Critical Analysis of Nida’s Dynamic Equivalence Theory - Translation Theory Essay

Critical Analysis of Nida’s Dynamic Equivalence Theory - Translation Theory Essay

Abstract
This essay presents an analysis of Eugene A. Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory from the point of view of requirements for a good translation theory. In Nida’s theory, the new concepts of dynamic equivalent, equivalent effects and three-stage translating procedures made the theory so influential in the following century. Nida discarded traditional approach placing too many demands upon the reader to become informed about the original culture, approached translation from a scientific point of view and shifted the focus to the receptor’s response. After careful examination and analysis against each requirement, Nida’s theory is found to be theoretically satisfying and practically applicable.
1 Introduction
Up until the 1950s, theoreticians had been involved in circular debates around word-for-word and sense-for-sense translation for over 2000 years. In the early1960s, the American linguist and translator Eugene A. Nida, in his Toward a Science of Translating (Nida, 1964) and the co-authored The Theory and Practice of Translation (Nida and Taber, 1969), expounds the theory of dynamic equivalence which shifts the focus in translating from the above debate to the response of the receptor and attempts to analyze translation with a systematic, theory-based approach to many disciplines, particularly linguistics. Nida’s translation theory of dynamic equivalence has exerted considerable influence all over the world and brought about a quantum leap of translation theory. Meanwhile, Nida’s translation theory also receives fierce criticism for many reasons, which, not surprisingly, leads to the suggestion that Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory appears not to be a satisfying theory. It is for this reason, I intend to use the insights gained from the discussion of requirements for a good translation theory to investigate whether Nida’s theory is a good translation theory from both the theoretical and practical points of view. In Part 2 I try to (1) describe the requirements of a good theory on which the essential argument of this essay rests, (2) discuss some scholars’ opinions on Nida’s dynamic equivalence translation theory. Then in Part 3 I will explore in details Nida’s conceptual framework of dynamic equivalence. In part 4 I endeavor to examine how Nida’s translation theory of dynamic equivalence satisfies the requirements of a good theory and how empirical it is in real and practical Chinese and English translating and conclusions are drawn in Part 5.
2 Literature Review
Nida’s systematic linguistic approach to translation has been investigated by record number of scholars and has provoked heated debated all over the world. In this part I will briefly represent a few of the influential writings on evaluating or judging Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory.
2.1 Requirements of a good translation theory
Before describing what is required of a good translation theory, we must be clear about what translation is and what a translation theory encompasses.
2.1.1 What is Translation?
Roger Bell (1991: 13) gives the notion ‘translation’ three distinguishable meanings: translating (the process), a translation (the product) and translation (the abstract concept which encompasses both the process of translating and the product of that process). The definition is concerned with ‘interlingual translation (an interpretation of verbal signs by means of some other language)’ rather than the other two kinds of translation, ‘intralingual translation’ and ‘intersemiotic translation’ which are described by the Russo-American structuralist Roman Jakobson (1959 /2000:113).
A more comprehensive definition is suggested by Shuttleworth and Cowie (1997: 181)
Translation An incredibly broad notion which can be understood in many different ways. For example, one may talk of translation as a process or a product, and identify such sub-types as literary translation, technical translation, subtitling and machine translation; moreover, while more typically it just refers to the transfer of written texts, the term sometimes also includes interpreting.
This definition introduces the sub-types of translation, including not only written or sometimes oral products (interpreting), but also machine translation in which computers and computerized analysis of language are heavily involved in the process and the product of translation.
To sum up, the term translation encompasses several distinct perspectives: it can refer to the process, the product or the abstract concept of translation. The sense of process centres on what a translator does in turning the source text (ST) into a target text (TT) in another language. The sense of product focuses on the text that is produced in the translating process. The sense of abstract concept of the general phenomenon can be said to be the general subject field.
2.1.2 What is a theory of translation?
Clearly a theory of translation must attempt to describe and explain what translation is and how it happens. The objective of a translation theory, in a nutshell, is to normalize our relationship to the phenomena of translation and improve our perception of translation. If we simply focus on the written translation rather than interpreting (oral translation), there may be three possible theories of translation as defined by Bell (1991:26):
(1) ‘A theory of translation as process. This would require a study of information processing and would draw heavily on psychology and on psycholinguistics.’
(2) ‘A theory of translation as product. This would require a study of texts not merely by means of the traditional levels of linguistic analysis (syntax and semantics) but also making use of stylistics and recent advances in text-linguistics and discourse analysis.’
