Філологія - Вісник Донецького інституту соціальної освіти


Lecturer of English Philology and Translation Department Alfred Nobel University, Dnipropetrovsk

The article deals with the analysis of peculiarities in the process of translation of American Business realia into Ukrainian. The author finds the aspect of American Business realia translation to be poorly studied. In addition, the author provides her own definition and classification of American Business realia and determines the most appropriate ways of translation into Ukrainian.

Key words: realia, cross-cultural aspect of translation, American Business English realia, classification.

N our current era of globalization countries try to break down barriers separating them with the language barrier being one of a kind. Ukraine is also involved in this process as a prospective candidate to join EU. As a part of such efforts Ukraine tries to establish and develop cooperation with other countries, and this implies cross-cultural communication. A successful communication process can be fruitful only if we possess the knowledge such countries’ not just the language but their culture and customs as well.

In 1827 Goethe wrote that translating labor was and still is one of the most important and worthy matters connecting the entire universe together. These words characterize the translator as a creative person who carries the works beyond the limits of one’s national culture. A translator within the realm of his work enriches language and culture of the target and source languages.

In the process a translator may face a lot of problems and realia translation is one of the most difficult and topical one, and it suggests a perfect ground for our investigation.

The word realia comes from medieval Latin, in which it originally meant «the real things», i. e. material things, as opposed to abstract ones. In translation, Realia Are words and expressions for culture-specific material things. S. Vlakhov and S. Florin, the Bulgarian translators, were the first to carry out and in-depth study of realia. They indicated that since realia carry a very local overtone, they often pose a challenge for the translation [1].

S. Vlakhov and S. Florin determine realia to be a particular category of the expressive vocabulary, including words and word-combinations naming the objects of life, culture, history of a nation which are unfamiliar to another one. The researchers note that the process of realia translation needs a particular approach, because they do not have a corresponding equivalent in other languages, as they are bearers of national and historical connotation [1, р. 2].

There are many definitions of term «realia». Some of linguists examine realia as a variety of nonequivalent words, another confirm that it is the same.

However, we incline V. Komissarovs’ point of view. He says that realia is not only facts of culture life of the country but also proper names, geographical names, names of buildings etc [3,р.4].

There are many classifications of realia, depending on the sign, which provides the basis.

© G. Byelyakova, 2012



Thus, Z. Proshina proposes to divide realia into 4 types: unique realia (balalaika   –  balalaika, matrioshka –  Matryoshka); analoges (drug-store –  pharmacy); similar realia with different functions (cuckoo 's call –  asked for by an American girl to find out how soon she will get married)  –  call of the cuckoo  –  counted by a Russian to find out how longs/he will live); language lacunae of similar notions (clover-leaf  –  автомобильная развязка в виде клеверного листа) [5].

G. Tomakhin defines onomastics realia, which include: geographical names (toponyms), especially with the cultural and historical associations; anthroponomy realia these are the names of historical figures and characters of fiction and folklore, historical facts and events in the life of the country, the names of state-institutions and governmental agencies and many others.

The words, denoted by the appellative lexicon: geographical terms, features of the natural geographic environment, flora and fauna, and some words (including general terms) relating to the political system, socio-political life, legislative system, military affairs, the arts, education, manufacturing and industrial relations, customs and traditions [6].

All of the given definitions characterize the notion of «realia» as a linguistic unit, naming the elements of the «alien» culture, which have national, historical, local and every-day life coloring and absent in other cultures and languages.

The category of realia as a linguistic unit is not finalized, and there are a lot of opinions. However, majority of scholars (A. F. Fedorov, S. I. Vlakhov, S. T. Florin, etc.) agree that realia can be expressed by independent words and word-combinations, which are semantically equivalent to these realia [1; 2; 7; 8].

Distinctive feature of realia is nature of its content (connection of the specific object with a certain country, nation, social community) and the link to a certain period of time. On the basis of these features, S. Vlakhov and S. Florin proposed the detailed classification of cultural realia:

A)  geographic realia:

1) physical geography and meteorology (tornado, tsunami);

2) endemic species (iguana, cheryomucha).

B)  ethnographic realia:

1) everyday life (spaghetti, koumiss, sauna);

2) work (rancho, kolkhoz, consierge);

3) art and culture (kazachok, balalaika, chastushki);

4) ethnic objects (cockney, yankee);

5) measures and money (arshin, pud, peseta).

C)  political and social realia:

1) reginal administrative agencies (county, hutor);

2) offices (duma, forum, khan)

3) social and political life (Bolshevik, samurai, madame);

4) military realia (katyusha, marshal, ataman) [1]. However in the view of the globalization process and wide international business relations,

We would like to address the problem connected with translation of American Business English realia into Ukrainian.

Having reviewed the theoretical basis of this aspect we have found American Business English realia to be poorly studied.

