Publication details [#304]

Ke, Ping. 1999. Translatability vs. untranslatability: a sociosemiotic perspective. Babel 45 (4) : 289–300.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Journal DOI


The problem of translatability or untranslatability is closely related to man’s understanding of the nature of language, meaning and translation. From the socio-semiotic point of view, “untranslatables” are fundamentally cases of language use wherein the three categories of socio-semiotic meaning carried by a source expression do not coincide with those of a comparable expression in the target language. On the understanding that the object of translation is the message instead of the carrier of the message, language-specific norms considered untranslatable by some linguists should be excluded from the realm of untranslatables. And since translation is a communicative event involving the use of verbal signs, the chance of untranslatability in practical translating tasks may be minimized if the communicative situation is taken into account. The problem of translatabiliiy is one of degrees.
Source : Based on abstract in journal