Vyacheslav B. Kashkin
0. Introduction

When speaking about a grammatical form, we usually regard it as a discrete element, which exists in the grammatical system of this or that language. The “rules” of the language in question determine the usage of this form, and the “rules” of translation define the ways of re-coding. It is in no way dubitable, so long as we are describing the already-written and already-translated texts. However, if we change the ‘point of view’, or the ‘position of observation’ from that of a describing linguist to that of a producer of the not-yet-written and the not-yet-translated texts (which is actually the position of a language user or of a translator), and if we try to see how exactly grammatical choices are made, we will find that a form  never appears as an existing thing, or as a point in time, but rather as an event of choosing. This event is not governed by a rule or a set of rules with a definite ‘output’, but rather by various factors of a different nature, having different degrees of influence and priority. Thus, the grammatical forms, from the point of view of the language user or of the translator, do not 'exist', they 'happen', they develop in time as a process of making a choice.

Leaving aside the actual temporal sequence of producing a grammatical element, we would like to dwell on the factors that influence the language user's or translator's choice of grammatical forms. We will also try to show the difference in the priority accorded to the respective factors, not so much in terms of their temporal order as in terms of their relative dominance and importance for the final choice.

0.1. The Role of Context in Grammatical Usage

Traditionally, the usage of the grammatical form is correlated with the context. Anyhow, every formal deterministic rule of the type CONTEXT A -> GRAMMATICAL FORM B (context A definitely implies the use of form B) leaves open the question: And who is, finally, the author of the context? Traditionally, context is regarded as an objective and even natural circumstances, given a priori to the speaker or translator, so that the question never arises. Even if the question were to be asked, the answer may seem puzzling: the speaker him-/herself is the author of both the context and the chosen grammatical form. The context is not given, it is created by the speaker while conceptualizing and coding his or her message. The actual grammatical usage thus turns out to be a process of choice activity seeking balance between at least two parameters, the aspect totally disregarded in the deterministic paradigm of traditional (and some modern) grammars.

In translation (we are taking only the grammatical side of the process) the outward situation is even more misleading: the first step towards balance (situational conceptualization) has already been taken by the author of the source text. So the situational and - to a high degree - contextual background seems to be provided initially for the translator. Nevertheless, re-coding is only a part of translation activity; the latter also includes monolingual understanding, occurring prior to re-coding. The translator first has to be the receiver of the message, and only then does s/he change his or her role to become the sender of the re-coded message. It might turn out to be more efficient to regard the overall process of interlingual communication (translation in the broad sense of the term) not purely as a deterministic response to source language stimuli with target language means, but as part of the integral probabilistic choice activity which is effectuated with the aim of striking a balance between several factors of various rank and range.

Thus, there appear to be two aspects to the use of a grammatical form as a processual pattern of choice activity. One may center on the multiple possibilities of translating one and the same utterance, or part of an utterance (grammatical form in context, in particular). The other might take into consideration the variety of choice factors in the actual grammatical activity of a speaking/writing/translating subject. The first aspect is essentially deterministic and straightforward: a situation stimulus or contextual position implies one or a limited number of grammatical choices, i.e. a -> b, if a, then b. The second, however, seems to fall outside of the deterministic paradigm, drawing  closer to the probabilistic nature of linguistic activity.

1. The Process of Grammatical Choice

Many years ago Wilhelm von Humboldt claimed that understanding in communication is limited to the point where two cones meet. Each cone represents the microuniverse of one of the participants in the process of communication, or consensual interaction, in Humberto Maturana’s terminology ( Maturana 1970: 50-55). A linguistic sign (a grammatical form) taken statically, can be regarded as an intermediary, Vermittler, within a consensual domain between two interacting systems (microuniverses) of the speaker and the receiver of the message (Humboldt 1851: 54-55). Dynamically, this intermediary point turns into a universe, a continuum of its own. It reflects a grammatical process, and if we observe grammar in real time parameters (Yurchenko 1994: 8-9; 1995: 15-18) each grammatical unit will display different time perspectives, depending on the point of view of the observer: the sign to be used by the speaker - and the sign already used, the sign to be understood by the receiver - and the sign already understood, etc. Each communication participant interprets his or her own role in the overall grammatical process, trying to find consensual balance between counteracting factors, and not just mechanically ‘obeying the rules’.

