Volume 7, No. 3 
July 2003

  Liu Zequan




From the Editor
Forty-Two Dog Years

Index 1997-2003

  Translator Profiles
When Bad News is Good News or Serendipity Strikes Again... and Again... and Again...
by Alex Schwartz

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee

Translators Around the World
German Children's and Teenagers' Slang
by Igor Maslennikov
ATA Certification In Bosnian, Croatian And Serbian
by Paula Gordon

  Medical Translation
SARS or ATP—a Misnomer in Mainland China
by Yichuan Sang, Ph.D.

  Translation Theory
La relevancia de la documentación en teoría literaria y literatura comparada para los estudios de traducción
by Dora Sales Salvador
Register Analysis as a Tool for Translation Quality Assessment
by Liu Zequan

Memory Training in Interpreting
by Weihe Zhong

Pedro Misner, 1939 - 2003
by D'Vonne Casadaban

  Translator Education
Translation: Back from Siberia
Alireza Bonyadi
Reflections of Prospective Language Teachers on Translation
Adnan Biçer, Ph.D.

  Book Review
The Hunt for Red October
Mark Hooker

  Translators' Tools
SDLX™ Translation Suite 2003
Dr. Thomas Waßmer
Translators’ Emporium

  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor

Translators’ Events

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies
  Translation Journal

Translation Theory


Register Analysis as a Tool for Translation Quality Assessment

by Liu Zequan (刘泽权)
National University of Singapore

This is a revised version of the paper under the same title which was presented at The International Conference on Discourse and Translation held at Sun Yet-san University, Guangzhou, China from 24-26 July 2002


1. Introduction

egister, or context of situation as it is formally termed, "is the set of meanings, the configuration of semantic patterns, that are typically drawn upon under the specific conditions, along with the words and structures that are used in the realization of these meanings" (Halliday, 1978:23). It is concerned with the variables of field, tenor, and mode, and is a useful abstraction which relates variations of language use to variations of social context. Therefore, register analysis of linguistic texts, which enables us to uncover how language is manoeuvred to make meaning, has received popular application in (critical) discourse analysis and (foreign) language teaching pedagogy.

analysts are not just interested in what language is, but why language is; not just what language means, but how language means.
Regrettably, however, register analysis has been paid little attention to by the vast translation scholarship in and outside China up to the 1990s. The western, or English-language, translation scholarship has long been debating upon the criterion of "equivalence" and the illusory measures of it. In China, controversy has been centred on the three-character standard of "Faithfulness," "Communicability" and "Elegance" proposed by Yan Fu (1894/1984) but never observed by him (Hung and Pollard, 1998:371). In view of this scenario, this paper proposes and argues for the application of register analysis, especially that of the Australian/Hallidayan tradition, for textual analysis of parallel texts in question for the purpose of translation quality assessment. This paper provides this argument, based, first, upon an introduction of register theory per se, and second, upon the relevance and applications of register analysis to translation studies. But before we do that, the concept of equivalence will be briefly reviewed because of its significance to translation quality assessment.

2. Equivalence as Criterion

The area of translation quality assessment criteria is academically one "where a more expert writer (a marker of a translation examination or a reviser of a professional translation) addresses a less expert reader (usually a candidate for an examination or a junior professional translator)" (Munday, 2001:30). However, what has long constituted the core and co-current concern of all debates in translation studies is what should be held as the criterion for translation quality assessment. Ever since the ancient thematic controversy over "word-for-word" (literal) and "sense-for- sense" (free) translation (ibid.:18-20), the history of translation theory has seen the theme as "emerging again and again with different degrees of emphasis in accordance with differing concepts of language and communication" (Bassnett, 1991:42). Notwithstanding the fact that there is no denying that the issue "what is a good translation?" should be "one of the most important questions to be asked in connection with translation" (House, 2001:127), "[i]t is notoriously difficult to say why, or even whether, something is a good translation" (Halliday, 2001:14). Throughout translation studies, theorists have attempted to answer this question "on the basis of a theory of translation and translation criticism" from various perspectives (House, 2001:127), and have proposed, apart from the aforementioned opposing binary pair, formal and dynamic equivalence (Nida, 1964), textual equivalence and formal correspondence (Catford, 1965), etc. These dichotomies, despite their different perspectives, seem to focus on a consensus in favour of "two basic orientations" (Nida, 1964:159) or types of translation where "the central organizing concept is presumably that of 'equivalence'" (Halliday, 2001:15).

