Halliday on what makes a ‘good’ translation

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)31B_Invited conference paper (non-refereed items)Yes

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Author(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPresented - Mar 2019

Conference

TitleInternational Forum on Translation, Cognition and Audio Description (IFTCAD) & the 5th CATIC Conference
LocationCity University of Hong Kong
PlaceChina
CityHong Kong
Period15 - 18 March 2019

Abstract

Perhaps because he was a language teacher turned linguist, M.A.K. Halliday maintained a perspective on language, called Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), which is grounded in how we actually use language to construe reality and enact social relationships.

By prioritizing the study of function over form, SFL provides the theoretical and methodological basis for investigating ‘the aesthetic and functional values that differentiate one text from another, or one voice from another within the frontiers of the same text’ (Halliday Collected Works, Vol. 2, chapter 6, p.187).

Only objective linguistic scholarship using the categories of the description of the language as a whole, not ‘ad hoc, personal and arbitrarily selective statements’, can contribute to the analysis of texts and allow for ‘the comparison of each text with others, by the same and by different authors, in the same and in different genres’ (Halliday [1964] 2002: 5, 6).

In SFL, the primary focus is on meaning, and how form is used to realize that meaning. Meaning means more than just the ideas expressed, i.e. more than just ideational meaning. When we speak, we also enact a social relationship with our listener(s)/reader(s). Halliday refers to this as interpersonal meaning. Finally, there is textual meaning, or how ideational and interpersonal meaning is formed into the message, whether in speech, writing, or via some other medium/modality.

In his paper, Towards a theory of good translation (2001), Halliday notes that a ‘good’ translation in a given context is one which achieves equivalence with respect to those linguistic features which are most valued in that context. What Halliday’s linguistics contributes to this enterprise is an architecture of language by which the value-laden features of language can be discerned and identified.

As Eric Steiner notes in his discussion of Halliday’s contribution to studies in translation and interpretation, while micro-level units such as words certainly matter, Halliday’s linguistics has helped raise our awareness of the significant role played by ‘more macro-level units, such as those realizing register, genre and ideology in a culture, in other words, the units and relationships of discourse.’

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Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.

Citation Format(s)

Halliday on what makes a ‘good’ translation. / WEBSTER, Jonathan.

2019. International Forum on Translation, Cognition and Audio Description (IFTCAD) & the 5th CATIC Conference , Hong Kong, China.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)31B_Invited conference paper (non-refereed items)Yes