(3) ‘A theory of translation as both process and product. This would require the integrated study of both and such a general theory is, presumably, the long-term goal for translation studies.’
2.1.3 Requirements for a theory of translation
Essentially a good translation theory should be at all satisfactory in a theoretical or an applied sense. According to Ronowicz (2006:2), an ideal theory must possess four characteristics:
(1) Consistent with other knowledge
(2) Consistent within itself
(3) Consistent in the use of terminology
(4) “Elegant”
(5) Empirically verifiable
(Ronowicz, 2006:2)
Although translation studies is considered as a new or emerging academic discipline, it in fact has a long history in facilitating communication between human of different written or oral languages, and has evolved to be an interdiscipline interfacing with various fields of study including linguistics, philosophy, cultural studies, language engineering and literary studies (Hatim and Munday, 2004:8). Therefore a good translation theory must be consistent with a vast breadth of knowledge in other fields that contribute to the translation studies,.
A theory of translation consists of five components: assumptions or axioms, methodology, language, descriptions and explanations (Ronowicz, 2006: 2). All of the components of a good translation theory should be consistent with each other and within itself. In a translation research conducted by quantitative approach, for example, if the theory based on this research fails to give credible analysis of the data and data collection, or to use clear writing to underpin its argument, inconsistency or even contradiction in the components of the theory can occur. Obviously such theory of translation will not be regarded as a good translation theory for this kind of defects.
In numerous translation theories, we find that theorists often use varied terminology in defining and expressing same translation phenomenon. Vinay and Darbelnet (1995:30-42), for example, use ‘direct translation’ and ‘oblique translation’ to identify two general translation strategies, while some other theorists adopt ‘literal translation’ and ‘free translation’ to mention more of less the same translation strategies. Why do not theorists standardize all their terminology? There might be many reasons. Some theorists may intend to highlight certain features of their theory by using different terms from others. Some may simply attempt to do something ‘different’ by applying distinctive terms to attract attention. Theorists not only learn from one another, but also compete with each other for better recognition of their theory. No matter what reasons are, the diversity of terminology in translation studies results in confusion and difficulty in comparison. Inconsistency of the use of terminology in one translation theory also causes ambiguities or doubts. To prevent these problems, the use of terminology in a translation theory should be consistent all the time and should be explained explicitly if necessary.
In terms of being elegant, a good translation theory must be pleasingly neat and simple, and of attractive elegance. One major task as writer of a translation theory is to make the theory comprehensible to the readers and to make their theory a pleasure to read. It is essential that theorists present their translation studies results in the clearest possible way and by the most direct route.
Being empirically verifiable means that some possible observations must allow us to test the theory and to be able to prove that it is true or highly probable. If a translation theory is not empirically verifiable, we may say that such theory is not well-established and is unable to predict. Therefore, a good translation theory should not only produce theoretical prediction, but also illustrate its implications in practical translation.
In addition to Ronowicz’s criterion, a good translation theory also must have the following characteristics:
(1) ‘determinism: it must be able to predict’
(2) ‘parsimony: it must be simple’
(3) ‘generality: it must be comprehensive.’
(Bell, 1991:27)
A good translation theory should be general enough to be relevant to all translation. (Ronowicz, 2006: 3) Being comprehensive does not mean that a translation theory must be able to tackle all the problems a translator encounters. In fact, none of a single translation theory can solve all the problems that translators are faced with. But a good translation theory should at least assist in dealing with practical translation problems.
2.2 Discussion of Nida’s translation theory of dynamic equivalence
Nida’s translation theory of dynamic equivalence has provoked heated debate and received fierce discussion. On the one hand, Nida’s dynamic approach is widely accepted and dominates the teaching of translation in Germany, America, England and China. On the other hand, it receives harsh criticisms from many scholars, such as Qian Hu (1993), Edwin Gentzler (2001), Andrew Chesterman (2002).
In On the Implausibility of Equivalent Response, Qian Hu (1993) , as the title indicated, critisize Nida’s assertion of substantial equivalent response of the receptors in a dynamic equivalent translation. In Qian’s view, the form and content are inseparable, and thus given the fact that language forms of Chinese and English are quite different, it is impossible to achieve equivalent response or effect in real Chinese and English translation.