The speaker, as an acting linguistic subject, in his or her attempt to find a [temporary] balance between what s/he would like to express, and what s/he would like his or her interlocutor, the hearer, to understand, faces a menu of options, a graded set of possible choices, which is close to the widely used concept of functional field (grammatical, lexical, and contextual means of conveying a certain grammatical idea or covering a certain ‘domain of meaning’) (Bondarko 1975; 1987: 11-13). This field has a hierarchical structure in two senses. Materially and statically, the grammatical means (or rather grammatical event patterns) as discrete units are distributed between the center (more probable choice) and the periphery (less probable choice). Processually, the hierarchy of choice factors within the field (as well as between the fields) can be graded into several steps of different priority.

1.1. Grammatical Choice in Translation

In re-coding (translating) a grammatical categorial situation (part of an utterance) with the help of the target-language means, a translator is also engaged in a probabilistic activity of choosing from a sui generis ‘field of possible means of translation’. This field includes not only grammatized forms, but also other means from different levels of language structure which could be correlated with the functional potential of the grammatical form in the source language. Due to asymmetry in form and content between different languages, we have to take, as a minimum basic unit of comparison and translation, a unit smaller than a complete sentence (which includes at least two grammatical events), but bigger than a separate grammatical form or a discrete contextual element.

We define this optimal unit as a grammatical contextual complex (GCC) which correlates with a [presumably] universal grammatical integral. The latter is defined as a universal functional type, a functional (semantic) integrity on the universal scale, or within a universal semantic domain. The following formula reflects the structure of GCC in a particular language:

This concept enables us to compare languages and speak about transformations in translation even in such ‘intricate’ situations when a grammatized form in source language finds no formal correlate in the target language, or vice versa, and has to be replaced with some latent (covert) grammatical means, or, again vice versa, disclosed from them. A very typical example is the case with the articles in, say, English and Russian (1), or the present perfect in the same (and some other) languages (see below).

    ( 1 )         Russ. Po nebu polunochi angel letel (Lermontov) //

Engl. An angel was crossing the pale vault of night / One midnight an angel flew over the sky// Germ. Um Mitternacht flog, flog am Himmel entlang Ein Engel / Am Mitternachtshimmel flog hoch am Zenith Ein Engel //  Fr. À l’heure de minuit, fendent l’azur des cieux, Un ange murmurait //  It. Un angelo andava pel cielo notturno //  Hung. Szegdelte egy angyal az éji eget // We are trying to enhance the comparison and the universalistic inferences by adding parallel translations into several other languages (sometimes with variants, if available, written by different translators), the method widely implemented by Mario Wandruszka and his disciples (e.g. Wandruszka 1966a, 1966b). The fact that independent translators of the Russian texts included in the corpus choose one and the same means (or that even if their choices do not coincide,  this non-coincidence also follows some regular pattern) implies some virtual and presumably universal grammatical meaning which exists latently in Russian, the latter having no ‘official’ grammatical form to transmit it.

Grammatical integrals and GCCs may also suggest a pattern which could embrace not only inter-, but also intralinguistic variation. Variants of translation, formerly named as static, can also be included into the field of choices with more or less probable preference factors. Intra- and interlinguistic variants of representing the universal grammatical integrals can be deduced from the GCC formula  by means of ‘subtractive generation’. The latter implies posissibilities of zero representation of GCC components in specific languages, and thus can embrace both overt and covert (latent) grammatical means in every language. In fact, the GCC and the grammatical integral seem to form the only possible theoretical foundation and tertium comparationis in language contrasts. Translation, then, is one of the instances in language contrasts, and grammatical translation in particular, is effectuated only within the GCC, and not within a whole utterance or at the level of a separate grammatical form. The GCC is a minimal (the optimal?) consensual domain of interlinguistic contact (contrast) and interaction of variants and levels.

2. Choice Hierarchy

The strategic guidelines in the choice hierarchy (the factors of choice) seem to be analogous in different languages, in procedure at least, if not in content. They may be outlined as follows: (1) textual (or stylistic) background; (2) general situational background; (3) categorial background; (4) contextual background; (5) lexical background.

The universality of choice factors (in content) diminishes with their rank number, i.e. choice factors of a lower order seem to be more language-specific. It should also be noted again that if in monolingual communication nobody predetermines anything for the speaker (situational conceptualization, etc.), in the process of translation we take the first stages for granted. The mediating translator is in a more ‘advantageous’ position than the original speaker/ writer/ sender: s/he presumably knows what to say, at least to the extent that s/he has understood the original text. So, s/he has a [the?] starting point, which is the original text, and all the choices s/he makes refer to a new text, constructed by him/her using the target language, and following the conceptualization and categorization lines of the writer of the original. It is exactly at this point that his or her ‘advantages’ turn into problems. S/he has to find relatively adequate [grammatical] means of conveying the same idea as in the original. Fortunately, linguistic relativity is not a powerful monster to hamper and stop altogether the process of transcoding. Besides, the translator has also a very strong friend in the face of universal grammatical integrals and universal grammatical [semantic] zones, functions and their clusters, etc. As it has been stated by many researchers, universal features are responsible for translatability. Perhaps that is why translation studies and universal grammar go hand in hand and can supply mutually helpful results.

2.1. Choice Factors for the Present Perfect

To exemplify the suggested model for the hierarchy of choice factors in the grammatical side of translation process, let us take a closer look at factors of choice which lead to the use of the present perfect form. We are drawing on a corpus of parallel translations of Russian literary and technical texts into several languages which possess a form of this type in the overt grammar. We shall restrict our main commentary to the English language, just for the sake of economy.

2.1.1. Textual and Stylistic Background
For many grammatical forms (events), if not for all of them, it is very important to take into consideration the factors external to the situational/conceptualizational ones, namely factors referring to units wider than a separate utterance. The textual sequence of verbal forms, article hierarchy, etc. fall into the concept of textual interrelations, Textpartitur (Weinrich 1969: 66-67; Schopf 1984: 404-407), general (stylistic) textual register. For the present perfect the most relevant of these seems to be the antinomy of Erzählung / Besprechung (story-telling/speaking about) in Weinrich’s conception of text grammar (1977: 18-21, 57). Hierarchically, these factors seem to rank higher in order of preference than the situational ones. Situational factors refer to one utterance (or, rather, to one GCC), while the textual register is ‘switched on’ for the whole text (portion of the text). The textual register Erzählung (author’s story in literary texts) switches the speaker/writer to the menu which does not include the present perfect as an option (in English), whereas the menu of Besprechung does. Actually, in the author’s remarks in a literary text there are some instances when a dialogue between him/her and a possible reader is implied. These fragments of Besprechung within the framework of the author’s story can use the present perfect as an option. It should be stressed that this feature in the way it is described here is peculiar to the English language and the English present perfect. In other languages preferences may be different, though the framework of Erzählung / Besprechung remains. The difference lies in the third-rank factor which is more language-specific.

2.1.2. General Situational Background
The notion of general situational background suggests defining the situation as perfect or non-perfect (Kashkin 1991: 38-47). This is one of the primary ‘objective’ factors for the translator, all the rest being more or less ‘subjective’, or rather, consensual. This objectivity nevertheless corresponds to the subjective motivation of this or that choice in the original author, which can be reflected in the nearest text. It serves as a positive starting point for the translator. Situative motivation could often be found in the broader context, reflecting the subjective value of the previous verbal action for the [original] speaker/writer at his or her present moment. We could name about ten motivational subtypes for the present perfect: visible result of a previous action (2); consequent action in the present (3) or in the future (4); change in emotional state; logical deduction; compassion, etc.

    ( 2 )         Russ. Liza, Liza, podi suda posmotri, kakogo karasya ya poymala (Turgenev)//

