro context. The narrow context implies sentence or even a word combination, e.g.: bright star – яркая звезда; bright wine – прозрачное вино; bright day – светлый день; bright reply – блестящий ответ; a bright boy – способный, смышленый мальчик. The following examples illustrate the importance of the context in translation.


The construction of the UNO was no simple or easy task.

This explains the peculiar construction of the Security Council.


In the first sentence the word “construction” has the meaning of “act of devising and forming” (Webster III), in the second sentence the meaning is “structure”.

These different contexts bring out different lexical-semantic variants of the word “construction” which are reflected in the Russian translation.


Создание ООН было не простой и не легкой задачей.

Это объясняет своеобразную структуру Совета Безопасности.


The importance of the context for translation is obvious. The micro context implies not only lexical but also syntactical ambient elements, e.g.: the elm stood before the house – перед домом стоял вяз; he stood a whisky and soda – он угостил меня виски с содовой водой.


The context or the situation not only reveals the intended meaning of a polysemantic word but also its concrete or abstract, its direct or transferred meaning.


^ A dictator relies upon his army and police force. – direct meaning

Диктатор опирается на свою армию и полицию.


The whole army of words – вся масса слов – transferred meaning.

An army of insects – туча насекомых – transferred meaning


He was crippled in the Vietnam war.

Он был искалечен на войне во Вьетнаме.


The criminal forces of reaction and anti-détente aim at crippling international cooperation.

Цель преступной поджигательной политики реакционеров и противников разрядки – подорвать международное сотрудничество.


Contextual Meaning of Polysemantic Words


The so-called contextual meaning is always individual, occasional and context-bound. It lives only in its context and disappears if the context is altered.

The contextual meaning of a word is usually semantically richer than the dictionary meaning because of the connections which it arouses.


^ In an atomic war women and children will be the first hostages.

Первыми жертвами в атомной войне будут женщины и дети.


The dictionary meaning of the word “hostage” is заложник, but in this context it is synonymous with “victim” as every hostage might become a victim and die. Thus the contextual meaning of a word is not arbitrary, it is inherent in its semantic structure and is brought out by the writer who is able to perceive its potentialities.

The vital role of context in bringing out different lexical-semantic variants and its importance in translation are well illustrated by the use of the noun and the verb “frustration, to frustrate”.

^ That there is a great deal of frustration in the land today is made evident by a proliferation of societies, leagues, committees, councils and crusades which propose to stop the clock or to turn its hands back.

О наличии в настоящее время глубокого разочарования в стране говорит множество всяких обществ, лиг, комитетов, советов и крестовых походов, которые стремятся остановить время или повернуть его вспять.


^ A second common denotation of the Rightist group is that they tend to attribute every frustration to betrayal by traitors.

Второй общей чертой всех правых групп является склонность приписывать все неудачи измене и предательству.


It is hard to escape a conclusion that the essential negativism of the “either - or” approach is designed to frustrate rather than forward any kind of agreement.

Нельзя не прийти к выводу, что крайний негативизм подхода «или – или» (все или ничего) рассчитан на срыв, а не на заключение любого соглашения.


Words of Wide Meaning


Words possessing a wide volume of meaning are peculiarly adaptable to different contexts.

^ The commanding officer singled him out because of his university background. (Nicholas Monserrat)

Командир выбрал его, так как он был человек с университетским образованием.


…he was a landlord with a Tory background.

…он был помещиком и происходил из семьи консерваторов.


Parents of genuine hippies find themselves up against a type of mentality with which they are unprepared, either by background or experience, to cope.

Родители убежденных хиппи сталкиваются с таким образом мыслей, с каким они не могут справиться ни благодаря своему воспитанию, ни своему жизненному опыту.


Did reporters usually allow the Secretary of State to determine after an interview whether it was going to be on the record, off the record or only for background. (Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward).

Неужели корреспонденты обычно позволяли Государственному секретарю решать после интервью будет ли оно считаться официальным, неофициальным, или данным только для их информации.


In certain cases the translator has to turn to a wider context which sometimes comprises a whole paragraph a whole chapter or a whole book.

