English Grammar

Rendering of the contextual meaning of the definite and indefinite articles

Rendering of the contextual meaning of the definite and indefinite articles

Most researchers do not pay enough attention to the translation of the articles. But nevertheless some of them (I.V.Korunets, V.I.Karaban) [28,39] consider that when rendering the lexical meaning of the definite and indefinite articles into Ukrainian one should consider that they are meaningful and attention should be payed to their functional meanings in the sentences or word-combinations.

One of the researches who supports the idea of the necessity of translating definite and indefinite articles is Korunets. He thinks that the article, both the definite and indefinite, is a functional word serving to identify or determine the noun (cf. to work-the work), the superlative degree of its quality (the tallest tree) or the order of nouns in a word-group (the first step) or in a row of similar nouns. In some prepositional phrases and word-combinations the definite and indefinite articles, however, may change their lexico-grammatical nature (become a particle), as in the expression the more, the better (чим більше, тим краще), or acquire some peculiar grammatical, functional and lexical meaning (the Browns/Petrenkos подружжя Браунів/ Петренків); the article may be lexicalized as in the Alps/the Carpathians Альпи/Карпати, at the baker’s/butcher’s у пекаря/ м’ясника (в хлібному /м’ясному магазині). Such and the like lexicalized articles, naturally, in no way weaken or lose their determining, i.e., grammatical function. As a result, their lexical meaning is inseparable in these cases from their functional meaning. The determining and lexicalizing nature of the definite and indefinite articles also manifests itself in several set expressions (cf. in the cart, in a word, what a pity, all of a sudden, etc.)

1). On several other occasions the definite/indefinite article may acquire some lexical meaning in contextual environment (only for a time) and thus serve as a peculiar means of «expressive connotation»1 . This kind of articles is each time endowed in different contextual environments with some quite different meaning, which may be, nevertheless, of implicitly different semantic and lexico-grammatical/ logically-grammatical type, as for instance, that of a demonstrative, possessive, identifying, indefinite or some other pronoun: Cf.: He lived more poorly than an artisan. (S. Maugham) Жив він бідніше за будь-якого ремісника. Carot never sold a picture. (Ibid) Каро не продав жодноӣ картини/ні однієӣ картини.

2) That of an adjunctive/identifying adjective and a specifying or modal particle:… and she had acquired a reputation for neatness and

accuracy (Maugham) і вона здобула за ретельно виконану роботу солідну репутацію. She would have called him a fish. (Carrol) Боні назвала б його просто карасем.

3) A distinctly nominal or rather nominalizing meaning. The latter can be explicitly illustrated in the following sentence. He (Mr. Gills) took it (the bottle) up and having surveyed and smelt it said with extraordinary expression: «The?» «The», returned the instrument maker. (Ch. Dickens)

The real meaning of thus emphasized article can be disclosed only in the sentence that follows, where Mr. Gills fills the glass with liquour and drinks it. Without the broader context it would certainly be impossible to guess what this definite nominalizing article stands for in the extract. Nor is it always easy for our students to identify in some sentences the rhematic and the thematic function of article; and to express their meaning. Therefore, the occurrence of lexically meaningful articles is not occasional or accidental, for it is predetermined by context. Due to this, the number of lexically meaningful articles in different speech substyles often varies. Their occurrence can also depend on the personal taste of the author who may be more or less inclined to use them in his narrative. But whatever their quantity, none of the lexically meaningful articles should be ignored о overlooked in the passage under translation and its meaning must be correctly rendered in the target language.

In order to faithfully convey each kind of the aforementioned meaningful articles, the student will be advised first of all to subject the whole passage, which is to be translated, to a thorough content analysis in order to select possible lexical substitutes for the article in the target language. The substitutes in languages like Ukrainian (Russian), which have no functionals of the kind, can differ by their logico-grammatical nature, as well as be contextually synonymous Because of this the choice of the contextually equivalent substitutes depends much on the translator who, when selecting a fitting lexical equivalent for the article, has to take some factors into consideration These include first of all the semantic factor playing a predominant role, and the stylistic factor eliminating an unnecessary repetition of the same equivalent substitute in sentences close by. In other words, the co-occurrence of the same synonymous substitutes must b strictly regulated. Besides, the translator has to keep it in mind, that some contextual meanings of the definite article may seem similar 1.1 those of the indefinite article and vice versa. Hence, the translator should be no less attentive to the style of his target language pas sage which in its turn will help him achieve a faithful translation of sentences or the passage as a whole, where both the defining and the nominalizing lexically charged articles are used.

When conveying the lexical meanings of the definite and indefinite articles into Ukrainian, attention should be paid to their functional meanings in the sentence/word-combinations. Thus, the meanings of the definite article are usually expressed through different Ukrainian attributive pronouns, adjectives, participles, adverbs or cardinal/ordinal numerals. The meaning of the numeral one, on the other hand, is always expressed only through the indefinite article, which is historically derived from this part of speech. Cf.: Most of felllows in the Quarters share a studio. (Maugham) Багато хлопців з латинського кварталу орендують гуртом одну студію.

The nominalizing articles are mostly rendered through the parts of speech having the functions of attributes to the noun: «… I believe that a young person in a city tea-shop has left her situation. (Maugham) …Гадаю, в одній із кав’ярень якась офіціантка зникла.

The emphatically used articles, on the other hand, have usually particles for their contextual equivalents in Ukrainian: But I must content myself with a few paragraphs. (Maugham) Жаль, що можу обмежитись лише кількома епізодами.

The rhematic use of the articles introducing the new information, a new core of an utterance, and its thematic use repeating the already known information about an object or event is often disclosed in Ukrainian sentences by other than lexical means, as will be shown further. Still, the bulk of meanings which the lexically charged articles can acquire due to their syntagmatic environment in speech are those of pronouns. This can also be seen from the citied illustrations on the forthcoming pages.

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