I found this phrase in a theory about directional equivalence and I'm not sure what it means and if it is part of linguistic aspect of translation.

1 Answer 1


Formal-aesthetic equivalence is part of the five frames of reference that defines Koller's Bezugsrahmen der Übersetzungsäquivalenz, which are:

  • denotative
  • connotative
  • text-normative
  • pragmatic
  • formal-aesthetic

The formal-aesthetic equivalence type is summarised as

the ways in which the ST author uses language to convey their meaning

The most obvious examples of this aspect of translation arise in translating literature, and very strongly related to the issue of "personal voice / style".

Part of Koller's framework is that priorities have to established when translating, and not all of these can, need to, or should be satisfied.

Analyses of translation quality make use of such frameworks, and Koller's is one of the more influential.

  • I think the aesthetic of the source language also comes into it. For example, English is less florid than many other languages, so a translation that reproduces all the of ornaments of the original may strike the English reader as too flowery, even though the original strikes the reader as neutral. In such a case the translation is not aesthetically equivalent to the source text, even though - in one sense - the same aesthetic features are present.
    – rchivers
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 11:19
  • An example of this would be the difference between a prose translation of The Odyssey vs. a translation composed in verse. Alexander Pope's translation of The Odyssey is written in a form of iambic pentameter known as heroic couplet (pioneered by Chaucer) in order to convey the strictly metered quality of the original Greek text which is in dactylic hexameter. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 21:57

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