The Concept of Communicative Translation Method

Talk about translation methods, Peter Newmark divided it into two main groups of translation methods. The first method that emphasize on source language text (SL) and the second emphasize on target language text (TL) . In the first method, there are word-for-word translation, literal translation, faithful translation and semantic translation. While in the second method, such as, adaptation, free translation, idiomatic translation and communicative translation. Next, Newmark puts the methods of translation in the form of diagram below:


SL emphasis

Word-for-word translation

Literal translation

Faithful translation

Semantic translation





TL emphasis


Free translation

Idiomatic translation

Communicative translation

Figure 1. Newmark’s V Diagram[1]

[1] Newmark, P. Textbook of Translation, London: Prentice Hall. 1988, p.45

In the diagram above, between the idiomatic and faithful translation, there are semantic and communicative translation. The differences between them, in semantic translation should keep style of source language as can as possible while in communicative translation should change it become structure that not only acceptable in TL but also flexible and elegant.
Let’s see to these examples to understand more the difference between semantic and communicative translation method:

Source language Semantic translation Communicative translation
Keep off the grass Jauhi rumput ini Dilarang berjalan di atas rumput
It is wrong to assume that our people do not understand what a real democracy is


Adalah keliru untuk menganggap bahwa rakyat kita tidak memahami apa  demokrasi yang sesungguhnya Kelirulah kalau kita menganggap bahwa rakyat kita tidak memahami makna demokrasi yang sebenarnya


The following are the concept of communicative and semantic translation explained by Newmark:
1) In communicative translation as in semantic translation, provided that equivalent effect is secured, the literal word-for-word translation is not only the best; this is the only valid method of translation. There is no excuse for unnecessary ‘synonyms’ or elegant variation, let alone paraphrases, in any type of translation.
2) Both semantic and communicative translation complies with the usually accepted syntactic equivalents or correspondences for the two languages in question.
3) Communicative and semantic translation may well coincide in particular, where the text conveys a general rather than a culturally (temporally and spatially) bound message and where the matter is as important as the manner.

4) There is no one communicative or one semantic method of translating a text—these are in fact widely overlapping bands of methods. A translation can be more, or less, semantic—more or less, communicative—even a particular section or sentence can be treated more communicatively or less semantically.
5) The vast majority of texts require communicative rather than semantic translation. Most non-literary writing, journalism, informative articles and books, textbooks, reports, scientific and technological writing, non-personal correspondence, propaganda, publicity, public notices, standardized writing, popular fiction—the run-of-the mill texts which have to be translated today but were not translated and in most cases did not exist a hundred years ago—compromise typical material suitable for communicative translation. On the other hand, original expression (where the specific language of the speaker or writer is as important as the content), whether it is philosophical, religious, political, scientific, legal, technical or literary, needs to be translated semantically. A communicative translation may well be a useful introduction, a simplified version, to the semantic translation of such texts.
6) There is no reason why a basically semantic translation should not also be strongly communicative.
7) Meaning is complicated, many-leveled, a ‘network of relations’ as devious as the channels of thought in the brain. The more communication, the more generalization; the more simplification, the less meaning.

The concept of communicative translation was proposed by Peter Newmark. He admitted it is as the most important contribution in the translation theories. It is likely to be smoother, simpler, clearer, more direct, more conventional, conforming to a particular register of language, tending to under-translate, i.e. to use more generic, hold all terms in difficult passages. Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Newmark stated that fundamentally the function of translation is to convey or express opinion or idea to other people, as he said in Nababan as follow: “…translation is basically a means of communication or a manner of addressing one or more persons in the speaker presence.”
Communicative translation attempts to produce on its readers an effect as close as possible to that obtained on the readers of the original.
For example:
When anyone opens a current account at a bank, he is lending the bank money, repayment of which he may demand at any time/ either in cash or by drawing a cheque in favour of another person. Primarily/ the banker-customer relationship is that of debtor and creditor-depending on whether the customer’s account is in credit or is overdrawn.

