Tamara I.Leontieva
Lectures on Translation Theory
Department of Cross-cultural
Communication and Translation
Foreign Languages Center
Vladivostok State University of
Theory and Practice
Language Functions
Cognitive (formulating
Karl Buhler
(Austrian linguist)
1. Expressive function
2. Appealing (focusing on the receptor)
3. Referential (representing objects and
Yuri Stepanov
(semiotic principle)
1. Nominative function
2. Syntactic function
3. Pragmatic function
Language vs Speech
Language Functions
a) Are universal and
b) Are realized through
Speech Functions
a) Are typical of a
certain speech
b) Are temporary, as
the speech event is
Speech Functions
(according to Roman Jakobson)
1. Referential (informative)
2. Expressive (emotive)
3. Conative (voluntative)
4. Phatic (contact-making)
5. Poetic (aesthetic)
6. Metalingual (describing language)
M.A.C. Halliday
Following M.A.C.Halliday, translation
theorists added one more speech
function to the list, it is interpersonal
function which
a) implies the speaker’s intervention in
the use of language and
b) the expression of attitude.
Interpersonal Function and
Modality in Translation
Objective modality
1) category of mood
[particles, adverbs:
hardly, scarcely and
the like]
2) Assertion or denial
of facts [categorical
character of Russian
Subjective modality
1) Modal verbs, modal
words, syntactic
constructions: She’s
reported to defect
the country.
2) Particles: ведь,
хоть, неужели,
вряд ли: He can
hardly have said it.
Expressive Function in Translation
1. Emotive semes: «You, old fool», said Mrs.
Meade tenderly.
2. Expressive semes (intensifiers):
a) They attacked him violently (physical
assault). They violently attacked him (verbal
b) He’s kind of clever - Он вроде умный (infl.
To be continued.
Expressive Function in Translation
c) У меня скорее лапы отсохнут, чем я
прикоснусь к чужому … I’d rather have my
paws wither and fall off than touch what
belongs to someone else [special syntactic
d) Similes, metaphors: Don’t dirty your hands
with that money. Весна уже на пороге Spring is coming very soon.
Expressive Function in
Translation - 3
3. Appreciative semes (approval,
disapproval): What a man!
a) Какой человек!
b) Ну и тип!
Ванечка, подожди минуту!
Vanya! Wait a minute [Lost form of
Expressive Function in
Translation - 4
4. Stylistic semes (lower or elevate the
tone of speech): K.Chukovsky’s famous
example: Светловолосая дева, чего ты
a) Рыжая девка, чего ты трясешься?
b) He commenced to scratch his back.
c) Мамаша, что вы мелете?
Expressive Function in Translation
5. Pragmatic semes: They arouse the
communicants’ particular background
a) Союз нерушимый … Stars and
Stripes, Star-Spangled Banner, Old
b) Different symbolic associations (The
Moon for an Uzbek is a girl’s beautiful
face. For A. Pushkin: Кругла, бледна
лицом она, как эта глупая луна).
Phatic Function in Translation
(calling somebody’s attention, greetings,
interruptions, vocatives, small talk, etc.)
a) Phrases for calling attention and asking
to repeat::
Excuse me – Простите, девушка, вы
не скажете…
AmE: I beg your pardon / Pardon.
To be continued
Phatic Function in Translation
(calling somebody’s attention, greetings,
interruptions, vocatives, small talk, etc.)
b) Forms of address: Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms. – the
latter is for a female who does not want others
to know if she is married or not. Tr.: Mrs. Mary
Brown – Mrs. John Brown (г-жа Браун,
супруга Джона Брауна). “Miss” is becoming
rare. Position or vocation: Mr. President,
Ms.Chairperson, Officer, Doctor Brown – д-р
Браун (an Am. Professor).
Conative Function in Translation
(commands, prohibitions, requests,
permissions, advice, invitations, etc.)
1. A translator should be aware of the
differences in expressing requests: May
I introduce my wife to you? In Russian it
is imperative: Разрешите представить
вам мою жену.
2. Imperatives in English are accompan ied with “please”: Give me a call,
To be continued.
Conative Function in Translation
(commands, prohibitions, requests,
permissions, advice, invitations, etc.)
3. Conative function may signal s/th
different: У вас есть часы? – What time
is it now?
4. Utterances with performative verbs: I
inform you, I congratulate you.
Home assignments:
1. Read Proshina’s book of Theory of
Translation, 1999. - Pp. 200-217.
2. Enlarge on the examples basing on the
English or American literature you are
3. Prepare 2-3 interesting questions on
the material covered for the seminar.