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Factors Other Than Linguistics Considered in Translation Research Paper

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Updated: May 26th, 2022


Apart from linguistic methods, other aspects should be considered in translation. These elements include cultural perception and personal viewpoints of the translator. It incorporates the significant role that translators play in intercultural mediation arising from the cultural turn. The other approaches consider the aspects that are internal to the author who mediates for the self and those oriented to the audience. The two facets are linked together in a selective process, which determines the pattern that translation takes. There is a need for communication between different people from diverse ethnic origins in the highly industrialized and tech-driven world. However, for individuals to relate to others’ message, they have to understand their counterparts’ traditions. Comprehension is necessary since language is deeply embedded in people’s way of life and, in turn, influences the meaning of words. When transferring data from one language to another, factors other than the linguistic approach should be considered because people’s way of life determines the meaning attached to some words.

Outline of the Areas Covered

This paper will explore the issues involved in translation other than linguistics and their manifestation alongside the problems they create during the inter-lingual rendering process. It begins with a discussion of the primary concerns which give rise to several theoretical frameworks. Additionally, it examines the findings and their implications, and describes key concepts and their practical application in an example text. The examples are generated from the sections within the book and analysis of the title. The heading is analyzed regarding its application in Spanish and when interpreted in the Italian language. The examples’ discussion provides valuable deductions that prove the translation theories and the relevance of the features explored.

Description of the Key Concepts

Translation involves different concepts integrated to ensure that the original content is retained. The translator implements intercultural mediation, which in this case is seen as a relational and interpretative activity. It also involves linguistic techniques which can be expressed in three ways: intralingual, interlingual and intersemiotic translation (Jakobson, 1959). The first one refers to rewording, where there is an interpretation of given verbal signs using others verbal signals in the same language (Zethsen, 2009). Translation proper refers to an individual reinterpreting a particular message in a different linguistic code. The last refers to expressing verbal ideas in images or movement and vice versa. It is mostly used in the film, visual arts, and theatre industry where viewers are from different communities.

The most common types of linguistic conversion are direct and oblique. The former involves transferring terms from one source to another as it is without any changes to its form or alterations to its originality (Schjoldager, 2008). The latter is used when the literal form does not apply since the languages do not coincide regarding structures. One thus needs to trace the deeper meaning in the writings to the target readers before conversion to a more straightforward form. It involves changing of grammatical categories of words to fit in the new group’s (Baker and Saldanha, 2009). As Jacobson (1959) mentioned, it is imperative to emphasize the grammatical structure of the language. It makes translators work easier by presenting strategies and procedures. The complexities of grammar and the ease of loss of meaning make word for word translation somewhat limited to basic communication. However, for communicating important data and complex dialogues one thus needs to involve varied kinds of conversion methods.

Justification for the Discussion of the Primary Concepts

Several factors can influence translation and can be grouped into either of the three: linguistic, personal and cultural factors. The linguistic factors can be divided into phonological, lexical and textual aspects (Wong and Sheng, 1999). Individual elements also influence translation, and the notion that humans are the translators limits their level of objectivity. As such, the writer will inadvertently bring their psychological and professional conditions to the text they are producing. The primary goal of transferring knowledge from one community to another is to serve as a cross-cultural bilingual communication among people. The factors are considered primarily because of the rising need for data transmission. There is increased migration, recognition of linguistic minorities, international trade, expansion of the mass media and globalization (Venuti, 2012). It raises the need for one to know what someone from a different ethnic origin is saying.

Different linguistic societies have varied ways of segmenting, experiencing and describing reality. Consequently, the translation work should include cultural factors, and it acts as a link between different communities (Gorlee, 1994). A distinction can be made between intercultural and intercultural aspects. The former involves other identities perceiving the world differently, and thus, different ideologies may arise from the same object. The culture-specific expressions can equally include things like how people see beauty. The factors thus remarkably influence the ability of the writer to form a sound judgement. Besides, they equally play a significant role in his decision-making process of selection and materializing one form into another. Consequently, a concise and systemic understanding of the said elements provides useful tips in grasping the task’s complicated nature.

Relationship with the Module and Scholarly Work

The study of linguistics grew because of the need to facilitate translation to boost the texts’ contextualization. Essentially, it endows the words with their meaning and equivalence that someone from a different culture can relate to. Thus, linguistics features explore the ‘what’ and ‘how’ regarding such elements as truth, speech acts, verification, logical necessity, and reference. Various scholars have equally researched the subject and provided useful information for reference (Shaw, 1987). Wong and Shen (1999) suggest that the translation quality is embedded in the author’s ability to decode actual meaning. According to Ulanska (2015), several factors are needed to generate coherent data from the translation. Therefore, a comprehensive research on the relevance of the emergent perspective is valid.

Theoretical Examples

The chosen text is a book written by Luis Sepulveda, “The story of a dog called Loyal”. Luis is a Chilean author who wrote in Spanish, and in this story, the narrative voice is of a German shepherd dog (GSD) (Sepúlveda, 2016). The Mapuches who are indigenous people living in the south of Chile raised it. The GSD was named Afmau, which translates to loyal or Leal in Spanish (Sepúlveda, 2016). The origin of the culture from where the writer drew the story was from his uncle, and he grew up listening to the Mapuche’s stories. This book was explicitly considered because of its unique trait; it involves two cultures, the dog’s community and Chilean Spanish. The translation thus proves challenging and yet interesting since the combination is disproportionate and at different levels.

