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Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations Volume 9, 2010, pp.

284289, ISSN 1841-2394

NIDAS THEORY OF DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE


ADRIAN CONSTANTINESCU constantinescu@addletonacademicpublishers.com Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, New York ABSTRACT. Nida argues that language must be viewed as a shared set of habits using the voice to communicate, and as potentially and actually idiosyncratic and sociosyncratic. Nida suggests that we must analyze the transmission of a message in terms of dynamic dimension. Nida and Taber state that dynamic equivalence is to be defined in terms of the degree to which the receptors of the message in the receptor language respond to it in substantially the same manner as the receptors in the source language. Keywords: Nida, language, dynamic, equivalence, symbol, translation

1. Introduction

Nida claims that interpreting differs from translating primarily because of the pressures of time and exigencies of the setting, says that translating often represents specialized skills and can require aesthetic sensitivity, and emphasizes that language consists of more than the meaning of the symbols and the combination of symbols: it is a code functioning for a specific purpose or purposes.
2. The Advantages of a Sociosemiotic Approach to Translating

Nida argues that language must be viewed as a shared set of habits using the voice to communicate, and as potentially and actually idiosyncratic and sociosyncratic. Discourse becomes as much a matter of
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fashion as any other element of communication. According to Nida, the advantages of a sociosemiotic approach to translating are to be found in: (1) employing a realistic epistemology which can speak relevantly about the real world of everyday experience; (2) being at the cutting edge of verbal creativity; (3) recognizing the plasticity of language, the fuzzy boundaries of usage, and the ultimate indeterminacy of meaning; and (4) being essentially interdisciplinary in view of the multiplicity of codes.1 Hatim and Munday note that, as Nida puts it, semantics is the science of meaning. Nida borrows Chomskys surface structuredeep structure concepts in his analysis transferrestructuring model of translation, and adopts current ideas from semantics for the analysis of meaning across languages. Nidas scientific approach to translation exerts influence notably for the many practical translation examples that it provides.2 Hui-juan reveals that there are some fundamental differences between Jin Dis theory of equivalent effect and Nidas theory of dynamic equivalence in three aspects: (1) Nidas theory is readeroriented while Jins is text-oriented; (2) Nidas theory is flexible while Jins tends to be inflexible; and (3) Jins theory is an ideal one in the sense that it cannot be realized in translation practice whereas Nidas theory is a realistic one. Hui-juan explores the two major reasons that lead to such discrepancies: (1) the deficiency of Nidas theory in dealing with transference of aesthetic elements for literary translation; and (2) the influence of traditional Chinese translation theories upon Jins translation principle. Hui-juan says that Nidas theory has some limitations in guiding literary translation because it fails to address the transference of aesthetic elements for literary translation. Jin turns to traditional Chinese translation theory and classic literary criticism to seek for support for his translation theory of equivalent effect.3
3. The Meaning of Words and the Practical Contexts of the Communication

Nida suggests that we must analyze the transmission of a message in terms of dynamic dimension. The production of equivalent messages is a process of matching parts of utterances and of reproducing the total dynamic character of the communication. Without both elements the results can scarcely be regarded, in any realistic sense, as equivalent.4 Nida maintains that the task of the true translator is one
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of identification. As a Christian servant he must identify with Christ; as a translator he must identify himself with the Word; as a missionary he must identify himself with the people.5 Nida explains that a close examination of successful missionary work reveals the correspondingly effective manner in which the missionaries were able to identify themselves with the people to be all things to all men and to communicate their message in terms which have meaning for the lives of the people.6 Nida holds that translation actually takes place in our brains (we do not know precisely what actually happens), and states that the society of speakers collectively possesses a language and can accordingly change the forms. In many instances the meaning of words depends on the practical contexts of the communication. Differences in texts often suggest distinct social levels in the use of language. We exist in a multiple world of communication and we need theories that will make our world linguistically and culturally understandable.7 The goal of translation is to reproduce the total dynamic character of the original communication. Nida explains that all translating must be concerned with the response of the receptor: the ultimate purpose of the translation, in terms of its impact upon its intended audience, is a fundamental factor in any evaluation of translations. This reason underlies Leonard Forsters definitio of a good translation as one which fulfills the same purpose in the new language as the original did in the language in which it was written.8
4. The Role of the Translator