Therefore, we decided to provide our own definition and classification of American Business realia:

Realia of business are vocabulary units peculiar to a certain nation which denote objects, notions, situations, practices and phenomena as an integral part of the business and economic relations between people as to organization of business, management, production, distribution, marketing and so on.

The classification of American Business realia:

I. Names of US companies and organizations: General Motors Corp., MGA, Starbucks.

II. Work:

1. Personnel and Human Resources: CEO, back office.

2. Business tools: silo, ticker tape.

3. Organization of labor: bylaws, an entry level.

4. Recruitment and dismissal: Pink slip, stress interview.


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Wages, salary and benefits: Wage price spiral.

III. Trade:

1. Names of goods and services: Squashes, spa.

2. Production: Farm out, beta test.

3. Marketing: Brand makeover, cash cow.

4. Price policy: Prestige pricing, Year end sale, rain check.

5. Sales: Joe six pack, bundling strategy.

6. Promotion: Icebreaker, clutter.

IV. Measures and money: Foot, visa card, gallon.

V. Accounting: Allocation, massage.

VI.  Finances: Factoring, credit line.

VII.  Bank operations: T-bills, blue chips.

VIII.  US tax legislation: Tax shelter.

IX.  Insurance: Underwriter,

X.  Ethics: Code of ethics,

XI.  Business documentation: Occupational Safety and Health Act.

XII.  Associations,  Trade  Unions  and  Government  Organizations:  American  Bar
Association, Food and Drug Administration, Illinois CPA Society

Culturally-bound expressions like realia are among the prominent translation problems, especially when translation occurs between two distinct languages like English and Ukrainian which are considerably separated both linguistically and culturally. Yet, we ought to ask ourselves if there are any set strategies that a translator can employ to tackle realia despite the obvious specificity of the issue? As with other questions of relative character there is no universal approach meant to solve all problems with realia either.

Indeed, the correct variant of realia translation –  an equivalent which is able to impress the reader in a way as the author of the origin composed. Frequently, it is the key element which represents the describing picture in a whole. In order to achieve this goal, the translator should consider all possible options of translation and choose the most appropriate.

Means of realia translation are predefined with:

–  the character of the text,

–  importance of the realia in the context,

–  nature of the realia,

–  reader of the translated text.

According to A. Fedorov, the following three methods can be distinguished:

1) transliteration (complete and partial),

2) creation of new words or word-combinations,

3) finding close equivalent [7].

A more detailed classification of the methods of translation was offered by S. Vlakhov and S. Florin:

I. Transcription.

II.  Translation (replacement):

A) neologism:

B) calque

C) semi-calque;

D) the semantic neologism.

III.  Approximate translation:

A) the genus-species line;

B) the functional equvalent;

C) a description, explanation or interpretation.

IV.  Contextual interpretation [1].

With the purpose to define the peculiarities in translation American Business realia into Ukrainian we have studied both different sources of theoretical literature and analyzed the number of authentic American editions of business orientation [8; 9; 10].

The carried out analysis has proved that the main difficulty in translation of American Business realia into Ukrainian is the semantic component contained in each realia. Thus, translator may use the following means in order to render them correctly:


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1.  By Transcription or Transliteration

By «transcription» we mean: transmission of Sounds Of a foreign language using the letters of the alphabet of the receiving culture.

Eg.: ABC  –  «Ей-Бі-Сі».

Whether or not the receiving culture and the source culture use the same or different alphabets involves further inconsistencies if the alphabet is different, the change is all the more necessary (although there are also text insertions in different alphabets) so that the receiving culture reader is able to process the message. If the alphabet is the same, there can be cases of adaptation reproducing the pronunciation (for example, the English chewing gum can become in Italian «ciuinga», and be treated as an Italian word of feminine gender).

Transliterarion is on the other hand transmission of letters of a foreign word using the letters of the alphabet of the receiving culture.

Eg.: Burger King   –  «Бургер Кінг».

The emphasis of transcription is, therefore, on sound, while the emphasis of transliteration is on the graphic form. When transliteration is taken to the extreme, it is possible to anyone (even a computer) to reconstruct the original form of a word, as if it were the coding/decoding of the Morse alphabet.

One could even go further, and say that the transcription approach is useful in direct interpersonal relationships, in everyday, matter-of-fact situations, while transliteration is useful in the more intellectual relationships, mediated by written formulation.

2By Transcription or Transliteration and Explication of Their Genuine Nationally Specific

In many cases the lingual form of realia conveyed through transcription or transliteration can not provide a full expression of its lexical meaning. As a result an additional explication of its sense becomes necessary. It happens when the realia are introduced in the Target Language for the first time or when the realia are not yet known to the broad public of the Target Language readers. The explanation may be given either in the translated passage/speech flow, where the realia are based, or in a footnote   –  when a lengthy explication becomes necessary:

Eg.: DuPont   –  «ДюПонт», одна з найвпливовіших груп фінансового капіталу США.