Katan highlighted the cultural turn translation in its aspects and derived the idea that it is a form of intercultural communication (Katan, 2009; Schaffner, 2003). Within this approach, the writer is viewed as an intercultural mediator (Liddicoat, 2016). Therefore, the translator takes a position between the author and the reader and ‘rewrites’ the text that does not share the language or knowledge to the audience (Liddicoat, 2016). In the usual context, the reader and the scribe do not know that they participate in intercultural communication. However, in the case of the chosen study, the author is aware that he is telling the story to a different setting for the Spanish speakers from Mapuche, thus becoming the mediator.

For instance, the book uses some words in the local language of the Mapuche without translation. The trend is evident for both the complicated terms and some simpler ones like the ‘moon’, ‘river’ or ‘death’. At the end of his writing, Luis provides a glossary explaining the meanings of the local words that he used (Sepúlveda, 2016). The style of writing shows how the translator takes up the role and connects two different cultural realities. He does this meticulously without losing the closeness to the original culture without switching to Spanish completely. Another striking feature is how he represents Mapuche’s traditions on a contextual level, although not entirely on the linguistic stage. Hence, a writer should aim to build a relationship between two different languages and their ways of life as he moves from one to another.

Another analysis can be formed from the translation of the book’s title. In Spanish, ‘Historia de un Perro llamado Leal’, translates to “History of a dog named Leal”. From the wording, the English title loses its sense because of the dog’s name. Moreover, Leal means “loyal” in Spain and Portugal and is equally a common name in Hispanic and some lusophone countries. However, even though some words have meaning attached to them in English, like Joy, there is no equivalent of the narrative’s purpose. The primary thematic concern evident in the book is about loyalty, and the dog wishes to honour the value attached to the name from the Mapuche people. Another example related to the book heading involves its Italian version. It goes; ‘Storia di un cane che insegno a un bambino la fedelta’, the English wording is written as ‘history of a dog that taught loyalty to a child’.

Analysis of the Chosen Position

The position derived from the examples provide a comprehensive illustration of the relevance of other considerations as a culture when translating. According to Katan (2009), the writer plays an essential role in mediating strategies to make a particular tradition relatable to another. As such, the author creates a relatively more substantial perlocutionary effect for the readers and helps them learn something new. Similarly, Liddicoat (2016) suggests that the process involves the translator who is tasked with ensuring that their interpretation, understanding and explaining helps the audience negotiate cultural phenomenon.

The functional and cultural approaches are further strengthened by the book’s heading when translated to the Italian language. The writer realized that it would not make sense to maintain “Leal” since it is not a common name in Italy. However, she rewrites the title so that it makes sense to the Italian readers. In any case, they would still understand while reading the text that the name Afmau refers to loyal. Hence, the GSD was named after the trait and it wishes to honour as desired by Mapuche people. The writer recognized the cultural attachment to the dog’s identity (Sepúlveda, 2016). However, she chose to use it to alter the meaning in the title and the book’s general content.

The Problematic Areas

Translation should involve a united perspective where all the approaches are simultaneously considered. House (2009) suggests that culture and linguistics should be integrated since language can only be perceived within a tradition. The functional approach is also part of translation because the author is primarily influenced by his cultural identity. As such, the writer should examine the two societies he is linking before beginning the task. In the book, it is evident that Luis does not attempt to separate linguistics from the Mapuche’s way of life (Sepúlveda, 2016). The text shows the elements; linguistics and culture, when the writer chooses to retain the names of things easily translated such as the moon in Mapuche language.


The discussion explicitly explains the need for using other methods other than linguistics during translation work. The primary considerations, in this case, are the cultural and functional approach which guide the process. The examples demonstrate how the author expresses his desire to show the culture to the other community. As such, it is no longer merely a linguistic process, and it is culturally contexted and influenced by factors beyond language. The writer takes a position where he relates two traditions and thus mediates the languages and ways of life. Therefore, he does not have mere knowledge of, but instead participates in the conciliation and utilizes his interpretative resources to enable one group to comprehend texts written for another.

Reference List

Baker, M. and Saldanha, G. (eds.) (2009). Routledge encyclopedia of translation studies. Routledge.

Gorlée, D. L. (1994). Semiotics and the Problem of Translation,

Halliday, M.A.K. (2006). On Language and Linguistics. New York: Continuum.

House, J., (ed) 2009. Moving across languages and cultures in translation as intercultural communication. Translation action and intercultural communication, Amsterdam, Atlanta, G.A. pp.7-39.

Jakobson, R. (1959). On Linguistic Aspects of Translation. In R. Brower (Ed.) On Translation (pp. 232-239). Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. Pym, A. (2010). Natural Equivalence. In A. Pym. Exploring Translation Theories (pp. 06–24). New York, NY: Routledge.

Katan, D. (2009). Translation as intercultural communication. In M. Baker (Ed.) Translation studies (pp. 74–92). London & New York, NY: Routledge.

Liddicoat, A. J. (2016). Perspectives, Taylor & Francis Online. 24(3), 354–364. Web.

Schjoldager, A., (2008). Understanding translation. Academica. Miami.

Sepúlveda, L., 2016. Historia de un perro llamado Leal. Tusquets. Barcelona.

Shaw, R.D., 1987. The translation context: cultural factors in translation. Translation Review, 23(1), pp.25-29.

Ulanska, T., 2015. The role of linguistic factor in translation. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 191, pp.2585-2587.

Venuti, L. (ed.) 2012. The translation studies reader. Routledge. Abingdon.

Wong, D. & Shen, D. (1999). Meta, 44 (1), 78–100. Web.

Zethsen, K. 2009. Meta: journal des traducteurs/Meta: Translators’ Journal, 54(4), pp.795-812. Web.

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