Indirect (oblique) translation strategies are used when the structural or conceptual elements of the source language cannot be directly translated without altering meaning or upsetting the grammatical and stylistics elements of the target language.

Indirect translation strategies include transposition, modulation, reformulation or equivalence, adaptation.


Often used by translators, the transposition is the translation technique involving grammatical changes. For instance, the Romanian SE is also translated in English through passive voice.

e.g. I s-a spus să vină imediat

     He was told to come at once.

    S-au săpat multe șanțuri.

    A lot of ditches have been dug.           

Sometimes, the active voice in English is translated through a Romanian reflexive

e.g. I cut my finger.

      M-am tăiat la deget.

Another example, this time from French, when a verb is translated with a noun.

      Permet à la pâte de se détendre pour améliorer la qualité du pétrissage.

      Permite odihnirea aluatului pentru a îmbunătăţii calitatea frământării.

The subject of the verbs expressing meteo phenomena like to snow, to rain, to thunder, etc, is not translated as this type of verbs do not take a subject in Romanian.

e.g.  It was raining outside’,

          Afară ploua.


Modulation means using a phrase that is different in the source and target languages to convey the same idea.

It changes the semantics and shifts the point of view of the source language without generating a sense of awkwardness in the reader of the target text. It is often used within the same language.

e.g.     lavage de chèque  

falsificare de cec  – spălare, as the French term, does not collocate with cec as in the Romanian language.

e.g.      2 plaques antiadhésives pour baquettes,

două tăvi neaderente pentru baghete

Plague which means plate or sable is translated with tăvi in this context.

e.g      The river is shallow.

Râul nu este adânc.

 Be my guest can be translated in different ways such as te rog, n-ai decât according to the context.

She may here you can be translated Vezi să nu te audă, the focus being in this case on the interlocutor.

This type of change of point of view in a message is what makes a reader say: ‘that’s exactly how I say it in my language’.

      Reformulation or Equivalence

Reformulation means using different words but keeping the meaning. It can be called adaptation, especially when it is stylistically different from the original text.

It is actually the reorganization of the source text preserving the global meaning. It is very important that the sender of the message makes sure that the signified is part of the writer’s shared knowledge, otherwise ambiguities and misinterpretations of the referential scope of the text can appear.

Reformulation applies frequently to the translation of the idioms, sayings, advertising slogans or the film’s titles. The process is creative, but not always easy.

e.g. Out of sight, out of mind – Ochii care nu se văd se uită.

     au moyene d’une minuterie extérieure – prin intermediul unui releu de timp exterior 

The Way of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler, was magnificently translated by resorting to reformulation Și tu vei fi țărână. The same with Mourning Becomes Electra, by Tennessee Williams, which became in Romanian Din jale s-a-ntrupat Electra. Here, the translator is concerned with conveying the message in an artistic expression. 

If the translator translates an English idiom literally, we may have an overtranslation which fails to create the desired effect as in the source language[1].


Adaptation, or domestication, occurs when something specific to one language culture is expressed in a totally different way that is familiar or appropriate to another language culture. It is practically a change of the sign and, implicitly, the signified.

e.g. Garde des Sceaux

      Ministru de Justiție

The Romanian translation of the French idiom C’est la Bérézina is an eloquent example of domestication – Ce-au făcut turcii la Plevna, as in both situations the battles between the French and Russian armies and the Turkish and Romanian and Russian armies ended in a real disaster.

The English idiom to pay the piper meaning a suporta cheltuielile cuiva, can be sometime adapted to a Romanian idiom turcul plătește.

It is a shift in the cultural environment. It involves changing the cultural reference when a situation in the source culture does not exist in the target culture in order to make it more accessible to the reader.

Adaptation is often considered a process of adjusting the message to the intended readers by resorting to their cultural heritage, language and ethnicity. The translator finds the right word or the cultural equivalents so that information should be accurate, relevant and understandable to different cultures.

There should be also mentioned the case of the English translations of the Bengalese or Indian texts which assimilated the local vision and make it look English. This sort of translation actually had a political dimension since it played a major role in the colonization process.


