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Translation Studies. 18. Lexical TOs 4: antonymous translation, total transformation, compensation Krisztina Károly, Spring, 2006 Source: Klaudy, 2003. 1. Antonymous translation. = a standard lexical TO whereby meanings in the SL text are replaced by opposite meanings in the TL text.

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Translation studies l.jpg

Translation Studies

18. Lexical TOs 4: antonymous translation, total transformation, compensation

Krisztina Károly, Spring, 2006

Source: Klaudy, 2003

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1. Antonymous translation

  • = a standard lexical TO whereby meanings in the SL text are replaced by opposite meanings in the TL text.

  • It is an extreme form of exchange of meanings: exchange of meaning was referred to as logical extension, since the "new", target language meaning is always in some logical relation with the source language meaning. Here the logical relation is antonymity itself.

    Hungarian ST: ... édesanyám azzal fogadott, hogy az apám már nem él. (Csáth 10) (‘doesn’t live’)

    English TT: My mother met me ... with the news that my father had died. (Kessler 18)

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1. Negative-positive inversion

2. Positive-negative inversion

3. Conversive translation

4. Antonymous translation in situative utterances

5. Antonymous translation in dialogues

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1. Negative-positive inversion

= it is a bidirectional, non language specific transfer operation, independent of language pair and direction of translation.

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  • English  Hungarian:

  • non-acceptance  visszautasítás

  • non-appealable  jogerős

  • non-attendance  távolmaradás

  • non-conductor  szigetelő

  • non-stop  folyamatos

  • non-wasting  tartós, etc. (EHD 1254).

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English  Hungarian:

  • English ST: He began to read it immediately with his mouth not quite closed. (Salinger 10)

  • Hungarian TT: Mindjárt olvasni is kezdte, kissé eltátott szájjal. (Elbert 7)

  • Commentary: Negative approach in English (not quite closed) is replaced by positive approach in Hungarian (kissé eltátott ‘slightly opened’).

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2. Positive-negative inversion

= also a bidirectional, non L specific transfer operation that is independent of L pair and direction of translation.

English  Hungarian:

  • English ST: 'Only you must remember I warned you.' (Wilde 232)

  • Hungarian TT: Csak ne feledkezzék meg arról, hogy én figyelmeztettem. (Tímár 141)

  • Commentary: Positive approach in English (you must remember) is replaced by negative approach in Hungarian (ne feledkezzék meg ‘ do not forget ’).

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3. Conversive translation

Antonymous translation is frequently not the expression of a concept by the denial of the opposing concept (he lives  he has not died, he died he does not live), but rather an opposite approach. Instead of he hesitated for a moment before replyingwe say: he replied after hesitating for a moment. Instead of I did not give him the medicine, we say he did not receive the medicine from me.

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  • English ST: He hesitated a moment before replying. (Greene 154)

  • Hungarian TT: A férfi pilanatnyi tétovázás után felel. (Borbás 117) (‘he replied after hesitating for a moment’)

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  • Thus, antonymous translation often involves a reversal of point of view rather than an inversion from a positive to a negative statement and vice versa. It is for this reason that in the literature the term conversive translation is often applied to those cases where there is no reversal of sign, only a change in perspective.

  • (before  after, below  above, give  receive, many believe  few doubt, remembers  forgets, etc.)

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English  Hungarian:

  • English ST: He was the son of a proprietor of a certain well-known cottonmill in Massachusetts. (James 197)

  • Hungarian TT: Caspar Goodwood atyja ismert pamutfonógyár tuljdonosa volt Massachusetts államban. (Balabán 164)

  • Commentary:theson of in English is replaced by atyja (‘his father’) in Hungarian.

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Hungarian English:

  • Hungarian ST: A búcsúlevél a konyha kőpadlóján hevert, rajta egy kis kerámia hamutartó ... (Örkény 1. 31)

  • English TT: It was tucked under a small ceramic ashtray ... (Sollosy 23)

  • Commentary: rajta (on sg.) in Hungarian is replaced by under in English

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4. Antonymous translation in situative utterances

  • Situative utterances (Fónagy 1982) are typical utterances (exclamations, requests, questions, commands, etc.) characteristic of certain communicative situations.

  • In translating situative utterances translators must rely more on the situation itself than on the SL form.

  • The transfer operation carried out in translating situative utterances may be either antonymous translation or total transformation.

