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Phases of Translation (Translation Phases)

are interrelated stages of the translation process.

The phases are human translation-specific and presuppose source text analysis, comparative transfer activities and (multilingual) text (re)production.

Translating texts has long been viewed as methodologically involving three phases: analysis, transfer and restructuring (Jacobson 1956, Nida/Taber 1969:33), today re-phrased as
  • - reception
  • - transfer
  • - (re)production phases

Reception phase
a phase within which the (source) text is ‘understood’ and its comprehension is secured and a bottom-up text analysis with text-individual ‘salient’ features, identifiable on an atomistic, hol-atomistic and holistic level. The identification of problems may individually differ but – taken altogether – guarantee a coherent reading of a text from an atomistic, hol-atomistic and/or holistic point of view.

Transfer phase
a contrastive/comparative analysis phase (systems level) within which language and cultural features (atomistically), patterns (hol-atomisticallly) and/or knowledge systems, values or emotions are (holistically) compared for translation purposes

(Re)formulation phase
In the target language and culture, within which the individual target text is produced ((re)production phase) against the language and cultural resources identified in the transfer phase. The reformulation process is governed by at least the target text purpose, applicable target cultural norms and assumed recipient or text type. It interrelates atomistic, hol-atomistic and holistic levels/ text perspectives to form a coherent whole.

Although actually interrelated, their separate distinction is methodologically useful for it allows translators and translation researchers

(1) to single out and concentrate on problems relating to a particular phase in the translation process, depending on where relevant problems are assumed to develop, e.g. understanding a text in the reception phase while the contrastive transfer phase may be relatively ‘easy’ to render for a trained linguist, it takes the trained skill of a translator to accomplish the (re)formulation task according to target text purpose and recipient type parameters.

(2) to integrate problems occurring in different phases to form a coherent whole within the translation process. e.g. when constructing the necessary domain knowledge systems.

LIT: Gerzymisch 2002, 2008