Culturemes and their place in the theory of translation
Cultural dissimilarity for a long time has been an important issue in the theory of translation. With the development of cultural linguistics and linguistic pragmatics the quite old question whether one culture can be translated into another has gained new actuality. One of the key words in this issue is the cultureme, which involves a lot of problems hitherto not tackled by structural linguistics. In this case the point of view of translatology differs from the linguistic one: The translator has to decide which elements of the original text to treat as culturemes and which not, how to transfer cultural elements into the foreign language and to decide who is the recipient of his translation. In the course of centuries various forms of translation can be found, such as a complete assimilation of the translation by the foreign culture, the emphasis of linguistic and cultural foreignness or the stress of cultural differences. In linguistic theories of translation the question of equivalency implicitly emerging from an interlingual comparison of language systems on a semantic, syntactic and pragmatic level is conceived as crucial. A different point of view is the choice of a translation strategy based on a certain “skopos” (goal). The exposition of cultural elements of the source culture by means of the target language is regarded as one of the possibilities within the framework of skopos theory. In the present article nomina propria (nouns, among pthers hypocoristics and talking names) excerpted from six German translations of Pan Tadeusz serve as an illustration of cultural foreignness.