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How to convey the connotative meaning of a word into another language

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 »  Articles Overview  »  Art of Translation and Interpreting  »  Translation Theory  »  How to convey the connotative meaning of a word into another language

How to convey the connotative meaning of a word into another language

By Olga-Translator | Published  12/4/2004 | Translation Theory | Recommendation:
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English to Russian translator
 

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How to convey the connotative meaning of a word into another language
The denotative meaning of a word, while it is the basic one, is not its only or whole meaning. Besides denoting or concrete things, action or concept, a word may carry varios additional overtones generally described as connotations. They are made up of different components: those that express one's attitude to the things spoken about (this is called an emotive component of meaning) or those that indicate the sphere in which the discourse takes place (this is called a stylistic reference of a word).

E.g. Father, dad, daddy, pop, old man - all have the same denotating meaning (they are all synonyms), but they have different emotive meanings and stylistic references.

The same can be said about the Russian words: отец, папа, папуля, папочка, батя, старик, предок.

These additional meanings or components of the general meanings may be part of the words' dictionary meaning, i.e. they may be present in a word taken apartfrom the context.

At the same time, this additional meaning may be part of the word's contextual meaning. It may appear as a result of the word's correlation with other words.

Connotation is one of the keys to the power of words. It's especially evident, patient in a literary text, when the most innocent-looking word can acquire the most vivid connotations.

As it has been stated above, one of the components of a word's meaning is its emotive component. Emotive connotations are rendered by the emotional or expressive counterpart of meaning. Emotive connotations of a word can directly express or evoke:

1) Emotion (e.g.: daddy - father);
2) Evaluation (e.g.: clique - group);
3) Intensity (e.g.: adore - love);
4) Stylistic colouring (e.g.: slay - kill).

The content of the emotional component of meaning varies considerably. The range of emotions stretches from positive to negative: admiration, tenderness, respect, scorn, irony, loathing.

The expressive counterpart of a meaning is optional and even if it's present its proportion with respect of logical counterpart may vary within wide limits.

The meaning of many words is subject to complex association originating in context of which both the speaker and the listener are aware and which form connotational component of meaning. In some words the realization of meaning is accompanied by additional stylistic colouring revealing the speaker's attitude to the situation and his interlocutior.

It's very important toremember that affective connotations of a word can be within its semantic structure registered in its dictionary meaning or can be imposed by the context.

E.g. Fabulous, stunning, smart, top-flight, terrific and the like have special emotive meaning fixed in dictionaries.

E.g. He's very rich.
He's fabulously rich.

Many words acquire an emotive meaning only in a definite context. In that case we say that a word has a contextual emotive meaning.

So we can conclude that affective connotations of a word are peculiar to it either on the pragmatic or syntagmatic level.


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