Logos Multilingual Portal

40 - A new model

«It would of course, be incorrect to attempt to read these symbols in accordance with their values as pictures, instead of in accordance with their meaning as symbols»1.

All the described approaches can be boilded down to two polarities: those which have a fixed repertoire of questions to which any kind of translation must respond to; and those who are wholly based on a translation-oriented analysis of the single text that will determine which features to investigate on a case-by-case basis. We have already seen in the unit 32 of the third part that both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, and that it is possible to represent a model of analysis that considers both sets of advantageous features.

chronotopical analysis

generic parameters














generic lexicon (non-ternary oppositions): omissions, additions, radical changes of sense, change of grammar category








individual’s identity


group identity

dominant: microtext poetics

dominant: macrotext / author’s poetics


text cohesion

paradimatic lexical generic axis

syntagmatic axis

meter rhyme, rhythm

character’s psychology chronotope


group psychology chronotope

group identity

microtextual content

mictotextual contents chronotope

author’s poetics chronotope

structure’s poetics chronotope




poetics culture













General model of translation shifts

The first five categories, as you see, consist in chronotopes. During the practical prototext-metatext comparative analysis, to classify shifts in each of these five categories you must have previously carried out an analysis of the specific text you are working on (the same translation-oriented analysis normally done before translating) to collect all necessary data. The five categories derive from chronotope analysis and are tailor-made for single texts.

Categories 6 through 8, on the other hand, are general. In these you must compare lexical, syntactical, metrical use against standard use. These three categories can be called "markedness categories" meaning that they record translator’s departures from the author’s choices. Such departures can be realized in both directions. For example the marked use of a word in the prototext can be rendered through a non marked use in the metatext; or, the non marked use of a word in the prototext can be rendered through a marked use in the metatext. These possibilities, obviously, increase the possibility that the rendering of the metatext matches the markedness / non-markedness of the prototext.

The ninth category contemplates all non-binary oppositions, i.e. all shifts that can consist in broad series of alternatives, sometimes infinite, anyway always more than two. There are omissions, additions, radical changes of sense, change of grammar category.

Translating from

On the table there’s a bottle of wine


On the table there’s a jug of wine

i.e. a radical change of meaning, is not referrable to a binary opposition, because the alternatives to "bottle", other than "jug", are dozens. The arbitrariness of the shift generates an indefinite quantity of other possibilities ("On the table there’s a cruet/ demijohn / flask/ glass/ flagon... of wine").

Also the shift producing

On the table there would be a bottle of wine

has a great quantity of possible alternatives as much arbitrary:

On the table there would be a bottle of wine.

On the table there’s a bottle of wine

On the table there will be a bottle of wine.


preventing insertion of such shifts in a binary systematization. The same can be said for additions and omissions, of course.

Shifts of the Ninth category relate more to young translators (still being trained) and green professionals. At college, if you don’t count the masters in literary translation, the elements in the ninth category are generally enough to evaluate versions, because students are not yet skilled enough to translate texts with the competence to be able to fulfill the first eight shift categories.

I willingly insert such a model of translation criticism at the end of the fifth part of this translation course, hoping that it can contribute to further discussion of this neglected area. My ambition is to complete the unification of theory and practice reconciling different realities that have lived very separate lives so far:

    • translation evaluation in firms
    • translation evaluation by publishers
    • translation evaluation at college
    • translation evaluation in translation criticism

I think that we need a reference paradigm to reconcile the descriptive approach to translation studies with the existence of translation criticism and its evaluation in the aforementioned contexts, to overcome the contradiction between a descriptive-only approach and the need to evaluate.

I thank the Logos group, and particularly its leader, Rodrigo Vergara, for having given me the opportunity to conceive and draft this translation course with so much autonomy; it has given me huge satisfaction both as far as the receiving public are concerned and for the new human relations that it has opened up. As all works, and internet works in particular, this course can be improved above all thanks to your contribution, dear readers. I confidently wait for your reactions.


Bibliographical references

FREUD SIGMUND, L’interpretazione dei sogni, in Opere, vol. 3, Torino, Boringhieri, a cura di C. L. Musatti, 1966.

FREUD SIGMUND, The Interpretation Of Dreams, translated by A. A. Brill, London, G. Allen & Company, 1913.

1 Freud 1900: 254-255.