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Lecture 4. Translatology and Business English
16.05.2012, 09:47

Lecture 4. Translatology and Business English


What is R. Jakobson’s contribution into the theory of translation? What ideas of his classical piece "On linguistic aspects of translation” are related to the skills of translating business letters? What are the Translator’s options? What do they have to do with Grice’s maxims? What do you know about the ‘invisibility’ of the Translator?


1. R. Jakobson’s theory of language functions.

2. The concept of the audience design in translatology.

3. The theory of cooperative communication (Grice’s maxims).

4. Translator’s options (dichotomies).

5. ‘Invisibility’ of the translator (L. Venuti’s theory).

6. The strategy of ‘softening up’ – refusal and reproach in business communication.


1. R. Jakobson’s theory of language functions.

functions of the language – focal points of the speech act.

R. Jakobson recognizes 6 of them:

The Referential Function  corresponds to the factor of Context and describes a situation, object or mental state. The descriptive statements of the referential function can consist of both definite descriptions and deictic words, e.g. "The autumn leaves have all fallen now."

The Expressive (alternatively called "emotive" or "affective") Function  relates to the Addresser and is best exemplified by interjections and other sound changes that do not alter the denotative meaning of an utterance but do add information about the Addresser's (speaker's) internal state, e.g. "Wow, what a view!"

The Conative Function engages the Addressee directly and is best illustrated by vocatives and imperatives, e.g. "Tom! Come inside and eat!"

The Poetic Function focuses on "the message for its own sake" and is the operative function in poetry as well as slogans.

The Phatic Function  is language for the sake of interaction and is therefore associated with the Contact factor. The Phatic Function can be observed in greetings and casual discussions of the weather, particularly with strangers.

The Metalingual (alternatively called "metalinguistic" or "reflexive") Function is the use of language (what Jakobson calls "Code") to discuss or describe itself.


2. The concept of the audience design in translatology.

audience designкоммуникативный проект: the adaptation of output by text producers to the perceived receiver group. Central to this notion is the extent to which speakers accommodate to their addressees and how speech style is affected. Four potential categories of text receiver have been identified: addressees arе known to the speaker and are directly addressed as ratified participants in the speech event (e.g. University students). Auditors arе both known to the speaker and ratified participants but they are not directly addressed (e.g. listeners to radio). Overhearers are known by the speaker to be present but are neither ratified participants nor directly addressed (e.g. the outsiders to the target audience who may happen to get involved in the process of communication though not directly addressed). Eavesdroppers are those of whose presence the speaker is unaware (address).


3. The theory of cooperative communication (Grice’s maxims).


the cooperative principle: the assumption that interlocutors cooperate with each other by  observing certain so-called conver­sational maxims. These are:

         quantity:   give as much information as is needed;

         quality:   speak truthfully;

         relevance:   say what is relevant;

         manner:   avoid ambiguity.


4. Translator’s options (dichotomies).



                        Abstract expression       :       concrete expression

                        Actual                             :       generic

                        Ambivalence                  :       univocal

                        Amplification                 :       economy

                        Dilution                          :       concentration

                        Explicitation                   :       implicitation

                        Fixed modulation           :        free modulation

                        Lexicalization                 :       grammaticalisation

                        Literal translation           :       oblique translation

                        Loss (entropy)                :       gain (compensation)

                        Option                            :       servitude

                        Particularization             :       generalization

                        Reduction                       :       supplementation        Addition - omission

                        Translation                      :      back-translation          Directionality


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