3.  By calque

Calque Or Loan translation Is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word (Latin: «verbum pro verbo») or root-for-root translation. Eg.: Shadow Cabinet   –  тіньовий кабінет.

4. By Translation of Componential Parts and Additional Explication of Realia

The proper meaning of some realia can be faithfully rendered by the way of regular translation of all or some of their componential parts and explication Of The denotative meaning pertaining to the source language unit. Such and the like explanations can not, naturally, be made in the text of translation, hence they are given usually in the footnotes:

Eg.: blue chips   –  «блакитні фішки»1

1– першокласні цінні папери, які завжди відрізняються низьким ризиком знецінення.

6.  By Descriptive Explaining/Explication Only

When the transcription/transliteration can not be helpful in expressing the sense of realia or when it might bring about an unnecessary ambiguity in the Target Language narration/text explications and explaining are used.

Eg.: tabloids  –  малоформатні газети бульварного напряму.

7By Ways of Word-for-word or Loan Translation

A faithful translation of sense realia may be achieved either by the way of word for-word translation or by the way of loan translation. Eg. Salvation Army  –  Армія порятунку.

6. Translation by Means of Semantic Analogies/Equivalents

There are some peculiar notions in both the languages. Consequently, similar/analogous national notions in different languages may appear as a result of direct or indirect borrowings [12]:

Eg.: Food and Drug Administration   –  Управління з контролю за продуктами і ліками.



In conclusion, it is essential to emphasize that the problem connected with the translation of American Business realia into Ukrainian is considered to be a topical one, since there is a great number of these realia in a language and the aspect is poorly studied. Moreover, in order to feel free in a foreign culture a person should constantly refresh his knowledge as the society development influences language enrichment. New realia appear and old may become just ordinary words; therefore, the aspect will be topical at all times.


1. Влахов С. Непереводимое в переводе. Реалии. «Министерство Перевода». Сборник статей. 1969 / С. Влахов, С. Флорин.   –  М.: Советский писатель, 1970.   –  320 с.

2. Швейцер А. Д. Перевод и лингвистика/А. Д. Швейцер.  –  М.: Воениздат., 1973.  –  326 с.

3. Комисаров В. Н. Лингвистика перевода / В. Н. Комисаров.   –  М.: Международные от­ношения, 1980.   –  167с.

4. Комисаров В. Н. Пособие по переводу с английского языка на русский / В. Н. Комиса­ров, Я. И. Рецкер, В. И. Тархов.   –  М.: Высшая школа, 1965.   –  268 с.

5. Прошина З. Г. Теория перевода / З. Г. Прошина. – Владивосток: ДВГУ, 2002.   –  254 с.

6. Томахин Г. Д. Прагматический аспект лексического фона слова / Г. Д. Томахин   //  Фи­лологические науки. –  1988.   –  № 5.   –  С. 54-67.

7. Федоров А. В. Основа общей теории перевода (Лингвистический очерк) / А. В. Федо­ров.   –  3-е изд., перераб. и доп.   –  М.: Высшая школа, 1968.   –  234 c.

8. Зорівчак Р. П. Реалія в художньому мовленні; перекладознавчий аспект /
Р. П. Зорівчак.   –  Львів: Іноземна філологія, 1994.   –  286 с.

9. Зорівчак Р. П. Реалія і переклад/ Р. П. Зорівчак. –  Львів: Іноземна філологія, 1989. – 
198 с

10. Лапоногова Н. А. Языковые реалии американского бизнеса / Н. А. Лапоногова.   –  К.: Парламенское издательство, 2004.   –  224 с.

11. Суперанская А. В. Принципы передачи безэквивалентной лексики / А. В. Суперан-ская //  Великобритания, лингвострановедческий словарь. –  М.: Филологическая мысль, 1978.  –  568 с.

12.  Фененко Н. А. Язык реалий и реалии языка [Электронный ресурс] / под ред.
А. А. Кретова. Воронеж: ВГУ, 2001.   –  Режим доступа: Http://www. rusnauka. com/18_EN_2009/
Philologia/48556.doc. htm

Статтю присвячено особливостям передачі реалій американського бізнесу українською мовою. Автор висловлює думку, що аспект передачі реалій американського бізнесу недостатньо вивчений, пропонує своє визначення поняття, класифікацію реалій американського бізнесу і виділяє найбільш прийнятні способи передачі.

Ключові слова: реалія, міжкультурний аспект у перекладі, реалії американського бізнесу, кла­Сифікація.

Статья посвящена особенностям передачи реалий американского бизнеса украинским язы­ком. Автор выражает мнение, что аспект передачи реалий американского бизнеса недостаточно из­учен и предлагает свое определение понятия, классификацию реалий американского бизнеса и вы­деляет наиболее предпочтительные способы передачи.

Ключевые слова: реалия, межкультурный аспект в переводе, реалии американского бизне­Са, классификация.

Надійшло до редакції 8.06.2012.



УДК 81’2.811.111