Engl. Liza, Liza, come here and look what a wonderful carp I have caught //  Germ. Lisa, Lisa, komm doch her und schau was ich für eine Karausche gefangen habe! //  Fr. Lise, Lise, viens voir quel beau carassin j’ai attrapée //  Sp. ¡Lisa, Lisa! Ven aquí, mira qué carasino he pescado //  It. Lisa! Lisa! vieni a vedere la bella tinca che ho pescata! //
    ( 3 )         Russ. Ona teb'a pozvala, ona teb'e pis'mo napisala, ili chto-nibud', ottogo ty k ney i poshol         (Dostoyevski) //
Engl. She’s asked you, written you a letter, that’s why you’re going to her // Germ. Sie selbst hat dich rufen lassen, sie hat dir einen Brief oder sonstwas geschrieben, darum wolltest du zu ihr //  Fr. Elle t’a appelé, elle t’a envoyé une lettre, c’est pourqoui tu y vas// Sp. Ella misma te ha llamado, te ha escrito una carta o algo parecido, por lo cual ibas a verla// It. Ella stessa ti ha chiamato, ti ha scritto una lettera, o ti ha chiamato in qualche altro modo; ed è per questo che ci andavi//     ( 4 )         Russ. Koli ty uzh reshils'a yekhat', to ya khot' peshkom, da poydu za toboy (Pushkin)// Engl. Since you have decided to go, I will follow you// Germ. Wenn du dich schon zur Reise entschlossen hast, so gehe ich mit// Fr. Puisque tu as décidé de partir, j’irai avec toi// Sp. Si usted ha decidido partir, yo le seguiré// It. Se hai proprio deciso di andare, io, foss’anche a piedi, ti verrò dietro// 2.1.3. Categorial Background
The categorial background is a factor which is also universal in strategy, but language-specific in actual application. Here we return to the internal sphere of factors, which belong to the paradigmatic context of choice. If we are within the Besprechung discourse type and if the situational motivation speaks for the present perfect (present relevance of past actions), we still have to consider two more circumstances that may act as choice factors: (1) paradigmatic menu, and (2) functional menu. The paradigmatic menu is a factor of typological order, and with the present perfect the problem is formulated very simply: Does the paradigm of the target language include a grammatized form to denote the relevant grammatical situation or it does not? With the English language the answer will be in the affirmative, but with some other languages (such as Hungarian or Polish, or Russian, if it becomes the target language for translating from English) we would have to turn to other verbal forms, as well as to the non-grammatized and contextual periphery since the verbal paradigm in these languages does not include a separate form for the present perfect (see example 5 below). The functional typology (of the present perfect) is based on the universal functional potential of the integrated semantic dimension ‹PRESENT PERFECT› . The functional types or grammatical integrals within this transcendental universal category are fully or partly represented in the verbal paradigm of a specific language. Direct formal representation in a language-specific verbal form can also equal zero. In languages with zero and with partial representation, the semantic complex ‹PRESENT PERFECT› and its functional types are not lost, in any case. The representation of this (or any other) semantic dimension is distributed between the constituents of what we have called the GCC, and - significantly - can be restored in formal means when translating into languages with direct formal representation. Typologically, we are dealing here with overt and covert grammatical representation of universal (transcendental) semantic dimensions. Grammatical integrals and types of language-specific GCCs serve as tertium comparationis in language contrasts (translation being one of contrast types), since no discrete formal means in a specific language can be absolutely equal to any (even analogous) means in another language (Kashkin 1991:14-16).

Russian is exactly a case where the universal semantic domain ‹PRESENT PERFECT› finds zero representation in formal means. The functional types pertaining to this domain find their way ‘out to the surface‘ in GCCs with simple past (perfective and non-perfective aspect) or some other verbal forms, aided by the meanings of the verbal lexeme (terminative/non-terminative, etc.) and the contextual elements (adverbials, etc.). Some authors list more than twenty ways of representing the semantic domain in question with Russian covert grammar means (Stepanov 1981: 344-346).

Not all of the universal functional types belonging to the domain ‹PRESENT PERFECT› are represented formally even in English, though we designated the universal domain with an English grammatical term, since the English present perfect form is very close to the transcendental ‹PRESENT PERFECT› . Some of the functional types within this domain take other verbal forms, and some find a restricted representation in the English present perfect form.

Thus, in English (as well as in Spanish) we generally do not find the functional type ‹DISTANT PRESENT PERFECT› , and there is a strong ban on combining the present perfect form with adverbial modifiers of punctual time localization in the subjectively distant past. The case is different with the analogous forms in German, French and Italian where the distant functional type retains the present perfect form (5).

