Lexico-grammatical aspects of translation of the definite and indefinite articles

Lexico-grammatical aspects of translation of the definite and indefinite articles

Prior to a concrete detailed analyses of ways and methods of rendering English articles into Ukrainian it is very important to mention the category of Definiteness and Indefiniteness as it can give a considerable semantic shade of meaning.

2.1 The Category of Definiteness and Indefiniteness

The noun in English and Ukrainian, as in other languages, possesses the semantic category of definiteness and indefiniteness [39, c.412].In other words, when a noun (even a proper name) or family/geographical name is taken out of its context to which it belonged, its meaning may not be definitely understood, i.e. identified. Thus, the proper names Mykola, Petro or Anatoliy when used for the first time (eg. I met Petro/Mykola yesterday evening) may not be definite enough for the listener or collocutor who may inquire: which Petro/Mykola? Your friend/cousine Petro/Mykola? You mean your co-student Petro/Mykola? etc. Even when one uses the geographical name like Beskyd the real meaning of this proper noun may not be clear to the listener who has not enough preliminary information about the used name. This is because “Beskyd” may be the name of a mountain in the Carpathians as well as a tourist camp or a hotel there. Similarly identified must also be many other nouns in Ukrainian despite its being a predominantly synthetic by structure language. Thus, it may be sometimes far from easy to unanimously identify the real meaning, for example, of such a seemingly transparent for every Ukrainian listener name as Київ. Even in the sentence as Він мешкав деякий час у Києві (when used in oral speech) and when the listener does not see this noun written, it may mean the city named Київ or the “Київ” hotel (then it is in inverted commas in Ukrainian). Similarly when one hears the English king’s name Charles, one would naturally inquire which king Charles? The first, the third or the fifth? Only when the substantivized numeral is added (Charles the First or Charles the Third, etc.), will the King’s name become definite (clearly and finally indentified).

The category of definiteness and indenfiniteness may be identified in English and Ukrainian both at language level (when the noun is out of a concrete context) and at speech level, i.e. in oral presentation or in a written microtext. The main means of making the noun definite in English is to use the definite or indefinite (zero) article or any other determining or identifying adjunct. For example: Bristol (zero article) means the town of Bristol, whereas the Bristol is the name of a hotel or an inn, ship, etc. Similarly even with such a proper noun as Україна which, when used without the definite article, means the country of Ukraine, but when presented in inverted commas it will mean anything: готель “Україна”, концертний зал “Україна” or an agricultural en terprise/joint venture “Україна”. The definite article may also determine, i.e. make definite some other groups (or single) nouns as, for example, those denoting generic nouns or unique objects on the globe, or even in the universe as in the following sentences: The lion is a wild animal. The sun is a bright celestial body. The Bible is a holy book of all Christians.

The category of definiteness may be also indicated by syntactic, i.e. lexico-syntactic means. Namely, by an appositive noun or a substantivized numeral, an adjective or any other adjunct: Cf.: the Tory government, King Henry V, the first Summet meeting, уряд Topi, король Генріх П’ятий, готель “Колос”, дівчина – парашутистка, nepша зуcmpiч у eepxax, четвертий універсал уряду УHP, etc. Hence, the categories of definiteness and indefiniteness may be expressed both by pre-posed and postposed identifiers simultaneously (as in the last example четвертий > універсал < уряду УHP). Or such an example: the noun congress or its Ukrainian variant з’їзд when used out of a context remains absolutely nonrelated to any concretely identified event. Even when preceded by a numeral (the first or the second congress) it remains far from semantically identified. Only when explicated by one more identifier – the first congress of ecologists, the noun congress becomes more or less exhaustively identified. Similarly in Ukrainian where the noun з’їзд becomes definite (or indefinite) when it is explicitly identified: з’їзд екологів, з’їзд екологів України, черговий/ позачерговий з’їзд екологів України, etc.

The category of indefiniteness apart from being indicated in English by the indefinite article a/an, may also be made explicit by the indefinite pronouns any, some, etc., and by the numeral one as well as by the indefinite article plus an adjectival, participial or any other adjunct. Eg: There is some boy wants to see you. (King) “Was there a Mr Palgrave?” (H.E. Bates) – “there’s a marvelously good restaurant called L’Ocean about six or seven miles down the coast”. (Ibid.) Cf. in Ukrainian: Там ніякого Micmepa Палгрейва не було?

The expression of indefiniteness in Ukrainian is likewise realized with the help of the indefinite pronouns якийсь (якась, якесь), through the indefinite numeral один (одна, одне) or via the indefinite pronouns якийсь/ якась, якесь, plus the adjuncts expressing the characteristic features of the person or object. Eg: Якийсь Петренко там чекає на вac. Був собі один чоловік і мав він два сини. Навіть один страшний день війни запам’ятався кожному навіки.

Unlike English where indefiniteness is expressed via the corresponding markers, in Ukrainian it may sometimes be expressed also through grammatical shifting of the indefinite noun into the final position of the sentence [39, c.417]. For example:

The door opened and the teacher entered the classroom.

Двері відчинилися і вчитель увійшов до класу.


To express indefiniteness, the noun will be shifted to the final position:

The door opened and a teacher entered the classroom.

Двері відчинилися і до класу ввійшов



Therefore, the category of definiteness and indefiniteness is equally pertained to both contrasted languages [28, c.95].

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