In the English-language scholarship criteria of translation, the concept of (translational) equivalence is "central" but "controversial" (Kenny, 1998:77). According to Koller (1995:197), it "merely means a special relationship—which can be designated as the translation relationship—is apparent between two texts, a source (primary) one and a resultant one." It is Jakobson (1959/2000) who first dealt with "the thorny problem of equivalence" (Munday, 2001:36) in translation between the ST and the TT. Following the relation set out by Saussure between the signifier (the spoken and written signal) and the signified (the concept signified), Jakobson (1959/ 2000) perceived "equivalence in difference" as "the cardinal problem of language and the pivotal concern of linguistics" (p.114), which has become a "now-famous... definition" from a linguistic and semiotic perspective (Munday, 2001:37). For him, for the message to be equivalent in the ST and TT, the code-units will be different since they belong to two different sign systems (languages) which partition reality (Jakobson, 1959/2000:114). Specifically, he succinctly pointed out that there is no complete equivalence in the intralingual translation of a word by means of a synonymy, just as "on the level of interlingual translation, there is ordinarily no full equivalence between code-units" (ibid.). This is so because "languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey" (p.116).

Ever since Jakobson's seminal approach to the concept of equivalence, the question has become a constant theme of translation studies, especially in the 1960s (Munday, 2001:37), and approaches to it "differ radically" (Kenny, 1998: 77):

Some theorists define translation in terms of equivalence relations (Catford, 1965; Nida and Taber, 1969; Toury, 1980; Pym, 1992, 1995; Koller, 1995) while others reject the theoretical notion of equivalence, claiming it is either irrelevant (Snell-Hornby, 1988) or damaging (Gentzler, 1993) to translation studies. Yet other theorists steer a middle course: Baker [(1992:5-6)] uses the notion of equivalence "for the sake of convenience—because most translators are used to it rather than it has any theoretical status."

(Kenny, 1998:77)

Understandably, although the concept has been blatantly labelled by Nord as "a static, result-oriented concept describing a relationship of 'equal communicative value' between two texts or, on lower rank, between words, phrases, sentences, syntactic structures and so on (In this context, 'value' refers to meaning, stylistic connotations or communicative effect)" (Nord, 1997:36), it is still "variously regarded as a necessary condition for translation, an obstacle to progress in translation studies, or a useful category for describing translations" (Kenny, 1998:77). This thus explains why the ad hoc criterion and the techniques for achieving it "continues to be used in the everyday language of translation" (Fawcett, 1997:65), even in the applications of register analysis for translation quality assessment as will be presented shortly.

3. Register Theory

In the Hallidayan (also called Australian) functional theory of language (Hyon, 1996), "analysts are not just interested in what language is, but why language is; not just what language means, but how language means (Leckie-Tarry, 1993:26). Halliday stresses the need for a look into the context in which a text is produced while analyzing and/or interpreting a text. He points out that the really pressing question here is "which kinds of situational factor determined which kinds of selection in the linguistic system?" (Halliday, 1978:32; original emphasis). Context here relates to the context of situation and context of culture, both of which "get 'into' text by influencing the words and structures that text-producers use" (Eggins and Martin, 1997:232). While the former is concerned with the register variables of field, tenor, and mode, the latter is described in terms of genre. This part of the paper is therefore devoted to a brief examination of the Australian (genre) approach to texts, i.e. register analysis, and to a discussion of what resources the register tool has to offer to translation texts analysis. This examination first traces the development of the register theory, and then presents a Hallidayan definition of the three variables of register.

3.1 From Firth to Halliday

The term "register" first came into general currency in the 1960s (Leckie-Tarry, 1993:28). Following Reid's initial use of it in 1956, and Ure's development of it in the 1960s (ibid.), Halliday et al. (1964:77) describe it as "a variety according to use, in the sense that each speaker has a range of varieties and chooses between them at different times." This use-related framework for the description of language variation (as contrasted with the user-related varieties called dialects) (Hatim and Mason, 1990:39) aims to "uncover the general principles which govern [the variation in situation types], so that we can begin to understand what situational factors determine what linguistic features" (Halliday, 1978:32).

