Translation Procedures and Text Types Theory

Translation Procedures and Their Importance

Translation procedures vary depending on the semantic richness of the language pair. Unlike translation strategies, translation procedures are used for sentences and smaller units of language in the text. Translation procedures are “methods used by translators when they formulate an equivalent to translate value elements from the source text (ST) to target text (TT)” (Translation procedures, n.d., p. 1). The most famous authors who formulated translational procedures are Vinay and Darbelnet, Newmark, Dickins, Hervey, and Higgins (Rasul, 2019).

Vinay and Darbelnet first introduced their translation methods in 1973, which are “loan, calque, literal translation, transposition, modulation, equivalence, adaptation” (Translation procedures, n.d., p. 1). Translation procedures mostly contribute to the translators’ convenience, helping them to achieve the best match of the translation with the original text.

Today, translation procedures include the mentioned above, plus compensation, reduction, expansion, near-synonymy, generalization, particularization, explicitation, implicitation, paraphrase, translation by omission, translation by addition (Rasul, 2019). For example, equivalence is used to translate idioms, metaphors, and nominal phrases (Rasul, 2019). Besides, there are eight types of compensation, including semantic compensation, when in the absence of a proper word in TT, the translator selects the closest analog or stylistic compensation when a combination of words in TT replaces a source word.

The reduction is another useful translation procedure which requires the use of fewer words to convey the meaning of a word or expression, whereas expansion suggests doing the right the opposite. At the same time, near-synonymy implies the replacement of a word from ST with the near equivalent in TT (Rasul, 2019). It differs from semantic compensation in a lower level of synonymy, since here the words from ST and TT have both common and different meanings. Generalization occurs when a more general TT form is used to translate a specific item from ST.

Translation procedures may differ depending on the types of text. Some scholars distinguish translation procedures for cultural terms, such as exoticism, cultural borrowing, recognized translation, communicative translation, functional equivalent, descriptive equivalent, cultural redomestication (Rasul, 2019). Others study the features of web page translation and web localization (Hariyanto, 2016). In general, it is convenient to have a specific tool for each translation case. However, to use these tools, one needs first to master them, which can take some time. Apparently, for this reason, professional translators prefer to work with one or more types of texts – this approach allows them to study the chosen alternative as thoroughly as possible.

Katharina Reiss’ Text Types Theory

Katharina Reiss first introduced her text-typological approach in 1971. It was a theory allowing the translator to provide equivalence of functions between the ST and TT. Reiss claims that there are only three communicative types of text, and these types are common to all cultures and languages (Reiss & Vermeer, 2014). Moreover, she assumes that the function of the text is different from the functions of its components – word, phrase, or sentence.

According to her theory, if the text intends to pass on news, knowledge, or views, it is informative. But if the author wants to “convey artistically organized content, consciously verbalizing the content according to aesthetic criteria,” it is the expressive text (Reiss & Vermeer, 2014, p. 182).

Furthermore, if an author intends to convey “persuasively organized content to encourage the recipient to act following the intentions of the text sender,” it is an operative text (Reiss & Vermeer, 2014, p. 182). Thus, depending on the type of text, the translator will set different tasks. The informative text is encoded at the level of content, expressive – at the level of content and aesthetic organization, and operative text – at the level of content and persuasion.

Many linguists and translators favor the Reiss’ theory and use it widely in their research. For example, Wang (2018) notes that “text typology is a handy tool to explore translation approaches for different types of text” and adds that she usually uses it to translate informative texts (p. 626). Also, Ach (2018) applies Reiss’ theory to translate the expressive text, a children’s storybook, while also determining what types of a shift may occur when translating expressive texts. In general, it is agreed that dividing texts into types according to their functional communicative purpose is highly beneficial.

Reiss’ approach is very convenient as it simplifies the work of the translator, speeds up the workflow, and eliminates anxiety about the quality of the translated texts. For example, when working with news texts, it’s a great relief to put aside the need to search for optimal translations of idioms or metaphors and focus on the very essence of the news message. The same will apply to the interpretation of instructions and technical documentation, as well as pharmaceutical and medical texts.

On the opposite, legal texts, such as treaties and agreements, can be defined as operative ones. Therefore, when translating such documents, attention should be paid to the persuasive techniques as well. The only visible limitation of the text type theory, which Reiss describes herself, is the existence of the so-called hybrid forms when the text has characteristics of all three types.

Thus, it was explained why translation procedures are an essential tool of a good translator, and Katherina Reiss’ text types theory was discussed. To summarize it, today, there are at least sixteen standard translation procedures, which is an excellent tool for transforming ST into TT. Text types theory proves to be highly useful, as it allows to speeds up the translation process and finds the correct focus depending on the primary communicative function of the text.


Ach, M. (2018). The translation of bilingual children’s storybook Pancuran Pangeran applying Reiss’ method. Web.

Hariyanto, S. (2016). Website Translation: with special reference to English–Indonesian language pair. Belize: Sugeng Hariyanto.

Rasul, S. H. (2019). Journalistic translation: Procedures and strategies in English-Kurdish translation of media texts. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Reiss, K., & Vermeer, H. J. (2014). Towards a general theory of translational action: Skopos theory explained. London, UK: Routledge.

Translation procedures. (n.d.). Web.

Wang, Z. (2018). Introduction of functionalism and functional translation theory. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, 185(1), 623-627.