In Nidas view, the Vulgate was the only source of authorized Roman Catholic translations and it became the exegetical standard of the Roman Catholic Church, even supplanting the Greek text itself not only officially, but emotionally. Cardinal Ximenes, for example, regarded the Latin Vulgate, which he printed in his Complutentian Polyglot between the Hebrew and the Septuagint, as being like the Lord between two thieves, with Hebrew the unrepentant thief.9 Nida suggests that until we have a fully acceptable theory of language based on the working of the human brain, we cannot expect to have one dominant and comprehensive theory of language and translation. There are too many different kinds of languages, too many different types of texts, and too many different audiences with diverse needs.10 Nida puts it that successful translating involves one
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of the most complex intellectual challenges known to mankind: the need for extensive, accurate and effective communication between those using different languages gives the translator a position of new and strategic importance.11 On Nidas reading, Luther deserves full credit for having sensed the importance of full intelligibility. He also carefully and systematically worked out the implications of his principles of translation.12 Nida and Taber write that translating consists in reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the sourcelanguage message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style.13 Translation can be defined as the reproduction in a receptor language of the closest natural equivalent of the source language message, first in terms of meaning, and second in terms of style14 Nida and Taber state that dynamic equivalence is to be defined in terms of the degree to which the receptors of the message in the receptor language respond to it in substantially the same manner as the receptors in the source language. This response can never be identical, for the cultural and historical settings are too different, but there should be a high degree of equivalence of response, or the translation will have failed to accomplish its purpose.15 Nida and Taber claim that anything that can be said in one language can be said in another, unless the form is an essential element in the message.16 Languages agree far more on the level of the kernels than on the level of the more elaborate structures. Contextual consistency is the quality which results from translating a SL word by that expression in the receptor language which best fits each context rather than by the same expression in all contexts.17 Nida contends that words only have meaning in terms of the culture of which they are a part.18 The role of the translator involves primarily communicating the intentions of the original author.19 Semantics deals with the relationship of signs to referents.20 The personal problems which confront the average translator are largely unconscious predispositions about translation procedures which tend to color his work.21 As Nida puts it, in the case of stylist-scholar teams, the usual process of translating should be reversed. Rather than having a scholar prepare a somewhat literal translation which is then revised by a stylist, it is the stylist who should prepare the first draft, but only on the basis of extensive preliminary discussions with the biblical scholar. Only later is the text gone over carefully by the scholar and various options discussed.22
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5. Conclusions

Nida insists that all persons engaged in the complex task of translating possess some type of underlying or covert theory. A satisfactory theory of translating should help in the recognition of elements which have not been recognized before. Nida maintains that a fully adequate theory of translation consists of a group of general and coherent principles in matching the semantic contents of verbal utterances, and points out that stylistic models have a very important role in communication (creative verbal communication needs elastic rules).
REFERENCES 1. Nida, E.A. (1991), Theories of Translation, TTR: traduction, terminologie, redaction 4(1): 1932. 2. Hatim, B. and Munday, J. (2004), Translation: An Advanced Resource Book. New York: Routledge. 3. Hui-juan, M. (2007), Exploring the Differences between Jin Dis Translation Theory and Eugene A. Nidas Translation Theory, Babel 53(2): 98111. 4. Nida, E.A. (1964), Toward a Science of Translating, with Special Reference to Principles and Procedures Involved in Bible Translating. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 120. 5. Nida, E.A. (1952), Gods Word in Mans Language. New York: Harper & Brothers, 117. 6. Nida, E.A. (1954/1975) Customs and Cultures: Anthropology for Christian Missions. New York: Harper and Row. Second edition: South Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 250. 7. Nida, E.A. (2006), Theories of Translation, Pliegos de Yuste 4(1): 1114. 8. Nida, E.A., [4], 162. 9. Ibid., 28. 10. Nida, E.A. (2003), Fascinated by Languages. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 142. 11. Nida, E.A., [4], 155. 12. Ibid., 15. 13. Nida, E.A. and Taber, Ch.R. (1974), The Theory and Practice of Translation. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 12. 14. Ibid., 12. 15. Ibid., 24. 16. Ibid., 4. 17. Nida, E.A. and Taber, C.R., [13], 199. 288

18. Nida, E.A. (1981), Practical Limitations to a Phonemic Alphabet, The Bible Translator. London: United Bible Societies, 100. 19. De Waard, J. and Nida, E.A. (1986), From One Language to Another: Functional Equivalence in Bible Translating. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 32. 20. Nida, E.A., [4], 34. 21. Nida, E.A., [13], 99104. 22. Nida, E.A. (1986), From One Language to Another. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 192. Adrian Constantinescu

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