Generalization and Particularization in Italian Translation

As techniques, “generalization” and “particularization” in Italian translation enjoy immense popularity among Italian translators. Generalization and particularization are two sides of the same coin: generalization occurs when a word or phrase in the source text is translated into a broader and more general term in the target text, while particularization occurs when a word or phrase in the source text is transferred into a more specific and particular term in the target text. The techniques of generalization and particularization in Italian translation are used to accommodate structural and stylistic differences between source and target language texts. Apart from the stylistic and structural factors, these techniques can also be used to influence and shape the reader’s understanding of reality.

Generalization and particularization are synonyms for hyperonymy and hyponymy, respectively. Both generalization and particularization will produce some amount of translation loss, but that is to be expected. On the levels of both grammar and content, details may be omitted from the source text or details may be added to the target text, but as long as the details do not alter and affect the meaning of the text, they are not objectionable. On the contrary, the manipulation of details might even be dictated by necessity. An Italian translator must keep in mind that:

  • no better alternative is available in the target language, and
  • the added or omitted detail does not add to or detract from the information
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