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  • English ST:‘Have you seen him anywhere about?’ (Christie 54)

  • Hungarian TT:Nem látta valamerre? (Borbás 55)

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5. Antonymous translation in dialogues

  • Antonymous translation is characteristic of the translation of adjacency pairs in dialogues, where the stimuli and reactions are highly stereotypical.

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English  Hungarian:

English ST:

  • ‘Sorry’ he said outside her window with the blinds drawn.

  • ‘It's all right, dear’ she said. (Hemingway 28)

    Hungarian TT:

  •  Bocsáss meg  mondta kívül, a lehúzott, zsalus ablaknál.

  • Semmi baj, drágám  mondta az asszony.(Szász 29)

    Commentary:Semmi baj (‘No problem’) in Hungarianis a typical response to the apology Bocsáss meg (‘Sorry’).

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English ST:

  • ‘Where's Cynthia?’

  • ‘She isn't in.’ (Greene 171)

    Hungarian TT:

  • Hol van Cynthia?

  •  Házon kívül. (Ungvári 236)

    Commentary:Házon kívül (lit: Out of the house) in Hungarian it is a typical response to the question Hol van? (‘Where is she?’)

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2. Total transformation

= a standard lexical TO whereby meanings of the SL text are replaced by other meanings in the TL text, which are do not seem to show any logical relation with the SL meanings (=radical departure from the original)

Hungarian ST: A szakácsnő kávét adott, azután a konyhába ment főzni. (Csáth 189)

English TT: ... the cook gave us our cocoa, and went back to work into the kitchen. (Kessler 99)

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  • The concepts related in total transformation are characterised by incompatibility, i.e.they are co-hyponyms of the same superordinate category and are mutually exclusive.

  • Reasons for total transformation:

    pragmatic differences, i.e. the differences in the relationship between the linguistic sign and the users of the sign. Translators have an idea of the perspective of the target language reader and perform total transformation with the target language reader's cultural schemata and world knowledge in mind  total transformation is frequently referred to as pragmatic adaptation

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1. Total transformation of names of foods and beverages

2. Total transformation of names of child’s games

3. Total transformation of proper names

4. Total transformation of address forms

5. Total transformation of names of historical realia

6. Total transformation of idiomatic expressions

7. Total transformation of situative utterances

8. Total transformation of measurements

9. Total transformation of intralingual references

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1. Total transformation of names of foods and beverages

  • English ST: It was a pudding he liked, Queen's pudding with a perfect meringue ... (Greene 461)

  • Hungarian TT: Csakugyan olyan tészta volt amit szeretett, rakott palacsinta pompás habbal ... (Szobotka 284)

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2. Total transformation of names ofchild’s games

  • English ST: The fifth of January, Peter thought again, his mind drifting idly from image of cakes to the prizes which might be won. Egg-and- spoon races, spearing apples in basins of water, blind man's buff. (Greene 552)

  • Hungarian TT: Január ötödike, gondolta Péter újra, gondolatai lustán vándoroltak ide-oda a sütemények és az elnyerhető díjak között. Zsákban futás, célba dobás, bújócska. (Osztovits 311)

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3. Total transformation of proper names

  • e.g., "low-prestige" names (announce servant status).

    Hungarian ST: Maris megfordult az ágyban, kinyitotta szemét és kinézett az ablakon. (Csáth 5)

    English TT: Rosie turn in bed, opened her eyes, and glanced out. (Kessler 185)

    Hungarian ST: ... mondta is Gyuri, aki a II. számú anatómiában van. (Csáth 13)

    English TT:Even Peter he's in Institute Two  said ... (Kessler 185)

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  • e.g., the name has no equivalent in the other language, even though it is a very common name

    Hungarian ST: Én és Dezső mindenből ettünk sorban. (Csáth 38)

    English TT: Peter and I take turns eating everything. (Kessler 59)

    Hungarian ST: Lábat kell mosni. Rendszeresen Eti kezdi. (Csáth 38)

    English TT:We have to wash our feet. Anna's usually first. (Kessler 60)

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4. Total transformation of address forms

In translating address forms translators may choose between three different solutions:

  • retain the original SL address form in the TT (English: Sir Hungarian: SirEnglish Mister Hungarian: Mister),

  • translate it (English: Yes, Sir Hungarian: Igen, uram),

  • apply total transformation of the SL address form according to the situation (=adaptation  translation):

