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Nida and Taber: Formal Correspondence and Dynamic Equivalence

Nida and Taber: Formal correspondence and dynamic equivalence Nida argued that there are two different types of equivalence, namely formal equivalence — which in the second edition by Nida and Taber (1982) is referred to as formal correspondence —and dynamic equivalence. Formal correspondence ‘focuses attention on the message itself,in both form and content’, unlike dynamic equivalence which is based upon ‘the principle of equivalent effect’ (1964:159). In the second edition (1982) or their work, the two theorists provide a more detailed explanation of each type of equivalence.

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Formal correspondence consists of a TL item which represents the closest equivalent of a SLword or phrase. Nida and Taber make it clear that there are not always formal equivalents between language pairs. They therefore suggest that these formal equivalents should be usedwherever possible if the translation aims at achieving formal rather than dynamic equivalence. The use of formal equivalents might at times have serious implications in the TT since thetranslation will not be easily understood by the target audience (Fawcett, 1997).

Nida andTaber themselves assert that ‘Typically, formal correspondence distorts the grammatical andstylistic patterns of the receptor language, and hence distorts the message, so as to cause thereceptor to misunderstand or to labor unduly hard’ (ibid. :201). Dynamic equivalence is defined as a translation principle according to which a translator seeks to translate the meaning of the original in such a way that the TL wording will trigger the same impact on the TC audience as the original wording did upon the ST audience.

Theyargue that ‘Frequently, the form of the original text is changed; but as long as the changefollows the rules of back transformation in the source language, of contextual consistency inthe transfer, and of transformation in the receptor language, the message is preserved and thetranslation is faithful’ (Nida and Taber, 1982:200). One can easily see that Nida is in favour of the application of dynamic equivalence, as a moreeffective translation procedure. This is perfectly understandable if we take into account thecontext of the situation in which Nida was dealing with the translation phenomenon, that is tosay, his translation of the Bible.

Thus, the product of the translation process, that is the text inthe TL, must have the same impact on the different readers it was addressing. Only in Nidaand Taber’s edition is it clearly stated that ‘dynamic equivalence in translation is far more thanmere correct communication of information’ (ibid:25). Despite using a linguistic approach to translation, Nida is much more interested in themessage of the text or, in other words, in its semantic quality. He therefore strives to makesure that this message remains clear in the target text.