Teaching and translating synonyms: The case of almost and nearly
Área de conocimiento
Datos de la obra
BABEL-AFIAL, 1999, n. 8
Universidad de Vigo
The purpose of this paper is to present a series of interlinguistic inequi valences and to specifically anal yse one of them; this leads us to revise one of the most important intralinguistic phenomena with relevance in contrastive studies, synonymy, by means of an empirical methodology based on corpora. What is advocated here is the fact that even two such similar words as almost and nearly may be dissimilar in the realm of language use; they are very close in meaning and they usually correspond to a single ítem in other languages, for example in Spanish, but their behaviour differs in many respects. A great deal has been said about the fact that translators, teachers and students of foreign languages sometimes cannot avoid thinking in terms of words, a tendency that is very much disapproved of and very much fought against by themselves. One of the reasons might be the influence of the written medium, where all words are set apart from one another by means of a blank space and another could be the way our mind works, trying to structure all knowledge. Whatever the reason, it is a risky but daily habit to give one-word translations for words in another language without paying attention to the context in which they occur. This paper aims at raising the issue of intralinguistic synonymy and its relevance in the field of Contrastive Studies, Second Language Teaching and Translation. We advocate the idea that synonymy and other semantic and linguistic phenomena must be observed in the light of language use, within a functional approach and through empirical and descriptive research. The first part will consist of a theoretical exposition of the two most relevant facts concerning this subject, which are interlinguistic and intralinguistic relations of linguistic items, that is, their links with similar words in other languages on the one hand and their connection to similar words in the same language on the other. And the second part will provide sorne empirical evidence that shows that two socalled synonyms are not so to such a great extent as has always been considered and should therefore be taught differently.