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1. Denotative equivalence. This is equivalence of the extra linguistic content of a text, otherwise called 'content invariance'
2. Connotative equivalence. This is equivalence having to do with lexical choices, between near-synonyms, often otherwise, but not quite appropriately, called 'stylistic equivalence'.
3. Text-normative equivalence. This is related to text typology, with different kinds of texts warranting different notions of equivalence.
4. Pragmatic equivalence. This is oriented to the receiver of the text. This is also called 'communicative equivalence' and is Nida's 'dynamic equivalence'.
5. Formal equivalence: This is not the same as Nida's 'formal equivalence'. It has to do with the form and aesthetics of the text with its word plays and stylistic features.

In the Skopos theory of translation, the assessment criterion is some kind of functional adequacy and not (functional) equivalence. In the Gideon Toury's Descriptive Translation Studies approach, equivalence is functional-historical, related to adequacy and acceptability.

Tertium comparationis is the invariant against which two texts or text segments can be measured to judge variation, a hypothetical intermediate invariant considered an adequate translation against which to gauge variation in translation.

George Steiner and the Hermeneutic motion. Among the most influential of the philosophical theories of translation is George Steiner's hermeneutically oriented model of translation. He describes the hermeneutical approach as "the investigation of what it means to 'understand' a piece of oral or written speech, and the attempt to diagnose the process in terms of a general model of meaning"

The state of unresolved but expressive tension between 'resistant difference' and 'elective affinity' is the hallmark of a good translation, according to Steiner. He advocates the foreignising rather than the domesticating kind of translation, refusing, much like Lawrence Venuti, to equate good translation to fluent domestication.

Walter Benjamin's 'The task of the translator' is one of the classical philosophical works on literary translation. What Benjamin says must interest the serious linguist. He says that good translations 'express the central reciprocal relationship between languages', making explicit relationships which would, but for the translation, have remained hidden. He also says the task of the translator is to release the language imprisoned in a work in his (= the translator's) recreation of that work. A linguist would wonder if it is the language that is being released or the content ensconced in a particular language, for what is encoded is not the language but the content. Benjamin also talks in a poetic vein of the release of a 'pure' language through literal translation. This single essay of Walter Benjamin's has impacted subsequent translation studies in a significant way.

Derrida, the deconstructionist's views on language have implications for translation. He questions the opposition between source and target language and interrogates the stability of the two-faced linguistic sign. One would think, like the despairing Quine's, Derrida's are also extreme views, which are subject to skepticism. For instance, the view that everything is translation, a view held by Derrida and Marquez, is clearly untenable. The sense in which an original work is thought of as a translation, and the sense in which a rendering of an original work into a different linguistic code is a translation are distinctly different. All creative acts are breakaway moves and translations are derivative: they come to exist based on previously existing objects. Original works could also be said to be derivative in so far as sans the experience in the world, no one can create, but it is obvious that the senses in which an 'original' work and a translation are derivative are different. Yet it is piquantly true to say as we did in an earlier paragraph that research over a period of time has pared away what was once thought to be the second order nature of translation.

Among the functional approaches to translation are Reiss, (Katharina Reiss's) work on text types which determine translation, Vermeer, 's Skopos approach and Holz- Manttari,'s theory of translational action. Katharina Reiss's approach considers the text rather than the word or the sentence as the translation unit and hence the level at which equivalence is to be sought. Reiss's text typology is:


The 'informative' text where the content is the main focus. These texts do plain communication of facts, information, knowledge, opinions etc. The logical or referential dimension of language is what is involved.


The 'expressive' text where the focus is on creative composition and aesthetics. Both the author (=the sender) and the message are what are foregrounded. Imaginative creative literature exemplifies these texts.


The 'operative' text where the focus is 'appellative' by which what is meant is that the text appeals to the reader to act in a certain way, persuading, dissuading, requesting, and cajoling him. The form of language is dialogic.


The audio medial text where the focus is on visual and audio representations. The audiomedial parts supplement the other three text types with visual images and music etc.

Correspondingly Reiss advocates specific translation methods for these text types. The target text of an informative text should be in plain prose with explication where required, the aim being to transmit the referential content of the text. The target text of an expressive text should use the 'identifying' method, the translator having to look at it from the ST author's standpoint. The translation of an operative text has to employ the 'adaptive' method, trying to create the same effect on the readers, as the ST. Audio medial texts have to employ the 'supplementary' method, visual images and music supplementing written words.

Reiss also talks of evaluatory criteria, which vary according to text types. Thus while the translation of any content-oriented text has to aim at semantic equivalence, and a popular science piece will have to preserve the ST style, there is greater need to retain a metaphor in an expressive text than in an informative target text. Reiss thinks one could gauge the adequacy of a TT by intra-linguistic criteria like semantic, grammatical and stylistic features and extra-linguistic criteria like situation, subject field, time, place, receiver sender and implications like humour, irony, emotion etc.

Reiss's is a useful typology of texts but it is clear that texts are often not as hermetically sealed as Reiss has one believe. A biography or an editorial could have informative as well as appellative content. A personal letter could well be informative, expressive and appellative as can be an advertisement.

Translational action views 'translation as purpose-driven, outcome-oriented human interaction and it focuses on the process of translation as message-transmitter compounds involving intercultural transfer.' Holz-Manttari says, "(it) is not about translating words, sentences or texts but is in every case about guiding the intended cooperation over cultural barriers enabling functionally oriented communication." It is not clear how the latter viz. 'guiding the intended cooperation over cultural barriers enabling functionally oriented communication' can be achieved without doing the former viz. translating words, sentences or texts.

In Manttari's model inter-linguistic translation is seen as a communicative process with a series of roles and players. The roles and players are:

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