Category of Semantic Shift Proposed by Mujiyanto

Categories of  semantic  shift proposed  in  Mujiyanto  (2001);  generalization, specification, substitution, reversal, deviation.  The description each categories are as follow;

1.    Substitution 

The  following  semantic  shift  appeared because  the  specific  words  or  sentence  in  the source  language  are  substituted  with  the  target language  item  in  the  process  of  translation  in order to adapt the source text (ST) with the rules of  language  which  is  acceptable  in  the  target language.  Substitution occurs when  the  translator  replaces  a  specific  item  or expression  of  source  language  with  a  target language  item.
The examples of substitution such the word ‘make’ in the source text (ST) actually means ‘membuat,mencapai’  if  it  translated  literally.  In order to convey the original message  from the source text (ST), the word ‘make’ is translated into ‘keburu’.   The word ‘make’ in the context of the sentence means to manage to reach something or go to a place or position. Then, it is translated into ‘keburu’ (reach).

2.    Specification 

Specification is the change of word from specific to general one. Example; Specification In the sentence  ‘It must be a couple miles to Eastdown’ , the  translation  of  the word  ‘a couple  miles’  shows  semantic  shift  that  is specification  if  we  compare  the  product  of translation in the column of back translation (BT) and the column of source text (ST). It is translated into ‘tidak jauh lagi’ (not much longer) in the target language.  The  word  ‘a  couple  miles’  has connotation  almost  finish,  or  almost  arrive  in  the context  of  this  sentence.  

3.    Generalization  

Generalization is the change of word that has specific meaning into general one. Generalization  happens  when  the  translators transfer the specific word in the source language into  general  word  in  the  target  language.
Example ; the word ‘in trouble’ is translated  into  ‘kenapa’(why)  in  the  target  text (TT).  After looking  at  back  translation  (BT),   there  is  no  significant  gap  between  source  text (ST) and target text (BT) in the first sentence. The word ‘in trouble’ indicates whether something bad is  going  on.  Whereas,  in  the  context  of  the sentence,  ‘in  trouble’  is  used  in  interrogative  to show that the speaker gives attention to someone. Then, it is translated into ‘kenapa’ which has more general meaning and wider context in the target language. The word ‘kenapa’ (why) is used in any imperative sentence and it does not only refer to any particular problem. It can be used to inquire reason, even asking about what is going on.

4.    Reversal 

Reversal means a change of meaning to the opposite of what it was. Reversal emerges because the words used between source language and target language are in the opposition or contrary.
Example; Sentence  ‘stay  where  you  are’  actually means  ‘tetap  di  tempat’,  but  it  is  translated  into ‘jangan  bergerak’  (don’t  move)  in  the  target language. The sentence shows us that there is the change of meaning  from  positive  to  negative.

5.    Deviation 

The last category of semantic shift is deviation. Deviation involves shift in meaning that entails different aspects between source language and target language. Deviation is the change of word from course or turn away something what is unusual. It occurs when there are changes in focus and other kinds of possible change or lack correlation between form and meaning.
Example; The word ‘fool’ in the sentence ‘you can’t fool me’ is translated into ‘tutup mulut’ (shut up) in the (TT). Although the message that would like to be conveyed  is  the  same,  but  in  the  process  of translation deviation is appeared. ‘Tutup mulut’ or ‘shut  up’  with  ‘you  can’t  fool  me’  have  different concepts. Actually, it is possible if it is translated into  ‘kamu  tidak  bisa  membodohiku’.  Maybe  the translator would  like  to give more expression  in this  sentence.  Then  it  is  translated  into  ‘tutup mulut’.


Mujiyanto, Y. 2001. Modulasi dalam Penerjemahan; Kasus  Peng-Indonesia-an  Tindak  Tutur Directive Berbahasa  Inggris. Lingua Artistika. Tahun  XXIV. No.  1 Hlm.  40-54.  Semarang: Universitas Negeri Semarang.

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