Chesterman (2002:11) felt that translator cannot know the equivalent effect or reaction for sure, but can only guess the approximate potential effects on readers, because in real life translators normally do not have plenty of time to check or measure the effects empirically. In addition Chesterman (2002:11-12) pointed out that the idea of achieving exactly the same effect is idealistic and dynamic effect is in principle impossible, for everyone’s context and cognitive state is different.
Gentzler in his Contemporary Translation Theories pointed out that Nida’s “science” of translation is highly suspect for a number of reasons: (1) ‘the historical paradigm Nida drew on for his strategies was fairly narrow, dominated by translations of the Bible;(2001: 45)’ (2) Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory is governed by ‘his taste, general public opinion and the economics of his project (converting people to Christianity (2001:45)’ (3) Nida’s adoption of generative grammar (a deep structure/surface structure model) distorts a theory of transformational grammar (2001:52-56).
3 Nida's Translation Theory of Dynamic Equivalence
Nida’s translation theory of dynamic equivalence was formed and developed based on his practical work as a linguist with the American Bible Society from 1943 onwards when he co-ordinated the translation of the Bible from English to a variety of other languages. Since this study is founded on Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory, a few essential concepts of dynamic equivalence theory are briefly introduced here.
Nida’s theory of dynamic translation is fully presented in his two major works: Toward a Science of Translating and The Theory and Practice of Translation which treat the problems of translating with a scientific approach by incorporating recent work in linguistics. According to Nida, ‘translating consists in reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the source-language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style’ (Nida and Taber:1969:12).
Clearly this definition itself focuses on the translation both as a process of translating and a product of it. In the first place, Nida asserts that the process of translating is to reproduce the message rather than to conserve the form of the utterance, because the content of message is considered to be of prime importance, especially for Bible translating. To preserve the content of the message, grammatical and lexical adjustments are inevitable and the form of the utterance must be altered (Nida and Taber, 1969:5). Secondly ‘the closest natural equivalent’ is the ideal product of translating, which requires the translator to avoid awkwardness or translationese in order to produce a translation which does not sound like a translation in the target language culture. Based on the discussion of definition of translating, Nida established four sets of priorities to guide real translating practice: (1969:14-32)
• The priority of contextual consistency over verbal consistency: Nida believes that ‘strict verbal consistency may result in serious distortion of the meaning (1969:21)’ and a translator should depend on context rather than word-for-word concordance to (1) determine the word meaning and (2) find the right word in the receptor language to produce the same response. (1969:16-17).
• The priority of dynamic equivalence over formal correspondence: Nida defines two types of equivalence: ‘formal equivalence’ and ‘dynamic equivalence’ (Nida, 1964:159). Formal equivalence focuses on transferring the message. Dynamic equivalence focuses on producing the equivalent effect of the message. In dynamic translation, ‘one is not so concerned with matching the receptor-language message with the source-language message, but with the dynamic relationship, that the relationship between the receptor and the message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message (Nida, 1964: 159).’ ‘Dynamic equivalence is therefore to be defined in terms of the degree to which the receptors of the message in the receptor language respond to it in substantially the same manner as the receptors in the source language. (Nida and Taber, 1969:24).‘ Nida is aware that this response can never be the same due to different culture, but a high degree of equivalence of response should be achieved to reproduce the closest natural equivalent in the receptor language. The response of the receptors in receptor language is not only informative, but also expressive and imperative for communication. (Nida and Taber, 1969:24). That is to say, dynamic equivalence in translation should not only be intelligible or understandable to communicate information, but also enable receptors to feel what is communicated and to response in action.
• The priority of the heard language over the written language: This priority is particularly important for and applicable to the Bible translation, because more people do not read the Scriptures themselves but hear the Scriptures read.
• The priority of the needs of the audience over the forms of language: This priority means that the forms understood and accepted by the audience to whom a translation is directed are more significant than the forms which may represent a long literary tradition.
Based on the nature of translating, with an attempt to achieve dynamic equivalence, Nida suggests four-stage fundamental translating procedures: analysis – transfer – restructuring- testing as presented in Figure 1.