    ( 5 )    Russ. Vchera v'echerom ty ne vid'el moyey sem'i: polubuys'a (Turgenev)//
    Pol. Wczoraj wieczorem nie widziales mojej rodziny, przypatrz sie, podziwiaj// Hung. Tegnap este nem láttad a családomat: gyönyörködj//
Engl. Yesterday evening you did not see my family, now you can admire them// Sp. Anoche no viste a mi famiglia; aquí la tienes// Germ. Gestern Abend hast du meine Familie nicht gesehen, nun schau sie dir einmal an// Fr. Voici ma petite famille, tu ne l’as pas vue hier soir//  It. Tu non hai visto la mia famiglia hiersera, ebbene, guardala ora//
As for the functional type ‹CONTINUATIVE PRESENT PERFECT› , the menu of options in English (and in Spanish) includes a more probable choice: the present perfect continuous form (6). This means that the English present perfect form is functionally restricted in this subsphere of the overall semantic domain.

    ( 6 )    Russ. Ya tolko odnogo vas i molila u boga ves' den' (Dostoyevski)//
    Engl. I’ve been simply praying for you all day//  Sp. Yo le he estado pidiendo a Dios//
Germ. Den ganzen Tag über habe ich gebeten//  Fr. J’ai prié toute la journée// It. Non ho fatto altro che pregare//
The situation with language contrasts in the semantic domain of ‹PRESENT PERFECT› is even more complicated. In addition to what has already been noted, the functional menu of the English present perfect form can serve for translating not only GCCs with the Russian past perfective. And on the other hand, in translations from English into Russian we can observe the Russian past perfective in only about 60% of cases with the English present perfect in the original. In some cases we could observe the past non-perfective (7) or even the present, both non-perfective (8) and perfective (9), the latter usually referring to the domain of the future.

    ( 7 )         Have you ever tested it in these conditions?

                    = Vy kogda-libo proveryali yego v etikh usloviyakh?

    ( 8 )         You have known for a long time.

                    = Sami davno znaete...

    ( 9 )         As soon as I've saved enough money, I'll go there.

                    = Kak tolko ya skopl’u dostatochno deneg, ya poedu tuda.

This is primarily due to non-isomorphic paradigmatic correspondences between these two languages. If we are speaking of more than two languages, this disparity becomes infinite. It is partly for this reason that we have to apply the transcendental universal model (universal semantic dimension — grammatical integrals or functional types — language specific GCCs) as a tertium comparationis for language contrasts, and translation in particular.

2.1.4. Contextual Background
Though in general the context itself is produced by the speaker/writer, the producer of a translated text has at his/her disposal some contextual elements as given in the original. The contextual elements can serve as constraints in choosing this or that grammatical form. As for the English present perfect, the most frequently noted constraint is that of incompatibility with the adverbial modifier of punctual time. This is also a logical and a categorial constraint, related to the semantic essence of the perfect: indefinite localization in the past. That is why the dates and the wh-question words (when, where, who) adhere to punctual adverbial modifiers, though this factor may sometimes surrender to more powerful factors of situational background and subjective conceptualization.

It should be stressed again that the choice factor model does not work as a deterministic algorithm, at least it is not a fully deterministic one. If contextual constraints can preclude the choice of the present perfect form in certain ‘forbidden’ contexts, there are, as it seems, no contexts which force the speaker/translator to use the present perfect or any other form. Thus, adverbial modifiers of non-distant past and of non-localized time do not necessarily demand the present perfect form, as it is sometimes implied in grammar manuals where one is trained to respond with this form to these contextual stimuli; sometimes the simple past or present are a very possible variant of choice. By the way, it has been noted by several authors that English-speaking Russians (and even professional translators of literary texts) tend to overuse the present perfect form. This ‘hyperperfectization’ of the translated text can be regarded as ‘grammatical accent’ and is certainly due to deterministic overestimation of ‘objective’ factors in the process of grammatical choice.

We can draw some strategic inference from the above. First, there is always a certain degree of freedom of choice. Second, subjective factors of situational conceptualization have always the final word. Third, there are no ‘rules and exceptions’; there is freedom of grammatical action and freedom of choice, which are counteracted by certain constraints on grammatical processes. Freedom of choice is clearly seen in those peripheral zones of the overall semantic dimension, where there are no constraints and where two or more variants are possible (10). Each particular choice, though, provides particular nuances. The latter is most evidently seen in those situations of generic reference where either the indefinite, or the definite, or likewise zero article form could be used, though each of the articles adds a particular ‘flavor’: abstractness with the zero, exemplarity with the indefinite and qualitative totality with the definite article form.

