Types of Translation

Types of Translation

Jakobson’s On Linguistic Aspects of Translation (1959, 2000) describes three kinds of translation: intralingual (within one language, i.e. rewording or paraphrase), interlingual (between two languages), and intersemiotic (between sign systems).

Meanwhile, Catford (1965:21-22) proposes 3 broad types or categories of translation in terms of the extent, levels, and ranks.

1. Extent – full vs. partial translation. In a full translation, the entire text is submitted to the translation process, that is very part of the ST is replaced by the TT material. In a partial translation, some part or parts of the ST are left untranslated: they are simply transferred to and incorporated in the TT (Catford, 1965: 21).

2. Level – Total vs. Restricted translation. This distinction relates to the levels of language involved in translation. By totaltranslation we mean what is most usually meant by ‘translation’; that is, translation in which all levels of the ST are replaced by the TT material. Strictly speaking, ‘total’ translation is a misleading term, since though total replacement is involved it is not replacement by equivalents at all levels. Total Translation may best defined as: replacement of ST grammar and lexis by equivalent TT grammar and lexis with consequential replacement of SL phonology/graphology by (non-equivalent) TT phonology/graphology. By restricted translation we mean: replacement of ST material by equivalent TT material at only one level. That is translation performed only at the phonological or at the graphological level, or at one of the two levels of grammar and lexis (Catford, 1965: 22).

3. Ranks – Ranks of Translation. It relates to the rank in a grammatical (or phonological) hierarchy at which translation equivalence is established (Catford, 1965: 24-25).

Larson (1998) explains that there are two main kinds of translations. One is form-based which attempts to follow the form of the source language and are known as literal translations. The other one is meaning-based translation which makes every effort to communicate the meaning of the source language text in the natural forms of the receptor language, also called idiomatic translation. Larson (1998) says ’it is not easy to consistently translate idiomatically. A translator may express some parts of his translation in very natural form and then in other parts fall back into a literal form. Translations fall on a continuum from very literal, to literal, to modified literal, to near idiomatic, and then may even move to be unduly free’ (Larson, 1998: 19).

Summarized by Luh Windiari

This article is also posted on Academia.edu and another blog of TranslationPapers Bali


Catford, J.C. 1965. A Linguistic Theory of Translation. Oxford University Press.  Catford, J.C. 1965. A Linguistic Theory of Translation.OxfordUniversity Press.

Jakobson, Roman 1971. On linguistic aspects of translation. In: Jakobson, R., Selected Writings. 2. Word and Language.The Hague: Mouton, 260–266.

Larson, Mildred. 1998. Meaning Based Translation.Maryland: University Press ofAmerica. Inc.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: