Mobile menu

Practical applications of theoretical semantics in translation?
Thread poster: JoGunn
JoGunn
Local time: 23:05
English to Icelandic
+ ...
Mar 15, 2005

Do you, as translators, find that a knowledge of theoretical semantics has helped you be better translators?

I'm taking a university level course in English semantics because I thought it would be useful to me as a translator. What we are being tought is pure theory with no mention of practical applications whatever. I am debating whether to drop the course and take another, more obviously practical course in linguistics, perhaps syntactics. I have always been interested in semiotics (on the practical level) and etymology and have found those useful in my translation work, but I fail to see how theoretical semantics can help me.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:05
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
comments on semantics courses for translation Mar 16, 2005

JoGunn wrote:
Do you, as translators, find that a knowledge of theoretical semantics has helped you be better translators?
I'm taking a university level course in English semantics because I thought it would be useful to me as a translator. What we are being tought is pure theory with no mention of practical applications whatever. I am debating whether to drop the course and take another, more obviously practical course in linguistics, perhaps syntactics. I have always been interested in semiotics (on the practical level) and etymology and have found those useful in my translation work, but I fail to see how theoretical semantics can help me.


You are probably spending your time on various topics such as prototypical semantics, classification semantics (with sets of binary criteria to define an object), lexical semantics, semantic/thematic roles, etc. It is very theoretical and can be dry at times.
The area of semantic/thematic roles is interesting for translation if you compare materials that have been translated in different ways and which express various semantic ways of expressing the same idea. I wrote a paper for a semantics course during my Master's studies in which I conducted a semantic role analysis of 4 different English translations/versions of the Psalm 23.
One of the best practical books I have read on semantics is by Tom Payne, University of Oregon. I only have a draft version of it, but it probably was published during the mid 1990s either by the University of Oregon and/or by the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL).
Another decent book is by Georges Kleiber, La Sémantique du prototype. There might be a English equivalent as well by someone else.

As for Semiotics, I took a set of semiotics courses during my doctoral studies and didn't get much out of it. But that's my personal preference.
Etymology is interesting for language studies in general, and especially on doing any kind of comparative studies about 2 more more languages, yet in the area of practical and professional translation studies, I've only found it to come in handy once in a while.

Jeff
-----
Jeff Allen, Ph.D.
Paris, France
http://www.geocities.com/jeffallenpubs/


[Edited at 2006-02-14 23:23]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Basic knowledge may be useful Mar 17, 2005

JoGunn wrote:
Do you, as translators, find that a knowledge of theoretical semantics has helped you be better translators?


I have no idea, but basic understanding of the field in which you practice has never hurt anyone. I have found it annoying when speaking to fellow translators with no academic background that sometimes I refer to this or that, and then they have no idea what I'm talking about because they don't have even basic linguistic training.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:05
French to English
+ ...
Linguistics and translation... Mar 17, 2005

Do you, as translators, find that a knowledge of theoretical semantics has helped you be better translators?


I did a postgraduate degree in linguistics, and then decided to go into translation. I did some semantics, and quite a lot of syntax, and if yours is the same kind of course that mine was (rather theoretical) then no, it doesn't seem to have much day-to-day connection with translation. However, that's not to say it's not worth doing for its own sake, and I thoroughly appreciate having done my MA.

Angela


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Fuad Yahya  Identity Verified
Arabic
+ ...
Can you educate us a little bit? Apr 1, 2005

JoGunn wrote:

I'm taking a university level course in English semantics. . .

I fail to see how theoretical semantics can help me.



What does a university level course in English theoretical semantics consist of? What are the issues discussed? What are the opposing postions? Can you give us examples to illustrate each issue? I have never had such an education at a formal level, and perhaps will never have the opportunity, but I will appreciate a sneak tour of this subject by someone with real exposure to it.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:05
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
examples of semantics topics in university courses Nov 22, 2005

Fuad Yahya wrote:

What does a university level course in English theoretical semantics consist of? What are the issues discussed? What are the opposing postions? Can you give us examples to illustrate each issue? I have never had such an education at a formal level, and perhaps will never have the opportunity, but I will appreciate a sneak tour of this subject by someone with real exposure to it.


