Topics: Semantics, Linguistics, Syntax Pages: 5 (1388 words) Published: August 25, 2013
Extra material for chapter 4 Van Leuven-Zwart’s comparative–descriptive model of translation shifts1

The most detailed attempt to produce and apply a model of shift analysis has been carried out by Kitty van Leuven-Zwart of Amsterdam. Van Leuven-Zwart’s model takes as its point of departure some of the categories proposed by Vinay and Darbelnet and Levý and applies them to the descriptive analysis of a translation, attempting both to systematize comparison and to build in a discourse framework above the sentence level. Originally published in Dutch in 1984 as a doctoral thesis it is more widely known in its abbreviated English version which consists of two articles in Target (van Leuven-Zwart 1989, 1990). The model is ‘intended for the description of integral translations of fictional texts’ (1989:154) and comprises (1) a comparative model and (2) a descriptive model. Like Popovič, van Leuven-Zwart considers that trends identified by these complementary models provide indications of the translational norms adopted by the translator. The characteristics of each model are as follows: 1 The comparative model (1989: 155–70) involves a detailed comparison of ST and TT and a classification of all the microstructural shifts (within sentences, clauses and phrases). Van Leuven-Zwart’s method (1989: 155–7) is as follows: • Van Leuven-Zwart first divides selected passages into ‘comprehensible textual unit[s]’ called ‘transemes’; ‘she sat up quickly’ is classed as a transeme, as is its corresponding Spanish TT phrase ‘se enderezó’. • Next, she defines the ‘Architranseme’, which is the invariant core sense of the ST transeme. This serves as an interlingual comparison or tertium comparationis (see chapter 3). In the above example, the Architranseme is ‘to sit up’. • A comparison is then made of each separate transeme with the Architranseme and the relationship between the two transemes is established. If both transemes have a synonymic relationship with the Architranseme, no shift is deemed to have occurred. The absence of a synonymic relationship indicates a shift in translation, and shifts are divided into three main categories with numerous subcategories. The three main categories are modulation, modification and mutation; these are explained in table 4.1. An illustrative example of the application of the analysis is the following quotation from a short story by Katherine Mansfield and its Spanish translation: As to the boy – well, thank heaven, mother had taken him; he was mother’s, or Beryl’s, or anybody’s who wanted him. En cuanto al pequeño … menos mal, por fortuna su madre se había encargado de él; era suyo, o de Beryll, o de cualquiera que lo quisiere. (in van Leuven-Zwart 1990: 85) Table 4.1

Main categories of van Leuven-Zwart’s comparative model (from van Leuven-Zwart 1989)

Category of shift


Modulation (pp. One of the transemes tallies with the Architranseme, but the other differs either 159–64) semantically or stylistically: the sit up example would be classed as modulation because the English phrase has an extra element (quickly) Modification (pp. 165–8) Mutation (pp. 168–9) Both transemes show some form of disjunction (semantically, stylistically, syntactically, pragmatically, or some combination of these) compared to the Architranseme; for example, you had to cry and hacía llorar (‘it caused you to cry’) It is impossible to establish an Architranseme either because of addition, deletion or ‘some radical change in meaning’ in the TT

Focusing on the ST transeme mother’s and the TT transeme suyo [lit. ‘hers’], van LeuvenZwart’s identifies two microshifts: • syntactic–semantic modification: the noun + Saxon genitive mother’s becomes the possessive pronoun suyo; • syntactic–pragmatic modification: the selection of mother’s rather than hers meaning that more pragmatic information is supplied to the reader in the English ST than in the Spanish TT, where the reader has to understand the link to madre....

References: Bühler, K. (1934/65) Sprachtheorie: Die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer. Fish, S. E. (1981) ‘What is stylistics and why are they saying such terrible things about it?’, in D. C. Freeman (ed.) Essays in Modern Stylistics, London and New York: Methuen, pp. 53–78. Leech, G. and M. Short (1981) Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose, London and New York: Longman. Leuven-Zwart, K. M. van (1989) ‘Translation and original: Similarities and dissimilarities, I’, Target 1.2: 151–81. ——(1990) ‘Translation and original: Similarities and dissimilarities, II’, Target 2.1: 69–95. Peer, W. van (1989) ‘Quantitative studies of literature: A critique and an outlook’, Computers and the Humanities 23:301–7.
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