Word Class in Syntactic and Morphologic Structure in Translation

        Morphology is the study of the minimal meaningful units of language. It studies the structure of words, however from a semantic viewpoint rather than from the viewpoint of sound. The lowest level object of morphology is morphemes—the smallest meaningful unit—and the highest one is word; study about phonemes is covered by phonology. Morphology is intimately related to syntax. For everything that is larger than a word, such: phrase, clause and sentence, is the domain of syntax.
        Translation units are word, phrase, clause, sentence, and text (discourse analysis). Meaning of a word can’t be separated by its morpheme. Morphemes build meaning in a word. E.g.  Plural form in English can be identified by the adding morpheme‘s’, table à table(s). Study of morpheme help translator identify meaning a word by finding its formers i.e. morpheme. Based on the example before, the main point, here, are we know that word ‘tables’ comes from word ‘table’.
        Syntactic structure gives a clear representation of the syntactic constituent of a sentence. By observing a sentence which has been “broken down” into its constituents by means of a syntactic structure, we can see how each part acts on the others to fit together as a meaningful sentence. Understanding of syntactic structure studies the constituent of a sentence and relates the closest meaning in each constituent to another. The following examples would give clear explanation how important syntactic structure in translation is.
a. John speaks loudly à John berbicara dengan nyaring

NP                          VP

  N                           V             Adv

John                speaks        loudly
John is a noun, speaks is a verb, loudly is an adverb. Loudly has closest meaning with speaks. How does John speak? He speaks in loud voice.
b. He is really handsome à Dia benar-benar tampan

NP                          VP

N                    V      Adj P

                                Adv        Adj

He               is       really handsome
Adverb really has closest meaning with adjective handsome, not with he or is. Syntactic structure describes it. The example is translated into Dia benar-benar tampan, the quality of ‘tampan’ is high. It can be compared with ‘Sebenarnya, dia tampan’. Both results in Indonesia have different meaning. Syntactic structure helps cover it.
c. Frankly, I know everything à Sebetulnya, saya mengetahui semuanya

Adv P                    S1

Adv        NP          VP

                N             V            N

Frankly I          know everything
Adverb frankly modifies the whole sentence.
From the three examples above, we can see how syntactic structure makes clear in present meaning, (a) speaks loudly (b) really handsome (c) frankly, I know everything.
Word class or part of speech aspect is an important part in translation, because same word with different word class has different meaning. It would be a fatal error in doing translation, if a translator failed in determining word class of a word.
There are eight word classes:
1.                   Noun, a word used to name a person, animal, place, thing, and abstract idea. E.g. Monday (Senin) Teacher (guru), dog (anjing), justice (keadilan), table (meja), oxygen (oksigen), flock (sekumpulan hewan),etc.
2.                   Verb, shows action, links subject to another word in the sentence, and links subject to noun or an adjective in the predicate part of the sentence. E.g. is, am, are, bites, shows, were considered, etc.
3.                   Adjective, modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing, identifying, or quantifying words. E.g. strong (kuat), bad (buruk), lazy (malas), beauty (cantik), sad (sedih), mad (marah/gila),etc.
4.                  Adverb, describes verb, adjective, and another adverb. E.g. slowly, yesterday, here, etc.
5.                   Preposition, relates a noun or pronoun to another word in the sentence. E.g. in, into, before, between, etc
6.                  Pronoun, a word used in place of a noun. E.g. He, each, etc.
7.                  Conjunction, connects words or individual groups of words. E.g. and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet, either, or, neither, nor, etc.
8.                  Interjection, word or phrase used to express strong emotion or surprise. E.g. hu-uh, hurray, etc.
The following examples explain how important determining word class in translation is.
1.                    I round the park carefully (round as Verb) Saya mengelilingi taman dengan hati-hati.
2.                   I bought a round table (round as Adjective) Saya membeli sebuah meja bundar.
3.                   In the third round (round as Noun) Pada ronde ketiga.

The word class of ‘round’ can be verb, adjective or noun depends on the context in the sentence. It can’t be imagine if a translator fails in determining the word class, the result of translation would be wrong. Example of wrong translation because of lack of determining word class: A round table ->mengelilingi meja(?), round ,here, is an adjective not a verb.
Unsolved problem in machine translation is determining word class; it makes the result of translation become wrong. A matter of word class can’t be solved by software machine translation. So learn it with morphologic and syntactic structure would be a great way in translation.
In translating a sentence, firstly, identify every single word. Identify its morphemes from the word—constituent of sentence. Secondly, classify each constituent based on word class to gain proper meaning. Thirdly, with syntactic structure identify the closest meaning among its constituent. All the steps help us in translating a sentence. Word class aspects based on the understanding of syntactic and morphologic structure, absolutely, is very important in translation.

1.                    http://www.writingcentre.uottawa.ca/hypergrammar/nouns.html
2.                   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphology_%28linguistics%29
3.                   Katamba, Francis. Modern Linguistics Morphology. New York : St Martin Press, 1993


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