Eugene nida

Eugene A. Nida (November 11, 1914 – August 25, 2011) was a linguist who developed the dynamic-equivalence Bible-translation theory. Nida was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on November 11, 1914. He became a Christian at a young age, when he responded to the altar call at his church “ to accept Christ as my Saviour” He graduated from the University of California in 1936. After graduating he attended Camp Wycliffe, where Bible translation theory was taught. Later Nida became a founding charter member of Wycliffe Bible Translators, a sister organization of the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

In 1937, Nida undertook studies at the University of Southern California, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in New Testament Greek in 1939. In 1943, Nida received his Ph. D. in Linguistics from the University of Michigan, His Ph. D. dissertation, A Synopsis of English Syntax, was the first full-scale analysis of a major language according to the ” immediate-constituent” theory. He began hiscareeras a linguist with the American Bible Society (ABS). He was quickly promoted to Associate Secretary for Versions, then worked as Executive Secretary for Translations until his retirement.

Nida retired in the early 1980s, although he continued to give lectures in universities all around the world, and lived in Madrid, Spain and Brussels, Belgium. He died in Madrid on August 25, 2011 aged 96. Nida was instrumental in engineering the joint effort between the Vatican and the United Bible Societies (UBS) to produce cross-denominational Bibles in translations across the globe. This work began in 1968 and was carried on in accordance with Nida’s translation principle of Functional Equivalence. His contributions in general Nida has been a pioneer in the fields of translation theory and linguistics.

His most notable contribution to translation theory is Dynamic Equivalence, also known as Functional Equivalence. Nida also developed the ” componential-analysis” technique, which split words into their components to help determine equivalence in translation (e. g. ” bachelor” = male + unmarried). This is, perhaps, not the best example of the technique, though it is the most well-known. Nida’s dynamic-equivalence theory is often held in opposition to the views of philologists who maintain that an understanding of the source text (ST) an be achieved by assessing the inter-animation of words on the page, and that meaning is self-contained within the text (i. e. much more focused on achieving semantic equivalence). This theory, along with other theories of correspondence in translating, are elaborated in his essay Principles of Correspondence, where Nida begins by asserting that given that “ no two languages are identical, either in the meanings given to corresponding symbols or in the ways in which symbols are arranged in phrases and sentences, it stands to reason that there can be no absolute correspondence between languages.

Hence, there can be no fully exact translations. ” While the impact of a translation may be close to the original, there can be no identity in detail. Some of his theories in detail First major contribution: Dynamic equivalence Nida then sets forth the differences in translation, as he would account for it, within three basic factors: (1) The nature of the message: in some messages the content is of primary consideration, and in others the form must be given a higher priority. 2) The purpose of the author and of the translator: to give information on both form and content; to aim at full intelligibility of the reader so he/she may understand the full implications of the message; for imperative purposes that aim at not just understanding the translation but also at ensuring no misunderstanding of the translation. (3) The type of audience: prospective audiences differ both in decoding ability and in potential interest. Nida brings in the reminder that while there are no such things as “ identical equivalents” in translating, what one must in translating seek to do is find the “ closest natural equivalent”.

Here he identifies two basic orientations in translating based on two different types of equivalence: Formal Equivalence (F-E) and Dynamic Equivalence (D-E). Principle of dynamic equivalence * General introduction In Toward aScienceof Translating, Nida first put forward the principle of dynamic equivalence which he defines as ” the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message” (Nida, 1964, p. 59). Following this principle, dynamic equivalence, as defined by Nida, is to reproduce ” in the receptor language the closest natural equivalence of the source-language message…”(Nida and Taber, 1969: 12). Nida (1964: 167) particularly stresses that ” a natural rendering must fit the receptor language andcultureas a whole; the context of the particular message; and the receptor-language audience”. To put it plain, either the meaning or form should not sound ” foreign”.

The essence of dynamic equivalence is the receptor’s response, in Nida’s own term, ” 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” (Nida and Taber, 1969: 68). The reaction or response is based on the comprehensive reception of the message, not only understanding the meaning or content, but also feeling in the way the original readers do. By layingstresson the receptor’s response, he underlines the improvement to the source text by the receptor’s subjectivity and aesthetic sense. The essential features of the principle we must first know about the essential features of this principle and D-E translation. As Nida himself points out, the essential features of D-E translation consists of the following points: (1) equivalent, which points toward the source-language message. (2) natural, which points toward the receptor language (3) closest, which binds the two orientations together on the basis of the highest degree of approximation (Nida, 1964). All these points aim at arousing ” similar response” between the source text readers and the target text readers.

