Vertalen in onderwijs en beroep
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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The Dutch linguist Knuvelder once said that a writer generally succeeds in putting on paper only 90% of what he intended to write, that a reader understands only 90% of what he reads. A translator, who may be considered a privileged reader, understands therefore 81% of the original thought, translates it for 73% in order to make the new reader understand 64% of it. If we suppose that the average reader is not a privileged reader, we may assume that the reader of a translation understands more or less half of what was said in the foreign language. Partly this is due to the fact that language is culture-specific. A Dutchman will think that a Russian "dacha" is something like a second home, but is unable to make a representation of it, no more than a Russian is able to imagine what a "café" is, let alone the typically Dutch "bruin café". Like a Dutchman, a Russian will stand in line on Saturday morning in the supermarket, but unlike the Dutchman who will just have the time to read a small newspaper item before it is his turn, the Russian can buy another novel when he is half the line, because he has finished War & Peace while waiting. That poses the question: how should one translate Dacha into Dutch or second home into Russian, how should one translate "bruin café" or "stand in line"?


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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