Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Translational Equivalence


Translational equivalence is the similarity between a word (or expression) in one language and its translation in another. This similarity results from overlapping ranges of reference.

translation equivalent is a corresponding word or expression in another language.


Alamblak (Papua New Guinea), English

Here is an example of translational equivalence between Alamblak (Papua New Guinea) and English:


An English speaker might analyze the Alamblak word with two meanings:

  1. yesterday
  2. tomorrow

The two English words are simple translational equivalents.

However, there is another word in Alamblak that can be analyzed as follows:


  1. day before yesterday
  2. day after tomorrow

These Alamblak words do not have two senses even though they each have two simple translational equivalents. A single, explanatory analytic definition followed by translational equivalents is the preferable analysis:


  1. one day removed from the present; yesterday, tomorrow


  1. two days removed from the present; day before yesterday, day after tomorrow

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