A. Equivalent As mentioned above, this aims at reproducing the message of the original text. This is the basic requirement of D-E translation, as is with any other kind of translation. That is to say, to produce a D -E translation, the translator must aim primarily at conveying the meaning of the original text, and to do anything else is essentially wrong to his task as a translator, because translation is basically a kind ofcommunication(Nida and Taber, 1982). B. Natural A D-E translation is directed primarily towards the similarity of response.

To achieve this purpose, the translation must be natural, for it is of great importance to arousing in the target readers a response similar to that of the original readers. To be natural, the equivalent forms should not be ” foreign” either in terms of form, or in terms of meaning, which means that the translation should not reveal any signs of its non-native source (Nida, 1975). Nida stresses that naturalness in a D-E translation must fit these three aspects: (1) The receptor language and culture as a whole, 2) The context of the particular message, (3) The receptor-language audience (Nida, 1964). He further remarks: The best translation does not sound like a translation [It should not] exhibit in its grammatical and stylistic forms any trace of awkwardness or strangeness It should studiously avoid ‘translationese’ he defines as ‘formal fidelity, with resulting unfaithfulness to the content and the impact of die message’ (Nida and Taber, 1982). C. Closest ” Closest” here is of a double nature.

On the one hand, it indicates that equivalence in translation can never be absolute identity, because ” loss occurs in all forms of communication, whether it involves translation or not” (Bassenet and Lefevere, 1990, p. 35). It can only be an approximation, because no two languages are identical, either in the meanings given to corresponding symbols or in the ways in which such symbols are arranged in phrases and sentences. Therefore, the total impact of a translation may be reasonably close to the original, but there can be no identity in detail.

On the other hand, since equivalence in translation is just a kind of approximation, not absolute identity, it naturally results in the possibility to establish equivalence between the source text and the target text on various degrees or in different aspects. However, it is the highest degree that a D-E translation is expected to strive for. In other words, though loss of meaning is inevitable, the translator should try his best to reduce it to the minimum. D. Similar Response This is the principal aim of the D-E translation and all the above three points are directed to it.

The term ” response” here refers to the way in which receptors of a text understand the text, including the effect the text produces on them while ” similar response” involves a comparison of two relations: the relation of the target text readers to the target text should be substantially the same to that of the source text readers to the source text. That is to say, the target text readers must not only know how the source text readers must have understood the content of the text, but they should also be able to appreciate some of the impact and appeal which such a text must have had for t he source text readers (Jin Di and Nida, 1984).

Formal Correspondence in opposition to dynamic equivalence: Nida puts forward dynamic equivalence in opposition to formal correspondence. In speaking of naturalness, he is strongly against ‘translationese’ as we mentioned Basically, a formal equivalence translation, as Nida (1964, 165) states, is source-oriented, which is designated to reveal as much as possible the form and content of the original message, that is, to match as closely as possible the formal elements like grammatical units, consistency in word usage, meanings in terms of the source context, just to name some. David Crystal, J.

R. Firth, Catford and other linguists and translation theorists agree upon the six levels of formal equivalence, namely, phonetic, phonological, morphological, lexical, syntactical and semantic equivalence. We may throw more light on formal equivalence or ” correspondence” by citing Catford’s view. Catford and his views of equivalence in translation: Catford’s approach to translation equivalence clearly differs from that adopted by Nida since Catford had a preference for a more linguistic-based approach to translation and this approach is based on the linguistic work of Firth and Halliday.

Catford has defined formal correspondence as ” identity of function of correspondent items in two linguistic systems: for him, a formal correspondent is « any TL /target language/ category which may be said to occupy, as nearly as possible, the « same» place in the economy of the TL as the given SL/source language/ category occupies in the SL ” (Catford, 1965: 32). His main contribution in the field of translation theory is the introduction of the concepts of types and shifts of translation. Catford proposed very broad types of translation in terms of three criteria: 1.

The extent of translation (full translation vs partial translation); 2. The grammatical rank at which the translation equivalence is established (rank-bound translation vs. unbounded translation);  3. The levels of language involved in translation (total translation vs. restricted translation). We will refer only to the second criterion of translation, since this is the one that concerns the concept of equivalence, and we will then move on to analyze the notion of translation shifts, as elaborated by Catford, which are based on the distinction between formal correspondence and textual equivalence.

