Ingardeniana III

Volume 33 of the series Analecta Husserliana pp 131-192

On Translations

  • Roman Ingarden

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All written (“literary”) works of art are characterized by the fact that they are many-layered and multi-phase due to the successive arrangement of their parts. There are at least four strata: (a) the stratum of word sounds and phonetic formations; (b) the stratum of semantic units of various orders; (c) the stratum of represented objects;1 and, finally, (d) the stratum of schematized aspects. According to widely known theories of language, there is no necessary connection between the sound of a word and its meaning. It seems therefore, possible to “tie” the same meaning to different word sounds. And conversely, it happens that some word sounds are “tied” to two different meanings. This constitutes the phenomenon of polysemy. It is, therefore, conceivable to substitute all actual sounds in a given work of art with the altogether different sounds taken from another language and thus produce what is commonly known as a “translation” of a work from one language to another. If in the course of this procedure the meanings in the semantic stratum remain unaltered, we usually say the translation is “faithful.”