Unit of Translation

Units of translation depend on the text itself, i.e. to what point can I understand the meaning.

Both the word and the sentence, the period and the paragraph must be subject to analysis and interpretation in context; when it comes time to translate, we work with an organic semantic whole, the text, which is articulated through subunits of meaning. Therefore, the unit of translation is the entire text.

Newmark insists that the unit of translation, understood as a segment of the original text from which the translator can begin his or her reformulation in a different language, is part of a movable scale: “The word, the lexical unit, the collocation, the group, the clause and the sentence–rarely the paragraph, never the text”.

This great linguist defends an intermediate posture between the restricted unit of Vinay and Darbelnet and the laxer unit of the speech analysis theorists, who consider that the unit of translation is the entire text.

“Unit of translation”, by contrast, is a phrase that is normally used to make reference to the unit of analysis or interpretation and should perhaps be reserved to desginate a segment of the dialectic process of the negotiation of the meaning of the source text and its placement in the target language.