User:Deepamishra/TY BA Translation Theory and Practice/Chapter-II

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Transference, Transliteration and Transcreation

2.0 Objectives

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Transference

2.3 Transliteration

2.4 Transcreation

2.5 Questions

2.0 Objectives

The basic objective of this unit is to help the students to understand the types of translation with reference to the terms like Transference, transliteration and Transcreation. It also tries to define and explore these terms.

6.1 Introduction

As far as the types of translation are concerned, traditional translation theorists divided translation into two types, namely Literary and non-Literary translation. Literary translation emphasised both “sense and style” while non-literary translation emphasised the sense alone.

Apart from this, John Dryden classified translation into the following three categories.

1. Metaphrase or turning an author word by word and line by line, from one language into another.

2. Paraphrase or translation with latitude, the Ciaronian ‘sense for sense’ view of translation

3. Imitation, where the translator can abandon the text of the original as he deems fit.

But of these three types Dryden found the second to be the more balanced path.

Benjonson’s translation of Horace’s Ars Poetica is an example of metaphrase while Virgil’s Book IV Aeneid by Heller is an example of paraphrase. Abraham Cowley’s translation of the two odes of Pindar into English can be taken as an example of imitation.

Taking a linguistic stance Ronald Jacobson makes a three- fold classification of translation as follows:

i.Intralingual translation, or rewording (an interpretation of words in the same language)

ii.Inter-lingual translation or translation proper. (an interpretation of verbal signs by means of the verbal signs of some other language).

iii.Inter-semiotic translation or transmutation (an interpretation of verbal signs by means of non-verbal sign systems.)

Intralingual translation or rewording: This sort of translation is confined to the same language only. Paraphrasing of a play can be rewritten using similar or synonymous words. Intralingual translation, however, is outside the scope of proper translation study.

Interlingual translation or translation proper in which a text of the SL is turned into a new text in the TL. In translation studies, inter lingual translation is discussed highlighting its methods and theories.

The third type, known as Inter-semiotic translation or transmutation is concerned with transference from one medium to another medium, such as lines of a poem can give rise to a portrait or a painting. Primarily, this type of transformation is associated with an interpretation of verbal signs by means of signs of non-verbal nature as it happens in musical or visual art.

Translation has also been divided into three other types such as Transference, Transliteration and Transcreation. But these three categories as some scholars of translation studies point out are different from the process of translation. However brief comments on their nature are essential for correct understanding of the meaning of each.


Transference is the use of the same word of the SL in the TL only with the change of alphabetical symbols or sign systems. Catford says that, “In transference there is, indeed transference of meaning but this is not translation in the usual sense. Transference can be carried out at the level of lexis or at the level of grammar. Besides transference does not transfer the entire meaning of the word in the SL into TL. Catford cites the example of the Russian word. “Sputnik”. According to the principle of transference the word is transferred to English as it is, but the entire Russian meaning of the word has not been incorporated into the English word. “Sputnik”. It simply means an artificial satellite.

Thus, one can say that the transfer of word from one language to another in its original form has been in practice in inter -lingual communication. Thus the names of persons, of countries, of periodicals and newspapers, titles of literary awards, public institutions and names of districts and towns cannot be translated meaningfully from the SL to TL. In such cases, transference comes to the rescue of the translator.

Transference as a process of translation is quite helpful in translating texts dealing with philosophy, advanced science, history, geography and other technical subjects. For example, take the two terms of Indian Philosophy of the Sankhya school-- Prakriti and Purusha; when these two terms are translated into English as “Nature” and “Man”, respectively, their connotative value vanishes, altogether. In such a situation these words are to be incorporated into English by the process of transference.

Transference performs an important function not only in translation but also in the enrichment of a language. It is through this process of transference that many foreign words enter into the language. Thus English has borrowed freely from Latin and Greek and other languages liberally to enrich it. In most cases the words which make their entry into new language retain their phonetic feature. As for example, the French words like restaurant, avant garde and verse libre have retained their original pronunciation even though they are accepted in English.

Thus, in nut-shell, transference means using the SL word in the TL in the same way.


Transliteration occurs when the translator transcribes the SL characters or sounds in the TL. This means that the letters of the SL are converted into the letters of the TL. Unlike transference, transliteration is not only concerned with words alone, on the other hand, sentences, at time full length passages are thus transcribed. Scholars reject transliteration as a process of translation because it relies on transcription rather than searching for the cultural and semantic equivalent word in the TL. In transliteration what is done is to use the alphabetical letters of TL and use those letters which will when read, be approximately equal to the phonological structure of the word in the source language. Catford says: “In transliteration, SL graphological units are replaced by TL graphological unit; but these are not translation equivalents, since they are not selected on the basis of relationship to the same graphic substance”.

Further Catford suggests three stages to be adopted while transliterating words or passages from SL to TL such as:

1. SL letters are replaced by SL phonological units from written to the spoken medium.

2. Then SL phonological units are translated into TL phonological units.

3. The TL phonological units are converted into TL letters or other graphological units.

Thus, transliteration to a large extent depends on graphological units. Transliteration is useful for those bilinguals who can speak both the languages fluently but can read and write only one language ie. SL. In such a case transliteration enables to read the TL without difficulty. The writing of English words like “train,” “computer” and “switch” using graphological units of any Indian languages is an instance of transliteration. Similarly the words of any Indian language like “saree,” “lathi” and “jalebi” written in English indicate the characteristics of transliteration. A phonetic transcription of English words in some dictionaries for correct pronunciation is a good example of transliteration.


The third type of translation known as transcreation is a sort of adaptation of the SL text for creating an original TL text. In transcreation, the translator like the original author enjoys freedom to alter, to modify, to omit and to reorient the source text according to the requirement of the target audience. Transcreation is a model of translation where the translator assumes an independent identity. He plans out to project a valid creative work based on the source text. As example, some of Wyatt’s poems are renderings of Petrarch’s sonnets. But scholars and critics treat them as Wyatt’s original poems. Thus in transcreation, the translator weaves a new carpet out of the original text. Most of the works of Shakespeare are transcreation from various sources for which Robert Greene called Shakespeare “an upstart crow, beautified with other men’s feathers”. Greene’s comment on Shakespeare is applicable to all translators who adopt the text of the SL for creating the TL text. But to call Shakespeare and such other transcreators as “upstart” and “ crow, beautified with other men’s feathers” is not correct. When one takes into consideration the works of Shakespeare, he gets puzzled at the transformation of the SL with the touch of the magic wand of the author. Dryden’s translation of Homer is a beautiful example of transcreation. With reference to it, it is said that “It is beautiful, but there is no Homer in it”.

Commenting on the nature of translation Susan Bassnett says, “for translation is not just the transfer of text from one language into another, it is now rightly seen as a process of negotiation between cultures, a process during which all trends of translation take place mediated by the figure of the translator” (p.g). Thus the translator, who was previously given a secondary place, now has begun to occupy the centre stage, with a shift in emphasis that views translation as an act of creative writing. On this issue, Bassnett has written: “The translator is seen as Liberator, someone who frees the text from the fixed signs of its original shape making it no longer subordinate to the source text but visibly endeavouring to bridge the space between source, author and text and the eventual target language readership. This is a revised perspective of readership. This revised perspective emphasises the creativity of translation” (p6).

This creativity in translaction gives rise to a “new text” in TL. Examples of such transcreated works are many, but to cite the example of Fitzegerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Rajaji’s translation ot The Mahabharat into English will be enough to prove the point.


1.Explain, with examples, Tranference and Transcreation

2.Distinguish between Tranference and Transliteration

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