Awareness of Primary and Secondary Meaning in Translation and Its Implication on Reading Course: A Beginner’s Indonesian Context

Bambang Suroso


A translation should be accurate, that is the common criteria that people agree. But for readers of translated works, what matters is that they can get the message without hard effort. That is why accuracy alone is not enough. Therefore annother criteria for a good translation is naturalness. With naturalness it means that a translation should feel as if it is an original work in the target languange. Beginner translators tend to translate in a word-for-word fashion often resulting in a confusing target language text. Source language system is indeed paid attention to but when it comes to transfer lexicals items, the common problem is that t words are mostly translated with their primary meaning, meaning of a word meaning someone gets in his/her early stage of learning English. For example in Bahasa Indonesia the word attend in a learner’s early stage of getting English means hadir, menghadiri, datang, (come). And it is with this meaning that they will translate every appearance of attend, which should not be the case, because attend may also means giving heed/attention. We can imagine how confusing it will be for a reader if a word meaning giving attention is replaced with coming in a sentence. This of course will determine both the accuracy and naturalness. Therefore, mastering ranges of meaning of a lexical item is a necessity for a translator. With the existing technology accessing ranges of meaning of a words is not a difficult thing. The problem is that a translator, beginner especially, tends not to consult dictionary when he/she encounters a word they are familiar with and of which the meaning they know. They normally look up the dictionary only when they meet word they never encounter.


accuracy, naturalness, primary meaning

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