Dissertation > Language, writing > Linguistics > Translation Studies

Lexical Gaps in Translation

Author XuPing
Tutor LiShaoMing
School Shandong University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords lexical gap translation equivalence culture linguistic mechanism
CLC H059
Type Master's thesis
Year 2005
Downloads 775
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"Lexical gap" is originally a term in semantics for research within one language, and then it has been introduced into translation field, where it refers to the phenomenon that we have no ready equivalent in the target language for an existing word in the source language. Like other linguistic gaps, lexical gaps are the products of communications between different cultures and languages. Despite its high frequency of appearance in translation field, "lexical gap" has not yet been collected as a standard entry in many translatology lexicons, and many translators cite the term according to their own comprehension of it. Also most studies on "lexical gap" either focus on its certain subcategory like "realia", or over-use it for phrasing differences. Out of this consideration, the thesis attempts to make a detailed research into lexical gaps, including their definition, causation and solution. The first chapter, based on the research of the origin and the professional definitions of "lexical gap", redefines this term of its connotation within the theoretical frame of translation equivalence, and clarifies its extension through subdivision of lexical gaps into two types according to the degree of non-equivalence: "quasi-lexical-gap", where the value of equivalence approximates zero;and "semi-lexical-gap", where the equivalence is only partial. The second chapter of the thesis illustrates factors that may lead to the occurrence of lexical gaps, which mainly fall into two domains, that is, culture and linguistics. Translation inevitable involves two cultures and two languages, and differences in these two fields are the major obstacles of translation equivalence. The vocabulary of a language certainly reflects the cultural environment it lies in, so we can not expect that words specialized for one culture will have equivalent in another language that reflects a different culture. On the other hand, the different word-forming mechanisms and figurative uses of words have widened the gaps between two lexicon systems. The third chapter summarizes methods to deal with lexical gaps, including findings of other scholars and generations from the existing examples. We may resort to various translation procedures to fill up such gaps, including transcription, neologism, caique, substitution, and approximate translation, and the translating methods may vary according to the types of the lexical gaps, the contexts of their occurrences, and the significance of the lexical gaps in the texts. The thesis attempts to do a preliminary work for more systematic study of lexical gaps, and expects the birth of a dictionary on translation of lexical gaps between Chinese and English, so that translators can resort to a reliable resource for a better output in translation.

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