dynamic equivalency theory

My experience with dynamic equivalency theory of translation is mediated
through the very ecclectic approach of the Summer Institute of Linguistics
crowd, especially _The Semantic Structure of Written Communication_ by
Beekman, Callow and Kopesec (SSWC).  So I don't know whether my comments are
fair to Nida or not.

Insofar as dynamic equivalency theory breaks the translator of the notion
that forms can be translated one-for-one, it does a great service.  But I
am concerned that it maintains the same faulty underlying notions about
the relationship between form and meaning, but raises the level at which
equivalency can be found.  The faulty notion, in my opinion, is that form
and meaning can really be separated at all (in principle, not just
heuristically).  The main idea behind SSWC is that what the writer had
to say can be reduced to propositions and the relationships between them,
and that these can be recovered and abstracted from the forms of what was
actually said.  Once this "meaning" has been obtained, it can then be
"reclothed" (my characterization) with dynamically equivalent forms from
the target language.  The successful translation is one that expresses the
original meaning as though it was written in the target language.

The problem of course is that it WASN'T written in the target language, or
in a situation for which the target language is adequate.  If a
translation of Paul sounds like Paul was writing to you, then it is not a
good translation, because Paul WASN'T writing to you.  I don't deny that
there is considerable value in the NT texts for us, but surely this value
is diminished to the extent that we fail to recognize the particularity of
the texts.  The meaning of the texts cannot be abstracted from that
particularity, but is bound up in it.  An imperfect translation (the only
kind that is possible) should preserve a sense of the particularity of the
texts.  If there are not aspects of the text that are quite puzzling to
the reader of a translation, then perhaps the translator has done more
interpretation than is healthy.

Philip Graber
Emory University