Nida’s Translation Restructuring Approach

الأندلسي محمد يوسف المحمودي فبراير 09, 2022 فبراير 09, 2022
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 Nida's Translation Restructuring Approach means some kind of paraphrasing and rewording that happens, when the translated idea, context and other elements (e.g., semantically adjusted idioms) are synthesized. To a certain degree, it overlaps with the previous phase in that semantic and structural adjustments are already made in the course of transfer. Theoretically, restructuring is the opposite of analysis: while analysis is aimed at going down to the deep structure—near the deep structure, to be more precise—restructuring is aimed at going up to the surface structure based on the transformational rules of the target language. 


Nida’s Translation Restructuring[i] Approach 

Nida’s Translation Restructuring Approach


At a glance, this phase looks simple and easy. With the development of linguistics and information technology, transformational rule s of most languages are uncovered, and a number of linguistics software are available to facilitate the application of the rules. In other words, finding and applying the transformational rules can now be done in 69 an almost automatic and easy manner. Nevertheless, this is not the end of restructuring. Nida recommends considering the following three essential elements in order to arrive at Dynamic Equivalence.

First, the translator is advised to consider the varieties of language. It is of noticeable interest that enormous variability exists within a language, not to mention between languages. Devoting more than 10 pages to this topic, Nida elaborates upon the various factors including time, geography, social class, speech mode, and discourse type (1969:120-133). Indeed, Nida guides the translator to conduct a register analysis in the course of the restructuring phase.

It should be noted that all the elements covered by Nida are categorized into two parameters and six sub-parameters in the register analysis. Register has two main parameters: language user and language use, both of which can be described in terms of a set of sub-parameters; and changes in any of these will trigger the language to vary (Fawcett 1997: 75). The sub-parameters of the first are time (temporal dialect), space (regional dialect), and society (social dialect). Meanwhile, the sub-parameters of the latter are tenor (distance between text producer and receiver) mode (choice between spoken and written language), and domain (topic, genre, and text type). 

House (1977) claims

House (1977) claims that the translation critic should analyze the individual parameters and sub-parameters of the source and target texts; compare the way they contribute to conveying message and to building relations between text producer and receiver; and detect and address register mismatches (register mistake or “covertly erroneous error” as opposed to semantic - grammatical mistake or “overtly erroneous error”). The only thing different about Nida’s discussion is that the translator—not the translation critic—should conduct the analysis. Since register analysis has proven itself to be a useful tool, so is Nida’s instruction to consider virtually the same elements.

Second, the translator—or the style analyst— analyzes the stylistic components (style markers) of the source and target texts. Although Nida portrays meaning and style as two distinct elements, he acknowledges the communicative effect and aesthetic value of style. Depending on languages, an almost infinite number of style markers exist: sentence length, transition marker, parataxis, subordination, word choice, and so on. Notwithstanding the fuzzy reality, Nida (1969: 145) categorizes the style markers by their roles and features: roles (functions) are divided into (i) those contributing to increase efficiency and (ii) those contributing to create effects; meanwhile, features are divided into (i) formal (arrangement of words) and (ii) lexical (words, morphemes, etc.). The combination of such factors yields a two-way split, with four resulting types and we find the following four basic feature-function classes:

 (A) Formal features

 They are primarily aimed at enhancing efficiency (intelligibility); 

(B) formal features

These features are meant to create special effects;

(C) lexical features 

These focus on enhancing efficiency (intelligibility); and 

(D) lexical features

 These aim at creating special effects. Such analysis and subsequent comparison between the source and target texts enable the translator to achieve equivalent stylistic effects. Again, the genius of the target language must be guaranteed: rather than striving to maintain or imitate the stylistic markers of the source language, the translator should use the style markers of the target language and make a comparison based on the basic feature-function classes.

Third, the translator is advised to seek professional help in producing the final translation. This might overlap with the analysis of style; nevertheless, it is one thing to analyze the style and often a quite different thing to work out the means by which a satisfactory style can be produced (Nida 1969: 157). The professional stylist involved in this process should have certain qualifications, such as (i) he must be a good writer and (ii) he should not have too much acquaintance with the typical forms of the genre in question.

In other words, the role of the professional stylist is not limited to editing, but extends to revision and creative writing. For this reason, he should not be too familiar with the writing practice of the genre, as the familiarity might oppress his creativity and incapacitate his ability to write at the level of the receptor’s eyes. Now that linguistic varieties and stylistic component are considered, analyzed, and compared, and the target text is polished, the restructuring phase is complete. Finally, we arrive at Dynamic Equivalence.


[i]- Dohun Kim, Dynamic Equivalence: Nida’s Perspective and Beyond, Journal of Translation and Interpretation [online]. 2015, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 68-69.

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