In rank-bound translation an equivalent is sought in the TL for each word, or for each morpheme encountered in the ST. In unbounded translation equivalences are not tied to a particular rank, and we may additionally find equivalences at sentence, clause and other levels. Catford finds five of these ranks or levels in both English and French. Thus, a formal correspondence could be said to exist between English and French if relations between ranks have approximately the same configuration in both languages, as Catford claims they do.

As far as translation shifts are concerned, Catford defines them as ‘departures from formal correspondence in the process of going from the SL to the TL’ (ibid. : 73). Catford argues that there are two main types of translation shifts, namely level shifts, where the SL item at one linguistic level (e. g. grammar) has a TL equivalent at a different level (e. g. lexis), and category shifts which are divided into four types: 1. Structure-shifts, which involve a grammatical change between the structure of the ST and that of the TT;   2.

Class-shifts, when a SL item is translated with a TL item which belongs to a different grammatical class, i. e. a verb may be translated with a noun;   3. Unit-shifts, which involve changes in rank; 4. Intra-system shifts, which occur when ‘SL and TL possess systems which approximately correspond formally as to their constitution, but when translation involves selection of a non-corresponding term in the TL system’ (ibid. : 80). For instance, when the SL singular becomes a TL plural.

The Priority of Dynamic Equivalence over Formal Correspondence In view of the difficulty in retaining formal correspondence, and of the fact that all communication is goal-oriented, no matter intralingual or interlingual communication, the move from the source’s intention to the receptor’s interpretation is quite natural and reasonable. So Nida’s dynamic equivalence seems a good way to foster the interlingual communication and it is justified to say that dynamic equivalence often has priority over formal correspondence. C. W.

Orr likens translation to painting: ” the painter does not reproduce every detail of the landscape”, he selects what seems best to him, and for a translator, ” it is the spirit, not only the letter that he asks to embody in his own version” (Nida, 1964: 162). Merits and demerits of dynamic equivalence theory As is known to all, translation in essence is a kind of communication, and its main task is to let the target reader understand the meaning of the original text. Whether a translation is good or not depends largely on whether the target reader understands the original message adequately.

However, traditionally, the adequacy of translation is judged only on the basis of the correspondence in words and grammar between the source and target languages, and this is sometimes misleading (Nida, 1993). Since translating means communication, evaluating the adequacy of a translation cannot stop with a comparison of corresponding lexical meanings, grammatical classes, and rhetorical devices. In short, it cannot stop with a comparison of the verbal forms of the source and target texts.

Instead, it should take into consideration the reader’s response and comparison should be made between ” the way in which the original receptor understood and appreciated the text and the way in which receptors of the translated text understand and appreciate the translated text” (Nida, 1993 p. 116). Merits It has a lot of merits to take into consideration the readers’ response and focus on the similarity between the response of the source text readers and that of the target text readers, which include the following aspects: – Rationality of Taking into Consideration the Reader’s Response Since translation is mainly intended for its readers to understand, quite naturally, we should take into consideration how the readers interpret the translation, namely, their response to the target text, and compare it with that of the source text readers to the source text. Only when the response o f the source text readers and that of target text readers are similar can we say that the translation is adequate. If we do not take into consideration the readers’ response when judging the adequacy of a translation, it is often misleading.

As we know, sometimes what seems to be equivalent translation of the original text in terms of lexical, grammatical features may actually distort the meaning. Most earlier approaches to translation have focused attention upon the relationship of the source text to the target text, whether in terms of form or content. The concept of dynamic equivalent translating introduces an important new dimension, namely, the relationship of receptors to the respective texts…. [It] deals not merely signs as signs, but focuses on the ways in which verbal signs have meaning for receptors.

It is really within such a context that discussions of transnational adequacy and acceptability make sense (Jin Di and Nida, 1984). In short, taking into consideration the readers’ response helps to reproduce the original message adequately and guarantee equivalence between the source text and the target text in real sense. B. Avoiding the Debate over Literal Translation versus Free Translation Whether to translate literally or freely is an issue that has long been debated in the translation circle.

Some scholars argue for literal translation while others argue for free translation. It seems that the two views will never reconcile with each other. However, it is no use arguing which is better, since literal translation and free translation both have their validity and limitations. Instead, it is more helpful, in the author’s opinion, to deal with this issue from a different perspective and provide a principle of translation that can well combine them. In a sense, the principle of dynamic equivalence may serve as an effective means to turn aside the debate.