A(Source) B (Receptor) (Testing)

(Analysis) (Restructuring)

X (Transfer) Y

Figure 1 Nida’s three-stage system of translation (Nida and Taber, 1969:33)
Nida explains and justifies this four-stage procedure and how it can be implemented. In the first place, the analysis procedure in which the surface structure of the source text is analyzed, comprises three major steps: ‘(1) determining the meaningful relationships between the words and combinations of words on a grammatical level (2) the referential meaning (...) and (3) the connotative meaning’ (Nida and Taber, 1969:34). Second, a transfer of the message at the kernel level from the source language to the receptor language must take place in translator’s brain. (1969: 99-119) Third, the translator then must make any necessary adjustment to produce the target text linguistic and stylistic appropriate. Last but not least, the translator must test the translation from the point of view of the amount of dynamic equivalence. (1969:164)
4 Judgement on Nida’s translation theory of dynamic equivalence
4.1 Consistency with other knowledge
Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory incorporates in it various theories in many disciplines, particularly cultural studies, linguistics and anthropology. Nida adopts some of the current theoretical ideas in linguistics, which form the basis of his two major works mentioned above. In determining the referential meaning and connotative (emotive) meaning, for example, Nida uses a series of scientific approaches adapted from current work in linguistics, including semantic structure analysis, hierarchical structuring and componential analysis. Nida has carefully clarified almost all the essential translation problems at the word or phrase level, and provided the methods by which the translator can implement these scientific approaches in solving problems in practical translating. Clearly such approaches serve as an aid for the translator in analyzing meaning particularly in relation to translation equivalence at the level of individual words and phrases. (Hatim and Munday, 2004:40)
Nida also incorporates Chomsky’s Generative transformational grammar (1965) in his theory in building the three-stage system of translation. Some theorists, such as Gentzler (2001), argue that Nida’s translation theory is in fact not consistent with Chomsky’s theoretical framework which was not intended to be used in translation theory. However, we should note that Nida is well aware of the intention of Chomsky’s theory. What Nida has done is only adopting parts of Chomsky’s theory and model which Nida assumes to be appropriate in translation theory. Nida and Chomsky both believe that there exists a deep structure (kenel) behind the surface structure of language. Based on Chomsky’s assumption of universal rules of grammar, Nida puts forward that ‘in all languages there are half a dozen to a dozen basic structures out of which all the more elaborate formations are constructed by means of so-called “transformations” (Nida and Taber, 1969:39)’. Therefore Nida attempts to find ways to transform message readily at the kernel level in different languages.
4.2 Consistency within itself
Lots could be said about the important elements of Nida’s theory of dynamic equivalence and their internal relationship, but I will just select a few things to illustrate my point that all the components (assumptions or axioms, methodology, language, descriptions and explanations) of Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory are consistent with each other and within itself.
• dynamic equivalence and receptor-orientated approach
For Nida, receptor-orientated approach is crucial to achieving dynamic equivalent or effect that ‘the relationship between receptor and the message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message’ (1964: 159). If employing traditional approaches which emphasize the original culture and form only, it is ultimately impossible to achieve dynamic effect, because the primary and figurative meaning of words or phrases and the form of language are always cultural and social specific. This may be evident if we illustrate it by the following example in relation to the analysis of referential meaning:
Example 1A He works like a dog.
This idiom means he works extremely hard. A dog, as an animal, has many traits, such as loyal, hard-working or sometimes ugly. However, dog can never be known or used with the same sense even in similar circumstance in differing culture. For example, in Chinese if dog is used to refer to a person as stated above, it normally has the figurative sense that he is a henchman almost exclusively with derogatory meaning. Undoubtedly if the translator renders the meaning literally in Chinese without changing the word ‘dog’, the Chinese receptor will misunderstand or have an opposite view towards the intended message in the original English text. Under such circumstance, the translator may choose to restructure the message in natural target language by (1) simply explaining the meaning of this idiom or (2) finding some other animal which is conventionally regarded in Chinese culture as ‘hard-working’ animal as dog in original reader’s culture. In Chinese culture, the trait of hard-working is assigned to the cattle.
Example 1B 他 像 牛 一样 工作。
ta xiang niu yiyang gongzuo
(He works like the cattle.)

Then the Chinese reader will react to the message in the same manner as the English language reader. That’s why in dynamic translation the translator must pay close attention to the receptor’s culture, society and language.
• Closest natural equivalent
Nida (1964: 166) claims that translation ‘aims at complete naturalness of expression’ and grammatical, lexical and cultural adaptations are acceptable in order to achieve the equivalent effect. Qian (1993: 455-6) argues that ‘the closest natural equivalent may stand in a contradictory relation with dynamic equivalents’, because from his point of view the content and form is inseparable. That is to say, to produce the message in natural target language, the form must be changed. But any changes in form will cause distortion in meaning because meaning is bound up in form.
