An approach to culture-bound elements in translation | Статья в журнале «Молодой ученый»

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Рубрика: Филология, лингвистика

Опубликовано в Молодой учёный №7 (66) май-2 2014 г.

Дата публикации: 13.05.2014

Статья просмотрена: 803 раза

Библиографическое описание:

Курбанова, Д. А. An approach to culture-bound elements in translation / Д. А. Курбанова. — Текст : непосредственный // Молодой ученый. — 2014. — № 7 (66). — С. 630-631. — URL: (дата обращения: 07.06.2020).

One of the most challenging tasks for all translators is how to render culture-bound elements into a foreign language. Indeed, till this time not much attention has been paid to this problem by translation theories. According to Newmark: «Translation is a craft consisting in the attempt to replace a written message and/or statement in one language by the same message and/or statement in another language». However, with culturally-bound words this is often impossible. Indeed, the meaning which lies behind this kind of expressions is always strongly linked to the specific cultural context where the text originates or with the cultural context it aims to re-create.

Sometimes this kind of term can be easily rendered into the target language (TL), as in the case of topographical expressions and it is absolutely necessary to change the source text. However, more often than not, the translator has to cope with true dilemmas. The word in the source text (ST) may be strongly rooted in the source culture (SC) and, yet, it may be too difficult to understand for people who are from another nationalities. In addition, translators may have to deal not only with lexical expressions, but also with problems of register, syntactic order, non-standard English, regional varieties (dialects), etc. Though these elements are not always defined as culture-specific, I believe they are, since, as Goodenough argues:

«As I see it, a society's culture consists of whatever it is one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to its members, and do so in any role that they accept for any one of themselves. By definition, we should note that culture is not a material phenomenon; it does not consist of things, people, behavior, or emotions. It is rather an organization of these things. It is the form of things that people have in mind, their model of perceiving and dealing with their circumstances».

Thriveni in her article 'Cultural Elements in Translation, the Indian Perspective' writes that awareness of history is an essential requirement for the translator of a work coming from an alien culture. Thorough knowledge of a foreign language, its vocabulary, and grammar is not sufficient to make one competent as a translator. One should be familiar with one's own culture and be aware of the source-language culture before attempting to build any bridge between them.

Nida classifies the cultural references in five groups:

Material, related to everyday objects

Ecological, related to differences in the places, weather

Social, related to social organization and its artistic manifestations in the Arts or literature and history

Religious, which include ritualized and ideological manifestations

Linguistic, the tool which is needed to express the previous types of reference.

The way in which people speak, construct their sentences, choose their vocabulary (according to the formal/informal situation they are in, to their geographical origin and so on) reveals much about their culture.

They are a lot of culture-bound elements in every culture of the world. Subsequently, I want to focus on some Uzbek culture-bound elements. It is really difficult to render some words from Uzbek into English. As a lot of difference in continent Uzbekistan is situated in Central Asia. And the Uzbek language belongs to the Turkish language family. It rather differs from European languages. A lot of Uzbek poets and writers such as Alisher Navoi, Muhammad Bobur, and scientists Abu Raykhan Beruniy, At Termiziy Al Forobiy used Turkish language in their creative and scientific work.

Translating from Uzbek into English translator may meet some difficulties to render some words which mean something in Uzbek but no meaning in English. So, how to deal with this problem. That’s a complicated task which must be dealt with. It is necessary to know the culture of both nationalities before translating. By having known the nationality and its culture closelytranslators may render words in an efficient way.

I want to give some examples for some culture-bound words which may have some difficulties to translate from.In Uzbek culture people used to call elder people brother and sister when they contact. It is Uzbek people’s habit, they never call elder people by their names alone, they add the words brother or sister together with their names, like as Dinara sister or Umid brother and so on. And it’s the way how Uzbek people respect each other. And this habit is appreciated by other nationalities too. Another example word is “bakhshi”. The definition of this word in Uzbek is a man or a woman who sings traditional, national songs, folks and plays rubab (national musical instrument of Central Asian people) in villages. Let’s see some other examples for culture-bound words. Wedding ceremonies in every culture differs from each other. There are various kind of traditions and types of weddings including marriage ceremony, gold wedding, silver wedding and also circumcision rite belonging to Muslim culture. Circumcisionis traditional rite of Muslims. And another word belonging to Uzbek tradition is “calling anew married couple”. The definition of it means also a ceremony which can be held after the marriage of young couples for calling them both with groom’s family to bride’s parents’. Except these all there is another one more word which also means one type of ceremony and this is the word “Chimildik”. It definesthefirst night ceremony of young married coupleafter the wedding party which takes place in groom’s house. In this ceremony new married couple’s families and relatives sing songs, play funny games, joke with each other and do some traditional activities during whole night. In addition I want to add another customof new married couples in Uzbek culture. By tradition after wedding bride never calls groom’s family members or relatives by their names. She calls them by different names according to their jobs, character or relative like “ayna”(means my dear one), youngest child, or brother in-law.

Culture-bound words are not only about ceremonies, they can be found in every field of our culture. Let’s observe some words belonging to housekeeping and house. The word “Hontakhta” means a low table that is used in Uzbek families, by sitting around it with whole family they have breakfast, lunch or supper. And other words “tandur” and “kasov” belonging to housekeeping. “Tandur” is an earthenware stove for baking flat cake or bread and “kasov” is a stick for mixing embers in “tandur”in baking. And the word “sandal” is also culture-bound word defining national heating stove. People used this kind of stove long years ago and some people still use it in freezing, snowy days.

How about culture-bound words in an art in Uzbekistan. I want to give some words belonging to art such as “chankovuz” meaning square shaped musical instrument played by putting it into a mouth, holding its 2 sides with both hands. And next word belonging to Uzbek traditional art is “kashta” which defines embroidery, fancywork. People use embroidery for decorating their clothes and materials with different types stitches. It is called handicraft. People used to make it with the help of needle and colorful cotton in the past time. Nowadays it is possible to make it with the help of stitch machines as well.

To sum up, by working on translation we can meet some more culture-bound words.

Transferring of culture specific terms from one culture to another and understanding them by the target audience in the target culture is dependent on having familiarity with the source culture and traditions. Although more and more concepts are shared and understood between different cultures, there are still many culture specific terms and expressions which reflect the morals and values of a particular culture and have no true equivalent in the TL.


1.      Nida, E. A. (1964), ' Principles of Correspondence '

2.      Newmark, P; About Translation; UK. Multilingual Matters, 1991       

3.      Thriveni, C. (2001), 'Cultural Elements in Translation, the Indian Perspective'.

4.      ABBYYLingvo x5, Electronic Dictionary

5.      Butayev Sh., Iriskulov A., Dictionary, 2009.

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