Here are some examples:

http://www.cstr.ed.ac.uk/emasters/course/theoretical_ling.html

semantics
* word meaning:
- basic terminology such as denotation, connotation, synonym etc.
- basic lexical semantics
- meaning above the word:
* sense vs. reference
* compositionality
* deixis
* presupposition
* thematic roles
* semantics of tense and aspect (*)
* semantic focus (*)
* basic formal semantics : introduction to logic, quantifiers
- pragmatics:
* speech act theory
* conversational implicature & the Gricean maxims
- discourse
* basic concepts such as discourse, text, coherence vs. cohesion
* models of discourse structure
* information structure (e.g. topic/comment)

The list above actually combines in a single course which in my university degree was taken in separate "theoretical semantics" and "pragmatics" courses.

http://www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/research/theoretical.htm#semantics

Semantics

The study of semantics at UCSB includes a variety of issues and approaches. The nature of the lexicon, i.e., words and word meanings, is a fundamental aspect of understanding how language works, and many UCSB faculty and students have delved into lexical matters, including issues relating to deixis and demonstratives in a broad range of languages; motivations for various lexical categories-including nouns, verbs, and adjectives-and their grammatical properties; the relationship between verb semantics, case marking, and argument structure; and lexical choice in discourse-i.e., how the syntactic and semantic properties of lexical items or lexical categories are manipulated by speakers to achieve discourse goals.


http://ling.ucsc.edu/courses/graduate_courses.html#semantics

Semantics

231. Semantics A
Introduction to linguistic semantics: nature of lexical entries, thematic relations, representation of logical form; relation between semantic interpretation and syntactic representation, quantification and scope relations, reference and presupposition.

232. Semantics B
Model-theoretic semantics for natural language. Truth-conditional, compositional semantics. Various logical ontologies and their application to natural language categories. Dynamic interpretation of discourse and anaphoric relations. Treatment of illocutionary force.
Prerequisites: Course 231 (Semantics A).

236. Proseminar in Semantics
In-depth investigation of some topic in semantics and pragmatics. Topics vary from year to year, covering literature and current research in linguistic semantics and pragmatics.
Prerequisites: Course 231 (Semantics A).


http://www.ims.uni-stuttgart.de/Lehre/EuroMasters/description/theoretical.html#node33

Course No.: 17 Semantics 1
Lambda calculus and type theory are introduced, and the topics of (non-intensional) Montague Grammar, generalized quantifiers, and Discourse Representation Theory (DRT) are covered. From Discourse to Logic by Kamp/Reyle and Gamut's Logic, Language and Meaning, Vol. 1 from the basis of the course material.


Course No.: 32 Semantics 2
This course is concerned with intensional (modal and temporal) logic, and again with Montague Grammar (the PTQ fragment) as well as with DRT (tense and aspect). The course uses Gamut's Logic, Language and Meaning, Vol. 2 and again Kamp and Reyle 1993.


Much more on these topics can be found by doing a search with a internet search engine on: courses theoretical semantics linguistics

Jeff

-----
Jeff Allen, Ph.D.
Paris, France
http://www.geocities.com/jeffallenpubs/


[Edited at 2006-02-14 23:22]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:05
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
prototype semantics Jan 2, 2006

Jeff Allen wrote:
Another decent book is by Georges Kleiber, La Sémantique du prototype. There might be a English equivalent as well by someone else.


A good introductory description to prototype semantics:
http://www.strath.ac.uk/ecloga/Giannakopoulou.htm

An overview of different areas of semantics, including prototype semantics:
http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~doug/courses/lg111/2-lex-sem//index.pdf


Other links covering prototype semantics:

http://semanticcompositions.typepad.com/index/2004/09/what_george_lak.html

http://www.ku.edu/~pyersqr/Ling107/meaning.pdf

http://www.staff.uni-marburg.de/~callies/pragsem/slides/prototype.semantics.pdf

http://www.staff.uni-marburg.de/~callies/pragsem/handouts/prototype.semantics.exercises.pdf


Jeff
==========================
Jeff Allen, Ph.D.
Advisor, LINGUIST List
Paris, France
http://jeffallen.chez.tiscali.fr/about-jeffallen.htm


[Edited at 2006-02-14 23:19]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Diego Achío  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:05
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Knowledge never hurts... May 29, 2016

I am currently enrolled in the Applied Linguistics Major and I'm currently finishing courses in Semantics and Pragmatics. I have also been a translator for about 8 years.

Semantics is roughly about mastering the use of words. You go back to terms we all learned in primary school such as synonyms, antonyms, and such as well as more advanced ones such as homographes, homophones, etc.

Even though it is important for a translator to know about semantics I wouldn't say it's a must have type of knowledge. I have actually found Pragmatics to be more helpful but for negotiation purposes not for translation purposes.

I would say Semantics and Translation are pretty much like driving and cars: You may know how to drive and you may even become a wonderful driver but you don't necessarily need to know about mechanics, the parts of an engine and the structure of a car.

Of course, by having all this knowledge on how your car works mechanically you can become a more proficient driver.

(I just realized this topic ended in 2006 - Oh well, nevermind.)


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Practical applications of theoretical semantics in translation?

Advanced search






memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs