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Translation and Discourse Relevance: Translating England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom Into Indonesian
Article from Proceeding
TransCon 2015: The 5th Atma Jaya International Conference in Translation & Interpretation Studies, “Terminologies & Neologisms in the Eyes of Translators”,
Translation is always relatively dynamic in the sense that choices of equivalents are always dependent on various factors such as culture, context, and style. This paper applies the notion of discourse relevance as one of many factors affecting the degree of specificity of equivalents employed in translation. This paper uses three related English terms referring to different political entities: England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, which are to be translated into Indonesian. Problem occurs when those three terms appear and are used contrastively in the same text as Indonesian only has Inggris to refer to all three entities and Britania Raya to refer to Great Britain, albeit much less familiar and less common in Indonesian than in English. Data are English texts showing one or more than one of those three words with differing degree of discourse relevance. This paper uses Mildred Larson’s three meaning components: generic, contrastive, and incidental, as theoretical background. Analysis shows that those three terms should be translated into (1) Inggris if only one of those appear in the same text; (2) Inggris if two or all of them appear simultaneously in the same text but are not contrastive or informative; and (3) Inggris/England, Britania Raya, and Kerajaan Bersatu if two or all of them appear simultaneously in the same text and are contrastive or informative. Another solution for the last case is transferring the English terms in italic and providing sufficient notes or explanations in TT. This paper shows that degree of specificity by itself is not a determining factor in choosing an equivalent; it is its relevance in a particular discourse that serves as the overriding factor. Furthermore, referential or technical specificity in ST need not always be translated with equal specificity in TT, especially when it needlessly introduces unfamiliar terms to the TT and causes unnecessary confusion due to lack of schematic knowledge. These findings further prove that translation is never a straightforward endeavor with precise equivalent for each particular term, no matter how technical it is, and that discourse considerations have much influence on equivalents chosen. Potential future research of this kind might include the translation of geopolitical distinctions such as Holland-Dutch-the Netherlands and the Americas-America-the United States into languages which happen to not have special equivalents for those concepts.
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