Meaningfulness, the unsaid and translatability: Instead of an introduction

Artemij Keidan 1
  • 1 Sapienza University of Rome


The present paper opens this topical issue on translation techniques by drawing a theoretical basis for the discussion of translational issues in a linguistic perspective. In order to forward an audienceoriented definition of translation, I will describe different forms of linguistic variability, highlighting how they present different difficulties to translators, with an emphasis on the semantic and communicative complexity that a source text can exhibit. The problem is then further discussed through a comparison between Quine's radically holistic position and the translatability principle supported by such semanticists as Katz. General translatability — at the expense of additional complexity — is eventually proposed as a possible synthesis of this debate. In describing the meaningfulness levels of source texts through Hjelmslevian semiotics, and his semiotic hierarchy in particular, the paper attempts to go beyond denotative semiotic, and reframe some translational issues in a connotative semiotic and metasemiotic perspective.

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