Exotisation or foreignization is a translation strategy through which the translator deliberately breaks the target conventions and preserves the original word. It is a strategy opposite to the adaptation which is actually the preservation of the grammatical and lexical structure as well as the vision of the world of the source culture and language. Foreignization, in fact, keeps the local color as well as the cultural mentions.

Acquis communautaire – is in Romanian acquis-ul comunitar.

Another example of exotisation in Romanian is the recently created center which fights against haressment at the workplace – Centrul Anti-Mobbing București.  

Exotisation can be seen as a way to enrich a language, and the translator’s role is to make people understand the concepts he/she is using.

The Romanian language has preserved from English baby-sitter, fair play, management, which, through their occurence, have been assimilated by the language receiving even the grammatical markers such as article managementul.

The terms of foreignization and domestication were coined by Lawrence Venuti an American linguistic who was influenced by Antoine Berman. Berman disagrees with the translator’s general trend to reject the foreign element resorting to naturalization or domestication. In Berman’s opinion, domestication denies the importance of a mother tongue itself, and foreignization offers the mother tongue the possibility to be ‘broadened, fertilized, transformed by the ‘foreign’. [2].


The signified is associated to fewer signifiers in the target language. In other words, it is the technique of expressing the same meaning in a reduced form, so that the target version should be shorter. It can be seen as a translation error if the translator doesn’t have an acceptable reason for the omission.

e.g.      laisser une merchandise pour compte

             a refuza o marfă


The signified is explained through several signifiers in the target language. For instance, environment is translated through mediu înconjurător. Another example could be

baisse de l’audition

diminuarea acuității auditive


Implicitness is translation technique or strategy of producing a target text that allows the reader to infer information that was expressed more explicitly in the source text. The French en is not translated in Romanian

e.g.       Jen ai acheté cinq

Am cumpărat cinci (din acestea).

Another example form French, too:

Les raisons qui déclenchent une perte auditive sont diverses

Cauzele pierderilor auditive sunt diverse

            Where qui déclenchent is no longer translated as the word cauze implies the idea of having an effect.


A technique or strategy of expressing more clearly, in the translation, information that was only implied in the source text.

e.g         Handicap invisible, la déficience auditive est difficile à admettre pour une personne âgée

            Fiind vorba despre un handicap invizibil, deficienta de auz este greu de recunoscut de către o persoană în vârstă

   The Assumption

Adormirea Maicii Domnului

Here we also have a modulation as assumption refers actually to the religious event when the body of Vergin Mary was taken up to Haven. So we have a change of vision. 

Alongside the above mentioned strategies we can also add:


Peter Fawcett defines it as: ‘…making good in one part of the text something that could not be translated in another’.

The strategy of compensation represents actually ‘the recovery of lost information somewhere, during the process of rephrasing and reformulation of the meaning in the target text’. In other words, compensation is a translation procedure whereby allows the translator to transfer a stylistic difficulty into another section of the text.  

This strategy does not consist in only one solution of recovering information during translation. Translators may decide on different methods or different techniques, or even on different strategies of translation, but what seems to be common among translators is the ability to compensate for interlingual and intellectual differences. 

            Compensation can operate at more than one level: syntactic level, semantic level, or pragmatic level, depending on the specific features of the target language.


            Restructuring is the strategy applied at the stylistic level in the target language. After having transferred the message from the source language to the target language, the translator must analyze the translated text from the point of view of the intended language or styles. In other words the meaning of the text has to be the same, while the translator has to be faithful to the author and to the source text, trying to keep the same style.

            Restructuring is being also used for stylistic purposes. In order to avoid repetition or to reproduce a stylistic effect, or compensate the loss, the translator has the possibility to reformulate or restructure the basic information conveying thus the message under a different form.    

[1] Overtranslation increases the level of detail, as compared with that of the original, often involving more words than the original.

[2] In his work The Experience of the Foreign: Culture and Translation in Romantic Germany. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.