Technique of Lexical Choice in English to Ukrainian Translation

In English to Ukrainian translation, one of the main tasks of a translator is to translate words correctly, i.e. to find matches for English words in the Ukrainian language. A good English-Ukrainian dictionary is a reliable aid in accomplishing this task.

Some English words have equivalents in the Ukrainian language, i.e. constant lexical correspondences that exactly coincide with the meaning of Ukrainian words and do not depend on the context.

Most often, equivalents are found in the area of technical terminology. For example, the following terms have straightforward translations from English to Ukrainian:

recapitalization – рекапіталізація
ion - іон

For the majority of English words, however, a dictionary will give a number of Ukrainian translations, and the one with the most appropriate meaning should be chosen. Thus, for example, a dictionary gives the following series of translations for the word "test" in the function of noun:

випробування, мірило, критерій, контрольна робота, дослідження, аналіз, перевірка, реактив

It is clear that the choice of the most appropriate meaning from such series can be made only based on the context, i.e. the surrounding text in which the word "test" is placed. Usually, the narrow context, i.e. the nearest lexical surrounding of the word within a given sentence, is enough to disclose the meaning of the word in English to Ukrainian translation.

As an example, let us analyze translation of English to Ukrainian of two sentences with the word "test":


The test offered to the students contained several sentences for translation.
Контрольна робота, яку дали студентам, містила кілька речень для перекладу.


A solution of barites represents a most delicate test for detecting the presence of carbon dioxide.
Розчин бариту є надзвичайно чутливим реактивом для визначення присутності двоокису вуглецю.

Based on the context of these sentences, we have chosen the appropriate Ukrainian translation of the word "test" for each of them:

контрольна робота

In some cases in English to Ukrainian translation, the narrow context is not sufficient to disclose the meaning of the word. Then it is necessary to turn to the broad context like a paragraph or even larger portion of a text. We often encounter such cases in translation of newspaper headings from English to Ukrainian. For example:

Conservative Party Advertising CampaignLast Alder Hey Hospital child remains buried
Taking into consideration an elliptical structure of English headlines with omission of some secondary elements, it might be assumed that the above heading has the following meaning:
The Conservative Party is Advertising the Campaign
Консервативна партія повідомляє про проведення кампанії
The last Alder Hey Hospital child remains to be buried
Остання дитина з лікарні Alder Hey залишається похованою
However, the heading may have the other meaning, namely:
The advertising campaign of the Conservative Party
Рекламна кампанія Консервативної партії
The remains of the last Alder Hey Hospital child will be buried
Будуть поховані останки останньої дитини з лікарні Alder Hey
To determine the meaning more exactly, we turn to the text of the article and read:
"The Conservative Party will reorganize publicity. The main innovation is that regular advertisements will be appearing in Sunday newspapers from tomorrow. Thus the Conservative Party is to launch a new propaganda campaign.""The final human remains held by Alder Hey Children's Hospital after the organ retention scandal are to be buried later."
Now it is clear that the second variant of the translation corresponds to the content of the article and therefore is correct.

In some cases, in the absence of appropriate analogues, the translator has to resort to descriptive translation of words and terms, e.g.

coil gradient – перепад температури між котушкою та оточуючим маслом

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_____________________________________________________________________ Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

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