transposition in spanish translation

Transposition in Spanish Translation

Another Technique in the Translation Process

Like modulation, transposition in Spanish translation is a technique that is a by-product of linguistics. It is specifically derived from the theoretical branch of syntactical analysis known as ‘generative or transformational grammar´. Like modulation, it is an oblique or an indirect translation technique. In its ‘obliqueness´ or its ‘indirectness´, it is in direct opposition to literal translation or word-for-word translation. Like modulation, it is used to translate between texts that belong to different cultural and linguistic families.

However, unlike modulation in Spanish translation, transposition is less involved with words, phrases and symbols and more with the grammar of texts, and the organization of sentences. Transposition in Spanish translation is undoubtedly the most common way in which translators alter the syntactical structure of the source text. It is always done with the express purpose of meeting the requirements of the target language.

Parts of Speech

It is true that in the previous paragraph we have used the generic term grammar, but in practice, the scope of transposition is limited to the parts of speech that is, to nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. In other words, transposition is not involved with the other elements of grammar like tense, mood, voice, etc. Transposition consists of replacing one part of speech with another without changing the meaning of the text. Transposition in Spanish translation allows an adverb to be replaced by a verb, a noun or an adjective; a past participle to be replaced by a noun, a verb by an adjective, an adjective by a noun, a possessive by a definite article, etc. For example, when ‘the Mexican border´ is translated into ‘La frontera con México´, the adjective ‘Mexican´ is replaced by the noun ‘México´. For the replacement of a verb with an adverb we can mention ‘Llovía de continuo durante las vacaciones´ as the translation for ‘It kept raining during our vacation´.

Cross Transposition

Transposition can also consist of changing the sequence of the parts of speech in a sentence. There is something called ‘crossed transposition´ which occurs when two terms take on each other´s part of speech. This happens very often between adverbs and adjectives, for example, when ‘the idea was incoherently delightful´ is translated into ‘la idea era deliciosamente incoherente´. Transposition in Spanish translation can also be either ‘loose´ or ‘tight´. It is ‘tight´ when equivalent words are used but the order of the words has been changed; it is tight when words with similar meanings are used together with a change in the word order.

Transposition in Spanish translation occurs frequently because of the discrepancy in the position of the verb in the English and Spanish sentences: the verb in the English sentence appears near the beginning of the sentence while the verb in the Spanish sentence appears near the end of the sentence. However, it is easier to transpose from English to Spanish than vice versa because the Spanish word order is more flexible than the English word order. In order to test the success of the transposition in Spanish translation, the translator must test the finished with a native speaker of the language.


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