The result of communicative translation as follow:
Apabila seseorang membuka rekening baru pada sebuah bank, maka berarti ia meminjamkan uang kepada bank, yang pengembalianya dapat ia lakukan sewaktu-waktu, baik dalam bentuk tunai maupun berupa penarikan cek yang diperuntukan bagi orang lain. Pada pokoknya, hubungan bankir-nasabah merupakan hubungan debitor dan kreditor, tergantung apakah rekening nasabah tersebut berupa kredit ataukah debet.

In this case we take two methods of translation namely literal translation and communicative translation. In literal translation, usually the result of translation still translated word-for-word. As the result, it creates certain word or sentence from the source language still unacceptable to the target language. For example, the word “current” in the first sentence, literally it translated become “catatan arus”. Of course it is not suitable to the context of the text. It can be seen clearly in the sentence “apabila seseorang membuka suatu catatan arus dalam sebuah bank…” It feels so stiff and unacceptable. But let’s see to the communicative one, the word “current” translated “rekening” so it becomes acceptable between source language and target language like in this complete sentence “apabila seseorang membuka rekening baru pada sebuah bank…”Also the word “customer” that literally still translated “pelanggan” whereas it will be more communicative translated become “nasabah”.
Communicative translation tries to create effect that experienced by reader of target language same within the source language . Therefore, it should there is no part of translation that difficult to be understood and felt stiff. In this translation, the translator can correct or repair logic of source language sentences, replace stiff words and structure with the flexible and elegant one, omit unclear sentences, omit repetition, and modify jargon usage.
Furthermore, Communicative translation is a subjective translation because it tries to reach the thought effect or certain action on the target language of the reader. In communicative translation it is said “is it satisfying translation?” not “is it corrects translation?” It can be said that the weakness of communicative translation is the loss a part of source language meaning. According to Newmark in Zuchridin said that meaning has many layers, flexible, and also complicated . One word that correlated to other gives diverse meaning. Therefore, every simplification, as in communicative, always caused partly omission meaning.

Characteristics of Communicative Translation
The following are the typical characteristics of communicative translation method:
1) Reader centered.
2) Pursues author’s intention.
3) Related to speech. Adapts and makes the thought and cultural content original more accessible to reader.
4) Effect-oriented. Formal features or original sacrificed more readily.
5) Faithful, freer.
6) Effective.
7) Easy reading, more natural, smoother, simpler, clearer, more direct, more conventional, confirming to particular register of language but longer.
8) Social.
9) Target language biased.
10) Under translated: use of ‘hold-all’ term.
11) Less powerful.
12) Maybe better than original because gain in force and clarity, despite loss in semantic content.
13) Ephemeral and rooted in its context,’ existential’.
14) ‘Tailor-made’ or targeted for one category or readership; does one job, fulfils one particular function.
15) A certain embroidering, a stylistic synonymy, a discreet modulation is condoned, provided the facts are straight and the reader is suitably impressed.
16) The translator has the right to correct and improve the logic and style of the original, clarify the ambiguities, jargons, normalize bizarre personal usage.
17) The translator can correct mistakes of facts in original.
18) Target: a ‘happy’ version, i.e. a successful act.
19) Unit of translating: tends to sentences and paragraph.
20) Applicable to impersonal texts.
21) Basically the work of the translating is a craft.
22) Sometimes the product of a translation team.
23) Conforms the ‘universalist’ position, assuming that exact translation maybe possible.
24) More consider to the message than meaning .

The ideal translation will be accurate as to meaning and natural as to the receptor language forms used. An intended audience who is unfamiliar with the source text will be readily understood it. The success of translation is measured by how closely it measures up to these ideas.
Then, the ideal translation should be:
1) Accurate: reproducing as exactly as possible the meaning of the source text.
2) Natural: using natural forms of the receptor language in a way that is appropriate to the kind of text being translated.
3) Communicative: expressing all aspects of the meaning in a way that is readily understandable to the intended audience.
Based on the explanation above, it can be inferred that the most ideal translation method is communicative translation. It uses the communicative language that can be understood by the readers. Also, the ideal translation result is the translated text that accurate, natural and communicative. Therefore, the writer more considers using communicative translation method in analyzing the students’ translation result, especially English into Indonesia translation.


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