De Beaugrande (1993:7) shows his sympathy for the concept of register when he laments, "Throughout much of linguistic theory and method, the concept of 'register' has led a rather shadowy existence." The term did not make appearance in such foundational works as those of Saussure, Sapir and Bloomfield. This absence is explained by the fact that it "is hard to define" the term as a(n abstract) language unit that might be "comparable, say, to the 'system' of 'phonemes' of a language, or to its 'system' of noun declensions or verb conjugations, and so on" (ibid.).

It is only when linguists showed interest in actual speech and discourse that the term turned up in foundational linguistics works like those of Firth and Pike. In Firth's (1957) work, register finds a possible equivalent in the "restricted language," which he defines as "serving a circumscribed field of experience or action" with "its own grammar and dictionary" (p.124, 87, 98, 105ff, 112). He emphasizes the use of practical methods in linguistic analysis, and points out that a domain becomes easier to manage when the linguist must draw abstractions from a whole linguistic universe which consists of many specialized languages and different styles (de Beaugrande, 1993:8). Firth considers science, technology, politics, commerce, industry, sports, etc, or "a particular form of genre," or a "type of work associated with a single author or a type of speech function with its appropriate style or tempo" (Firth, 1968:106, 98, 112, 118ff.) as domains of "restricted languages." He gives the notion of "collocation" a "prominent" (ibid.) position when he suggests "studying key words, pivotal words, leading words, by presenting them in the company they usually keep" (ibid.:106 ff., 113, 182).

It is Halliday, a pupil of Firth, who, along with his (mostly Australian) associates, "eventually gave currency to the term 'register' as such (de Beaugrande, 1993:9). For Halliday, register is "the clustering of semantic features according to situation type," and "can be defined as a configuration of semantic resources that the member of a culture typically associates with a situation type" (Halliday, 1978:111). Seen this way, "the notion of register is at once very simple and very powerful" and "provides a means of investigating the linguistic foundations of everyday social interaction from an angle that is complementary to the ethnomethodological one" (ibid.:31, 62). The theory of register thus derived "attempts to uncover the general principles which govern" how "the language we speak or write varies according to the type of situation" (ibid.:32). For Halliday, the central problem in text linguistics lies in how "the 'register' concept can take account of the processes which link the features of the text" "to the abstract categories of the speech situation" (ibid.:62). He warns linguists against "posing the wrong question" of "what features of language are determined by register?" (ibid.:32) in the process of seeking such a link. He tells us that we should instead seek for the factors that determine the selection of language (ibid.).

3.2 The Australian Perspective

Halliday (1994) points out that, in order to make sense of a text, "the natural tendency is to think of a text as a thing—a product" while "see[ing] the text in its aspect as a process" (p.xxii). The nature of text of the systemic genre theorists is lucidly summed up by Kress (1985:18):

Texts arise in specific social situations and they are constructed with specific purposes by one or more speakers or writers. Meanings find their expression in text—though their origins of meanings are outside the text—and are negotiated (about) in texts, in concrete situations of social exchange.

Whereas interaction between text and context is seen in the form of the nexus between language and society (Leckie-Tarry, 1993:33-34), social contexts comprise two different levels of abstraction, i.e. genre and register, which are respectively described in terms of context of culture and context of situation (Eggins, 1994:32), and which "are the technical concepts employed to explain the meaning and function of variation between texts" (Eggins and Martin, 1997:234).

3.2.1 Context of Culture: Genre

Context of culture in the Australian tradition "can be thought of as the general framework that gives purpose to interactions of particular types, adaptable to the many specific contexts of situation that they get used in" (Eggins, 1994:32). It provides "a precise index and catalogue of the relevant social occasions of a community at a given time" (Kress, 1985:20). Whereas the conventionalised forms of such situations or occasions determine the conventionalised forms of texts, texts derive their meanings not only "from the meaning contained within the discourse (systems of meanings arise out of the organisation of social institutions), but also from the meanings of genre, or the meanings about the conventionalised social occasions from which texts arise" (Leckie-Tarry, 1993:33). Therefore, "texts belonging to the same genre can vary in their structure," while "the one aspect in which they cannot vary without consequence to their genre-allocation is the obligatory elements and dispositions of the GSP [genre specific potential]" (Hasan and Halliday, 1985:108).

3.2.2 Context of Situation: Three Register Variables

"Following the functional-semantic tradition pursued by Firth" (Eggins, 1994:52), Halliday (1978:64) finds the concept of register "a useful abstraction linking variations of language to variations of social context" and suggests "that there are three aspects in any situation that have linguistic consequences: field, mode, and tenor" (Eggins, 1994:52). According to him, field refers to "what is happening, to the nature of the social action that is taking place," mode concerns "what it is that the participants [of a transaction] are expecting language to do for them in that situation," and tenor has to do with who are taking part in the transaction as well as the "nature of the participants, their status and roles (Hasan and Halliday, 1985:12). These three register variables delineate the relationships between language function and language form. In other words, a register is constituted by "the linguistic features which are typically associated with a configuration of situational features—with particular values of the field, mode and tenor" (Halliday, 1976:22). For example, the tenor of a text, which concerns the relationship between the addresser and the addressee, can "be analysed in terms of basic distinctions such as polite-colloquial-intimate, on a scale of categories which range from formal to informal" (Hatim and Mason, 1990:50). In the same vein, the mode of an interaction which manifests the nature of the language code being used can be distinguished in terms of, among other things, spoken and written.

3.2.3 Metafunctions of Language and Register Variables

Halliday (1994) also perceives meaning as the fundamental component of language when he observes that "all languages are organised around two main kinds of meaning, the 'ideational' or reflective, and the 'interpersonal' or active" (p.xiii). He further envisages these two meaning components as "metafunctions," that is "the two very general purposes which underlie all uses of language"—whereas the former aims "to understand the environment" [of language use], the latter is intended "to act on the others in it" (ibid.). Together with these two metafunctional components, Halliday sees a third, i.e. the "textual," "which breathes relevance into the two" (ibid.), and which is also called "the enabling metafunction" because it "is the level of organisation of the clause which enables the clause to be packaged in ways which make it effective given its purpose and context" (Eggins, 1994:273).

The entire system of meanings of a language, expressed by grammar as well as by vocabulary is defined in Halliday's (1994) term "the semantic system" (p.xvii), as opposed to lexicogrammar, the "complex semiotic system composed of multiple levels, or strata," "include[ing] both grammar and vocabulary" (p.15). As for the relationship between semantics and lexicogrammar, Halliday perceives it as being "natural, not arbitrary" (p.xix). In fact, he sees "no clear line between semantics and grammar" (ibid.) since the "systems of meaning engender lexicogrammatical structures" (p.xviii). As far as the interrelationships of semantics, lexicogrammar, and register variables are concerned, Halliday (1978) asserts that while register is "recognisable as a particular selection of words and structures," it must be defined in terms of meanings because "it is the selection of meanings that constitutes the variety to which a text belongs" (p.111). In Halliday's term, the relationship between the language components (the ideational, interpersonal and textual metafunctions) and the context variables (field, tenor and mode) is called "realisation," i.e. "the way in which different types of field, tenor and mode condition ideational, interpersonal and textual meaning" from the perspective of context (Eggins and Martin, 1997:241).

To be specific, the ideational metafunction, which is concerned with mapping the reality of the world around us (i.e. who is doing what to whom, when, where, why, how), reflects differences in field which are realised through both transitivity selection and lexical choices. In the same way, differences in tenor are realised through mood and subject, and modality plus appraisal choices which in turn construct the social relationships played by interactants, i.e. the interpersonal metafunction. And finally, the register variable of mode manifests the textual metafunction which is realised through nominalisation and Theme choices. Hence a picture can be drawn of the triadic relationships of the three register variables, the lexicogrammar, and three meanings and metafunctions, of language use. Tabulated below is the relationship between context of situation and language systems in the Hallidayan model adapted from Eggins and Martin (1997:242)

Table 3.1 Relationship between context, strata, and systems in the systemic functional model

Register variable

Type of meaning
"at risk"

patterns (cohesion)




Lexical cohesion

Conjunctive relations

Transitivity (case)

relations (taxis)



Speech function
Exchange structure

Mood, modality,
vocation, attitude



Reference (participant

Theme, Information


Apart from metafunction, i.e. the organisation of the content strata (lexicogrammar and semantics) in functional components, Halliday (2001:15) identifies two more "vectors" that are "most relevant" in construing the parameters of language, that is, "stratification" and "rank." For him, stratification refers to the organisation of language in ordered strata: phonetic, phonological, lexicogrammatical and semantic—and one or more contextual strata outside of language proper (ibid.). Rank, on the other hand, involves the organisation of the formal strata (phonology and lexicogrammar) in a compositional hierarchy (ibid.). These three vectors, according to him, provide language users with "a round of choices and operations (a 'system-structure cycle') at each rank, with clause choices realised as clause structures, realised as phrase/groups choices, realised as phrase/group structures and so on" with the benefit that "the higher-rank choices in the grammar can be essentially choices in meaning without the grammar thereby losing contact with the ground" (Halliday, 1994:xix).

4. Relevance of Register Analysis to Translation

Regrettably, however, the register approach has not found much application in translation studies until the 1990s. And this comes only when translation theorists realised the nature of translation as "a textual thing" (House, 1981:65), a cross-cultural communication which is both "socially and culturally necessary and useful" (Gregory, 2001:19). Since then there has been an increasing acknowledgement of the relevance of the notion of register, and of the model of register analysis, to a translation-oriented analysis and assessment of texts (Marco, 2001:1). By way of illustration and substantiation of this point, both Halliday and his followers' contribution to the development of registered-based translation criteria are introduced in the forthcoming section. This introduction is also intended as a justification of the use of register analysis as a tool in translation analysis, a theme proposed in this paper.

4.1 Halliday's Perspective of Equivalence

To begin with, Halliday (2001) contrasts the linguist's interest in translation theories (which involves "how things are") and a translator's interest in a theory (which concerns "how things ought to be") (p.13), refines the questions and sets them in a wide context of reflection on language, thus offering thought-provoking comments on system, equivalence and value in respect of translation assessment (Steiner and Yallop, 2001b: 6). With reference to the process of translation, Halliday (1967) suggests that,

translating proceeds by three stages: (a) item for item equivalence; (b) reconsideration in the light of the linguistic environment and beyond this (it is almost an afterthought) to a consideration of the situation; (c) reconsideration in the light of the grammatical features of the target language where source language no longer provides any information.

(Newmark, 1991: 65).

As far as translation quality assessment is concerned, Halliday (1967) rightly points out that,

The equivalence of units and of items is lost as soon as we go below the sentence; the further down the rank scale we go, the less is left of the equivalence. Once we reach the morpheme, most vestiges of equivalence disappear. The morpheme is untranslatable...

(Newmark, 1991:67)

In respect of the register variables field, tenor and mood in translation, Halliday (2001:17) emphasises the importance of contexts in deciding the "value" of different strata. As a guideline for translators to follow, he stipulates what can be seen as "a principle of hierarchy of values" (ibid.) when he (ibid.) lucidly observes that,

[E]quivalence at different strata carries differential values; ...in most cases the value that is placed on it goes up the higher the stratum—semantic equivalence is valued more highly than lexicogrammatical, and contextual equivalence perhaps most highly of all; but ...these relative values can always be varied, and in any given instance of translation one can reassess them in the light of the task.

And finally, Halliday (2001) justifies his interrogating of translation equivalence by asking: "equivalence with respect to what?" (p.15). Equivalence, he asserts, should be defined in respect of the metafunctions (ideational, interpersonal, textual) (ibid.: 16). For him, although "in any particular instance of translation, value may be attached to equivalence at different ranks, different strata, different metafunctions," it is "usually at the higher lexicogrammatical units" in rank, and "typically" at the highest stratum within language, i.e. that of semantics in strata, that equivalence is most highly valued (ibid.:17). As far as With regard to the three metafunctions proper, Halliday thinks that "high value may be accorded to equivalence in the interpersonal or textual realms—but usually only when ideational equivalence can be taken for granted" (ibid.). In this juncture, Halliday (ibid.) concludes:

[A] "good" translation is a text which is a translation (i.e., is equivalent) in respect of those linguistic features which are most valued in the given translation context and perhaps also in respect of the value which is assigned to the original (source language) text.

4.2 Register-based Equivalences

Following Hallidayan linguistics, especially the Australian tradition of genre and register theories (see Ghadessy, 1993; Hyon, 1996), theorists concentrate themselves on (offering) ways to tackle translation equivalence in terms of functional perspectives. Among these, Newmark, Marco, House, teamworkers Hatim and Mason, and Baker deserve mention here.

Newmark is fascinated with Halliday's (1994) seminal work An Introduction To Functional Grammar, especially with the chapter on the equivalent representations of metaphorical modes of expressions (i.e. "Beyond the clause: metaphorical modes of expressions"). Here, Halliday supplies good examples illustrating how choices are made when representing metaphors. Newmark (1991) recommends this chapter highly, claiming that it "could form a useful part of any translator's training course where English is the source or target language" (p.68).

Next comes Marco (2001) who contributes to register analysis in the field of translation quality evaluation by specifically justifying the use of register analysis in literary translation. He points out that such a tool "provides the necessary link between a communicative act and the context of situation in which it occurs" (p.1). For him, register analysis is "the most comprehensive framework proposed for the characterisation of context," and has the advantage of "provid[ing] a very limited number of variables on the basis of which any given context may be defined" (ibid.).

Like Marco, teamworkers Hatim and Mason (1990, 1997) also employ register analysis as part of their overall account of context in translation. Despite their claim that there are other contextual factors, i.e. pragmatic and semiotic ones, which transcend the framework of register, they

continue to assume that identifying the register membership of a text is an essential part of discourse processing; it involves the reader in a reconstruction of context through an analysis of what has taken place (field), who has participated (tenor), and what medium has been selected for relaying the message (mode). Together, the three variables set up a communicative transaction in the sense that they provide the basic conditions for communication to take place.

(Hatim and Mason, 1990:55; original emphasis)

Also noteworthy in the application of register analysis for practical translation studies are House (1981, 1997) and Baker (1992) who not only adopt Halliday's model of register analysis but also develop substantial criteria whereby both the ST and TT can be systematically compared. House (1981) rejects the "more target- audience oriented notion of translation appropriateness" as "far too general and elusive" and "fundamentally misguided" (p.1-2). Instead, she advocates a semantic and pragmatic approach. Central to her discussion is the concept of "overt" and "covert" translations. In an overt translation like that of a political speech, House asserts, the TT audience is not directly addressed and there is therefore no need at all to attempt to recreate a "second original" since an overt translation "must overtly be a translation" (ibid.:189). By covert translation, on the other hand, she means the production of a text, for instance, a science report, which is functionally equivalent to the ST, and which "is not specifically addressed to a TC (target culture) audience" (ibid.: 194). Significantly, House claims that ST and TT should match one another in function, with function being characterised in terms of the situational dimensions of the ST (ibid.:49). Based upon the Hallidayan model of register analysis, she proposes what she calls "the basic requirement for equivalence of ST and TT," and asserts that "a TT, in order to be equivalent to its ST, should have a function—consisting of an ideational and an interpersonal functional component—which is equivalent to the ST's function" (House, 1981:Abstract). To measure the degree to which the TT's ideational and textual functions are equivalent to those of its ST's, House develops a model (see Figure 1 below) as the scheme for systematic comparison of the textual "profile" of the ST and TT (1997:43) in terms of both functions in question. This schema, though "draw[ing] on various and sometimes complex taxonomies" (Munday, 2001:92), can be reduced to a register analysis of both ST and TT according to their realisation through lexical, syntactic and "textual" means. By the last term, House (1997:44-45) refers to: (1) theme-dynamics (i.e. thematic structure and cohesion), (2) clausal linkage (i.e. additive, adversative, etc.), and (3) iconic linkage (i.e. parallelism of structures).

Baker, on the other hand, albeit using the term equivalence "for the sake of convenience" (1992:5), extends the concept to cover similarities both in ST and TT information flow, and in the cohesive roles ST and TT devices play in their respective texts, both of which she collectively calls "textual equivalence." She also examines equivalence at a series of levels: at word, above-word, grammatical, and pragmatic levels (Baker, 1992).

To wrap up our look at the Hallidayan approaches to translation equivalence, it seems fair to say that the Hallidayan register models have "become extremely popular" and fruitful "as a useful way of tackling the linguistic structure and meaning of a text" in "linguistics-oriented" translation studies (Munday, 2001:101). At the same time, however, these models have their weakness. First of all, they are "over-completed in [their] categorization of grammar and [their] apparently inflexible one-to-one matching of structure and meaning" (ibid.). Secondly, they are, for the most part, English-language oriented in nature. It can be argued that the analytical frameworks developed in these studies "become problematic with other languages, especially in the analysis of thematic and informational structures," for instance, in some European language with a more flexible word order and subject-inflected verb forms (ibid.).

As far as House's model is concerned, although it seems to be much more flexible than that of Catford's, it sill raises the doubt that whether the model is able to recover authorial intention and ST function from register analysis (Gutt, 1991:46-49). Even if it is possible, it is further argued, the basis of House's model is to discover "mismatches" between ST and TT (ibid.). Regarding Baker's framework, she obviously assigns new adjectives to the notion of equivalence (grammatical, pragmatic, textual, etc.), thus adding to the plethora of recent works in this field. Importantly, by putting together the linguistic and the communicative approach, she offers a fresh, and more detailed list of conditions upon which the concept of equivalence can be defined. Unfortunately, however, she fails to provide an operatable checklist against which degrees of equivalence can be established at the various ranks she proposes. In respect of Hatim and Mason's studies, "their focus remains linguistics-centred, both in its terminology and in the phenomena investigated (lexical choice, cohesion, transitivity, style shifting, translator mediation, etc.)" (Munday, 2001:102).

5. Conclusion

As the equivalence criterion, "a concept that has probably cost the lives of more trees than any other in translation studies" (Fawcett, 1997:53), lives on, the concept of equivalence develops from a mere translation typologising standard to a rank- and meaning-classifying criterion. While earlier works on equivalence, like that of Catford (1965) and Nida's (1964), focus on macro mappings between the ST and TT and divide translations rigidly into two broad types, recent theorists who maintain that translation is predicated upon some kind of equivalence narrow down the level of equivalence to the more tangible aspects of rank, i.e. word, sentence/clause, and text. The rise of this trend can mainly be attributed to the general realisation among translation theorists of the nature of translation as "a textual thing" (House, 1981:65). Thus, to study texts entails looking into the social context within which texts are embedded. Such a study "provides evidence of ongoing processes, such as the relationship between social change and communicative or linguistic change, the construction of social identities, or the (re)construction of knowledge and ideology" (Schäffner, 1996:1). Ideology, with its various definitions, is here considered as "basic systems of fundamental social cognitions and organising the attitudes and other social representations shared by members of groups" (van Dijk, 1995:243). As "a more abstract contextual dimension" of the systemic approach, ideology denotes "the positions of power, the political biases and assumptions that all social interactants bring with them to their texts" (Eggins and Martin, 1997:237). Hence, all texts embody certain ideological perspectives which have functional motivations: "they tell us something about the interests of the text-producers" (ibid.). Whereas "there is widespread agreement that language and language use, i.e. discourse and/or social interaction, are of major relevance to the study of ideologies," "it has been stressed that ideologies find their clearest expression in language, and at different levels" ranging from the lexical-semantic level to the grammatical-syntactic level (Schäffner, 1996:3-4). It is in this vein that register is envisaged as an ideologically particular, situation-specific meaning potential. After all, the codification of meaning appropriate to a situation is ultimately a function of the ideological formation.

Translation, which is recognised as an ideology-laden rather than a neutral or ideology-free activity (Hatim and Mason, 1997:145), consists of "the ideology of translating" and "the translation of ideology" (ibid.:143). These are two inter- and intra-related issues. While the extent of the translator's mediation affects (the fidelity of) his translation, the intention or function of the text to be translated impinges on the degree of his integrity as a translator. While Bassnett and Lefevere (1990) offer evidence of ideology at work in literary translating, both Barnard (1999) and Chang (1998) show the consequences of translator's "ideological filter" in operation in translations of a political nature. This said, we can now delineate the tripartite relationship of ideology, genre and register in the systemic functional tradition with Figure 2 (adapted from Eggins, 1994:113).

We have presented a model for register analysis of the ST and TT in order to establish the textual profiles of both for the purpose of translation quality assessment.


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