When translation is not about meaning
Translation is typically thought of as conveying the meaning of a text written in another language. However translators frequently engage in operations that do not start from textual meaning but from phonetic form, typographic form or some other formal feature of a text. In this article, I look at several such operations, and how they are used in handling proper names, numerical expressions, text in a third language, so-called untranslatable words, passages of uncertain meaning, and poetry, as well as their use in translation studies and linguistics journals, and in pronunciation guides for tourists and for choirs singing in languages unknown to their members. I also briefly consider operations that are based on the form of non-linguistic text elements.
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