Choice Factors in Translation

Vyacheslav B. Kashkin
Voronezh State Technical University, Russia

In this article, grammatical forms in context are viewed as processual patterns of choice activity. A hierarchy of choice factors is presented, using the example of the present perfect forms in parallel translations from Russian into several languages. To ensure adequacy of comparison, the notions of grammatical contextual complex and universal grammatical integral are introduced and used as the required tertium comparationis. Particular attention is devoted to the interplay of universal and language-specific features in processes of grammatical choice in translation.

Table of contents

When speaking about a grammatical form, we usually regard it as a discrete element, which exists in the grammatical system of this or that language. The "rules" of the language in question determine the usage of this form, and the "rules" of translation define the ways of re-coding. This is in no way dubitable, so long as we are describing the already-written and already-translated texts. However, if we change the 'point of view', or the 'position of observation' from that of a describing linguist to that of a producer of the not-yetwritten and not-yet-translated texts (which is actually the position of a language user or of a translator), and if we try to see how exactly grammatical [ p. 96 ]choices are made, we will find that a form never appears as an existing thing, or as a point in time, but rather as an event of choosing. This event is not governed by a rule or set of rules with a definite 'output', but rather by various factors of a different nature, having different degrees of influence and priority. Thus, the grammatical forms, from the point of view of the language user or of the translator, do not 'exist', they 'happen'; they develop in time as a process of making a choice.

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