Since it focuses on the similar response, any kind of translation, either literal or free, is adequate, so long as it can arouse the similar response. Thus, the debate over literal translation versus free translation tends to be useless, and the choice between them depends on which can better bring about the ” closest natural equivalent” and elicit ” substantially the same response”. C. Freeing the Translator from the Binding of the Original Verbal Form and Increasing Translatability Languages differ from each other, and each language has its own peculiarities.

Sometimes the ways of using language are peculiar to a certain language. In this case, if the translator focuses on the original verbal form, he is usually incompetent. However, if he turns aside from the verbal form and focuses on the similar response, he can sometimes ” crack the nut”. D. More readable and understandable text The advantage of dynamic equivalence is that it usually produces a more readable/understandable Bible version. Early translations of Bible were sometimes obscure and may reach the edge of unintelligibility as they were keen on preserving the original text. Demerits

Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory is of great practical value, as well verified by his Bible translation. However, it is not almighty and perfect. There are still some doubts which invite argument. A. The abstract nature of dynamic equivalence as a translation criterion The first doubt cast upon the theory is that it is too abstract to be used as a criterion to judge the quality of a translation. Nida maintains, ” to measure dynamic equivalence, we can only rightly compare the equivalence of response, rather than the degree of agreement between the original source and the later receptors …”(Nida and Taber, 1969: 23).

However, the measurement is intuitive, dependent upon subjective judgment, for how can we know exactly the responses of the source language receptors, particularly if the source text was written ages ago? Moreover, the receptors Nida has in mind are the specific readers of certain text and it is their responses that are required to judge the quality of a translation, but he does not request the average readers of the translation to check with the source text, since they do not know or just know a little source language, that is to say, those who judge virtually are not average readers but the critics of a translation or linguists.

B. – The degree of ” naturalness” in translation Moreover, in speaking of ” naturalness”, Nida insists that the best translation should not sound like a translation, but I think otherwise for two reasons: Firstly, language and culture are inseparable. ” Language is an integral part of culture,” John Lyon says, ” and that the lexical distinctions drawn by each language will tend to reflect the culturally-important features of objects, institutions and activities in the society in which the language operates community that uses a particular language as its means of expression”.

As translation aims to enable one to get exposed to foreign works, while you are translating a foreign language text, you are introducing its culture as well. The change of some images bearing cultural features will undoubtedly diminish the cultural load of its language and leave unfinished the task of cultural transmission. By naturalizing the translation, dynamic equivalence, to certain degree, has ignored the assimilating ability of peoples.

In spite of the fact that differences do exist, the similarities between men are finally much greater than the differences”, and ” all members of the species share primal attributes of perception and response which are manifest in speech utterances and which can therefore be grasped and translated. In sum, to sound ” natural” to the receptor is good, while to keep ” foreignness” or ” strangeness” to certain degree is also permissible. In this sense, as far as the preservation of the cultural elements of the source language is concerned, it is desirable that a translation read like a translation. C. The simplification of the source language

What also comes under criticism is that dynamic equivalence risks simplifying the source language, even decreasing its literary value. One of the distinctive features of literary works is the frequent use of figurative language and fresh expressions, and the author’s real intention is to be sought between the lines. If intelligibility or the communicative effect of the receptor language text is always given the priority and all the figurative images in the source text are left out, or all that is implicit is made explicit, then, despite its intelligibility, the receptor language text reads boring and fails the purpose of literature.

Therefore, in translating secular literary works, unlike Bible translation, intelligibility should not be solely stressed. In later years Nida has increasingly realized the problem and in his work From One Language to Another, he no longer agrees to the priority of intelligibility but places equal weight on intelligibility, readability and acceptability. D. Modification of Dynamic Equivalence and Formal Correspondence Aware of the defects in his dynamic equivalence theory, Nida continues to modify and perfect his theories, including those concerning formal correspondence.

He acknowledges that any element in connection with receptor language text is meaningful, including the form: ” For effective impact and appeal, form cannot be separated from content, since form itself carries so much meaning…”(Nida, 1989: 5). If form is sacrificed, meaning is damaged as well, so he cautions the translator not to easily change the form and asks them to achieve as much formal correspondence as possible, which marks a shift from total neglect of form to attaching certain importance to formal elements.