It is easy to argue for the inseparability of content and form. It is universally agreed that ‘all languages differ in form (and this is the essence of their being different languages)’ (Nida and Taber, 1969:5). In other words, different languages use different forms to present the same content. In fact we as translators endeavor to overcome these differences in form to transfer content from one language to another. Therefore to a certain degree our job as translators is to separate content from form. For example, if we translate a Chinese poem into English, it would be ridiculous to render it in pinyin or maintain the Chinese syntax in an attempt to maintain the form and phonology of the source language. As a result the translated text will be totally intelligible, not to mention the rendering of the intention and style of the original poem. As Nida argues, ‘no communication, even within a single language, is ever absolute and we certainly cannot expect a perfect match between language. (Nida and Taber, 1969:4-5)’ . It indicates that translation exists in an imperfect world and loss of form is inevitable. Therefore from my point of view, changes in form in dynamic translation can not only facilitate the rendering of the closest meaning but also achieve complete naturalness to better meet receptor’s cultural expectation.
4.3 Consistency in the use of terminology
In Nida’s dynamic translation theory, same terms are used to refer to the same concepts, and thus consistency is well maintained in the use of terminology. In addition, some terms borrowed from other fields, such as ‘kernel’, ‘supplementary or optional component’, are all used in a uniform manner to express the same thing as their identical terms used in other disciplines. When new concepts are introduced, such as ‘dynamic equivalent or effect’, they are all clearly defined and illustrated by examples to avoid any ambiguity. The internal and external consistency in the use of terminology in Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory contributes to the remarkable clarity and readability of the theory.
4.4 Empiricism
In this section I attempt to test the applicability of Nida’s translating model in actual translational activity in societal contexts. According to Nida, the first step is to analyze the grammatical meaning and semantic meaning. In grammatical analysis, Nida suggests that the elaborate surface structure should be reduced to its underlying kernels so that the translator can transfer the message on the level of the kernels than on the level of surface structure. (Nida and Taber, 1969:39)
Example 2 A:
1. A partial or total hip replacement is a major surgical procedure which is carried out in an orthopaedic unit. (T1)
2. Some replacements do not need to be cemented into place. (T1)
In text 1 the word ‘replacement’ is used for five times to refer to different meaning. Determining their meaning and function can only be done by a careful examination of the context. Nida believes that the context ‘involves not merely the immediate context but also the wider context of the entire communication’ (Nida and Taber, 1969:46). ‘replacement’ in both sentences is used as noun and thus we cannot distinguish them from each other by their grammatical constructions or ‘syntactic marking’ (1969:56). In such circumstances, its specific meaning can be determined by the interaction of it with the meaning of other terms in its environment or ‘semotactic marking’ (1969:56). In sentence 1, the presence of surgical procedure forces us to a specialized understanding of replacement as the act of replacing. In sentence 2, we are dealing with an object which can be cemented into place. The only sense of replacement which is especially appropriate with this particular verb is ‘someone or something that replaces’. The specific sense of ‘prosthesis’ for the word replacement in Text 1 can only be understood when looking at the wider context of the whole communication.
Grammatical and semantic analysis in Nida’s dynamic equivalence translation theory have by and large provided the framework for translators to determine the meaning of original text. Only after thoroughly understanding the original would one proceed to translate.
The second step of Nida’s fundamental procedures is transfer, which requires the translator to ‘indicate clearly the precise relationship between the kernels’(Nida and Taber, 1969:104).
Example 3 A
The total hip replacement operation replaces the worn head of the femur with a metal ball mounted on a stem and relines the acetabulum with a cup made from polyethylene, a special type of plastic. (T1)
This long and complex sentence can be firstly reduced into several kernels:
1. the total hip replacement operation replaces the head of femur and relines the acetabulum
2. the head of the femur is worn
3. a ball is made of metal
4. a ball is mounted on a stem
5. a cup is made from polyethylene
6. polyethylene is a special type of plastic
The six logically connected kernels ‘provide not only the clearest and least ambiguous statement of the relationships.’ (1969: 47) In transferring the message on kernel level, the structure has to be adjusted in order to preserve the content. The six kernels are translated into Chinese as the following.
Example 3B
1 quan kuan guanjie zhihuan shoushu shi zhihuan gugutou, bing
jiang beizhuangwu dian zai kuanniu nei.
