Similarity analysis and the translation profile

Andrew Chesterman

[2007. Belgian Journal of Linguistics 21, 53-66.]


Similarity entails both sameness and difference, and translation research needs to keep both these aspects in focus. There is a curious asymmetry in many current analyses of translation equivalences and differences, in that pride of place is most often given to differences. Two key notions for the understanding of similarity in translation are the nature of similarity as a multi-place predicate, and the difference between divergent and convergent similarity. Similarity judgements also underlie quality assessment. A proposal is made for a general framework for the similarity analysis of a translation profile, i.e. the linguistic form of a translation. Such an analysis makes reference at least to the source text, non-translated texts in the target language, other translations, and learner texts. Statements about similarities are descriptive statements; but as formulations of similarities become more abstract, showing relations across broader systems and different fields, they become increasingly explanatory in nature.


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