    ( 10 )        Kakoe eto vy promolvili slovo (Turgenev)

                    = you have just said // = you just said

2.1.5. Lexical Background
Lexical background or lexematic filling of the form within the GCC may be considered the factor of choice of the lowest degree. As an example, some lexical groups of verbs which display reluctance to combine with the present perfect form in English can be cited by way of example. Thus, verbs describing speech events in non-rhematic usage are preferably in the simple past (11) even if the contextual factors speak for the present perfect form. At the same time, when the action itself is moved into the focus of the speaker’s attention, the choice of the present perfect form is more probable (12).

    ( 11 )         On skazal (mne segodn'a), chto my dolzhny uyti.

                     = He said that we must go. (He told me today that we must go).

    ( 12 )         Itak, ty eto skazal!..

                    = So, you have said it! (pronounced, uttered etc.)

In other languages this factor also holds, though groups of verbs (and words) are certainly language-specific in each particular case. So again we have to admit the universal strategic principle which takes into consideration the lexical background as a factor of choice, while actual realization differs from language to language. And again, there is freedom to ‘break the rules’ for the sake of the factors of higher rank, perhaps reflecting the way the functional potential of a grammatical form develops in a specific language.

3. The Grammatical Unit of Translation

The center, around which the factors of grammatical choice operate, has to be a unit which is translated or re-coded. It has already been stressed that this cannot be a separate grammatical form. On the other hand, since we are speaking about choosing grammatical forms or about grammatical event patterns, this unit has to be smaller than a simple sentence which is a sequence or a complex of grammatical events. That is why in constructing a model for grammatical actions and for translation activity in the domain of grammar, we have to refer to the GCC, which is a minimal part of an utterance relevant for the performance of a particular functional type. The GCC includes the nearest relevant grammatical context reflecting the situational factors of grammatical choice. At the same time, it is only within the framework of the GCC that the process of re-coding (translation) can be modeled at the optimum level. It is neither the minimum level (of forms), nor the maximum level (of complete simple sentences). The optimum level reflects actual linguistic activity, whereas the minimum refers to its formal representation and is somewhat sub-linguistic, and the maximum extends beyond the boundaries of linguistic activity and is somewhat extralinguistic.

3.1. Grammatical Integrals

Moreover, the GCCs of specific languages correspond to transcendental grammatical integrals which do not change between languages. Elementary grammatical senses within these integrals are distributed between specific language means and re-distributed in translation within the framework of GCCs. Striking examples of this phenomenon can be illustrated by parallel translations from a language with zero formal representation of the relevant grammatical category into languages where this category is presented in the overt grammar (13). Translators practically never fail to recognize the necessary event patterns, which becomes even more striking if we take into consideration the fact that the translations included in our corpus were done independently, in different time periods, and are repeated in thousands of instances with many grammatical phenomena (not only with the articles or the present perfect).

The indefinite article forms are chosen according to the same hierarchy of choice factors as the present perfect forms. In any case, grammatical event patterns with the articles require a separate consideration which is beyond the scope of the present discussion.

The GCC seems to be not only a convenient practical model for translation, but also a theoretical concept which correlates language-specific and transcendental phenomena. By transcendental here we refer to phenomena which cannot be seen directly either in each particular language, or in actual translation practice, but which are the underlying basis of these processes. The transcedental (or, in other words, universal) phenomena can unite all languages on one basis at the level of grammar. Elementary grammatical senses, united in the universal grammatical integral are distributed among specific language means within the GCCs and redistributed between the GCC constituents in translation, while the transcendental grammatical integral (or the functional type) remains constant. Strategical guidelines for the choice processes in grammatical activity are also constant and universal, forming a hierarchy of choice factors, though factors of lower rank are more subject to language-specific interpretation.

3.2. Choice Factors in Coding and in Translation

The above-mentioned hierarchy of choice factors works symmetrically in both coding and decoding, these activities being the roles of the two main participants in the communication process: the speaker/writer and the hearer/reader. The speaker is seeking balance between his or her intention and planned adequate understanding of his or her intention by the speaker. The balance lies in the language means s/he chooses. The hearer/reader is aiming at restoring the intention of the speaker via the language means. The translator has, in fact, to combine both roles: first s/he is the receiver, and second, s/he is the sender of a re-coded message. S/he has to correlate the understood intention of the source-language speaker with a possible interpretation of the receiver via a consensual domain of more or less adequate grammatical means in the target language. S/he has to deal with a field of possible translation choices, a field of possible grammatical event patterns united on the basis of an interlinguistic consensual domain of universal semantic dimensions.