Thus in Chapter LIII of “Vanity Fair” Thackeray describes the unexpected return of Rawdon Crawley from the debtor’s prison and his consternation when he finds his wife in the company of Lord Steyne.


“The wretched woman was in a brilliant full toilet”.


The adjective “wretched” has the following meanings: miserable, unhappy, afflicated, inferior, of bad quality or no merit, contemptible, unsatisfactory, causing discontent or discomfort or nuisance. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English).

Thackeray, a moralist, condemned immorality throughout his writing. Aware of this the translator naturally chooses contemptible.


На этой презренной (низкой, подлой, вероломной, коварной) женщине был роскошный вечерний туалет.


Translation of Pseudo-International Words


There is a distinct group of words which constitute a special difficulty for the translator, the so-called pseudo-international words. International words are mostly words of Greek, Latin and French origin which have a more or less similar phonetic form in many languages. They express not only scientific, social and political notions but everyday things and notions as well: electronics – электроника; dynamic – динамичный; calorie – калория; elegant – элегантный. These words have become an indispensable part of the vocabulary of different languages. Their referential meaning is in most cases identical. But there is another category of international words which as part of the lexical system of different languages have acquired in these languages novel semantic features – different semantic structures, additional lexical-semantic variants, different connotations and different usage. The Russian language borrows these words most often as terms and they tend to be monosemantic while in the English language they are usually polysemantic. Although warned against them translators are often deceived into making errors by purely formal resemblances.


The rabbit was lying in a depression between two clods. (F. Norris)


БАРС gives the following meanings of the word depression: 1.угнетенное состояние, депрессия; 2.эк. депрессия, застой; 3.ослабление, уменьшение; 4.низина, впадина, котловина.

This sentence was rendered in a translation published in the late twenties as Кролик лежал в какой-то депрессии между двух кочек.


There were attempts to sabotage key services in Santiago.

Делались попытки вывести из строя основные объекты коммунального обслуживания в Сантьяго.


The meaning of the Russian word саботаж is narrower.

^ We are told that BBC television this autumn will give a massive coverage to the general election.

Сообщают, что нынешней осенью передачи Би-би-си по телевидению будут широко освещать парламентские выборы.


Sometimes the referential meanings of international words coincide, while their contextual meanings do not.


^ Britain’s world wide exploitation was shaken to the roots by colonial liberation movements.

Колониальное могущество Англии было потеряно до основания национально-освободительным движением в ее колониях.


The contextual meaning of the word “exploitation” is metonymical – the power of colonial systems was based on exploitation. A similar metonymic transference of the word эксплуатация – могущество is rendered to in the Russian translation.


Benches gleamed empty and crimson under the light, their occupants haveng gone to tea. (C.P.Snow).

Все члены Палаты лордов оправились пить чай, и опустевшие скамьи сверкали красной обивкой при электрическом свете.


The Russian loan word оккупант is used only in a special sense as a military term with negative connotations whereas the English word is polysemantic. The addition члены Палаты лордов has been made for pragmatic reasons.

Sometimes pseudo-international words may have different connotations in spite of practically identical referential meanings. Thus the word прогресс has usually only positive connotations while the word “progress” has a wider range of connotations – positive, neutral and negative.

For instance, the title of John Bunyan’s book “The Pilgrim’s Progress” is an allegory depicting man’s progress towards perfection. The Russian traditional translation is “Путь пилигрима” (к совершенствованию) – positive connotations.


Her progress about London during that first week was one thrilling adventure. (H.Walpole).

Ее прогулки по Лондону в ту первую неделю были сплошным увлекательным приключением. – (neutral connotations).


Hogarth’s series if engravings “Rake’s Progress” has distinctly negative connotations. The traditional translation is «Жизнь повесы».

Different usage of pseudo-international words is often a stumbling block to translators, e.g.

^ Once upon a most early time there was a Neolithic man. R.Kipling).

Давным давно, еще в каменном веке, жил да был один человек. (translated by K.Chukovsky).

The adjective “Neolithic” has its counterpart in Russian – неолитический, but its use is confined to scientific prose. It would not be suitable in a tale for children. So the translator introduced a traditional combination – человек, живший в каменном веке – resorting to a redistribution of semantic components.


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