The translating profession clearly distinguishes between literary and non-literary translation, and many consider Bible translation as a third major branch. For the theorist, the question arises as to whether these distinctions are based only on textual characteristics of these three major classes of document or are also rooted in different approaches to the translation of the Bible, of literature and of other texts. Let us look at the following major functional classes of writing:
- Literary texts, consisting of novels, stories, plays, poetry, etc., which we may define as the product of an anthor’s imagination;
- ‘sacred’ texts, which in practice means the Bible, since other major religions do not favour or permit the translation of their fundamental writings;
- Non-literary texts, usually called ‘technical’, which cover a wide range of purpose-specific texts. While the range of these documents is exceedingly wide – non-literary texts have numerous subtypes.
Each of these functional classes of writing requires a different approach to translation, and that we ought to be able to establish the reasons for such differences in approach. In order to differentiate these three classes of document from the point of view of translation. It is recommended to examine the various stages of the translation process, from the specification right up to the actual application of techniques.
Looking at these three major classes of document from the micro-level of translation techniques, we must admit that such procedures as transposition, modulation, etc. But if we want to understand when, how, and in what combination the various types of translation techniques are applied to the different forms, genres and registers of texts, as represented by the documents in these three classes, we must attempt to formalize sets of decisions which lead to different translation strategies for each class. These strategies will then determine the range of techniques applicable in each case. The selection of relevant parameters at particular stages of the preparation process will be shown to diverge clearly for each of these three major classes. In the identification and definition of these parameters, each major type of text will be examined separately with a view to developing a unique characterization of the three text types as separate translation categories.