4.    Conclusions

The present article did not touch upon many other factors of a social, cultural, and even personal and other nature which may influence choices in the grammatical behavior of the speaker (translator), but we are just in search of a possible theory of translation, and a search is also a process... We shall try to draw some methodological conclusions to finish the present stage in that process.

There exists a somewhat mythical belief, shared not only by naive language users, but also by some professional translators and foreign language users, that there should be one ‘ultimate’ correct translation of each particular sentence. Even when variants are outwardly admitted, this prejudice goes down to the level of the subconscious and hampers methodologically the training of interpreters and translators, as well as their subsequent practical activity. Though actual language contrasts and linguistic research have taught those who have to deal with languages, that the situation is somehow less deterministic, this view still subsists and finds additional support in the present-day systems of grammatical training based on the concept of ‘rules and exceptions’.

4.1. Methodological inference

Actually, in language as a semiotic system deterministic relations are not basic, the key equation in language being not that of implication: a -> b, if a, then b, but that of arbitrary consensual correspondence: a - - b, if a, then let it be [denoted by] b. The viewpoint which has been criticized up to now is non-dynamic; it regards a linguistic sign as an existing thing. But in fact, linguistic signs (grammatical forms, in particular) do not exist, they happen or occur. This means that a linguistic sign is not an object in the usual sense of the term (‘words’ in texts or in dictionaries are secondary or even tertiary), it is a pattern of subjective linguistic activity of language users. It seems more appropriate to consider grammatical forms as grammatical actions, events, or event patterns, i.e. as more or less stable attractors in which the randomness of linguistic activity assumes a certain non-random shape.

Linguistic signs are centers of consensual balance between opposite forces and principles: arbitrariness vs. motivation, speaker’s intention vs. hearer’s inference, deterministic rules vs. freedom of choice, etc. These contradictory principles can hardly be explained statically. It is only in admitting the concept of linguistic actions, that it becomes possible to balance processually the interaction between the opposites. The sign in this model ceases to be an object, a point in space and time. It assumes two processual stages: the not-yet-used sign and the already-used sign. From this point of view, the sign-to-be-used is at the highest degree of speaker’s intention, combined with some prognosis of the hearer’s inference. When the sign has been used, the priorities are inverted: the hearer’s inferences are aimed at restoring the speaker’s intention (Figure 1). In both cases we have a plurality of choices governed by a hierarchy of factors: first for the speaker, second for the hearer.



Figure A. Linguistic sign as a dynamic process.



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Kashkin, Vyacheslav B. (1991). Funkcionalnaya tipologiya perfekta (The Functional Typology of the Perfect). Voronezh: Universitet.

Maturana, Humberto R. (1970). “Biology of Cognition”. BCL Report No. 90. Urbana, University of Illinois, Department of Electrical Engineering, Biological Computer Laboratory, 1970   (or later publications by Humberto R.Maturana).

Schopf, Alfred (1984). Das Verzeitungssystem des Englischen und seine Textfunktion. Tübingen: Narr.

Stepanov, Yuri S. (1981). Imena, predikaty, predlozheniya: Semiologicheskaya grammatika (Names, Predicates, Sentences: A Semiological Grammar). Moscow: Nauka.

Yurchenko, Vasiliy S. (1994). Realnoye vremya i struktura yazyka (Real Time and Language Structrure). Saratov: Pedinstitut.

Yurchenko, Vasiliy S. (1995). Ocherk po filosofii grammatiki (Essay on the Philosophy of Grammar). Saratov: Pedinstitut.

Wandruszka, Mario (1966a). “Les temps du passé en français et dans quelques langues voisines”. Le Français moderne 34:1. 3-18.

Wandruszka, Mario (1966b). “L’aspect verbal, problème de traduction”. Travaux de linguistique et de littérature de l’Université de Strasbourg. 6:1. 113-129.

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Weinrich, Harald (1989). Grammaire textuelle du français. Paris: Didier/Hatier.