Translation Techniques – Paraphrasing

By Chiara Grassilli
In Translation Techniques
Jun 8th, 2015
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Translation Techniques – Paraphrasing

 

A paraphrase is a restatement of the meaning of a text or passage using other words. The term itself is derived via Latin paraphrasis from Greek, meaning “additional manner of expression”. In the past, paraphrasing and translation were considered to be unconnected language processing tasks.

Things have changed and now we can consider paraphrasing a translation technique due to its utility in improving the structure and the message of the text.

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If we compare translation and paraphrasing, we observe that the first one represents the preservation of meaning when an idea is rendered in the words in a different language, whereas the latter is the preservation of meaning when an idea is expressed using different words in the same language. It is obvious that the two processes are related.

If we analyse, we can actually define translation as the art of paraphrasing a text from one language into another.
As there is always more than one way to phrase a statement, then the result in the target text depends on the translator’s choice. Finding alternative ways to translate a phrase can be a very useful tool for a translator.

First of all, it can have positive effects on the style of the written piece, secondly it can avoid repetition of certain words and structures that is often problematic and it can also help shorten the text when the space requires doing so.

A paraphrase usually gives an explanation or a clarification of the text that is being paraphrases. It can be a useful technique for the reader as well, as it helps him easily understand the meaning of a certain phrase.

Depending on the translator’s choice, a paraphrase can make the text sound more natural, more ambiguous or more formal. It is a matter of imposed style in this case.
An example of paraphrasing is:

“The signal was red” = “The train was not allowed to pass because the signal was red”.

We can observe here that besides expressing the same thing in a different way, paraphrasing actually gives an explanation. A paraphrase does not need to accompany a direct quotation; the paraphrase typically serves to put the source’s statement into perspective or to clarify the context in which it appeared. A paraphrase is typically more detailed than a summary.
Paraphrasing usually aims at preserving the essential meaning of the material that is being translated and paraphrased. It means that the reinterpretation of a source that gives a different meaning to the original statement goes into the category of original research and not paraphrase.

The difference between a metaphrase and a paraphrase is that the first attempts to translate a text literally, whereas a paraphrase conveys the essential thought expressed in a source text even at the expense of literality.
To conclude, paraphrasing can be considered a translation technique. It is proved that it is a useful tool for translators and writers and it helps improve the quality of the text. The reader benefits from this technique as well because it often clarifies the meaning of the text.

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About "" Has 117 Posts

Since an early age I have been passionate about languages. I hold a Master's degree in Translation and Interpreting, and I have worked as a freelance translator for several years. I specialize in Marketing, Digital Marketing, Web and Social Media. I love blogging and I also run the blog www.italiasocialmedia.com

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