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  • English ST: ‘Some other time I'll come here.’ I said, and she said, ‘Any time, kid’. (Kerouac 35)

  • Hungarian TT: Na majd legközelebb  biztattam, ő pedig rámondta: - Nézz be, kisapám. (Bartos 39)

  • English ST: Till Saturday, my flower! (Salinger 5)

  • Hungarian TT: A szombati viszontlátásig, bogaram!(Elbert 9)

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5. Total transformation of names of historical realia

  • In such a case, the translator must find an attribute which has the same meaning for the target language reader as the name of the historical period has for the source language reader. Victorian (relating to Queen Victoria and to the second half of the 20th Century) or Jozefinista (the period of Joseph II) mean something to the Hungarian reader, but Edwardian (relating to the period of Edward VII) requires pragmatic adaptation.

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  • English ST: ... and the phrase sounded more Edwardian because of the faint American intonation. (Greene 153)

  • Hungarian ST: ... s a mondat csak annál inkább múlt századbelinek hangzott, mert halvány amerikai hangsúly színezte. (Borbás 116)

  • English ST: Old Hall was a big Victorian house surrounded by woods and parkland. (Christie 10)

  • Hungarian ST Az udvarház hatalmas erdő és park közepén álló múlt századi épület volt. (Borbás 11)

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In mentioning a historical event, the author can choose between naming the event (conquest of Hungary, revolution, millennium) and giving its date (896, 1848, 1896).

  • Hungarian ST: – Nem történt a szabadságharc óta semmi. (Örkény 1. 9)

  • English TT: ‘You mean nothing has happened since the war in 1848?’(Sollosy 47)

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6. Total transformation of idiomatic expressions

  • English ST: ... her little boy who was crying for the moon. (Wilde 137)

  • Hungarian TT: ... kisfia nyafogott, hogy hozza le neki a csillagokat (Lengyel 193)

  • Hungarian ST: A visszatérő szolga falfehéren, remegő térdekkel, hatalmas ezerfrankos köteget hoz. (Rejtő 17)

  • English TT: The shop assistant looked white as a sheet as he returned with the tremendous bundle of thousand-franc notes. (Bozsó 18)

  • English ST: “You want to look under the stones too much, Sarah". (Greene 21)

  • Hungarian TT:  Minek ezt felhánytorgatni? (Ungvári 37)

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7. Total transformation of situative utterances

  • Total transformation is frequently mandated by the fact that in identical situations following similar conversational patterns speakers of different Ls would use different Lic forms. When meeting, saying good-bye or thanking for a present, we use routine expressions, which may not have a single common element with the expression used by another L community ("situative utterances": Fónagy 1982).

  • Here the source and target Ls lack even a single common element, or more accurately, they lack even a single common Lic element and the basis for equivalence must lie in the similarity of the situations.

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Hungarian  English:

  • Hungarian ST Te ilyen ember vagy? Kezdem megbánni, hogy hozzád kötöttem az életemet! (Örkény 1. 188)

  • English TT: ‘So that is what you're really like! I'm sorry I ever married you!’ (Sollosy 118)

  • Hungarian ST A lány majd elvágódott. Haj-né! sikoltott a fogai között.(Csáth 6)

  • English TT: ... and the girl slipped. Jesus Christ! she cried through clenched teeth. (Kessler 115)

  • Hungarian ST Tessék beülni mondta a csónakos. (Örkény 1. 223)

  • English TT: ‘Climb right in’ the boatman said. (Sollosy 61)

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8. Total transformation of measurements

  • English ST: ... though they were separated by five feet of green metal, they could have been a married couple. (Greene 12)

  • Hungarian TT: ... másfél méternyi zöld fém választotta el őket, de lehettek volna akár házaspár is ... (Borbás 115)

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  • English ST: ... the gold band was distinguished, even from a few feet away one could see there was a monogram engraved there. (Greene 155)

  • Hungarian TT: ... előkelő volt az aranykarika, s egy-két méterről is látszott, hogy monogramot véstek bele... (Borbás 118)

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9. Total transformation of intralingual references

  • References to the SL are often made in describing characters. It is almost impossible to render speech characteristics (lisping, foreign accent, regional or social dialect) of SL speakers with the means of the TL. In this case there are three main standard lexical operations performed by translators: omission, total transformation or compensation.

  • Total transformation takes place when information given by the individual speech properties of a character is important.

