The theory of the levels of equivalence
In some of the early articles, several theories have already been mentioned, which mostly affect only the superficial aspects of the translation activity. One of them shows the need to describe an identical situation, the second emphasizes the need for semantic similarity between the syntactic constructions of the source text and the translation, another theory points to the need to observe the identity of the deep categories and the need for maximum coincidence of singularities in equivalent units.
In order to show the translation activity from all sides, one of the domestic linguists V.N. Komisarov tried to collect all possible theoretical models into a single theory of translation. In his work “The word about translation” the theory of translation is based on the studying of principles of equivalence. The scientist believes that in the meaning of the text and in its context it is possible to show a number of levels they have, differing by the nature of information transmitted from the source to recipient. Reproducing the speech or text, the source has a definite aim and some intention. From the aim pursued by the source depends the content of the reproduced text, such an aim is often called as communicative. The aim is achieved with the help of communicative content. Adhering to the target direction, the source transmits to the recipient some information about any objects and their relationships. The situations, that’s how called these objects and their relationships, and the description of the situation is the information about them. The main content of the speech and text is the description of definite situations connected with each other.
The same situation that has the same meaning can be represented by several variants. The same situation can be described with the help of various content categories that can reflect different signs of the same situation. The message is the way in which the particular situation is described. The messages are differ in their structure, character and position of content categories. The source consists of language units that represent the linear chain of characters, selected and compiled according to certain rules and placed in desired order. Any statement has a certain structure.
While transmitting the text from the source to recipient, the combination of words and letters is always represent itself as a really complicated language complex, in which we can point a number of levels of content plan:
1) The level of language characters (words);
2) The level of utterance;
3) The level of message;
4) The level of situation description;
5) The level of communicative aim.
Each of the levels is the set of all admissible variants of transmitting a certain meaning. The biggest number of variants has a communicative nature, due to the fact that the source can pursue a variety of aims in relation to the recipient.
The translator, working on the text in the translation agency, combined both options as the source and the recipient. All the written above relates to the original text and the translated text equally. The content of the original text should be presented in the translated, only after that the translation can be called perfect. To achieve the perfectness you should establish the relations of limiting equivalence between the corresponding levels. When the translator analyzes the original text, he/she alternately understands all the content levels, beginning with the level of language character and ending with the level of the aim of communication. The hierarchy of content levels for the translator has the opposite direction. Initially, the translator tries to establish relations of equivalence of linguistic characters and makes sure that the chosen variant does not contradict with higher levels. If the translator couldn’t establish the equivalence on the language level, he/she moves to the next one and so on. While working on the text translator is checking if each level of content represents the final variant of translated text. The extreme similarity of all levels of the content of the source text and the translation is the equivalence of the translation. The similarity of original units and translation can be obtained in all five levels or only on some of them. The establishing of the highest degree of equivalence of translation at all levels is the ultimate goal of the translation.
The theory of the levels of equivalence compensates some shortcomings of the denotative theory and the theory of transformation. It shows:
1) selection of the form of translation from all possible options;
2) versions of translation, due to the differences in shown reality.
It can be concluded that the equivalence of the source text and the translation is expressed in the limiting equivalence on each level of their content. The translated text may have a different degree of equivalence to the original text. The ultimate equivalence of the purpose of communication is an important condition for all types of translation.