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Interlingual, intersemiotic, and intralingual translation

There are three types of translation, each of which performs a particular function.

Knowing the differences between them can help you develop a more conscious approach to translation and the creation and circulation of cultural content.

Intralingual Translation

Intralingual translation involves explaining a word’s meaning with words in the same language.

It is the type of translation you would find in a language dictionary. This type of translation explains the meaning of a particular word for speakers who either don't or only partially understand the language.

Intersemiotic Translation

Intersemiotic translation is the most challenging and fascinating form of translation.

It involves translating a text from one format to another. Here’s a straightforward example: transposing a book into a film is intersemiotic translation.

When performing this type of translation, translators must make rational and conscious choices to identify a text’s key elements and how they should be transposed into the target medium while remaining faithful to the original format.

Why is interlingual translation so important?

Interlingual translation is the type of translation we are most used to. It involves transposing the meaning of a text from one language into another to generate a target text that is as faithful as possible to the original text’s sense and purpose.

When we talk about "translation" in general, without specifying the type of translation, we almost always mean interlingual translation.

It allows speakers of different languages to communicate. As a result, it expands our knowledge, and gives us the opportunity to connect with individuals from other cultures on a more personal level.

Examples of interlingual translation

The most classic example of interlingual translation is "The cat is on the table" – “Il gatto è sul tavolo”.

However, there are lots of less obvious examples, especially when it comes to ambiguous or idiomatic sentences, such as sayings, which are often hard to translate

An experienced translator would never translate "sta piovendo a catinelle" as "it’s raining sinks". They would most likely say "it's raining cats and dogs", which is an integral part of the English language.

Jakobsón and translation

The Russian linguist Roman Jakobsòn posited that three types of translation exist. The linguist stated that, "all cognitive experience and its classification is conveyable in any existing language".

He also noted that when a language encounters certain limits of expression or concepts it cannot express, it resorts to circumlocutions or borrows formulas and words from other languages (such as anglicisms loathed by Italian purists).

Interlingual translation occupies a place of honour among Eurotrad’s translation services. We firmly believe in Jakobsòn's theories and are passionately committed to translating content from one language to another as authentically as possible, and between a wide variety of language pairs.

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November 7, 2022

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