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  • German ST: "Dann gibt es einen Konflikt !" Herr Köppen stiess zornenbrannt das Queue auf den Boden. Er sagte "Kongflick" und stellte jetzt alle Vorsicht in betreff der Aussprache hintan. "Eine Kongflick, da versteh' ich mich auf." (Mann 3. 39)

  • Hungarian TT: Akkor kész a konviktus!  Köppen úr haragosan bökte meg dákójával a padlót. "Konviktust" mondott konfliktus helyett, és most már a kifejezésmódot illetően felhagyott minden elővigyázattal. Konviktus lesz, tessék csak rám bízni. (Lányi 3. 33)

  • Commentary:Kongflick is the distorted version of the German word Konflikt (lit: conflict), which is conveyed by konviktus (lit: boarding-house) in Hungarian translation. The reason for the translator’s decision was probably the similar sounding of the two words in Hungarian (konfliktus  konviktus) which made it a plausible word to be misused by the uneducated Herr Köppen for the Hungarian audience.

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3. Compensation

  • = a standard lexical TO whereby those meanings of the SL text, which are lost in the process of translation, are rendered in the TL text in some other place or by some other means.

  • A classical case of compensation involves the rendering of individual, vernacular or class speech patterns with means available in the target language, e.g., regional expressions, slang words or distorted grammar (local compensation).

  • It is also a form of compensation if the translator takes advantage of the opportunities offered by the target language and uses striking and idiomatic expressions thus compensating the reader for having had to use less than ideal solutions in other areas (global compensation).

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1.Types of losses

1.1.Serial (multiple) losses

1.2.Losses in the translation of metalinguistic information

2.Local compensation

3.Global compensation

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1.Types of losses1.1. Serial (multiple) losses

  • Most translations are characterised by a series of losses and not by just one or two.

  • A good example for inevitable serial loss is the translation of Kálmán Mikszáth's novel, Beszterce ostroma into different IE languages(The Siege of Beszterce, Der Graf und die Zirkusreiterin, Osada Bestertse). The playfully proverbial, lovingly teasing Mikszáth style has linguistic characteristics which are either untranslatable or become ineffective when translated.

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Beszterce ostroma is full of lexical devices which create the unmistakable atmosphere of Felvidék which was the name of the northern part of Hungary before 1921 (today belongs to Slovakia):

  • (1) geographic names pertaining to the Felvidék (‘Highland’): gömöri akcentus (‘gömör accent’), besztercei szilva (‘Beszterce plums’), lapusnyai szelid-gesztenyeerdő (‘chestnut forest of Lapuchna’), gbelai molnár (‘gbela miller’), etc.

  • (2) Hungarian historical realia: Árpád vezér (‘chieftain Árpád’), Mátyás korabeli fekete sereg (‘King Mathias’ Black Brigade’), török spáhi (‘turkish spahi’), Rákóczi-féle brigadéros (‘Rákóczi’s brigadiers’), etc.

  • (3) characteristic officials from the Hungarian county system: főispán (‘prefect’), alispán (‘sub-prefect’), vice-jegyző (‘assistant town clerk’), pandúr (‘pandour’), csendbiztos (‘gendarm’), etc.

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  • (4) characteristic forms of 19th century Hungarian addresses: kend (‘you’), vitéz bátyámuram (‘valiant sir’), instállom (‘saving your presence’), alázatos szolgája (‘your humble servant’), amice (‘my friend’), domine (‘my lord’), etc.

  • (5) latinisms used by the above officials: skandalum (‘scandal’) direktor (‘manager’), jus gladii (‘power of life and death’), punktum (‘I have told you’), apelláta (‘appeal’), spektákulum (‘spectacle’), elokvencia (‘eloquence’), violencia (‘violence’), konfidens (‘confidential’), elementum (‘element’), etc.

  • (6) archaic and regional names of dresses, dishes, beverages and furnishings of the Felvidék: kócsagos kalpak (‘kalpak with an egret’s plum’) atilla (‘hussar jacket’), veres dolmány (‘scarlet dolman’), csibuk (‘chibouk’), susztertallér (‘silver coin’), bugyelláris (‘wallet’), ibrik (‘mug’), rokolya (‘skirt’), kulacs (‘flask’), etc.

  • (7) foreign language insertions in the Hungarian text: mixture of Hungarian, German, Polish and Slovakian, spoken by the characters: vojna (‘war’), cserveni (‘scarlet’), pod szmrty (‘come on death’), etc.