Mention should also be made of his replacing “ dynamic equivalence” by “ functional equivalence” in From One Language to Another. No matter how varied the ways of expression of languages are, he holds, they have the same or similar functions, therefore, functional equivalence seems more accurate and precise. E. Risk of imprecise translation The translator is ” freer” from the grammatical forms of the original language, he is more likely to exceed the bounds of an accurate translation, in an effort to speak naturally in the native language.

That is, the dynamic equivalence translations are capable of being more natural and more precise than are formal equivalence translations, but they are also more capable of being precisely wrong. Second major contribution: Componential analysis To determine the meaning of any form contrast must be found, for there is no meaning apart from significant differences. Nida (1975: 31) states “ If all the universe were blue, there would be no blueness, since there would be nothing to contrast with blue. The same is true for the meanings of words.

They have meaning only in terms of systematic contrasts with other words which share certain features with them but contrastwith them inrespectto other features”. Nida in “ Componential Analysis of Meaning” (1975: 32) categorize the types of components into two main types, i. e. common component anddiagnosticor distinctive component. a. Common component. This is the central component which is shared by all the lexemes in the same semantic domain or lexical field. b. Diagnostic or distinctive components.

They serve to distinguish the meaning from others from the same domain. A very simple example to explain these two types is provided by the words man, woman, boy, girl, and other related words in English (Leech, 1976: 96). These words all belong to the semantic field of ‘ human race’ and the relations between them may be represented by the following matrix. components| man| woman| boy| girl| | [human]| +| +| +| +| | [adult]| +| +| -| -| | [male]| +| -| +| -| | Table 1. Common and Diagnostic Components of the words man, woman, boy, and girl.

In the semantic domain of man, woman, boy, and girl, [human] is the common component, and they are distinguished by [adult], [male], [female] as the diagnostic components. The meanings of the individual items can then be expressed by combinations of these features: Man +[human] +[adult] +[male] Woman +[human] +[adult] -[male] Boy +[human] -[adult] +[male] Girl +[human] -[adult] -[male] Before going further with the componential approach, it is important to consider possible differences in the roles of diagnostic components (Nida, 1975: 38).

The differences can be best designated as (1) implicational, (2) core, and (3) inferential. Implicational component are those implied by a particular meaning, though they do not form an essential part of the core meaning. On the contrary, implicational components remain associated with a meaning, even when other components are negativized by the context. The word repent has three diagnostic components: (1) previous wrong behavior, (2) contrition for what has been done, and (3) change of behavior, and the first component is implicational. Whether in a positive or negative context, e. . he repented of what he did or he didn’t repent of what he did, the implication is that the person in question did something wrong. The negation affects the core components which specify the central aspects of the event, but does not modify the implicational component. The inferential components of meanings are those which may be inferred from the use of an expression, but which are not regarded as obligatory, core elements. In the expression the policeman shot the thief, ‘ the thief was killed’ is the inference, and without further contextual condition assumed to be the case.

However, it is possible to deny this inference, e. g. ‘ the policeman shot the thief but didn’t kill him’. At the same time an inferential component may be explicitly stated, e. g. the policeman shot the thief to death or the policeman shot and killed the thief. Conclusion Nida is a great figure that contributed great efforts to the development of Translation Theories. His numerous books reflect a prominent translator and researcher as well. His major contribution was the introduction of ” dynamic equivalence” which represented a shift in attention of the process of translation.

Nida’s dynamic equivalence contributes a remarkable insight into translating and helps to create an atmosphere of treating different languages and cultures from an entirely new perspective. The concept of dynamic equivalence, despite having some disadvantages but perfection is inaccessible and the concept really formed a milestone along the road of translation studies and theories Works cited 1. Bassnet, Susan & Andre Lefevere, eds.. Translation: History & Culture. London: Casell, 1990. Print 2. Catford, J. C. A Linguistic Theory of translation. London: Oxford University Press, 1965. Print 3. ” Eugene A. Nida. Wikipedia Free Ecyclopedia. Web. 7 April 2013. 4. Jin Di ; Eugene A. Nida. . On Translation: with special Reference to Chinese and English. Beijing: China Translation ; Publish Corporation, 1984. print. 5. Nida, Eugene A. Toward a Science of Translating. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1964. Print. 6. Nida, Eugene A. Language Structure and Translation. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975. Print 7. Nida, Eugene A. Language, Culture and Translating. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign LanguageEducationPress, 1993. Print. 8. Nida, Eugene A. ; Charles R. Taber. The theory and Practice of Translation. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1982. Print. .