chapter  5
38 Pages

When pragmatic equivalence fails Assessing a New Zealand English to Chinese health translation from a functional perspective

WithWei Teng

This chapter demonstrates the incorporation of two evaluative tools to test the quality of achieving pragmatic equivalence in health translation and interpreting by providing an example of the assessment of an English to Chinese health translation text publicly distributed in New Zealand. While the first evaluative tool, based on functional translation theories in two previous empirical studies, explores how the translation achieves pragmatic equivalence, the second, a newly developed tool based on systemic functional linguistics, reveals specific pragmatic factors in relation to the extent to which pragmatic equivalence is achieved. These pragmatic factors are introduced using the concepts of three contextual values (Field, Tenor and Mode), and in response to the term “pragmalinguistic failures”, the factors are termed pragmalinguistic factors in the current study to indicate which of the three original contextual values is/are distorted by pragmalinguistic failure in the translation. The findings suggest that pragmalinguistic factors can help specify failed pragmatic functions when pragmatic equivalence is not achieved and reveal four types of cross-linguistic features that may help achieve pragmatic equivalence in English to Chinese health translation. Application of the two evaluative tools also demonstrated the importance of paying attention to the three contextual values in health translation, which can also be applied to interpreting practices although obviously interpreters have less opportunity to heed possible pragmalinguistic failures caused by nuances in cross-linguistic features.