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Hungarian  English:

  • Hungarian ST: Ebéd után csibukra gyújtott a várúr ... (Mikszáth 15)

  • English TT: After lunch the count lit up his pipe ... (Sturgess 17)

  • Hungarian ST: S kevélyen ütött mellének azon helyére, ahol a bugyellárisát tartotta, ... (Mikszáth 65)

  • English TT: And he arrogantly patted his chest on the side where he kept his wallet, ... (Sturgess 82)

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1.2 Losses in the translation of metalinguistic information

The number of inevitable losses is increased by the translation of metalinguistic references. They can be:

  • (1) references to the SL

  • (2) references to the TL

  • (3) references to a third language or languages

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In the closing scene of Mikszáth Kálmán’s novel Beszterce ostroma (The Siege of Besterce)the dead body of count Pongrácz is surrounded by dilettantish, provincial actors. One of them makes an extempore speech over the dead body and for the sake of solemnity he inserts the following English words in his funeral speech: Mylordok, ladyk, (My lords, ladies). Using English addresses in the Hungarian text arouses the effect of false dignity and nobility. and emphasises the tragicomic character of the scene. This effect in English translation is seriously jeopardised.

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Hungarian ST: Csak Lengeffy nézte Nedec mozdulatlan urát közömbösen, íly szavakat ejtvén:

  •  Oh, mily rettentő a halál keze.

  • Mylordok, ladyk, ím okuljatok,

  • E por tegnap még parancsolt ...

  • Mylordok és ladyk nem lévén jelen, hogy okulhattak volna, csak Estella tette a következő észrevételt :

  • - Jó, jó, de mi lesz mármost énvelem?(Mikszáth 180)

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English TT: Only Lengeffy gazed with indifference at the motionless body of the Lord of Nedec. He quoted the following lines:

  • “Oh, how fearful is the hand of death,

  • My lords, ladies learn from this,

  • This dust which yesterday commanded ...’

  • But there being no lords or ladies present to draw the moral from these sad events, it was left to Estella to make the next observation. ‘Yes, yes I know. But now what happens to me?’(Sturgess 233)

    Commentary: Inserted English words are automatically neutralised in the English translation, losing their original function.

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2. Local compensation

  • The above-mentioned inevitable losses in certain places in literary texts works makes it necessary to compensate the TL readers.

  • We make a distinction between local and global compensation.

  • Local compensation is a subtype of compensation which involves the rendering of individual, vernacular or class speech patterns by the means available in the target language.

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English ST:’ Well, she  don`t have to worry about that,’ said Kramer. In a room with three people who said She don't, he couldn't get a doesn't out of his mouth. (Wolfe 199)

Hungarian TT: Nos... nem kell aggódnia, eztet elintézzük  mondta Kramer. Egy szobában, ahol hárman is eztet mondanak ezt helyett, úgy érezte engednie illik. (Fencsik 157)

Commentary: In the English ST uneducated speech is represented by the incorrect use of the English auxiliary verb do. As there are no auxiliary verbs in Hungarian, the translator decided to render uneducated usage with the accusative of the Hungarian demonstrative pronoun ezt, which has a lower prestige variant eztet.

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3. Global compensation

  • = a subtype of compensation whereby translators do not compensate for a specific item, but they compensate for compromises imposed upon them by the fact of translation itself as an indirect, mediated type of communication.

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English  Hungarian:

  • English ST: She was a harsh girl. (Greene 140)

  • Hungarian TT: Cynthiát kemény fából faragták. (Ungvári 197)

  • Commentary: The meaning of the Hungarian translational equivalent kemény fából faragták: =‘she is a woman of strong character’ (lit: she is made of hard wood).

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  • English ST:Absolutely no deception. (Christie 140)

  • Hungarian TT:Nem csalás, nem ámítás. (Szíjgyártó 141)

  • Commentary: The meaning of the Hungarian translational equivalent Nem csalás, nem ámítás = ‘everything is open and above board’, ‘there is no hocus-pocus about it’ (lit: no cheating, no deception).

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  • English ST:There was no point in calling on the prosperous. (Dahl 118)

  • Hungarian TT: Jómódúaknál kopogtatni kész időfecsérlés. (Borbás 119) Commentary: The meaning of the Hungarian translational equivalent kész időfecsérlés =‘loss of time’, ‘waste of time’ (lit: sheer waste of time).


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