Towards a better general theory of equivalent effect

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


On the premise that translating is communicating, E.A. Nida puts forward a theory of dynamic equivalence based on the principle of equivalent effect, which lays a great emphasis on the response of the receptor, but there are some fuzzy areas in his theory, such as whether cultural adaptations are legitimate.P. Newmark criticizes the theory for being too considerate to the readers at the expense of the author. Refusing to accept Nida's premise, he asserts that a more faithful approach should be adopted in translating "expressive texts" even if it results in incomprehension by the reader. Though an exponent of Nida's theory, D. Jin also criticizes him for not paying enough attention to the "actual facts" of the original.Commenting on the debate, this paper argues that dynamic equivalence does not necessarily mean making it easy for the reader, but it should not be the only proper method of translation, that the importance of "actual facts" is not always paramount, and that cultural adaptations are legitimate to a greater extent than Nida would allow.In an attempt to develop a more sophisticated, more open-minded and more descriptive general theory of equivalent effect, it is suggested that there should be different emphases for different types of texts, that the purposes of translation should be taken into account, and that the translator should have the freedom to choose a certain degree of dynamic equivalence, and to decide for himself on some important questions, such as whether to bring his personality traits into play and whether to improve upon the original.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996


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