Highlighting Difficulties in Idiomatic Translation


  • John Mervyn Evjen Department of Modern Languages & Cultural Studies, University of Alberta




Idioms are fixed phrases with little to no possible syntactic reconfiguration, whose lexemes are not representative of the meaning they convey in any given language. Their complexity is rooted in deep semantic structures from ages of cultural history. In translation, idioms pose great difficulty due to their innate dichotomous nature and deep cultural roots. For an idiom to be translated from the source language into the target language, an equivalent idiom must be found in the target language in order for the translated idiom to have the same effect on the audience. This paper examines three English and German idioms in comparison to determine what allows for equivalency between translated idioms. Between the three levels of equivalence, strong, weak, and zero equivalence, there are different factors that add to the complexity of translation and their counterparts in translation. In this paper, I explore three levels of idiomatic equivalence and discuss how these three levels are different from each other.






Social Sciences & Humanities