(The total hip replacement operation is to replace the head of the femur and put the cup inside the acetabulum)
2 mosun de gugutou
(worn femur head)
3 yi ge jinshu qiu
(a metal ball)
4 dai bing de
with stem
5 yong juyixi shuzhi zhicheng de beizhungwu
(cup that is made of polyethylene)
6 yi zhong teshu suliao
(a special type of plastic)
Kernels then are restructured into the surface structure of Chinese language with the clearest and least ambiguous statements and most natural language in receptor's culture. The major concern in this step is to recognize stylistic features and to produce an appropriate style which functions in the receptor language in terms of efficiency of communication and impact.
Example 3C
quan kuan guanjie zhihuan shoushu shi shiyong yige xin de daibing de jinshuqiu lai zhihuan mosun de gugutou, bing jiang yige yong juyixishuzhi (yizhong teshu de suliao) zhicheng de beizhuangwu dianzai kuanniu nei.
(The total hip replacement operation is to use a new metal ball with stem to replace the worn femur head, and to place the cup made from polyethylene ( a special type of plastic) as the inside covering in the acetabulum. )
Translators must be aware of the fact that English and Chinese tend to be less overlap in formal qualities: they are phonologically, grammatically, syntactically, lexically, morphologically and even visually very different. In this translation, sentence structure, including word and phrase order, word structure, singular agreement has been changed in order to produce appropriate style in Chinese culture. Now it is time to test the translation by comparing the English and Chinese versions asking to what extent they will probably have the same effects on their respective readers? From my point of view, the main function of the Text 1 is informative aiming at letting the readers know what is hip surgery and how to make good preparation for it. By producing an appropriate style in the Chinese translation, the message can be thoroughly understandable without causing any ambiguity or misunderstanding to ensure that Chinese readers actually are getting the same message as the English one and enable Chinese readers to feel what is communicated and to response in action.
4.5 Determinism
The most crucial prediction produced by Nida’s translation theory of dynamic equivalence is equivalent effect or response. This prediction is based on Nida’s language knowledge as well as experience as a translator. However, Nida only indicates how to achieve equivalent effect or response, but fails to provide any applicable methods to measure the so-called effect or response. As a result, evaluation of the success of a dynamic translation is hard to operate. In fact, Nida has pointed out that ‘the response can never be identical, for the cultural and historical settings are too different, but there should be a high degree of equivalence of response (...). (Nida and Taber:1969:24)’ Therefore what Nida aims to achieve in dynamic translation is effective interlingual communication which can always be realized by striving for high degree of equivalence of response.
4.6 Elegance and Parsimony
A striking feature of Nida’s writing is the remarkable clarity. Sentences are relatively short and do not contain many technical terms. A great number of illustrative examples are employed in Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory to make the theory much easier to understand and more interesting to read. Additionally there is no slang or colloquialisms but many appropriate and interesting short words, which makes the dynamic equivalence theory graceful, unobtrusive and aesthetically pleasing.
4.7 Generality
Although Nida does not explore fully all the important areas and problems of the translator and the illustrative data are primarily from the field of Bible translating, the dynamic equivalence theory deals with ‘the broadest possible aspects of translating’ (Nida and Taber, 1969: vii). Noticeably, Bible translating has a longer history and is concerned with a greater variety of languages, cultures and literary types than any other kind of translating. Thus, Nida’s theory, although based on his experience translating the Bible, is not just for Bible translation, but for translation theory in general. (Gentzler, 2001:45) It is comprehensive and general enough to be relevant to all translation.
5 Conclusion
In this essay I have specified what a theory of translation ought to be and carefully examined Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory. From the discussion above, I find that Nida’s translation theory of dynamic equivalence is consistent with knowledge in other fields particularly linguistics on which Nida’s theory is well grounded. All the components of Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory are consistent with each other and within itself. The terminology in Nida’s translation theory are used in a uniform manner to express the same thing and is also substantively consistent with the terminology in the field of translation studies and linguistics. The theory is described in a simple and elegant style and is able to produce prediction in future translating phenomenon. Nida’s systematic approach offers the techniques for translators to tackle a wide variety of translating problems in future. Furthermore, as a pioneer in the development of theory and practice of translation, especially in Bible translation, Nida’s scientific linguistic approach produces practically-oriented findings which are comprehensive and general enough to be relevant to all translation. Therefore, Nida’s theory of dynamic equivalence is an intellectually satisfying and practically applicable theory of translation.

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